Archive for Ly Dynasty

Lý Long Tường and the Other Mongol Invasion. “Part 2”

Posted in Dynastic History with tags , , , , , , , on December 15, 2010 by Ian Pham

Welcome to Korea

Upon their arrival, Prince Lý and his envoy received a warm welcomed by Kojong, the King of Korea’s Koryo (aka Goryeo) Dynasty.  It seems that Lý Long Tường and his crew came to Korea at the right time, as they were handsomely accommodated by the people of Korea.

Whether Kojong knew it or not, he had been waiting for Lý Long Tường to land on the shores of Korea for a long time.  News of the prince’s arrival came to King Kojong in a dream, could it be fate that brought Prince Lý to the distant land of Korea?

The Dream of King Kojong

Legends speak of how Kojong had foreseen the arrival of Lý Long Tường in a dream.  Kojong dreamt of a majestic phoenix that flew all the way from the south to land on the shores of Korea.  Prince Lý’s arrival was therefore perceived as this phoenix, a heavenly sign that was immediately accepted by Kojong and his people.  Lý Long Tường was one of Đại Việt’s most talented generals, well versed in literature and the art of war.

Recognizing his talents, the Koreans quickly promoted Lý to the position of general.  For the rest of his days, Prince Lý Long Tường would be known as Lee of Hwasan, a bright and heroic figure of the Koryo nation.  With news of the Mongols’ impeding conquests on Korea, Lee of Hwasan, his Lý compatriots, and the Korean nation, mobilized their forces.

Ogodei and the First Mongol Invasion

Korea’s relationship with the Mongols tend to fluctuate at various times.  The Koryo Kingdom and the Mongol Empire may cooperate at one instant, and become hostile at another.  It all depends on the circumstances, and this time it’s war.  With the momentum of countless successful military campaigns across the lands of Eurasia, the Mongols now prepared to capture the Kingdom of Koryo.

The earliest of the Mongol invasions on Koryo was ignited in 1231-32, under the orders of Ogodei Khan.  Diplomacy between the two sides have failed, as a result the Mongol Empire prepared their assault against the Koryo Kingdom.  Ogodei, the son of Genghis, would oversee this first invasion, as well as the defeat at the hands of Koryo and Lý Long Tường.

Ogodei’s forces bombarded Koryo in all directions, through naval and conventional assaults.  Though they initially succeeded in capturing some Korean territories,  Prince Lý (aka Lee of Hwasan) mobilized his forces and confronted the Mongols at Hwang-hae.  Lý’s forces successfully warded off the Mongol advances, thus preserving Koryo’s sovereignty for the time being.  The Korean forces also showed tremendous resistance to the Mongol threat, neutralizing their efforts of capturing Koryo.

30 Years Later: The Final Invasions

After 30 years of intense fighting with the Mongol Empire, Koryo would finally see an end to the bloodshed.  Nearly three decades have passed since Ogodei Khan kick-started the Mongol invasion of Korea, and neither side wanted to let up.  The Mongols had captured many of Koryo’s territories, only to lose it in the distant future.  Treaties and agreements have come and gone, always resulting in military clashes between the two sides.

Lý Long Tường, now in his 70’s, has been fighting alongside the Korean forces.  It has been three decades since the prince accepted the title Lee of Hwasan, helping the Koreans in their struggle to break from the Mongols’ grasp.  After numerous battles, the Lee of Hwasan would engage in one final battle against the Mongols, playing a big role in their final defeat to the Kingdom of Koryo.

The Defeat of Mongke Khan

In the year of 1253, the Mongol army, under the fierce command of Mongke Khan, entered Koryo once again.  As they tried to capture the province of Hwang-hae, the forces of Lý Long Tường was their to engage.  After five months of armed combat, the forces of Lý Long Tường successfully eliminated the Mongol forces in that region, forcing them to surrender.

This victory would be the beginning of the full Mongol withdrawal from Korea.  Finally, after 30 years of excruciating resistance against the Mongol Empire, Koryo was finally free from their grasp.  Political actions taken by the patriotic rulers of Korea resulted in the Mongols abandoning their ambitions of capturing the Koryo Kingdom, leaving the country in 1259.

