Trần Nhân Tông

Trần Nhân Tông (7 December 1258–16 December 1308), personal name Trần Khâm, temple name Nhân Tông, was the third monarch of the Trần dynasty, reigning over Đại Việt from 1278 to 1293. After ceding the throne to his son Trần Anh Tông, Nhân Tông held the title Retired Emperor (Vietnamese: Thái thượng hoàng) from 1294 to his death in 1308. During the second and third Mongol invasions of Đại Việt, the Emperor Nhân Tông and his father the Retired Emperor Thánh Tông were credited as the supreme commanders who led the Trần dynasty to the final victories and since established a long period of peace and prosperity over the country.

Trần Nhân Tông
Emperor of Đại Việt
Trần Nhân Tông TLĐSXSCĐ.png
Emperor of Trần dynasty
PredecessorTrần Thánh Tông
SuccessorTrần Anh Tông
Retired Emperor of Trần dynasty
PredecessorTrần Thánh Tông
SuccessorTrần Anh Tông
Born7 December 1258
Thăng Long, Đại Việt
Died16 December 1308
Yên Tử Mountain, Đại Việt
Đức Lăng
SpouseEmpress Bảo Thánh
Empress Tuyên Từ
IssueCrown Prince Trần Thuyên
Prince Huệ Vũ Trần Quốc Chẩn
Princess Huyền Trân
Trần Khâm (陳昑)
Era dates
Thiệu Bảo (紹寶, 1278–1285)
Trùng Hưng (重興, 1285–1293)
Regnal name
Pháp Thiên Ngự Cực Anh Liệt Vũ Thánh Minh Nhân Hoàng Đế (法天御極英烈武聖明仁皇帝)
Posthumous name
Pháp-thiên Sùng-đạo Ứng-thế Hoa-dân Long-từ Hiển-huệ Thánh-văn Thần-vũ Nguyên-minh Duệ-hiếu Hoàng Đế
Temple name
Nhân Tông (仁宗)
FatherTrần Thánh Tông
MotherEmpress Thiên Cảm

Background and during Thánh Tông's reignEdit

Trần Nhân Tông was born on 11 November of the lunar calendar 1258 as Trần Khâm,[1] the first son of the Emperor Trần Thánh Tông, who had been ceded the throne by Trần Thái Tông for only eight months, and Empress Thiên Cảm Trần Thị Thiều. It was said that the newborn Trần Khâm was so fine that his grandfather Thái Tông and father Thánh Tông named him as Kim Tiên đồng tử (Pupil of the Heavenly Kim Tiên).[2] Prince Trần Khâm was entitled as Crown Prince of the Trần dynasty in December 1274,[3] he had a younger brother, Prince Tá Thiên Trần Đức Việp (born in 1265)[4] and an elder sister, Princess Thiên Thụy, who would die on the same day as her brother Nhân Tông.[5] Always concerned with the education of his son, in 1274, Trần Thánh Tông appointed the prominent mandarin and general Lê Phụ Trần in the position of the crown prince's professor with two famous scholars Nguyễn Sĩ Cố and Nguyễn Thánh Huấn as assistants, the Emperor himself also composed poems and a literary work named Di hậu lục to educate prince Trần Khâm.[3]

On the 22nd of the tenth lunar month (8 November) 1278,[6] Trần Thánh Tông decided to cede the throne to the Crown Prince Trần Khâm, now Trần Nhân Tông, and held the title Retired Emperor.[2] After the coronation, Nhân Tông changed the era name to Thiệu Bảo ( , 1278–1285),[7] during his reign, the emperor had one more era name which was Trùng Hưng ( , 1285–1293).[8] Although passing the throne to his son, Thánh Tông continued to co-rule the country with Nhân Tông from 1279 to his death in 1290.

As emperorEdit

Mongol invasionsEdit

Trần Nhân Tông
Vietnamese name
VietnameseTrần Nhân Tông
Trần Nhân Tông
Vietnamese alphabetTrần Khâm

