Early Lê dynasty

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Kingdom of Đại Cồ Việt
Đại Cồ Việt Quốc (大瞿越國)
Kingdom of Đại Cồ Việt map(Yellow)
Capital Hoa Lư
Languages Old Chinese
Religion Buddhism
Government Monarchy
 •  980-1005 Lê Đại Hành (First)
 •  1005 Lê Trung Tông
 •  1005–1009 Lê Ngọa Triều (Last)
 •  980 Hồng Hiến
 •  Emperor Taizong of Song dispatched army to invade Đại Cồ Việt June 980
 •  Empress Dương Vân Nga enthroned Lê Hoàn 980
 •  Battle of Bạch Đằng (981) 980-981
 •  Lê Ngọa Triều murdered and stole the throne from Lê Trung Tông 1005
 •  Death of Lê Ngọa Triều 1009
Currency Vietnamese coin
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Đinh dynasty
Lý dynasty
Today part of  Vietnam

The Early Lê dynasty (Vietnamese: Nhà Tiền Lê; Hán Nôm: ; pronounced [ɲâː tjə̂n le]) was a dynasty that ruled Đại Cồ Việt (now Vietnam) from 980 until 1009. It followed the Đinh dynasty, and was succeeded by the Lý dynasty. The dynasty ruled for a total of three generations and was known for repelling the Song invasion.



After the assassination of Đinh Tiên Hoàng and his first son Đinh Liễn,the third son Đinh Phế Đế became the emperor at aged 6 with regent Lê Hoàn.Then some of the skeptical of Lê Hoàn loyalty so some of the members of royal court brought the army to Imperial palace to take him down.The leader of army include the chancellor of Đinh dynasty Duke of Định Nguyễn Bặc and general Đinh Điền but they failed to make a coup so both of them were executed. In 980, Song dynasty of China under Emperor Taizong ordered the army to invade Đại Cồ Việt.The young emperor was unable to lead the country to against the invader, therefore; the royal court mandarins discussed with Empress Dương Vân Nga about enthroning the most trust general Lê Hoàn.After discussing,Most of people voted to this decision and Empress dethrone his son and gave the crown to Lê Hoàn.He accepted and became the emperor, then everyone said "long live the emperor".New dynasty was established namely Early Lê dynasty.

Lê Đại Hành (980–1005)[edit]

Following threats from Song China. Seeking to halt the oncoming Song forces, Lê Đại Hành made preparations for war. Although they suffered at the battle on the Bạch Đằng River, Lê Đại Hành's forces, under the command of General Phạm Cự Lượng, were successful at halting the overland advance of the Song forces. Seeking peace, Lê Đại Hành sent emissaries to negotiate for peace; thus the annual show of homage, and offerings to the Celestial Emperor of China was resumed, as a means to appease the Song dynasty.

In 990, Lê Đại Hành began the expeditions to Champa. After lengthy peace negotiations with the Cham kings, Champa agreed to be a vassal state. In his era,some of the achievement was attained such as constructing a lot new monuments,improved and motivated the agricultural and handicraft production to make economic progress. A lot of spiritual etiquette were developed and this government type was the model as for next succeeding dynasty. Lê Đại Hành died in 1005, at the age of 65 and after 25 years of rule. In his will, Lê Đại Hành gave succession of the throne to his youngest son Lê Long Việt.

The throne crisis[edit]

Lê Long Việt (1005)[edit]

Lê Hoàn had a lot of prince and he decided to make his first prince Lê Long Thâu as the crown prince in the early years of his rule.Unforntunately, Thâu died in 1000 and he had to choose the others. The fifth prince Duke of Khai Minh (Khai Minh Vương ) Lê Long Đĩnh nominated himself as crown prince .According to Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư,Lê Hoàn viewed him as the favourable to become the next emperor but royal court mandarins suggested him not to do it because they thought the other can do better than him.Lê Hoàn followed the advice and chose his older brother Duke of Nam Phong (Nam Phong Vương) Lê Long Việt. In 1005,Lê Hoàn passed away after taking throne at 24 years at Trường Xuân palace. After that, there are the dispute of heir between prince Lê Long Đĩnh, Lê Long Tích and Lê Long Kính and crown prince Lê Long Việt.The country has no government in control in 8 months .Next in winter 1005, Lê Long Tích was defeated by prince Lê Long Việt, fled to Thạch Hà province (now Hà Tĩnh Province),then killed my local peolplke.After few months,Lê Long Việt proclaimed himself emperor Lê Trung Tông. However, after 3 days in throne,he was murdered by Lê Long Đĩnh and replace as next emperor.

