Thursday, December 24, 2009

Vietnam History Part 2: Battle of Bạch Đằng River

The people of Vietnam regained independence and broke away from China in AD 938 after their victory at the battle of Bạch Đằng River. This ended the 3rd Chinese domination between 602-905). Successive dynasties flourished along with geographic and political expansion deeper into Southeast Asia, until it was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century. However in between there was the 4th Chinese domination, from 1407 to 1427, when the country was ruled by the Ming Dynasty(明朝)administration.

The Third Chinese domination of Vietnam saw two Chinese imperial dynasties rule over the Chinese controlled region of Chiaozhou (交州, Vietnamese: Giao Châu; an area of northern Vietnam roughly corresponding to the modern Hanoi).

From 602-618, the area was under the late Sui Dynasty(隋朝); under three districts in the Red River Delta. From 618-906, the Tang Dynasty(唐朝) became the new Chinese rulers of Annam. The mid-7th century saw the arrival of Islam.

The Tang took control of the northern Vietnamese region of Giao Châu (roughly corresponding to the area of modern Hanoi) after 618 and established twelve provinces and 59 districts under the Department of Annam Domination (Vietnamese: An Nam Đô Hộ Phủ). Although Chinese governors were sent to rule over Annam, a series of rebellions or local emperors were unofficial rulers under the Chinese control:

(i) Lê Ngọc led a rebellion in the early 7th century
(ii) Lý Tự Tiên and Ðinh Kiến 687
(iii)Mai Hắc Đế(722)-referred to as the Juvenile Emperor, he was the son of Mai Hắc Đế (or Mai Thúc Loan,Mai the Black Emperor ruled in 722) and ruled only briefly following his father's death and overrun by the 100,000 men strong Tang army
(iv)Phùng Hưng(791-798)- Phùng Hưng (Hán tự: 馮興; 761-802) was a military leader who briefly reigned over Vietnam during the 8th century. Phùng Hưng, a native of Đường Lâm (in today's Hà Tây Province), was rich and possessed prodigious physical strength. In 791, Phùng Hưng and his brother, Phùng Hải, led a rebellion against the ruling Tang Dynasty. Taking the advice of Đỗ Anh Hàn, the Phùng brothers laid siege to the headquarters of the Annam Protectorate, which was managed by the corrupt officer, Cao Chính Bình. Facing the crisis, Cao Chính Bình caught an illness and died shortly after. Phùng Hưng then became ruler of the Protectorate. He ruled for 11 years and was succeeded by his son Phùng An. Phùng Hưng was entitled Bố Cái Đại Vương by his son, and was defied by the people. Note: Phùng Hưng is not mentioned in Tang works of history.

Between 905-938, period of limited autonomy
(i) Khúc Family(906–930)- The village of Khúc Thừa Dụ launched a rebellion against the Tang in 905. By 906 an autonomous region in Vietnam was established under the Khúc clan in Tống Bình (modern day Hanoi) in 906.
A succession of Khúc governors ruled during the short period of independence in the 10th century:

* Khúc Thừa Dụ 905-907
* Khúc Hạo 907-917 - son of Khúc Thừa Dụ
* Khúc Thừa Mỹ 917-930 - son of Khúc Hạo

(ii)Dương Đình Nghệ(931–937)
Dương Đình Nghệ (Hán tự: 楊廷藝, ?-937; some sources record Dương Diên Nghệ, 楊延藝) was the administrator of Giao Chỉ in around 931 AD. He was a skillful, talented general under Khúc Hạo, descendant of the Khúc family who ruled Vietnam autonomously while technically under Chinese control for three generations.
General Dương Đình Nghệ (or Diên Nghệ) 931-937 overthrew both the Khúc clan and the Han. Then in 937, governor Dương was killed by escort Kiều Công Tiễn and thus ending Khúc rule.

(iii)Kiều Công Tiễn(937–938)
Dương Đình Nghệ was challenged and defeated eventually by his general Kiều Công Tiễn who then moved up to the post of governor/administrator. This brief void left the region without rulers until Kiều fled and Dương's son-in-law Ngô Quyền established the Ngô Dynasty in 939.

