Nobunaga (Nobunaga Oda)nōbōnäˈgä ōdäˈ, 1534–82, Japanese military commander. The son of a daimyo, Nobunaga greatly expanded his father's holdings, becoming master of three provinces near present-day Nagoya. The emperor secretly appealed to him for help, and Nobunaga, acting in the emperor's name, became (1568) dictator of central Japan. Though he restored the ousted shōgun (Nobunaga's ancestry made him ineligible for the title), the real power was his and, aided by his general Hideyoshi Toyotomi and his ally Ieyasu, he unified all Japan except the extreme north and west. He broke the temporal power of the great Buddhist sects by destroying their armies. He was one of the first Japanese generals to supply his foot-soldiers with muskets. The early Jesuits in Japan gained Nobunaga's respect and, thereby, his permission to preach. Under his rule, free trade was encouraged and an era of castle building began. He was murdered by one of his discontented generals before the unification of all Japan, a task that was completed by Hideyoshi and Ieyasu.
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