The Ngô dynasty (Vietnamese: Nhà Ngô; Chữ Nôm: 茹吳), officially Tĩnh Hải quân (chữ Hán: 靜海軍), was a semi-independent Vietnamese dynasty from 939 to 968. The dynasty was founded by Ngô Quyền, who led the Vietnamese forces in the Battle of Bạch Đằng River against the Chinese Southern Han dynasty in 938.

Tĩnh Hải quân
early years of Ngô dynasty
early years of Ngô dynasty
The map of Tĩnh Hải quân (Jinghai) under Ngô dynasty in 939
The map of Tĩnh Hải quân (Jinghai) under Ngô dynasty in 939
CapitalCổ Loa
• 938–944
Tiền Ngô Vương (first)
• 944–950
Dương Bình Vương
• 950–965
Nam Tấn vương & Thiên Sách vương (co-rulers)
Historical eraMedieval Asia
December 938
• Ngô Quyền founded the dynasty
February 1 939
• Dương Tam Kha seized the throne
• Overthrow of Dương Tam Kha, with Ngô Xương Văn and Ngô Xương Ngập both declared as kings
• Death of Ngô Xương Ngập
• Death of Ngô Xương Văn
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Third Era of Northern Domination
Đinh dynasty
Anarchy of the 12 Warlords
Today part ofVietnam
CountryTĩnh Hải quân
Founded8th century
FounderNgô Quyền
Final rulerNgô Xương Văn
TitlesKing/Grand Prince of Tĩnh Hải quân
Estate(s)Cổ Loa Citadel

Around 930, as Ngô Quyền rose to power, northern Vietnam was militarily occupied by the Southern Han and was treated as an autonomous province and vassal state of the Later Tang Dynasty, referred to as Tĩnh Hải quân. Every year the Jiedushi of Tĩnh Hải quân had to pay tribute to its Chinese master in exchange for peace and political support. At the beginning of the 10th century, China was domestically plagued and weakened by civil war during what is known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The Chinese were preoccupied with these civil struggles and lost their grip on Tĩnh Hải quân periodically. Tĩnh Hải quân took advantage of this opportunity and proclaimed its independence and seceded from China. Under the rule of Lord Protector Dương Đình Nghệ, the Tĩnh Hải quân state initiated a full blown military campaign for independence.

Background edit

Pre-independence edit

After defeating the Sui dynasty, the Tang dynasty adjusted its administrative divisions and provinces, maintaining Chinese rule in Vietnam. In the late 9th century, however, civil unrest increased and the rebellion of Huang Chao weakened the Tang dynasty. At the beginning of the 10th Century in 905, a member of the Khúc clan of Vietnam, Khúc Thừa Dụ took advantage of the continuing turmoil in China, seized power from the weakened Tang, and appointed himself Jiedushi (Vietnamese: Tiết độ sứ) establishing a degree of autonomy for Vietnam.

In 906, the Tang recognized Jiaozhi as an autonomous state, however a year later the Tang dynasty ended when Zhu Wen overthrew Tang rule establishing the Later Liang Dynasty for himself and ushered in the division of China into the short-lived empires of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. During this time of civil war in China, the Khúc clan attempted to increase its power and control over Vietnam. In Guangzhou province of south China, however, the former Tang governor, Liu Yan declared himself the emperor of the emergent Southern Han kingdom.

In 917, Khúc Thừa Mỹ succeeded Khúc Hạo as Jiedushi of Tĩnh Hải quân and reached out to the Liang Dynasty in northern China, seeking political support as a vassal state. The action angered the Southern Han and in 930 emperor Liu Yan attempted to bring Tĩnh Hải quân under his control by invading the capital city and taking Khúc Thừa Mỹ captive. Shortly thereafter, however, Dương Đình Nghệ, the governor of the Ái Châu district of Tĩnh Hải quân, sent troops to rescue Khúc Thừa Mỹ, defeating the Southern Han army and in the process appointing himself Jiedushi of Jinghai. In 937, Dương Đình Nghệ was assassinated by his official Kiều Công Tiễn who declared himself loyal to the Southern Han's emperor. Immediately thereafter, Dương Đình Nghệ's son in law, general Ngô Quyền, Governor of the Ái district, initiated hostilities against Kiều Công Tiễn.[1]

Battle of Bạch Đằng River edit

Five Dynasties Ten Kingdoms Period 923 CE and Tĩnh Hải quân (orange) .

