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Vietnam dynasties: Guide to traversing the timeless chapters of the history

18/07/2023 9.088

The era of Vietnam dynasties witnessed some of the most important people and events that played significant roles in the evolution of Vietnam. Journey through the Vietnam dynasty timeline to understand what makes the country what it is today.

Vietnam dynasties

Vietnam dynasties make up a momentous era in the history of Vietnam. The founding fathers and monumental events of this time have provided the foundation of the historical and beautiful country today. We will introduce you to the most influential dynasties of Vietnam, along with tourist attractions related to this era.

1. How many Vietnam dynasties are there in history?

The era of Vietnam dynasties signifies an important historical period of development of the country. It commenced after the monumental Bach Dang victory in 938, a key turning point that ended the Third Era of Chinese Domination of Vietnam.

Overall, Vietnam witnessed 10 significant dynasties during this era. Below is a list of Vietnamese dynasties and their timelines:

  1. Ngo Dynasty (938 - 965)
  2. Dinh Dynasty (969 - 979)
  3. Early Le Dynasty (980 - 1009)
  4. Ly Dynasty (1009 - 1226)
  5. Tran Dynasty (1226 - 1400)
  6. Ho Dynasty (1400 - 1407)
  7. Le So Dynasty (1428 - 1527)
  8. Mac Dynasty (1527 - 1593)
  9. Tay Son Dynasty (1788 - 1802)
  10. Nguyen Dynasty (1802 - 1945)

Throughout this period, Vietnam experienced significant developments in politics and culture, with each dynasty leaving an indelible mark with their achievements and events. The end of Vietnam dynasties also marked the beginning of significant changes in the country's political structure and its journey towards modernization and independence.

Vietnam dynasties

2. Things to learn about the 4 major Vietnam dynasties

Learning about the entire timeline of Vietnam dynasties is no easy feat, but knowing the key events will add context to your visit. Here are the most important events during four of the most notable periods in Vietnam dynasty history.

2.1. Vietnam Ly Dynasty

The Ly Dynasty is one of the Vietnam dynasties that laid the foundation for many cultural values today. From 1009 to 1225, several significant aspects emerged that shaped the country.

This dynasty was founded by Ly Thai To, who established the capital in Thang Long (modern-day Hanoi) and gave the country a new name - Dai Viet (Great Viet).

The Ly Dynasty had put in valiant efforts to repel the Song Dynasty from China. The most notable victory was the battle of Nhu Nguyet, which led to the Song Dynasty stopping all colonizing efforts.

This era witnessed significant advancements in education. This was when the Temple of Literature was established, along with the first Confucius examination.

Throughout the entirety of Ly Dynasty, there were nine people who took the mantle of Emperor or Empress:

  • Ly Thai To
  • Ly Thai Tong
  • Ly Thanh Tong
  • Ly Nhan Tong
  • Ly Than Tong
  • Ly Anh Tong
  • Ly Cao Tong
  • Ly Hue Tong
  • Ly Chieu Hoang - the sole Empress of the Dynasty
Vietnam dynasties

2.2. Vietnam Tran Dynasty

The Tran Dynasty was one of the most influential and fruitful Vietnam dynasties. With 13 different Emperor reigns spanning from 1225 to 1400, this era has etched its name in history as one of the most significant times of the country.

The Tran Dynasty implemented many administrative reforms, decentralizing power to local officials while still maintaining control. This era brought stability to the region after successfully repelling three Mongol invasions. It also saw significant advancements regarding gunpowder and medicine.

In terms of education, a new degree named “Thai Hoc Sinh” was implemented, which would then be known as Doctorate. Furthermore, chữ Nôm (the writing system based on Chinese characters invented by the Vietnamese to write the Vietnamese language) started appearing in literature writing.

The 13 Emperors of Tran Dynasty were:

  • Tran Thai Tong
  • Tran Thanh Tong
  • Tran Nhan Tong
  • Tran Anh Tong
  • Tran Minh Tong
  • Tran Du Tong
  • Duong Nhat Le
  • Tran Nghe Tong
  • Tran Due Tong
  • Tran Phe De
  • Tran Thuan Tong
  • Tran Thieu De
Vietnam dynasties

>>> Get to know the evolution of Vietnam language!

2.3. Vietnam Le Dynasty

Also known as the Later Le Dynasty, this, in records, was the longest of all Vietnam dynasties, lasting from 1428 to 1789. There were multiple developments during this period of time.

The Later Le Dynasty can be divided into two distinct periods: the Early period (known in Vietnamese as Lê sơ, 1428–1527), when emperors held independent rule; and the restored period or Revival Le (known in Vietnamese as Lê trung hưng, 1533–1789), when emperors were only figurative and the real power was under the control of the Trinh family.