Battle of Bạch Đằng River(938)
At the Battle of Bạch Đằng River in 938 the Vietnamese forces, led by Ngô Quyền(吳權);, defeated the invading forces of the Southern Han(南汉/南漢) of China and put an end to Chinese imperial domination of the Vietnamese. It took place at the Bach Dang River(白藤江),near Halong Bay(下龙湾)in northern Vietnam.

In 937, Liu Yan (劉龑;Lưu Nham in Vietnamese), the Southern Han ruler, took the chance to intervene in Vietnam again after the death of the Vietnamese patriot Dương Đình Nghệ(楊廷藝). He had been foiled by Dương Đình Nghệ in 931, but now that Dương Đình Nghệ was dead, he thought the time was ripe for another attempt. He placed his own son, Liu Hongcao (劉弘操; Vietnamese: Lưu Hoằng Tháo), in command of the expedition, naming him "Peaceful Sea Military Governor" and "King of Giao." He hastily assembled an army at Sea Gate, where he personally took charge of the reserve force. He ordered Liu Hongcao to embark the army and sail to Giao(交趾).

Note: Giao is the Giao Chỉ district (Giao Chỉ quận), an administrative unit in the Giao Chỉ bộ, whose head was thứ sử (the first one was Thạch Đái). The capital city of Giao Chỉ was firstly Mê Linh, but later moved to Liên Lâu (a region now at Thuận Thành suburban district, Bắc Ninh provision).

By the time Liu Hongcao arrived in Vietnamese waters with the Southern Han expedition, Liu Hongcao's plan was to ascend the Bạch Đằng River (白藤江) and to place his army in the heart of Giao before disembarking; the Bạch Đằng was the major riverine route into the Red River plain(红河三角洲)from the north.

Ngô Quyền(吳權) anticipated this plan and brought his army to the mouth of the river. He had his men plant a barrier of large poles in the bed of the river. The tops of the poles reached just below the water level at high tide and were sharpened and tipped with iron. When Liu Hongcao appeared off the mouth of the river, Quyen sent out small, shallow-draft boats at high tide to provoke a fight and then retreat upriver, drawing the Chinese fleet after in pursuit. As the tide fell, the heavy Chinese warboats were caught on the poles and lay trapped in the middle of the river, whereupon they were attacked by Ngô Quyền. More than half the Chinese were drowned, including Liu Hongcao. When news of the battle reached Sea Gate with the survivors, Liu Kung wept openly. He collected what remained of his army and returned to Canton.
This victory ended China's long domination(3rd Chinese domination from 602-905)of Vietnam and began Vietnam's period of "relative autonomy."
Note: Ngô Quyền's tactic would later be copied by Trần Hưng Đạo(陳興道)against the Mongols in a later battle at Bạch Đằng River in 1288.

Where is Bach Dang River(白藤江)?

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In the northern part of Viet Nam in a region named Van Xuan, there is a river called Bach Dang or Sông Bạch Đằng(白藤江). This river is small in size, but it has played a big role throughout the history of the country, even before it became known as Viet Nam. At high tide, the river swells up, and the passageways from the river to the sea overflow with water. When the tide falls, the water subsides, and the entrances to the river appear again.

The Bạch Đằng River located near Ha Long Bay. It flows through the Yên Hưng district of the Quảng Ninh Province(a district (huyện) of Ninh Binh Province in the northeastern region of Vietnam). as well as the Thủy Nguyên district of Haiphong before reaching the sea.

The Bạch Đằng River has been the site of three important battles in Vietnamese history: in 938 resulting in Vietnamese independence, in 981, and in 1288, where General Trần Hưng Đạo employed tactics used in 938 to drive out Mongol invaders.

