Humiliating defeat of the Mongol army invading Dai Viet by the Chinese Tran dynasty

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,437
I was referring to Chinese records. The Vietnamese may indeed have borrowed this set of terms much earlier, but the Chinese never called the Vietnamese Xia, Zhongguo, or Han. It is highly plausible that they did envision themselves in Chinese dynastic terms, as Vietnam was more connected to the Chinese empire historically than most other neighboring states, but an early 19th century usage still surprises me, as by this time Vietnam had not been under Chinese rule for many centuries.
The difference between Vietnam and Korea is that the former viewed themselves as parallels to northern courts stationed in China, a competitor in the Sino-sphere, and has been politically cut off from China since the five dynasties, whereas on the contradictory, the later became more and more closely tied to China socio-politically and never viewed itself as parallel to the court in China, but as a loyal regional king rather than a competitor of the Sino-sphere.
 
Feb 2011
1,018
The difference between Vietnam and Korea is that the former viewed themselves as parallels to northern courts stationed in China, a competitor in the Sino-sphere, and has been politically cut off from China since the five dynasties, whereas on the contradictory, the later became more and more closely tied to China socio-politically and never viewed itself as parallel to the court in China, but as a loyal regional king rather than a competitor of the Sino-sphere.
It would seem they had their own version of "Sinocentrism," with Vietnam as "Zhongguo," "Xia," and "Han." I suppose this could create problems of interpretation when it comes to evaluating the degree to which Vietnamese dynasties/kingdoms were "Chinese," since semantically "Chinese" could be considered a cultural-political identity, which Vietnam may have adopted.

But I think it would be excessive to claim that Vietnamese dynasties considered themselves successors of Chinese dynasties, unless we have evidence of such from Vietnamese records. They adopted the political and cultural ideology and terminology of Chinese civilization, but they were a separate "Zhongguo" than the one we usually call China, with a separate definition of their "Central Plains." In terms of competition, this would make them rival states, but I do not believe any Vietnamese court ever thought that it had the right to the Chinese throne or tried to challenge the emperors of China for their position.

As for Korea, certainly that would characterize the status of Goryeo and Joseon, which always interacted with the Chinese world through the symbolic network of the tributary system. Perhaps being closer to the center of imperial power in East Asia - regardless of who held it - made it much harder to try and claim parity, since it'd invite conflict and invasion.
 
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May 2016
5
Disneyland
The difference between Vietnam and Korea is that the former viewed themselves as parallels to northern courts stationed in China, a competitor in the Sino-sphere, and has been politically cut off from China since the five dynasties, whereas on the contradictory, the later became more and more closely tied to China socio-politically and never viewed itself as parallel to the court in China, but as a loyal regional king rather than a competitor of the Sino-sphere.
It's not "never". Only after capitulating to the Mongols, did Goryeo become like that. And Joseon followed the tradition. Korean monarchs didn't always use the term "King". They used a plethora of other titles such as "Greatest King" and "Emperor". They also had their own era names which means that they considered themselves an "empire" (in the Asian sense at least).

Furthermore, the Vietnamese system is closer to "emperor at home, king outside home" which is also what Japanese and pre-Yuan Korean rulers usually used.

Another difference is that many Vietnamese states were militarily occupied by Chinese states for centuries at a time, while Korean states were successful in staying unoccupied either through warfare or diplomacy.
 
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heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,437
But I think it would be excessive to claim that Vietnamese dynasties considered themselves successors of Chinese dynasties, unless we have evidence of such from Vietnamese records. They adopted the political and cultural ideology and terminology of Chinese civilization, but they were a separate "Zhongguo" than the one we usually call China, with a separate definition of their "Central Plains." In terms of competition, this would make them rival states, but I do not believe any Vietnamese court ever thought that it had the right to the Chinese throne or tried to challenge the emperors of China for their position.

Furthermore, the Vietnamese system is closer to "emperor at home, king outside home" which is also what Japanese and pre-Yuan Korean rulers usually used.

Vietnam did consider itself a center, however, it would be incorrect to view Vietnam (and Korea) in the same light as Japan's ethno-centrism. Vietnamese and Korean ethno-centrism is still based on Sino-centrism (I do not mean Han centrism; Sino-centrism and Han nationalism are two different things, the later is a western influenced modern construct based on linguistics and politics) and not a different civilization which adopted Chinese imperial ideologies to its own history as in the case of Japan.

Vietnam certainly considered themselves successors to the sage kings and the three dynasties (it had temples worshiping the sages and early lords, claimed descent from them, which Japan never had). It is during the Han and afterwards, with states such as Nanyue, that Vietnam viewed itself as a separate court (note that Vietnam claimed succession from Nanyue based purely on geography, and not at all on "ethnicity", they know full well that Zhaotuo was from the Central plains). But sources of the 18-19th century showed that the Vietnamese viewed themselves as the more legit successor of the ancients than the Qing.
They used a plethora of other titles such as "Greatest King" and "Emperor".
Earlier Korean kings did adopt their own calendar, but other than the creation of the Korean Empire after the Sino-Japanese war, I have not heard of any other time where Korean kings referred to themselves as an emperor. They certainly did not refer to themselves as "courts" parallel to a China based regime like Vietnam did.

