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Tran Dynasty

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Tran Dynasty, second great Vietnamese dynasty, founded by Tran Canh, who married the last Ly dynasty king’s daughter and ascended to the throne in 1225 under the name of Tran Thai Tong (1225-1258). For most of their rule, the Tran successfully pursued the policies that made the country strong under the Ly dynasty.

Under the first Tran king, Vietnam entered a new age of prosperity. The Red River dike system was extended to cover most of the delta. People were encouraged to exploit the new lands made available. Arts and literature flourished. Under Tran Thai Tong the first Vietnamese law code was promulgated. The first Vietnamese history was completed in 1272 in the reign of Tran Thanh Tong (1258-1278). A new Vietnamese script, the “chu nom” or “southern script,” was devised by Nguyen Thuyen. Many writers started to use it, even though most official documents were still written in Chinese.

Externally, the greatest threat to the Tran dynasty was from the north. Three Mongol invasions in 1257, 1284, and 1287 were defeated by the Vietnamese general Tran Quoc Tuan, also called Tran Hung Dao. He is still venerated as one of the greatest heroes of Vietnamese history. However, the efforts to repel the Mongol invasions left the country exhausted. By 1341 Vietnam had fallen into a deep economic and social crisis. Furthermore, from 1352 the war with the kingdom of Champa resumed. Under King Che Bong Nga, the Cham invaded Vietnam several times and in 1371 actually stormed and sacked Hanoi. Profiting from the crisis, a high official, Ho Quy Ly, overthrew the Tran and set up his own dynasty in 1400, but it was short-lived. In 1407, the Ming dynasty in China, under the pretext of restoring the Tran, invaded and annexed the country. Vietnam became a part of China for the next 20 years until 1428, when the country was liberated by Le Loi who founded the third great Vietnamese dynasty, the Le dynasty.

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