Lê Long Đĩnh (1005–1009)[edit]

Lê Long Đĩnh got the large number of army so he used his forces to eliminate the other princes to maintain his power stable. After stabilizing his rule,he enhanced the foreign relation with Song dynasty with soft and friendly policy.The emperor gave fully support for buddhism and seek Chinese Buddhist canon and scripture to practice in Vietnam. Besides that,he also took care of the national economy and begin the construction of some bridge,main roads and water road for easy transportation.In 1009, he establish the business trade and exchanging goods and products in Nanning Song dynasty, China but Song emperor just only allowed Vietnamese businessman trades at some specific locations nearby the borders like Hepu County , Guangxi.

Hemorrhoids suffering[edit]

The emperor was suffering from the serious Hemorrhoids suffering and it made him unable to seat on the throne.Therefore, throughout his reign until die, Lê Long Đĩnh's was famous for its "lying sessions," earning him the name Lê Ngọa Triều - the one who rules while lying on the throne.[1]

The rise of Lý clan[edit]

In some historical book,some historians also condemned him as the evil ruler.Lê Long Đĩnh's rule was characterized by debaucheries, wild orgies and decadence. Historians compare him to the Roman Emperor Nero as he was well known for his cruelties, not the least of which were sadism and torture (of relatives, prisoners, thieves, beggars, traitors, etc.) in which he loved to participate. The only person under his rule who did not fear or run away from him was the future emperor, Lý Công Uẩn (973–1028), a high-ranking mandarin counselor in the court. His favorite execution and torturing were immersion, Lingchi and the burnt alive victims as entertainment.Although buddhism played the large key role in life and politic,the emperor usually use monk for entertaining such as exfoliating the sugar can on the top of monk's head until it is bleeding.Employing a lot of bad people into some important position of court. Some said that the emperor had the bad health which made him unable to rule thus most of works and power handled by one of the member of Lý family Lý Công Uẩn. Until the end of life,high resentment from the public and the imperial court culminated, proceeding Lê Long Đĩnh's death. Under pressure from the public and from the Buddhist monks, the court agreed to enthrone the high rank mandarin and aristocrat Lý Công Uẩn as the new emperor, thus ending the Early Lê Dynasty. In its place, the Lý dynasty ushered in a new age for Vietnam, with a combination of Confucian and Buddhist influences making a recurrence in the new dynasty.


Administrative centre[edit]

This dynasty modify and keep the same government form and traditional order of Đinh dynasty.In 980 Lê Hoàn began to nominate some court position, Hồng Hiến as the grand chancellor (Thái sư), Phạm Cự Lạng as the vice chancellor(Thái úy), Từ Mục as grand governor of court (Đại tổng quản), Đinh Thừa Chinh as Royal capital interior Military Commander(Nha nội đô chỉ huy sứ). Differentiate from Đinh dynasty by centralizing all power to the emperor, the Lê dynasty distributed works and duty for each mandarins.The emperor will be the leader to fight against the rebellion. [2]

Temple of Đình Yên Thành, Hoa Lư, Ninh Bình.

Rebellion oppression[edit]

In the ruling era, Lê emperors often faced the revolts of some local Tribal chief and viceroy, especially in remote areas In 980, Lê Đại Hành ordered Dương Tiến Lộc to collect the tax from Hoan and Ái province (now Nghệ An Province and Thanh Hóa Province).However Dương Tiến Lộc opposed it and seize two province and submitted to Kingdom of Champa , but Champa refused him because they want to maintain the relation with Đại Cồ Việt . Lê Đại Hành leaded the army to defeat and kill Lộc and a lot of civilians in two provinces. There were more than 10 rebellions against the royal court.


After victory over Champa in 983, Lê Đại Hành merged the seized territory into country and started to open more road from the south estuary to Quang Binh Province.Then he ordered people to dredging the Đa Cái canal in 1003. In 1009, the country started some massive construction of transportation for trading among the region and clearway for soldiers heading to the south.



