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The TRAN DYNASTY of DAI VIET ruled over the country from 1225 AD to 1400 AD . The TRAN DYNASTY is also known as the HOUSE OF TRAN . The founder of this Dynasty was Emperor TRAN THAI TONG , the nephew of the Grand Chancellor TRAN THU DO . The TRAN DYNASTY defeated two MONGOL invasions in 1288 AD . And the last Emperor of this Dynasty was THIEU DE who was forced to abdicate the throne in 1400 AD at the age of five only by his maternal grand father HO QUY LY . The ancestor of the TRAN Clan , TRAN LY , migrated from the province of FIJIAN to DAI VIET in the early 12th century. He settled in the TUC MUC village and adopted a profession like fishing . Slowly and gradually he became a big land owner of that area . It was his grandson TRAN CANH or TRAN THAI TONG later established the TRAN DYNASTY in DAI VIET . From TRAN LY onwards , the TRAN Clan became related to the LY Clan by intermarriages . During the reign of Emperor LY CAO TONG , when trouble arose in DIAVIET , the crown prince LY SAM sought for refuge in the family of TRAN LY . Then crown prince LY SAM decided to marry with his beautiful daughter TRAN THI DUNG in 1209 AD . Moreover that , the TRAN Clan helped Emperor LY CAO TONG and LY SAM to restore the throne in THANG LONG . This resulted in the appointment of several members of the TRAN Clan on the high position in the royal court by Emperor LY CAO TONG . TO TRUNG TU ( Uncle of Emperor Tran Thai TONG) , TRAN TU KHANH and TRAN THURA ( who were Tran Ly sons ) were a few members of the TRAN Clan got place in the royal court . When the crown prince LY SAM was enthroned as LY HUE TONG as Emperor of DAI VIET in 1211 AD after the death of Emperor LY CAO TONG , number of the members of TRAN Clan in royal court increased many folds .


TRAN THAI TONG or TRAN CANH or TRAN NHAT TONG was the first Emperor of TRAN DYNASTY . He reigned DAI VIET from 1226 AD to 1258 AD , altogether 33 years . Many things I have already written about Emperor TRAN THAI TONG in my earlier blog . So I don’t want to repeat all of them again . I view something new always attracted my viewers . Let me start with his era name . During his 33 years of reign , Emperor TRAN THAI TONG used three era names : 1. KIEN TRUNG ( 1225 AD to 1232 AD ) ; 2. THIEN UNG CHINH BINH ( 1232 AD to 1250 AD ) ; and 3. NGUYEN PHONG ( 1251 AD to 1258 AD ) . In the autumn of 1257 AD , MONGOL General URIYANGKHADAI addressed three letters to Emperor TRAN THAI TONG demanding passage through DAI VIET to southern CHINA in order to attack the SONG DYNASTY . When all the three successive envoys were imprisoned in the capital THANG LONG of DAI VIET by Emperor TRAN THAI TONG , angry URIYANGKHADAI invaded DAI VIET . Battle started between the MONGOL and DAI VIET . DAI VIET army used elephants in the battle . MONGOL ordered his troops to fire arrows at the elephants’ feet . The elephants turned in panic . It caused disorder in the DAI VIET army and which was virtually routed . The senior military leaders of DAI VIET anyhow escaped with the help of pre-prepared boats . But a part of their army was destroyed at NO NGUYEN on the HONG River . But the battle didn’t end over there . A day after , the remainder of the royal army of DAI VIET suffered a major defeat again in a fierce battle at the PHU LO bridge . This led the TRAN leaders to evacuate the capital THANG LONG leaving even their weapons behind the capital . However , due to the poor climate of DAI VIET , URIYANGKHADAI left THANG LONG after only nine days to invade the SONG DYNASTY . After the MONGOL departure from DAI VIET, Emperor TRAN THAI TONG agreed to pay tribute every three years to the royal court of the MONGOL Empire .


EMPEROR TRAN THAI TONG was a prolific writer . Learned in both — CONFUCIANISM and BUDDHISM , he authored several profound works on BUDDHISM . The most famous of them is known as KHOA HU LUC . It literally means Instructions on Emptiness’. It was a ZEN manual . As a prodigious writer , he left behind a substantial number of works . However , today a small number of them survived . A peculiar feature of both the LY DYNASTY and the TRAN DYNASTY was that many men of DAI VIET were castrated themselves to become eunuchs that time . So a boy student was given money by Emperor TRAN THAI TONG in 1254 AD in exchange for becoming a eunuch . In 1258 AD he , however , abdicated the throne in favor of his son whose name was Crown Prince TRAN HOANG . After ceding his throne for his son TRAN HOANG , whose name as Emperor was TRAN THANH TONG , Emperor TRAN THAI TONG held the title of THAI THUONG HOANG , meaning by Retired Emperor . He remained so from 1279 AD uptil his death in 1290 AD .








