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Headed by the shoguns (military dictators) of the Tokugawa family, the Tokugawa shogunate was the third and longest lasting shogunate to rule Japan, running the country for 265 years and overseeing one of the longest periods of peace in Japanese history, a peace often known as the "Pax Tokugawa." Tokugawa hegemony began following Tokugawa Ieyasu's great victory at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, in which he defeated his last major rivals for dominance over Japan. In 1603, Ieyasu was granted the title of seii taishogun, formally initiating the Tokugawa shogunate that Ieyasu's descendants would rule until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

The period of Tokugawa rule, known to history as the Edo Period after the shogunal seat at Edo (modern-day Tokyo), was a time of lasting peace, but was not without its political and social upheavals. In the early years, as the Tokugawa solidified their power, they oversaw the destruction of the last overtly Christian Japanese in the Shimabara rebellion of 1637, and led the country into National Seclusion with a series of edicts from 1633 to 1641 that banned Japanese from travelling abroad and foreigners from entering Japan, with the exception of a handful of Dutch and Chinese traders at Nagasaki.

The Tokugawa shogunate presided over a golden age of peace and prosperity during the Genroku Era in the late 1600s, but in the 18th century a series of famines, rampant inflation, and declining rice prices eroded the social order. As the ossified societal controls of earlier eras began to give way, a great flourishing of popular culture arose, but ultimately the upheavals would foster a growing discontent with the shogunate's old-fashioned ways that, in combination with the shock of the arrival of Commodore Perry's flotilla in 1854, would culminate in the overthrow of the shogunate in 1868.

Tokugawa Shoguns

Tokugawa Ieyasu      (16031605)
Tokugawa Hidetada    (1605–1623)
Tokugawa Iemitsu     (1623–1651)
Tokugawa Ietsuna     (1651–1680)
Tokugawa Tsunayoshi  (1680–1709)
Tokugawa Ienobu      (1709–1712)
Tokugawa Ietsugu     (1712–1716)
Tokugawa Yoshimune   (1716–1745)
Tokugawa Ieshige     (1745–1760)
Tokugawa Ieharu      (1760–1786)
Tokugawa Ienari      (1786–1837)
Tokugawa Ieyoshi     (1837–1853)
Tokugawa Iesada      (1853–1858)
Tokugawa Iemochi     (1858–1866)
Tokugawa Yoshinobu   (1866–1868)

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