Combining Iberian and East Asian primary source documents can provide a fresh perspective on sixteenth-century East Asian history. This is particularly true of the Imjin War (1592–98), the largest war in the world during the sixteenth century. Involving China, Korea, and Japan, it attracted close observation from Jesuit missionaries, who wrote a number of as yet largely unstudied accounts of the conflict and its implications for the Jesuit mission. We analyze one such manuscript, which is particularly detailed and unique in its scope: the Relação do fim e remate que teve a guerra da Corea, cross-referenced with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean accounts.
The largest conflict in the world of the sixteenth century took place in East Asia—the Imjin War. The first invading force launched by the Japanese hegemon Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 (1537–98) in 1592 consisted of 120,000 men and was the largest successful naval landing in world history by that date (Swope 2009: 5). A second, even larger force of 140,000 was sent by Hideyoshi in 1597. The defeated Japanese armies retreated in 1598, marking the end of six years of fighting that involved Japanese, Korean, and Chinese militaries, as well as countless Korean civilians. As is well known in Asian history circles, the war involved around five hundred thousand combatants, devastated the Korean peninsula, and sent shockwaves throughout East Asia (Lewis 2015: 1).1
As European sources like the manuscript that is the subject of this article demonstrate, the significance of this war was also felt farther afield (Gonoi 2002). Dispersed among various archives, there exist a large number of Spanish and Portuguese manuscripts, mostly of Jesuit origin, that deal with the Imjin War, although only a few, such as the writings of Luís Fróis (1532–97) and Gregorio de Céspedes (1551–1611), have been the subject of detailed study. The translation and collaborative study of Iberian manuscripts written in Asia can therefore provide fresh insights into this aspect of the history of Portuguese and Spanish global expansion, while at the same time offering new perspectives on East Asian history. This is particularly true of the Imjin War, which presents particular challenges due in part to the diverse range of languages of its primary source documents, which encompass Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Latin, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean languages and scripts.2
In this article we provide an annotated English translation of a previously untranscribed, untranslated, and unstudied late sixteenth-century Portuguese Jesuit text written in Japan about the closing weeks of the Imjin War: the Relação do fim e remate que teve a guerra da Corea, which stands out for its level of detail and the insights it contains. We have chosen English as the vehicle of our translation and article due to its current status as the language most likely to be held in common between scholars trained in Iberian history and scholars trained in East Asian history. We explore how the contents of this manuscript about the Imjin War can inform both historians of Iberian expansion and historians of East Asia. The manuscript in question provides information on the Jesuit vision in East Asia. By cross-referencing the Relação with Japanese, Chinese, and Korean sources for the first time, we also argue that this manuscript provides information that is not contained in East Asian language sources and which adds to our understanding of how the end of the war unfolded.
The Relação do fim e remate que teve a guerra da Corea (1599, hereafter the Relação), which is translated below as “A Report on the End and Conclusion of the Korean War,” is a manuscript that has received scant scholarly attention to date. Charles Boxer made a note of it in 1949, and it has since been mentioned in several catalogs of Japanese Jesuit works but has not been used by historians despite the detailed information it provides on the closing stages of the Imjin War (Boxer 1949: 78).3 The extant edition of the Relação is a seventeenth-century codex written in Portuguese; it comprises eight folios and is preserved as a clean copy in the Marsden Collection at the British Library (Relação do fim e remate que teve a guerra da Corea 1599). According to Boxer, the Jesuit archive in Goa took possession of a cache of documents including the Relação following the dissolution of the Society of Jesus in the Lusitanian dominions carried out by the Marquis of Pombal in 1759 (Boxer 1949: 63–64). How these documents then entered the Marsden collection is unclear. As will be explained below, the Relação focuses its historical disquisition on the last stage of Hideyoshi's second and final invasion of Korea in 1597–98, the many attempts at “peace agreements” (as the Japanese negotiations for a safe retreat were called) (Hur 2019), and the subsequent withdrawal from Korean soil. It provides detailed information on battle tactics and technology, negotiations with the enemy, and internal machinations within the Japanese camp, which are worthy of being incorporated into a global vision of the Imjin War. Among the many Jesuit sources on this war that are yet to be fully studied, the Relação stands out for the detail with which it records its information. This information appears to be of Japanese origin, possibly from the Christian daimyo Konishi Yukinaga 小西行長 (d. 1600), and provides a direct view of the closing weeks of the war from a Japanese perspective.
The Author of the Manuscript
The Relação is signed by one Francisco Rodriguez or Rodrigues (in the manuscript abbreviated as “Roiz”). The catalog of the Kirishitan Bunko Library at Sophia University in Tokyo lists three Jesuits with the same name who were present in Japan (Obara 1981: 399); however, after consulting each of their letters, it is likely two of these are the same individual due to the dates when their letters were written. The first Francisco Rodriguez arrived in Asia in the initial decades after the European discovery of Japan and China and spent time in Goa (Rodriguez 1556a, 1556b, 1560).4 He was also close to the Spanish Jesuit Francis Xavier (1506–52), who was the cofounder of the Society of Jesus and the first Christian missionary to travel to Japan. Given the timing of his arrival in Asia, it is unlikely that this first Francisco Rodriguez could be the author of Relação some three decades later.
The second Francisco Rodriguez identifiable in the Kirishitan Bunko Library catalog, and most likely the author of the Relação, was appointed bursar of the Jesuit mission in Japan after the Spanish Jesuit Gil de la Mata (1547–98) died in a shipwreck when returning to Europe. Rodriguez ventured on the same return journey as his predecessor de la Mata on January 18, 1603, from the port of Nagasaki. After embarking for Europe, Rodriguez died near the port of Lisbon when his vessel also sank. He is listed in Schütte's catalog as the author of the Relação, and we concur with Schütte's attribution (Schütte 1961: 22).5 This Rodriguez is the author of a further letter in Latin, which is said to be the first letter from Japan, on October 13, 1592, from Takaku (Arima) in the province of Shimabara. In this letter he thanks the General Father of the Society for having sent him to the Indies and also writes about his knowledge of the Japanese language and his responsibilities within the Christian community in Japan (Rodriguez 1592). Due to the date of this letter, the author cannot be the first Rodriguez listed in the Kirishitan Bunko Library catalog, because the author of this letter visited Japan for the first time between 1591 and 1592, decades after Xavier and the first Rodriguez (Rodriguez 1556a).
There is also evidence of an Annua letter that this latter Rodriguez finished writing at the end of September 1601, and which was added to the same bound volume of manuscripts as the Relação (Rodriguez 1601). It offers the European reader a clear account of the years following the Imjin War and the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, which led to the founding of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1868), but its main focus is to provide information about the situation of Christianity in various parts of Japan.
