Lê Thái Tông

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Lê Thái Tông (黎太宗 22 December 1423 – 28 August 1442) was an emperor of Vietnam from 1433 till his early death nine years later.[1][2]


Lê Thái Tông was the second son of Lê Lợi. Although his mother died when he was at a young age, he was considered as bright and capable as his father was. 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, Lê Sát assumed the regency of Vietnam.

Lê Sát ruled Vietnam more for himself than for the young emperor. He eliminated many of his rivals by various means and tried to further solidify his power base 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 exiled 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 emperor. The erstwhile Chief Minister was then arrested, tried and executed shortly after.

Although Lê Thái Tông proved to be a capable emperor, his one flaw was his desire for women, and the imperial court was soon filled with intrigue as he shifted his affections 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 wife was Duong thi Bi, who gave birth to his first son Nghi Dân. 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 then conceived a desire for the wife of his father's advisor, the Confucian scholar Nguyễn Trãi. The woman's name was Nguyễn Thị Lộ and she and the young emperor started an affair early in 1442. They traveled together to the home of Nguyễn Trãi and then, after a short time, the young emperor 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 emperor 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, The emperor Lê Thánh Tông officially pardoned Nguyễn Trãi, saying that he was wholly innocent in the death of Lê Thái Tông.

See also[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 Lê 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, true power rested in the hands of Chief Minister Lê 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)

Succeeded by
Lê Nhân Tông