Ngô dynasty

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Principality of Tĩnh Hải Quân

Tĩnh Hải Quân (靜海軍)
early years of Ngô dynasty
early years of Ngô dynasty
CapitalCổ Loa
Common languagesVietnamese
• 938–944
Ngô Quyền (First)
• 944–950
Dương Tam Kha
• 950–965
Ngô Xương Văn & Ngô Xương Ngập (co-rulers)
• Ngô Quyền proclaimed as King
• Ngô Quyền moves the capital to Cổ Loa
• Dương Tam Kha seized the throne
• Ngô Xương Văn overthrew Dương Tam Kha
• Ngô Xương Văn and Ngô Xương Ngập both declared as Kings
• Ngô Xương Ngập died.
• Ngô Xương Văn died.
• Beginning of Anarchy of the 12 Warlords
CurrencyCash coins
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Third Chinese domination of Vietnam
Đinh dynasty
Today part of Vietnam
Ngô dynasty
Vietnamese name
VietnameseNhà Ngô

The Ngô Dynasty (939–965) was a dynasty in Vietnam.

Around 930, as Ngô Quyền rose to power, northern Vietnam was militarily occupied by Southern Han and was treated as an autonomous province and vassal state of China and was referred to as Tĩnh Hải quân. Every year the Jiedushi of Tĩnh Hải quân had to pay tribute to China in exchange for peace and political support. At the beginning of the 10th century, China was domestically plagued and weakened by internal civil war during what is known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The Chinese were preoccupied with these civil struggles and lost their grip on Tĩnh Hải quân periodically. Tĩnh Hải quân took advantage of this opportunity and proclaimed its independence and seceded from China. Under the rule of Lord Protector Dương Đình Nghệ, the Tĩnh Hải quân state initiated a full blown military campaign for independence.


After defeating Sui dynasty of China,Tang dynasty continued to fix its Administrative divisions and provinces and keep their rules in Vietnam. Until the middle of IX century, Tang was in the crisis because of the coup of Jiedushi (military governor) Zhu Wen. Tang was turned into the weak state and Zhu Wen establish the later Liang dynasty. One of the noble family leader of Khúc clan (Khúc Thừa Dụ) also gained this chance to start the coup in Vietnam region and seize the power from Tang dynasty. He claimed himself as Jiedushi(Viet: Tiết độ sứ) in 905 and install the autonomy in Vietnam.

Autonomy in Tĩnh Hải Quân[edit]

In 906 Tang recognized the autonomy state of Vietnam in 906 before it was collapsed in 907. While Khúc clan tried to strengthen their power in Vietnam, China was broken into the civil war (Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period). The Jiedushi of Guang Zhou province, Liu Yan declared himself as the emperor of Southern Han in the southern China, whereas the later Liang dynasty ruled the north. In 917, Khúc Thừa Mỹ succeeded Khúc Hạo as Jiedushi of Tĩnh Hải Quân, sent the envoy to Liang to make themselves as the vassal state and as the result ,it made the Southern Han felt angry. The emperor of Liu Yan sent the troops to invade Tĩnh Hải Quân,captured Khúc Thừa Mỹ. In 931, Dương Đình Nghệ, Governor of Ái Châu(one of the district of Tĩnh Hải Quân) sent the troops to assist Khúc Thừa Mỹ and defeated Southern Han army, and he nominated himself as Jiedushi of Tĩnh Hải Quân. In 937, Dương Đình Nghệ was assassinated by his general Kiều Công Tiễn and declared loyal to Southern Han's emperor. Immediately, Dương Đình Nghệ's son in law, general Ngô Quyền whom was governing Ái district, fought against Kiều Công Tiễn[1]

Battle of Bạch Đằng River[edit]

Ngô Quyền (897–944) was Dương Đình Nghệ's most loyal general and son-in-law. He served under Dương Đình Nghệ's command and married one of his daughters. After the murder of father-in-law, Ngô Quyền sought revenge. He launched an attack and defeated Kiều Công Tiễn in 938. The latter, before his death in battle with Ngô Quyền, sent an emissary to Southern Han court to ask for military re-enforcement. The Chinese emperor then sent an army to the South land to assist Kiều Công Tiễn in 938. However, Ngô Quyền's forces were tipped off over the advancing Southern Han army and therefore he quickly mobilized his forces and strategically stationed them in key battle sites. To defeat the Southern Han army coming to supply aid to his rival, Ngô Vương cleverly planted iron spikes underneath the Bạch Đằng River and timed the attack of the Southern Han navy. The attack began during high tide to conceal the spikes beneath the water. After the Vietnamese held the enemy in check for hours, the tides receded and the spikes impaled the Chinese armada. The Vietnamese forces followed this impalement with ferocious fire attacks, which annihilated hundreds of giant warships. The Southern Han navy and the Prince of Southern Han were killed in the battle. This tactic was repeated again during the Trần Dynasty by Trần Hưng Đạo against the third Mongol invasion of 1288.

Ngô Quyền's reign[edit]

The Battle of Bạch Đằng River was the first significant of many victories throughout the centuries at this famous river. Ngô Quyền then ascended to the throne and took the name "Ngô Vương" (吳王 King Ngô) or "Tiền Ngô Vương" (前吳王). He moved the capital back to Cổ Loa.[2] He reigned for only five years, until 944, when he died of illness at age 47. A short reign for an ambitious ruler set the stage for future campaigns for independence. Nevertheless, Ngô Vương ushered in a new Viet era of continuous independence and political autonomy.

