December Revolution

From Themys Project
December Revolution
Part of Empire of Zhenia, Zhenian First Republic
Activists of the December Revolution in 1498 AC.
DateDecember 3, 1453 AC - December 1, 1499 AC
(5 years, 4 weeks and 1 day)
Empire of Zhenia
(modern-day Zhenia and Yinguo)
GoalsDemocratization of Imperial Zhenia (1493-1498)
Establishment of a Republic (1498-1499)
Resulted inLiberal Democratic Union victory
Parties to the civil conflict
Empire of Zhenia
Imperial Loyalists
Zhenia Liberal Democratic Union
/Zhenia Azure Circle
Various revolutionary factions
Lead figures
Emperor Gojong
Kim Taehoon
Various imperial bureaucrats
Zhenia Amasar Ren
Zhenia Jin Gyeongsu
450,000+ (1498)
320,000+ (1499)
Casualties and losses
~1,300 (total)
~2,800 (total)

The December Revolution (Zhenian: 12월 혁명), also known as the First Zhenian Revolution (Zhenian: 제1진국대혁명), was a revolution that resulted in the end of the Empire of Zhenia as well as imperial rule in the nation and established the Zhenian First Republic. The revolution encompasses an array of revolts, uprisings and protests against imperial rule, as well as political movements in the upper echelons of the imperial government. Due to the nature of the revolution, some refer to it as a "revolution from above", as the revolution itself was provoked by the uprisings and protests of commoners but ultimately executed by the political elites in the imperial government and parliament.

The core causes of the revolution stemmed from distrust in the existence of the monarchy, particularly following the stalemate of the Niun-Zhenian War in the early 1480s and economic stagnation, coupled with increased social unrest due to the elitist nature of imperial Zhenia's political structure. The Liberal Democratic Union, which had previously led the Civil Liberties Movement in the 1470s that resulted in the establishment of the Imperial Parliament and the proclamation of the Imperial Constitution, called for additional reforms to alleviate the empire's social inequalities and unrest. Further maladministration during the rule of Emperor Gojong resulted in many imperial elites and aristocrats turning to the Azure Circle and the Liberal Democratic Union, although with varying objectives.

Under such circumstances, the Rice crisis of 1497, the imperial response and the ensuing chaos in central Zhenia resulted in dissent towards imperial rule among the commoners. With strong belief that the empire was responsible for the crisis, a call for the removal of the monarchy as a whole gained further momentum. The imperial government responded to nationwide protests and rallies with military force throughout 1498 following the declaration of martial law the same year, until the Imperial Parliament, following the Tragedy of Gwangseong, denied further military involvement in quelling the protests on June 25, 1499. In response, the Imperial Parliament was disbanded by the Emperor's orders on June 29, driving imperial elites, bureaucrats and eventually military leaders against the Empire. With the threat of a civil war imminent, Emperor Gojong assumed all responsibility for the nation's unrest and announced his abdication on September 11, 1499, while also assuring the formation of a republic within the year. The Declaration of Union of December 1, 1499 marked the culmination of the revolution as the beginning of the Zhenian Republic, thus giving its namesake; the imperial family, although being guaranteed


Imperial Zhenia and the rise of the Azure Circle

Following the unification of Zhenia under the Empire of Zhenia as a result of the Wars of Zhenian Transition, the Empire sought to maintain stability over the now-annexed mainland. Surrendered Zhu aristocrats, military commanders and civil servants were employed by the imperial government to assist imperial rule over the mainland, while the Wei and other ethnic minorities were nominally granted equal rights as the Dan within the empire's political affairs.

The Wars of Zhenian Unification and the surge in demand for military commanders resulted in the rise of a new class of aristocrats in imperial Zhenian society - those centered around meritorious service during the unification wars and their descendants, as well as a new class of scholar-officials who had completed their education in Azoran nations.

Civil Liberties Movement

Increased interactions with Azoran powers both to the west and the east via Veharia since Zhenian unification resulted in increased attention towards a more western political system - that is, one centered around parliaments and more direct representation of the populace. The necessity of a governing body upheld by the people, as well as a group of representatives chosen by the people themselves, was deeply felt by elites and bureaucrats who had been educated in Azora.

