Triệu dynasty

"Zhao Dynasty" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Zhao (state) or Zhou Dynasty.
Triệu or Zhào
Country Nam Việt (南越; pinyin: Nányuè)
  • Governor of Nánhăi
  • King of Nam Việt (南越; pinyin: Nányuè wáng)
  • Emperor of Nam Việt (南越; pinyin: dì Nányuè)
Founded 207 BC
Founder Triệu Đà (; pinyin: Zhào Tuó)
Dissolution 111 BC

The Triệu dynasty (Vietnamese: Nhà Triệu; ) ruled the kingdom of Nam Việt ("South Yuè"), which consisted of parts of southern China as well as northern Vietnam. Its capital was Panyu, in modern Guangzhou. The founder of the dynasty, called Triệu Đà or Zhao Tuo, was a military governor for the Qin Empire.[1] He asserted his independence in 207 BC when the Qin collapsed. The ruling elite included both ethnic Chinese and native Yue, with intermarriage and assimilation encouraged.[2] Triệu Đà conquered the Vietnamese state of Âu Lạc and led a coalition of Yuè states in a war against the Han Empire, which had been expanding southward. Subsequent rulers were less successful in asserting their independence and the Han conquered the kingdom in 111 BC.


The scholar Huang Zuo produced the first detailed published history of Nam Việt in the fifteenth century.[3] Chinese historians have generally denounced the Triệu as separatists from the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), but have also praised them as a civilizing force. A particularly strident denunciation was produced by poet Qu Dajun in 1696.[4] Qu praised Qin Shi Huang as a model of how to uphold the purity of Chinese culture, and compared Triệu Đà unfavorably to the emperor.[4] A more positive view of Triệu multiculturalism was presented by Liang Tíngnan in Nányuè Wŭ Wáng Chuán (History of the Five Kings of Nanyue) in 1833.[3] Cantonese refer to themselves as Yuht, the Cantonese pronunciation of Yuè/Việt.[5] In modern times, the character (yuè) refers to Cantonese while (yuè) refers to Vietnamese. But historically, these two characters were interchangeable.[6]

Meanwhile, Vietnamese historians have struggled with the issue of whether to regard the Triệu heroically as founders of Vietnam, or to denounce them as foreign invaders. For centuries afterward, Triệu Đà was a folk hero among the Viets, and was remembered for standing up to the Han Empire.[7] After Lý Bí drove the Chinese out of northern Vietnam, he proclaimed himself "emperor of Nam Việt" (Nam Việt đế) in 544, thus identifying his state as a revival of the Trieu, despite obvious differences in terms of location and ethnic makeup.[8] In the thirteenth century, Lê Văn Hưu wrote a history of Vietnam that used the Triệu as its starting point, with Triệu Đà receiving glowing praise as Vietnam's first emperor.[3] In the 18th century, Ngô Thì Sĩ reevaluated Triệu Đà as a foreign invader.[3] Under the Nguyễn Dynasty, Triệu Đà continued to receive high praise, although it was acknowledged that the original Nam Việt was not in fact a Vietnamese state.[3] The current Communist government of Vietnam portrays Triệu Đà negatively as a foreign invader who vanquished Vietnam's heroic King An Dương.[3] Modern Vietnamese are descended from the ancient Yue of northern Vietnam and western Guangdong, according to Peter Bellwood.[9]

Triệu Đà or Zhao Tuo

Main article: Triệu Đà

Triệu Đà (r. 204-136 BC), the founder of the dynasty, was an ethnic Chinese born in the Kingdom of Zhao, now Hebei province. He became military governor of Nanhai (now Guangdong) upon the death of Governor Ren Xiao in 208 BC, just as the Qin Empire was collapsing. The Qin Governor of Canton advised Triệu to found his own independent kingdom since the area was remote and there were many Chinese settlers in the area.[10] He asserted Nanhai's independence declared himself the king of Nam Việt in 204 BC, established in the area of Lingnan, the modern provinces of comprises Guangdong, Guangxi, south Hunan, south Jiangxi and other nearby areas.[11] He ruled Nam Việt and committed acts of defiance against Emperor Gaozu of Han and he severed all ties with China, killed many Chinese employees appointed by the central government and favored local customs.[11] Being a talented general and cunning diplomat, he sought a peaceful relationship with China, both with the Qin Empire and the succeeding Han Empire.

