Myeongjong of Joseon

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Myeongjong of Joseon
Hangul 명종
Hanja 明宗
Revised Romanization Myeongjong
McCune–Reischauer Myŏng-jong
Birth name
Hangul 이환
Hanja 李峘
Revised Romanization I Hwan
McCune–Reischauer I Hwan
Monarchs of Korea
Joseon Dynasty
  1. Taejo 1392–1398
  2. Jeongjong 1398–1400
  3. Taejong 1400–1418
  4. Sejong the Great 1418–1450
  5. Munjong 1450–1452
  6. Danjong 1452–1455
  7. Sejo 1455–1468
  8. Yejong 1468–1469
  9. Seongjong 1469–1494
  10. Yeonsangun 1494–1506
  11. Jungjong 1506–1544
  12. Injong 1544–1545
  13. Myeongjong 1545–1567
  14. Seonjo 1567–1608
  15. Gwanghaegun 1608–1623
  16. Injo 1623–1649
  17. Hyojong 1649–1659
  18. Hyeonjong 1659–1674
  19. Sukjong 1674–1720
  20. Gyeongjong 1720–1724
  21. Yeongjo 1724–1776
  22. Jeongjo 1776–1800
  23. Sunjo 1800–1834
  24. Heonjong 1834–1849
  25. Cheoljong 1849–1863
  26. Gojong 1863–1907
  27. Sunjong 1907–1910

King Myeongjong (3 July 1534 – 3 August 1567, r. 1545–1567) was the 13th king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. He was the second son of Jungjong, and his mother was Queen Munjeong, who was Jungjong's third queen.

He became king in 1545 at the age of 12 following the death of his half-brother, Injong. Since he was too young to rule the kingdom, Queen Munjeong governed the nation in his name.

Political factions[edit]

There were two political factions at the time Myeongjong came to power; Greater Yoon, headed by Yoon Im, Injong's maternal uncle,[1] and Lesser Yoon, headed by Myeongjong's maternal uncles, Yoon Won-hyeong and Yoon Wonro.[2] (Yoon Im and Yoon Brothers were close relatives by that period's standards - Yoon Im's great-grandfather was older brother of Yoon Brothers' great-great-grandfather.) Greater Yoon took power in 1544, when Injong succeeded Jungjong; but they failed to wipe out their opposition, since Queen Munjeong protected the Lesser Yoon faction and other opposition officials.

After the death of Injong in 1545, Lesser Yoon replaced Greater Yoon as the majority in the royal court and brutally ousted their adversaries in the Fourth Literati Purge of 1545. Yoon Im was executed, as were many of his followers.

Rise of Yun Won-hyeong[edit]

The Lesser Yun faction continued to attack their opposition. In 1546, Yoon Won-hyeong impeached his older brother, Yoon Won-ro, who was executed a few days later along with his followers. Facing no opposition from the government, Yoon Won-hyeong became Minister of the Interior in 1548, Vice Premier in 1551 and ultimately Prime Minister in 1563.

Despite Yun Won-hyeong's violent rule, Queen Munjeong was an effective administrator, distributing to the common people land formerly owned by the nobility. However, she held on to rule even after the king reached his majority at the age of 20.

Death of Queen Munjeong[edit]

After the death of Queen Munjeong in 1565, the king decided to rule the kingdom by himself and had his uncle Yoon Won-hyeong put to death, along with his second wife[3] Jeong Nan-jeong, who also rose to power due to her close friendship and being second sister-in-law to Queen Munjeong.[4][5] Yun Won-hyeong allowed corruption to flourish in the government; while the kingdom was unstable, Jurchens, Japanese, and rebellious troops rampaged at will and threatened the government itself. Rebel leader Im Kkeok-jeong was arrested and executed in 1552, but outside invasion continued; the Joseon Dynasty had to re-mobilize its army and navy along to protect its borders.

Death and succession[edit]

Myeongjong tried to reform the government after taking power into his own hands by recalling and reinstating Sarim scholars who were exiled in the purge, but died only two years later without any male issue.[6] King Seonjo, his half-nephew, succeeded to the throne in 1567.

Family[edit]

His full posthumous name[edit]

  • King Myeongjong Gongheon Heoneui Somun Gwangsuk Gyeonghyo the Great of Korea
  • 명종공헌헌의소문광숙경효대왕
  • 明宗恭憲獻毅昭文光肅敬孝大王

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Yoon Im is the older brother of Queen Janggyeong (Injong's mother).
  2. ^ They were Queen Munjeong's older brother.
  3. ^ Originally his concubine, Jeong Nan-jeong had the first wife, Lady Kim, poisoned to death.
  4. ^ She became a dictator; the real power behind the veil of Queen Munjeong's regency.
  5. ^ Actually, Jeong Nan-jeong committed suicide as a domino effect of misfortunes: Queen Munjeong's death, and her loss of control of the government.
  6. ^ His only son, the Crown Prince, died 4 years before his own death.

External references[edit]

Preceded by
Injong
Rulers of Korea
(Joseon Dynasty)

1545–1567
Succeeded by
Seonjo