Jangsu of Goguryeo

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King Jangsu
King of Goguryeo
Reign 413-491 (78 years)
Predecessor Gwanggaeto the Great
Successor Munjamyeong of Goguryeo
Born 394
Died 491 (aged 96–97)
Issue Crown Prince Juda
Father Gwanggaeto the Great
Jangsu of Goguryeo
Hangul 장수태왕
Hanja 長壽王
Revised Romanization Jangsu-taewang
McCune–Reischauer Changsu-taewang
Birth name
Hangul 거련 or
Hanja 巨連 or
Revised Romanization Georyeon or Yeon
McCune–Reischauer Kǒryǒn or Yǒn

King Jangsu of Goguryeo (394–491, r. 413–491)[1] was the 20th monarch of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three States of Korea. He was born in 394, the eldest son of Gwanggaeto of Goguryeo. He became crown prince in 408, and upon his father's death in 413, became King at the age of 19.[2]

He reigned over the peak of Goguryeo's power, building on his father's territorial expansion. He is also noted for the Gwanggaeto Stele. His posthumous name means "long life."

The "Tomb of the General" in Ji'an, China, former capital of Goguryeo. Chinese scholars posit this to be the tomb of King Jangsu and his consort, though many Korean scholars argue Jangsu's tomb is in Pyongyang, where Jangsu had moved the capital in 427 (July 2010).

Early reign[edit]

At first, Jangsu dedicated much of his efforts towards stabilizing an empire that had experienced great and sudden growth, a direct result of his father's conquests. Jangsu had built a magnificent tomb for his father, and along with it an imposing 4 meter tall tombstone engraved with his father's accomplishments (now known as the Gwanggaeto Stele).[3]

In 427, he transferred the Goguryeo capital to Pyeongyang from Gungnae Fortress (modern Ji'an on the China-Korean border).[4][5] There were various reasons for this shift: to prepare for the offensive against Baekje and Silla. After moving the capital southward, King Jangsu decided to continue the conquests of his father.[6]

Northwestern campaign[edit]

When Gwanggaeto the Great ruled Goguryeo in early 4th century, the Chinese mainland was severely divided into five foreign races and Sixteen Kingdoms. His father advanced its footstep into Later Yan around present-day Liaoning Province in 408.[7] One thing particular was the shift of hegemony in northern China[5]

After the fall of Later Yan, Han Chinese drove Murong clan of Xianbei northward and established Northern Yan Kingdom in the area.[8][9] However, another power of Xianbei Northern Wei poised threats to Northern Yan, seeking combined operation with Goguryeo, which made itself head to southern expansion instead of frequent conflicts westward.[8]

Song Dynasty during the era, which was in the feud against Northern Wei,[2] encouraged both Northern Yan and Goguryeo as rivaling nations of Northern Wei. However, the plan did not work out all right as Jangsu turned against them and destroyed Northern Yan in 438. He conquered the entire region and held its ex-king as captive. Song court was outraged and warned King Jangsu that the death of Yan king means the war between two nations; However Jangsu ignored the warning and executed the king. Song troops then attacked Goguryeo but were easily defeated. The peace resumed in the following year when Jangsu sent 800 horses as gift to the Song Emperor, to prepare for the war against Northern Wei, so Goguryeo can concentrate its forces against Baekje and Silla while two Chinese powers were in war against each other.[10] Jangsu again encouraged Song to invade Wei in 459 when he sent loads of crossbows and provided gold and silver. Wei government was upset by his actions but had to keep peace with Goguryeo to continue war against Song and Rouran. Jangsu also sought a relationship with Wei to wage war against Baekje, so the two empires established formal relationship in 435. Grounded in temporary peace, northern states and Goguryeo didn’t have further conflicts until 598.[10]

Southern expansion[edit]

In 472, King Gaero of Baekje sent a letter to the emperor of Northern Wei. He stated that he was having trouble interacting with Wei because of frequent Goguryeo intervention, thus calling for military action against Goguryeo. However, Baekje failed to get its emissary back and receive military support of Wei.[11][12] As a result, King Jangsu secretly planned to attack Baekje, which despite its losses against Gwanggaeto of Goguryeo's invasions, still held a significant powerbase in the peninsula. To disarm Baekje, he sent a Buddhist monk named Dorim.[2] Dorim went to King Gaero's court, with the secret objective of corrupting the country before the invasion of Goguryeo. King Gaero began to favor Dorim, and played baduk (the board game) with him every day, and he was able to talk Gaero into spending large sums of money on construction projects, which weakened the national treasury.[13]