A statue of Emperor Triệu Đà (Zhao Tuo) in Xuân Quan communal temple, Văn Giang District, Hưng Yên Province, Vietnam.

In 196 BC, Emperor Gaozu sent the scholar Lu Jia to the court of Triệu Đà.[12] On this occasion, Triệu Đà squatted and wore his hair in a bun, in the Yuè manner.[12] "You are a Chinese and your forefathers and kin lie buried in Zhending in the land of Zhao", Lu told the king.[13] "Yet now you turn against that nature which heaven has given you at birth, cast aside the dress of your native land and, with this tiny, far-off land of Yue, think to set yourself up as a rival to the Son of Heaven and an enemy state....It is proper under such circumstances that you should advance as far as the suburbs to greet me and bow to the north and refer to yourself as a 'subject'."[13] After Lu threatened a Han military attack on Nam Việt, Triệu Đà stood up and apologized.[13] Lu stayed at Panyu for several months and Triệu Đà delighted in his company.[14] "There is no one in all Yue worth talking to", said the king, "Now that you have come, everyday I hear something I have never heard before!"[14] Lǔ recognized Triệu Đà as "king of Yue".[14] An agreement was reached that allowed legal trade between the Han Empire and Nam Việt, as the people of Nam Việt were anxious to purchase iron vessels from China.[15] When Lǔ returned to Chang'an, Emperor Gaozu was much pleased by this result.[14]

Lü Zhi, the Han dowager empress, banned trade with Nam Việt in 185 BC.[15] "Emperor Gaozu set me up as a feudal lord and sent his envoy giving me permission to carry on trade," said Triệu Đà.[15] "But now Empress Lu...[is] treating me like one of the barbarians and breaking off our trade in iron vessels and goods."[15] Triệu Đà responded by declaring himself an emperor and by attacking some border towns.[15] His imperial status was recognized by the Minyue, Western Ou, and the Luolou.[16] The army sent against Nam Việt by Empress Lǚ was ravaged by a cholera epidemic.[12] When Triệu Đà was reconciled with the Han Empire in 180 BC, he sent a message to Emperor Wu of Han in which he described himself as, "Your aged subject Tuo, a barbarian chief".[16] Triệu Đà agreed to recognize the Han ruler as the only emperor.[16]

The map founded in Tomb 3 of Mawangdui Han tombs site, marking the positions of Han military garrisons that were employed in an attack against Nanyue in 181 BC.[17]

Peace meant that Nam Việt lost its imperial authority over the other Yue states. Its earlier empire had not been based on supremacy, but was instead a framework for a wartime military alliance opposed to the Han.[12] The army Triệu Đà had created to oppose the Han was now available to deploy against the Âu Lạc kingdom in northern Vietnam.[12] This kingdom was conquered in 179-180 BC.[12] Triệu Đà divided his kingdom into two regions: Cửu Chân and Giao Chỉ. Giao Chỉ now encompasses most of northern Vietnam. He allowed each region to have representatives to the central government, thus his administration was quite relaxed and had a feeling of being decentralized. However, he remained in control. By the time Triệu Đà died in 136 BC, he had ruled for more than 70 years and outlived his sons.

In modern Vietnam, Triệu Đà is best remembered as a character in the "Legend of the Magic Crossbow". According to this legend, Triệu Đà's son Trong Thủy married Mỵ Châu, the daughter of King An Dương of Âu Lạc, and used her love to steal the secret of An Dương's magic crossbow.[18]

Seal of Emperor Triệu Văn, second ruler of the Triệu Dynasty. The inscription says: Chinese: ; pinyin: Wén dì xíng xǐ; literally: "Seal of Emperor Wén [Văn]".