Lý Long Tường: The White Horse General

The fighting spirit of the Koreans helped them defeat the Mongols in numerous battles.  Numerously courageous warriors joined the fight to ultimately expel them from the country.  Fighting alongside these Korean generals was Lý Long Tường, Prince of Đại Việt, and descendent of the royal Lý family.  Prince Lý, along with the remnants of the Lý family, joined in the fight against the Mongols, playing a big role in their final defeat to the Kingdom of Koryo.

Prince Ly was a valiant fighter and a fearless general who led a division of the Korean military.  He arrived on the shores of Korea from Đại Việt in the 1220’s and will spend the rest of his life in Korea.  The several thousand members of the Lý clan would stay there with him, becoming proud members of the Korean community.  Besides the title Lee of Hwasan, Lý Long Tường was also known as the “White Horse General,” riding into battle on the back of a fierce white stallion.

It is said that throughout his life in Korea, Prince Lý would sit on the peak of a mountain and look southward in reverence of his former home.  Little did Prince Lý know that the land he looked back on so fondly would become a battleground for the Mongols’ next conquest.  His successor, St. Trần Hưng Đạo of the Trần Dynasty, would achieve a feat similar to Lý Long Tường.  Next time however, he would do so in a fashion even grander than the Lee of Hwasan himself.

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Lý Long Tường and the Other Mongol Invasion. “Part 1”

Posted in Dynastic History with tags , , , , , on December 3, 2010 by Ian Pham

The Mongols’ defeats at the hands of Trần Hưng Đạo of the Trần Dynasty are one of the most prominent feats in the history of Vietnam.  There is however, another glorious victory during the Mongol Wars, accomplished this time by Prince Lý Long Tường.  As a survivor of the overthrown Lý Dynasty, Prince Lý Long Tường would help fend off the Mongol invasions on the kingdom of Korea, decades before Trần Hưng Đạo and the nation of Đại Việt.

Trần Thủ Độ and the Fall of the Lý

The story of Lý Long Tường begins in a tragic way, as the last Lý monarch, princess Lý Chiêu Hoàng, abdicated the throne in favor of her husband, Trần Cảnh.  This was made possible because of Trần Thủ Độ, a man who exploited the conflict of a female ruler to break the line of succession of the Lý family.  As a result, the Lý family was deposed from the royal throne and replaced by the Trần family.

Infuriated by Trần Thủ Độ’s political schemes, the members of the Lý family became a strong opposing force to the new Trần rulers.  Fearing a revolt, the diabolical Trần Thủ Độ, regent of the fledgling Trần Dynasty, would orchestrate a political purge aimed at the entire Lý family.  With the power of the military, members of the Lý were targeted and ruthlessly executed.  Thousands of Vietnamese people died at the hands of Trần Thủ Độ, just for baring the name of Lý.

Lý Long Tường and the Voyage to Korea

Recognizing the serious situation that the Lý were facing, Prince Lý Long Tường decided to take action.  With the last of his political power, Lý Long Tường rounded up the remaining members of the Lý family, formulating a plan to evacuate them from Đại Việt.  What was once the homeland of the proud Lý Dynasty now became a hostile territory, a place where the first great rulers were no longer welcome.

With three giant ships, Lý Long Tường and the remnants of the Lý Dynasty set sail for the Eastern Sea.  On their journey at sea, the prince’s envoy encountered a typhoon.  In order to prevent the destruction of the envoy, Lý Long Tường had to make a pit stop, landing on the shores of Taiwan.  When the storm finally passed, the prince gathered his forces and continued northward.

However, Prince Ly’s son, Lý Long Hiền, was afflicted with a serious ailment during their stay in Taiwan.  As a result, Hiền was forced to stay behind while his father proceeded on his voyage in the Eastern Sea.  A number of mandarins and government officials stayed with Lý Long Hiền, becoming members of what is now known as Taiwan.

The Shores of Korea

After more than a month on the high seas, Lý Long Tường’s forces finally landed on the Korean peninsula, where they were warmly welcomed by Kojong, the king of the Korean kingdom.  It is here that Prince Lý will spend the rest of his days, along with the remaining members of the Lý clan.  When Prince Lý fled Đại Việt, he brought numerous talented people under his wing, all of which would be fully utilized by Korean rulers.

