Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vietnam History Part 1: Nanyue(南越)

The history of Vietnam can divided into the following:

1. Pre-History
The history of this period include pre-dynasty era,Lac Dynasty, Thuc Dynasty. The history of the period are not documented, or documented but the history may be legend with no verified historical information.

(i)Lac Dynasty or Hong Bang Dynasty(鴻龐氏)-prior to 257 BC

Reported to be the 1st Dynasty,then known as Văn Lang(文郎国/赤鬼國) for over 2000 years, until the third century BC. Its founder is said to have been Hùng Vương). The nation had its capital in Phong Châu; now in Phú Thọ Province). It was bordered to the east by the South China Sea, to the west by Ba Thục 巴蜀; today Sichuan), to the north by Dongting Lake (Hunan), and to the south by Lake Tôn (Cham).
The Lạc Việt or Lạc (雒越/駱越/貉越) were an ancient people of what is today the lowland plains of northern Vietnam, particularly the marshy, agriculturally rich area of the Red River Delta. They are particularly associated with the Bronze Age Dong Son culture of mainland Southeast Asia.
The Lạc Việt are believed to have founded a state called Văn Lang in 3079 BC. The people of Văn Lang traded with the upland-based Âu Việt(甌越)people(also Tay Au, 西甌) , who lived in the mountainous regions of what are today northernmost Vietnam, western Guangdong, and southern Guangxi, China to their north.

(ii)Thuc Dynasty/Au Lac(甌雒/甌駱)(257-207 BC).
258 BC or 257 BC, when Thục Phán(蜀泮), the leader of the alliance of Âu Việt tribes, invaded Văn Lang and defeated the last Hùng Vương. He united the two kingdoms, naming the new nation Âu Lạc(甌雒/甌駱), and proclaiming himself king An Dương Vương(安陽王). He established the new capital at Phong Khê 古螺in the present-day Phú Thọ town東英縣 in northern Vietnam, where he tried to build Cổ Loa Thành (Co Loa Citadel), the spiral fortress approximately ten miles north of that new capital.

2. Nanyue & the Chinese rule for 1634 years(207 BC to 1427 AD)
Nanyue or Triệu Dynasty, which was found by a general from Qin Dynasty, ancient China, and its kingdom covered South China.
There were 4 period of Chinese domination within the period of nearly 2000 years. In between there are rebellion and autonomy, which also reflected the political strength of Chinese dynasty during the period.
(i) First Chinese Domination(207BC to 39 AD)
(ii)2nd Chinese Domination(43-544)
(iii)3rd Chinese Domination(602-905)
(IV)4th Chinese Domination(1407-1427)

