Vietnamese History Throughout the Centuries Essay

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Ly, Tran, and Ho Epochs



The Dai Viet Kingdom had its origin in the middle of the 10th century until around the middle of the 11th century, when local chiefs were able to vie for control in what is now Land of Viet



However, regionalism is the pattern. As the Northern Tang dynasty crumbled, it lost control over South (which are now parts of Northern Vietnam)



The weakening of Northern Tang gradually led to the emergence of the Dai Viet kingdom



There was still a lot of in fighting, though. Chieftan Dinh Bo Lihn conquered the "Twelve Warlords" and established a capital at Hoa Lu, south of the Red River Delta not far from modern day Hanoi.



Dinh Bo Linh was succeeded by Le Hoan, who fought off Song Dynasty encroachment. Thus they gained regional dominance



Then Ly Cong Uan in early 11th cent, supported by Buddhist community, moved the capital to middle of Red River Delta and named it Thang Long (Ascending Dragon). This marked the beginning of the Ly Dynasty (which lasted from 1009-1225).



The Ly Dynasty created a patrilineal succession model based on the Chinese model that became the Dai Viet monarchy. It was also fused with Buddhism to create a royal cult



During this time, there were only a few classes of society. On the lowest rung were the peasants. Then there were the religious people (Buddhists). Finally, the aristocracy. There was a small scholarly class too.



Due to the success of wet rice agriculture, there was an increase in wealth and prosperity throughout the Dai Viet, marked by increased trade with neighbors, increased stability, and even trade with the Song dynasty



At this point, interaction with Southeast Asian neighbors, such as the kingdoms at Angkor and Pagan (Myanmar), was peaceful and based on trade.



That peace did not last very long.



Dai Viet, Champa, and Angkor fought between1120-1210 because each had been growing in power and sought regional dominance as well as economic dominance



Then in the 12th century, an increase in maritime activity shifted the balance of power and distribution of power in the entire region



The next major dynasty was the Tran dynasty, which lasted from 1225-1400. These were the descendants from Fujian. They were a tight clan and managed to ward off Mongol invasions in the1280s, which bolstered their strength and power.



Their success caused the growth of classical scholarship (meaning Confucianism), and also Chan (Zen Buddhism)



During the 13-14th centuries there was increasing integration between the Dai Viet and Champa (which is now Southern Vietnam) under Tran leadership. This was achieved under the rubric of Buddhism and their shared goals to defeat the Mongols



By the mid 14th century, there was trouble from the western mountain Tai people. Gradually the official doctrine of the kingdom shifted from Buddhism to Confucianism.



Also at this time, Southern customs started to overtake the Northern customs, and Champa started to erode Dai Viet power in general.



Eventually Le Quy Ly shifted power to the south, even changed his family name to Ho, and the Ming Dynasty viewed him as a rebel. Ho is defeated.



Truong Han Sieu and Chu Van An


In 1339, the scholar Chu Van An founded a classical Confucian school, allied to the royal court because minister Truong Han Sieu criticized corruption in Buddhist circles.

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By the late 14th cent -- Tran Nguyen Dan ensconces in poetry the teachings of Chu Van An, generating new school of thought central to emerging Vietnamese identity.



The Le and Mac Epochs -- Major Changes



The Ming occupation lasted from 1407-1427 and had a profound influence on subsequent Vietnamese culture.



Under Sinic (Chinese) bureaucracy, schools, libraries, neo-Confucian orthodoxy of thought were established



Again, a resistance movement brewed among the hill tribes; from1418-1428 wars were fought and eventually the chieftain Le Loi drives out the Ming!



Le Loi becomes King of newly restored Dai Viet (which now has its capital in Thang Long)



The old Red River Delta aristocracy had been driven out by Champa, Ho, Ming, and now Le!



Le government actually continued some of the Ming institutions like schools, legal code, finance, even though they ousted the Ming.



The Le also created a centralized government instead of relying on the local lords for land tax revenues



The goal was to take power away from the elite families, and divert power to state.



Female property ownership was still possible, something that would change somewhat when Confucianism became more entrenched.



Although Buddhism was popular in villages and aristocracy, it was no longer used at court. The government was still considered aristocratic.



Then in 1433, Le Thai To ushers in new form of government, based on East Asian bureaucratic model that was similar to the Ming model, complete with Confucian examination systems and extensive written records, paperwork, and patriarchal social codes.



By the 1460s, Dai Viet under Le Thanh Tong challenges its southern rivals, becomes less tolerant of outsiders and diversity in general.



They crush Champa by 1471, split it up, and integrate it into Dai Viet



They also start to attack Tai and western people, push into Laos, northern Thailand, all the way to Irawaddy River and Myanmar



During this time, the emphasis socially was on "proper behavior" and social rituals and customs



Bureaucratic methods (including meticulous records keeping) was also brought to the villages.



This was a time of great economic development, infrastructure improvements including dikes, agriculture, manufacturing (such as ceramics), and foreign trade



The bureaucratic regime lasted only for 40 years, then the aristocrats start to rebel, leading to disruptions in trade, and weakening the government



The Mac family of the Lower Red River Delta creates peace again. They also embolden the Confucian values, increasingly patriarchal social institutions. This period lasts all the way to the 16th century.



In 1592, the Nguyen and Trinh clans drive out the Mac and restore the Le clan to throne, even though the Nguyen and Trinh clans are rivals. The Nguyen were based in Champa, near Hue.



The differences between these clans highlighted the gradual unification of Vietnam but also the gradual evolution of a south versus north rivalry.



It has been difficult to maintain unity in Vietnam. The poets tried to help by showing that unity reflected the cosmic order.



Philosophy and Religion



The mid 16th century Le Dynasty showed that Buddhism was not important officially but was important.....

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Source


George E. Dutton, Jayne S. Werner & John K. Whitmore (eds.). Sources of Vietnamese Tradition, pp. 28-31, 57-60, 89-97, 106-115, 130-138, 170-176, 414-429, 447-450 & 476-478

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