Early Lê dynasty imposed the taxation based on the number of property of land.Taxation was divided into two types:
+ Public benefit tax :the tax that people must pay in 10 days/year
+ Household Tax:paying annually
+ Military Tax :Each household must pay an amount to pay for the military operation including public security.
The taxation on property owned form was copied from the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasty of China ,just only collect goods instead of money. Simultaneously, Government have done some policies to promote trade.Traders do not need to pay tax, but only tax on land owned.[3]


Agriculture was the fundamental element for that contemporary economy .Most of land of villages must under control of royal court and owned by them. There were some land types:
+Emperor's land: the emperor will cultivate at the land as the spiritual activity to promote his people to take part in agriculture activities.In 987,emperor Lê Đại Hành was the first one who implemented this .The government usually use prisoners or peasants to do the obligated cultivation,then all of products will be collected to the royal court storages.
+Distributive land: the land will be distributed to mandarin who benefited and contributed to country. This was not private property and the lands must return to royal court when land owner passed away.Some land were given to princes as accommodation .
+Pagoda land: Monks and buddhism practice people can own religious land.
+Private land : Farmer and landlords can own and sell and buy freely
Besides that,Government also encouraged people to exploit wild and untouched land and setting village,expanding land.After that,peasants will share equally the land and cultivate and all of them had to pay tax for government's budget.[4]

Temple of Hoa Xá - Minh Ngự Lâu


The emperor focused on open new trade road through road and Waterway and some record showed those events happened in 983,1003,1009. The main trade partner of Đại Cồ Việt was China and both sides agreed to establish the bilateral exchanging at borders. Some local high official supported commercial activity among parties.There will be the delegation of Đại Cồ Việt to check when there were trade dispute Some typical product of Vietnam were gold, silver, and bronze products.[5]


There was not much records about the culture under Early Lê dynasty.Buddhism was the most effective religion that affected by the flourish era of Buddhism of Tang dynasty. Monks were allowed to participate in politics and national plan.

Foreign relation[edit]

Song dynasty[edit]

The country implemented the policy Real independence but pretend to be vassal state. In basic, Đại Cồ Việt accepted to be the vassal state of Song dynasty to receive peaceful relation with China ,but in reality they regarded themselves as independent state.Therefore,the diplomatic relation between two countries was good . Lê emperors sometimes must beware of threat of Khitan people in the north of China.[6]

After the failure of invasion in 981, Song emperor accept Lê Hoàn as the ruler of Đại Cồ Việt but just regarded him as the Jiedushi of Annam. In 986 and 987 and 990, Emperor Taizong of Song dispatched envoy to Đại Cồ Việt. In 995 Song emperor Taizong granted Lê Hoàn with title duke of Giao Chỉ (Chinese:Jiaozhi). In 995 and 996,there was a revolt of some locals officials at the border, Song soldiers captures more than 100 people and returned them back to Đại Cồ Việt while Đại Cồ Việt did the same thing by return 27 people to Song. Then,both sides sent the grateful messages to each others. The relation of both nation could be seen as friendly .


The relation of 2 nations was regarded as hostile. In 981, Lê Đại Hành sent envoy to Champa, but captured by them . As the result this happened war between them. In 982, the emperor took part in campaign against Champa and get the victory as well as killing Cham king at the battlefield. Then, he sacked the capital of Cham and captured soldiers and concubines with number 100 people and 1 Indian monk, taking all precious goods including gold, silver and treasures. Moreover, he also burned all fortress and tomb of former Champa kings. In 992,The champa king Harivarman II sent envoy to Đại Cồ Việt to ask for 360 prisons back to homeland .



  1. ^ АНТОЛОГИЯ ТРАДИЦИОННОЙ ВЬЕТНАМСКОЙ МЫСЛИ. X начало XIII вв. Archived 2011-10-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Ngô Thì Sĩ, sách đã dẫn, tr 205
  3. ^ Viện Sử học, sách đã dẫn, tr 80
  4. ^ Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư, Bản kỷ quyển 1
  5. ^ Trương Hữu Quýnh, Đinh Xuân Lâm, Lê Mậu Hãn, sách đã dẫn, tr 112
  6. ^ http://www.cla.temple.edu/vietnamese_center/handbook/triet_hoc_chinh_tri.html
Preceded by
Đinh dynasty
Ruler of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Lý dynasty