3. Le Dynasty(1428-1788)
The longest-ruling dynasty of Vietnam, ruling the country from 1428 to 1788, with a brief interruption. The dynasty officially began in 1428 with the coronation of Lê Lợi after he drove the Ming army from Vietnam. In 1527, the Mạc Dynasty usurped the throne; when the Lê Dynasty was restored in 1533, they still had to compete for power with the Mạc Dynasty during the period known as Southern and Northern Dynasties. The restored Lê emperors held no real power, and by the time the Mạc Dynasty was confined to only a small area in 1592 and finally eradicated in 1677, actual power was in the hands of the Nguyễn Lords in the South and the Trịnh Lords in the North, both ruling in the name of the Lê emperor while fighting each other. Their rule officially ended in 1788, when the peasant uprising of the Tây Sơn brothers defeated both the Trịnh and the Nguyễn, ironically in order to restore power to the Lê Dynasty.
4. Tay Son Dynasty (1778-1802)
The name of Tây Sơn (西山) is used in many ways referring back to the period of peasant rebellions and decentralized dynasties established between the eras of the Later Lê and Nguyễn dynasties in the history of Vietnam. Tây Sơn is used to refer to the leaders of this revolt (the Tây Sơn brothers), sometimes it is used as the name of the war (the Tây Sơn Uprising) or it could also refer to the brothers' form of new governmental rule (the Tây Sơn Dynasty or Nguyễn Tây Sơn Dynasty)
5. Nguyen Dynasty(1802-1945)
The Nguyễn Dynasty (Vietnamese: Nhà Nguyễn; Hán Việt: 阮朝, Nguyễn triều) was the last ruling family of Vietnam. Their rule lasted a total of 143 years. It began in 1802 when Emperor Gia Long ascended the throne after defeating the Tây Sơn Dynasty and ended in 1945 when Bảo Đại abdicated the throne and transferred power to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. During the reign of Emperor Gia Long, the nation officially became known as Việt Nam (越南), but from the reign of emperor Minh Mạng on, the nation was renamed Đại Nam (大南, literally "Great South"). Their rule was marked by the increasing influence of French colonialism; the nation was eventually partitioned into three, Cochinchina became a French colony while Annam and Tonkin became protectorates which were independent in name only. The last Nguyễn Emperor to rule with complete independence was Tự Đức(Emperor Tự Đức, 嗣德, Nguyễn Phúc Hồng Nhậm, also Nguyen Phuc Thi )(22 September 1829 - 17 July 1883), was the fourth emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty of Vietnam(1847–1883). After his death there was a succession crisis which allowed the French to take direct control of the country and eventually gain complete control of the monarchy. All emperors since Đồng Khánh(同慶), also known as Nguyễn Phúc Ưng Kỷ(阮福膺祺)(19 February 1864 - 28 January 1889), who was the 9th Emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty of Vietnam(1885-1889), were chosen by the French and had only a symbolic position.
6. French colonization (1859-1945)
During the period of French colonization, from the second half of the nineteenth century to the defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, Indochina (i.e., Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) was for the first time in history conceived of as a single territorial unit to be administered as one country.
7. Vietnam War(North & South Vietnam) 1945-1976
8. Unification 1976 until now

History of Vietnam: Chinese domination period
Hồng Bàng Dynasty prior to 257 BC
Thục Dynasty 257–207 BC

First Chinese domination 207 BC – 39 AD
• Triệu Dynasty 207–111 BC
Trưng Sisters 40–43
Second Chinese domination 43–544
• Lady Triệu's Rebellion 248
Early Lý Dynasty 544–602
• Triệu Việt Vương
Third Chinese domination 602–905
• Mai Hắc Đế 722
• Phùng Hưng 791–798

Autonomy 905–938
• Khúc Family 906–930
• Dương Đình Nghệ 931–937
• Kiều Công Tiễn 937–938

Ngô Dynasty 939–967
• The 12 Lords Rebellion 966–968

Đinh Dynasty 968–980
Early Lê Dynasty 980–1009
Lý Dynasty 1009–1225
Trần Dynasty 1225–1400
Hồ Dynasty 1400–1407

Fourth Chinese domination 1407–1427
• Later Trần Dynasty 1407–1413
• Lam Sơn Rebellion 1418–1427

Nanyue/The Triệu Dynasty(207-111 BC)

The Triệu Dynasty (Vietnamese: Nhà Triệu),which ruled over parts of southern China and northern Việtnam, and, in some contexts, by extension the era of Nam Việt rule, or even the kingdom itself. It is regarded by some as the first dynasty to rule what is now Việtnam.

Nanyue (Nam Viet) (Chinese: 南越; Vietnamese: Nam Việt) was an ancient kingdom that consisted of parts of the modern Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan and much of modern northern Vietnam. The kingdom was established by the Chinese general Zhao Tuo (趙佗,Vietnamese: Triệu Đà) of the Qin dynasty who assimilated the customs of the Yue peoples and central China in his territory. Its capital was named Panyu (番禺), in today's Guangzhou, China. In Vietnam, the name Triệu Dynasty (based on the Vietnamese pronunciation of the surname Zhào) is used to refer to the lineage of kings of Nanyue, and by extension the era of Nanyue rule.

The history of Nanyue was written in Records of the Grand Historian by Han Dynasty historian Sima Qian(司馬遷/司马迁), between 109 BC to 91 BC. It is the period where there is documentary record with verified historical facts.