As for Korea, certainly that would characterize the status of Goryeo and Joseon, which always interacted with the Chinese world through the symbolic network of the tributary system. Perhaps being closer to the center of imperial power in East Asia - regardless of who held it - made it much harder to try and claim parity, since it'd invite conflict and invasion.
Joseon was Sino-centric without being ethno-centric (opposed to the Vietnamese), and in someways, more than even the Chinese. They often referred to themselves as "little Zhonghua" after the Qing takeover since they consider themselves the true legitimate successors of Hua civilization after the Ming collapsed. The king still used the Ming calendar internally and continued emperor Chongzheng's reign years and never adopted the Qing reign years.
 
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May 2016
5
Disneyland
Earlier Korean kings did adopt their own calendar, but other than the creation of the Korean Empire after the Sino-Japanese war, I have not heard of any other time where Korean kings referred to themselves as an emperor. They certainly did not refer to themselves as "courts" parallel to a Chinese regime like Vietnam did.
They did. It wasn't exactly 皇帝 though. Sometimes it was 好太王, 海東天子, 皇上, etc together with era names. The misconception that all Korean rulers were kings comes from the fact that all records written during the Joseon period used the term King for all former Korean rulers. But earlier records and relics prove that many Korean rulers used different titles and considered themselves an empire. Including other evidence such as the structure of the Goryeo palace that signified an emperor not a king.
 
May 2016
5
Disneyland
Including other evidence such as the structure of the Goryeo palace that signified an emperor not a king.
What I meant by this is that an emperor's palace has 5 gates (e.g. Goryeo palace), but a king's palace has 3 gates (e.g. Joseon palace). The Goryeo palace was destroyed a long time ago but the foundations remain.
 
Jun 2007
240
'm afraid this is not as simple as you are making it out to be, since you are still reading modern nation into this. Dai Viet (Da Yue) is just the name of the regime, in the same way that Song or Liao was the name of the regime, and the very idea of a "southern dynasty" meant that they consider themselves a southern court parallel to the Song in the same way the Liao considered themselves a parallel northern court to the Song.
Name of regime? That's funny!
Considering that name remained unchanged for almost 1000 years except for certain brief periods, whereas "China" changed name all the times: Song, Yuan, Ming, etc. The name of a Vietnamese dynasty might change, but its guohao remained almost constant.

and the very idea of a "southern dynasty" meant that they consider themselves a southern court parallel to the Song in the same way the Liao considered themselves a parallel northern court to the Song.
That is true, but what more important is they all called themselves Dai Viet, a separate Zhongguo which wished to not bound its destiny to whatever big chunks of land in the North.

It's not really until the Nguyen dynasty that we find the dynasty officially having a seal that saids "Great southern state". Yet, in numerous internal sources, they still referred to themselves as Zhongguo and the Qing as Waiyi.
That's easy to understand, since only in Nguyen dynasty had the name of the country been changed into "Dai Nam" (Da Nan). Before that, they called themselves Da Yue.
Besides, they view themselves as a Southern state long before the Nguyen:
南國山河南帝居
截然定分在天書
如何逆虜來侵犯
汝等行看取敗虛
(About XIth century) (Poem: Nanguo Shanhe)


惟,我大越之國,
實為文獻之邦。
山川之封域既殊,
南北之風俗亦異。
自趙丁李陳之肇造我國,
與漢唐宋元而各帝一方。
(Nguyen Trai, Poem: Binh Ngo Dai Cao)

Vietnam certainly considered themselves successors to the sage kings and the three dynasties (it had temples worshiping the sages and early lords, claimed descent from them, which Japan never had). It is during the Han and afterwards, with states such as Nanyue, that Vietnam viewed itself as a separate court (note that Vietnam claimed succession from Nanyue based purely on geography, and not at all on "ethnicity", they know full well that Zhaotuo was from the Central plains). But sources of the 18-19th century showed that the Vietnamese viewed themselves as the more legit successor of the ancients than the Qing.
Whatever they viewed their ancestors were, they wanted nothing to do with becoming a direct province inside of the whatever big Northern dynasty was. They viewed themselves as an entirely separate political entity since their inception. Sure, they viewed themselves as "Chinese" in the sense that their civilization was heavily influenced by "Chinese civilization" (even then their local culture was a significant different, and their political institution went on significant modifications), but political and geographical independence must be asserted. Today, even their language is different. And yes, at certain period of times, they viewed themselves as being more civilized than those in the North. Especially when "China" was occupied by a bunch of Mongols or Manchus.