Meanwhile, having succeeded the throne in 1470, Emperor Taejong initially maintained the same approach against all calls for democracy by his predecessors, actively suppressing all discussions concerning the topic.

Thus, amid increased calls to establish a westernized political system centered around popular representation and political power under the oversight of the populace themselves, Emperor Taejong called for the establishment of an imperial parliament consisting of 600 representatives, chosen both by appointment among government officials and direct elections. The decision was initially welcomed by leaders of the movement as "a major step forward towards the people of Zhenia".

The first general elections for the to-be Imperial Parliament were held on May 1, 1479, with the Imperial Society of Zhenia, a pro-monarchy party consisting of governmental elites, bureaucrats and scholars, winning the majority. The first-ever meeting of the Imperial Parliament to take place on July 1 the same year. The first meetings of the parliament concerned legislation of the then-notional Imperial Constitution, as well as the restructuring of the imperial government under western standards and the rectification of unequal treaties with Azoran nations. The parties of interest, however, differed in the specifics of such changes: the Imperial Society sought a centralized, 'perceived' constitutional monarchy in which the emperor retained authority over the government, while the leading opposition, the Liberal Democratic Union, suggested a more decentralized constitutional monarchy centered around the Parliament and in which the emperor and the imperial family was more of a symbolic figure of the nation. Following weeks of discussion within the parliament, the Imperial Society's proposal gained a majority vote on the imperial parliament's regular session on September 26, 1479, resulting in the proclamation of the Imperial Constitution on October 1 the same year. The constitution itself being largely based on the Imperial Society's proposal, defining the Emperor as the sacrosanct and sole ruler of the nation and concentrating absolute powers as well as all executive powers to the position; however, it also included characteristics of a constitutional monarchy, defining the separation of powers within the empire and allowing for the government to operate under the cabinet's command in practice.

The Civil Liberties Movement and its fruition as the establishment of the Imperial Parliament and the proclamation of the Imperial Constitution showed both achievements and limitations of Zhenian imperial rule. While the events that followed the movement did indeed reflect its demands, it had been done so only on the surface, as political power was still concentrated on the Emperor even after the proclamation of the Imperial Constitution. The concentration of power under the Emperor allowed for bureaucratic and military elites to remain in the upper echelons of political power, providing them a shield against the cabinet's attempts to restrain their power. While it resulted in the fruition of a constitutional monarchy within Zhenia on the surface, the Civil Liberties Movement is viewed as a political movement that had not only failed to solve the core problems within the empire's upper class but had possibly aggravated the situation. Within the upper echelons of the imperial government, it paradoxically signified the conflict between the Imperial Society, the Azure Circle and the Liberal Democratic Union, highlighting that it would not be easily tolerated and the situation would only be aggravated.

First Zhenian-Yinguonese War

On March 28, 1481, a skirmish between Zhenian and Yinguonese troops occurred over the ownership of Geumpyeong Island, an alluvial island along the Chang River.

Organizations for revolution

Course of events






Rice crisis of 1497

The Rice crisis was a key turning point among the events leading to the revolution, in that it exposed the administrative limitations of imperial rule and proliferated anti-imperial sentiments among not only the commoners affected by the crisis but also members of the government.



Disbanding of the Imperial Parliament

In fear of nationwide opposition, the Imperial Society, which retained a precarious majority within the Imperial Parliament, enacted an emergency measure and disbanded the Imperial Parliament on August 1, 1499.

Imperial abdication

On September 11, 1499, amid protests, Emperor Gojong announced his abdication from the throne as well as the acceptance of the formation of a republic that would ultimately replace the empire, under the precondition that the imperial family not be harmed.

Establishment of the Republic



Social influence

Historical significance

International significance

Modern evaluation

In the present, the December Revolution is seen as one of the largest turning points in modern Zhenian history, signifying the nation's permanent transition from monarchy to republic.

See also