Mongol invasions of Vietnam

The Mongol invasions of Vietnam or Mongol-Vietnamese Wars refer to the military campaigns launched by the Mongol Empire, and later the Yuan dynasty, against the Trần dynasty in Đại Việt (modern-day northern Vietnam) and the Champa (modern-day southern Vietnam) in 1258, 1282–1284, 1285, and 1287–88. In studies of China and Mongolia, the campaigns are often treated as a success due to the establishment of tributary relations with Dai Viet despite the Mongols suffering several military defeats.[7]:17[8]:212[9]:285 In contrast, Vietnamese historiography emphasizes the Dai Viet military victories.[7]:17

Mongol invasions of Đại Việt and Champa
Part of the Mongol invasions
Battle of Bach Dang (1288).jpg
The Battle of Bạch Đằng (1288) during the Third Mongol invasion
Date1258, 1282–1284, 1285 and 1287–88
Result See Aftermath section
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Mongol Empire (1258)
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Yuan dynasty (1285 and 1287–88)

Flag of House of Trần.webp Đại Việt under the Trần dynasty

Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Möngke Khan
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Kublai Khan
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Uriyangkhadai
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Aju
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Sodu
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Toghan [1]
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Umar bin Nasr al-Din (Yunnan)
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Abachi
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Fanji
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Aqatai
Flag of the Mongol Empire 2.svg Arikhgiya
Flag of House of Trần.webp Trần Thái Tông
Flag of House of Trần.webp Trần Thánh Tông
Flag of House of Trần.webp Trần Nhân Tông
Flag of House of Trần.webp Trần Hưng Đạo
Flag of House of Trần.webp Trần Quang Khải
Flag of House of Trần.webp Phạm Ngũ Lão
Flag of House of Trần.webp Lê Tần
Flag of House of Trần.webp Nguyễn Khoái
Flag of House of Trần.webp Nguyễn Thế Lộc
Flag of House of Trần.webp Đỗ Hành
Jaya Indravarman VI
First invasion (1258): ~3,000 Mongols and 10,000 Yi people (Western estimate)[2]
~30,000 Mongols and 20,000 Yi people (Vietnamese estimate)[3]
Second invasion (1285): ~300,000 (some speak of 500,000) in 1285[4]
Third invasion (1288): reinforcement 70,000 Yuan troops, 21,000 tribal auxiliaries, 500 ships,[5] plus remain forces from second invasion, total ~300,000 men[6]
Đại Việt: ~80,000 in 1258, more than 100,000–200,000 in 1285 and 1288
Champa: about 60,000 people[citation needed]
Casualties and losses
Unknown but slightly light in 1258
heavy in 1285 and heavy in 1288.

The first invasion began in 1258 under the united Mongol Empire, as it looked for alternative paths to invade Song China. The Mongol general Uriyangkhadai was successful in capturing the Dai Viet capital Thang Long (modern-day Hanoi) before turning north in 1259 to invade the Song dynasty in modern-day Guangxi as part of a coordinated Mongol attack with armies attacking in Sichuan under Möngke Khan and other Mongol armies attacking in modern-day Shandong and Henan.[10] The first invasion also established tributary relations between the Trần dynasty, formerly a Song dynasty tributary state, and the Yuan dynasty. In 1282, Kublai Khan and the Yuan dynasty launched a naval invasion of Champa that also resulted in the establishment of tributary relations.

Intending to demand greater tribute and direct Yuan oversight of local affairs in Đại Việt and Champa, the Yuan launched another invasion in 1285. The second invasion of Đại Việt failed to accomplish its goals, and the Yuan launched a third invasion in 1287 with the intent of replacing the uncooperative Đại Việt ruler Trần Nhân Tông with the defected Trần prince Trần Ích Tắc. By the end of the second and third invasions, which involved both initial successes and large losses for the Mongols, the Đại Việt and Champa decided to accept the nominal supremacy of the Yuan dynasty and serve as tributary states in order to avoid further conflicts.[11][7]


By the 1250s, the Mongol Empire controlled large amounts of Eurasia including much of Eastern Europe, Anatolia, North China, Mongolia, Manchuria, Central Asia, Tibet and Southwest Asia. Möngke Khan (r. 1251–59) planned to attack the Song dynasty in southern China from three directions in 1259. Therefore, he ordered the prince Kublai to pacify the Dali Kingdom. Uriyangkhadai led successful campaigns in the southwest of China and pacified tribes in Tibet before turning east towards Dai Viet by 1257.[12]

