Korea: Notes - Archontology

Korea: Notes

All the technical terms recorded here - except for the indigenous Korean polity name Han - are Chinese-language words, the pinyin transliterations are included in square brackets for reference.

Names of the Ruler

The record shows the following data:

(a) Personal name. Clan or family name (seong [xìng]) + personal name (myeong [míng]); the latter regarded as taboo (hwi [huì]) after accesion.

(b) Style name (ja [zì]). Often called courtesy name; with complicated protocol for use.

(c) Temple name (myoho [miàohào]). This posthumously bestowed name follows the Chinese model. The distinction between the names ending in jong [zōng] and the more prestigious ones ending in jo [zǔ] ("founder") is not strictly observed; in 1889 some temple names were thus "upgraded".

The temple name is the name by which almost every Joseon ruler and every Daehan ruler is identified in history; the exceptions are two rulers who were deposed, with no temple name conferred: each is identified by the princely style he had before accession.

(d) Posthumous name (siho [shìhào]). Following Chinese practice, a ruler regarded as meritorious received a posthumous name, a string of commendatory adjectives - the first usually bestowed by the Chinese imperial court - normally ending with daowang [dàwáng]. This posthumous name could be amended; when several rulers - including the dynastic founder - were retrospectively elevated in 1889 to imperial dignity, their posthumous names were "upgraded" to end with hwangje [huángdì]. This record shows only the final version.

Temple name and posthumous name of either of the Daehan rulers were bestowed after the extinction of the polity.

(e) Era name (yeonhao [niánhào]). Only the final Joseon reign and the Daehan reigns were identified with era names. An early Goryeo ruler intermittently adopted era names.

Although the rulers, beginning with the fourth ruler of Goryeo, adopted the imperial style hwangje (until demoted as tributaries of the Yuan state), and the predecessors were retrospectively elevated to the same dignity, the posthumous names ended with daewang.