Decline of the LY DYNASTY started with Emperor LY HUE TONG who ruled DAI VIET from 1211 AD to 1224 AD . He was the son of Emperor LY CAO TONG and Empress AN TOAN . He was born on July 1194 AD in THANG LONG and died on 3rd September 1226 AD at the age of 32 in CHAN GIAO PAGODA in THANG LONG . Like his father he was also a BUDDHIST . During the reign of Emperor LY HUE TONG , many members of the TRAN family assumed key roles in the government . TRAN THU DO was also one of them . Later TRAN THAI TONG was put on the throne of DAI VIET by the TRAN family by using its position of power in the royal court thus founded the TRAN DYNASTY . However it would be useful to know as to what happened to Emperor LY HUE TONG ? In 1224 AD , Emperor LY HUE TONG became mentally sick . Issue of his succession became need of the hour. He had no son and only daughters . So , he appointed his seven year old daughter LY CHIEU HOANG as his successor . Though she was unacceptable to TRAN THU DO because her being a woman , yet he had some schemes to end the LY DYNASTY forever and place a TRAN on the throne of DAI VIET. So, LY CHIEU HOANG was accepted as Empress . And Emperor LY HUE TONG retired to become a BUDDHIST MONK . On the other hand , TRAN THU DO eliminated all the family members of the LY DYNASTY and its potential pretenders . Knowing this information , Emperor LY HUE TONG committed suicide . Thus , ended the LY DYNASTY of DAI VIET .


LY CHIEU HOANG or LY THIEN HINH was the nineth and last sovereign of the LY DYNASTY . She ruled DAI VIET from 1224 AD to 1225 AD . The first female monarch of DAI VIET/VIETNAM was TRUNG TRAC who was the only queen regnant . And LY CHIEU HOANG was only Empress regnant of DAI VIET . She was born in September 1218 AD as the second child of Emperor LY HUE TONG and Empress TRAN THI DUNG . Empress TRAN THU DO was the cousin of Empress TRAN THI DUNG . When Emperor LY HUE TONG became mentally ill/sick , he decided to cede the throne of the LY DYNASTY to crown princess LY CHIEU HOANG . Succeeding to the throne of DAI VIET at the age of only six , Empress LY CHIEU HOANG ruled under the regency of Royal Guard TRAN THU DO and other members of the TRAN Clan . Even Empress Regent’s servants were chosen from TRAN families by TRAN THU DO . TRAN THIEM or TRAN THU DOS’S 7 year old nephew , TRAN CANH , was one of them . One day TRAN CANH informed TRAN THU DO that the Empress Regnant seemed to have affection towards him . So , TRAN THU DO immediately decided to use this chance to carry out his plot to overthrow the LY DYNASTY and found the Dynasty of TRAN Clan . So what he did that he first moved the whole TRAN Clan to the royal palace and arranged a secret marriage ceremony between seven years old LY CHIEU HOANG and seven years old TRAN CANH in October/November 1225 AD without the appearance/knowledge of any mandarin or the member of the LY family . It was followed by the announcement of TRAN THU DO in the royal court that Empress LY CHIEU HOANG has ceded the throne in favor of her newly married husband for the reason that she was incapable for the position . Thus , TRAN CANH had been chosen as her successor . Now the 216-year old reign of the LY DYNASTY was ended . And the age of TRAN DYNASTY came into existence on 31st December , 1225 AD .


The role of Grand Chancellor was quite inhuman and opportunistic . Though the father of the new Emperor TRAN CANH or TRAN THAI TONG ( new name ) , TRAN THURA , acted as Regent in the Royal Court , yet the Grand Chancellor TRAN THU DO held absolute power in the royal court and in the matters of civil and military affairs . Despite that TRAN THU DO was afraid of the attempt of the political opponent who might overthrow his newly formed TRAN DYNASTY any moment . So he ordered the last Emperor LY HUE TONG to commit suicide on 8th October 1226 . Empress LY CHIEU HOANG was downgraded to Empress consort CHIEU THANH in January 1226 AD . Even not satisfied with the death of Emperor LY HUE TONG , the Grand Chancellor TRAN THU DO decided to kill all the members of LY Royal family in August 1232 AD . However , authentication of this event has been challenged by a historian like NGO SI LIEN on the basis of the fact that members of the LY Clan were still appointed as the General of DAI VIET by TRAN ANH TONG . According to DAI VIET SU KI TOAN THU ( Royal Chronicles of Dai Viet ) Empress LY CHIEU HOANG was unable to bear a child for the Emperor . So the Grand Chancellor TRAN THU DO exploited the situation by forcing Emperor’s elder brother TRAN LIEU to give up his wife Princess THUAN THIEN , the elder sister of Empress LY CHIEU HOANG , for the Emperor , even though she was pregnant of three months at that time . And after the marriage THUAN THIEN was made the new Empress of the TRAN DYNASTY and LY CHIEU HOANG was downgraded to princess . TRAN LIEU raised a revolt against the royal family in view of loosing his three months pregnant wife . Meanwhile Emperor TRAN THAI TONG finding awkward about the situation decided to become a Monk in YEN TU mountain . The Grand Chancellor TRAN THU DO persuaded Emperor TRAN THAI TONG to return to the throne . And TRAN LIEU surrendered after realizing the gravity of the situation and weakness of his soldiers. TRAN THU DO wanted to behead TRAN LIEU but he was prevented by the Emperor TRAN THAI TONG . This historical decision by TRAN THU DO and Emperor TRAN THAI TONG was severely criticized by the historian like NGO SI LIEN who considered it as the origin of the downfall of the TRAN DYNASTY . On the other hand , Emperor TRAN THAI TONG decided to remarry Princess CHIEU THANH to General LE PHU TRAN in 1258 AD as he had an essential role in the victory of DAI VIET over the first MONGOL invasion . This event was also criticized by the historians as lack of moral code during the early TRAN period . And Princess CHIEU THANH died in CO PHAP at the age of 61 in March 1278 AD . Thus , one can think of the prevalent moral situation regarding marriages so far as during TRAN DYNASTY was concerned . Due to her role in the collapse of LY DYNASTY, LY CHIEU HOANG was not worshiped along with her eight ancestors at the LY BAT DE Temple of DAI VIET .







