Muyeol of Silla

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Muyeol
King of Silla
Reign 654 – 661
Coronation 647
Predecessor Jindeok of Silla
Successor Munmu of Unified Silla
Died 661
Silla
Burial Yeonggyeong temple, Gyeongju
Father Kim Yongsu
Mother Princess Cheonmyeong of Silla
Muyeol of Silla
Hangul 태종 무열왕
Hanja 太宗 武烈王
Revised Romanization Taejong Muyeol
McCune–Reischauer T'aejong Muyǒl
Birth name
Hangul 김춘추
Hanja 金春秋
Revised Romanization Gim Chun-chu
McCune–Reischauer Kim Ch'un-ch'u

King Taejong Muyeol(604- 661), born Kim Chun-Chu, was the 29th ruler of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. He is credited for leading the unification of Korea's Three Kingdom.

Background[edit]

King Taejong Muyeol was born with the "sacred bone" rank of seonggol. His father, Kim Yongsu (金龍樹), was a son of Silla's 25th ruler, King Jinji. When King Jinji was overthrown, all royalty from his line, including Kim Yongsu, were deemed unfit to rule over the kingdom. However, as he Yongsu was one of the few remaining seonggols, and married a seonggol princess (King Jinpyeong's daughter Princess Cheonmyeong), their child, Kim Chunchu, became seonggol and thus had a claim to the throne. Kim Yongsu was a powerful figure in the government. However, he lost all of his power to Kim Baekban, the brother of the king. In order to survive, he had accepted to become a jingol, the rank that was right below seonggol. Therefore, he lost his chance of becoming the king, and so did his child, Kim Chunchu. Following the death of his aunt, Queen Seondeok, Chunchu was passed over in favor of Jindeok of Silla, the last verifiable seonggol. With her death, all the seonggols were dead, so somebody with the royal blood in the jinggol rank had to succeed the throne. Kim Alcheon (a.k.a. So Alcheon), who was then Sangdaedeung (highest post of government) of Silla was the original favorite to succeed the throne. His father was a seonggol, who married a jingol wife so that his son would not be a seonggol and suffer from the fight for the throne. However, Kim Yushin supported Kim Chunchu, and Alcheon eventually refused the throne and supported Chunchu's claim. As a result, Kim Chunchu succeeded the throne as King Muyeol.

Marriage to Kim Yushin's sister[edit]

Kim Yushin had two sisters: Bohee and Munhee. Bohee was a shy girl with a delicate appearance, while Munhee was a tall and outgoing girl. Kim Yushin had always hope for one of his sisters to be married to Kim Chunchu.

One day, Kim Chunchu went to Kim Yushin's house for a game of Gyeokgu (격구,traditional Korean Polo). During the game, Kim Yushin deliberately tore off one of the tassels on Kim Chunchu's robe. Kim Yushin offered to have it sewn by one of his sisters, he then sent for Bohee to have it mend, but she was too nervous to come into the presence of a stranger, and politely refused by saying that "she cannot do something so small for someone so precious". Munhee stepped out and offered to sew it instead, when they met, Kim Chunchu and Munhee fell in love with each other. Kim Chunchu started to visit Munhee more often, but Kim Yushin pretended not to be aware of their relationship. Eventually, Munhee became pregnant however, Kim Chunchu decided to keep it a secret in fear of causing trouble since he was already a married man. When Kim Yushin found out about it, he scolded his sister severely, he then ordered their servants to spread the rumor of his sister's pregnancy and that he might kill her because of it. But all of that was just a plan to pressure Kim Chunchu into marrying his sister.

Not long afterwards, Queen Seondeok decided to take a walk with her officials on the Namsan Mountain. When he heard of it, Kim Yushin made a pile of dry logs and twigs in the garden outside of his house and set it on fire for the Queen to see. High up on the mountain, the Queen noticed the black smoke that was coming from Yushin's residence area, and asked those accompanying her if they knew the reason. No one dared to answer her, but simply looked at one another in embarrassment. When the Queen pressed on the issue, she finally learned from them about the rumor of Munhee's pregnancy out of wedlock and that Kim Yushin might burn her to death because of it. She was astonished with what they said and wondered "Who could the father be, to make Kim Yushin act like that". She then noticed the anxious look on Kim Chunchu's face and asked if he knew anything about it. After the truth was revealed, the Queen ordered him to go and save Munhee's life by granting him the permission to marry her as his second wife, to become his lawful spouse when his first wife passed away.