The catalog of the Kirishitan Bunko Library lists a putative third Rodríguez, who wrote a letter in Rome on March 25, 1585, addressed to Father Francisco de Porres (1538–1621), rector of the College of Madrid, informing him about the arrival and reception in Florence and Rome of the Tenshō embassy (1582–90) (Rodriguez 1585). Due to the date of this letter and its Japanese connection, it is highly likely that this third Rodriguez is in fact the author of the Relação. Furthermore, in this letter from Rome, Rodriguez, who was a bursar, mentions several times that he has been appointed as a historian (“el oficio de historiador que nunca profesé”; “el trabajo que he tomado en hacerme historiador por server a V.R.”) and this fits with his later work reporting the events contained in the Relação (Rodriguez 1585: 411, 444). We therefore conclude that it is highly likely this Rodriguez and the author of the Relação are one and the same and that as part of his mission in Japan he was tasked with writing reports for the General of the Jesuit order.
The Sources of the Relação
The Relação is not the only contemporary European document to address the Imjin War. Prior to Rodriguez, other better-known authors such as Luís Fróis, Alessandro Valignano (1539–1606), Gregorio de Céspedes (1551–1611), and the bishop Luís Cerqueira (1552–1614) had discussed the Korean invasions (Cory 1937; Park 1993; Fróis 1976, 5: 286–641; Valignano 1954, 2: 416–97; Sousa 2019: 513–34, 538–44). Furthermore, we have evidence that Europeans in Asia knew about Hideyoshi's expansionist intentions even before the war, as Father Gaspar Coelho (1529–90) demonstrated in 1581 by commissioning a Portuguese fusta warship to be built in Nagasaki, in an attempt to show Hideyoshi that Europeans, and in particular the Spanish in the Philippines, could offer him military support (Hesselink 2016: 69–70; Álvarez-Taladriz 1988).
It is not clear precisely who provided Rodriguez with the information about the invasions of Korea that is contained in the Relação. From the writings of Fróis we know that Christian daimyo, most notably Konishi Yukinaga (baptized Dom Agostinho Tsunocamidono), provided the Jesuits with detailed knowledge of certain strategies planned by the Japanese during the Korean campaign (Fróis 1976, 5: 583). And we also know that Fróis received valuable information from the daimyo of Tsushima, Sō Yoshitoshi 宗義智 (1568–1615, baptized Dom Dario), who had converted to Christianity and married Yukinaga's daughter before repudiating both wife and religion after Yukinaga was on the losing side at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 (Fróis 1976, 5: 569). It is likely that Rodriguez also benefited from these daimyo sources, and as discussed below the focus of the manuscript certainly suggests that Yukinaga or a source close to him provided much of the information.
The first type of evidence pointing to the sources of the Relação are quotes in the manuscript that describe indirect speech and, due to the nature of their content, are evidently either a result of conversations with Japanese informants, the reading of Japanese reports, or overhearing conversations among Japanese discussants: for example, “In fact, they say that the Taico did not sign this agreement” (Posto que dizem que Taico não deu assinado seu) (f. 51v); “And they say that his preoccupation with what he had done” (E dizem que o cuidado e pensamento de este em que fizera lhe acarretou) (f. 52v); “which they say was six hundred thousand men” (que dizem seria de 600 mil homens) (f. 52v): “They say that the troops looked magnificent and were very well ordered. They also say that the fleet” (Dizem que era gente toda mui luzida e vinha muito bem ordenada. A armada do mar também dizem que) (f. 52v). The Japanese perspective in these examples implies that the information was obtained from Japanese sources.
The second type of evidence that offers a clue as to the sources of the Relação is the Yukinaga-centric structure of the narrative. As noted above, Konishi Yukinaga was one of the star converts to Christianity in Japan. Born into a mercantile family with powerful shipping interests, he entered Hideyoshi's service in 1581, serving as a fleet commander for Hideyoshi's 1585 and 1587 campaigns. He was granted a fief in Higo province and was one of Hideyoshi's senior generals during the Korean campaign (Sonoda 2003; Petrucci 2005: 16–24). Yukinaga converted to Christianity in 1584, one of the most high-profile Japanese daimyo to do so, and consequently features prominently in Jesuit reports from this time.6 Yukinaga is the hero and central character of the Relação, and his role is contrasted with that of Katō Kiyomasa 加藤清正 (1562–1611), another prominent member of Hideyoshi's army, who was a rival of Yukinaga and a staunch adherent of Nichiren Buddhism. Kiyomasa often appears in Jesuit sources as the enemy of Christianity, and the Relação is no exception (e.g., Fróis 1976, 5: 595)
The narration of the Relação focuses on the experiences of Yukinaga: his attempts to negotiate a peace settlement, the siege of his fortress at Sunch’ŏn 順天城, his escape from Sunch’ŏn, and his eventual betrayal by Kiyomasa in the closing moments of the war. As noted above, although the exact source or sources are not named, possible candidates include Yukinaga himself and Sō Yoshitoshi. Yukinaga's daughter Maria, herself a Christian convert and close disciple of the priest Céspedes, was married to Yoshitoshi at the time the Relação was written and may have been another conduit of information (Cory 1937: 10–11; see also Gonoi 2003).
The Relação as Jesuit Text
What was the purpose of the Relação? Looking at the first sentence of the manuscript (“In order to better understand the end and conclusion of this long war that the Japanese waged against the Koreans, we must take into account what has been written in previous letters” [f. 51]), the need to write this report originates from the desire to unify the many narratives about the end of the war that were scattered in different letters. Its objective then was to highlight the facts by further clarifying the Jesuit reports about the invasions “in order to better understand this battle” (53v). It attests to the fact that there was significant Jesuit interest in the war and that previous letters had been written in order to keep the Society updated on the course of the conflict. As noted below, the Jesuit mission was deeply concerned with the opportunities that the presence of Japanese Christian daimyo in Korea offered for Christian missionaries to become active on the peninsula for the first time.
The recipients of the Relação, besides the Fathers of the Society of Jesus, were undoubtedly intended to include the European reader—to be more precise, men from the clergy and the nobility who were used to reading the exploits of the Christian hero (Chevalier 1976). In this context Yukinaga may have served as a kind of Japanese version of the famed Castilian knight and warlord Cid Campeador: a great fighter who supported Christianity and also a man of peace (“who always delivered messages and conducted negotiations relating to the peace agreements” [f. 52v]), who was honored even by the opposing factions (f. 53), and eventually betrayed (f. 53). His intelligence and caution allowed him to survive even the most difficult ambushes, which the Jesuit writer also attributes to Yukinaga's idealized morality and constant desire for peace (“his great desire to finish negotiating the peace” [f. 53]).