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 .






LY ANH TONG or LY THIEN TO was the sixth Ruler of the later LY DYNASTY . He ruled DAI VIET from 1138 AD to until his death in 1175 AD . He was chosen the successor of his father at the age of two only . As per the Lunar Calander , LY ANH TONG was born during the third month of 1136 AD as LY THIEN TO to the parents like Emperor LY THAN TONG and Empress LE THI . Initially LY THIEN LOC who was four years older than LY THIEN TO was preferred by Emperor LY THAN TONG to be the crown prince of DAI VIET as he was the son of his favorite concubine . But in 1138 AD , the ill Emperor decided to make LY THIEN TO his successor by demoting LY THIEN LOC due to severe pressure put by the three other concubines of the Emperor . These concubines namly : 1. LADY CAM THANH ; 2. LADY NHAT PHUNG ; and 3. LADY PHUNG THANH , who were afraid of the coronation of a concubine’s son who might threaten their position in the Royal Family . And soon after naming his successor , Emperor LY THAN TONG died . On 5th November 1138 AD , LY THIEN TO as LY ANH TONG ascended the throne of DAI VIET at age of two and ruled with the help of DO ANH VU , an official in the royal court of LY ANH TONG . After changing the era name he elevated his mother LE THI to Empress mother of LY DYNASTY . During 37 years of his reign he changed the era name thrice . DAI DINH ( 1140 AD TO 1162 AD ) , CHINH LONG BAO UNG ( 1163 AD TO 1173 AD ) and THIEM CAM CHI BAO ( 1174 AD TO 1175 AD ) . The reign of LY ANH TONG was considered as the last relatively stable period of the LY DYNASTY .


EMPEROR LY ANH TONG’S early reign started in 1138 AD uptil 1158 AD when DO ANH VU died . Now he had become an independent ruler . As the royal court witnessed the rise of the power of DO ANH VU who used to decide almost all matters of the country uptil 1158 AD . Moreover , he despised other officials of the royal court . According to DAI VIET SU KY TOAN THU (The official chronicles of DAI VIET) , the reason for such an immense power of DO ANH VU was the secret personal relationship of Empress LY THI with the former . As a result , some of the mandarins such as VU DAI , NGUYEN DURONG , NGUYEN QUOC , and DURONG TU MINH tried their level best to topple DO ANH VU , but failed completely . And later they were arrested and put to death by the order of DO ANH VU . Even after the death of Empress LY THI in 1147 AD , DO ANH VU maintained his strong position in the Royal Court until his death in 1158 AD . Apart from that , The chancellor , DO ANH VU , was credited to suppress the rebellion in 1140 AD started by the priest called THAN LOI claiming himself the son of LY NHAN TONG . THAN LOI was later captured by TO HIEN THANH and was beheaded on the order of LY ANH TONG . Emperor LY ANH TONG issued several edicts during his reign . In 1142 AD , in order to memorialize the TRUNG SISTERS ( TRUNG TRAC and TRUNG NHI ) against the CHINESE DOMINATION , he ordered to build the TEMPLE OF TRUNG SISTERS in the southern suburbs of THANG LONG . He was the first ruler of DAI VIET who promoted BUDDHISM as the state religion . An other important decision during his reign was that of the campaign against CHAMPA with the purpose of replacing King HARIVARMAN-I with his brother-in-law VAMSARAJA of KHMER . VAMSARAJA had asked for help from Emperor LY ANH TONG for this campaign . The Emperor appointed General LY MONG with the command of 5000 soldiers for this purpose . VAMSARAJA with his soldiers of 100,000 and with General LY MONG attacked CHAMPA . But the army of CHAMPA under the command of King HARIVARMAN-I defeated the joint army of VAMSARAJA and LY MONG at the Battle of MY SON . VAMSARAJA and General LY MONG were killed in the battlefield in 1152 AD . But in 1154 AD , for healing the relationship with DAI VIET , King HARIVARMAN-I sent his daughter to DAI VIET where she married with Emperor LY ANH TONG as his concubine .


After the death of Chancellor DO ANH VU in 1158 AD , Emperor LY ANH TONG ruled DAI VIET with the help of the prominent official TO HIEN THANH . Being a capable officer of LY ANH TONG , TO HIEN THANH helped him in the civil and military matters . On the advice of TO HIEN THANH , Emperor LY ANH TONG established the first Temple of CONFUCIUS in the THANG LONG in 1156 AD . Previously CONFUCIAN was jointly worshipped in the TEMPLE OF LITERATURE located in the city of present day HANOI . Credit goes to TO HIEN THANH that he pacified the revolt of the NGUU HONG and AI LAO in 1159 AD on the western border . He also got victory in the war against CHAMPA in 1167 AD which stabilized the southern border of DAI VIET . On the other hand , the relation between the LY DYNASTY and the SONG DYNASTY changed considerably when the SONG Emperor XIAOZONG decided to acknowledge DAI VIET as the Kingdom of ANNAM which is the VIETNAMESE form of the CHINESE name ANNAN which meant ‘the pacified south’ . It was previously designated as the district of GIAO CHI by his predecessors . As result , that since the SONG DYNASTY formally recognized the Ruler of DAI VIET as a king rather than a district governor . Emperor LY ANH TONG had already opened the principal port of VON DON in 1149 AD for the trade between DAI VIET and the SONG DYNASTY of CHINA . However , Emperor LY ANH TONG died in 1175 AD at the age of 39 only . He entrusted TO HIEN THANH with the regency of his three-year-old crown prince denying the advice of the Empress who wanted to put other prince on the throne of DAI VIET . This decision of the Emperor was widely appreciated . A historian like NGO SIE LIEN considered it a right decision to maintain the oder of succession for the royal family and royal court . For knowledge sake, it would be wise to know that Emperor LY ANH TONG’S elder son , the prince HIEN TRUNG who was born in 1151 AD , was earlier made the crown prince of the LY DYNASTY , but for committing adultery with a concubine in the royal palace , he was stripped of all titles and he also was imprisoned for that in 1174 AD .