In 938, barbarous and powerful invaders from the northern land of Nam Han attempted to overtake the Van Xuan region of the Viet country. General Ngo Quyen devised a plan that demonstrated his brilliance in military strategy and tactics. He instructed his soldiers to construct wooden sticks with sharp metal points. At low tide when the waters were shallow, the soldiers planted these sticks into the bottom of the Bach Dang river with the metal points standing straight up.

At high tide, when the river had risen far enough to cover the tops of the sticks, General Ngo Quyen engaged the enemy in a battle on the seas. As the tide began to fall, he lured the enemy into the mouth of the river. Before the water dropped too low, the general quickly withdrew his troops. As the water continued to drop, the invaders' ships were torn to pieces by the wooden sticks that were now exposed in low tide. The enemy had been vanquished, and the Viet people were victorious.

The Bach Dang Festival is held every year at the Tran Hung Dao Temple in Yen Hung to commemorate the anniversary of the great victory on the 8th day of the third lunar month. The Bach Dang Festival near the Tran Hung Dao Temple in Quang Ninh. The event is held every year to mark the great victory of Bach Dang.

The Ngo Dynasty吳朝(939–967)

The Ngô Dynasty (Vietnamese: Nhà Ngô; Hán tự: 吳朝, Ngô Triều; 939-967) was a dynasty in Vietnam.

Around the year 930 AD, as Ngô Quyền (吳權) rose to power, northern Vietnam was a province and vassal state of China and was referred to as Giao Chỉ (交趾). Every year the governor/administrator of Giao Chỉ had to pay tribute and give offerings to China. During the beginning of the 900s, China was plagued and weakened by internal in-fighting during what is known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. The celestial emperor of China thus had his mind and hands full of problems in the North. Giao Chỉ took this opportunity to proclaim its independence and self government. Under the administration of Dương Đình Nghệ (楊延藝), this took place.

The Bạch Đằng victory in 938 put an end to the period of Chinese imperial domination. In 939, Ngô Quyền proclaimed himself king of Đại Việt (as Vietnam was called then), established his capital at Cổ Loa(古螺) (previously a capital in the 3rd century BC) and set up a centralized government.

Note: Cổ Loa Citadel (Vietnamese: Cổ Loa Thành or Thành Cổ Loa) is a citadel built near Phong Khe, about 20km to the North of today’s Hanoi, during the end of the Hồng Bàng Dynasty (about 257 BCE). The fortress is a spiral-shaped complex of the then new capital. Its name is derived from the Sino-Vietnamese 古螺, meaning "old spiral." The site has been the source of various relics of the Dong Son culture of the Bronze Age.

The 12 Lords Rebellion(十二使君之亂)

The 12 Lords Rebellion (Vietnamese: Loạn 12 Sứ Quân; 十二使君之亂) was a period of chaos and civil war in the history of Vietnam, from 966 to 968 AD during the Ngô Dynasty, due to a conflict of succession after the death of King Ngô Quyền.

After King Ngô Quyền's death in 944, his brother-in-law Dương Tam Kha, who was to serve as regent to help the king's son Prince Ngô Xương Ngập succeed the reign, usurped the throne and proclaimed himself king under the title Dương Bình Vương, ruling from 944 to 950. As a result, Prince Ngô Xương Ngập fled and hid in the countryside. The prince's younger brother, Prince Ngô Xương Văn became the adopted son of Dương Tam Kha.

Because of the illegitimate accession of Dương Tam Kha, many local lords rebelled by seizing power of their local government and creating conflicts with the Dương court. King Dương Tam Kha sent an army led by Prince Ngô Xương Văn to suppress the rebellion. However, with the army at his command, the prince turned back and defeated the king in 950. Rather than administering a harsh punishment, Ngô Xương Văn forgave Dương Tam Kha and demoted him to the title of lord. Ngô Xương Văn was then crowned king under the title Nam Tấn Vương, and sent envoys in search for his older brother. In 951, Ngô Xương Ngập returned and was crowned king under the title Thiên Sách Vương, and with his brother became a co-ruler of the country. Unfortunately the co-rule would be short-lived, when in 954, the elder brother King Ngô Xương Ngập died of illness.