In 1279, the Yuan dynasty had the decisive victory over the Song dynasty in Battle of Yamen which marked the end of the Song dynasty and the total control of Kublai Khan over China.[7] As a result, Kublai Khan began to expose his attempt to take over the southern countries like Đại Việt or Champa. Aware of the situation, Thánh Tông and Nhân Tông began to prepare the Trần dynasty for the obvious and inevitable war while tried to keep a flexible policy with the Yuan dynasty.[9] First, Prince Chiêu Văn Trần Nhật Duật was appointed for the mission of pacifying the revolt led by Trịnh Giác Mật in Đà Giang by diplomatic means in order to keep the country in stability before the war. With his knowledge of minority people's language and culture, Trần Nhật Duật successfully accomplished his task in 1278, hence, the Trần dynasty had free hand to deal with the threat from the North.[10] In October 1282, the Retired Emperor Trần Thánh Tông and the Emperor Trần Nhân Tông gathered all the members of the royal family, and officials in royal court in Bình Than to discuss the unavoidable war.[11] Two prominent generals of Đại Việt's army were noticed on this occasion, Trần Khánh Dư, former commander of the army but was deprived of all titles after his guilt, and Trần Quốc Toản, only a 16-year-old marquis.[11] In 1283, Prince Hưng Đạo Trần Quốc Tuấn was appointed as commander-in-chief (Quốc công tiết chế) of Đại Việt army, the Retired Emperor and the Emperor began to hold military exercises with their generals and troops.[11]

In December 1284, the second Yuan's invasion of Đại Việt was opended under the command of Kublai Khan's prince Toghan.[12] Đại Việt was attacked in two directions, Toghan himselft conducted the infantry invaded from the northern border while Yuan's navy under general Sogetu advanced from the southern border through Champa's territory.[13] In the beginning of the war, Thánh Tông and Nhân Tông had to order the army retreat to avoid the pressure from Yuan's force when Prince Chiêu Minh Trần Quang Khải commanded troops try to stop Sogetu's fleet in the Nghệ An Province. During this time, there were several high-ranking officials and members of royal family of the Trần dynasty defected to Yuan's side including Thánh Tông's own brother, Prince Chiêu Quốc Trần Ích Tắc and Trần Kiện who was son of Prince Tĩnh Quốc Trần Quốc Khang. For the safeness of Thánh Tông and Nhân Tông's retreat, Princess An Tư was offered as present and diversion for prince Toghan while Marquis Bảo Nghĩa Trần Bình Trọng was captured and later killed in Battle of Đà Mạc in defending the two emperors.[14] In the southern border, Trần Quang Khải also had to retreat under the pressure of Sogetu's navy and the defection of the governor of Nghe An.[15] Despite the repeated problems, the royal family and royal court of the Trần dynasty still kept their harmony and determination owing to accurates decisions and actions from the leaders Thánh Tông, Nhân Tông,[16] Trần Quốc Tuấn and Trần Quang Khải.[17]

The critical situation of the Trần dynasty began to change after their victory in Battle of Hàm Tử in April 1285 where the troops commanded by Trần Nhật Duật, Prince Chiêu Thành, Trần Quốc Toản and Nguyễn Khoái were finally able to defeat the fleet of Admiral Sogetu. On 10 May of lunar calendar 1285, Trần Quang Khải fought the decisive battle in Chương Dương where Sogetu's navy was almost destroyed and therefore the balance in battlefield titled definitely in favour of the Trần dynasty.[15][18] 10 days after Sogetu was killed and Trần's Emperor Nhân Tông and Retired Emperor Thánh Tông returned to capital Thăng Long on 6 June of lunar calendar, 1285.[19]

In March 1287, the Yuan dynasty launched their third invasion of Đại Việt.[8] Unlike the second attack, this time commander in chief Prince Hưng Đạo Trần Quốc Tuấn affirmed with the Emperor that Đại Việt's army could easily break the Yuan's military campaign. Indeed, this invasion was ended one year later by a disastrous defeat of the Yuan navy in Battle of Bạch Đằng on 8 March of lunar calendar, 1288.[20] Besides Trần Quốc Tuấn, other notable generals of the Trần dynasty during this time were Prince Nhân Huệ Trần Khánh Dư who destroyed the logistics convoy of Yuan navy[21][22][23][24] in the Battle of Vân Đồn or general Phạm Ngũ Lão who took charge of ambushing prince Toghan's retreating troops.[25]

Scroll from the Trần dynasty showing the scene in which the retired emperor Trần Nhân Tông returns to Thăng Long from his hermitage.