LY THAN TONG or LY DURONG HOAN was the fifth monarch of the LY DYNASTY who ruled DAI VIET from 1127 AD to 1138 AD until his death . He was born in 1116 AD . He was the yonger brother of Emperor LY NHAN TONG . According to DAI VIET SUR KY TOAN THU ( The VIETNAMESE official chronicles of states ) LY DURONG HOAN was born right after the death of the VIETNAMESE monk called TU DAO HAN, that’s why he was considered as the incarnation of monk TU DAO HAN by the people of DAI VIET . He became the Ruler of DAI VIET at the age of only twelve . But he started ruling the country peacefully just after the death of Emperor LY NHAN TONG with the help of his capable officers in view of the stability of the LÝ DYNASTY in DAI VIET . This action of the king was vehemently criticized by contemporary historians like LE VAN HUU and NGO SI LIEN because they were of the opinion that LY THAN TONG should have at least mourn the death of his predecessor king LY NHAN TONG to show his respect for the departed soul of the Emperor before start ruling DAIVIET . However , he died at the young age of 23 only before passing the throne to his crown prince LY THIEN TO .


The first thing after enthronement , LY THAN TONG did was that he changed the name of the era as THIEN THUAN from 1128 AD to 1232 AD . He again changed the name of era as THIEN CHUONG BAO TU from 1133 AD to 1138 AD . He made his adoptive mother Lady TRAN ANH as the Empress Mother of the LY DYNASTY . He brought about major changes in the court laws namly : 1. Relaxing strict laws ; 2. Adopting officials for important positions ; and 3. Maintaining diplomatic relations with the SONG DYNASTY and the Kingdom of CHAMPA . There were little or no skirmishes on the DAI VIET border except a few . In January 1129 AD , Emperor LY THAN TONG bestowed his real father and mother MARQUIS SUNG HIEN and Lady DO THI respectably on the titles of the Retired Emperor and the Empress Mother of the LY DYNASTY . In January 1130 AD , the Emperor brought about an order according to which every daughter of the mandarins in the royal court had to be available for the Emperor’s selection of concubines and those who were not chosen could only get married afterwards . However , these two decisions of the Emperor were severely criticized by the historians like LE VAN HUU and NGO SI LIEN . But the official chronicles of VIETNAM , DAI VIET SU KY TOAN THU , considered Emperor LY THAN TONG as a skilled ruler who was able to choose and use talented officials and hold the stability of the LY DYNASTY . Moreover , his policy of NGU BINH U NONG , which meant conscription of farmers ìnto the army for a period of six months and release them for the next six months so that they could resume farming , was appreciated by one and all . Due to this policy , the agricultural activities of the country was not affected much by the military activities .


In 1136 AD , Emperor LY THAN TONG contacted a severe disease . His physician and court doctors were unable to cure him . He was only 21 years old that time . So a Monk from the empire was called for that . His name was NGUYEN MINH KHONG who had learned the disease’s antidote from his master TU DAO HANH before he died . He applied that antidote on Emperor LY THAN TONG . And the Emperor was cured . Nevertheless , Emperor LY THAN TONG survived only for two years . He died on 26th September 1138 AD at the age of 23 . And he was succeeded by LY ANH TONG .






LY NHAN TONG or LY CAN DUC was the fourth monarch of the LY DYNASTY . He ruled over DAI VIET from 1072 AD to 1128 AD until his death . He succeeded his father Emperor LY THANH TONG at the age of seven only . However , at this tiny age , LY NHAN TONG ruled the Empire with the help and assistance of his mother Y LAN and the Chancellor LY DAO THANH . He was born on 22nd February , 1066 AD at LONG DUC PALACE , THANH LONG . And he died on 15th January , 1128 AD at the age of 61 . He had altogether five spouses namely : 1. EMPRESS LAN ANH ; 2. EMPRESS KHAM THIEN ; 3. EMPRESS CHAN BAO ; 4. EMPRESS THANH CUC ; and 5. EMPRESS CHIEU THANH . But he had no issue from his espouses at all . So he had adopted two sons namly : 1. PRINCE LY DURONG HOAN ; and 2. PRINCE LY DURONG CON from the Marquises SUNT HlEN ; so that he could choose a capable successor to maintain the throne for the LY DYNASTY out of them . After becoming the Emperor of DAI VIET , LY NHAN TONG made important contributions to the development of DAI VIET . Firstly , he established CONFUCIANISM as the official philosophy of the state . Secondly , he created CONFUCIAN-based Imperial exams . Moreover , he created schools based on the CONFUCIAN system of learning . During his longest reign of 55 years , he also experienced several wars against the neighboring countries of DAI VIET . Out of two such wars : 1. Wàr with Song Dynasty of CHINA ; and 2. War with CHAMPA Kingdom , the SINO-VIETNAMESE War from 1075 AD to 1076 AD was the fiercest .