In the autumn of 1257, Uriyangkhadai addressed three letters to Dai Viet emperor Trần Thái Tông demanding passage through to southern China.[13] Trần Dụ Tông opposed the encroachment of a foreign army across his territory to attack their ally, and so prepared soldiers on elephants to deter the Mongol troops.[7] After the three successive envoys were imprisoned in the capital Thang Long (modern-day Hanoi) of Dai Viet, Uriyangkhadai invaded Dai Viet with generals Trechecdu and Aju in the rear.[13][2]

The ancestors of the Trần clan originated from the province of Fujian and later migrated to Đại Việt under Trần Kinh 陳京 (Chén Jīng), the ancestor of the Trần clan. Their descendants, the later rulers of Đại Việt who were of mixed-blooded descent later established the Tran dynasty, which ruled Vietnam (Đại Việt); despite many intermarriages between the Trần and several royal members of the Lý dynasty alongside members of their royal court as in the case of Trần Lý[14][15] and Trần Thừa,[16] some of the mixed-blooded descendants of the Trần dynasty and certain members of the clan could still speak Chinese such as when a Yuan dynasty envoy had a meeting with the Chinese-speaking Trần prince Trần Quốc Tuấn in 1282.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

Kublai Khan, the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, and the founder of the Yuan dynasty

Historian Liam Kelley noted that people from Song dynasty China like Zhao Zhong and Xu Zongdao escaped to Trần Dynasty Vietnam after the Mongol invasion of the Song and helped the Tran fight against the Mongol invasion. The ancestors of the Tran clan originated from the Fujian region of China as did the Daoist Chinese cleric Xu Zongdao who recorded the Mongol invasion and referred to them as "Northern bandits". He quoted the Đại Việt Sử Ký Toàn Thư which said “When the Song [Dynasty] was lost, its people came to us. Nhật Duật took them in. There was Zhao Zhong who served as his personal guard. Therefore, among the accomplishments in defeating the Yuan [i.e., Mongols], Nhật Duật had the most.”[23][24]

Southern Song Chinese military officers and civilian officials left to overseas countries, went to Vietnam and intermarried with the Vietnamese ruling elite and went to Champa to serve the government there as recorded by Zheng Sixiao.[25] Southern Song soldiers were part of the Vietnamese army prepared by emperor Trần Thánh Tông against the second Mongol invasion.[26]

First Mongol invasion in 1258Edit

First Mongol - Trần war (1257-1258)


In 1258, a Mongol column under Uriyangkhadai, the son of Subutai, invaded Đại Việt. According to Vietnamese sources, the Mongol army consisted of at least 30,000 soldiers of which at least 2,000 were Yi troops from the Dali Kingdom.[3] Modern scholarship points to a force of several thousand Mongols, ordered by Kublai to invade with Uriyangkhadai in command, which battled with the Viet forces on 17 January 1258.[27]


A battle was fought in which the Vietnamese used war elephants: their Emperor even led his army from atop an elephant.[28] Aju ordered his troops to fire arrows at the elephants' feet.[28][7] The animals turned in panic and caused disorder in the Đại Việt army, which was routed.[28][7] The Dai Viet senior leaders were able to escape on pre-prepared boats while part of their army was destroyed at No Nguyen (modern Viet Tri on the Hong River). The remainder of the Dai Viet army again suffered a major defeat in a fierce battle at the Phu Lo bridge the day after. This led the Tran leadership to evacuate the capital. The Dai Viet annals report that the evacuation was "in an orderly manner;" however this is viewed as a embellishment because the Dai Viet must have retreated in disarray to leave their weapons behind in the capital.[28]

The emperor of Đại Việt fled to an offshore island, and the Mongols occupied the capital city Thăng Long (modern-day Hanoi). They found their envoys in prison, however one of whom died. Although the Mongols had successfully captured the capital, the provinces around the capital were still under Đại Việt control.[29] While Chinese source material is sometimes misinterpreted as saying that Uriyangkhadai withdrew from Vietnam due to poor climate,[30][10] Uriyangkhadai left Thang Long after nine days to invade the Song dynasty in modern-day Guangxi in a coordinated Mongol attack with armies attacking in Sichuan under Möngke Khan and other Mongol armies attacking in modern-day Shandong and Henan.[10] After the loss of a prince and the capital, Trần Dụ Tông submitted to the Mongols.[7] In 1258, the Trần commenced regular diplomatic relations and a tributary relationship with the Mongol court, treating them as equals to the embattled Southern Song dynasty without renouncing their ties to the Song.[7]