At first, the Relação gives the European reader the impression that Yukinaga's army was an almost religious militia, the voice of the biblical God in Korea, a country that was encountering Christianity for the first time. One may therefore question whether Rodriguez possessed a full and firm understanding of Hideyoshi's invasions. On the other hand, Rodriguez's more realistic and in situ vision of the war has to be acknowledged. His manuscript offers a direct account of events, less exaggerated than other European historians who focused less on narrative detail and more on their assertion that one of the primary objectives of Hideyoshi was to extirpate Christianity and eliminate all the Christian daimyos by sending them to fight in the Korean war (e.g., Charlevoix 1736: 572–77). Although Rodriguez does mention this theory at the start of the Relação, the main body of his text deals with how the closing weeks of the war unfolded. In this, his work conforms to a European narrative scheme established by Herodotus in his Histories: the power of the Japanese nation and kingdoms, the uncontrollable desire for expansion, risk-taking, and finally the fall and attempts at peace agreements (Marino 2021).
According to Elisonas, the prominence of Christian daimyo gave an air of somewhat strange crusades to the Japanese-Christian enterprise in Korea, and this is also reflected in the writings of Fróis (Elisonas 1991: 273). The Christian faction in Korea included not only Konishi Yukinaga but also Sō Yoshitoshi, Ōmura Yoshiaki 大村喜前 (1568–1616, daimyo of Ōmura in Hizen, baptized Dom Sancho Ōmura), and Matsuura Shigenobu 松浦鎮信 (1549–1614, daimyo of Hirado in Hizen, baptized Dom Protasio Arima). However, all the Christian hopes rested on Yukinaga. European missionaries associated their notion of providentialism with him, that is, the belief that divine providence governed the destinies of Christians in Japan (Valcárcel Martínez 1997: 35–49). With this they also justified not only their presence in the Japanese archipelago but also the continuous risks posed to the Christian mission: “and this occurred thanks to the most pious Providence of God who wanted to save those Christian tonos who were with Agostinho” (f. 58). Because of Yukinaga, the Christians opened other doors for Christianity in Asia, particularly in Korea: “the second benefit which followed from the war was the large number of Koreans who were saved” (f. 58v). The ultimate goal of the manuscript's author is explained in the closing lines of the Relação: “So that the Lord our God, who freed us from that great tyrant and persecutor and opened for us many doors for the conversion of the gentiles, may give us great providence in order that with new fervor, zeal, and spirit, we might engage in the cultivation of our souls” (f. 59).
The Relação and East Asian History
The Relação offers a wealth of detail on battle tactics, weaponry, negotiations between the Japanese and Chinese sides, and internal machinations within the Japanese camp, filtered through a European gaze. Here we will concentrate on one example of what this manuscript can offer historians of East Asia: an inside view of the Japanese camp during the closing weeks of the conflict, which we will then cross-reference with extant sources in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, offering a global vision of the war's closing stages.
According to the author of the Relação, the well-known division between Konishi Yukinaga and Katō Kiyomasa made itself felt in the way the end of the war and the Japanese withdrawal from the peninsula unfolded. The manuscript details how, during the famous naval battle of Noryang Strait on the nineteenth day of the eleventh month of 1598, Yukinaga and his forces set sail from his fortress at Sunch’ŏn (J. Shuntenjō 順天城) heading for the Japanese fortress in Pusan, the final Japanese stronghold in Korea (f. 56). Kiyomasa was already at Pusan, and the Relação states that Yukinaga asked him to hold the fortress until his arrival (f. 57–f. 57v). The Relação narrates that Yukinaga intended to go to the fortress in Pusan and wait there for representatives from the Ming in order to swap Chinese hostages for Korean hostages, who would be taken back to Japan with the retreating Japanese armies (f. 57v).
If the account in the Relação is correct, it may show Yukinaga attempting to fulfill the hostage demands that had been contained in the Japanese conditions for peace first put forward during the 1593 negotiations. During those first negotiations, Hideyoshi had demanded a prince and several ministers as a guarantee of good behavior, casting the Korean Chosŏn dynasty in the role of a disobedient vassal (Swope 2009: 188). Even after Hideyoshi's death in 1598, Yukinaga continued to maintain this pretense and push for hostages to be handed over in the closing stages of the war. Although they did not continue to demand hostages, the elders charged with managing the country on behalf of Hideyoshi's young son issued a notice to the Japanese forces in Korea in the ninth month of 1598 urging that for the sake of Japan's reputation, a Korean prince should come to Japan to conclude the final negotiations for the Japanese withdrawal (Hur 2019: 68). Yukinaga's attempt to obtain Korean hostages is consistent with this continuing need to save face despite the failure of the Japanese invasion plans.
However, it is not clear from the Relação alone whether these face-saving Korean hostages were to include the royal prince who was originally demanded or other Korean individuals. This repeated attempt by Yukinaga to secure Korean hostages as he retreated is not recorded among the Japanese, Chinese, or Korean sources reprinted in Kitajima Manji's seminal three-volume collection of Imjin War primary materials (Kitajima 2017), nor is it mentioned in the official Korean record, the Sillok (Chosŏn wangjo sillok 2006). Moreover, as Nam-lin Hur has noted, by the end of the war hope was fading that the Korean king could be persuaded to hand over either of his two sons (Hur 2022: 36). There is, however, a report contained in the Kanyangnok 看羊錄 (Record of a Shepherd), written by the Korean war captive in Japan Kang Hang 姜沆 (1567–1618) that mentions the hostages and suggests that it was indeed a prince who Yukinaga desired to take:
Yukinaga, upon his arrival [in Japan], reported: “Kiyomasa did not wait for the Chosŏn prince, but burned his camp, and hurriedly withdrew. He destroyed the chance for negotiations at the very moment when they were at hand. Shimazu [Yoshihiro] and I brought the Chinese hostages with us and, calmly serving as the rear guard, returned home.”
行長旣到則又宣言曰淸正不待朝鮮王子焚營遽退使和議一事敗於垂成我與島津領唐質官從容殿後來。 (Kang  2022)
Thus, it is possible that Yukinaga still hoped to obtain a prince as a hostage or, at least when describing his actions once back in Japan, maintained the pretense of having continued to press for one.
