Taejo of Goryeo
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|King Taejo of Goryeo|
|Reign||July 25, 918 – July 4, 943|
|Coronation||July 25, 918|
|Successor||Hyejong of Goryeo|
January 31, 877|
Songak, Unified Silla
|Died||July 4, 943(aged 66)|
Queen Janghwa (Mother of Goryeo's 2nd Emperor Hyejong of Goryeo)
|Issue||Hyejong of Goryeo,
Jeonjong of Goryeo,
Gwangjong of Goryeo
|House||House of Wang|
|Revised Romanization||Wang Geon|
Taejo of Goryeo (January 31, 877 – July 4, 943), also known as Taejo Wang Geon (Wang Kon, 왕건), was the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty, which ruled Korea from the 10th to the 14th century. Taejo ruled from 918 to 943.
Taejo was born in 877 and was a descendant of a merchant family at Songdo (modern Kaesong), who controlled trade on the Yeseong River. His father, Wang Yung (왕륭, 王隆), gained much wealth from trade with China. His ancestors were known to have lived within the boundaries of ancient Goguryeo, thus making Wang Geon a man of Goguryeo by descent.
Rise to power
Taejo began his career in the turbulent Later Three Kingdoms (hanja: 後三國時代 ). In the later years of Silla, many local leaders and bandits rebelled against the rule of Queen Jinseong, who did not have strong enough leadership or policies to improve the condition of the people. Among those rebels, Gung Ye (궁예; 弓裔) of the northwestern region and Gyeon Hwon (견훤; 甄萱) of the southwest gained more power. They defeated and absorbed many of the other rebel groups as their troops marched against local Silla officials and bandits. In 895, Gung Ye led his forces into the far northwestern part of Silla, where Songdo was located. Taejo's father, Wang Yung (later Sejo of Goryeo), along with many local clans, quickly surrendered to Gung Ye. Wang Geon followed his father into service under Gung Ye, the future leader of Taebong, and he began his service under Gungye's command.
Wang Geon's ability as a military commander was soon recognized by Gung Ye, who promoted him to general and even regarded him as his brother. In 900, he led a successful campaign against local clans and the army of Later Baekje in the Chungju area, gaining more fame and recognition from the king. In 903, he led a famous naval campaign against the southwestern coastline of Hubaekje (Keumsung, later Naju), while Gyeon Hwon was at war against Silla. He led several more military campaigns, and also helped conquered people who lived in poverty under Silla rule. The public favored him due to his leadership and generosity.
In 913, he was appointed as prime minister of the newly renamed Taebong. Its king, Gung Ye, whose leadership helped found the kingdom but who began to refer to himself as the Buddha, began to persecute people who expressed their opposition against his religious arguments. He executed many monks, then later even his own wife and two sons, and the public began to turn away from him. His costly rituals and harsh rule caused even more opposition.
Rise to the throne and founding of Goryeo
|Monarchs of Korea
In 918, four top-ranked generals of Taebong — Hong Yu (홍유; 洪儒), Bae Hyeongyeong (배현경; 裵玄慶), Shin Sung-gyeom (신숭겸; 申崇謙) and Bok Jigyeom (복지겸; 卜智謙)—met secretly and agreed to overthrow Gung Ye's rule and crown Wang Geon as their new king. Wang Geon first opposed the idea but later agreed to their plan. The same year Gung Ye was overthrown and killed near the capital, Cheorwon. The generals installed Wang Geon as the new king of this short-lived state. He renamed the kingdom Goryeo, thus beginning the Goryeo Dynasty. The next year he moved the capital back to his hometown, Gaegyeong.
He promoted Buddhism as Goryeo's national religion, and called for the reconquest of the northern parts of Korea and Manchuria, which were controlled by Balhae. Balhae's rule over vast regions of Manchuria and parts of Siberia were overthrown by the Khitan invasion in 926, and the majority of its people came to Goryeo as refugees led by Balhae's last Crown Prince Dae Gwang-hyeon. Taejo accepted them as his citizens, since Balhae and Goryeo came from common ancestry (Goguryeo), and captured the old, then abandoned capital city of Goguryeo, P'yŏngyang. He also sought alliances and cooperation with local clans rather than trying to conquer and bring them under his direct control.
