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History of Vietnam Map of Vietnam
Hồng Bàng Dynasty prior to 257 BC
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Triệu Việt Vương
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Triệu Việt Vương (Hán tự: ; ?[1]/549[2]-571; born Triệu Quang Phục, ) was a Vietnamese independence leader in the 6th century and a soldier for the Vạn Xuân army, best known for fighting against the invading Liang army that wished to incorporate Vạn Xuân into their empire.


Early life

Little is recorded about Triệu Việt Vương's (born Triệu Quang Phục) early life other than the fact that he is the son of Trieu Tuc, a military leader under Lý Nam Đế[3]. His birthdate was not recorded by old sources[1], but the Viet Nam Su Luoc list his birth year as 549 [2]; however, this coincides with the fact that Triệu was appointed by Lý Nam Đế to lead an army in 548, a year before his supposed birth.

Rise to power

During the 530s, the then-Chinese province of Giao Chỉ (covering much of ancient Vietnam) was governed by Hsiao Tzu, a nephew of the Liang emperor. Hsiao Tzu's rule marked multiple cases of corruption and cruelty[4]. Lý Bí (known posthumously as Lý Nam Đế), a Viet military overseer of the Duc province, sought to remove Hsiao's rule, and ultimately Liang's from Giao Chỉ[4]. In 541, Lý Bí rallied the support of a number of local revolutionaries to help him, among them was Triệu Tuc (Triệu Việt Vương's father). Realizing the dangers upon him, Hsiao Tzu escaped from Giao Chỉ to Kuang Province where his family ruled[4]. The Liang dynasty would not have another governor in Giao Chỉ again after this incident. In 544, Lý Bí announced Giao Chỉ's secession from the Liang empire and proclaimed himself "The Emperor of Vạn Xuân" (10,000 Springs) [5].

After hearing news of the rebellion, Emperor Wu, the Liang Emperor, sent an army southward to battle Lý Bí[5]. Lý Bí made use of tactical withdrawals against the Chinese army, and were listed as defeats of 's army in Chinese sources. In 547, Lý Bí was killed by paid Laotian tribesmen while on retreat in the Hong River Plain [6]. Aging and doomed for retirement, Triệu Tuc placed his son in charge of his duties after Lý Bí's death. By this time, Triệu Quang Phục was in his father's footsteps of being a resistance leader in the Hong River Plain.

War for Viet independence

Recognizing the superior strength of the Liang army, Triệu Quang Phục would often retreat to more favorable terrains, mainly swamps and marshes, where he could employ guerrilla warfare and wage a war of attrition against the Liang army.[7] Triệu Quang Phục was the first general to understand and make extensive use of guerilla and attrition warfare methods as a means of decimating and slowly demoralizing the enemy. Triệu would rest his men during the day and attack the Liang army at night, seizing goods and killing many Chinese soldiers. Afterwards, he quickly retreated back to his marsh before the Chinese could gather their army and counter-attack. [3]

After the assassination of Lý Nam Đế in 547, his brother, Lý Thiên Bảo, became the de facto ruler of Vạn Xuân. Lý Thiên Bảo died of an illness in 555 and left no heirs, making Triệu the effective head of the nation.

As strong as the Chinese were, they could not make headway against the type of warfare devised by the emperor-general Triệu Việt Vương. This indecisive period lasted until 557 when finally a respite came for the Vạn Xuân (northern Vietnamese) country. China at this time was under the chaotic rule of the Southern and Northern Dynasties and the famous Chinese general Chen Pa H'sien's (Trần Bá Tiên) skills and troops were needed in his homeland to quell a revolt. The Vietnamese forces, however, had no time to rejoice at the news of this temporary respite.

Shortly after Lý Thiên Bảo died, a Lý family member, Lý Phật Tự (Lý Thiên Bảo's cousin) made claim to the emperor's throne and challenged him. Both sides vied against one another for the throne with no decisive victory. Wary about engaging in internal fighting that would only frustrate the people, Triệu Việt Vương negotiated a truce and peace. From Long Biên northward would be Lý Phật Tự's new territory and the land south of Long Biên would belong to Triệu Việt Vương.


  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ a b Tran 62
  3. ^ a b Taylor 151
  4. ^ a b c Taylor 136
  5. ^ a b Woods 28
  6. ^ Taylor 143
  7. ^ Woods 29


  • Taylor, Keith Weller. (copyright 1983). The Birth of Vietnam. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07417-3
  • Woods, Shelton. (copyright 2002). Vietnam: An Illustrated History. Hippocrene Books, Inc. ISBN 0-7818-0910-X
  • Tran Trong Kim. (1953). Viet Nam Su Luoc.
Preceded by
Lý Thiên Bảo
Ruler of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Posterior Lý Nam Đế


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