The identity of the Chinese hostages held by Yukinaga and Yoshihiro is unclear from the text of the Kanyangnok. Boku Chonmyon in his annotated Japanese translation of the Kanyangnok suggests that it was Mao Guoke 芽国科 and Wang Jiangong 王建功, who had been captured by Shimazu Yoshihiro during the Chinese attack on his fortress at Sach’ŏn 泗川 (Boku 1984: 82, 169), an interpretation that is followed by Haboush and Robinson (2013: 181). The Relação offers evidence of another possibility. The manuscript narrates how Yukinaga had exchanged hostages with the Chinese commander Liu Ting 劉綖 (1552–1619) to guarantee his own safe passage out of his besieged fortress at Sunch’ŏn. When describing the hostages that Yukinaga hoped to exchange for Korean ones in Pusan, the Relação states that they were “Chinese hostages who had been given in Xunten [i.e., Sunch’ŏn] at the beginning of the peace negotiations” (f. 57v).
In other words, the account contained in the Relação claims that the Chinese hostages that Yukinaga hoped to exchange in Pusan were those which Yukinaga had received in order to guarantee his safe passage out of his fortress at Sunch’ŏn. In the end, however, the hostage exchange never materialized, because Katō Kiyomasa destroyed the fortress at Pusan and began his withdrawal, leaving Yukinaga and the Shimazu lord with no stronghold on the peninsula. In what appears to be a direct quote from Kiyomasa himself, the author of the Relação describes Kiyomasa as being highly skeptical of the wisdom and efficacy of Yukinaga's plan to wait at Pusan for a hostage exchange, for the following reasons: “Firstly, because Taico-sama [i.e., Hideyoshi], the man whom we feared, is dead. We were expecting a reward and honors from him. Now we no longer have a lord but a young boy who is uninterested in the Korean war. Secondly, while we are all here waiting in the one fortress, it may be that the Chinese will gather by sea and by land and try to destroy us” (f. 57v). According to the Relação, Kiyomasa agreed to Yukinaga's suggestion that Kiyomasa and his men should wait until Yukinaga arrived, after which they would be free to return to Japan and Yukinaga would handle the final arrangements and obtain the hostages. However, despite agreeing to wait, Kiyomasa instead set fire to the fortress. According to the author of the Relação, this was because Kiyomasa did not want Yukinaga to get the credit for a successful hostage exchange (f. 57v). As noted above, Kiyomasa was often cast as the enemy of the Christian cause in Jesuit reports from Japan and the Relação is no exception.
Japanese and Korean sources suggest that Kiyomasa may have also been motivated by other factors. Prior to Yukinaga's suggestion of waiting for a hostage exchange, we know from extant Japanese sources that Kiyomasa had already been ordered to return to Japan by Tokugawa Ieyasu on the nineteenth day of the tenth month (Tokugawa 1598), and on the eighteenth day of the eleventh month he had been ordered by the council of elders to leave the fortress in Pusan to go to the aid of Yukinaga, who was at that time still besieged at Sunch’ŏn (Katō 1598). Further complicating matters, the official record of the Chosŏn dynasty, the Sillok 實錄, reports that Kiyomasa had already burned the fortress and left on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, leaving a message pinned to the outside in which he stated that he was going to the rescue of Yukinaga (Chosŏn wangjo sillok 2006: 11.1598).7
There is thus some discrepancy in the records as to Kiyomasa's motives and the timing of his exit from Pusan. The Relação, which is narrated from Yukinaga's viewpoint, implies it was at or around the time when Yukinaga had escaped from Sunch’ŏn and skirted around the naval battle that was raging in the Noryang Strait on the nineteenth day of the eleventh month. But the Japanese and Korean records which deal with documents sent to or sent by Kiyomasa suggest his departure happened earlier. What seems likely is that a communication delay meant Yukinaga was still hoping to get to Pusan while he was retreating from Sunch’ŏn and that he did not know that Kiyomasa had already burned the fortress and left.
Even after the Pusan fortress was destroyed and Yukinaga had nowhere to retreat to in Korea, the Relação records that he was still attempting to barter his Chinese hostages for face-saving Korean hostages: “Agustinho sent a message to the Chinese commanders through a servant of those Chinese that he had taken hostage informing them that he was going to that island [i.e., Tsushima] because there was no fortress in Korea where he could stay. If, however, within six days they would send the hostages from Korea, he would wait for them on Tsuxima” (f. 58v). There was, however, no response from the Chinese side, and so Yukinaga and his compatriots retreated without the desired Korean hostages (f. 58v). Kiyomasa's fear that the Japanese forces would have been sitting ducks if they waited at the fortress in Pusan was confirmed: as the Japanese ships retreated to Tsushima they saw a “vast armada of many billowing sails” on its way (f. 58). With their head start, the Japanese forces were able to avoid further conflict.
Thus, by cross-referencing Jesuit sources like the Relação with Japanese, Chinese, and Korean materials, a more detailed picture of the closing stages of the war emerges. In addition to the well-known works by Fróis and Céspedes, there are many Jesuit texts relating to the war that are yet to be examined in detail. It is our hope that future collaboration between East Asian and European scholars will mean that these will be made more readily available to researchers in both regions.
The Translation: A Report on the End and Conclusion of the Korean War
[f. 51v] In order to better understand the end and conclusion of this long war that the Japanese waged against the Koreans, we must take into account what has been written in previous letters. These recorded that the Taico-sama8 [i.e., Toyotomi Hideyoshi] intended to subjugate a large part of the Korean kingdom, and that he sent some Japanese lords there. He did this so that he could be more at ease with more kingdoms and income in Japan.9 As part of this plan, he assembled his troops and sent them a second time to conquer Korea.10 And he also did this deliberately in order to cover up the disorder and insult with which he had dismissed the Chinese ambassadors.11 These ambassadors had asked him to withdraw his tents from the Korean lands, based on the promises that the Taico had made through his daimios and commanders12—namely, to withdraw all the troops in Korea and leave the fortresses that they had built there, in exchange for which the Chinese would visit him with an embassy and reopen the trade that used to exist between the Chinese and Japanese. In fact, they say that the Taico did not sign this agreement or make an official promise but left it up to his generals and his governors to arrange matters. However, after he saw the embassy, gifts, and the type of honors that the Chinese had bestowed upon him, he was incensed, and he dismissed them with great arrogance. Then, in order to cover up, as I mentioned, the breaking of his promise, he made the immoral decision to send a new army, saying that it was because the king of Korea would not come to visit him and had refused to send him a son as hostage, which he had requested in recognition of the obedience and vassalage that the Korean king owed to Japan.13 After learning of this, the emperor of China was greatly disturbed [f. 52] and he felt most affronted by the Taico-sama for treating him in this way and dismissing his ambassadors. He also feared that the Japanese would return to Korea to wage another pernicious war, because they are bellicose and short-tempered, and he feared that they could try to reach the kingdoms of China and conquer them. He therefore began to muster his troops and to watch the Japanese who were already in Korea.