According to Đại Việt historiography, they applied a scorched earth policy, burning all the farms and evacuating all food supplies around the capital, which starved off the Mongols. According to Đại Việt historiography, the Trần Emperor counterattacked at Đông Bộ Đầu, Thăng Long at midnight on 28 January 1258. The Mongol force suffered a heavy defeat, losing Thăng Long to Trần army and were forced to retreat back to China. During the retreat, they were ambushed by a Trần general Ha Bong.[citation needed]

Invasion of Champa in 1282Edit

Painting of Prince Quốc Tuấn (1228-1300) , military hero of Đại Việt in the second and third Mongols invasion.

Sogetu of the Jalairs, the governor of Guangzhou, was dispatched to demand the submission of Champa. Although the king of Champa accepted the status of a Mongol protectorate,[31] his submission was unwilling. In 1282, Sogetu led a maritime invasion of Champa with 5,000 men, but could only muster 100 ships because most of the Yuan ships had been lost in the invasions of Japan.[32]

However, Sogetu was successful in capturing Vijaya, the Champa capital later that year. The aged Champa king Indravarman V retreated out of the capital, avoiding Mongol attempts to capture him in the hills. His son would wage guerrilla warfare against the Mongols for the next few years, eventually wearing down the invaders.[33] Stymied by the withdrawal of the Champa king, Sogetu asked for reinforcements from Kublai but sailed home in 1284 just as another Mongol fleet with more than 15,000 troops under Ataqai and Arigh Khaiya embarked on a fruitless mission to reinforce him. Sogetu presented his plan to have more troops invade Champa through Đại Việt. Kublai accepted his plan and put his son Toghan in command, with Sogetu as second in command.[citation needed]

Second Mongol invasion in 1285Edit

Second Mongol invasion of Vietnam (1284-1285)
Mobile trebuchets deployed by the Mongol Yuan in Vietnam


Kublai Khan was dissatisfied with the tributary arrangement, which granted the Yuan dynasty the same amount of tribute as the former Song dynasty had received, and requested greater tributary payments.[7]:19 These demands included taxes to the Mongols in both money and labor, "incense, gold, silver, cinnabar, agarwood, sandalwood, ivory, tortoiseshell, pearls, rhinoceros horn, silk floss, and porcelain cups", and direct oversight from a Mongol-appointed darughachi.[7]:19 In 1283, Khubilai Khan sent word to the Trần that he intended to send Yuan armies through Trần territory to attack the kingdom of Champa, with demands for provisions and other support to the Yuan army.[7]:19

In 1284 Kublai appointed his son Toghan (Vietnamese: Thoát Hoan) to conquer Champa. Toghan demanded from the Trần a route to Champa, which would trap the Champan army from both north and south. While Thánh Tông and Nhân Tông initially accepted the demand reluctantly, they then ordered an attack on the Mongol army.[7]


In late 1284, main Yuan forces besieged capital Thăng Long. Planning to weaken the enemies first, the Đại Việt imperial family abandoned the capital and retreated south while enacting a scorched earth campaign by abandoning empty capital and cities, burning villages and crops where the Mongols occupied.[33] At the same time, Sogetu moved his army up north in an attempt to envelop the imperial family in a pincer movement,[33] but Kinh Nhân Tông managed to escape to Ninh Bình.[citation needed]

Sogetu's army was weakened by the summer heat and the lack of food, so they stopped chasing the imperial family and move north to join with Toghan. Seeing the Mongols’ movement, Trần Hưng Đạo concluded that the Mongol army was weakened and decided to take the opportunity to strike, selecting battlefields where the Mongol cavalry could not be fully employed.[34]

The Cham were in pursuit of Sogetu as he was heading north,[35] and killed him and defeated his army.[34] However, according to Vietnamese history, Sogetu was defeated in Hàm Tử, Hưng Yên and was killed by the Vietnamese in his retreat. As the Yuan forces advanced down the Red River, dispersing their power, Prime Minister Quang Khải personally launched a large counterattack that consisted more than 100 thousand troops at the Battle of Chương Dương and Vạn Kiếp, forcing Toghan to withdraw. Toghan returned without a huge loss of the army under him thanks to the Kipchak officer Sidor and his navy.[30]:9