Initially question arose as to who would be the Regent of LY NHAN TONG as he was only of seven years of age at the time of the death of Emperor LY THANH TONG in 1072 AD . So it was decided that the Chancellor LY DAO THANH and the Empress Mother THUONG DUONG would be the Regent of the Emperor . But she was soon dismissed by Emperor LY NHAN TONG by coming in influence of his natural mother Y LAN . Later Empress Mother THUONG DUONG with 76 of her Imperial maids were imprisoned in the THUONG DUONG palace . The ruthless Empress L LAN didn’t stop there . She ordered to kill all of them including Empress THUONG DUONG . They were buried in the tomb of LE THANH TONG . And after the assassination of the Empress Mother THUONG DUONG , L LAN became the Regent of the Emperor LY NHAN TONG . A VIETNAMESE historian , NGO SI LIEN has written , ” although having a devotion to BUDDHISM , L LAN was too ruthless in killing the innocent empress mother “, and he also remarked that the chancellor LY DAO THANH was transferred to a position in the southern border likely because he advised against Y LAN murder of THUONG DUONG . On the other hand , in February 1117 AD Emperor LY THANH TONG on the advice of his Regent mother Y LAN issued an edict prohibiting people killing buffaloes . It was made criminal offense and accused would be heavily punished . Reason to this effect was given that since buffaloes were essential for farming , the death of buffalo would seriously effect the farming community as such . Moreover , the reign of LY NHAN TONG was highly praised for national education . Following the Emperor’s order , the first Imperial examination based on CONFUCIAN learning was organized in VIETNAM in February , 1072 AD . LE VAN THINH became the first rank laureate in the Imperial examination of VIETNAM who later on promoted to the position of Chancellor in 1086 AD and remained till 1096 AD . The first National Academy, QUOC TU GIAM ( the first school based on CONFUCIAN learning) was established in 1076 AD . Apart from that , he brought about reforms in the ranking of officials in the royal court and in the country . Moreover , to protect the capital THANG LONG against floods , Emperor LY NHAN TONG ordered construction of the CO XA DIKE . It was the first DIKE ( constructed wall that regulates water levels ) systems in DAI VIET .


Relationship between DAI VIET and the SONG DYNASTY deteriorated when the SONG chancellor WANG ANSHI brought about his reforms in 1069 AD . It was a series of reforms initiated by the NORTH SONG DYNASTY politician WANG ANSHI when he served as minister under Emperor SHENZONG from 1069 AD to 1076 AD . These reforms had three components namly : 1. State finance and trade ; 2. Defense and social order ; and 3. Education and improving governance . WANG’S policies saw each part of the society as a part of a greater whole . It included : 1. Equal law ; 2. Green sprouts law ; 3. Hydraulic works law ; 4. Labor recruitment law ; 5. Balanced delivery law ; 6. Market exchange law ; 7. Baojia law ; 8. General and troops law ; 9. Three college law . The Balanced delivery law called on fiscal intendants in six of the southern Circuits to disregard quotas on tribute items and to buy and sell items according to price on the open market . It was seen by the Kingdom of DAI VIET as the changing relationship between the SONG and its frontier people as an abandonment of the traditional tribute paradigm . WANG called for military action from the SONG Imperial troops . King LY NHAN TONG decided to stay one step forward by ordering the General LY THUONG KIET and TON DAN to launch a military campaign under the pretext of rescuing the CHINESE people from the draconian law and cruel reforms . So in 1075 AD , the DAI VIET General LY THUONG KIET attacked on the LIAN and the QIN of the SONG CHINA . And other army under General TON DON besieged the citadel of YONGZHOU . Although General LY THUONG KIET succeeded in defeating SONG reinforcements intended for YONGZHOU , yet the SONG army and people inflicted high casualties on the VIETNAMESE forces despite the fact that besiegement prolonged for forty days only . So when the VIETNAMESE army decided to end the seige of YONGZHOU , the VIETNAMESE Generals decided to get revenge by killing more than 58 thousand people . Some historians counts this number of killings as 100,000 . In counter attack with the help of SONG’S Vassal Kingdoms like CHAMPA and KHMER , the SONG Imperial troops again attacked DAI VIET in the region of PHU LUONG where they defeated LY THUONG KIET’S forces in a major battle . LY THUONG KIET tried to boost the morale of his troops singing a nationalistic poem called Nam quoc son ha . But being aware of the adverse situation for VIETNAMESE forces , General LY THUONG KIET finally proposed a cease-fire which was willingly accepted by the SONG DYNASTY because by that time they had lost more than 400,000 men of their army . The SONG army retreated even after occupying a vast region of VIETNAM which later on was gradually returned to DAI VIET after a long negotiations .

Similarly , in the south hostilities between DAI VIET and CHAMPA escalated . Emperor LY NHAN TONG and his General LY THUONG KIET had defeated the army of CHAMPA several times and lastly in 1104 AD , one year before his death in 1105 AD . But the success of General LY THUONG KIET during his military campaigns against the Kingdom of CHAMPA helped Emperor LY NHAN TONG to stabilize the southern region of DAI VIET , to some extent , for the later years of his reign .