Meanwhile, following the Taico's orders, the Japanese commanders entered via the Acaicuni, meaning “the red province.”14 They captured and destroyed fortresses, devastated cities, and killed countless numbers of people. They spared the lives of many others by cutting off their ears and noses; filling many bags with these, they sent them back to Miaco [i.e., Kyoto]. In the end, they wrought great damage and destruction upon that province, which comprises a large part of Korea. However, there was no means for them to maintain what they had captured or to force the peasants to cultivate their lands and help produce a harvest for them. This was because many of the peasants had fled to the mountains, where they lay in wait in holes in the ground to ambush the Japanese. When the peasants encountered them, they attacked and killed as many as they could. They periodically made these kinds of attacks against the Japanese, and in so doing prevented them from securing control over the conquered land. The Japanese informed the Taico of this and gave him detailed information about everything that had happened. Since he had already heard that the Koreans were very difficult to subdue and make peace with, he soon began to regret not having concluded a peace agreement with the Chinese. He was also aware that the Chinese had suddenly attacked one or two fortresses where the Japanese were stationed, killing many Japanese and almost causing them to surrender. He felt great pity and distress about the danger his people were experiencing in Korea because of him [f. 52v] and his poor leadership. And they say that his preoccupation with what he had done was to a great extent the cause of that illness from which he later died, because he saw all the trouble he had caused. Having been warned that the king of China had assembled a large army and a large fleet to overcome the Japanese, he dispatched Agostinho [i.e., Konishi Yukinaga]15—who always delivered messages and conducted negotiations relating to the peace agreements—in order that he might arrange matters as best he could, so that as soon as he was able to conclude the negotiations to the credit of his good name and the good name of Japan, the Japanese would retreat from their fortresses. However, he [Hideyoshi] meanwhile repaired and strengthened the fortresses very well by sending them large amounts of rice, weapons, and items for war.
And while the Chinese were also preparing supplies, ammunitions, and men, they sent some people to the front line in order to make peace with the Japanese and keep them occupied until the Chinese arrived with their army, which they say was six hundred thousand men, a number that can well be believed because of the multitudes of people living in the kingdoms and provinces of China. They sent orders to all the provinces, cities, and places of the empire to conscript and muster all the troops, who were essential because they estimated that there were at least one hundred and fifty or perhaps two hundred thousand Japanese soldiers in Korea. It was clear that one Japanese was a match for four, or five, or even ten Chinese, and so they could not bring fewer than six or seven hundred thousand men by sea and by land. They say that the troops looked magnificent and were very well ordered. They also say that the fleet was a sight to behold, because they brought two hundred or more ships, light, strong, and modified for battle, and well equipped with good artillery, as I will explain [f. 53] below.
Thus, the Chinese drew close, one day's walk from the fortress of Agustinho, which was the first fortress they encountered as they arrived from the south. They sent a deceptive message ahead of them, in which they stated that they were arriving in order to conclude the peace agreement that he had been working on. And because they wanted to hand over the hostages to Agustinho properly, they asked him to leave his location and move three leagues thence, where they were ready to receive and honor him and to hand over the hostages. In order that he would have more confidence in them and not fear betrayal, they told him to bring all the men he had with him in the fortress. But what they really intended was to draw Agustinho into a valley where he would have to cross a bridge over a very fast river that flowed there. Then, after Agustinho and his men had crossed the river and entered the valley, and while he [i.e., the Chinese commander] was giving them a banquet that he had determined to hold in a certain house that he had built there, five hundred men dug in nearby would give the alarm to others who were hidden and divided into three squads behind some hills where they had dug in around the valley. They would rise up suddenly against Agostinho and his people, who, compared to the Chinese, were few in number. They would make sure to finish them all off there and go on to take possession of the fortress that would be already clear of troops.16
Tsunocami Agustinho17 remained suspicious and thought it likely that the Chinese would betray him; many of his captains dissuaded him from going out into the countryside even if he was with all his people. But after much advice and altercation, Agustinho decided to go out confidently because of his great desire to finish negotiating the peace, and because it seemed to him that if he didn't go then, they would think he was a coward. Thus, he went, but did so deliberately with great pomp and display and took the precaution of bringing most of his [f. 53v] people with him, very well armed. In addition, he sent some rifles and spies ahead to scout out the field because he expected a fight.
Our Lord wanted them to discover those five hundred men who were dug in there. Upon making this discovery and realizing that they had been betrayed, Agostinho's men immediately fired their rifles, giving him the opportunity to withdraw from the trap. The Chinese thought that [this was the signal that] Agostinho's men were already inside the trap they had set. They fired some pieces of artillery that had been set up to call in the rest of the army. The Japanese realized the extent of the betrayal, and when they saw the multitude of people that came swarming down upon them like clouds, they made a gradual retreat back to their fortress. But their retreat was slow because the enemy had been so close by. There was a floodplain where Agostinho was pinned down and found himself in great trouble. But because he is naturally hardworking, worthy, and favored by fortune, he fought so skillfully together with his people as he withdrew from inside the trap that he killed many enemies and lost no more than sixty men from his army, and none of them of importance. And in this way Our Lord freed him from this dangerous trap and the betrayal that they had prepared for him. This was no small mercy for our doctrine.
Agostinho and his army retreated to their fortress and closed the gates with the enemy following close upon their heels. He set his army to defend the fortress and ordered his people to take up their positions, because a large part of the Chinese army immediately launched a charge. Surrounding the fortress on all sides, they bombarded it.18
In order to better understand this battle, it is necessary to describe Agostinho's fortress and its location. The place is called “Xunten” [i.e., Sunch’ŏn], and it is a strip [f. 54] of land that juts out into the sea, so that in ten parts of the whole it is surrounded by water. When the tide was out it left an area of dry land19 two leagues from the foot of the fortress that was closed off by the water, and the fortress could not be attacked from this seaward side by soldiers on foot. But the Chinese, who already knew the location and condition of the place, had large ships well equipped with weapons and inventions of fire. The navy was bold because underneath their ships the keels were flat and required only shallow water. Thus, with a full tide, they were able to come very close to the fortress, where they attacked it by sea with the help of high tides, and by land with troops and a growing fury of artillery, spears, arrows, and firebombs. They gave no rest to the Japanese, who defended with great effort using shotguns, bows, and other weapons.
