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King (Emperor) Wu of Nanyue (Vietnamese: Nam Việt Vũ Đế)
A statue of Zhao Tuo
A statue of Zhao Tuo
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhao.
This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.

Zhao Tuo (Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhào Tuō; Vietnamese: Triệu Đà), was a Chinese commanding general of the Qin Dynasty who later founded the kingdom of Nanyue (Traditional Chinese: 南越; Vietnamese: Nam Việt).[1] The period of rule under Zhao Tuo is also known to the Vietnamese as the Triệu Dynasty(赵朝).

Contents

Life

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Early life

Zhao was born in approximately 230 BCE in Zhending (真定), in what is today the Hebei province of northern China, while that region was part of the state of Zhao. The state of Zhao was defeated and absorbed by the state of Qin in 222 BCE, whereupon Zhao Tuo became a citizen of the state of Qin. He later served in a Qin expeditionary force that was sent south. In 206 BCE, Zhao Tuo defeated the Au Lac kingdom of An Dương Vương(安阳王) and merged it with Guangdong and Guangxi, which were under his command during the time of Qin rule. Along the way, he married a Yue wife.

Creation of Nanyue

At the end of the Qin Dynasty, he took control of the region of modern-day Guangdong and Guangxi. Zhao Tuo built up his power and territory, partially through alliances with native Yue nobility and chieftains. He then declared himself the King of Nanyue ("Southern Yue") and set up his capital at Panyu (; Vietnamese: Phiên Ngung), the site of modern-day Guangzhou.

The state was not peaceful. There was the state of Changsha (長沙) to the north, with which it had long been in conflict; to the east there was the warlike Minyue (閩粵; Vietnamese: Mân Việt) state; and to the west there were the Southeastern Yi (西南夷) which did not adopt Han ways. Also, within the Nanyue territory there were Western Ou (西甌; Vietnamese: Tây Âu) and Luo Yue (駱越; Vietnamese: Lạc Việt), which were not very submissive. But the largest threat came from the Han Dynasty which coveted the Nanyue state.

From tensions to peace and stability

Early in his reign, Emperor Gaozu of Han (漢高祖) gave three commanderies (郡) to Prince of Changsha Wu Rui (吳芮), and appointed Yao Wuyu, Marquis of Haiyang (海陽侯徭無餘: Hải-dương Hầu Diêu Vũ Dư) and Zhi, Prince of Nanhai (南海王織: Nam-hải Vương Chức). Emperor Gaozu also put an army in Changsha state to watch over the movements of the Nanyue kingdom, which made Zhao Tuo worry about this situation. Zhao Tuo took opportunity on trading and imported things in large amounts from the Central Plains, and Zhao Tuo also gave tribute to central authotity. After Gaozu died, Emperor Hui of Han(汉惠帝) succeeded him. The new emperor respected the treaty made by his father, and so did Zhao Tuo.

Empress Lü raising tensions

After seven years of the reign of Emperor Hui, Empress Dowager Lü (吕雉) came to power. In the beginning everything went on as usual. But in 183 BCE, she suddenly declared to restrict the trade of Han with others, this included useful products such as iron tools and horses to Nanyue territory. This was because Wu Rui, King of Changsha, who was the only non-Liu king in Han territory, who was treated well by the Empress (Gao Zu removed all non-Liu kings except Wu Rui since his state was not much of power, and the empress wanted to appoint Lü kings). The blockade had a great impact on the Nanyue economy, since Nanyue needed iron plow tools, and people were unhappy about the blockade.

Zhao Tuo thought that this must be the trickery of the Prince of Changsha. He realized that the Han Dynasty was powerful, so he sent messengers to the Chinese capital of Chang'an (長安) to request to release the blockade. But Prince of Changsha Wu Rui made the messengers prisoners in Chang'an. Wu Rui further said bad things about Zhao Tuo, which made Empress Dowager Lü angry. Then she killed Zhao Tuo's relatives in the Central Plains and destroyed Zhao Tuo's ancestral tomb (destruction of ancestral tombs was in ancient times viewed as a very serious thing). Zhao Tuo realised that political approach would no longer succeed.

So, in 183 BCE, he declared himself Emperor Wu of Nanyue (南越武帝; Vietnamese: Nam Việt Vũ Đế). He had been long in conflict with Prince of Changsha Wu Rui, so he sacked Changsha country to the North. Then the Empress ordered an attack on Nanyue, but most of the army died by disease and could not march to Nanyue successfully, but the military conflict did not stop until the Empress died. As the victor, Zhao Tuo also extended his territory by conquering towns near the boundary. He also established relationship with Minyue, Xi'ou, and Luoyue with valuables. But this war almost completely wiped out the trade relationship between the Central Plains and Nanyue.

Back as vassal and death

In 179 BCE, Emperor Wen of Han (漢文帝) inherited the throne. The new Emperor abolished some cruel punishments made by Qin. Zhao Tuo took opportunity of this, and communicated to the Emperor that if he removed the two generals from Changsha and restored his relatives in Zhen Ding, he would be at peace with Han. Emperor Wen immediately took action. He repaired the tomb of Zhao's ancestors, and found one Zhao family member who survived, and also moved the Han army out of Changsha. Then Zhao Tuo revoked his title of emperor and Nanyue became a vassal state of the Han once more.

Zhao Tuo died in 137 BCE at the age of ninety-three. After that, Emperor Wu was able to control his successors and in 111 BCE annexed the kingdom as the prefecture of Jiaozhi (Chinese: 交趾; Vietnamese: Giao Chỉ).

Preceded by
King of Nanyue
(Nanyue Kingdom)
Succeeded by
King Wen of Nanyue (Triệu Văn Vương)

References


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