LY THANH TONG was the third Emperor of the LY DYNASTY and the eighth ruler of DAI VIET as just after his succession he shortened the Kingdom name from DAI CO VIET to DAI VIET , (literal meaning of which is GREAT VIET) in 1054 AD . He ruled the country from 3rd November , 1054 AD to 1st February , 1072 AD . His personal name was LY NHAT TON and his temple name was THANH TONG . He had eight concubines including Empress THURONG DURONG and Empress LINH NHAN . His son was the Duke of MINH NHAN known as LY NHAN TONG who after his death on 1st February , 1072 AD became his successor . He was the eldest son of Emperor LY THAI TONG and Empress LINH CAM or MAI THI . He was born on 30th March , 1023 AD at CAN DUC palace . He had not lived in the disturbed atmosphere of HOA LU unlike his father and grand father . His father had readily delegated important tasks to him like he led soldiers against rebels , he judged offenders, he presided over the court in his father’s absence . Moreover , he always knew that he would be the next king of DAI VIET . In 1033 AD , he was conferred Crown Prince after his father ascended the throne as Prince KHAI HOANG . When he was enthroned as a king , he promoted the agricultural development reducing some of harsh laws . He built many CONFUCIANIST and BUDDHIST Institutions . Most notably of them was the first Temple of Literature in VIETNAM built in 1072 AD . He also expanded the VIETNAMESE territory by several successful wars with CHAMPA . On the other hand , LY THANH TONG dared to claim imperial status , which for the CHINESE was a direct challenge that prelude to the SONG-VIET war in 1070 AD .


Emperor LY THANH TONG incorporated both SINIC and INDIC elements in his court . He ordered all the court officials who used to visit frequently in his court to wear prevailing CHINESE style headgear and footwear in1059 AD . Ten of junior Royal servants and scribes were promoted to Law Officers in 1067 AD . But unfortunately he had no son at all even at the age of 40 in 1063 AD . So he was quite anxious for his successor . He traveled to PHAP VAN PAGODA about thirty KM to the east of THANG LONG . It was an ancient major BUDDHIST temple in THANH KHOUNG commune ( BAC NINH PROVINCE ) . The temple was historically marked as the ancient settlement of LUY LAU . LUY LAU was the major centre of BUDDHISM in VIETNAM . The PAGODA and the temple were of second century AD constructed in 187 AD to 226 AD . It was the stopping point for both Northern ( MAHAYANA ) and Southern ( THERAVADA ) BUDDHIST pilgrims and monks . On his way to the PAGODA , he was passing through a village called THO LOI where he saw a girl of common origin leaning on an orchid tree . But the girl , unlike other girls of the village, was not paying attention at all towards the monarch despite the fact that he was well escorted by the eye-catching Royal Guards while on his way . This impressed Emperor LY THANH TONG very much . So he decided to choose the girl as his concubine with the title as Lady Y LAN . On 25th January 1066 AD , LadyY LAN gave birth to the first child of Emperor LY THANH TONG named as LY CAN DUC . Right after the birth , LY CAN DUC was entitled as crown prince of the LY DYNASTY . And Lady Y LAN was granted the title of IMPERIAL CONCUBINE . To celebrate the event , Emperor LY THANH TONG changed his era name from CHURONG THANH GIA KHANH to LONG CHURONG THIEN TO and he gave out General amnesty for prisoners . His second son was born on 1068 AD from Lady Y LAN named as Prince MINH NHAN VUONG .


Emperor LY THANH TONG was not much engaged with either the BUDDHIST or spirit world like his father and grandfather . However , in 1057 AD he erected statue of BUDDHA in THANG LONG as the reincarnation of a pantheon of spirits . He also ordered to construct a temple called PHAN VURONG DE THICH for the worship of the HINDU God INDRA who was called in VIETNAM as DE THICH . During that period itself , he also constructed a royal cult linked HINDU-BUDDHIST King of the God INDRA and BRAHMA (in VIETNAM call PHAN VURONG ). Every year the Emperor used to go to worship the shrine of INDRA . He had golden statues of HINDU God BRAHMA and SHANKARA to worship at temples of THIEN PHUC and THIEN THO . He also went to the mount of TAN VIEN in early 1072 AD to worship MOUNTAIN SPIRIT . TAN VIEN mountain in the VIETNAMESE mythology was the home of the mountain God SON TINH . SON TINH was considered as one of the four immortals in the traditional VIETNAMESE mythology .






Emperor LY THAI TONG or LY PHAT MA was the second monarch of the LY DYNASTY of DAI CO VIET . He ruled the Kingdom from 1028 AD to 1054 AD . Since the tenth century , he was considered as the most successive VIETNAMESE Ruler . He was born in 1000 AD in HOA LU , NINH BINH during the reign of the Emperor LE HOAN . His father , LY CONG UAN was an official of the Royal Court that time . His mother LE THI PHAT NGAN , was the daughter of LE HOAN . When LY CONG UAN became the new ruler of DAI CO VIET , LY THAI TONG was only nine years old . Now the capital was shifted from HOA LU to THANG LONG . As a Crown Prince , he was marching with his army toward south through THANH HOA , he encountered the spirit of MOUNT TRONG DONG , which promised him to help in his campaign . As a result , LY THAI TONG successfully invaded CHAMPA . He killed the CHAM commander and destroyed half of his army . He ascended the throne in 1028 AD . At the beginning of his reign , he had fully relied on the officers working under his father as they helped him in putting down uprising by two of his brothers contesting for succession . And he personally led his expedition against his third brother at HOA LU and got success . But when he consolidated his power and became more secured , he tried to avoid his officials’ advice and demonstrated his unconventional style of governance . He promoted one of his favorite concubines to the royal status which provoked a rebellion . But that was crushed by he , himself . He captured the leader of rebellion called NONG QUANFU from the northern mountains and publicly executed him at THANG LONG . And even in the spring ploughing ceremony , he altogether rejected his officials’ advice and ploughed the land himself .


