Origin of History of Baekje
About Songpa>Origin of History of Baekje
- Hanseong Era (18 BCE - 475), a period of time during which Baekje had its capital in mid and lower reaches of the Han River (Early Baekje Period)
The Hanseong Era refers to a period of time from the moment Baekje was established to that King Gaero of Baekje was killed by King Jangsu of Goguryeo and during which Baekje had its capital in Wiryeseong.
Baekje grew fast during the reign of King Goi (r. 234-286), laying a firm foundation for the kingdom to have a centralized government based on territorial expansion and the establishment of a system of codified laws and the colors and patterns for the garments worn by officials at the royal court.
It was when Baekje was under the rule of King Geunchogo (r. 346-375) that the kingdom achieved a major development.
The king found his queens from the ladies of the powerful aristocratic family of Jin as part of the effort to strengthen his power as the head of his kingdom, and introduced a new system of administrative divisions (22 Damnos) for a more effective rule over regional areas.
In addition, King Geunchogo continued his effort to expand the territory of his kingdom, conquering the lands of Gaya remaining around Yeongsangang River and those of Gaya around the Nakdonggang River.
He was even able to set up bases to gain new territories outside the Korean Peninsula, including today’s Kyushu in Japan and Liaoxi and Shandong in China.
The military campaign of King Geunchogo for territorial expansion culminated when he invaded Pyeongyangseong, the capital of its powerful neighbor, Goguryeo, and killed its ruler, King Gogugwon.
The victory at the battle waged over the fertile land around Yeseonggang River helped Baekje expand its territory to today’s Singye of Hwanghae-do. Baekje under the rule of King Geunchogo was also keenly interested in maritime trade, which resulted in the establishment of a thriving trading post, Baekje Commandery, in today’s Lioxi in China, and advanced to the Japanese archipelago to create a large interregional trade zone effectively linking Baekje with Japan and China for active cultural exchange and trade.
It was also during this period that Baekje sent the Seven-Branched Sword (Chiljido) to Japan, which is generally regarded as a tangible evidence to show the power and wealth Baekje relished in this period.
Baekje under the rule of King Chimnyu (r. 384~385) endorsed Buddhism which would lay an ideological base to support its royal authority and centralized government.
The king’s abrupt death in 385, however, resulted in the rise of powerful aristocrats, the Hae and Jin clans in particular, who clashed with each other over the enthronement of King Asin (r. 392-405) and King Jeonji (r. 405-420).
The extended conflict between the aristocratic powers devastated Baekje’s resources thus when King Gwanggaeto of Goguryeo invaded Baekje had little to keep its 58 towns and 700 villages around its capital Hanseong from the hands of its northern rival.
Brought to the throne in the midst of turmoil, King Gaero (455-475) tried to get over the turbulence by restoring royal authority through large public works and displomatic ties with dynasties in China. But Baekje had to see his plan coming to nought by the backlash of its powerful aristocrats and the invasion of Goguryeo forces which ended with the fall of the Baekje capital Hanseong and the king’s death in action. After the severe defeat, Baekje had to set up a new capital in Ungjin in the south, opening the Ungjin Era.
- Ungjin Era (475 – 538), a period of time during which Baekje had its capital in today’s Gongju (Mid Baekje Period)
The Baekje’s Ungjin Era refers to a period of time starting from 475 when the kingdom set up a new capital in Ungjin (today’s Gongju) after the fall of Hanseong, its first capital, and the death of King Gaero by the invading forces of Goguryeo under King Jangsu (r. 412-491) to 538 when King Seong (r. 523-554) left it for the third capital in Sabi (today’s Buyeo).
When the Goguryeo forces under King Jangsu attacked Hanseong, the Baekje King Gaero sent his son, Prince Munju, to Silla for help.
When the prince returned with a rescue force of about ten thousand Silla men, however, the Baekje capital had already been in the hands of the enemy forces with the king killed in action.
With the fall of the capital and the king’s death, Baekje was thrown into deep turmoil which continued to trouble the kingdom for quite a while even after the transfer of the capital city.
Settled in the new capital, King Munju (r. 475-477) tried hard to rebuild his kingdom, but conditions in and around Baekje was not favorable to him.
