VIETNAM ( SERIES -33 )
EMPEROR TRAN MINH TONG OF DAI VIET
TRAN MINH TONG was the fifth Emperor of the TRAN DYNASTY . He reigned DAI VIET from 1314 AD to 1329 AD . He was born in 1300 AD as TRAN MANH . The only surviving son of Emperor TRAN ANH TONG and Empress HUY TU . All the other sons of the Emperor died at the young age , so young TRAN MANH was brought about with the help of TRAN NHAT DUAT , a close relative of the Emperor, with this hope that he would survive . Prince TRAN MANH , indeed , was well looked after due to the wholehearted devotion of TRAN NHAT DUAT. When in 1312 AD , Emperor TRAN ANH TONG was on the campaign against CHAMPA , the 12-year-old Prince TRAN MANH was temporarily entrusted to the throne with assistance from TRAN NHAT DUAT and TRAN QUOC TU . In 1314 AD , Emperor TRAN ANH TONG ceded his throne to TRAN MANH with the name as Emperor TRAN MINH TONG . He, however, continued to hold title as a Retired Emperor , (known as THAI THUONG HOANG in DAI VIET ) . Emperor TRAN MINH TONG had one Empress , one other wife and one concubine . However, he had eleven sons and two daughters . But his two sons died young . He was the last Emperor in the prosperous period of TRAN DYNASTY . He was known for his successful reign of DAI VIET with the assistance of many wise and talented mandarins .TRAN MINH TONG was also the longest-reigning Retired Emperor in the history of DAI VIET when he acted as a Regent and co-ruler with Emperor HIEN TONG and DU TONG . And with his death , the country began to decline and soon fell into troubled times .
A RULER OF GOOD INTENT WITH SHORT VISION
Emperor TRAN MINH TONG was a Ruler of good intent but had no long-term vision of nation building . However , he ruled over DAI VIET with the assistance of many capable mandarins like PHAM NGU LAO , DOAN NHU HAI , MAC DINH CHI and CHU VAN AN . But the biggest shortcoming of his rule was that he ordered a prominent General and his father-in-law , TRAN QUOC CHAN , not to supply food and water when he was under custody/prison . Breaking the past tradition of his ancestors , Emperor TRAN MINH TONG had sons from his one Empress , one queen and one concubine . Prince TRAN VUONG was his first son but not from the Queen LE THANH but from his second consort called ANH TU . The entire royal court was divided on this issue . One party was , of the opinion , that the son of Queen should be the successor of Emperor TRAN MINH TONG , while the other party fully supported TRAN VUONG for the secession to the throne of DAI VIET . Consequently , the leader of the latter , TRAN KHAC CHUNG (A brave mandarin who was responsible for the escape of Prince HUYEN TRAN from CHAMPA) launched a defamation campaign again TRAN QUOC CHAN , a capable General and the father-in-law of the Emperor. The Emperor TRAN MINH TONG , on the basis of the information provided by TRAN KHAC CHUNG , ordered the imprisonment of his father-in-law , TRAN QUOC CHAN , who was later on deprived of the food and water in the prison , ultimately died in 1328 AD . Though he continued his friendly relation with the YUAN DYNASTY , he completely failed to deal with the increasing hostility with the Kingdom of CHAMPA despite the fact that TRAN QUOC CHAN and PHAM NGU LAO had won a campaign in CHAMPA in 1318 AD . However , in 1326 AD , CHE ANAN , a warrior king of CHAMPA , relieved it from its vassalage to DAI VIET (ANNAM) . But in 1329 AD , Emperor TRAN MINH TONG decided to pass the throne to Prince TRAN VUONG who was renamed as Emperor TRAN HIEN TONG . And Emperor TRAN MINH TONG took the position of a Retired Emperor .
THE LONGEST RETIRED EMPEROR OF DAI VIET
TRAN MINH TONG remained 29 years as the Retired Emperor of DAI VIET . As a Retired Emperor , he ruled over the country from 15th March , 1329 AD to 10th March , 1357 AD . On 15th March , 1329 AD , the new Emperor HIEN TONG was only a ten-year- old boy . In skirmishes with CHAMPA and LAOS , the DAI VIET’S army during the reign of Emperor TRAN HIEN TONG , were defeated due to the lack of capable Generals. In the operation against LAOS in 1335 AD , the Retired Emperor TRAN MINH TONG himself commanded the army , but the DAI VIET’S army continued to loose again due to the lack of able Generals as PHAM NGU LAO had died in 1320 AD , TRAN QUOC CHAN in 1328 AD and TRAN NHAT DUAT in 1335 AD . In the fight with LAO , an important mandarin like DOAN NHU HAI of DAI VIET was drowned by the enemy . Due to increasing numbers of incompetent and corrupt officials in the royal court , instability in the later phase of TRAN DYNASTY grew many folds . Emperor TRAN HIEN TONG died in 1341 AD . Then the Retired Emperor TRAN MINH TONG passed the throne to his tenth son , TRAN HAO , who was named as Emperor TRAN DU TONG . But he was a nominal Emperor , and Retired Emperor TRAN MINH TONG had continued to wield the real power over TRAN DYNASTY for sixteen long years . He died in 1357 AD . The death of Retired Emperor TRAN MINH TONG marked the end of a prosperous and stable era of DAI VIET . The royal court and TRAN Clan ultimately fell into chaos .
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