Despite the return of the legitimate heirs to the throne, the rebellions continued throughout the country. In 965, in an attempt to quell a rebellion, King Ngô Xương Văn was killed in Bố Hải Khẩu (now Thái Bình Province). Prince Ngô Xưong Xí, the son of King Ngô Xương Văn, inherited the throne, but could not maintain the reign. He retreated to the area of Bình Kiều and became a lord there. With the Ngô Dynasty having collapsed, the country was fractioned into 12 regions each administered by a lord, and the conflicts among them intensified into war as each sought to expand their rule over the entire country.

Đinh Bộ Lĩnh, adopted son of Lord Trần Lãm who ruled the region of Bố Hải Khẩu, succeeded Lãm after his death. In 968, Lord Đinh Bộ Lĩnh suppressed the other 11 lords, thereby taking control over the country. In the same year, Đinh Bộ Lĩnh ascended the throne, proclaimed himself emperor under the title Đinh Tiên Hòang Đế, establishing the Đinh Dynasty, and renamed the country Đại Cồ Việt. He moved the capital to Hoa Lư (now modern-day Ninh Bình).

List of 12 lords:

1. Ngô Xương Xí (吳昌熾) held Bình Kiều, now Khoái Châu, Hung Yen Province.
2. Đỗ Cảnh Thạc (杜景碩) referred himself as the Duke Đỗ Cảnh, held Đỗ Động Giang, now Thanh Oai, Ha Tay Province.
3. Trần Lãm (陳覽) referred himself as the Duke Trần Minh, held Bố Hải Khấu, Kỳ Bố, Thai Binh Province.
4. Kiều Công Hãn (矯公罕) referred himself as Kiều Tam Chế, held Phong Châu – Bạch Hạc, Phu Tho Province
5. Nguyễn Khoan (阮寬) referred himself as Nguyễn Thái Bình, held Tam Đái - Vĩnh Tường, Vinh Phuc Province
6. Ngô Nhật Khánh (吳日慶) referred himself as the Duke Ngô Lãm, held Đường Lâm , Ha Tay Province
7. Lý Khuê (李奎) referred himself as Lý Lãng, held Siêu Loại - Thuận Thành, Bac Ninh Province.
8. Nguyễn Thủ Tiệp (阮守捷) referred himself as Duke Nguyễn Lệnh, held Tiên Du, Bac Ninh Province
9. Lã Đường (呂唐) referred himself as the Duke Lã Tá, held Tế Giang - Văn Giang, Hung Yen Province
10. Nguyễn Siêu (阮超) referred himself as the Duke Nguyễn Hữu, held Tây Phù Liệt - Thanh Trì, Hà Nội
11. Kiều Thuận (矯順) referred himself as the Duke Kiều Lệnh, held Hồi Hồ - Cẩm Khê, Ha Tay Province
12. Phạm Bạch Hổ (範白虎) referred himself as Phạm Phòng Át, held Đằng Châu, Hung Yen Province.

Of those, Ngô Xương Xí and Ngô Nhật Khánh were nobles of Ngô Dynasty, Phạm Bạch Hổ, Đỗ Cảnh Thạc, Kiều Công Hãn were officials of Ngô Dynasty. The remainders were considered local landlords or nobles from Northern nations, which was the ancient nations holding what is now China.

Note: some of the 12 Lords were from ancient China areas in the north.

吳朝(越南语:Nhà Ngô),為越南歷史的朝代之一,但並沒有建立國號或年號,越南史稱為吳朝。該政權位於越南北部,由吳權所建立。矯公羨在殺杨廷艺後,統治交州(越南北部)。然而杨廷艺的將領吳權不服他,於938年舉兵攻擊,矯公羨則向南漢求援。吳權在擊殺矯公羨後,南漢將領劉洪操率軍攻入白藤江。之後吳權率軍擊敗南漢軍,並將劉洪操殺死。吳權鞏固在交州的勢力後稱王,史稱前吳王。然而吳權只有稱王沒有建立國號,而且未能有效統治越南北部,所以要到968年丁朝統一越南北部後,才算是越南歷史正式獨立出中國歷史。


The Dinh Dynasty丁朝, Nhà Đinh(968–980)
The Đinh Dynasty (Vietnamese: Nhà Đinh; Han-Viet: 丁朝, Đinh Triều) was the imperial dynasty of Vietnam starting in 968 when Đinh Tiên Hoàng vanquished the upheavals of Twelve warlords and ended as the son of Đinh Tiên Hoàng, Đinh Phế Đế, ceded the throne to Lê Hoàn, and ending in 980.