In 475, King Jangsu launched a full-scale invasion from both land and sea against the now politically unstable kingdom of Baekje. Dorim was successful in gaining information about Baekje[13] and consequently King Gaero was not at all prepared for the assault formulated by Goguryeo and King Jangsu. With momentum now in his favor, Jangsu then proceeded toward the capital and easily captured the city of Wiryesong, and slew King Gaero.[14][15] Soon after, King Jangsu burnt the capital to the ground, along with several cities that he conquered from Baekje. Henceforth, Baekje had no choice but to move its capital to Ungjin (present day Gongju), eighty miles south to find a natural protection to a devastated kingdom.[2][12] The war gave Goguryeo more or less total control of the Han River valley, the region essential to commercial and military power in the Korean Peninsula;[3] Baekje was able to be a superior nation on the peninsula because it had the control of the region for almost 500 years, but since the ruler of the area changed, it lost the control of the peninsula.

After successfully concluding his campaign in Baekje, Jangsu then turned his attention toward the second peninsular kingdom of Silla[2] and with its addition, erected a stone monument in present-day Chungju, praising the accomplishments of his father and himself.[16] This monument marked the border between the southern kingdoms and Goguryeo and remains in the same site, holding its historic importance as the only surviving Goguryeo-era monument in Korean peninsula.[17] In case of southerneast kingdom of Silla, it remained a vassal state of Goguryeo after gaining massive raids of combined forces of Baekje and Wa in the reign of Gwanggaeto.[18] To secure the de-facto protectorate, Goguryeo demanded the younger brother of King Nulji of Silla pay a visit in its royal court, being its captive for the time being.[19] Under the reign of Jangsu, series of battles occasionally broke out.


Goguryeo at its zenith c. 476.

Relations with China and Rourans[edit]

The unification of northern China by Norther Wei became crucial point for both southern dynasties of China and Goguryeo.[9] In 479, Jangsu sent delegate to Rouran to establish friendly relationship with a view to keeping Northern Wei under control.[20] After settling peace with Rourans, Jangsu attacked the Khitans, then a branch of Xianbei confederacy at the time.[21][22]

After Khitans surrendered to Goguryeo, Jangsu sent gifts to both Northern Wei and Southern Qi, which took over southern half of China after overthrowing Song in 479.[20] Both Qi and Wei tried to tighten Goguryeo's relationship with them; Wei emperors treated Goguryeo delegates equal to Chinese delegates. Under the reign of Emperor Xiaowen alone, eighty-six emissaries were sent, whereas the frequency started to drop since King Jangsu continued to keep hospitality with Qi;[23] the delegates exchange in decrease further outraged Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei again, and at last he gave order to kidnap the Goguryeo delegate before he gets to Qi capital. However Jangsu sent delegates again to Qi, and Northern Wei could not block Jangsu, which indicated the success of his diplomacy policies, maximizing the situation of power struggles within divided Chinese kingdoms.

Inter-relations of Korean kingdoms[edit]

Confronted with harsh attacks of Goguryeo into southern area of Korea, Baekje and Silla found the way for survival based on the marriage relationship from 433. Since each royal lineage played a role of de-facto captive, both sides were not easily detached from the alliance which lasted more than a century.[24]

Gaya confederacy between Silla and Baekje came in deeper trouble owing to geographical situation rendered itself not become developed into advanced kingdom.[25]

Death and legacy[edit]