The time that Prince Lý arrived in Korea was also the time that Genghis Khan and his Mongols unleashed their fearsome conquests upon all of Eurasia.  Korea, like any other country at the time, was in danger of Mongol domination.  As a result, the Koreans mobilized their country to prepare for the Mongol invasion.

Since the Prince was a talented military commander for Đại Việt, Lý Long Tường was granted a leadership position in the Korean army.  With his help, the kingdom of Korea was prepared for the Mongols coming invasion.  News of Mongols’ countless military endeavors swept across the entire continent, and Korea was next on the list.

To be continued…

Buddhism: The Religion That Saved Đại Việt

Posted in Dynastic History with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by Ian Pham

First off, let me clarify that I am not about do discredit any other religion in favor of Buddhism.  In modern Vietnam, Christianity, as well as Buddhism, have been major contributors to the development of Vietnamese society.  However, I am looking back, very far back, to the times of antiquity to show Buddhism’s major contribution to the strength and protection of Đại Việt.

For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to the strand of Buddhism practiced in Vietnam as Vietnamese Buddhism.  There are numerous teachings in the Buddhist religion that I won’t be covering here.  For now, I will be pointing out the three most powerful lessons that every leader of antiquity have followed at some point in their lives.  These three great teachings talk of compassion (bi), intelligence (trí), and courage (dũng).

These three  great teachings paved the way for the rise of the Đại Việt nation.  The Lý Dynasty, the Trần Dyansty, and the Lê Dynasty were Buddhist dynasties (though the Lê to a lesser extent).  Great emperors like Lý Thái Tổ, Trần Nhân Tông, Lê Lợi, just to name a few, were Buddhists.  Heroes of Vietnam, like Trần Hưng Đạo, Lý Thường Kiệt, and Nguyễn Trãi, were all well versed in the teachings of Buddha.

These heroes all learned from these teachings of bi, trí, and dũng (compassion, intelligence, and courage) to protect the country.  In times of peace, they were benevolent, compassionate, and kind.  In times of war, they fought fearlessly, showing no mercy to the ones who dared to invade the land.  Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, the nation of Đại Việt prevailed in the face of adversity and prospered in times of peace.

The City of the Soaring Dragon: 1000 Years of Hanoi

Posted in Dynastic History, Modern History, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , on October 10, 2010 by Ian Pham

Today marks the 1000 year birthday of the city of Hanoi.  For the past week, the people of Vietnam have been celebrating the long life of this important historical setting.  Through various dynasties over the course of Vietnam’s history, Hanoi has most often been the capital of the country.  After a thousand years, through numerous wars and reconstructions, the city of Hanoi remains strong.  It is a symbol of resilience and strength, reminding us of the long and revering history of the Vietnamese people.

During imperial times, the city of Hanoi was named Thang Long, meaning “Soaring Dragon.”  The origin of Thang Long came from Emperor Ly Cong Uan.  As leader of the new independent nation of Dai Viet, Ly Cong Uan decided to move his capital to the city of Dai La.  In a dream, the emperor saw a golden dragon, soaring majestically in the sky.  When he awoke, the emperor took the dream as a heavenly sign, and therefore decided to bestow upon his city the name of Thang Long, the “City of the Soaring Dragon.”

The name “Hanoi” came in modern times, under the rule of the Nguyen Dynasty.  Emperor Minh Mang, arguably the only capable ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty, changed the name from Thang Long to Hanoi.  That leads us to the city we have today, where a celebration is currently taking place.  Red flags, pictures of Ho Chi Minh, the hammer and sickle, all integrated into the festivities in Vietnam.  Many people in Vietnam see little reason to be excited, having resentment for the Communists for their poor leadership and shameful representation of the people.

Even so, let’s just look past the embarrassment of the Communists and celebrate the history of our proud people.  Though the government has shamed our nation in so many different ways, the people of Vietnam have so much to be proud about.  The tradition of Viet has been under fire for thousands of years, in spite of that, we continue to stay strong.  The current situation will not last forever.  One day, Vietnam will become free.  Communism is dead, even the Communists know that.

