Early in the sixteenth century, highly unflattering, even bizarre, descriptions of the Ming dynasty’s tenth emperor, posthumously known as Wuzong 武宗, the Martial Ancestor (r. 1506–1521) made their way to the Chosŏn court. These pointed criticisms of the emperor and deteriorating domestic conditions within China should be understood in light of developments at the court of King Chungjong 中宗 (r. 1506–1544). In order to provide the proper context for such an interpretation, this essay begins with an overview of the 1510 Rebellion in China, moves to the 1506 coup d’etat that placed King Chungjong on the throne, and then proceeds to Korean views of the 1510 Rebellion and the Martial Ancestor. It argues that the criticisms of the Martial Ancestor were intended to reaffirm the legitimacy of both the new king, Chungjong 中宗, who had come to power through a coup d’état, and perhaps more importantly, the officials who had affected the change.

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