Aristocrats contended with each other, and with the king, for more power.
In 477, King Munju was assassinated by one of the powerful aristocrats Haegu and his successor King Samgeun (r. 477-479) was dethroned amid power struggle between aristocrats just three years after his enthronement.
The crown was then passed to King Dongseong (r. 479-501) for whom the priority was to save his kingdom from isolation it was put to after it had lost maritime hegemony over Yellow Sea to Goguryeo and separated from Gaya supporters.
He entered into an alliance with King Soji (r. 479-500) of Silla via marriage to confront Goguryeo together and restored diplomatic ties with the Southern Qi Dynasty acorss the sea.
He was assassinated in 501 and succeeded by King Muryeong (r. 501-523). The first tasks King Muryeong did after enthronement was to subjugate the Baekga’s Rebellion and cope with military threat from Goguryeo.
He then sent members of the royal family to 22 Damnos across the kingdom to better control its regional areas, and established diplomatic ties with the Liang Dynasty in China which helped Baekje have a strong presence in the political arena of Northeast Asia.
King Muryeong was very active in advancing into the territory of Gaya as part of the effort to make up for the economic loss his kingdom had to endure after it had lost the highly profitable area around the Han River to Goguryeo.
He let wanderers return to their homelands and devote themselves to agriculture, thus contributing to the incease of agricultural production and stability in the lives of agricultural households.
The achievements made under the reign of King Dongseong and King Muryeong helped lay a foothold for the revival of Baekje.
- Sabi Era (538-660), a period of time during which Baekje had its capital in today’s Buyeo (Late Baekje Period)
The Baekje’s Sabi Era refers to a period of time ranging from 538 when King Seong transferred the capital city of his kingdom from Ungjin to Sabi to 660 when it collapsed by the Silla-Tang allied forces.
King Seong (r. 523-554) who succeeded to King Muryeong moved the capital city of his kingdom from Ungjin to Sabi with a plan to accelerate its revival and strengtnen the royal authority based on the achievements made under King Dongseong and King Muryeong.
He then changed the name of his kingdom from Baekje to Nambuyeo, or South Buyeo, thus highlighting the fact that his kingdom is originated, just like its archrival Goguryeo, from Buyeo in the north.
King Seong introduced a new system of 16 ranks for the government and 22 administrative divisions as part of the effort to strengthen his authority as the head of the state.
He was also active in promoting Buddhism by, for instance, founding Mireuksa Temple in Iksan and consolidated the diplomatic ties of his kingdom with Japan and the Southern Dynasties in China.
He then entered into an alliance with King Jinheung of Silla and initiated a joint military campaign against Gogoryeo to restore the land around the Han River Baekje had lost to Goguryeo earlier. Goguryeo at the time had little resources remaining to defend its southern territory largely due to the increasing threat from the Turks in the northwestern borders and internal disputes between aristocrats. Therefore, the allied army defeated the Goguryeo defenders and both Baekje and Silla could easily take the lower and middle reaches of the Han River respectively. Silla, however, soon broke up the alliance after a secret talk with Goguryeo, and occupied the land that should be the Backje’s share. King Seong was furious and, despite the opposition from his ministers, led his forces to attack Silla only to be killed in action at the Battle of Gwansanseong in 554. His tragic death was followed by the enthronement of King Wideok (r. 554-598) whose rule is largely marked by weakened royal authority and the return of powerful aristocrats represented by the Six Jwapyeong System. King Mu (r. 600-641) wanted to turn the tide and restore the royal authority through a series of state-level undertakings including military campaigns against Silla, construction of a new royal palace and Jeseoksa and Mireuksa Temples in Iksan which he wanted to be a new seat of his government. He was successful in strengthening his power over the lords and restoring vitality to his kingdom but, unfortunately, failed to materialize his plan to set up a new capital city. His successore, King Uija (r. 641-660), focused his full attention upon attacking Silla, wasting much of the national resources and failing to maintain close diplomatic relationship with neighboring states.
The political and social disorder piled up during the period of his reign finally led to the fall of his kingdom by the formidable Silla-Tang allied forces.