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Far East Kingdoms

South East Asia


Nam Viet Kingdom (Second Restoration) (Vietnam)
Early Le Dynasty of Dai Co Viet (AD 981-1009)

The modern-day nation state of Vietnam emerged out of prehistory's Early Vietnam. Various early (and partially legendary) kingdoms followed but northern Vietnam then endured a sequence of occupations and independence which began with the 'First Chinese Domination of Vietnam' and ended with the 'Third Chinese Domination of Vietnam'.

A series of revolts in the eighth century occupied province of Annam helped to feed the growing Viet sense of national consciousness. In AD 938, Ngo Quyen won a glorious victory against occupying Southern Han forces along the banks of the River Bach Dang. The victory put an end to a thousand years of near-continuous Chinese domination. That was replaced with the restored Nam Viet kingdom and a long period of national independence and sovereignty which started with the Ngo dynasty.

Succeeding the Ngo, the Dinh dynasty reorganised the now-stable state after the 'Anarchy of the Twelve Warlords'. The murder of the dynasty founder in 979 brought a six year-old child to the throne at the same time as the Northern Sung dynasty was placing pressure on the state's northern border.

It was inevitable that the child would be removed from the throne, and he was, during a brief civil war which ended with Lê Hoàn taking control to establish the Early Le dynasty in 981.

Straight away the new king gave the Chinese a bloody nose in the north. In the following year he attacked the Champa, following heavy raiding over several years by them in the south. Their king was killed, their capital at Indrapura was sacked, and the Viet troops came home with an enormous amount of booty. Lê Hoàn's successors, however, had less of an impact, eventually being dethroned by the first monarch of the Later Ly dynasty.

Traditional House, Vietnam

(Information by Peter Kessler, 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), 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).)

981 - 1005

Lê Hoàn

First Early Le king, succeeding the Dinh.


Two Northern Sung armies attack Dai Co Viet while a naval fleet sails up the Bạch Đằng river. Lê Hoàn fights the fleet but is forced to retreat. Around a thousand Viet sailors are captured and beheaded, along with a number of vessels. Then malaria strikes the invaders, removing up to thirty percent of their strength.

The entrance to a Dinh dynasty temple in Nam Viet
Dinh Bo Linh defeated all twelve warlords, one after another, and unified the country in 967, before this entrance to a Dinh dynasty temple could be built

Lê Hoàn ambushes the Sung land forces to the north, at Chi Lăng (near today's Lạng Sơn). This time he is successful, capturing two enemy generals and wiping out half of the Chinese military force. The Northern Sung are forced to abandon their invasion and revert to diplomacy and ties of friendship.


With the northern flank secure, Lê Hoàn turns his attention to the south which has suffered recently from a number of Champa raids. Known as the Champa-Dai Viet War of 982 (or the Cham-Vietnamese War of 982), the Viet ruler leads a military expedition against Champa's ruler, Jaya Paramesvaravarman I.

The campaign results in the defeat of the Cham forces and the death in battle of Paramesvaravarman I. The threat of Cham raids is ended and instead it is the Viet people who now begin a southwards push to absorb increasing amounts of Cham lands.


Lê Hoàn's natural death at the age of sixty-four after a highly successful reign immediately ignites a civil war between his sons. After eight months of chaos and open fighting, the nominated crown prince, Lê Trung Tông, gains the throne after the next in line is defeated, flees into the countryside, and is killed by the locals.

The temple of King Le Dai Hanh (Le Hoan) is built on the site of the royal palace of Hoa Lu
The temple of King Le Dai Hanh (Lê Hoàn) was built on the site of the royal palace of the Hoa Lu capital which was relocated by the subsequent dynasty


Lê Trung Tông

Son. Assassinated after 3 days.


Lê Trung Tông's victory lasts for all of three days. He is assassinated on the orders of another brother, Lê Ngoạ Triều, who then seizes the throne and holds it for four years.

1005 - 1009

Lê Ngoạ Triều

Brother. Usurper,but a good king. Died aged 24.


Lê Ngoạ Triều dies at the age of twenty-four, having been a relatively good king despite the circumstances surrounding his accession. His son is an infant so, with general approval and support from the royal court, the senior minister, Lý Công Uẩn, seizes the throne and creates the Later Li dynasty.

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