Prelude to the Heroes: 1000 Years of Chinese Occupation
“Our nation, Dai Viet, was established long ago as an independent nation with its own civilization. Our borders with China have been drawn…”
When China was first unified under the Qin Dynasty in 221B.C., the ancient civilization of Lac Viet (ancient Vietnam) lost an immense amount of land to the Chinese. However, during this time, the ancient Vietnamese nation still salvaged a considerable amount of land for itself by the name of Nam-Viet. It wasn’t until the overthrow of the Qin and the establishment of the Han Dynasty in China did Lac Viet become totally overrun by the Chinese. This period marked the thousand years occupation of the Vietnamese nation by the Chinese invaders.
“Our customs and traditions are different from those of the foreign country to the North. The independence of our nation has been established by the Trieu, Dinh, Le, Ly, and Tran Dynasties, concurrent with that of the Han, Tang, Song, and Yuan of China…”
For over 1000 years, starting with the Han invasion in 111B.C. and ending with the defeat of the Southern Han in 938A.D., Vietnam was forcefully integrated into the state of China. Numerous struggles and rebellions erupted through this long period of Chinese occupation. Many brave warriors fought to protect the Vietnamese way of life and revive the independence of the nation. Although some leaders managed to bring freedom to Vietnam for a short period of time, like the Trung Sisters in the first century, it wasn’t until General Ngo Quyen’s victory at Bach Dang Bay were the Chinese permanently expelled.
“It is true that our nation has sometimes been weak and sometimes been strong, but never in time have we suffered from a lack of heroes.”
– Nguyen Trai, 1428 (The Great Declaration on the Victory Over China)
From that day forward, the people of Vietnam will defend their nation to the very death. Though they have been liberated from China, the Viet people still lived in constant fear of invasion from the country to the north. For the next thousand years, Vietnam and China would be engaged in a storm of perpetual warfare. The successive dynasties of China, such as the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing, would continue to invade Vietnam, trying to recapture the land. In response, the warriors of Vietnam would fight, giving their lives to defend the nation’s sovereignty. It is from this ongoing struggle to defend the country against China that many heroic individuals emerge, leaving their mark in the history of Vietnam. These men and women are the protectors of the Viet tradition, fearlessly risking their lives to protect the nation for more than 1000 years. Strong, noble, and selfless, these individuals are proudly known and remembered as the Heroes of Vietnam.