In 1042 AD , LY THAI TONG created a new code called MINH DAO LAWS . He was inspired by the TANG CODE of CHINA . The TANG CODE was a penal code which was established by the TANG DYNASTY in CHINA . It was supplemented by civil statutes and regulations . It became the basis of Dynastic CODE later not only in CHINA but in many other countries of the EAST ASIA . The CODE virtually synthesized legalistic and CONFUCIAN interpretations of law . MINH DAO LAWS were written by officials appointed for this purpose by LY THAI TONG . Though MINH DAO LAW book has not survived , nine edicts dated within a few months of its publication have yet survived . He also attempted to reform the system of justice and prisons at THANG LONG by placing it under the protection of the cult of a tenth century hero . He also started reforms in the government . NUNG TRI CAO , the leader of the NUNG clan in the CAO BANG Province , proclaimed the state of DALI , the VIETNAMESE captured him and held him at THANG LONG for several years . Following this incident in the next year , the King ordered the VIETNAMESE (DAI CO VIET) court officials to ‘ compose a rhythmic narrative ‘ in order to publicize his achievement of an ‘extraordinary supernatural event’.


In 1049 AD , one day Emperor LY THAI TONG dreamed of AVALOKITESVARA while sleeping . The very second day , he ordered the construction of ONE PILLOR PAGODA OF AVALOKITESVARA in THANG LONG , which still survives in HANOI . The ONE PILLOR PAGODA is a historic BUDDHA temple in the central BA DINH district near THANG LONG citadel . The most important part of this architectural complex is that the building is laid down in one pillar . The original PAGODA was built in 1049 AD . But with some addition it was perfected in 1105 AD . Alongside the PERFUME TEMPLE , it is considered as one of the most iconic temples of VIETNAM . The story of construction of the ONE PILLOR PAGODA is not less interesting . According to the court records , Emperor LY THAI TONG was childless . One day he dreamed that he met the BODHISATTVAS AVALOKITESVARA , who handed him a baby son while seated on the LOTUS FLOWER . LY THAI TONG then married a peasant girl that he had met . She bore him a son . So in gratitude of this , the King constructed the temple in 1049 AD . A Monk called THIEN TUE advised him to build the temple by erecting a pillar in the middle of the LOTUS POND , similar to one he saw in the dream . Before the PAGODA was opened , prayers were held for the longevity of the monarch . On the birthday of GAUTAMA BUDDHA , an annual ceremony on the occasion of VESAK was celebrated throughout the LY DYNASTY era . A BUDDHA-BATHING ceremony was celebrated every year by the monarch , monks and laymen alike . On this Occasion , the monarch used to free a bird which was followed by the people . Since then LY THAI TONG began to seek solutions of life through religion . A staunch MAHAYANA BUDDHIST , he ordered silversmiths to decorate more þhan 1000 statues and more than 1000 paintings of BUDDHA . He was engaged with the BUDDHIST community more directly than his father . Those BUDDHIST MONKS were emanating from INDIA and CHINA . He sought to honour their varied opinions . HUE SINH , a local BUDDHIST , whom the King had brought from Mountain North , was made the court teacher . LY THAI TONG also brought the spirit cults into the capital . He was particularly close to the cult of spirit of the Mountain of the BRONZE DRUM . So in front of this spirit , he had courtiers swear their yearly blood oath of allegiance . He died in 1054 AD . A few months before his death , he transferred the governing job to his son LY NHAT TON (LY THAN TONG) .






Emperor LY CONG UAN abandoned the scheme of the previous government of Emperor DINH BO LINH ( 968 AD to 979 AD ) which had plan to divide the plain into ‘Ten Circuits’ . He replaced it by twenty four routes . Though these were not administrative jurisdictions , yet they were itineraries designating various localities . For the purpose of garrisons and patrols , he organized the southern provinces into military outposts . There was no centralized salary distribution system for the officials , instead they were entirely depended upon local resources for their salaries . The soldiers also received some largesse as they were expected to do some farming of their own . The local village communities used to send some of their resources to the local lords who out of them used to send some of them to the throne as tributes . This sort of administrative system , to some extent , resembled that of the South-East ASIAN MANDALA system . Emperor LY CONG UAN raised a large army in 1011 AD . He attacked rebels in the southern provinces of THAHN HOA and NGHE AN . He wasted there for two years burning villager and capturing local leaders . And while he was returning by sea in 1012 AD , he faced a great storm threatening to sink his boat . Then he realized that a divine judgment upon him had come for the violence and misery he had brought upon so many people in the southern provinces . Similarly, LY CONG UAN sent soldiers into northern mountains of modern HA GIANG province to pacify HANI people who had allied with the DALI Kingdom of YUNNAN province of CHINA .


Emperor LY CONG UAN brought about reforms in the tax system in 1013 AD by creating six types of tax classifications which were as follows : 1. Tax on fishing and seafood production ; 2. Tax on agricultural production ; 3. Tax on logging , wood and masonry ; 4. Tax on salt production ; 5. Tax on luxury goods production like — taxes on ivory , silk , precious metals etc. ; and 6. Tax on fruits and vegetables production . These classifications of taxes enabled the Royal Court to effectively and efficiently collect taxes . In 1016 AD , when a severe earthquake occurred , Emperor LY CONG UAN prayed to the Gods who were in charge of the mountains surrounding the capital . He journeyed around the Kingdom both to propitiate its disparate genies and co-opt them by having them declared himself to them .


