Lý Anh Tông

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Lý Anh Tông
Emperor of Đại Việt
Emperor of Đại Việt
Reign 1138–14/08/1175
Predecessor Lý Thần Tông
Successor Lý Cao Tông
Emperor of Lý Dynasty
Reign 1138–14/08/1175
Predecessor Lý Thần Tông
Successor Lý Cao Tông
Born 4/1136
Thăng Long
Died 14/08/1175 (aged 38-39)
Thuỵ Quang palace (瑞光殿), Thăng Long
Burial Thọ Tomb
Spouse Empress Chiêu Linh
Empress Linh Đạo
Issue Duke of Bảo Quốc Lý Long Xưởng (保國王李龙昶; 1151 - 1181)
Lý Cao Tông
Duke of Lý Nguyên (李元王; ?-1221)
Duke of Kiến Ninh Lý Long Minh (建寧王李龙明; 1152 - 1175)
Duke of Kiến Tĩnh Lý Long Hòa (建靖王李龙华; 1152 - 1175)
Duke of Kiến An Lý Long Đức (建安王李龙德; 1153 - 1175)
Duke of Kiến Khang Lý Long Ích (建康王李龙益; 1167 - 1212)
Duke of Kiến Bình Lý Long Tường (建平王李龙祥)
Full name
Lý Thiên Tộ (李天祚)
Era dates
Thiệu Minh (1138–1139)
Đại Định (1140–1162)
Chính Long Bảo Ứng (1163–1173)
Thiên Cảm Chí Bảo (1174–1175)
Posthumous name
Thể Thiên Thuận Đạo Duệ Văn Thần Võ Thuần Nhân Hiển Nghĩa Huy Mưu Thánh Trí Ngự Dân Dục Vật Quần Linh Phi Ứng Đại Minh Chí Hiếu Hoàng Đế(体天顺道睿文神武纯仁显义徽谋圣智御民育物群灵丕应大明至孝皇帝).
Temple name
Anh Tông (英宗)
Father Lý Thần Tông
Mother Empress Linh Chiếu
Religion Buddhism

Lý Anh Tông (1136–1175), given name Lý Thiên Tộ (), was the sixth emperor of the Lý Dynasty, reigning over Đại Việt from 1138 to his death in 1175.[1][2][3] Since Lý Anh Tông was chosen as the successor of his father Lý Thần Tông at the age of only two, the early period of his reign witnessed the dominant position of Đỗ Anh Vũ in the royal court until his death in 1157, afterwards the Emperor ruled the country with the assistance of a prominent official named Tô Hiến Thành. The ruling of Lý Anh Tông was considered the last relatively stable period of the Lý Dynasty before the turbulent time during the reign of Lý Cao Tông.

Early years[edit]

Anh Tông was born in the third month in Lunar calendar of 1136 as Lý Thiên Tộ, the first son of the emperor Lý Thần Tông and Empress Lê Thị.[4][5] Initially Lý Thiên Tộ was not chosen as crown prince of the Lý Dynasty because his father preferred Lý Thiên Lộc who was the son of his favourite concubine and born four years earlier, in 1132.[6] In the ninth month of 1138, the ill emperor decided to make Lý Thiên Tộ his successor and downgrade Lý Thiên Lộc to Prince Minh Đạo (Vietnamese: Minh Đạo vương) after a campaign launched by three other concubines of the Emperor, Ladies Cảm Thánh, Nhật Phụng and Phụng Thánh, who were afraid that the coronation of a concubine's son would threaten their position in the royal family.[7]

Soon after naming his successor Lý Thần Tông died, on the 26th day of the same month. On the first day in the tenth lunar month (November 5) of 1138, Lý Anh Tông took the throne at the age of only two. He changed the era name to Thiệu Minh and elevated his mother, Lady Cảm Thánh, to the status of Empress Mother of the Lý Dynasty, the Empress Lê Thị.[7] During his 37-year reign, Lý Anh Tông had three more era names: Đại Định (1140–1162), Chính Long Bảo Ứng (1163–1173) and Thiên Cảm Chí Bảo (1174–1175).