After the warEdit

In rewarding Trần dynasty generals and mandarins after the victory, Thánh Tông and Nhân Tông also reminded them of the caution to the northern border.[26] About the defectors to Yuan side, the Emperor issued an order in which the family name of every defected member of Trần clan was changed to Mai, for example Trần Kiện was renamed as Mai Kiện, being the only defected prince of Trần clan, Trần Ích Tắc was exempted from this order but he was called in historical accounts of the Trần dynasty by the name "Ả Trần" ("the woman named Trần") meaning that Trần Ích Tắc was "coward as a woman".[23][26][27]

The Retired Emperor Trần Thánh Tông died on 25 May of lunar calendar, 1290 at the age of 50.[28] As the sole ruler of Đại Việt, Trần Nhân Tông ordered to relax the taxing policy, relieve the poor and postpone the military campaign against Ai Lao so that the country could recover after two fierce wars, several famine and natural disasters.[29]

On 3 February of lunar calendar, 1292,[30] Nhân Tông entitled his first son Trần Thuyên as Crown Prince of the Trần dynasty and finally decided to pass the throne to him on 3 March of lunar calendar, 1293.[31]

Having given the throne to his son, Trần Nhân Tông spent more time in seeking spiritual awakening. In 1295, he was ordained as Buddhist monk. In 1299, he came to the mountain Yên Tử in modern-day Quảng Ninh, where he vowed to follow 10 ascetic practices of a Buddha's student. He also established a monastery, teaching about Buddhist principles and receiving a substantial amount of disciples. He was thought to have founded Trúc Lâm, the only indigenous Zen Buddhist sect in Vietnam. Not only settling in Yên Tử, he also travelled across the nation to teach Zen practices to monks and encourage his subjects to follow the Ten good acts theory (Daśakuśalakarmāṇi).[32]

In 1301, he visited Champa, and lived for nine months at Jaya Sinhavarman III's court.[33]: 87 

In 1306, he gave his daughter, Princess Huyen Tran, in marriage to the Champa king Jaya Simhavarman III, in return for two Cham provinces.[34]: 217 

Đức Lăng - The tomb of Trần Nhân Tông in Thái Bình Province, Vietnam


Trần Nhân Tông married Princess Khâm Từ, later Empress Consort Khâm Từ Bảo Thánh, the eldest daughter of Grand Prince Hưng Đạo Trần Quốc Tuấn, in December 1274 when he was entitled as crown prince.[3] Trần Nhân Tông had his first son, Trần Thuyên, on 17 September of lunar calendar, 1276, Trần Thuyên eventually became Nhân Tông's successor as Trần Anh Tông.[35]

  1. Princess Trần Thị Trinh of Trần Liễu clan, daughter of Grand Prince Hưng Đạo. Later Empress Consort Khâm Từ Bảo Thánh
    1. Crown Prince Trần Thuyên, later Emperor Trần Anh Tông
  1. Empress Tuyên Từ of Trần Liễu clan, younger sister of Empress Consort Khâm Từ Bảo Thánh
    1. Prince Tran Quoc Chan
  2. Royal Consort Dang Thi Loan
  • Other Issues:
  1. Princess Thượng Trân
  2. Princess Thiên Trân
  3. Princess Huyền Trân


Most cities in Vietnam have named major streets after him.[36]



  1. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 175
  2. ^ a b Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 185
  3. ^ a b c Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 182
  4. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 179
  5. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 220
  6. ^ "Chuyển đổi ngày âm dương - Lunar calendar converter". Retrieved 22 March 2021. The second option on the left tab allows for the lunar date to be entered on the top green row, and gives a conversion to Gregorian date, and vice versa.
  7. ^ a b Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 186
  8. ^ a b Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 195
  9. ^ Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 52
  10. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 186–187
  11. ^ a b c Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 188
  12. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 189–190
  13. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 193
  14. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 192
  15. ^ a b Chapuis 1995, p. 83
  16. ^ Chapuis 1995, pp. 84–85
  17. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 192–193
  18. ^ Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 58
  19. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 192–195
  20. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 196–198
  21. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 197
  22. ^ Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 61
  23. ^ a b Chapuis 1995, p. 84
  24. ^ Delgado, James P. (2009). Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada. University of California Press. pp. 161–162. ISBN 978-0-520-25976-8.
  25. ^ Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 62
  26. ^ a b Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 200
  27. ^ Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 63
  28. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 201
  29. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, pp. 201–202
  30. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 202
  31. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 203
  32. ^ Tai Thu Nguyen 2008, pp. 146-151..
  33. ^ Maspero, G., 2002, The Champa Kingdom, Bangkok: White Lotus Co., Ltd., ISBN 9747534991
  34. ^ Coedès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella (ed.). The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans.Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1.
  35. ^ Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 183
  36. ^ Vietnam Country Map. Periplus Travel Maps. 2002–2003. ISBN 0-7946-0070-0.


Trần Nhân Tông
Born: 1258 Died: 1308
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of Trần dynasty
Succeeded by
Preceded by Retired Emperor of Trần dynasty
Succeeded by