Triệu Mạt or Zhao Mo

Main article: Triệu Mạt

Triệu Đà died in 136 BC and was succeeded by his grandson Triệu Mạt (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhao Mo), who took the temple name Triệu Văn Đế (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhào Wén Dì). Triệu Mạt was the son of Trọng Thủy and Mỵ Châu, according to the Legend of the Magic Crossbow. He was 71 years old at the time. In 135 BC, the Minyue attacked and Triệu Văn requested the assistance of the Han Empire.[19] Emperor Wu offered to "help" by sending his army, ostensibly to suppress the assist Nam Việt, but with an eye of seizing the country should an occasion arise. Crown Prince Triệu Anh Tề was sent to live and study in the Hàn court.[19] The king took this as a gesture of goodwill by the emperor, whom he viewed as a brother, to strengthen the relationship between Han and Nam Việt. Triệu Mạt died in 124 BC. His mausoleum was found in Guangzhou in 1983.

Triệu Anh Tề or Zhao Yingqi

Main article: Triệu Anh Tề

Triệu Anh Tề (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhào Yīngqí, r. 124-112 BC) was the crown prince when his father, Triệu Vǎn Vương, died. Triệu Anh Tề's appointment to the position of Triệu Minh Vương (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhào Míng Wáng, lit. "King Ming of Zhao") was a conciliatory measure to the Emperor in Chang'an as a sign of respect. This crowned prince, Triệu Anh Tề, lived most of his life in China. In China he had fathered a son by an ethnic Chinese woman surnamed (Chinese: ; pinyin: Jiū); In one popular theory, she was Emperor Wu's own daughter. He named the son Triệu Hưng. Only when his father, Triệu Văn Vương, died did Triệu Anh Tề receive permission to go home for his father's funeral. This happened in 124 BC. Triệu Anh Tề ascended the throne as Triệu Minh Vương. Not much is known about Triệu Minh Vương's reign, probably because it is a short one and he was subservient to the Han emperor. His Chinese-born son, Triệu Hưng, was only about 6 years old when Triệu Minh Vương died. Owing to Triệu Hưng's extreme youth, his mother Cu Thi, became the Empress Dowager.

Triệu Minh Vương's death precipitated the events that would lead to the seizure and domination of Nam Việt by the Hán forces.

Triệu Ai Vương or Zhao Ai Di

Main article: Triệu Hưng
A hufu 虎符, or Tiger Tally, made of bronze with gold inlay, found in the tomb of the King of Nanyue (at Guangzhou), dated 2nd century BCE, during the Western Han era of China; tiger Tallies were separated into two pieces, one held by the emperor, the other given to a military commander as a symbol of imperial authority and ability to command troops.

Triệu Hưng (r. 113-112 BC), just 6 years old, ascended the throne and adopted the temple name Triệu Ai Vương. Soon thereafter, Emperor Wu of Han summoned him and his mother, Cu Thi, to an audience to pay homage in the Hán court. The Han held Cu Thi and Triệu Ai under the pretext that the young emperor needed their protection. By acquiescing to this gesture, both the empress dowager and the young emperor gave the public the impression that they were just puppets in the hands of the Hán court. With Triệu Ai in their hands and the empress dowager beheaded, the Chinese prepared their army for an invasion. In 112 BC, the emperor sent two of his commanders, Lo Bac Duc and Duong Boc, along with 5,000 of his best soldiers to invade Nam Việt.

Triệu Dương Vương or Zhao Yang Di

A statue of Prime minister Lữ Gia (Lü Jia) in Linh Tiên Temple (Temple of Sacred Gods), Đức Thượng Commune, Hoài Đức District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Main article: Triệu Kiến Đức

Nam Việt's senior prime minister, Quan Thai-pho, Lữ Gia (Lü Jia) sent out the army to meet the Hán at the border to repel the invasion. The army was strong, but smaller in number. Meanwhile, inside the country, the word has spread that Triệu Dương Vương was in the hand of the Han emperor. The Việt feared that if they resist, their Emperor would be harm by the hands of the Han Emperor. The country was now in a state of chaos. When the Han kept sending more and more reinforcements for his army at the border, the Nam Việt's army was unable to hold their position. Lữ Gia saw that Nam Việt must have a new king in order to calm its people and to stir up Nam Việt patriotism to fight. Triệu Kiến Ðức, Triệu Minh Vương's eldest son from one of his concubines, took the burden of leading his people to war. Triệu Kiến Ðức took the title of Triệu Dương Vương (Emperor Zhao Yang) (ca. 111 BC).