King Jangsu died in 491, at the age of 97. His temple name means "long life" in hanja. During his reign, Goguryeo was at its golden age, stretching from Mongolia to current north Chungcheon province of South Korea, south of Han River basin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Corfield, Justin (2014). Historical Dictionary of Pyongyang. Anthem Press. p. XV. ISBN 9781783083411. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "King Jangsu". KBS Radio. KBS. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Lee, Injae; Miller, Owen; Park, Jinhoon; Yi, Hyun-hae (2014). Korean History in Maps. Cambridge University Press. pp. 30, 49. ISBN 9781107098466. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  4. ^ ICOMOS; Kim, Lena (2010). Koguryo Tomb Murals: World Cultural Heritage. Giljabi Media. p. 99. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Jeon, Hotae (2007). Koguryŏ = Koguryo, the origin of Korean power & pride. Seoul: Northeast Asia History Foundation. pp. 25–27. ISBN 9788991448834. 
  6. ^ Bae, Kichan (2007). Korea at the crossroads : the history and future of East Asia (1st ed.). Seoul: Happyreading. p. 87. ISBN 9788989571469. 
  7. ^ Walthall, Anne; Ebrey, Patricia Buckley (2014). East Asia : a cultural, social, and political history. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth. p. 103. ISBN 9781133606475. 
  8. ^ a b Holcombe, Charles (2001). The genesis of East Asia : 221 B.C. - A.D. 907. Honolulu: Associate for Asian Studies [u.a.] pp. 174–175. ISBN 9780824824655. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Northeast Asia History Foundation. "Koguryo: The glorious ancient Korean Kingdom in Northeast Asia" (PDF). NAHF. p. 76. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  10. ^ a b "King Jangsu(2)". KBS Radio. KBS. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  11. ^ Kim, Bushik (1145). Samguk Sagi. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Ring, Trudy; Watson, Noelle; Schellinger, Paul (2012). Asia and Oceania: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Routledge. p. 484. ISBN 9781136639791. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  13. ^ a b Yi, I-hwa; Lee E-Wha; Ju-Hee Park (2005). Korea's pastimes and customs. Homa & Sekey Books. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-1-931907-38-5. 
  14. ^ Historical Survey Society (2007). Seoul : a field guide to history (English ed.). Paju: Dolbegae Publishers. p. 16. ISBN 9788971992890. 
  15. ^ Korean Historical Research Association. (2005). A history of Korea. London: Saffron Books. p. 43. ISBN 9781872843872. 
  16. ^ "Chungju Goguryeobi Monument (중원/충주 고구려비)". Visit Korea. Korea Tourism Organization. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  17. ^ "Goguryeo stele found in northern China". Korea Herald. Yonhop. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  18. ^ Walthall, Anne; Ebrey, Patricia (2013). Pre-modern East Asia : a cultural, social, and political history. (3rd ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth. p. 103. ISBN 9781133606512. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  19. ^ Il-yeon (1281). Samguk Yusa (三國遺事 卷第). Retrieved 2 February 2016.  至訥祗王即位三年己未, 句麗長壽王遣使來朝云, “寡君聞大王之弟寳海秀智才藝, 願與相親特遣小臣懇請.” 王門之幸甚因此和通命, 其弟寳海道於句麗, 以内臣金武校勘 271謁為輔而送之. 長壽王又留而不送.
  20. ^ a b Northeast Asia History Foundation. "Koguryo: The glorious ancient Korean Kingdom in Northeast Asia" (PDF). NAHF. p. 28. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  21. ^ Kim, Hyun Jin (2013). The Huns, Rome and the birth of Europe (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 61. ISBN 9781107009066. Retrieved 2 February 2016.  The Khitans, although descended from the Xianbei and presumably inheriting their martial and political traditions, were for a long time a weak people who were subjected successively to the Rouran, Koguryo, Sui-Tang China and then most importantly the Gokturk.
  22. ^ Jeon, Ho-Tae (2007). The Dreams of the living and hopes of the dead : Gogureo tomb murals. Seoul, Korea: Seoul National University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9788952107299. 
  23. ^ Holcombe, Charles (2001). The genesis of East Asia : 221 B.C. - A.D. 907. Honolulu: Associate for Asian Studies [u.a.] p. 58. ISBN 9780824824655. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  24. ^ Walker, Hugh Dyson (2012). East Asia: A New History. Author House. p. 137. ISBN 9781477265178. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  25. ^ Seth, Michael J. (2011). A history of Korea from antiquity to the present. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 27. ISBN 9780742567177. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
Jangsu of Goguryeo
Born: 394 Died: 491
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gwanggaeto the Great
King of Goguryeo
Succeeded by
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Gwanggaeto the Great
King of Korea
Reason for succession failure:
Three Kingdoms of Korea
Succeeded by