The Goryeo Dynasty was the last in Korea shaped by Buddhist’s after the political influence of 1000 years. It was established during 918, the Later Three Kingdoms united it in 935 and the Joseon Dynasty replaced the Goryeo Dynasty in 1392. During the end of the ninth century the Three Kingdoms of Korea lost control over the local lords. Gyeon Hwon, Yang Gil, Gi Hwon and Gung Ye led the country through the rebellion and civil war. Hubaekje was established by Gyeon Hwon and Hugoguryeo by Gung Ye. They were the Later Three Kingdoms along with Silla. As a lord of Songak, Wang Geon joined Taebong, established Goryeo and overthrew Gung Ye in 918. In 935 Goryea annexed Silla and in 936 defeated Hubaekje. The first king of Goryeo was Wang Geon.


Gwangjong was the fourth king and made numerous laws to strengthen the central government including the 958 freeing of the slaves. Gyeongjong was the fifth king and Seongjong the sixth. The northern border was ravaged during the Goryeo-Khitan Wars between 933 and 1019. Goryeo’s central government was in complete authority when Munjong became the eleventh king. The importance of civilian leaderships was emphasized by the later kings over the military. In 933, 800,000 Khitan troops invaded the northwest border of Goryeo. The withdrawal of the Khitan ceded the territory east of the Yalu River and the alliance with Song China ended. Goryeo then built a fortress in the northern territories.


A coup was led by General Gang Jo in 1009 against King Mokjong. Military rule was established when the king was killed. The Khitan attacked again in 1010. Gang Jo died while blocking the Liao invasions. The Khitan attacked for the third time in 1018. General Gang Gamchan destroyed the dam when the Khitans were crossing and most of the army drowned. The entire Khitan army was annihilated by a massive attack led by General Gang.


The House of Yi married into the family of the seventeenth king and gained more power than the king. This led to a failed coup in 1126 by Yi Ja-gyeom. This weakened the monarchy and a civil war ensued among the nobility. The Goryeo nobility was divided in half when a move to Seogyeong was proposed by Myo Cheong in 1135. Myo Cheong could not persuade the king to move, rebelled, failed and was executed.


Yi Ui-bang and Jeong Jung-bu overthrew the crown in 1170. King Myeongjong took power and king Injong was exiled. General Kyong Taesung came to power in 1177 He attempted to purge corruption and restore the monarch’s power but died in 1184. He was succeeded by a cruel and corrupt Yi Ui-min. In 1197 he was assassinated by Choi Chungheon. The Choe house ruled for 61 years as military dictators. Goryeo was invaded in 1231 as part of the campaign to conquer China. Choe Chung-heon began fighting back in 1232 and in 1259 sued for peace. Gojong ordered the Tripitaka Koreana be recreated after the destruction of the invasion of 1232. This took fifteen years and the scriptures were housed in Haeinsa.


The dictator Choi was assassinated by Kim Jun in 1258 and the military dictatorship was over. A peace treaty was then established. King Gongmin lost interest in the state affairs after his wife died in 1365. The rule went to Sin Don for six years until a court official killed him. General Choe Yeong established an invasion campaign in 1388 and Goryeo fell in 1392. The Joseon Dynasty was then established. Buddhism declined due to corruption during the second half of Goryeo. This eventually led to the three teachings by the Korean Buddhist monks.


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