The War of the Later Three Kingdoms
In 927, Gyeon Hwon of Hubaekje led forces into Silla's capital, Gyeongju, capturing and executing its king, King Gyeongae. Then he established King Gyeongsun as his puppet monarch before he turned his army toward Goryeo. Hearing of the news, Taejo planned a strike with 5000 cavalrymen to attack Gyeon's troops on the way back home at Gongsan near Daegu. He met Hubaekje forces and suffered disastrous defeat, losing most of his army including his generals Kim Nak and Shin Sung-gyeom, the very same man who crowned Wang as a king. However, Goryeo quickly recovered from defeat and successfully defended Hubaekje's attack on its front.
In 935, the last king of Silla, King Gyeongsun, felt there was no way to revive his kingdom and surrendered his entire land to Taejo. Taejo gladly accepted his surrender and gave him the title of prince, and accepted his daughter as one of his wives (Wang had six queens, and many more wives as he married daughters of every single local leader). It caused much disgust to Gyeon Hwon. Gyeon's father, who held his own claim to the Sangju region, also defected and surrendered to Goryeo and was received as the father of an king.
In the same year, Gyeon Hwon's oldest son, Gyeon Singeom (hanja: 甄神劍 ), led a coup with his brothers Yanggeom and Yonggeom, against their father, who favored their half-brother, Geumgang, as his successor to the throne. Gyeon Hwon was sent into exile and imprisoned in Geumsansa, but escaped to Goryeo and was treated like Taejo's father, who died just before his surrender.
Goryeo victory and unification
In 936, Wang led his final campaign against Singeom of Later Baekje. Singeom fought against Taejo, but facing much disadvantage and inner conflict, he surrendered to Taejo. Wang finally occupied Hubaekje formally, and unified the nation for the second time since Unified Silla; he ruled until 943, and died from disease.
Taejo sought to bring even his enemies into his ruling coalition. He gave titles and land to rulers and nobles from the various countries he had defeated: Later Baekje, Silla, and also Balhae, which disintegrated around the same time. Thus he sought to secure stability and unity for his kingdom which had been lacking in the later years of Silla.
After the collapse of Balhae, the last crown prince fled to Goryeo, where he was warmly welcomed and included into the ruling family by Wang Geon, thus uniting the two successor nations of Goguryeo.
The unification of the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 was very important in Korean history; the unification of 668 CE by Silla was only a unification of approximately half of the peoples of the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity (who at the time largely considered themselves one people divided among many states), since the northern part was ruled by Balhae, which asserted itself as a reincarnation of Goguryeo. However, Wang Geon's unification in 936 was a more complete unification (in which only a single state emerged among the people, as opposed to the 7th century, when two, Later Silla and Balhae, emerged); the people of the Korean Peninsula thereafter remained under a single, unified state until 1948, when Korea was divided into north and south by Russian and U.S occupation forces.
As noted elsewhere in this article, the modern name of "Korea" is derived from the name "Goryeo," which itself is derived from "Goguryeo," to whose heritage (and by extension, territory) Wang Geon and his new kingdom laid claim. As the first ruler to more fully unite the people of the Korean Peninsula under a single state, many modern-day Koreans look to his example for applicability to the current state of division on the Korean Peninsula.
- King Kukjo - Queen Junghwa
- King Euijo - Queen Wonchang
- Sejo of Goryeo - Queen Wisuk
- King Euijo - Queen Wonchang
- King Kukjo - Queen Junghwa
- Consorts and issue:
- Queen Sinhye (신혜왕후)
- Queen Janghwa (장화왕후)
- Hyejong of Goryeo (혜종)
- Queen Sinmyeongsunseong (신명순성왕후) 
- Queen Sinjeong (신정왕후)
- King Daejong (대종), Father of King Seongjong
- Queen Daemok (대목왕후), Only daughter of Queen Sinjeong.
- Queen Sinseong (신성왕후)
- King Ahnjong (안종), Father of King Hyeonjong
- Queen Jeongdeok (정덕왕후)
- Prince Wangwyu (왕위군), 1st Son of Queen Jeongdeok.
- Prince In-ae (인애군), 2nd Son of Queen Jeongdeok.
