The Ming–Hồ War was a military campaign by the Ming Empire of China to invade Đại Ngu (present-day northern Vietnam) ruled by the Hồ dynasty. The campaign began with Ming intervention in support of a rival faction to the Hồ, but ended with incorporation of Vietnam into China, marking the start of the Ming province of Jiaozhi.

Ming–Hồ War

Ming victory

Ming dynasty Hồ dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Zhang Fu
Mu Sheng
Hồ Quý Ly (POW)
Hồ Hán Thương  (POW)
Hồ Nguyên Trừng
215,000 troops[1][2]

A few years earlier, Hồ Quý Ly (胡季犛) had violently taken the Trần throne, which ultimately led to the intercession of the Ming government to reestablish the Trần dynasty. However, Hồ's forces attacked a Ming convoy escorting a Trần pretender, who was killed during the attack. After this hostile event, the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Empire appointed Marquises Zhang Fu (Trương Phụ, 張輔) and Mu Sheng (Mộc Thạnh, 沐晟) to prepare and lead the Ming armies for the invasion of Đại Ngu. The war lasted from 1406 to 1407, resulting in the Ming conquest of Đại Ngu and the capture of the members of the Hồ dynasty.


The former ruling dynasty of Đại Việt, the Trần, had relations with the Ming Empire as a tributary.[1] However, in 1400, Hồ Quý Ly deposed and massacred the Tran house before usurping the throne.[3] After taking the throne, Hồ renamed the country from Dai Viet to Dai Ngu.[4] In 1402, he abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Hồ Hán Thương (胡漢蒼).[3] Eventually, in May 1403, he requested the investiture of his son from the Ming government on the account that the Trần lineage had died out and that his son was a royal nephew.[3] Unaware of the deeds that Hồ had committed against the Tran, the Ming government granted him this request.[3] In October 1404, Trần Thiêm Bình arrived at the Ming imperial court in Nanjing, claiming to be a Trần prince.[2] He notified the court of the treacherous events that had taken place and appealed to the court for the restoration of his throne.[2] No action was taken by them until early 1405, when his story was confirmed by a Vietnamese envoy.[2]

Afterwards, the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Empire issued an edict reprimanding the usurper and demanding the restoration of the Trần throne.[2][5] Hồ Quý Ly had doubts about the pretender's claims, but nevertheless acknowledged his crimes and agreed to receive the pretender as king.[2][5] Thus, the nominal king was escorted back by a Ming envoy in a military convoy.[2] On 4 April 1406,[2] as the party crossed the border into Lạng Sơn,[2] Hồ's forces ambushed them and killed the Trần prince that the Ming convoy were escorting back.[2][6] As Hồ Quý Ly expected the Ming Empire to retaliate, he prepared the military for the imminent Ming invasion.[6] He also took on a hostile foreign policy, which included harassing the southern border of the Ming Empire.[6]


On 11 May (according to Chan 1990) or in the month July (according to Tsai 2001) 1406, the Yongle Emperor appointed Duke Zhu Neng (朱能, Duke of Cheng) to lead an invasion with Marquises Zhang Fu and Mu Sheng as second-in-command.[2][6] Chen Qia (陳洽) was appointed to oversee the supplies, while Huang Fu (黃福) was appointed to handle political and administrative affairs.[7] On the eve of departure, the Yongle Emperor gave a banquet at the Longjiang naval arsenal, located at the Qinhuai River in Nanjing.[6]

Huang Fu kept a log to document the military campaign.[7] Sixteen days before the Yongle Emperor gave the banquet at Longjiang, Huang Fu had departed from Nanjing and spend a night at Longjiang, before sailing west on the Yangtze River.[7] After eight days, he reached Poyang Lake;[7] after another week, he reached Dongting Lake.[7] Thereafter, Huang traveled through the Xiang River southwards, passing Xiangtan and Guilin, heading towards Nanning in Guangxi.[7] Three months had passed after his departure from Nanjing, when Huang arrived at Longzhou in Guangxi, where he joined the main body of the Ming forces.[7] Zhu Neng and Zhang Fu would cross the border from Guangxi, while Mu Sheng would invade the Red River Delta from Yunnan.[6] However, Zhu Neng died, aged 36, at Longzhou in Guangxi.[6] Thus, Zhang Fu took over the command of the Ming army stationed there.[2][6] The military expedition would now be commanded by Zhang Fu and Mu Sheng.[2]

In the winter of 1406, the Ming armies began their invasion.[8] Zhang Fu and Mu Sheng departed from Guangxi and Yunnan respectively to launch a pincer attack into enemy territory.[2] Modern historians estimate that 135,000 troops set off from Guangxi and 80,000 troops set off from Yunnan.[9] On 19 November 1406, they captured the two capitals and other important cities in the Red River Delta.[2] On 24 November 1406, Zhang Fu's forces had conquered Can Tram and several other strongholds.[7] Mu Sheng's forces—who had departed from Yunnan—met up and joined Zhang Fu's forces at Đa Bang.[7] By the end of 1406, Da Bang and Dong Kinh (modern-day Hà Nội) was conquered by the Ming.[9] Early 1407, Hồ Quý Ly and his eldest son Hồ Nguyên Trừng launched an attack to repel the Ming army from Dong Kinh, but their forces were defeated by the Ming and forced to retreat to Tay Do (modern-day Thanh Hóa).[9]

