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LY CAO TONG or LY LONG TRAT ( child name ) was the seventh Emperor of the LY DYNASTY who ruled DAI VIET for 35 years . Like his contemporary JAYAVARMAN-VII of KHMER EMPIRE , he identified himself with BUDDHA . His Empress was AN TOAN and he had three issues namly : 1. LY HOA SAM ; 2. LY HUE TONG ; and 3. LY THAM . He was the son of Emperor LY ANH TONG and Empress DO THUY CHAU who later became Empress DOWAGER DO . Born on 25th May 1173 AD , he enthroned at the age of only three . As we have studied in our earlier article as to how his predecessor crown prince HIEN TRUNG was deposed and imprisoned on the charge of adultery with a palace concubine . So , TO HIEN THANH was entrusted with the charges of regency to the child Emperor LY CAO TONG . But after sometime TO HIEN THANH fell ill and died shortly in 1169 AD . Empress DOWAGER DO appointed DO AN DI as the Regent for her son . But when he grew young , he became an Epicurean Emperor who was lost in lust , hunting, spirit and music . He wasted much money in building palaces and pagodas . Despite the fact that he had many competent officials like DO KINH TU and PHAM BINH DI , he preferred to deceitful official giving him always wrong suggestions . So , due to Epicurean nature and erroneous determinations of Emperor LY CAO TONG , some considered his reign to begin the fall into decay of the LY DYNASTY. However , many historians differ from this view . They are of the opinion that Emperor had an important influence on the history of DAI VIET ( VIETNAM ) .


When LY CAO TONG was young , he was meek and lenient . But after he grew and started administering his reign directly , he became more and more cruel and brought the country into turmoil . He loved hunting and building large palaces at the cost of his People’s expenses . The codes and rules of his reign were obscure and immoral . That led the people to conflict with the local administration frequently . Rebel from injustice and drudgery, they started devastating buildings and looting villages . Despite that Emperor LY CAO TONG took a trip around the country in March 1189 AD . He built pagodas or temple wherever a Deity or Spirit was said to reside . Nine years after that , he built NGHENH THIEM Palace . His numerous palaces buildings approach culminated into 1203 AD , when he built palaces not so important for the governance of DAI VIET . It was followed by multiple famines leading to the death of many people due to starvation in 1208 AD . And the Emperor was so Epicurean that he didn’t pay attention upon his dying subjects . Rather he continued to indulged in pleasure and his personal building projects . Not only that the Emperor also ignored looting and robberies outside his citadel . He was of the opinion that it was futile to control all that and he continued building palaces . One day peculiar incident happened . A strange- bird was seen nesting on the roof of the unfinished palace called KIEN THIEN ( IT means respecting the heaven in the VIETNAMESE language ) . An official named as CAO DURONG LONG observed this first and predicted that a new and more powerful Dynasty would soon supercede the current Dynasty . So , he preferred to advise the Emperor to stop the injurious building projects . But the Emperor ignored him . He instead listened to a eunuch named as PHAM BINH DI who advised him to carry on his projects as usual and without any fear.


Emperor LY CAO TONG’S regime was an era of turbulence and unrest as the affairs of state were abandoned completely . Many revolts and secession exploded among the peasantry and local nobles . The Emperor’s Court tried to suppress the rebellions but of no avail . The civilians from CO HOANG of the THANH HOA Province rioted in 1192 AD . It was followed by the rebellions of CAU DIEN and DINH KHA in 1198 AD who professed to be the decedents of DINH TIEN HOANG who was the founding Emperor of the short-lived DINH DYNASTY of VIETNAM after declaring its independence from the CHINESE HAN DYNASTY . In 1203 AD , on the other hand , VIDYANANDANA , the king of CHAMPA , entered CUA LO , a district level town of NGHE AN province of DAI VIET , seeking asylum from a KHMER invasion . He did misdeed there by killing PHAM GIEN , the governor of NGHE AN and fled away never to be heard again . In 1207 AD , DOAN THUONG and DOAN CHU of HONG CHAU area rioted , built fortification and conferred the title Lord on themselves . Emperor LY CAO TONG dispatched a great number of soldiers to supress the rebellion . Finding it difficult to confront such a large soldiers , DOAN THUONG bribed PHAM DU, an official of the court and military General , with costly furniture and willingly followed him . This coalition between PHAM DU and DOAN THUONG ultimately culminated into forgiving DOAN THUONG . Then PHAM DU went to NGHE AN to manage the army in 1209 AD . The province was going through a catastrophic starvation and a large number of people had died of hunger . The survivors left their homes and became beggars . Hence PHAM DU told the king to allow him to recruit soldiers for establishing a self-defense army so than any rebellions in future could be controlled which Emperor LY CAO TONG willingly accepted . PHAM DU recruited the local people but to blockade the transport system, both on land and water . Identifying his army as rebellious , Emperor LY CAO TONG sent PHAM BINH DI , an other official and general , with an army from DANG CHAU to conquer PHAM DU . As a result PHAM DU retreated to CO MIET and United with the army of DOAN THUONG and DOAN CHU from HONG CHAU . PHAM BINH DI was defeated in DANG CHAU . But again in February 1209 AD , PHAM BINH DI reorganized his army and defeated PHAM DU , confiscated his property and set it on fire . PHAM DU fled in retreat . On the other hand , PHAM DU bribed high-ranking officials in the capital of DAI VIET and accused PHAM BINH DI of a ferocious massacre . Emperor LY CAO TONG called both — PHAM DU and PHAM BINH DI in the royal court . PHAM DU returned to the capital first and told the king false rumors about PHAM BINH DI . And when PHAM BINH DI arrived in the royal court , he and his son were arrested and sent to prison . Knowing this information about PHAM BINH DI , one of his his subordinates General QUACH BOC occupied the citadel and enthroned the young prince LY THAM . Emperor LY CAO TONG fled to TAM NONG , PHU THO and lodged at the residence of HA VAN , a minority leader holding a substantial force . In 1208 AD , TRAN LY and TO TRUNG led their army to the capital to defeat General QUACH BOC and suppressed the rebellions and LY CAO TONG was once again became the King of DAI VIET. And TRAN LY died in the battle . PHAM DU was since dead , that’s why TO TRUNG TU held almost all powering in the royal court . And Emperor LY CAO TONG was forced to work with him . On October 28 , 1210 AD , Emperor LY CAO TONG died at the age of 38 at the THANH THO palace . The DAI VIET society was more and more turbulent . And ten years later the LY DYNASTY was replaced by the TRAN DYNASTY . In this way the prediction of an official CAO DURONG LONG that a new and more powerful Dynasty would soon supercede the current Dynasty , proved true .



Published by ARBIND KUMAR



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