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Founder’s Meritorious Retainers in Royal Ancestral Shrine of Koryo : Who and Why

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2014, (113), pp.43-82
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

KIM BO KWANG 1

1고려대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Koryo dynasty established Royal Ancestral Shrine(太廟; Taemyo) as a place to conduct religious rites for preceding kings and it was basically built according to Confucian principles. Royal Ancestral Shrine was organized under the rule of king Sungjong(成宗; r.981~997), not established at the time of founding. Sungjong intended to hold memorial services based on Confucianism for the first time in Koryo. So he performed ancestral rites by making Altar of Heaven(圓丘; Wongu), Field for Altar of Agriculture(籍田; jukjun), and Altar of Land and Grain(社稷; Sajik). Founding Royal Ancestral Shrine, a place for ancestral rites for ancestors, was one of such a process. Sungjong imported many books on rituals/ceremonies from Song(宋) China in 984 and learned relevant systems, determined to build Royal Ancestral Shrine consisting of five ancestral halls(五廟) in 988, started to construct it in 989, and completed it in November 992. He put a lot of interest in the construction of Royal Ancestral Shrine; even he carried construction materials for himself. Then the court of Koryo established detailed principles of ancestral ceremonies and Sungjong conducted commemorative ritual for ancestors for himself. At the time, meritorious retainers for each preceding king since Taejo in ancestral halls were enshrined at the Shrine. They were those who much contributed to the founding of Koryo and unification of the later three kingdoms except for one. In particular, meritorious retainers of Taejo(太祖) were Bae Hyun-gyung, Hong You, Shin Soong-gyum, Bok Ji-gyum, and Yu Geum-pil; all of them were military commanders who enthroned Wang Gun(王建) as their king and made great contribution to unification of later three kingdoms. Henceforth, Hyunjong(顯宗; r.1009~1031) ascended to the throne through the political upheaval by Gang Jo in 1009 and with this as an excuse, Khitan Liao(遼) invaded Koryo in 1010. Khitan troops infiltrated into Kaegyung in January 1011 and set fire to the palace including Royal Ancestral Shrine. As a result, Koryo had to restore the Shrine but as a temporary measure made a small house(齋坊; Jaebang) to hold ancestral rituals next to each royal tomb. Restoration of the Shrine was not completed until February 1027, then Hyunjong went to the Shrine and held ancestral rituals for himself. At this time, Choi Eung was added as one of meritorious retainers for the Founder Taejo to the Shrine. Hyunjong had to flee to Naju after coming to throne and undergoing invasion by Khitan Liao right away and in this process his life was threatened several times. In addition, he suffered from a coup d'é tat led by Kim Hun and Choi Jil in 1014. Therefore, Hyunjong had to make efforts to stabilize and maintain kingship and authority. Hyunjong attempted to modify bureaucracy based on Confucian principles like Sungjong. Meritorious retainers are those who are loyal to their king and exemplary figures to retainers. Therefore, the king was able to reflect his will in the process of selecting meritorious retainers. Through this he was able to present meritorious retainers as good role models to his all bureaucrat of whole country. In particular, because Taejo is the founder of Koryo and what his meritorious retainers symbolized was great. However, all 5 meritorious retainers of Taejo were military commanders and had limitation as perfect models. Accordingly, Choi Eung was additionally selected as a meritorious retainer who was equipped with Confucian knowledge and showed his loyalty to Taejo by saving Taejo's life from crises. Through this, Hyunjong intended to seek loyalty to his bureaucrat from Choi Eung's case.

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