And because the Chinese launched arrows, spears, and incendiary devices inside the fortress in order to set fire to the houses that were thatched with straw, Tsunocami commanded his people to remove the roofs of all the houses before any of them were burned or damaged by the Chinese artillery, who, it seems, are not so skilled in this art. Nevertheless, the people inside the fortress were in danger from the intense Chinese attacks by land and sea. In order that no help could come to them from the other [Japanese] fortresses, the Chinese divided their squadrons in such a way that they attacked many other [Japanese] fortresses at the same time as they had Agostinho surrounded with no means of escape.20
For this reason, the Christians tonos,21 seeing before their eyes such acute danger, also used spiritual weapons. Remorseful for their sins, they asked for forgiveness and help from our Lord. They used rosaries and put them around their necks together with Agnus-dei medallions and made vows and promises [f. 54v] of great fervor and devotion. An excellent spirit of devotion was seen particularly in the response displayed by Vomuradono [i.e., Ōmura Yoshiaki]22 at that time. He exhorted his men to show contrition and remorse for all their sins. It seems that our Lord wanted to hear the prayers and devout offerings of those who could not confess their sins because they were close to dying and giving an account of their life to God. The Chinese who fought by sea were so absorbed in the battle that they forgot to withdraw their ships to the deeper water in time; the tide ebbed and they did not perceive it. Thirty-seven vessels of the largest and most loaded kind from that armada remained behind on the beach. Agustinho sent people out to burn them, saving no more than two, which he intended to take to Japan in order to display them. However, they took much spoil of weapons and ammunition and killed around four to five thousand men. There were large quantities of silver carried on board these boats by the Chinese, hidden inside hollow sticks in such a way that whoever saw them thought they were just logs or any other piece of wood. This silver melted when the ships burned and some young men who went out during the period of the low tide dug up the seabed and took the silver.
At the same time that this was happening, the Chinese marched confidently to the fortress of Satsuma and passed by another fortress that was on the way, in which two hundred men were stationed.23 Since there were so few people there, the fortress could not repel the crowd of Chinese that attacked them, killing 140 Japanese. With this victory the Chinese were very proud and haughty and gave great cries and shouts to go on and fight against the fortress of the Yacata of Satsuma [i.e., Shimazu Yoshihiro].24 In order to protect themselves from the Japanese rifles and arrows, they were sheltered by long shields like the pavise [f. 55] that we [Europeans] use at sea in boats. In this way, they approached the fortress. However, the Yacata was a man skilled in the use of weapons and militia. He ordered that none of his soldiers should leave the fortress or take out a firearm or arrows for two days. In that time the Chinese spent and wasted all their gunpowder and stone shot, and then they taunted the Japanese. When the third day came, the Yacata prepared his people and sent them out to make an impromptu assault on the enemy, first with muskets and arrows, and then immediately dropping the bows and muskets and taking out their katanas.25 [He also ordered them] to not waste time with taking the heads of those who had been killed (which the Japanese were wont to do) so as not to embarrass themselves by killing fewer of the enemy. And the Yacata exhorted them to comport themselves as good and strong soldiers, who had long been renowned in battle. They assaulted the enemy with such fury and fought so valiantly that they destroyed all the Chinese squadrons and killed more than thirty thousand men. They pursued those who fled and halted their retreat at a river, where many Chinese drowned. They cut a swathe with their katana blades through others who were unable to take shelter. The Japanese were tired of killing and their katanas were blunt and misshapen by cutting. With this victory and great slaughter, the Yacata of Satsuma left fields strewn with dead Chinese. He was highly renowned and received great honor. He ordered his people to cut off the heads of the dead to ascertain their number, which passed (so everyone says) thirty thousand. He ordered all these heads to be impaled on sticks and the bodies buried in various graves, building high barrows of stone, [f. 55v] with banners in memory of such a notable victory and so many deaths.
The commanders and generals of the land army, who were besieging the fortress of Agustinho, saw the events involving the armada in which they lost thirty-seven large vessels and also heard of the collapse of their companions at the fortress of Satsuma, and so did not mount an attack. Before they became increasingly weakened and debilitated, they frightened Agustinho by means of a Japanese man who was there because of a certain debt that he could not pay to his lord.26 Finally, twenty days after the siege began, the peace agreement was concluded. The Chinese handed hostages over to Agustinho, who agreed to retreat to the main fortress that the Japanese had in Fusancai [i.e., Pusan]. He rushed to escape via the strait outside his fortress, but suddenly the Chinese naval captain27 prepared for battle in order to prevent the Japanese from leaving even though he had consented to the peace agreement and had handed over the hostages, as had the generals of the land army. Agustinho complained to the commander in chief of the land army, saying that the peace agreement had been poorly made and poorly kept, and that he did not understand the foolish resistance that they now were making against him by sea. The commander replied that there was nothing more on his part and that he would let him go peacefully, but that the navy admiral was an irrational and bellicose man, who would not obey him, and there was nothing he could do.
Agostinho was not satisfied with this answer, nor were the other Japanese. It seemed to him that the Chinese were looking for a way to break the agreement and kill as many Japanese as they could. There was another danger facing Agostinho: he [f. 56] knew his ships to be inferior to those of the Chinese and that they were loaded with cargo and poorly equipped to fight. For that reason he did not dare to undertake a departure. Terazawa Ximandono [i.e., Terazawa Hirokata],28 who was close by, was good friends with Agustinho and had authority in Korea by the order of the Taico. Seeing the great danger in which Agustinho found himself, he sent a message to the Yacata of Satsuma and to Yanangava,29 as well as to other lords who were there or very close by, telling them that they should assemble a good fleet of vessels and come to the aid of Agustinho.
The Japanese did so promptly because they were in a channel seven leagues from Agustinho's fortress, between the land of Korea and an island called Namu.30 They rowed to meet the Chinese armada where it was waiting for them and rammed the Chinese with such force that they captured some funes.31 Just at this moment, our Lord ordained that a man came rushing with news for Agustinho, telling him that the Chinese armada was defeated and the Japanese had won. Agustinho was ready with all the cargo prepared and his people on board the ships, and so upon hearing the news and because of the weather and the sea, he departed from the island without opening himself up to further encounters or paying attention to what was happening between the two armadas.
Once Agustinho with his people and boats were safe and he was full of great joy and satisfaction that everyone was out of danger, another report came to him, quite different from the first one, in which he learned that the Japanese had suffered a bad outcome in the battle because many of them had been killed and some Japanese funes had been burned. And in order to better understand this encounter and naval battle that the Japanese had with the Chinese, we will first note the great advantage that the Chinese vessels had in comparison with the Japanese vessels, because the Chinese ships were bigger and had high decks, which the Japanese ships did not have.32 The [f. 56v] Chinese stayed safe under their decks and rowed the funes to wherever they wanted. And they also had hatches through which they descended. The Japanese forced open some of these, trying to kill everyone so that the entrance was clear of people. The Chinese rowed away and took the Japanese inside to kill them or drown them in the sea. And in this way, they captured some men of Satsuma who were never seen again.