Royal Court disputes[edit]

Before his death, Ngô Vương's wish was to see his brother-in-law Dương Tam Kha act as regent for his son Ngô Xương Ngập. However Dương Tam Kha usurped the throne and proclaimed himself "Bình Vương" (平王).He took Ngô Xương Ngập's younger brother, Ngô Xương Văn, as his adoptive son and made him heir to the throne. Fearing for his life, Ngô Xương Ngập went into hiding with his retinue in Nam Sách(now Hải Dương province). Dương Tam Kha's reign was unpopular and many revolts and rebellions sprung up across the country.

Ngô Xương Văn & Ngô Xương Ngập co-reign: 950–954[edit]

Ngô Xương Văn (吳昌文) deposed Dương Tam Kha in 950 and styled himself "Nam Tấn Vương" (南晉王) Out of respect for his uncle, Ngô Xương Văn did not have him killed, but merely demoted him and sent him into exile. Ngô Xương Văn then searched out his older brother Ngô Xương Ngập in order to share the throne with him. After arriving at the capital, Ngô Xương Ngập styled himself "Thiên Sách Vương" (天策王). Brought back by his younger brother Ngô Xương Văn to the throne, Ngô Xương Ngập soon abused his rights as the oldest son and began to rule Tĩnh Hải quân as dictator, "Thiên Sách Vương" (天策王). The country was ripe for open rivalries between different lords who fought each other to become the next successor.

Ngô Xương Xí's reign: 965–968[edit]

After Ngô Xương Văn's death in 965, his son Ngô Xương Xí (吳昌熾) succeeded him. But as he ascended to the throne Ngô Xương Xí was faced with the daunting task of having his rule recognized by the now open rivalry between the 12 lords who fought one another as they vied for control of the country. With the announcement of his rule, the country was thrown into a chaotic period called the Thập Nhị Sứ Quân (十二使君) Rebellion.[3]

"The Anarchy of the 12 Warlords" or "Thập Nhị Sứ Quân Rebellion" (966–968)[edit]

The depression of Ngô dynasty caused the uprising of some governors who want to revolt to the royal court.In 951,the leader of Hoa Lư Cave Đinh Bộ Lĩnh who was the son of Governor of Hoan district Đinh Công Trứ,relies on the difficult geography of mountain area and start their revolt to Ngô dynasty.Both king of Tĩnh Hải Quân Ngô Xương Văn & Ngô Xương Ngập launched the campaign against Đinh Bộ Lĩnh.However after more than a month,Royal troops failed to success and must returned to the capital and keep persuading Đinh Bộ Lĩnh to give up. In 954 Ngô Xương Ngập died and the leader of Thao Gian district Chu Thái also started to betray Ngô dynasty. Then, Ngô Xương Văn have to use force to suppress the revolt and beheaded Chu Thái. In 965 he was shot by arrows of archeries and died. His son, Ngô Xương Xí took up his leadership but the dynasty gradually fall in the weakness. According to Khâm định Việt sử Thông giám cương mục(Historical record), The Kiều clan and Dương clan revolt against the Ngô and in 966 ,The country was divided into 12 states and ruled by 12 warlors in which there were also the Ngô royalty(Ngô Xương Văn, Ngô Nhật Khánh).

The 12 warlords were:

  • Ngô Xương Xí (the nominal successor whose reign and rule were contested)
  • Đỗ Cảnh Thạc
  • Trần Lãm (who proclaimed himself Trần Minh Công. It was Trần Lãm who trained Đinh Bộ Lĩnh who soon would emerge and prove himself as the strongest of the 12 lords and eventually found the Đinh Dynasty.
  • Kiều Công Hãn (who proclaimed himself Kiều Công Che)
  • Nguyễn Khoan (who proclaimed himself Nguyễn Thái Bình)
  • Ngô Nhật Khánh
  • Lý Khê
  • Nguyễn Thủ Tiệp
  • Lý Đường
  • Nguyễn Siêu
  • Kiều Thuận
  • Phạm Bạch Hổ


  1. ^ Đất nước Việt Nam qua các đời, Đào Duy Anh, Nhà xuất bản Nhã Nam, 2016, trang 131
  2. ^ Pelley, Patricia M. (2002). Postcolonial Vietnam: New Histories of the National Past. p. 213. Vietnamese kings and emperors sought the safety of cities that were easy to defend. Thus the Ngô dynasty retreated to Cổ Loa and the Đinh and Early Lê dynasties took refuge in Hoa Lư.
  3. ^ Burke, J. Wills (2001). Origines: The streets of Vietnam: A Historical Companion. p. 16. Following the death of Ngỏ Quyển, who had driven the Chinese from Vietnam after a thousand years of domination, the Ngô Dynasty disintegrated. Vietnam was beset by a reign of confusion as twelve Warring lords fought over who was to rule ...
  1. Đại Việt Sử Ký Toàn Thư, by Ngô Sĩ Liên (大越史記全書。吳士連編。内閣官板)
  2. Việt Nam Sử Lược, by Trần Trọng Kim
  3. Việt Sử Toàn Thư, by Phạm Văn Sơn
  4. Ngô Quyền by Chi D. Nguyen
  5. Đất nước Việt Nam qua các đời, Đào Duy Anh, Nhà xuất bản Nhã Nam, 2016, trang 131
Preceded by
Third Chinese domination of Vietnam
Dynasty of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Đinh Dynasty