Lý Nam Đế

Lý Nam Đế I
King of Vạn Xuân
Emperor Ly Nam De.jpg
Portrait painting of Lý Nam Đế during Lê dynasty era.
King of Vạn Xuân
Reign 544 - 548
Successor Triệu Việt Vương
Born 17 October 503
Phổ Yên, Thái Nguyên, Southern Liang
Died 13 April 548
Tam Nông, Phú Thọ, Vạn Xuân
Consort Hứa Trinh Hòa
Full name
Lý Bôn (李賁) (also written as Lý Bí)
Era name and dates
Thiên Đức (天德): 544-548
Temple name
Nam Việt Hiếu Cao Hoàng Đế (南越孝高皇帝)
House Early Lý Dynasty
Father Lý Cạnh
Mother Lê Thị Oánh

Lý Nam Đế (chữ Hán: 李南帝, 17 October 503 – 13 April 548) was a Vietnamese monarch and the founder of Vạn Xuân. ruling between 544-8 and the founder of the Early Lý Dynasty.[1]


Lý Bôn (李賁) was descended from Chinese refugees who fled Wang Mang's seizure of power during the interregnum between the Western and Eastern Han dynasties.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] He was a regional magistrate of Giao Châu (交州, Chinese: Jiaozhou), an area of northern Vietnam roughly corresponding to the area of modern Hanoi. In 541, during this time China was under constant civil warfare following the Southern and Northern Dynasties Period, he became increasingly frustrated with the corruption in the government and hostility toward the local population. His friend-general Pham Tu, was an ethnic Jie, help him trained a initial army with 300 cavalry archers and started rebelling against the Liang dynasty. Upon resignation of his post he gathered the local nobility and tribes within the Red River Valley (North Vietnam) mobilized the imperial troops and naval fleet of Jiaozhou and successfully expelled the Liang administration and won a decisive battle in Hofu in summer 543. The following year in February 544, Lý Bí was declared "Emperor" by the people with the intention of demonstrating equal in power to China imperial rulers. He renamed the new kingdom "Vạn Xuân" (, literally "Eternal Spring"). His imperial armies also repelled attacks from Champa in the south who had allied with Han's court at the time.[citation needed]

Further in his life

Map of Vạn Xuân Kingdom

Lý Nam Đế established his capital at Long Biên (modern-day Hanoi), surrounded himself with effective leadership in military and administrative scholars. Lý Nam Đế was also strongly supported by famous military commander such as Phạm Tu, Triệu Túc, Tinh Thiều, and Triệu Quang Phục, (son of Triệu Tuc, later known as Triệu Việt Vương). The latter emerged as a hero in Vietnamese history and eventually succeeded Lý Nam Đế as ruler in 548. Lý Nam Đế built many fortresses at strategic locations throughout Vạn Xuân to fend off potential threats from Han in the north and from the Champa Kingdom in the south, he also established the first national university for mandarin scholars, implemented land reforms, and promoted literacy amongst the population. He laid the foundation for many reforms that modelled after the Chinese social structure.

Stability of Vạn Xuân did not last long and in October 544, the Liang Dynasty retaliated against Vạn Xuân by sending 120,000 imperial troops to re-occupy the region. The Liang emperor sent one of his generals Chen Baxian (Trần Bá Tiên) and granted him sole command of the invading Liang forces. By spring of 545, Chen had marched his army into Vạn Xuân territory and laid siege and devastation to many cities. His initial invasion was stalled by Lý imperial forces for months. However, in the winter of 545, Chen laid a surprised attack on the capital during the monsoon season. Lý Nam Đế's imperial forces were caught off guard and the imperial administration was forced to abandon Long Biên and flee westward into the neighboring kingdom of Laos. The Lý imperial forces were becoming weary and exhausted and Lý himself was increasingly ill due to months of being exposed in the wilderness. Lý Nam Đế realized that his illness would not enable him to rally the troops and accomplish a successful resistance against the imperial Chinese forces. In February 548, he relinquished imperial authority and transferred his power to his older brother Lý Thiên Bảo (co-ruler from 548 until his death in 555) and Triệu Quang Phục (r. 548–571), who was his best lieutenant and general.

By April 548, after suffering from serious diseases for months, Lý Nam Đế died in Laos while fighting the Liang forces when local Laotian tribesmen assassinated him in hope for warding off the invading Liang army. His immediate successor was Triệu Quang Phục (thereafter known as Triệu Việt Vương which means Trieu Viet King). The new king continued the resistance and eventually drove the Chinese out from Vạn Xuân in 550. Although China occupied Vietnam for approximately 1,000 years, Lý Nam Đế successfully established a Việt dynasty that gave Northern Vietnam approximately 60 years of independence in between those times.

Anterior Lý Dynasty


  1. ^ Vietnam Country Map. Periplus Travel Maps. 2002–2003. ISBN 0-7946-0070-0.
  2. ^ Taylor (1983), p. 135
  3. ^ Walker (2012), p. 134 East Asia: A New History, p. 134, at Google Books
  4. ^ Catino (2010), p. 142 The Aggressors: Ho Chi Minh, North Vietnam, and the Communist Bloc, p. 142, at Google Books
  5. ^ Kohn (2006), p. 308 Dictionary of Wars, p. 320, at Google Books
  6. ^ Coedès (1966), pp. 45–46 The Making of South East Asia at Google Books
  7. ^ Lockhart (2010), p. 221 The A to Z of Vietnam, p. 221, at Google Books
  8. ^ West (2009), p. 870 Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania, p. 870, at Google Books


Lý Nam Đế
Early Lý Dynasty
Born: October 17, 503 Died: April 13, 548
Preceded by
Emperor of Nam Việt
Succeeded by
Triệu Việt Vương