After the first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang(秦始皇) united China by conquering all six kingdoms in 219 BC, he ordered his generals to conquer the regions of present-day Guangdong and Guangxi. The conquest was completed in 214 BC. A new administrative unit, Nanhai Commandery (南海郡) was formed to rule the area corresponding approximately to present-day Guangdong. Zhao Tuo (趙佗)was appointed to manage a Longchuan (龍川), a strategic place in the military. He asked Qin Shi Huang to send 500 thousand people from Central China to Nanhai to assimilate the culture of Central China and Yue.

After the death of Qin Shi Huang, a wave of anti-Qin riots swept across central China and the Qin Dynasty soon capitulated. In 208 BC, the head of Nanhai Commandery, Ren Xiao (任囂), appointed Zhao Tuo to succeed his position and suggested that Zhao establish a country in the south and take advantage of the mountainous boundary with northern China. Zhao soon reinforced the defences in the mountain passes north and replaced the Qin officials with his own followers. In 203 BC, he conquered another two commanderies, Guilin (桂林郡, approximately Guangxi) and Xiang "Elephant" (象郡, approximately Yunnan, north and central Vietnam), at the south of the mountain. The new kingdom of Nanyue was born, with Pānyú (番禺)as the capital; Zhao Tuo declared himself Wu Wang (武王, lit. martial king) of Nanyue.

Liu Bang(Emperor Han Gaozu , 西漢太祖高皇帝劉邦)(256 BC or 247 BC – 1 June 195 BC), after years of war with his rivals, established the Han dynasty(漢朝/汉朝) and reunified Central China in 202 BC. Liu and his successors adopted a policy of peace to give his empire time to regenerate. In 211 BC, the emperor Liu sent Lu Jia (陸賈) to Nanyue to appoint Zhao Tuo as the King of Nanyue. Trade relations were established at the border between Nanyue and the Han kingdom of Changsha. Although formally a Han subject state, Nanyue retained a large measure of effective autonomy.

After the death of Liu Bang in 195 BC, the government was put in the hands of his wife, Empress Lu Zhi, who served as empress dowager over their son Emperor Hui of Han and then Emperor Hui's sons Liu Gong and Liu Hong. Zhao Tuo believed that Wu Chen (吳臣), the Prince of Changsha, had made false accusations against him to get Empress Dowager Lu to block the trade between the states and to prepare to conquer the Nanyue to merge into his principality of Changsha. In revenge, he then declared himself the emperor of Nanyue and attacked the principality of Changsha. Lu sent general Zao (灶) to punish Zhao Tuo. The hot and humid weather made soldiers fall ill and the army unable to go south of the mountains. The army withdrew. With the military success, Zhao Tuo took in the surrounding states of Minyue (閩越) in the east and Ouluo (甌雒) in the west as subject kingdoms. The empress dowager then killed some of Zhao's clan members within Han territory and damaged his ancestors' tombs.

In 179 BC, Liu Heng( 刘恒, Emperor Han Wen Ti of Han, 202 BC–157 BC) ;ascended the Emperor of Han. He reversed the policy of the empress. He ordered officials to visit the family town Zhending (真定), garrison the town and make offerings to his ancestors regularly. His prime minister Chen Ping (陳平) suggested sending Lu Jia to Nanyue as they were familiar with each other. Zhao Tuo felt surprised on Lu's arrival. He then withdrew his title of emperor and Nanyue became Han's subject state.

In 137 BC, Zhao Tuo died. His grandson Zhao Mo (趙眛; also known as Zhao Hu, 趙胡, in the Records of the Grand Historian) succeeded the king of Nanyue.

