Lý Thánh Tông

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Lý Thánh Tông
Emperor of Đại Việt
Lý Thánh Tông.JPG
A statue of emperor Lý Thánh Tông
Emperor of Đại Việt
PredecessorKingdom of Đại Cồ Việt renamed to kingdom of Đại Việt
SuccessorLý Nhân Tông
Emperor of Lý Dynasty
PredecessorLý Thái Tông
SuccessorLý Nhân Tông
Long Đức palace, Thăng Long
Died1/02/1072 (aged 48)
Hội Tiên palace, Thăng Long
Thọ Tomb
Spouse8 concubines, including Empress Thượng Dương
Empress Linh Nhân (靈仁皇太后)(Ỷ Lan)
IssueDuke Lý Càn Đức(Lý Nhân Tông)
Duke of Minh Nhân
Princess Động Thiên
Princess Thiên Thành
Princess Ngọc Kiều(adoptive)
Full name
Lý Nhật Tôn (李日尊)
Era dates
Long Thụy Thái Bình (龍瑞太平: 1054-1058)
Thiên Thánh Gia Khánh (彰聖嘉慶: 1059-1065)
Long Chương Thiên Tự (龍彰天嗣: 1066-1068)
Thiên Thống Bảo Tượng (天貺寶象: 1068-1069)
Thần Vũ (神武: 1069-1072)
Posthumous name
Ứng Thiên Sùng Nhân Chí Đạo Uy Khánh Long Tường Minh Văn Duệ Vũ Hiếu Đức Thánh Thần Hoàng Đế(應天崇仁至道威慶龍祥明文睿武孝德聖神皇帝)
Temple name
Thánh Tông (聖宗)
FatherLý Thái Tông
MotherEmpress Linh Cảm (Mai thị) (靈感皇后枚氏)

Lý Thánh Tông (Vietnamese pronunciation: [lǐ tʰǎjŋ̟ təwŋm]; born Lý Nhật Tôn [lǐ ɲə̀t ton], ruled 1054–1072) was the posthumous title of the third emperor of the Lý dynasty of Vietnam. In his reign, Lý Thánh Tông promoted the agricultural development, reducing some harsh laws and building many Confucianist and Buddhist institutions, most notably the first Temple of Literature in Vietnam (1072). He also fought several successful wars with the Song empire and Champa, resulting in the expansion of Vietnamese territory to the areas which are Quảng Bình Province and Quảng Trị Province today.


He was the eldest son of Lý Thái Tông and his consort was known as Empress Mai Thị. He was born on February 25, 1023 (this date was followed the Lunar calendar, the official calendar of Vietnam during Vietnam's feudal period) at Càn Đức palace. In 1028, he was conferred Crown prince after his father ascended the throne.

He was soon adept in all main fields at that time, such as history, literature, music, and also martial arts. Like his father, he was soon brought out of the capital citadel to touch the bottom class in society, following the tradition of this dynasty. Living among the masses, he soon profoundly understood the real conditions of the society, making him have a benevolent reign after his succession.

Just at the age of 15, he was dubbed as General Marshal, suppressed the revolt in Lam Tây (Lai Châu Province), and made some feat. When was 17 years old, his father allowed Thanh Tong to lead an army to conquest Nùng Tồn Phúc, he was in charge of the Regent to rule over the capital and to manage the affairs of court.

In 1040, when he was just 18, all important litigations over the nation were committed to him. One edifice known as Quảng Vũ palace was confided to him.

Lý Thánh Tông
Vietnamese name
VietnameseLý Thánh Tông

In 1043, he was again conferred as General Marshal, taking charge of the suppression of rebellions in Châu Ái (Thanh Hóa Province). One year later, his father personally led troops in the invasion of Champa. While Thái Tông was absent, the crown prince acted as Regent Protector of the Imperial Capital. Late 1044, the emperor returned victoriously from Champa.