Originally, Đinh Bộ Lĩnh(丁部領), originally named Đinh Hoàn (丁環), emerged as an independent force, but later he followed Trần Lãm(陳覽), one of the 12 Lords, became his subordinate general. Considering Đinh Bộ Lĩnh was most reasonable leader which could manage the circumstance, Trần Lãm retired, gave all power to him. Đinh Bộ Lĩnh led the army to occupy Hoa Lư where became the national capital under his reign afterward. Some years later, one by one, other lords was defeated or succumbed or followed him to become a general under his flag such as :

1. Phạm Bạch Hổ willingly discharge his army and followed Đinh Bộ Lĩnh.
2. Ngô Xương Xí and Ngô Nhật Khánh surrendered.
3. Nguyễn Siêu, Nguyễn Thủ Tiệp, Kiều Công Hãn, Lã Đường, Kiều Thuận and Đỗ Cảnh Thạc withstood to the last and eventually were killed.
4. The armies of Nguyễn Khoan, Lý Khuê spontaneously disintegrated and the final of leader were not clarified.

Đinh Bộ Lĩnh was respected as Vạn Thắng Vương (万胜王, Wànshèng Wáng ,the King of Ten thousands victories) because of the continuous victories. In 968, the 12 Lords Rebellion era finished, was replaced by the era of Đinh Dynasty

丁朝(Nhà Đinh)是越南的封建朝代,其建立者丁部領(丁環)擊敗交趾境內的割據勢力,於968年建立大瞿越國。兩年後(970年)自稱皇帝並制定年號太平,由於丁朝統一越南北部並有國號,所以丁朝是越南脫離中國之始。

(source: wikipedia)

Battle of Bạch Đằng in 981 CE
The Battle of Bạch Đằng in 981 CE, the invasion troops of China's newly-founded ruling dynasty, the Song Dynasty, attacked Đại Cồ Việt with both a navy at Bạch Đằng River's mouth and an infantry force at Chi Lang (Lạng Sơn).[citation needed] Lê Hoàn arranged two ambushes at these sites. The first ambush in Bạch Đằng destroyed most of the Song navy and the second wiped out the remaining Song army and ended the invasion.

(source: wikipedia)

The Battle of Bach Dang River(1288)- The Yuan-Trần war

During the Trần Dynasty, the armies of the Mongol Empire under Mongke Khan and Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan dynasty invaded Dai Viet(Vietnam) in 1257 AD, 1284 AD, and 1288 AD. Đại Việt repelled all attacks of the Yuan during the reign of Kublai Khan. The Yuan-Trần war reached its climax when the retreating Yuan fleet was decimated at the Battle of Bach Dang (1288). The military architect behind Dai Viet's victories was Commander Trần Quốc Tuấn(陳興道), more popularly known as Trần Hưng Đạo

In 1283, the Mongol king Hot Tat Liet sent his son, Prince Thoat Hoan, and an army of 500,000 soldiers to invade the land of the Viet, known during this time as Dai Viet(大越) and ruled by the Tran Dynasty(陳朝).

The Mongolian army outnumbered the Viet soldiers, and were cruel in battle. After a year of fighting, Emperor Tran was ready to surrender. In 1284, Emperor Tran Nhan Tong called all the elder men in the country to come to the capital to advise him on whether or not to continue fighting. One of the most courageous and greatest heroes in Viet history, General Tran Quoc Tuan(陳興道), was determined to fight against the invasion. Inspired by his patriotism and his leadership, the Viet people united against the Mongolians and defeated them within six months.

