Lê Thái Tông

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Lê Thái Tông (黎太宗 1423–1442) was an emperor of Vietnam from 1438 till his early death four years later.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Lê Thái Tông was the second son of Lê Lợi. His mother died early but he was considered bright and capable by his father. When Lê Lợi became sick in 1433, he summoned his closest advisors (Lê Sát, Trịnh Khả, Pham Van Sao, Nguyễn Trãi, Tran Nguyen Han, and Le Ngan) to name Lê Thái Tông as his heir to the throne, at the time Lê Thái Tông was only ten years old. Upon Lê Lợi's death, the new regent was Lê Sát.

Lê Sát ruled Vietnam more for himself than for the young king. He eliminated many of his rivals by various means and tried to further solidify his powerbase within the government. Lê Thái Tông became increasingly unhappy with his regent's actions and sought support from rival factions. He struck an alliance with Trịnh Khả (who had been sent to a distant part of Vietnam). One of his first acts upon officially taking the throne in 1438 was to bring Trịnh Khả back and installed him as the head of the Palace Guards - against Lê Sát's strong objections. A few months later, Lê Sát was accused of lacking in virtue and usurping the power which belonged solely to the king. Trịnh Khả's guards arrested Lê Sát and he was found guilty and executed.

The capable emperor Lê Thái Tông had an unfortunate weakness for pretty young women and his palace was filled with intrigue as he shifted favors from one concubine to another. His first wife was the daughter of Lê Sát, his second wife was the daughter of Le Ngan, his third favorite was Duong thi Bi, who gave birth to his first son Nghi Dân (who ruled briefly in 1459). He soon transferred his affections to Nguyen Thi Dao and Nguyễn Thị Anh. This last young woman gave birth to his third son (and immediate heir) Lê Nhân Tông. However, Nguyen thi Dao would give birth to his greatest son, Lê Thánh Tông.

At the age of eighteen, Lê Thái Tông ordered that the most beautiful girls from each of the districts were to be sent to his court for his pleasure. Still, this wasn’t enough. He apparently conceived a desire for the wife of his father's advisor, the Confucian scholar Nguyễn Trãi. The woman's name was Nguyen-thi-Lo and she and the young king started an affair early in 1442. They traveled together to the home of Nguyễn Trãi and then, after he had gone on, the young king became very sick suddenly and quickly died.

Trịnh Khả and the other senior nobles in the court accused Nguyễn Thị Lộ and her husband Nguyễn Trãi of poisoning the king and had them executed, along with all of their relatives young and old from both paternal and maternal branches. Nguyễn Thị Lộ was probably not a murderer (as she was the mistress of the king at the time) but the reason for Lê Thái Tông's death is unlikely to ever be solved. However, twenty years later, king Lê Thánh Tông officially pardoned Nguyễn Trãi, saying that he was wholly innocent in the death of Lê Thái Tông.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bruce M. Lockhart, William J. Duiker The A to Z of Vietnam 2010 Page 209 "Lê Thái Tông - Second emperor (r. 1433-1442) of the Lé dynasty. Lê Thái Tông ascended to the throne on the death of his father, Thái Tô, in 1433. Because he was only 11 years old at the time of accession, power rested in the hands of Chief Minister Lé Sat.
  2. ^ Andrew David Hardy, Mauro Cucarzi, Patrizia Zolese Champa and the Archaeology of Mỹ Sơn (Vietnam)2009 - Page 69 "He was succeeded by Lê Thái Tông (1433-42), Lê Nhan Tông (1443-59) and Lê Thánh Tông (1460-97). For the entire period between 1403 and 1470, there was no major upheaval or war between Vietnam and Champa."
Preceded by
Lê Lợi
King of Vietnam
(ruled only from 1438 to 1442)

1433–1442
Succeeded by
Lê Nhân Tông