Trịnh Kiểm

Trịnh Kiểm (1503–1570) ruled northern part of Vietnam from 1545 to 1570. Trịnh Kiểm was the founder of the Trịnh Lords or House of Trịnh who ruled Dai Viet while a succession of figurehead Later Lê Emperors took the role as puppet government. During his rule, the war with the Mạc Dynasty continued.[1][2] Although he was the de facto ruler of Dai Viet during his reign, he never claimed himself title of Lord, hence he is not the first official Trịnh Lord but his son Trịnh Tùng is the first. Later Trịnh Kiểm was posthumously proclaimed Trịnh Lord by his descendants.

Trịnh Kiểm
Trịnh lords
Lord of Tonkin
Trịnh Kiểm (2).jpg
Trịnh Lords
PredecessorMilitary commander established
SuccessorTrịnh Cối
Born14 September 1503
Yên Định District, Thanh Hóa Province
Died29 March 1570
SpouseLại Thị Ngọc Trân
IssueTrịnh Cối
Trịnh Tùng
3 more sons and 2 daughters
Trịnh Kiểm (鄭檢)
Posthumous name
Minh Khang Thái Vương (明康太王)
Temple name
Thế Tổ (世祖)
HouseTrịnh lords
FatherTrịnh Lâu
MotherHoàng Ngọc Dốc


Trịnh Kiểm claimed descent from Trịnh Khả, who was one of the top aides of Lê Lợi and later became the top official during the reign of child-king Lê Nhân Tông. His relationship to the General Trịnh who defeated a rebel army in 1511 and then led a rebellion of his own in 1517 is unknown. Also unknown is his relationship to Trịnh Duy Dai and Trịnh Duy Sản (two of the leaders of the first revolt against Mạc Đăng Dung).

Nguyễn/Trinh allianceEdit

A second revolt against Mạc Đăng Dung took place not long after Dung usurped the throne and proclaimed himself Emperor of Vietnam in 1527. This second revolt was led by Nguyễn Kim whose second-in-command was his son-in-law, Trịnh Khiêm (who married Kim's daughter Ngoc Bao). The second revolt allowed the Nguyễn-Trịnh army to capture the Western Capital (Tay Do) and enthrone Emperor Lê Trang Tông, in 1533.

The Nguyễn-Trịnh alliance sent a formal embassy to China that denounced the usurpation of Mạc Đăng Dung and asked for help. In 1536, the Chinese delegation concluded that Dung had usurped the throne of the Lê Emperors. After hearing the report, the Jiajing Emperor dispatched an army that arrived on the border of Vietnam in 1537. However, with protestations of loyalty to the Ming Dynasty and the offer of a piece of north Vietnam to the Chinese, Mạc Đăng Dung convinced the Chinese to leave. The official position of the Chinese government was that the Mạc Dynasty should rule in the north and the Lê government should rule in the south. The Nguyễn-Trịnh alliance refused to accept this settlement, continuing the war.

Army commanderEdit

In 1541, Mạc died and his grandson, Phước Hải, took over. In 1545, Nguyễn Kim was assassinated by a Mạc supporter. Nguyễn had two young sons (Nguyễn Hoàng and Nguyễn Uông) but Trịnh Kiểm took control of the Royal army.[3][4][5]

The Nguyễn-Trịnh alliance, now under the command of Trịnh Kiểm, continued to fight the Mạc. A new king was enthroned as Lê Trung Tông in 1548, then another Lê king, Lê Anh Tông, was enthroned in 1556. In 1558 the eldest son of Nguyễn Kim, Nguyễn Hoàng, was sent to the south to take control over the recently conquered province of Quảng Nam. By 1665, the Royal (Trịnh) army had captured all provinces south of the Red River and were threatening Hanoi.


In 1569, in failing health, Trịnh Kiểm passed power to his eldest son, Trịnh Coi. In 1570, Trịnh Kiểm died. In the same year, Trịnh Coi was defeated by a Mạc army and was replaced by his younger, more capable brother, Trịnh Tùng.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Anh Thư Hà, Hồng Đức Trần A Brief Chronology of Vietnam's History 2000 - Page 140 "Thereafter, Trịnh Kiểm wielded all military power while Lê Trang Tông was a nominal monarch. In 1548, King Lê Trang Tông died and Trịnh Kiểm enthroned Prince Huyên - Lệ Trang Tông's son - as King Lê Trung Tông. Lê Trung Tông reigned ...
  2. ^ David Kolzion As the Wind Blowing: Testimonies from Beyond the Tomb - Page 5- 2005 -"Kim died at war in 1545, his son-in-law Trịnh-Kiểm took over the lordship and killed Kim's elder son. The younger one Nguyễn-Hoàng was permitted to move southwards in 1558—so having since founded the NGUYỄN Lordship in the South, ...
  3. ^ Anh Tuấan HoÁng -Silk for Silver: Dutch-Vietnamese Rerlations ; 1637–1700 2007 Page 20 ISBN 9004156011 "Trịnh Kiểm assassinated Nguyễn Uông, Nguyễn Kim's eldest son, and kept a vigilant eye on Nguyễn Hoàng, the second son of Nguyễn Kim. In this way he consolidated his position and ...
  4. ^ Nghia-M.-Vo Saigon: A History 2011- Page 13 "Trịnh Kiểm, seeing the chance to get rid of a rival, immediately agreed. He, however, did not know he had bestowed to Nguyễn Hoàng a kingdom, which in time would compete with Thăng Long. Nguyễn Hoàng, in fact, did not know it either, ..."
  5. ^ Renowned Vietnamese intellectuals prior to the 20th century 2004 – Page 18 "Trịnh Kiểm, the prime-minister of the Le, and son-in-law of Nguyễn Kim, former mandarin of the Le, brought Lê Anh Tông to the ... Trịnh Kiểm was afraid that his wife's two brothers, Nguyễn Uông and Nguyễn Hoàng, might usurp the throne.
Vietnamese royalty
Military commander established Trịnh lords
Lord of Tonkin

Succeeded by