Munhee officially became his wife after Kim Chunchu’s wife (Boryang) died of childbirth with their second child. She became his Queen after he was crowned as the 29th King of Silla on year 654. Their child grew up to be King Munmu, who completed the unification of The Three Kingdoms of Korea, 29years after Queen Seondeok’s death. Kim Yushin became the most powerful man in the court during King Muyeol's reign and eventually became a Sangdaedeung, six years later. His sister Bohee also became one of King Muyeol's wives.

Reign[edit]

He was well acquainted with the Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty, for he and the Emperor were friends before Gaozong became an Emperor. King Muyeol was a great support to the Emperor, and the Emperor returned the support to King Muyeol. He constantly pleaded with the Tang for reinforcements to destroy Baekje, to which the Tang finally acquiesced in 660, sending 130,000 troops under General Su Dingfang. Meanwhile, Kim Yusin set out from Silla with 50,000 soldiers and fought the bloody Battle of Hwangsanbeol leaving Baekje devastated and unprotected. King Uija of Baekje finally surrendered, leaving only Goguryeo to face Silla as an adversary on the Korean peninsula.

In June of the following year King Muyeol died, leaving his son Kim Beopmin to assume the throne as King Munmu.

Family[edit]

  • Father: Kim Yongsu (金龍樹), son of King Jinji of Silla, 25th ruler of Silla, and Lady Jido of the Park clan
  • Mother: Princess Cheonmyeong (Hangul: 천명공주, Hanja: 天明公主), daughter of King Jinpyeong of Silla and Queen Maya
  • Uncle: Kim Yongchun (Hangul: 김용춘, Hanja: 金龍春), brother of Kim Yongsu; 13th Pungwolju of Silla
  • Aunt: Queen Seondeok of Silla, sister of Princess Cheonmyeong; 27th ruler of Silla
  • Wife:
    • 1st wife: Lady Boryang(daughter of Bojong); she died while giving birth to their second child. She and Kim Chunchu had two daughters.
    • Queen Munmyeong (Hangul: 문명왕후, Hanja: 文明王后), birth name "Kim Munhee" (Hangul: 김문희, Hanja: 金文姬), younger sister of General Kim Yushin, younger daughter of General Kim Seohyun and Lady Manmyeong.
  • Issue:[1][2]
    • King Munmu of Silla (626 – 681)
    • Kim Inmun (Hangul: 김인문, Hanja: 金仁問) (629 – 694)
    • Kim Munwang (Hangul: 김문왕, Hanja: 金文王) (629 – 665)
    • Kim Nocha (Hangul: 김노차, Hanja: 金老且)
    • Kim Jigyeong (Hangul: 김지경, Hanja: 金智鏡)
    • Kim Gaewon (Hangul: 김개원, Hanja: 金愷元)
    • Kim Intae (Hangul: 김인태, Hanja: 金仁泰)
    • Kim Gaejimun (Hangul: 김개지문, Hanja: 金皆知文)
    • Kim Chadeuk (Hangul: 김차득, Hanja: 金車得)
    • Kim Madeuk (Hangul: 김마득, Hanja: 金馬得)

Ancestry[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ King Munmu and Kim Inmun are known for certain to be sons of Queen Munmyeong. It is also certain that Kim Intae, Kim Gaejimun, Kim Geodeok, and Kim Madeok were the sons of concubines.
  2. ^ The identity of Kim Munwang, Kim Nocha, Kim Jigyeong, and Kim Gaewon's mothers are uncertain. According to the Samguk Yusa, they are listed as sons of Queen Munmyeong. In the Samguk Sagi, they are listed as sons of concubines.

External links[edit]

Muyeol of Silla
Born: 604 Died: 661
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Jindeok
King of Silla
654–661
Succeeded by
Munmu