Phạm Ngũ Lão

  (Redirected from Pham Ngu Lao)

Phạm Ngũ Lão (1255–1320) was a general of the Trần Dynasty during the reigns of three successive emperors Nhân Tông, Anh Tông and Minh Tông. His talent was noticed by Prince Hưng Đạo Trần Quốc Tuấn who married his adopted daughter to Phạm Ngũ Lão and recommended him for the royal court. Renowned as a prominent general in battlefield, Phạm Ngũ Lão was one of the few commanders of the Vietnamese army during the second and third Mongol invasion who did not come from the Trần clan. After the war of resistance against the Yuan dynasty, Phạm Ngũ Lão continued to participate in numerous military campaigns of the Trần Dynasty in which he often succeeded. Today, Phạm Ngũ Lão is still considered one of the most capable military commanders of both the Trần Dynasty and history of Vietnam.

Phạm Ngũ Lão
Phù Ủng, Hải Dương, Đại Việt
Thăng Long, Đại Việt
SpousePrincess Anh Nguyên
HouseTrần Dynasty


Phạm Ngũ Lão
Vietnamese name
VietnamesePhạm Ngũ Lão

According to Đại Việt sử kí toàn thư, Phạm Ngũ Lão was born in 1255 in Phù Úng, Đường Hảo, Thượng Hồng (now Ân Thi, Hưng Yên).[1] At the age of about 20, his talent was noticed by Prince Hưng Đạo Trần Quốc Tuấn who married his adopted daughter, Princess Anh Nguyên, to Phạm Ngũ Lão and also taught him about military knowledge so that he could become a capable general.[2] After that, Prince Hưng Đạo recommended him for the Emperor Trần Nhân Tông who appointed him as commander of right division of the Royal Guard (Thánh dực quân) in May 1290.[3]


During two Mongol invasionsEdit

In 1279, the Yuan Dynasty won a decisive victory over the Song Dynasty in the Battle of Yamen which marked the end of Song Dynasty and the total control of Kublai Khan over China.[4] As a result, Kublai Khan started planning the invasions of the southern countries like Đại Việt or Champa. In December 1284, the second Yuan's invasion of Đại Việt was initiated under the command of Kublai Khan's prince Toghan.[5] Đại Việt invasion came in two directions, the infantry, led by Toghan, invaded from the northern border while general Sogetu led the navy from the southern border through Champa's territory.[6] During the war, Phạm Ngũ Lão participated in several battles, notably Battle of Chương Dương where Phạm Ngũ Lão, together with Prince Chiêu Minh Trần Quang Khải and Marquis Hoài Văn Trần Quốc Toản, nearly destroyed general Sogetu's fleet on the tenth day of the fifth lunar month (June 14),[7][8] or Battle of Vạn Kiếp where the general fought under the command of Prince Hưng Đạo Trần Quốc Tuấn on May 20.[9] Đại Việt's decisive victories ultimately led to the retreat of Toghan's troops one month later.[10]

In 1287, the Yuan Dynasty launched their third invasion of Đại Việt. This military campaign was ended by a disastrous defeat of the Yuan navy in Battle of Bạch Đằng on March 8 of Lunar calendar, 1288.[11] After fighting in Battle of Bạch Đằng, Phạm Ngũ Lão ambushed Prince Toghan's retreating troops, destroying half of the Yuan army.[12] As a results of his battlefield achievements, Phạm Ngũ Lão was promoted to Commander of the Royal Guard after the war(Quản Thánh dực quân).[13]

After the warEdit

During the peaceful period afterwards, Phạm Ngũ Lão continued to have an important role in military activities of Đại Việt.[14] In the military campaign in August 1294 led by the Retired Emperor Trần Nhân Tông in person, general Phạm Ngũ Lão was successful in relieving the troops of Prince Trung Thành trapped by Laotian force, he was awarded a golden badge by this deed of arms.[15] In 1297, Phạm Ngũ Lão had another victory over the troops from Laos[16] and was appointed as commander-in-chief (Hữu kim ngô vệ đại tướng quân) in October 1298.[17] In this position, Phạm Ngũ Lão had continued success in several military campaigns in the western and southern border such as the Battle of Mường Mai against Laotian intruders in 1301[18] or the military campaign against kingdom of Champa in 1318.[19] The general also took charge of putting down a revolt inside Đại Việt in 1302.[20] With many victories in battle, Phạm Ngũ Lão was promoted gradually to Commander-In-Chief (Điện súy thượng tướng quân) of the Đại Việt army, the Emperor also married his daughter as royal concubine[21] and granted a mandarin position for Phạm Ngũ Lão's son, a favour which was usually reserved only for members of royal family.[19] Outside the royal court, Phạm Ngũ Lão was a close friend of Prince Minh Hiến Trần Uất, Trần Thái Tông's youngest prince, and was always ready to help the Prince despite the difference of class between him and Trần Uất.[22]

In November 1320, Phạm Ngũ Lão died in Thăng Long at the age of 66. The Emperor Trần Minh Tông mourned his death by not appearing in court for 5 days, a special dedication for an official who did not come from Trần clan.[2]


Phạm Ngũ Lão is considered one of the most able military commanders of both the Trần Dynasty and Vietnamese history. Phạm Ngũ Lão's deeds in the victories over two Mongols invasions and the period of peace and prosperity afterwards made him one of the most prominent figures of the Trần Dynasty who did not come from Trần clan.[2][14][23] Phạm Ngũ Lão was also a poet with several famous poems such as Thuật hoài. Today a main street in Hanoi where the National Museum of Vietnamese History is located,[24] and many places in Vietnam are named in honour of Phạm Ngũ Lão. Most cities in Vietnam, regardless of the political orientation of the government, have named major streets after him.[25] He is still worshipped as a deity, Saint Phạm (Đức thánh Phạm) in several regions of Vietnam,[26] and each year a traditional festival is held in Phù Úng, his native village, to commemorate the feats of Phạm Ngũ Lão.[27]



  1. ^ A brief chronology of Vietnam's history Anh Thư Hà, Hò̂ng Đức Trà̂n - 2000 "Senior General Phạm Ngũ Lão Phạm Ngu Lão was a native of Phù Ủng village, Đường Hảo, Thượng Hồng"
  2. ^ a b c Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 230
  3. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 201
  4. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 186
  5. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 189–190
  6. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 193
  7. ^ Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 58
  8. ^ Chapuis 1995, p. 83
  9. ^ Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 59
  10. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 194–195
  11. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 196–198
  12. ^ Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 62
  13. ^ Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 63
  14. ^ a b Chapuis 1995, p. 88
  15. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 206
  16. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 207
  17. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 208
  18. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 215
  19. ^ a b Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 229
  20. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 216
  21. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 221
  22. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 223–224
  23. ^ National Bureau for Historical Record 1998, p. 265
  24. ^ "Hanoi to get glimpse of ancient site". 2007-08-24. Archived from the original on August 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-27.
  25. ^ Vietnam Country Map. Periplus Travel Maps. 2002–03. ISBN 0-7946-0070-0. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  26. ^ Karen Fjelstad, Nguyễn Thị Hiền (1996). Possessed by the spirits: mediumship in contemporary Vietnamese communities. SEAP Publications. p. 36. ISBN 0-87727-141-0.
  27. ^ Guillaume, Xavier. La Terre du Dragon Tome 2 (in French). Editions Publibook. p. 179. ISBN 2-7483-1647-9.