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Monday, 24 June 2013

Famous Queen in Joseon Dynasty, Part III: Queen Munjeong of Papyeong Yoon Clan

Queen Munjeong of Papyeong Yoon Clan (Hangul/Hanja: 문정왕후 파평윤씨/文定王后 坡平尹氏; Born: 1 February 1502 – Died: 29 December 1565) was the third consort of King Jungjong - 11th Monarch of Joseon Dynasty, replacing her distant cousin, Queen Janggyeong who died seven days after giving birth to future King Injong, 12th Monarch of Joseon Dynasty. She is a daughter of Yoon Ji-im, the Internal Prince Pasan (Pasan Buwon-gun/파산부원군/坡山府院君), and distant niece of Yoon Yeo-pil. 

She was regent for her son King Myeongjong when he was still too young to rule by himself until 1565. Known as a good administrator, she continued to rule even after he reached the age of majority. She gave out the land to common people that had been formerly owned by the nobility. It was only after her death that her son took over power. She was given the posthumous title Queen Seongnyeol Inmyeong Munjeong (성렬인명문정왕후/聖烈仁明文定王后).

According to unofficial chronicles, there is a tale of Munjeong finally showing love for her stepson King Injong, after decades of polite indifference (in reality behind-the-scenes hatred).
"As Injong went to pay his morning respects, Munjeong’s face started radiating with a smile only a mother could give to her child. Injong took it as a sign that the Queen Mother was finally acknowledging him as the king, and in particular as her own son. He ate the ddeok that his step-mother gave him, not knowing that it would be the beginning of the end. He fell ill slowly, not enough to create any suspicion, but quickly enough that historians would later pick up on the event. Three days passed before Injong mysteriously died (after only 9 months of rule)."

Queen Munjong’s son became King Myeongjong, while Munjeong became Queen Regent. The chronicles also tell that Munjeong was frequently visited by spirits at night after Injong’s death. Despite that, she moved her residence from Gyeongbok Palace to Changdeok Palace.

Queen Munjeong passed away on 29 December 1565 at Sodeok Hall, Changdeok Palace in the age of 63. She was buried at the Royal Tomb of Taereung (태릉/泰陵) which is located at 681 Hwarang Avenue/Hwarangno, Gongneung-dong, Seoul Nowon-gu. Her tomb is accessible by using SMRT Lines 6 (645) and 7 (717) to Taereung Station (태릉입구역/泰陵入口驛/Taereung Ipgu-yeok: Entrance to Taereung, Tomb of Queen Munjeong).