On one occasion, the Japanese captured one of these boats and took it to the shore. They left it anchored, thinking it was safe, for they did not know the trick of the decks that covered the funes, underneath which the Chinese were hidden. When the Japanese disembarked, the Chinese inside cast off and rowed out to the open sea, leaving the Japanese deceived and frustrated.
In addition to these ingenious means, the ships carried very good and varied ammunition with many inventions of fire and pots containing powder, which they threw onto the Japanese vessels and [thereby] burned them. They launched flaming arrows and spears that were like slow firebombs that billowed smoke and blinded the eyes of the Japanese so they could not see anything. The Japanese lacked all these inventions and fire trickery and their funes were very weak and inferior. Those of the Chinese had yet another advantage: their edges were plated and lined with iron blades and had sharp spikes like spines so it was difficult for enemies to enter. They had barbs and grapnels, which they launched onto the ships of their enemies, capturing them with iron chains that were not easily cut. Therefore, when the Japanese rammed the Chinese vessels and boarded them, cutting and killing valiantly, the Chinese were so superior [f. 57], so superbly strong in their vessels, and with the most advantageous equipment and weaponry, that they burned many Japanese vessels, the number of which, they say, reached seventy, and many people drowned or were burned. And many more would have died if this naval battle had been further away from the land, because many Japanese, seeing their boats in flames, beached their vessel on the island that was very close by or jumped into the sea and swam away.
Fidecan [Kobayashi Hidekane],33 son-in-law of the former king of Bungo [Ōtomo Sōrin],34 of whom we spoke before,35 was in great danger because he rammed a Chinese vessel with his ship. After fighting valiantly for some time, the Chinese killed the two attendants who had been defending him, one on his right and the other on his left, so that neither arrow nor bullet nor fire reached him. Our Lord saved him and so we have hope for the well-being and propagation of Christianity in his lands very soon. He knew the blessing of God who saved and freed him, and he knew that God had heard all the prayers that the Christians in Kurume, his city, had offered on his behalf.
The Japanese continued killing Chinese with their rifles and the fury of their katanas. And the Chinese were in grave danger, especially when the Japanese boarded and overwhelmed them with their swords. And when there was no escape, they set fire to their vessels, killing themselves and their enemies with all the cargo onboard. Afterward, the Japanese were proud to retell this story.
Ending this bitter battle, all the [Japanese] generals went to the place where Agustinho was anchored together with his forces, and they decided to go to Fusancai [i.e., Pusan] fortress, which was the last remaining stronghold of the Japanese in Korea. And there they would wait for the [f. 57v] hostages from Korea that the Chinese had negotiated in exchange for the Chinese hostages who had been given in Xunten [Sunch’ŏn] at the beginning of the peace negotiations.
This resolution did not seem right to Cazuyendono [i.e., Katō Kiyomasa],36 who is the principal enemy of Agustinho and is an envious man. He had his own schemes and plans. He and the other tonos of these kingdoms of Ximo37 had already retreated to that fortress [Pusan]. It did not seem right to them to wait there for a peace agreement and the delivery of the Korean hostages. “Firstly, because Taico-sama, the man whom we feared, is dead.38 We were expecting a reward and honors from him. Now we no longer have a lord but a young boy who is uninterested in the Korean war. Secondly, while we are all here waiting in the one fortress, it may be that the Chinese will gather by sea and by land and try to destroy us as they attempted to do with Tsunocamidono [i.e., Konishi Yukinaga] in Xunten.”
For these reasons Cazuyendono and the other tonos were determined to abandon the fortress and return to Japan. Agustinho and his companions sent him a message saying that they would be glad to withdraw in order to bring about a good conclusion of this long war of so many years, but that for the honor and good reputation of Japan they should take Korean hostages back with them, the Chinese having promised to deliver such hostages in return for those hostages that the Chinese had given him [at Xunten]. If they would wait for a few more days,39 then they could all leave. Since in any case they were determined not to wait [for the hostages] and to return to Japan, he [Yukinaga] would stay behind in order to hand over the Fusancai fortress and would wait there until everything was fully investigated and accomplished. They responded, swearing that they would wait in the fortress. However, although they had a great desire to return [f. 58] to Japan without further danger, out of envy Cazuyendono did not want to leave and let his enemy make the last peace agreements that would bring him great honor in Japan. He also did not want those in Japan to think badly of him for dishonorably leaving his companions behind in Korea, and so he replied, as I have noted above, swearing that he would wait.
But immediately that night they made preparations to leave and burned the fortress in order that Agustinho with the other soldiers were forced to return with them to Japan. This occurred thanks to the most righteous Providence of God, who wanted to save the Christian tonos who were with Agustinho. The very day on which Agustinho was forced with his companions to retreat to the island of Tsuxima40 because they no longer had a fortress, they saw in the sea a vast armada of many billowing sails that had previously fought with the Japanese. As a result, more Christians recognized the individual and collective benefits of God—he had ordained that the fortress should be burned, because there was a betrayal and one of the naval commanders, even after handing over the hostages, had determined to obstruct Agustinho's departure and destroy him. It seems that the Chinese had intended to gather all the Japanese in one fortress and surround them on land with all their army and the people of Korea, and then position their naval forces in the entrances of all the ports so that no one could come from Japan to help them. And thus, they would kill all the Japanese or capture them and finally take revenge for all the injuries, damage, and immense expenses that they had unjustly suffered over six or seven years.
When Agustinho and the other tonos who were with him saw [f. 58v] the fortress burning, they lost hope of staying in Korea and concluding the peace agreement they had started. So they all embarked, and as they were returning to Tsuxima, which is a day's journey from Korea, Agustinho sent a message to the Chinese commanders through a servant of those Chinese that he had taken hostage, informing them that he was going to that island because there was no fortress in Korea where he could stay. If, however, within six days they would send the hostages from Korea, he would wait for them on Tsuxima. And if not, [the Chinese hostages] would leave because he would take them with him to Japan. Since there was no response from Korea within this time, Agustinho decided to go to Japan with the other Christian tonos.
This was how this long and troublesome war that the Japanese waged against Korea ended. Because of it, many fortresses and cities were destroyed; they devastated kingdoms and killed and captured many people. Nevertheless, our Lord always brings good things out of evil, and we all understand that there were two benefits that our Lord brought out of these evils of the war, through which by his righteous judgments and divine justice he wanted to punish that kingdom. The first was through these means to prevent the Taicos's attempts to replace the tonos of these kingdoms down here [i.e., in western Japan], which would have been considerably detrimental to Christianity, as stated at the beginning. The second benefit that followed from the war was the large number of Koreans who were saved in this way; dying in Korea during the war some were converted to Christianity and others became Christians here in Japan and in other places of our Christian realm where they went.41 We have some of these Christians here and they make a good impression, displaying very good knowledge and ability in the things of God. There are a few who are highly honored and who know the Japanese language well; they can speak the idiom and know the way to make many others into Christians. And they want us to find a way for the Jesuit fathers to go to their land and bring the light [f. 59] to their countrymen, who are so blind and ignorant, and they offer their services to go as guides and to serve as interpreters there, helping the Fathers in everything. Our Lord began to save some of them and has enlightened them all and brought them into the community of his Church. Amen.
