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The Ideological Status of the Queen Dowager and the Bases for the ‘Authority of a Queen Dowager’ in the Early Goryeo Period

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2013, (111), pp.191-228
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

Lee Jung Ran 1

1고려대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study reviewed the status of the queen dowager displayed as a matter of form in her relationship with the king of Goryeo, the ideological bases, and how the Goryeo people understood such status. A noteworthy point in examining the relationship between the queen dowager and the king is the ‘self-claimed relationship’ formed from the way one calls oneself to the other side. However, the queen dowager of Goryeo did not call herself a liege to the king but only rendered liege service and homage to the king. This shows how the queen dowager is positioned in a higher rank than the king in terms of self-claimed relationship, which is an outcome of applying the Chinese theory of courtesy around the emperor and the empress dowager. Only, the Goryeo people were not deeply aware of such an issue that they did not precisely perceive the fact that the logical grounds for how the queen dowager is, in practice, granted as much as or more privileges than the king are in her position as the legitimate wife of the late king. Thus, Goryeo still granted the posthumous title of ‘queen dowager’ even after her death, treating the funeral rite of the queen dowager in the same level as that of the king. Moreover, it was understood that the authority of regency was given only to the birth mother of the new king. This is because the Goryeo people misunderstood that the authority of the queen dowager comes from the status of the king’s mother. Such misunderstanding gradually was disappeared as the understanding of the ‘Chinese’ practice was deepened. They were now aware that the queen dowager must receive different treatment between in life and after death. Thus, they changed the procedures so that after death they became the queen and thus applied rites for a rank lower than the king. This originates from the perception that the authority of the queen dowager is not in her status as the king’s mother, but as the wife of the late king.

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