As emperor[edit]

Early reign (1138–1157)[edit]

Succeeding the throne at the age of only two, the child emperor only ruled the country in name while the absolute power was placed in the hand of Empress Lê Thị who acted as regent for her son. As Empress Lê Thị favored an official named Đỗ Anh Vũ, the royal court witnessed the rising power of this official who decided almost every matters of the country and despised other officials.[5] According to Ngô Sĩ Liên in Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư, the reason for the favouritism of Empress Lê Thị for Đỗ Anh Vũ was the secret personal relation between them, as a result, some mandarins such as Vũ Đái, Nguyễn Dương, Nguyễn Quốc and Dương Tự Minh tried to topple Đỗ Anh Vũ but failed and thus died under his order.[5][8] After the death of the Empress in 1147,[9] Đỗ Anh Vũ continued to hold strong position in the royal court until his own death in the eighth month of 1158.[10] The rise of Đỗ Anh Vũ in the royal court was considered by Ngô Sĩ Liên one of the serious weaknesses of Lý Anh Tông's ruling which came from the wrong judgment of the Emperor.[11]

In 1140, the priest Thân Lợi called himself the son of Lý Nhân Tông and raised a revolt against Lý Anh Tông in the northern region (now Thái Nguyên).[12] The army of Thân Lợi successfully dominated the frontier region and defeated the army of the royal court led by the high-ranking official Lưu Vũ Nhĩ. After the victory, Thân Lợi, now self-appointed as King Bình (Bình Vương), took a further step by directly attacking the capital Thăng Long. It was the chancellor Đỗ Anh Vũ who assumed the task of suppressing the rebellion, a mission that he accomplished after five months. Afterwards Thân Lợi was captured by Tô Hiến Thành and beheaded by the order of Lý Anh Tông.[13]

During the early reign of Lý Anh Tông, the Lý Dynasty had several edicts to relax the severe laws at that time.[14] In 1142, in order to memorialize the rebellion of the Trưng sisters against the Chinese domination, Lý Anh Tông ordered to build a large temple in the southern suburbs of Thăng Long which was named the Temple of Trưng sisters (Đền Hai Bà) and still remains until now,[15] Lý Anh Tông was also considered the first emperor of Đại Việt who promoted Buddhism as the state religion.[16] Another important decision of the royal court was the military campaign against the King Jaya Harivarman I of Champa with the purpose of replacing the King by Vangsaraja who was supported by the Lý Dynasty.[17]:76[18] In 1152, the general Lý Mông was appointed by Lý Anh Tông to command over 5,000 soldiers of Thanh Hóa and Nghệ An begin the campaign which ultimately resulted in a defeat of the Lý Dynasty and the deaths of both Lý Mông and Vangsaraja. In 1154, to heal the broken relation with the Lý Dynasty, Jaya Harivarman I sent his daughter to Đại Việt who was accepted by Lý Anh Tông as his concubine. The decision of Lý Anh Tông was criticized by the historians Ngô Sĩ Liên and Lê Văn Hưu who argued that instead of accepting the offer, the Emperor should have opened another campaign to punish the kingdom of Champa.[19][20]

Later reign (1158–1175)[edit]

After the death of Đỗ Anh Vũ, Lý Anh Tông ruled the country with the assistance of the prominent official Tô Hiến Thành. It was Tô Hiến Thành who successfully pacified the revolt of the Ngưu Hống and Ai Lao forces in the western border in 1159,[21] he had another victory against the army of Champa in 1167 which marked the stability in the southern border of Đại Việt.[22] Originally holding a military position in the royal court, Tô Hiến Thành not only helped the Emperor to improve the efficiency of the Lý army but he also paid attention to the development of Confucian learning in the country.[5][21] After the advice of Tô Hiến Thành, Lý Anh Tông issued the establishment the first temple of Confucius in Thăng Long in 1156, formerly Confucius was jointly worshipped in the Temple of Literature, Hanoi.[23]

In 1164, the relation between the Lý Dynasty and the Song Dynasty had a significant change when the Emperor Xiaozong of Song decided to acknowledge Đại Việt as a kingdom, the Kingdom of Annam (An Nam quốc), instead of only a district, the District of Giao Chỉ (Giao Chỉ quận) which was a designation made by his predecessors. Therefore, regard to the Song Dynasty, the ruler of Đại Việt was recognized from now on as king (Quốc vương) instead of district governor (Quận vương) as before.[21][24] Vân Đồn, the principal port of trade between Đại Việt and China, was also opened in 1149 by the order of Lý Anh Tông.[25]

