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Far East Kingdoms

South East Asia


Third Chinese Domination of Vietnam
Annam Protectorate (AD 679-866), Peaceful Sea Army (AD 866-880), Kingdom/Protectorate of Annam (AD 880-930), Giao Province (AD 930-938), & Southern Annam (AD 930-939)

Today's Vietnam emerged out of the prehistory of Early Vietnam and a largely mythical northern kingdom called Van Lang. Through its two successor states this independent country was brought firmly into the historical record, until the Han conquered the capital at Panyu. The Viet people then endured periods of occupation and freedom which lead up to the 'Second Chinese Domination of Vietnam'.

That domination was generally peaceful, despite a dedicated process of Sinicisation taking place. The 'Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarians' civil war period between AD 317-439 damaged Chinese control, and the 'Northern & Southern Dynasties' civil war period of AD 439-589 did further damage. A fresh Viet revolt broke out against the Southern Liang, which established the Early Li dynasty of a renewed Nam Viet kingdom in AD 544.

The opening up of southern China to the Sui from AD 581 allowed renewed contact with the kings of Nam Viet. In the early 600s, Emperor Wen demanded that Nam Viet accept vassal status but he was refused. He launched an invasion of the Nam Viet state, conquering it integrating it under Chinese rule as part of the 'Third Chinese Domination of Vietnam'. The Sui divided Nam Viet into the provinces of Giao (Chinese Chiao), Phong (Chinese Fêng), Lc (Chinese Lu), and Hoan (Chinese Huan).

The province of Giao was reorganised in 679 into the protectorate of Annam by the ruling Tang dynasty. The protectorate was autonomous from 782, when Phùng Hưng established his rule over the area in the face of disintegrating Tang authority. He and his successor used the title vương. By then the southern state of Lâm Ấp had apparently ended to be replaced by Huang Wang.

However, the protectorate would endure a troubled history over the next century and-a-half. The Viet aristocracy retained Chinese political and cultural forms but was growing increasingly independent of Chinese controls during this period and afterwards. When Annam was brought back under control in the form of the Peaceful Sea Army in 866, a series of revolts helped to feed the growing Viet sense of national consciousness. An on-off 'Kingdom of Annam' was formed between 880-930, before the Giao province could be re-established in 930, albeit without a Southern Annam which remained virtually independent.

Chinese rule remained secure so long as China itself was effectively controlled by its own emperors. When the late Tang dynasty went into decline in the early tenth century, a further series of uprisings broke out in Vietnam which led in 938-939 to the restoration of Vietnamese independence and a restored Nam Viet.

Traditional House, Vietnam

(Information by John De Cleene, with additional information from Vietnam: A New History, Christopher Goscha, from Early Mainland Southeast Asia, C Higham (River Books Co, 2014), from Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopaedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, Keat Gin Ooi (ABC-Clio, 2004), from The Birth of Vietnam, Keith Weller Taylor (California, 1983), from Times Atlas of World History, Geoffrey Barraclough (Ed, Maplewood, New Jersey, 1979), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Vietnam (Countrystudies), and Vietnam from the 1st to the 10th centuries AD (Vietnam National Museum of History), and Vietnam from the 10th century AD to the mid-20th century AD (Vietnam National Museum of History).)

782 - 789

Phùng Hưng

King (title applied posthumously) of Annam protectorate.


The Tang protectorate of Annam during the 'Third Chinese Domination of Vietnam' becomes autonomous in the face of declining Chinese domination. Phùng Hưng establishes his rule over the area, although the title of 'king' (the Vietnamese word vương) is only applied posthumously to him.

789 - 791

Phùng An

King. Submitted to Tang China.


Phùng An submits peacefully to the Tang, which re-establishes its direct control over Annam. The Viet aristocracy retains enforced Chinese political and cultural forms, although it grows increasingly independent of Chinese controls during this period and afterwards.

Tang dynasty goods via the Silk Road
The Tang dynasty prospered greatly from the flow of goods which came in via the burgeoning Silk Road, and some of that prosperity would have reached conquered and occupied Koguryo, despite the unwillingness of the former kingdom's people to be dominated

850 - 866

Northern Annam generally comes under the control of, or is subject to invasion by, the state of Nan-Cho. In 852, a number of mountain chiefs in Annam place themselves under Nan-Chao's protection. Nan-Chao controls or invades Annam in 854 and retains control until the Tang restore their own hold over it in 866.


The Tang return to restore full control over Annam during the 'Third Chinese Domination of Vietnam'. The protectorate of Annam is abolished, to be replaced by the 'Peaceful Sea Army' which is administered by military governors.

866 - 880


Unnamed Tang military governors of 'Peaceful Sea Army'.


Effective Tang rule over the 'Peaceful Sea Army' ends. The Tang are continuing their long, slow decline despite having successfully encouraged advancement and high culture in China. The Khúc family begin what is in effect independent rule over the 'Kingdom of Annam'.


Records concerning the Khúc kingship are incomplete, with the names of family members prior to 906 remaining unknown.

880 - 906


Khúc ruler(s), name(s) unknown.

906 - 907

Khúc Tha D

Military governor under Chinese domination.


During China's 'Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms' civil war period, occasional Chinese controls are restored with the result that the Khúc accept the role of military governor in place of their kingship. Annam itself is one of the ten kingdoms which is involved in the civil war, however distantly.

Map of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms China around AD 951-960
The beginning of the 'Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms' period of civil war began with the founding of the Liao dynasty in 907, which was in the northern reaches of former Tang dynasty China. (click or tap on map to view full sized)

907 - 908

Khúc Ho

Military governor under Chinese domination.

908 - 911

Khúc Tha M

Khúc ruler. Submitted to Chinese controls.

911 - 930

Khúc Tha M

Former king, now military governor. Exiled.


The Southern Han establish their governance over northern Annam. The on-off Khúc kingdom is terminated and Giao Province is restored. Khúc Tha M is captured and forced into exile in Canton.

Southern Annam, which consists of Ái and Hoan, remains autonomous under nominal Southern Han suzerainty. Even so, at times it is virtually independent under the rule of its own native kings.

930 - 931

Dương Đinh Ngh

General in charge of Southern Annam.


General Dương Đinh Ngh reunites southern Annam with the northern section and becomes its military governor. He remains effectively autonomous under the nominal suzerainty of the Southern Han.

Ngo dynasty temple in Nam Viet
This temple was constructed to honour the Ngo success in 938, a victory which ushered in a long and eventually successful period of independence for the Viet people

931 - 937

Dương Đinh Ngh

Military governor of reunited Annam. Assassinated.


Kiu Công Tin

Usurper. Deposed and executed.

937 - 939

Ngô Quyn

Usurper. Founded independent Nam Viet under Ngo dynasty.


Ngô Quyn defeats the Southern Han at the Battle of Bch-đng river, establishing Annam's permanent independence and ending the 'Third Chinese Domination of Vietnam'. In the following year he drops the Tang titles which have been used by his predecessors, replacing them with the Vietnamese form of 'king'. He founds the Ngo dynasty of a restored Nam Viet kingdom.

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