We entrust ourselves to the blessings, holy sacrifices, and prayers of Your Paternity, and also ask you to commend the other priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus in this Vice-Province and the Christians of Japan to remember us in their masses and prayers. May the Lord our God, who freed us from the great tyrant and persecutor and opened for us many doors for the conversion of the gentiles, grant us great providence in order that with new fervor, zeal, and spirit we might engage in the cultivation of our souls and this vineyard that pleases the Lord. Today, February 20 of the year 1599,
By the son of Your Paternity in domino.
Francisco Roiz [i.e., Rodriguez].
The authors would like to thank Renata Cabral Bernabé, Guillaume Carré, and Baihui Duan for their help, as well as the anonymous SJEAS reviewers. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 758347, and Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 892029).
The war is known by various names depending upon region and scholarly specialization, which reflects the fractured approach to the study of the war thus far. In modern South Korea, it is called “The Japanese disturbance of the Imjin Year” (Imjin waeran), in reference to the first year of the war, 1592, imjin (black water dragon) being a designation of the sexagenary calendrical cycle of the Chinese zodiac used throughout premodern East Asia. Scholars of Korea working in English sometimes use the translated nomenclature “The Imjin War,” which is the approach we adopt.
In addition to the considerable amount of scholarship that exists in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese, there is a growing body of work on the war in English. For monograph-length studies, see, for example, Hawley (2005), Turnbull (2008), Swope (2009), Haboush (2016), and Craig (2020). For an overview of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean research, see Chen et al. (2019), Kim (2016), Han (2013), Cho (2012), and Nakano (2010). Further details of Imjin War scholarship in multiple languages may be found in Clements et al. (2021).
See also Obara (1981: 365) and Schütte (1961: 22).
See also Santos Hernández (1998: 104) and Nazaré (1887, 2: 36–37).
However, there is another source that contradicts the above information. De León Pinelo (1787) reported that Francisco Rodriguez was born in Monte-Maior (Portugal) without specifying any date of birth. He died as a martyr in Japan between 1622 and 1633 (León Pinelo 1787: 174). The Annua letters printed in 1633 and dedicated to Nuncio Campegio also attest to this. However, due to his date of death it seems likely that this is in fact a third Francisco Rodriguez, who arrived in Japan later than the author of the Relação.
A notable exception to this trend is the writings of Valignano, see Petrucci (2005: 139–16).
Also reprinted in Kitajima (2017, 3: 1052–53).
Taico is a rendering one of Hideyoshi's Japanese court titles, taikō 太閤, meaning “regent” or “grand minister of state.”
The author subscribed to the theory found in other Jesuit writings that by sending daimyo to Korea, Hideyoshi would have the opportunity to administer their territories in their absence, and possibly make them his own eventually.
This refers to Hideyoshi's second invasion of Chosŏn in the second month of 1597.
For an account of this incident, see Sajima (2015: 939–107).
The original has “capitães,” a word used in this manuscript to refer to commanders of the land and sea armadas, but which can also mean a ship's captain in certain contexts.
In other words, the interpretation of this author is that Hideyoshi used the fact that the Ming had insultingly invested him as “king” of Japan as an excuse to invade Korea a second time, the perceived insult forming a convenient excuse to renege on the Japanese promise to withdraw. See Sajima (2015).
The term used by Hideyoshi and his invading armies for Chŏlla Province 全羅道. The manuscript follows the Japanese terminology.
For an account of this incident, see Swope (2009: 272).
“Tsunocami” is another name by which Yukinaga is referred to in Jesuit writings. It is taken from one of his titles, Settsu no kami 摂津守 (Governor of Settsu). To avoid confusion, in this translation we use the name Agustinho.
What follows is a description of the battle for Sunch’ŏn Castle 順天城, which took place in the tenth month of 1598. The Chinese commander, Liu Ting 劉綖 (1552–1619), attacked by land, and a naval force of more than twenty thousand led by Chinese admiral Chen Lin 陳璘 (d. 1609) and Korean admiral Yi Sunsin 李舜臣 (1545–98) attacked by sea. For an account of this battle, see Swope (2009: 271).
The manuscript has “em seco porem como era” (lit. “dry, however, as it was”).
This refers to the Battle of Sach’ŏn 泗川, discussed below.
The word is tono (殿) in Japanese, meaning “lord” or “lords.” The author of the Relaçao writes this as tonos in Portuguese, with a plural “s.”
The descriptions that follow refer to the Battle of Sach’ŏn in the tenth month of 1598. There were two castles in Sach’ŏn, an old Korean castle taken over by the Japanese forces and a newer and larger Japanese fortress. See Swope (2009: 269–71).
島津義弘 (1535–1619). The term Yacata comes from the Japanese word yakata 館, referring to the residence of a high-ranking lord, or to the lord himself.
J. katana 刀, a Japanese long, single-edged sword. The author adds an s to make the word plural.
The details of this incident are unclear.
The Korean admiral, Yi Sunsin. The Relação does not distinguish between Korean and Chinese forces.
寺沢広高 (1563–1633). The name used by the Jesuits, Ximandono (shima no tono, the Lord of Shima), comes from his title Shima no kami 志摩守 (Governor of Shima).
Probably Yanagawa Shigenobu 柳川調信 (?–1605).
Probably Namhae Island 南海島. What follows is a description of the famous Battle of Noryang 露梁, in which the Korean admiral Yi Sunsin was killed.
Derived from the Japanese word for “boat” (fune 船), the term was used in Portuguese to denote small Asian vessels and also certain European boats.
It is unclear whether the descriptions that follow refer to Chinese ships, Korean ships, or both.
This presumably refers to a previous letter or report by this author, since there is no other mention of Sōrin in the manuscript.
Shimo 下, that is, western Japan.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi died in the eighth month of 1598, just prior to the events narrated in the manuscript. He was succeeded by his son Hideyori 秀頼 (1593–1615), who was only five years old.
That is, if Kiyomasa and his forces could wait in Pusan until Konishi arrived to take over the fortress from them.
This refers to Korean captives sold as slaves via trading networks in Asia and beyond. See Sousa (2019).