Decline of the dynasty

Emperor Wu of Han dispatched soldiers against Nam Việt.[20] With its king being too young and inexperienced and leading an untrained, however brave army, Nam Việt was only able to keep their stronghold for a while. Hán crushed the Nam Việt army along with Lữ Gia (Lü Jia) and his King (Triệu Dương Vương), both resisted until the end. Based on many temples of Lữ Gia (Lü Jia), his wives and soldiers scattering in Red River Delta of northern Vietnam, the war might last until 98 BC.[21][22]

After the fall of Panyu, Tây Vu Vương (the captain of Tây Vu area of which the center is Cổ Loa) revolted against the First Chinese domination from Western Han dynasty.[23] He was killed by his assistant Hoàng Đồng (黄同).[24][25]

Afterwards, Nam Việt as the prefecture of Giao Chỉ (Jiaozhi) of the Han Empire, was divided into nine districts. Han dynasty would dominate Jiaozhi until the revolt of the Trưng Sisters, who led a revolt in 40.[26]

Southern Triệu

By the 14th century book Lĩnh Nam Chích Quái ("Mysterious tales of the Southern Realm"), Triệu dynasty bloodline fled to present-day Hà Tĩnh Province, founded the Nam Chieu/Nam Triệu (Southern Triệu ) kingdom and lasted until the Jin Dynasty (265–420).

List of kings

Temple name Given name Reign (BC)
Vietnamese Pinyin Chinese Vietnamese Pinyin Chinese
Triệu Vũ Vương Wǔ Wáng 武王 Triệu Đà Zhào Tuó 趙佗 203 – 137
Triệu Văn Vương Wén Wáng 文王 Triệu Mắt Zhào Mò 赵眜 137 – 122
Triệu Minh Vương Míng Wáng 明王 Triệu Anh Tề Zhào Yīngqí 趙嬰齊 122 – 115
Triệu Ai Vương Āi Wáng 哀王 Triệu Hưng Zhào Xīng 趙興 115 – 112
Triệu Thuật Dương Vương Shù Yáng Wáng 趙術陽王 Triệu Kiến Đức Zhào Jiàndé 趙建德 112 – 111

Nam Việt/Nanyue culture

There was a fusion of the Han and Yue cultures in significant ways, as shown by the artifacts unearthed by archaeologists from the tomb of Nanyue in Guangzhou. The imperial Nanyue tomb in Guangzhou is extremely rich. There are quite a number of bronzes that show cultural influences from the Han, Chu, Yue and Ordos regions.[27]