In 1010 AD , the SONG DYNASTY of CHINA recognized LY CONG UAN without much delay . The SONG Emperor conferred upon him the usual title of vassalage . In the same year , Emperor LY CONG UAN caught thirteen persons of DICH LAO ( BANDIT ) ethnicity and presented the captives to the CHINESE Court . At the same time in 1014 AD , he sent a mission to CHINA . He presented sixty horses to the SONG COURT as gifts . He also notified the SONG Court that he had subdued a HANI community . The SONG DYNASTY of CHINA , that time , was preoccupied with maintaining internal stability . It was trying to recover from past defeats/skirmishes with the LIAO DYNASTY and the western XIA . The LIAO DYNASTY , also known as the KHITAN Empire , was the Imperial Dynasty of CHINA which existed between 916 AD to 1125 AD , ruled over Northeast CHINA , the MONGOLIAN Platue , the northern part of KOREAN PENINSULA , southern part of the RUSSIAN Far East and the northern tip of the North CHINA Plain . In 1004 AD , the LIAO DYNASTY launched an Imperial expedition against the Northern SONG DYNASTY . After heavy fighting and large casualty between the two Empires , both sides worked out treaty of CHANYUAN. And it was , for approximately 120 years , heralding an era of peace and stability between the two powers . Similarly , the Western XIA or the XI XIA was a TENGUT-led BUDDHIST Imperial Dynasty of CHINA from 1038 AD to 1227 AD . It had extensive stance among the other Empires of the LIAO , SONG and JIN . Sweet and sour relationship went on between the SONG and the Western XIA for long . All these incidents provided an opportunity for the DAI CO VIET to have better relationship with SONG DYNASTY which the latter willingly accepted .






LY CONG UAN or LY THAI TO was the founder of the LY DYNASTY who ruled DAI CO VIET from 1009 AD to 1028 AD . He was the 6th Ruler of the Kingdom . His father’s name was HIEN KHANH VUONG and his mother’s name was MINH DUC THAI HUA PHAM THI about whom not much was recorded historically . He was born in CO PHAP village , TU SON in the BAC NINH Province in the RED RIVER DELTA of VIETNAM in 974 AD . According to the VIETNAMESE Cronicles , his mother PHAM THAI gave him up to the most imminent BUDDHIST Patriarch of his time LY KANH VAN at the age of three . LY CONG UAN was educated by LY KANH VAN and he became a devout BUDDHIST , a historian and a soldier . He was appointed as a royal minor official who by dint of his hard labour ultimately bestowed with the title TA THAN VE DIEN TIEN CHI HUY SU which literally means the Commander of the Palace’s Left Flank . It was the most important position within royal guards . As we know that the last king of the LE DYNASTY , LE LONG DINH developed hemorrhoids/piles in 1009 AD , and he had to lie down while listening to officials’ reports in the Royal Court . On the other hand , the monks of GIAO launched a propaganda campaign that brought about belief in the masses that LY CONG UAN was inevitably becoming King of DAI CO VIET after LE LONG DINH as the King was incapacitated by declining health . LE LONG DINH died in November 1009 AD under the wrath of the people due to brutality and cruelty he hurled upon them during his reign . DAO CAM MOC , a royal official , and Patriarch VAN HANH by using their political influences enthroned their trusted disciple LY CONG UAN without any resistance at all . Thus , the reign of the LE DYNASTY ended . And an era of LY DYNASTY started .


The first thing LY CONG UAN did , after becoming King of DAI CO VIET , was that the Royal Court was relocated from HOA LU to the sight of DAI LA , the modern day HANOI in 1010 AD . He changed the capital from HOA LU to DAI LA due to two reasons which he profoundly mentioned in the edict : 1. Dai La was the earlier capital in the rich Red River Delta ; and 2. He saw/believed that Dai La was a place ‘between Heaven and Earth where coiling dragon and the crouching tiger lie , and his capital would last 10,000 years’. He renamed the place as THANG LONG which literally means the ‘ ascending dragon ‘ as when LY CONG UAN’S boat docked at the new capital , a dragon , symbol of the sovereign authority , was said to have soared above his head . Amazingly , the royal city of THANG LONG was constructed with architectural design in such a way that the urban centre encompassed the royal city . The Throne Room Palace faced South was located within a Dragon Courtyard . The Crown Prince used to live in the Eastern Palace outside the city walls . Palaces and offices were made up of timber. On the top of the NUNG hill was located CAN NGUYEN Palace where the King used to hold audience . And by 1010 AD , altogether eleven Palaces were built in THANG LONG .


As a BUDDHIST MONK , LY CONG UAN promoted BUDDHISM as the national religion . He supported the BUDDHIST clergymen and institutions . He also donated a sizable amount to build pagodas throughout his Kingdom . Initially , he built eight BUDDHIST temples in the TIEN DU area . He also built three other BUDDHIST temples around the capital region . For reading and reciting the BUDDHIST scriptures , he built a temple in 1024 AD . All these BUDDHIST scriptures he got on request from the SONG Court of CHINA . To establish the cultural basis of his authority in DAI CO VIET , he showed an interest in establishing proper relationships with the supernatural power also . The local spirits that had long dominated more distant regions of the Kingdom i.e : 1. the spirit of the TONG SISTERS from the western delta ; 2. the earth genie of PHU DONG north of the capital ; and 3. the mountain of Bronze Drum God from THANH HOA in AI to the south — all were relocated to the capital and housed there in temples especially dedicated to them . These spirits were ‘symbols of regional powers’ . And Pacification of these local and regional spirits involved the extention of monarchical authority to the region of DAI CO VIET . Thereafter he began to withdraw from public affairs . In 1025 AD , VAN HANH died . He had been LY CONG UAN’S teachers , mentor and just like father figure . Thus , his royal personality was in some degree animated throughout his life as an extension of VAN HANH’S expectation of him .


TO BE CONTINUED ……………………..