Third Mongol invasion, 1287-88Edit

Third Mongol invasion of Vietnam (1287-1288)
Wooden stakes from the Bach Dang river in Museum of Vietnam


In 1286, Kublai Khan appointed Trần Thánh Tông's younger brother, Prince Trần Ích Tắc, as the King of Đại Việt from afar with the intent of dealing with the uncooperative incumbent Trần Nhân Tông.[7]:24 Trần Ích Tắc had already surrendered to the Yuan was willing to lead a Yuan army into Đại Việt to take the throne.[7]:24

In 1287, a Yuan army commanded by Toghan moved southwards from Guangxi and Yunnan in three divisions led by generals Omar, Zhang Wenhu, and Aoluchi.[7]:24 The army was complemented by a large naval force that advanced from Qinzhou, with the intent to form a large pincer movement against the Trần dynasty.[7]:24 The force was composed of Mongols, Han Chinese, Zhuang, and Li troops.[7]:24


The Yuan were successful in the early phases of the invasion, occupying and looting the Đại Việt capital.[7]:24

In 1288, a Yuan supply fleet was destroyed at sea by the Trần.[7]:26 The Yuan land army under Toghan and naval fleet under Omar, both already in Đại Việt, were unaware of the loss of their supply fleet.[7]:26 They planned to withdraw from Đại Việt but waited for the supplies to arrive before departing.[7]:26 At the Bạch Đằng River, the Trần prince Trần Hưng Đạo ambushed a Yuan fleet in the second Battle of Bạch Đằng.[7]:24 The Trần forces placed hidden metal-tipped wooden stakes in the riverbed and attacked the fleet once it had been impaled on the stakes.[7]:26 The Yuan fleet was destroyed and the army retreated in disarray without supplies.[7]:26

In 1288 or 1289, the Yuan army engaged the Trần army at Thái Bình River in a battle during which Toghan was struck by a poisoned arrow.[7]:24 Several thousand Yuan troops, unfamiliar with the terrain, were lost and never regained contact with the main force.[7]:24 An account of the battle from Le Tac, a Đại Việt scholar who defected to the Yuan in 1285, said that the remnants of the army followed him north in retreat and reached Yuan-controlled territory on Lunar New Year's Day in 1289.[7]:24 After three further months in Đại Việt, the Yuan army were withdrawn before malaria season.[7]:25



As late as 1293, Kublai Khan planned a fourth military campaign to install Trần Ích Tắc as the King of Đại Việt, but the plans for the campaign were halted when Kublai Khan died in early 1294.[7]:25

Đại ViệtEdit

The Trần dynasty decided to accept the supremacy of the Yuan dynasty in order to avoid further conflicts. In 1293, Kublai detained the Trần envoy, Dao-tu Ki, because Trần Nhân Tông refused to go to Beijing in person. Kublai's successor Temür Khan (r.1294-1307), later released all detained envoys and resumed their tributary relationship initially established after the first invasion, which continued to the end of the Yuan.[11]


The Champa Kingdom decided to accept the supremacy of the Yuan dynasty and also established a tributary relationship with the Yuan.[11]


Despite the military defeats suffered during the campaigns, they are often treated as a success by historians for the Mongols due to the establishment of tributary relations with Đại Việt and Champa.[7]:17[8]:212[9]:285 The initial Mongol goal of establishing Đại Việt, a tributary state of the Southern Song dynasty, as their own tributary state was accomplished after the first invasion.[7]:17 However, the Mongols failed to impose their demands of greater tribute and direct darughachi oversight over Đại Việt's internal affairs during their second invasion and their goal of replacing the uncooperative Trần Nhân Tông with Trần Ích Tắc as the King of Đại Việt during the third invasion.[7]:19[7]:24 Nonetheless, friendly relations were established and Dai Viet continued to pay tribute to the Mongol court.[36][37]

Vietnamese historiography emphasizes the Dai Viet military victories.[7]:17 The three invasions, and the Battle of Bạch Đằng in particular, are remembered within Vietnam and Vietnamese historiography as prototypical examples of Vietnamese resistance against foreign aggression.[7]:19


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  24. ^ proof that he runs the blog
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See alsoEdit

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website