Lê Chiêu Thống

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Lê Chiêu Thống
Emperor of Vietnam
Chinese officials receiving depossed Vietnamese Emperor Le Chieu Thong.jpg
Chinese officials receiving the deposed emperor Lê Chiêu Thống
Reign 1786–1789
Predecessor Lê Hiển Tông
Successor Quang Trung of the Tây Sơn dynasty
Full name
Lê Duy Khiêm
Lê Duy Kỳ
House Lê dynasty
Born 1765
Died 1793 (aged 27–28)
Beijing, China
Burial Bàn Thạch village, Thanh Hoa, Vietnam

Lê Chiêu Thống (1765–1793), born Lê Duy Khiêm and later Lê Duy Kỳ, was the last king of the Vietnamse Lê dynasty.

Early life[edit]

Lê Duy Khiêm was the eldest son of Lê Duy Vĩ who was the first crown prince of king Lê Hiển Tông.[1] After Khiêm's father was killed by the ninth Trinh lord Trinh Sam in 1771, he was jailed.[1] In 1783, lord Trinh Khai deposed crown prince Lê Duy Cận and made Lê Duy Khiêm crown prince of the Lê dynasty.[1]

Succession and reign[edit]

Lê Chiêu Thống
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Lê Chiêu Thống

In 1786, the Tây Sơn general Nguyễn Huệ led his force to northern Vietnam and destroyed the house of the Trinh Lords.[2] The next year, 1787, the Lê king Lê Hiển Tông died of natural causes, and Nguyen Hue installed Lê Duy Khiêm on the throne as king Lê Chiêu Thống and then he withdrew almost all his troops to Phu Xuan.[1][2] Trinh lords members took advantage of Nguyen Hue's absence. Two Trinh heirs, Trịnh Bồng and Trịnh Lệ, appeared and made their claims to the lord throne. King Lê Chiêu Thống appointed Trinh Bong as the next Trịnh lord which triggered Trịnh Lệ to revolt.[3] After suppressing Trịnh Lệ forces, Trịnh Bồng became the most powerful man in north Vietnam but his leadership was bad.[3] The entirety of north Vietnam sank into chaos, thus forcing King Lê Chiêu Thống to ask for assistance from Nguyễn Hữu Chỉnh, Tây Sơn governor of Nghe An.[3] Nguyen Huu Chinh led an army marched north, easily defeated Trinh army, forced Trinh Bong to flee and captured Thang Long.[3] After pacifying the region, Nguyen Huu Chinh abused power for his own interests, thus impinging Nguyen Hue's political status.[2][4][5]

Birth name
Vietnamese alphabet Lê Duy Khiêm
Hán-Nôm Nom Character ⿰礻兼 (2).svg

After learning about actions of Nguyễn Hữu Chỉnh, Nguyen Hue sent north a general named Vũ Văn Nhậm with an army to attack Thang Long (now Hanoi).[2] Vu Van Nham swiftly defeated and killed Nguyen Huu Chinh and occupied Thang Long, but then he took the power himself. Nguyen Hue sent two other generals to suppress Vu Van Nham and recaptured Thang Long.[2] Meanwhile, Le Chieu Thong fled to the furthest north of Vietnam and refused Nguyen Hue's invitations to return.[2] He gathered a small army of Lê dynasty loyalists and sent his family to China to seek aid from the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Empire.[2][6] The Qianlong Emperor agreed and sent a massive army to north Vietnam. Under the banner of the Lê king, the large Qing army easily drove Tây Sơn out of north Vietnam and took over Thang Long.[3] After the Qing occupation of northern Vietnam, the Qing viceroy Sun Shiyi[a] reinstalled Lê Chiêu Thống as a puppet ruler.[6] Although Le Chieu Thong did not have much ruling power, he began taking a bloody revenge on Tây Sơn supporters and forced people to supply him food in spite of war and famine.[3]

The actions of Lê Chiêu Thống and the Qing invasion gave Nguyen Hue a good chance to officially take the throne and gain popularity among northern Vietnamese people. On 22 December 1788, Nguyen Hue proclaimed himself emperor Quang Trung and formally declared that the Lê dynasty had ended. He then led an army march north.[6] Although the Tây Sơn army was smaller, they defeated the unprepared Qing troops in a series of battles during the 1789 Lunar New Year celebration and forced the rest of Qing army to flee in confusion.[7][8] Le Chieu Thong fled to China which marked the end of the Lê dynasty.[7]

Coins issued under the reign of Lê Chiêu Thống

Exile and death[edit]

After the war, Nguyen Hue sent a request of recognition to China and it was accepted with conditions.[9] The Qing Empire recognized Nguyen Hue as a new ruler of Vietnam and gave him the traditional title "An Nam Quốc Vương" (King of Pacified South).[9] From this point on, Le Chieu Thong did not manage to receive aid from the Qing Empire of China any more.[10] He spent the rest of his life in China, and died in 1793.[10]

In 1802, when envoys of the Nguyen dynasty visited China, Lê dynasty loyalists requested that the Jiaqing Emperor let them bring Lê Chiêu Thống's remains back to Vietnam and the emperor agreed.[10] The Jiaqing Emperor also freed all the followers of Lê Chiêu Thống who were imprisoned in China.[10]

Le Chieu Thong's remains are buried in Bàn Thạch village, Thanh Hoa, Vietnam.[10] He was posthumously given the title Mẫn Đế (愍帝).


• a)^ Chinese: 孫士毅. Vietnamese: Tôn Sĩ Nghị.


  1. ^ a b c d Dang Viet Thuy & Dang Thanh Trung, p. 248.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Tucker, pp. 17-18.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Chapuis, p. 151.
  4. ^ Tran Trong Kim, pp. 356-357.
  5. ^ Dutton, p. 104.
  6. ^ a b c Dutton, pp. 106-107.
  7. ^ a b Ooi, p. 780.
  8. ^ Dutton, p. 107.
  9. ^ a b Dutton, p. 108.
  10. ^ a b c d e Tran Trong Kim, pp. 372-373.


  • Dang Viet Thuy; Dang Thanh Trung (2008). 54 vị Hoàng đế Việt Nam (54 Emperors of Vietnam) (in Vietnamese). Hanoi: Quan Doi Nhan Dan Publishing House. 
  • Tran Trong Kim (2005). Việt Nam sử lược (A Brief History of Vietnam) (in Vietnamese). Ho Chi Minh City: Ho Chi Minh City General Publishing House. 
  • Chapuis, Oscar (1995). A History of Vietnam: From Hong Bang to Tu Duc. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-29622-7. 
  • Tucker, Spencer (1999). Vietnam. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-0966-3. 
  • Dutton, George Edson (2006). The Tây Sơn uprising: society and rebellion in eighteenth-century Vietnam. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2984-0. 
  • Ooi, Keat Gin (2004). Southeast Asia: a historical encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-770-5. 
Preceded by
Lê Hiển Tông
Emperor of Dai Viet
Succeeded by
Quang Trung of the Tây Sơn dynasty
Lê dynasty abolished