Ngô Quyền (897–944) was Dương Đình Nghệ's most loyal general and son-in-law. He served under Dương Đình Nghệ's command and married one of his daughters. After the murder of father-in-law, Ngô Quyền sought revenge. He launched an attack and defeated Kiều Công Tiễn in 938. The latter, before his death in battle with Ngô Quyền, he sent an emissary to Southern Han court to ask for military re-enforcement. The Southern Han state's emperor then sent an army to the South land to assist Kiều Công Tiễn in 938. However, Ngô Quyền's forces were tipped off over the advancing Southern Han army and therefore he quickly mobilized his forces and strategically stationed them in key battle sites.

To defeat the Southern Han army coming to supply aid to his rival, Ngô Quyền and his troops planted iron spikes underneath the Bạch Đằng River and timed the attack of the Southern Han navy. The attack began during high tide which concealed the spikes beneath the water. The Vietnamese forces purposefully held the enemy in check for hours, waiting for the tides receded and the spikes to impale the Chinese armada. With the Southern Han navy in disarray, the Vietnamese forces followed the impalement with ferocious fire attacks and annihilated hundreds of giant warships. The Southern Han navy and the Prince of Southern Han were killed in the battle, thus ending the Southern Han's military ambition over Annam.[2]

Independence era (938) edit

Ngô Quyền's reign edit

The Battle of Bạch Đằng River was the first significant of many victories throughout the centuries at this famous river. Ngô Quyền then ascended to the throne and took the name "Ngô Vương" (King Ngô) or "Tiền Ngô Vương". He moved the capital back to Cổ Loa.[3] He reigned for only five years, until 944, when he died of illness at age 47. The short reign of an ambitious ruler set the stage for future campaigns for independence. Ngô Vương ushered in a new Vietnamese era of continuous independence and political autonomy. However, due to the Ngô dynasty's failure to control chieftains and Ngô Quyền's failure to gain Chinese acknowledgement of his legitimacy as a ruler, it remained little more than a protectorate of the Song dynasty.[4]

Royal Court disputes edit

Before his death, Ngô Vương's wish was to see his brother-in-law Dương Tam Kha act as regent for his son Ngô Xương Ngập. However Dương Tam Kha usurped the throne and proclaimed himself "Bình Vương" (平王). He took Ngô Xương Ngập's younger brother, Ngô Xương Văn, as his adoptive son and made him heir to the throne. Fearing for his life, Ngô Xương Ngập went into hiding with his retinue in Nam Sách (now Hải Dương province). Dương Tam Kha's reign was unpopular and many revolts and rebellions sprung up across the kingdom.[5]

Ngô Xương Văn & Ngô Xương Ngập co-reign: 950–954 edit

Ngô Xương Văn (吳昌文) deposed Dương Tam Kha in 950 and styled himself "Nam Tấn Vương" (南晉王). Out of respect for his uncle, Ngô Xương Văn did not have him killed, but merely demoted him and sent him into exile. Ngô Xương Văn then searched out his older brother Ngô Xương Ngập in order to share the throne with him. After arriving at the capital, Ngô Xương Ngập styled himself "Thiên Sách Vương" (天策王). Brought back by his younger brother Ngô Xương Văn to the throne, Ngô Xương Ngập soon abused his rights as the oldest son and began to rule Tĩnh Hải quân as dictator, "Thiên Sách Vương" (天策王). The country was ripe for open rivalries between different lords who fought each other to become the next successor.

Ngô Xương Xí's reign: 965–968 edit

After Ngô Xương Văn's death in 965, his son Ngô Xương Xí (吳昌熾) succeeded him. Ascended to the throne, Ngô Xương Xí was faced with the daunting task of having his rule recognized in a period of open rivalry between the 12 lords who fought one another for control of the country. With the announcement of his rule, the country further disrupted and thrown into a chaotic period called the Anarchy of the 12 Warlords (Vietnamese: Loạn 12 sứ quân).[6]