- Crown Prince Wonjang (원장태자), 3rd Son of Queen Jeongdeok.
- Prince Joh-yi (조이군)
- Queen Munhye (문혜왕후), 1st daughter of Queen Jeongdeok.
- Queen Seon-ui (선의왕후), 2nd daughter of Queen Jeongdeok.
- Unknown Princess
- Grand Lady Heonmohk (헌목대부인)
- Crown Prince Soomyong (수명태자)
- Lady Jeongmohk (정목부인)
- Queen Dowager Soonahn (순안왕대비)
- Lady Dongyangwon (동양원부인)
- Crown Prince Hyomohk (효목태자)
- Crown Prince Hyoeun (효은태자)
- Lady Sookmohk (숙목부인)
- Crown Prince Wonnyung (원녕태자)
- Lady Cheonanbuwon (천안부원부인)
- Crown Prince Hyosung (효성태자)
- Crown Prince Hyoji (효지태자)
- Lady Heungbokwon (흥복원부인)
- Crown Prince Jihk (태자 직)
- Unknown Princess
- Lady Hudaelyangwon (후대량원부인)
- Lady Daemyongjoowon (대명주원부인)
- Lady Gwangjoowon (광주원부인)
- Lady Sogwangjoowon (소광주원부인)
- Lady Dongsanwon (동산원부인)
- Lady Yehwa (예화부인)
- Lady Daeseowon (대서원부인)
- Lady Soseowon (소서원부인)
- Lady Seojeonwon (서전원부인)
- Lady Sinjoowon (신주원부인)
- Lady Wolhuawon (월화원부인)
- Lady Sohwangjoowon (소황주원부인)
- Prince Gwangjoowon (광주원군)
- Lady Seongmoo (성무부인)
- Crown Prince Hyoje (효제태자)
- Crown Prince Hyomyong (효명태자)
- Prince Beopdeung (법등군)
- Prince Jali (자리군)
- Unknown Princess
- Lady Euiseongbuon (의성부원부인)
- Great Prince Euiseongbuwon (의성부원대군)
- Lady Wolkyongwon (월경원부인)
- Lady Monglyangwon (몽량원부인)
- Lady Haelyangwon (해량원부인)
- Combining his rule of Taebong and Goryeo. He only established Goryeo in 936.
- Ryu, Howard Jisoo. Orderly Korea Unification: With the Guarantee of Stability in East Asia. Xlibris Corporation. p. 145. ISBN 9781462803323. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
- 박, 종기 (August 24, 2015). 고려사의 재발견: 한반도 역사상 가장 개방적이고 역동적인 500년 고려 역사를 만나다. 휴머니스트. ISBN 9788958629023.
- Il-yeon: Samguk Yusa: Legends and History of the Three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea, translated by Tae-Hung Ha and Grafton K. Mintz. Book Two, page 128. Silk Pagoda (2006). ISBN 1-59654-348-5
- Lee, Ki-Baik (1984). A New History of Korea. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 103. ISBN 067461576X. "When Parhae perished at the hands of the Khitan around this same time, much of its ruling class, who were of Koguryŏ descent, fled to Koryŏ. Wang Kŏn warmly welcomed them and generously gave them land. Along with bestowing the name Wang Kye ("Successor of the Royal Wang") on the Parhae crown prince, Tae Kwang-hyŏn, Wang Kŏn entered his name in the royal household register, thus clearly conveying the idea that they belonged to the same lineage, and also had rituals performed in honor of his progenitor. Thus Koryŏ achieved a true national unification that embraced not only the Later Three Kingdoms but even survivors of Koguryŏ lineage from the Parhae kingdom."
- Daughter of Yu Geung-Dal
- Family tree of the Goryeo Dynasty
- Rulers of Korea
- History of Korea
- List of Korea-related topics
- Wang (family name)
- Tomb of King Wanggon
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wang Geon.|
- "Wang Geon 'Taejo of Goryeo' Taejo (태조)". Military Commander and Founder of the Goryeo Dynasty, Korea. Find a Grave. Aug 19, 2011. Retrieved Aug 20, 2011.
Taejo of GoryeoBorn: 31 January 877 Died: 4 July 943
|King of Goryeo
|New office||Prime Minister of Taebong