Prominent families from the Red River plain, led by Mac Thuy and his brothers (descendants of Mạc Đĩnh Chi), pledged their allegiance to the Ming.[9] By late January 1407, the Ming armies had taken control of the Red River Delta by superior siege and naval warfare.[7]

Remnants of a gate at Tay Do, the citadel of the Hồ dynasty

By early May 1407, Hồ Quý Ly was forced to flee southwards as he had lost the support from his people and was being pursued by the Ming forces.[7] The Ming armies expelled him from Thanh Hoa.[9] Hồ Quý Ly destroyed his palace at Tay Do and fled to the south by sea.[7] Hồ Quý Ly and his son Hồ Hán Thương were captured by the Ming on 16 June 1407.[2] The rest of his family were captured on either the same or following day.[7] Their capture occurred in the region of the present-day Hà Tĩnh Province.[9] They were caged and brought as prisoners to the Yongle Emperor in Nanjing.[7]

The Ming Shilu 2 December 1407 entry stated that the Yongle Emperor gave orders to Marquis Zhang Fu to not harm innocent Vietnamese and to spare the family members of rebels, such as young males if they themselves were not involved in the rebellion.[10] The Ming Shilu entry dated 26 July 1406 reports that Magistrate Dao Jihan pledged 4000 native troops of Ningyuan Subprefecture to accompany the expedition, which was approved.[11] The Ming Shilu entry dated 8 August 1406 recorded an imperial order instructing the Ming army to free prisoners that were captured by Li bandits after the army has subdued the region.[12] The Ming Shilu entry dated 15 August 1406 recorded an imperial order that instructed that Vietnamese records like gazetteers, maps, and registers were to be saved and preserved by the Chinese army.[13]


Jiaozhi (northern Vietnam) when it was under Ming occupation

On 5 October 1407, the prisoners were charged with high treason by the Ming imperial court.[14] The Yongle Emperor asked them whether they had killed the former king and whether they had usurped the throne of the Trần royal family, but he received no answer in return.[14] In the end, most of these prisoners were either imprisoned or executed.[14]

Hồ Quý Ly and his son Hồ Hán Thương were imprisoned.[9] There is no known record of their eventual fates thereafter.[9] The oldest son Hồ Nguyên Trừng became a manufacturer of weapons near the capital Beijing and authored a book published in 1438 about his native country.[9]

In June 1407, the Yongle Emperor annexed the conquered region as Jiaozhi (Giao Chỉ) province.[1][8][15] Lü Yi (呂毅) was appointed as the military commissioner,[15] Huang Zhong (黃中) as the vice-commissioner,[15] and Huang Fu (黃福) as the provincial administrator and the surveillance commissioner.[15] Jiaozhi province became divided into fifteen prefectures, 41 sub-prefectures, and 210 counties.[15] The first major signs of discontent against Chinese rule would surface when Trần Ngỗi (a former Tran official) revolted in September 1408.[16] Even though he would be captured by Zhang Fu in December 1408, Tran Qui Khoang (a nephew of Tran Ngỗi) would continue the rebellion until his capture by Zhang Fu on 30 March 1414, formally ending the rebellion.[16] Nevertheless, the region would continue to be plagued by several other uprisings during course of the Chinese domination.[16]


  1. ^ a b c Dardess 2012, 4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Chan 1990, 230.
  3. ^ a b c d Chan 1990, 229.
  4. ^ Shiro 2004, 399.
  5. ^ a b Dreyer 1982, 207–208.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Tsai 2001, 179.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Tsai 2001, 180.
  8. ^ a b Dreyer 1982, 208.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Taylor 2013, 174.
  10. ^ Wade, Geoff (translator). Yong-le: Year 5, Month 11, Day 3. Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: An Open Access Resource. Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  11. ^ Wade, Geoff (translator). Yong-le: Year 4, Month 7, Day 12. Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: An Open Access Resource. Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  12. ^ Wade, Geoff (translator). Yong-le: Year 4, Month 7, Day 25. Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: An Open Access Resource. Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  13. ^ Wade, Geoff (translator). Yong-le: Year 4, Month Intercalary 7, Day 2. Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: An Open Access Resource. Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  14. ^ a b c Tsai 2001, 180–181.
  15. ^ a b c d e Tsai 2001, 181.
  16. ^ a b c Chan 1990, 230–231.


  • Chan, Hok-lam (1990). "The Chien-wen, Yung-lo, Hung-hsi, and Hsüan-te reigns, 1399–1435". The Cambridge History of China. Volume 7: The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644 (Part 1). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-24332-7.
  • Dardess, John W. (2012). Ming China, 1368–1644: A concise history of a resilient empire. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-0491-1.
  • Dreyer, Edward L. (1982). Early Ming China: A political history, 1355–1435. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1105-4.
  • Shiro, Momoki (2004). "Great Viet". Southeast Asia. Santa Barbara: ABC Clio. ISBN 9781576077702.
  • Tsai, Shih-shan Henry (2001). Perpetual happiness: The Ming emperor Yongle. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-98109-1.
  • Taylor, K.W. (2013). A History of the Vietnamese. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-87586-8.