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Far East Kingdoms

South East Asia


Nam Viet Kingdom (Second Restoration) (Vietnam)
Ho Dynasty of Dai Ngu (AD 1400-1407)

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.

They were succeeded by the Dinh and then the Early Le who stabilised the country and repelled Northern Sung interest. The Later Li accession was little more than a courtly formality after the death of the last viable Early Le king, while the Early Tran dynasty oversaw the continuation of a strong revival in local culture and traditions. Inspiration for this came apparently from Champa. The kings of Nam Viet (or Dai Ngu) drew inspiration for their architecture, sculpture, music, and the creation of a very Vietnamese capital, even while the state retained outside influences.

The Tran emperors were the first to practice the art of abdicating the throne and then operating until their deaths as 'retired' emperors. They began losing efficiency and effectiveness from the mid-fourteenth century. Court advisors and ministers began grabbing power for themselves and the country gradually declined. Various rebellions and failed attacks against the Cham people sapped the dynasty's strength, and a series of weak emperors failed to curtail the courtly squabbles for power.

The death of the 'retired' Trần Thuận Tông in 1399 provided the perfect opportunity for one of those ministers, Hồ Quý Ly, to usurp the throne and set up his own short-lived Ho dynasty. He immediately renamed the country from Dai Viet to Dai Ngu and embarked on a series of strikes against the Cham, only one of which was successful.

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).)

1400 - 1401

Hồ Quý Ly / Kui Li

Usurper of the Early Tran dynasty. Abdicated. Captured.


Hồ Quý Ly faces an almost immediate attempt to reverse his coup by the dispossessed Tran clan. He suppresses dissent by executing three hundred and seventy alleged opponents, seizing their possessions, enslaving their female relatives, and burying alive or drowning males of all ages. He also sends an expeditionary force into Champa, which is repelled with losses.


Hồ Quý Ly continues the practice of retiring into seclusion while still largely controlling the throne. His successor is his son and also the grandson of Early Tran ruler, Trần Minh Tông.

Champa My Son temple
The Mỹ Sơn Hindu temple was indicative of Champa's religious inclinations at this time, and also of its Indian influences, which were prevalent across much of South-East Asia

1401 - 1407

Hồ Hán Thương

Son. Ruled jointly with his 'retired' father. Captured.


The second of Hồ Quý Ly's Champa expeditions proves more successful than the first. The defeated Cham king has to relinquish southern Quảng Nam and northern Quảng Ngãi to Dai Ngu.


Ming forces have been militarily supporting the Tran, but now they turn support into invasion. Both armies are technologically advanced for the time, but the Ming even more so. Hồ Quý Ly is captured by Ming forces and is exiled to China along with his son.

There he is forcibly enlisted as a common soldier and his eventual fate is unknown. His son and grandson also die in exile. The state is annexed to China as its thirteen province. It is governed on a local basis by a military governor while the Tran rebel to form, eventually, the Later Tran dynasty.

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