The Mongolians did not stay away for long, however. In 1287, Prince Thoat Hoan led an army of 300,000 soldiers back into Dai Viet in a second attempt to conquer the country. After a year of fighting, General Tran Quoc Tuan recalled the tactic that had saved the country once before. He instructed his soldiers to plant wooden spears into the Bach Dang river, just as had been done 350 years ago. The Mongolian army and its 400 battle ships were destroyed. Peace returned to the Viet people, and the Bach Dang river became famous in history. It's considered part of the Third Mongol Invasion (1287-88).

The Bach Dang Stake is located in the marshy zone of Yen Giang Commune, Yen Hung District, Quang Ninh Province, that borders the Chanh River. The stake-yard is the site where Tran Hung Dao, a national hero of the 13th century, is forever honoured.

It was officially recognized as one of Vietnam’s historic vestiges on March 22, 1988; the 700th anniversary of a great victory at Bach Dang against Mongol invaders.

When the local people built a dyke in 1953, they discovered the Bach Dang stake-yard. There remain hundreds of stakes arranged in the zigzag-shaped (shape of the letter Z). Some are vertical; some others are inclined 15o to the east. Most of the stakes are made of ironwood. They were bevelled in one end, and their heads were broken. Their average length ranges from 2 to 2.8m, even up to 3.2m. The bevelled part is 0.8 to 1m. The stakes lie 0.5-1.5m under ground. The whole 220m2 stake ground is now protected by dyke. Of the stakes, 42 remain intact 2m under a layer of mud and jut out 0.2-2m. The density of stakes in the southern part of the ground is 1 stake over 0.9-1m2; meanwhile that of the northern part is 1 stake over 1.5-2m2. Just 3km away from the town centre, the Tran Hung Dao Temple lies at a strip of land stretching to the middle of the river in Yen Giang Commune. Legend has it that when Tran Hung Dao came to Trung Ban mound to investigate the topography of the locality to prepare for the Bach Dang battle, his hair knot got loose. He stopped, pushing his sword in the ground, to twist his hair into a chignon. The local fishermen saw this and built a temple dedicated to him right in this place.

In 1288, after two unsuccessful military offensives (1258 and 1285), 300,000 Mongol invaders led by Thoat Hoan and force of 7,000,000kg rice food led by Truong Van Ho went to Thang Long by road and water way. The ruling Tran Court organized a plan of strategic withdrawal, and established guerrilla warfare to wear down their enemy. The invading forces dwindled, tried by both the climate and the constant attacks and were forced to withdraw. Tran Hung Dao had his men plant steel-tipped wooden stakes in the bed of the Bach Dang River to create a line of defence blocking the Mongol retreat.

On 9th April 1288 as the fleet entered the mouth of the river, a few small boats engaged the enemy. The tide ebbed, and the fleet was thrown on to the wooden stakes, while Tran Hung Dao's army moved in for the kill. The 300,000 men were either killed or taken prisoner, and 400 enemy warships were destroyed.

The Bach Dang Victory in 1288 was a glorious victory, which marked in the Vietnamese history against the invaders, and the Stake - Yard in Yen Giang Lagoon was an evidence of the glorious feat of arms.

The land of historic relics of Trang Kenh - Bach Dang in the north of Thuy Nguyen district, about 20 km from Hai Phong urban areas. It borders Gia river in the south, Chanh river in the East. There are grandiose mountains, harmonizing relics and landscapes.

At present, Trang Kenh-Bach Dang has become north-east industry area of city. There are Trang Kenh factory that exploits limestone mines for production of lime, calcium carbide, and Chinfon cement factory with Peach blossom symbol. At the point where Gia river mouth looking at Bach dang river, it is Pha Rung ship repairing factory built with assistance from Finnish Government. There are modern docks which are accommodating high sea vessels to make them 'young' again with ocean

Related articles:
1. Institute of Nautical Archaeology,
2. A river with stakes deep in history,

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