Lý Anh Tông died in the seventh month of 1175 at the age of 39. Before his death, the emperor entrusted the regentship of his 3-year-old crown prince for Tô Hiến Thành despite the effort from his empress to make another prince for the throne. This final act by Lý Anh Tông was appreciated by the historian Ngô Sĩ Liên as a right decision to maintain the order of the royal family and royal court.[11][26]


The first son of Lý Anh Tông, the Prince Hiển Trung (Hiển Trung vương) Lý Long Xưởng, was born in the eleventh month of 1151.[27] He was made crown prince of the Lý Dynasty but was deprived of all titles and imprisoned in the ninth month of 1174 after Lý Anh Tông discovered that his son committed adultery with a concubine in the royal palace.[26] As a result, the position of successor was changed to the second son Lý Long Trát who was born on 25th in the fifth month of 1173.[22]



  1. ^ Cuong Tu Nguyen Zen in Medieval Vietnam: A Study and Translation of the Thiè̂n ... - 1997 - Page 395 "Lý Anh Tông (1136-1175), whose personal name was Thien Tộ, was the second son of Lý Thần Tông. Anh Tong ..."
  2. ^ Bruce McFarland Lockhart, William John Duiker The A to Z of Vietnam 2010- Page 221 "Lý Anh Tông (1136-1176). Emperor (r. 1137-1175) during the Ly dynasty. Lý Anh Tông was still an infant when he ascended the throne on the death of his father, Lý Thần Tông."
  3. ^ Keith Weller Taylor, John K. Whitmore Essays Into Vietnamese Pasts 1995 - Page 67 "The Hien Chi Empress Dowager is Le CSm Thanh, the mother of the infant king Ly Anh Tong. The succession from Lý Thần Tông to Lý Anh Tông provided an occasion for the uprising of Suy Vi. The annals confirm this episode and pose no ...
  4. ^ Ngô 1993, p. 132
  5. ^ a b c d Trần 1971, p. 45
  6. ^ Ngô 1993, p. 130
  7. ^ a b Ngô 1993, p. 134
  8. ^ Ngô 1993, pp. 140–141
  9. ^ Ngô 1993, p. 139
  10. ^ Ngô 1993, pp. 143–144
  11. ^ a b Ngô 1993, p. 135
  12. ^ Trần 1971, pp. 45–46
  13. ^ Ngô 1993, pp. 135–137
  14. ^ Ngô 1993, pp. 137, 139
  15. ^ Logan, William Stewart (2000). Hanoi: biography of a city. UNSW Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-86840-443-8. 
  16. ^ Claire Boobbyer; Andrew Spooner; Jock O'Tailan (2008). Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos. Footprint Travel Guides. p. 255. ISBN 978-1-906098-09-4. 
  17. ^ Maspero, G., 2002, The Champa Kingdom, Bangkok: White Lotus Co., Ltd., ISBN 9747534991
  18. ^ Cœdès, George (1966). The making of South East Asia. University of California Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-520-05061-7. 
  19. ^ Ngô 1993, p. 142
  20. ^ Nhung Tuyet Tran, Anthony Reid - Vịêt Nam: borderless histories 2006 - Page 54 "Lê Văn Hưu's criticism of Lý Anh-Tông (r. 1138-75) was also centered on that ruler's harm to the dynasty.28 Anh-Tông sent his army to invade Champa and installed a new king there. When he heard that his new king had been expelled by "
  21. ^ a b c Ngô 1993, p. 144
  22. ^ a b Ngô 1993, p. 145
  23. ^ National Bureau for Historical Record 1998, p. 171
  24. ^ Trần 1971, p. 46
  25. ^ Li, Tana (1998). Nguyễn Cochinchina: southern Vietnam in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. SEAP Publications. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-87727-722-4. 
  26. ^ a b Ngô 1993, p. 146
  27. ^ Ngô 1993, p. 141


Lý Anh Tông
Born: 1136 Died: 1175
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Lý Thần Tông
Emperor of Lý Dynasty
Succeeded by
Lý Cao Tông