In January 1045, when he was ailing, Lý Thái Tông allowed him to hold court. Two months later, Lý Thái Tông died and then Lý Nhật Tôn officially ascended.


Just after succession, Lý Thánh Tông changed the national name from "Đại Cồ Việt" to "Đại Việt" (literally "Great Viet"), initiating the most prosperous epoch throughout the history of Vietnam under that name. Lý Thánh Tông ably managed the nation through his reign and was regarded as a relatively benevolent emperor. According to the official histories, in one year, when it underwent an extraordinarily cold and long winter, he told his confidants that even he, being in the palace with enough clothing, still felt cold, so that prisoners are likely to be not sufficiently supplied with either food or clothing, and easily deceased. Thus, he commanded his servants to bring food, mats, and blankets to these prisoners.

Birth name
Vietnamese alphabetLý Nhật Tôn

On another day, he was adjudicating some important cases. One of his young princesses was standing near him; he then indicated her and said that his love toward common people equaled that toward his offspring. He also said that the code was not stretched through the people so that they were ignorant and also could be innocent because of this ignorance. Thus the rigidity of the code must have been decreased and the laws must have been aimed at humanity.

Under his capable reign, the country was relatively stable and peaceful. Despite that, there were still some rebellions that the emperor suppressed at ease. He practiced Buddhism so during his reign, Lý Thánh Tông built many tower-pagodas and cast some large and impressive bells. However, he also had a comparative respect to Confucianism, and in order to civilize the people, he operated "Văn Miếu", the Temple of Literature, and commanded workmen to carve some large sculptures of Confucius and 72 sages. Since that, Vietnam has had Văn Miếu, the site to commemorate all people who have achieved the title "Tiến sĩ" (doctor).

His success was contributed to notably by his Noble Consort Ỷ Lan, who displayed great competence in administration. As Lý Thánh Tông did not soon produce an heir, when he went to war, she herself was left in charge of administering the nation.

Conflict with the Song Empire and Champa[edit]

After stabilizing the nation, he attended to the extension of his realm. He rearrayed the army and made army titles for each part of it. He totally divided his main cohort into 100 small groups and those were arrayed into four large groups: left, right, front, and rear, with supports of cavalries and trebuchets. The allotted army was assembled in another part. The tactical factor of the Đại Việt army at that time was an advance which was respected by the rivals.

In 1060, he commanded the exarch of "Lạng Châu" to combat the Song army along the border between two nations. The Vietnamese infantry won and captured the Song general ( Vietnamese: Dương Bảo Tài ). After some more failed conflict with Đại Việt, the Song sent an envoy to negotiate with the Đại Việt court. The negotiator was treated well, but Đại Việt peremptorily did not free that general.

As Champa constantly annoyed the area near the border between the two nations and sometimes intruded deeply to loot, in 1069 Lý Thánh Tông himself led an army to defeat Champa. He defeated the Cham army, burned Vijaya, and captured the King of Champa, Rudravarman III. Rudravarman III implored Lý Thánh Tông to release him in exchange for three areas, known as Địa Lý, Ma Linh, and Bố Chính. These now form part of Quảng Bình Province and Quảng Trị Province).[1]:62,186

Era name[edit]

In January 1072, he suddenly died at the age of 50, ruled for 17 years. While he was ruling, he used 5 era names:

  • Long Thụy Thái Bình (1054–1058)
  • Chương Thánh Gia Khánh (1059–1065)
  • Long Chương Thiên Tự (1066–1067)
  • Thiên Huống Bảo Tượng (1068)
  • Thần Vũ (1069–1072)


  1. ^ Maspero, G., 2002, The Champa Kingdom, Bangkok: White Lotus Co., Ltd., ISBN 9747534991
  • Đại Việt sử kí toàn thư.
  • Các triều đại Việt Nam. (Dynasties of Vietnam)
Preceded by
Lý Thái Tông
Emperor of the Lý Dynasty
Succeeded by
Lý Nhân Tông