Lý Thường Kiệt: the Protector of Đại Việt

Posted in Dynastic History, Heroes of Vietnam Week, Poetry with tags , , , on July 22, 2010 by Ian Pham

The Lý Dynasty (1009-1225)

“Over the mountains and rivers of the South, lives the Southern Emperor,
As it says now and forever in the Book of Heavens,
That whoever dares to invade our land,
Will be defeated without mercy.”

– Lý Thường Kiệt, 1076

After the expulsion of the Chinese empire in 938, the newly reborn state of Nam-Việt underwent a short period of chaos and power struggle.  Many powerful families from different provinces in Nam-Việt vied for control of the throne.  As a result, several monarchs reigned for a short time, losing their powers to other families competing for the crown.  Finally, in 1009, the Lý Dynasty was founded, and the emperor proclaimed that the young nation would be named Đại Việt (Great Việt).

Having just expelled the Chinese from Vietnam only one century before, the new rulers of Đại Việt were determined to keep them from returning.  One of the brightest generals of the Lý Dynasty went by the name of Lý Thường Kiệt.  Winning two major wars against the Song Dynasty of China, along with several battles versus the kingdoms of Champa and Khmer, Lý Thường Kiệt is one of the most prominent figures in Vietnamese history.

Born in 1019 in the city of Thang Long (Hanoi), his birth name was Ngô Tuấn.  Starting out as a cavalry captain in 1036, Ngô Tuấn later went on to become the leader of the Imperial Guard.  Thanks to his talents, Ngô Tuấn rose through the ranks of the Vietnamese army and was awarded the name of Lý Thường Kiệt by the royal family.

When news of an incoming invasion by the Song Dynasty reached the people of Dai Viet (Vietnam) in 1075, emperor Lý Nhân Tông sent generals Lý Thường Kiệt and Tôn Đản to launch a surprise attack on the Song forces.  Lý Thường Kiệt and Tôn Đản were both hugely successful on their mission, soundly defeating the Chinese forces on their own soil.

In retaliatian, the Song Dynasty made alliances with the Khmer (Cambodian) and Cham kingdoms to invade Đại Việt together.  Once again, emperor Lý Nhân Tông sent Lý Thường Kiệt to confront the invaders. Sure enough, General Lý was victorious.

As a result of the victories, the Song Dynasty never dared invade again.  With the Chinese subdued, the Lý Dynasty under General Lý Thường Kiệt carried out two successful assaults on the Champa Kingdom, ensuring security from them as well.

Even though he did help win major wars against foreign countries, Lý Thường Kiệt’s contributions to Vietnam were more than just military.  As a distinguished poet, he was also accredited with penning the first Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, a poem titled “Nam Quốc Sơn Hà (Over the Mountains and Rivers of the South).”

Lý Thường Kiệt: A Brief Biography

Posted in Dynastic History with tags , on April 4, 2010 by Ian Pham

Lý Thường Kiệt of the Lý Dynasty is one of the greatest generals in Vietnamese history, helping the country defeat the Chinese Song Dynasty in the 11th century.  He was born in the city of Thang Long (modern day Hanoi) in 1019 and died in 1105 at the age of 86.  Lý served as the captain of a cavalry before rising through the ranks of the Vietnamese military.  In order for him to lead the Imperial Guards, he had to be castrated and become a eunuch.  As a military leader Lý Thường Kiệt proves to be more than capable, not only was he victorious against the Chinese, but against the Cham and Cambodian armies as well.  Besides his military triumphs, Lý Thường Kiệt is also remembered for writing the famous poem Nam Quốc Sơn Hà, the very first Declaration of Independence of Vietnam. To this day, Lý Thường Kiệt is still revered as one of Vietnam’s greatest heroes.

A Poem By Lý Thường Kiệt

Posted in Dynastic History, Poetry with tags , , on April 3, 2010 by Ian Pham

Here is a poem titled Nam Quốc Sơn Hà, written by Lý Thường Kiệt, one of Vietnam’s greatest heroes:

Sông núi nước Nam vua Nam ở,

Rành rành định phận tại sách trời.

Cớ sao lũ giặc sang xâm phạm,

Chúng bay sẽ bị đánh tơi bời.


If translated, may sound something like this:

Over the mountains and rivers of the South, lives the Southern Emperor,

As it says now and forever in the Book of Heavens,

That whoever dares to invade our land,

Will be defeated without mercy.