The Kings of Trieu Dynasty 207 to 111 BC
1. 203–137 BCE : 趙佗/趙他 Zhào Tuó(Triệu Đà)or 武王(Vũ Vương) Note:Zhao Tuo declared himself emperor only in 207/208 BC)
2. 137–122 BCE : 趙眜Zhào Mò(Triệu Mạ) or 文王(Văn Vương),other name 趙胡
3. 122–115 BCE : 趙嬰齊Zhào Yīngqí (Triệu Anh Tề) or 明王 (Minh Vương)
4. 115–112 BCE : 趙興Zhào Xìng (Triệu Hưng) or 哀王(Ai Vương)
5. 112–111 BCE : 趙建德Zhào Jiàndé(Triệu Kiến Đức) or 陽王(Dương Vương)

The minister Lu Jia(呂嘉) revolted and killed the king Zhao Xing and the king's mother,Jiu(樛) . He named Zhao Jiande (趙建德), the eldest son of Zhao Yingqi, to be the king of Nanyue. In autumn 112 BC the emperor sent a navy of a hundred thousand strong to attack Nanyue. In winter 111 BC the capital Panyu fell and many surrendered. Lu Jia and Zhao Jiande fled out to sea but were captured soon. Nanyue was officially incorporated into Han. This started the First Chinese Domination from 207 BC to 39 AD.

The Trung Sisters (AD 40 - AD 43)
The Trung Sisters (c. 12 - AD 43), known in Vietnamese as Hai Bà Trưng (literally "the two Ladies Trưng"), and individually as Trưng Trắc (徵側) and Trưng Nhị (徵貳), were two 1st century Vietnamese women leaders who successfully repelled Chinese invasions for three years, and are regarded as national heroines of Vietnam.

The sisters were born in Northern Vietnam, the dates of their birth are unknown, but Trưng Trắc was older than Trưng Nhị. The exact date of their death is also unknown but both died in AD 43

The Trưng Sisters are highly revered in Vietnam, as they led the first resistance movement against the occupying Chinese after 247 years of domination. Many temples are dedicated to them, and a yearly holiday, occurring in February, to commemorate their deaths is observed by many Vietnamese. A district in Hanoi called the Hai Ba Trung district is named after them. In addition, numerous large streets in major cities and many schools are named after them. They are often depicted riding on elephants into battle.

The Second Chinese domination(43-544 AD)
The Second Chinese domination of Vietnam saw China strengthen its control over the region. The area came under Chinese control in the late Han Dynasty(汉朝, 206 BC to 220 AD)in 43 AD and was ruled by Chinese governors. Even with the fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty(東漢) in 220 AD, Chinese control remained unchanged with the establishment of the Three Kingdoms(三国时代,220-280 AD), part of an era of disunity called the Six Dynasties in ancient China.

A female rebel named Triệu Thị Trinh(趙氏貞)briefly pushed the Chinese rulers out in 248, but was soon overthrown. Also known as Triệu Ẩu (趙嫗) or Bà Triệu (婆趙, Lady Triệu) (225 - 248) was a Vietnamese female warrior in 3rd century Vietnam who managed, for a time, to successfully resist the Kingdom of Wu(东吴), one of the 3 kingdoms in ancient China, during their occupation of Vietnam. She is described as the “Vietnamese Joan of Arc”. Lady Trieu's rebellion was not only the last Vietnamese rebellion to be led by a woman but also the end of a late political ideals inherited from Lac lord.
Triệu Thị Trinh is a greatly celebrated Vietnamese heroine and many streets are named after her in Vietnamese cities (there are Đường Bà Triệu Streets in Huế, Hanoi, Saigon, and several other cities).

Other local rebellions were organized by:

* Khu Liên 137–138
* Chu Ðạt 156–160
* Lương Long 178–181
* Triệu Chỉ 299–319
* Lương Thạch 319–323
* Lý Trường Nhân and Lý Thúc Hiến 468–485

Then Vietnam was under the Jin Dynasty(晋朝,265–420),one of the Six Dynasties, following the Three Kingdoms period ; and the first half of the Southern and Northern Dynasties(南北朝,420-589), it was period of civil wars and political disunity in ancient China. The domination ended by 544, when Lý Nam Đế (李南帝/李賁),came to power. Ly is the founder of the Early Lý Dynasty(李朝, 544 - 602), and he ruled from Feb. 544 - Feb. 548. Some considered him the first emperor of Vietnam. Although China occupied Vietnam for approximately 1,000 years, Lý Nam Đế successfully established a Việt dynasty that gave Northern Vietnam approximately 60 years of independence in between those times.