See also


  1. Patricia M. Pelley Postcolonial Vietnam: New Histories of the National Past 2002 Page 177 "The fact that he was Chinese was irrelevant; what mattered was that Triệu Đà had declared the independence of Vietnam."
  2. Snow, Donald B., Cantonese as written language: the growth of a written Chinese vernacular (2004), Hong Kong University Press, p. 70.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Yoshikai Masato, "Ancient Nam Viet in historical descriptions", Southeast Asia: a historical encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, Volume 2, ABC-CLIO, 2004, p. 934.
  4. 1 2 Shmuel Noah Eisenstadt, Wolfgang Schluchter, Björn Wittrock, Public spheres and collective identities, Transaction Publishers, 2001, p. 213.
  5. Caihua Guan, English-Cantonese Dictionary: Cantonese in Yale Romanization, New Asia - Yale-in-China Chinese Language Center, p. 57, 2000. "Cantonese N....Yuhtyúh (M: geui)".
    Ramsey, S. Robert, The Languages of China, 1987, p. 98. "Named after an ancient 'barbarian' state located in the Deep South, the Yue [Cantonese] are true Southerners.
    Constable, Nicole, Guest People: Hakka Identity in China and Abroad (2005)
  6. Hashimoto, Oi-kan Yue, Studies in Yue Dialects 1: Phonology of Cantonese, 1972, p. 1. See also "百粤", YellowBridge.
  7. Woods, L. Shelton (2002). Vietnam: a global studies handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 15.
  8. Anderson, James (2007). The rebel den of Nùng Trí Cao: loyalty and identity along the Sino-Vietnamese frontier. NUS Press. p. 36.
  9. Peter Bellwood. "Indo-Pacific prehistory: the Chiang Mai papers. Volume 2". Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association of Australian National University: 96.
  10. Taylor (1983), p. 23
  11. 1 2 Chapius, Oscar, A history of Vietnam: from Hong Bang to Tu Duc
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Taylor, Keith Weller, The Birth of Vietnam, p. 24. University of California Press, 1991.
  13. 1 2 3 Sima Qian, Burton Watson, Records of the Grand Historian: Han Dynasty I, pp 224-225. ISBN 0-231-08165-0.
  14. 1 2 3 4 Sima Qian, p, 226.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Wicks, Robert S., Money, markets, and trade in early Southeast Asia: the development of indigenous monetary systems to AD 1400, SEAP Publications, 1992. p. 27.
  16. 1 2 3 Wicks, p. 28.
  17. Hansen, Valerie (2000). The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600. New York, USA & London, UK: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 125. ISBN 0-393-97374-3.
  18. Sachs, Dana, Two cakes fit for a king: folktales from Vietnam, pp. 19-26. University of Hawaii Press, 2003.
  19. 1 2 Taylor, p. 27.
  20. Yu, Yingshi (1986). Denis Twitchett; Michael Loewe, eds. Cambridge History of China: Volume I: the Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 B.C. – A.D. 220. University of Cambridge Press. p. 453. ISBN 978-0-5212-4327-8.
  21. "Lễ hội chọi trâu xã Hải Lựu (16-17 tháng Giêng hằng năm) Phần I (tiep theo)". 2010-02-03. Theo nhiều thư tịch cổ và các công trình nghiên cứu, sưu tầm của nhiều nhà khoa học nổi tiếng trong nước, cùng với sự truyền lại của nhân dân từ đời này sang đời khác, của các cụ cao tuổi ở Bạch Lưu, Hải Lựu và các xã lân cận thì vào cuối thế kỷ thứ II trước công nguyên, nhà Hán tấn công nước Nam Việt của Triệu Đề, triều đình nhà Triệu tan rã lúc bấy giờ thừa tướng Lữ Gia, một tướng tài của triều đình đã rút khỏi kinh đô Phiên Ngung (thuộc Quảng Đông – Trung Quốc ngày nay). Về đóng ở núi Long Động - Lập Thạch, chống lại quân Hán do Lộ Bác Đức chỉ huy hơn 10 năm (từ 111- 98 TCN), suốt thời gian đó Ông cùng các thổ hào và nhân dân đánh theo quân nhà Hán thất điên bát đảo."
  22. "List of temples related to Triệu dynasty and Nam Việt kingdom in modern Vietnam and China". 2014-01-28.
  23. Từ điển bách khoa quân sự Việt Nam, 2004, p564 "KHỞI NGHĨA TÂY VU VƯƠNG (lll TCN), khởi nghĩa của người Việt ở Giao Chỉ chống ách đô hộ của nhà Triệu (TQ). Khoảng cuối lll TCN, nhân lúc nhà Triệu suy yếu, bị nhà Tây Hán (TQ) thôn tính, một thủ lĩnh người Việt (gọi là Tây Vu Vương, "
  24. Viet Nam Social Sciences vol.1-6, p91, 2003 "In 111 B.C. there prevailed a historical personage of the name of Tay Vu Vuong who took advantage of troubles circumstances in the early period of Chinese domination to raise his power, and finally was killed by his general assistant, Hoang Dong. Professor Tran Quoc Vuong saw in him the Tay Vu chief having in hands tens of thousands of households, governing thousands miles of land and establishing his center in Co Loa area (59.239). Tay Vu and Tay Au is in fact the same.
  25. Book of Han, Vol. 95, Story of Xi Nan Yi Liang Yue Zhao Xian, wrote: "故甌駱將左黃同斬西于王,封爲下鄜侯"
  26. Gernet, Jacques (1996). A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge University Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-521-49781-7.
  27. Guangzhou Xi Han Nanyue wang mu bo wu guan, Peter Y. K. Lam, Chinese University of Hong Kong. Art Gallery - 1991 - 303 pages - Snippet view


Preceded by
Thục Dynasty
Dynasty of Vietnam
207–111 BC
Succeeded by
First Chinese domination

Coordinates: 23°08′25″N 113°15′22″E / 23.1404°N 113.2560°E / 23.1404; 113.2560

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