Breakup and Civil war edit

"The Anarchy of the 12 Warlords" or "Loạn 12 sứ quân" (966–968) edit

The weakening of the Ngô dynasty's influence caused the revolt of some governors against the royal court. In 951, Duke Đinh Bộ Lĩnh of Hoa Lư district and son of the Governor of Hoan district Đinh Công Trứ, relied heavily on the difficult geography of his local mountainous region and started his rebellion against the Ngô dynasty. Both kings of Tĩnh Hải quân, Ngô Xương Văn & Ngô Xương Ngập launched military campaigns against Đinh Bộ Lĩnh. However, after more than a month, the Royal troops failed to succeed and returned to the capital and tried persuading Duke Đinh to give up. In 954, Ngô Xương Ngập died and the leader of Thao Gian district Chu Thái also started to betray Ngô dynasty. The King of Ngo, Ngô Xương Văn had used force to suppress the revolt and beheaded Chu Thái. In 965 Ngô Xương Văn was shot by a barrage of and so perished. His son, Ngô Xương Xí took up his leadership but the dynasty gradually fell into disarray. According to Khâm định Việt sử Thông giám cương mục, the Kiều clan and Dương clan revolted against the Ngô and in 966, the country was divided into 12 states and ruled by 12 warlords including the Ngô royalty (Ngô Xương Văn, Ngô Nhật Khánh).

Ceramic of horse in 10 th century
Bronze kettle in Ngô dynasty

After the submission of the royal clan in the 960s and to strengthen his position, Đinh Bộ Lĩnh married one of his daughters to the last Ngô king. He also married a younger sister of the Ngô king to his eldest son Ngô Nhật Khánh and took the Ngô queen mother as one of his wives.[7] In 968, Đinh Bộ Lĩnh established a new kingdom of Dai Viet. Ngô Nhật Khánh quickly became a dissent and went exile in Champa. When Đinh Bộ Lĩnh died in 979, Nhật Khánh persuaded the Cham king Paramesvaravarman I to raised a naval fleet to reclaim the throne, however the expedition was scuttled by a typhoon and Nhật Khánh drowned.[7]

Family tree edit

Family tree of the Ngô dynasty[8]
Wu Rida
(sinicized name)
8th century
Ngô Đình Mân
9th century
Dương Đình Nghệ
Ngô Tịnh
Ngô Quyền
Ngô Vương
r. 939-944
Dương Thị NgọcDương Tam Kha
Dương Bình Vương
r. 944-950
Ngô Xương Ngập
King of Thiên Sách
Ngô Xương Văn
King of Nam Tan
r. 950-965
Ngô Chân Lưu
Ngô Xương Xí

r. 965–966
Ngô Nhật Khánh
Prince An

Citations edit

  1. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 45–46.
  2. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 46.
  3. ^ Pelley, p. 213., "Vietnamese kings and emperors sought the safety of cities that were easy to defend. Thus the Ngô dynasty retreated to Cổ Loa and the Đinh and Early Lê dynasties took refuge in Hoa Lư."
  4. ^ Dar, Ku Boon (2019). "The Tributary Relations between China's Song Dynasty and Vietnam's Dinh, Le and Ly Dynasties: Effects on Their Political Sustainability". Sejarah: Journal of the History Department, University of Malaya. 28 (1): 1–13. There is also the question of how far the Song dynasty (China) was willing to recognise the independence of the Ngo dynasty (Vietnam) amidst the turmoil in China. [...] The Ngo dynasty (939-968) was unable to control the local chiefs known as Hung Vuong or Su Quan because the ruling power was still in their hands. Since Ngo Quyen failed to gain acknowledgement of his legitimacy as a ruler from China, he could not get the unanimous support of the local authorities. Furthermore, the Ngo dynasty was still recorded as Ngoai Ky (not officially confirmed as a dynasty in Vietnamese history) because he was still known as a 'military governor', and not a king (vuong). These local chiefs possessed their own territories and constantly tried to dominate one another. Ngo Quyen died at the age of 46 before he had time to consolidate his position; Vietnam was little more than a protectorate of the Chinese empire.
  5. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 52.
  6. ^ Burke, p. 16., "Following the death of Ngỏ Quyển, who had driven the Chinese from Vietnam after a thousand years of domination, the Ngô Dynasty disintegrated. Vietnam was beset by a reign of confusion as twelve Warring lords fought over who was to rule ...""
  7. ^ a b Taylor 2013, p. 53.
  8. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 46–47.

References edit

External links edit