In 602 AD, the new Sui Dynasty emerged as the sole power in a unified China after having defeated the Liang Dynasty. The new Sui Emperor Sui Wendi sent a 120,000-man army to invade Vạn Xuân and re-claim dominion over the Viet people. Lý Nam Đế II realized his army would not be strong enough to engage in a major conflict with the Sui invading force. At the same time, Lý Nam Đế II also received enormous pressure from his ruling administration to avoid any confrontation with the emerging Sui Dynasty. In the winter of 602, when the Sui force marched on Vạn Xuân, Lý Nam Đế II controversially decided to abdicate in exchange for peace and political stability in the region. This started The 3rd Chinese domination(602-905 AD)

The Sui dynasty lasted only until 618 AD. It was replaced by the more powerful Tang Dynasty. For the next 300 years, China continued to dominate Việt Nam until Ngô Quyền drove out a Southern Han army in 939 AD, and ushered in a long period of independence in Việt Nam history.


Reading of the history, there are three biased factors to consider:
1. The use of term colonization, Colonialism is the building and maintaining of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. Colonialism is a process whereby sovereignty over the colony is claimed by the metropole and social structure, government and economics within the territory of the colony are changed by the colonists. Colonialism is a certain set of unequal relationships, between metropole and colony and between colonists and the indigenous population. Is the tribal war period when kingdom was formed by war and power, a colonization process? where the two kingdom are neighboring parties, which are from the same region( a war of neighbors to acquire more land to feed its people), and not an external force from outside, from place far away with the ultimate purpose to colonize the indigenous population(like Western military colonization). For relationship between Chinese and Vietnamese in ancient time, sometime intermarriage between two royal families took place, and much autonomy was given. It based on trust and relationship, and cultural influences. Is it cultural relationship building or colonization as perceived by the West?. There was no China or Vietnam in the ancient time, the two names were the new political names for nation identity in modern era.

2.The historical bias from the ruling parties who recorded the historical events,from either China or Vietnam side.

3. The erase of history to help national identity of a new nation. History may be easily influence by the ruling party to create, alter, and erase the historical events or records for their ultimate political purpose.

From the history of the period, it reflected the closeness of the Chinese and Vietnamese. Zhào Tuó was the general from Qin Dynasty, a Qin and later a Han(which are ancient Chinese, noted Chinese is a western term). There must be racial integration and cultural assimilation of the Han(or Qin)and the natives at the time. At that time, the concept of national identity was weak, as the borders of the states changed frequently due to wars between tribes and kingdoms. The Vietnamese at the era was Qin and Han subject (or Chinese cultural people) in spirit and soul?...... and considered Chinese(culturally)?(note: China & Vietnam is not a nation yet, which are formed based on modern national identity concept, please do not blurred by the term China or Vietnam in study ancient history).

Historical Book

Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư (Hán tự: 大越史記全書 "Complete history record of Great Viet") is a 15th-century Vietnamese work of history, written in classical Chinese. It was compiled by Ngô Sĩ Liên (吳士連), under the order of Lê Thánh Tông. Drawing its information from two earlier works, namely Đại Việt sử ký (大越史記 "History of Great Viet") by Lê Văn Hưu (黎文休), completed in 1272, and Đại Việt sử ký tục biên (大越史記續編 "A Sequel to the History of Great Viet") by Phan Phu Tiên (潘孚先), it was finished in 1479.

The work was originally divided into two parts. The first part, in five quyển (卷), or fascicles, was about the legendary Hồng Bàng Dynasty, and the Upheavals of Twelve Warlords (967). The second part, in 10 fascicles, concerned what happened between the rulings of Đinh Bộ Lĩnh (968-979) and Lê Lợi (1428-1433). Later, the work was expanded, by several hands, into a total of 24 fascicles, with the data updated to 1675.

A critical edition of the work, in three volumes, was made by Chen Chingho (陳荊和) (Tokyo, 1984).

For further details of the books, a visit to web site: is helpful.

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