This era started when Emperor Le Loi led a successful rebellion against the Chinese Ming Dynasty. This dynasty witnessed multiple key conflicts of Vietnamese history, including the usurpation of the Mac Dynasty and the power struggle between the Trinh and Nguyen lords.

Vietnam faced multiple invasions during this dynasty, notably from the Ming Dynasty and the Champa Kingdom. However, the dynasty successfully repelled these invasions, showcasing their resilience and determination to defend their homeland.

There were 26 Emperors in the long history of the Later Le Dynasty:

  • Le Thai To
  • Le Thai Tong
  • Le Nhan Tong
  • Le Nghi Dan
  • Le Thanh Tong
  • Le Hien Tong
  • Le Tuc Tong
  • Le Uy Muc
  • Le Tuong Duc
  • Le Chieu Tong
  • Le Cung Hoang
  • Le Trang Tong
  • Le Trung Tong
  • Le Anh Tong
  • Le Kinh Tong
  • Le Than Tong
  • Le Chan Tong
  • Le Huyen Tong
  • Le Gia Tong
  • Le Hy Tong
  • Le Du Tong
  • Le De Duy Phuong
  • Le Thuan Tong
  • Le Y Tong
  • Le Hien Tong
  • Le Chieu Thong
Vietnam dynasties

2.4. Vietnam Nguyen Dynasty – the last dynasty of Vietnam

Reigning from 1802 to 1945, the Nguyen Dynasty was the final period of the era of Vietnam dynasties. It brought significant changes in politics, national defense, and culture.

There were two strikingly different eras of the Nguyen Dynasty. It started as an independent monarchy for the entire country before entering the recession period and eventually dissolving due to the French conquest.

Culturally, this era marked another key change in the country’s history. Due to the influence of France, Vietnam stood between Western and traditional values, which is still reflected by architecture, art, and other elements today.

Nguyen Dynasty had 12 Emperors:

  • Gia Long
  • Minh Mang
  • Thieu Tri
  • Tu Duc
  • Duc Duc
  • Hiep Hoa
  • Kien Phuc
  • Ham Nghi
  • Dong Khanh
  • Thanh Thai
  • Duy Tan
  • Bao Dai
Vietnam dynasties

>>> Learn about the establishment of the government of Vietnam!

3. Where to explore the landmarks of Vietnam dynasties?

To fully appreciate Vietnam dynasties, you should plan your Vietnam travel around the most notable Vietnam historical sites. These are 5 of the best historical places in Vietnam for you to pay a visit.

3.1. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Ninh Binh is a compelling attraction to discover the history of Vietnam dynasties. Explore the remains of palaces, temples, and tombs, reflecting the grandeur of a time that has long gone. Surrounded by picturesque landscapes of limestone mountains and rice fields, Hoa Lu offers a captivating journey into Vietnam's historical heritage, providing a deeper understanding of the country's dynastic past.

3.2. Thang Long Citadel 

Thang Long Citadel in Hanoi is one of the key locations of Vietnam dynasties' rich history, particularly the Ly Dynasty. Here, visitors can explore ancient architectural remnants, gates, and palaces that highlight the country's cultural and political evolution. This site will transport visitors through time, revealing the dynastic legacy and the enduring spirit of Vietnam's past rulers.

Vietnam dynasties

3.3. Ho Dynasty Citadel

Ho Dynasty Citadel, located in Thanh Hoa Province, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site reflecting the era of Vietnam dynasties. Built by the Ho Dynasty, the citadel is renowned for its remarkable architectural design, featuring massive stone walls, elegant gates, and impressive defensive structures.

3.4. Hue Historic Citadel 

Hue Historic Citadel is an unmissable complex for any Hue trip.This UNESCO World Heritage Site served as the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. The Citadel's magnificent architecture, including the Forbidden Purple City and numerous temples, provides a glimpse into the country's rich past, especially the final period of Vietnam dynasties.

Vietnam dynasties

3.5. Son Tay Citadel

Located in the town of Son Tay, over 40 kilometers away from the center of Hanoi, the ancient citadel of Son Tay stands as a unique military architectural masterpiece in Vietnam. Exploring this well-preserved site allows visitors to delve into the history of Vietnam dynasties while admiring the symmetrical design of the citadel.

Make sure you choose the best time to visit Vietnam if you are aiming for these destinations. Since they possess unique architectural aspects at gorgeous locations, you will need favorable weather to fully appreciate the views and discover these Vietnam dynasties.

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Vietnam dynasties


Vietnam dynasties

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The era of Vietnam dynasties had gone by with numerous ruling families playing a role in the nation's development. These periods of Vietnamese history witnessed territorial expansions, cultural achievements, and challenges to national sovereignty. They have shaped the country's political, social, and cultural landscape, laying the foundation for the modern nation we see today. Understanding their legacies offers a profound appreciation of Vietnam's rich heritage and the enduring spirit of its people across the ages.

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