|King of Nanyue (Nam Việt)|
A statue of Zhao Tuo
|King of Nanyue|
|Successor||Zhao Mo (Triệu Mạt)|
|Born||ca. 240 BC|
|Died||137 BC (aged 103)|
Zhao Tuo (Chinese: 趙佗; pinyin: Zhào Tuó; Jyutping: Jiu⁶ Tō⁴, Vietnamese: Triệu Đà) was the founder of the kingdom of Nanyue. Zhao was a Chinese military commander who gained independence upon the collapse of the Qin dynasty. Nanyue included northern Vietnam and parts of southern China. His capital was in Panyu, modern Guangzhou, China.
In Vietnamese, Zhao Tuo is rendered as Triệu Đà, and the dynasty he founded is called the Triệu dynasty. In traditional Vietnamese history, he is considered an emperor of Vietnam. However, some modern Vietnamese historians regard him as a foreigner who invaded Vietnam in 207 BC.
Zhao was born around 240 BC in Zhending, in the northern Chinese province of Hebei, then part of the state of Zhao. The state of Zhao was defeated and absorbed by the state of Qin in 222 BC, whereupon Zhao Tuo became a citizen of Qin. He later served in a Qin expeditionary force that moved to the south.
Conquest of Âu Lạc
Creation of Nanyue
At the end of the Qin Dynasty, Zhao took control of a region comprising modern-day Guangzhou and Xingu. Zhao Tuo built up his power and took over the territory, partially through alliances with native Yue nobility and chieftains. The Qin Governor of Canton advised Zhao to found his own independent Kingdom, since the area was remote and there were many Chinese settlers there. He then declared himself the King of Nanyue ("Southern Yue") ("Nam Việt" in Vietnamese). His capital was at Panyu, in modern Guangzhou.
For an extended period, Nanyue was at war with the state of Changsha to the north, the warlike Minyue state to the east; and the Southwestern Yi (西南夷) state to the west, which did not adopt Han ways. Within the Nanyue there were rebellions from the Western Ou (Chinese: 西甌; pinyin: Xīōu) and Lạc Việt (Chinese: 駱越; pinyin: Luòyuè) tribes. The largest threat to Zhao came from the Han Dynasty, which claimed the territory; however at the time the Han Dynasty "was in no position to challenge" Zhao's rule.
From tensions to peace and stability
In 196 BC, Lu Jia gave Zhao Tuo a seal representing him the king of Nanyue in return for his nominal submission to Han. On this occasion, Zhao Tuo squatted and wore his hair in a bun in the Yue manner. Early in his reign, Emperor Gaozu of Han gave three commanderies (郡) to Prince of Changsha, Wu Rui (長沙王吳芮), and appointed Yao Wuyu, Marquis of Haiyang (海陽侯徭無餘) and Zhi, Prince of Nanhai (南海王織). Emperor Gaozu also put an army in Changsha state to watch over the Nanyue kingdom, which made Zhao Tuo worried about a sudden attack. Zhao Tuo took an opportunity to trade and import things in large amounts from the Central Plains. Zhao Tuo also gave tribute to central authority. After Gaozu died, Emperor Hui of Han ascended the throne, and continued his predecessor's treaty obligations to Nanyue.
Empress Lü raising tensions
After seven years of the reign of Emperor Hui, Empress Dowager Lü came to power. In 183 BCE, during the later days of her reign, the Empress suddenly declared trade restrictions upon the Han with other states. This included useful products such as iron tools and horses to Nanyue territory. Wu Rui, the King of Changsha and the only non-Liu king in Han territory, was treated well by the Empress. Gao Zu removed all non-Liu kings except Wu Rui since his state was not strong enough compared to Wu's, and the empress wanted to appoint Lü kings. The blockade had a great impact on the Nanyue economy, since Nanyue needs iron plow tools, and his people were unhappy about the decision of blockade.
Zhao Tuo faulted the Prince of Changsha for the blockade, sending messengers to the capital of Chang'an to ask for a release from the blockade. But Prince of Changsha Wu Rui sent the messengers into prison in Chang'an. With the help of Wu Rui's advice, Empress Dowager Lü killed Zhao Tuo's relatives in the Central Plains and destroyed Zhao Tuo's ancestral tomb. Zhao Tuo realized that political approach would no longer succeed.
In response, Zhao Tuo declared himself Martial Emperor of Nanyue (Chinese: 南越武帝; Jyutping: Nām⁴yūd⁶ Mou⁵-Dei³) in 183 BC. He sacked Wu Rui's Changsha country to the North, prompting a counterattack from the Empress of China. However, most of her army died from disease on their way to Nanyue. The military conflict did not stop until the Empress of China died. As the victor, Zhao Tuo extended his territory by conquering towns near the boundary with Han's domains. He also established relationships with Minyue, Xi'ou (西甌), and Lạc Việt. The war almost wiped out the trading relations between the Central Plains and Nanyue.
Back as vassal and death
In 179 BC, Emperor Wen of Han ascended the throne. The new Emperor abolished some cruel punishments made by the Qin Dynasty. Zhao Tuo communicated with the Emperor that if he removed the two generals from Changsha and restored his relatives in Zhending, he would make peace with Han. Emperor Wen responded positively, repairing the tombs of Zhao's ancestors, finding a surviving member of Zhao family and moving the Han's army out of Changsha. Afterwards, Zhao Tuo revoked his title of emperor. Nanyue became a vassal state of the Han again, although Zhao Tuo has retained the autonomy of his Kingdom and was referred to as emperor throughout Nanyue until his death in 137 BC, aged 103.
- Brantly Womack (2006). China and Vietnam: the politics of asymmetry. Cambridge University Press, 2006. p. 100. ISBN 0-521-85320-6.
- Taylor (1983), p. 23
- Twitchett, Denis; Loewe, Michael, eds. (March 2008). "2 - The Former Han Dynasty". The Cambridge History of China: Volume 1: The Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 BC–AD 220 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 128. ISBN 9781139054737.
- Taylor, Keith Weller, The Birth of Vietnam, p. 24. University of California Press, 1991.
- Taylor, Keith Weller. (1983). The Birth of Vietnam (illustrated, reprint ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 0520074173. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
Zhao TuoBorn: 230 BC Died: 137 BC
An Dương Vương
as king of Âu Lạc
|King of Northern Vietnam
203 BC – 137 BC
as king of Nanyue