The official attitude of any legit Vietnamese dynasty is this: As long as "China" remained peaceful and did not consider any types of political and military intervention, they would be submissive and paid tribute to the "Chinese" court. Yet if the northerners ever thought of turning this vassal state into a Chinese province, or dreamed of putting any throne contender at their will, then the Vietnamese never hesitated to tell them to kindly **** off. (Sorry for strong language, but it's clear in their historical documents).
 
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Jun 2007
240
I have not heard of any other time where Korean kings referred to themselves as an emperor. They certainly did not refer to themselves as "courts" parallel to a China based regime like Vietnam did.
The typical attitude of a Vietnamese ruler towards China based emperor could be significantly different from that of a Korean one. During Joseon period, I heard that a Joseon king only wore this kind of hat with 9 strings, while a Ming emperor's hat had 12 strings on it.

The Le king was not hesitated to wear a hat of exactly 12 strings, since he regarded himself as no inferior to the Chinese emperor.

http://media.thethaovanhoa.vn/2013/07/13/17/30/Ngan-nam-ao-mu-2-Custom.JPG

The source for this is Dr. Tran Quang Duc, a young reputed scholar brought into my attention by my friends.
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,437
Name of regime? That's funny!
Considering that name remained unchanged for almost 1000 years except for certain brief periods, whereas "China" changed name all the times: Song, Yuan, Ming, etc. The name of a Vietnamese dynasty might change, but its guohao remained almost constant.
We actually have the same instance in Chinese history where two succeeding dynasties had the same dynastic name, "Zhao", "Wei", "Yan", "Han", just to name a few. The only difference is that posterity added the term "former" and "later" into it. Vietnam is different in that it existed longer, but the concept of a state name based on location, at least initially, appears similar and that's why Viet regimes claimed successor to Nam Viet.


That is true, but what more important is they all called themselves Dai Viet, a separate Zhongguo which wished to not bound its destiny to whatever big chunks of land in the North.
This seem to have been the case by the Ming dynasty because of the passage of time, and the constant northern invasions which forged a Viet identity, but one wonders whether this is in fact the case during the Song and how much Dai Viet is different from Xixia or the Liao in this respect.

That's easy to understand, since only in Nguyen dynasty had the name of the country been changed into "Dai Nam" (Da Nan). Before that, they called themselves Da Yue.
Besides, they view themselves as a Southern state long before the Nguyen:
南國山河南帝居
截然定分在天書
如何逆虜來侵犯
汝等行看取敗虛
(About XIth century) (Poem: Nanguo Shanhe)


惟,我大越之國,
實為文獻之邦。
山川之封域既殊,
南北之風俗亦異。
自趙丁李陳之肇造我國,
與漢唐宋元而各帝一方。
(Nguyen Trai, Poem: Binh Ngo Dai Cao)

There are indeed plenty of writings where the Viets attempt to establish a unique identity, but I am not convinced how this significantly differs from other "Chinese regimes" such as Liao, Xixia, or even Dong Wu and Shu Han, which also speaks of different customs from the "central state". There simply weren't clearly defined nations.




Whatever they viewed their ancestors were, they wanted nothing to do with becoming a direct province inside of the whatever big Northern dynasty was. They viewed themselves as an entirely separate political entity since their inception. Sure, they viewed themselves as "Chinese" in the sense that their civilization was heavily influenced by "Chinese civilization" (even then their local culture was a significant different, and their political institution went on significant modifications), but political and geographical independence must be asserted. Today, even their language is different. And yes, at certain period of times, they viewed themselves as being more civilized than those in the North. Especially when "China" was occupied by a bunch of Mongols or Manchus.

The official attitude of any legit Vietnamese dynasty is this: As long as "China" remained peaceful and did not consider any types of political and military intervention, they would be submissive and paid tribute to the "Chinese" court. Yet if the northerners ever thought of turning this vassal state into a Chinese province, or dreamed of putting any throne contender at their will, then the Vietnamese never hesitated to tell them to kindly **** off. (Sorry for strong language, but it's clear in their historical documents).
You can say the same about several of the regimes of the Warring States, Northern and Southern dynasties and even the Dong Wu of the three kingdoms period. The idea that there is a unified Chinese identity without cultural variances and the lack of desire for independent line of rule is just the product of modern nationalist narrative. I do not see fundamental differences between Dong Wu and Nam Viet.
 
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Jun 2007
240
We actually have the same instance in Chinese history where two succeeding dynasties had the same dynastic name, "Zhao", "Wei", "Yan", "Han", just to name a few. The only difference is that posterity added the term "former" and "later" into it. Vietnam is different in that it existed longer, but the concept of a state name based on location, at least initially, appears similar and that's why Viet regimes claimed successor to Nam Viet.
You misunderstand the term Da Yue.

IT DOESN'T MATTER WHICH VIETNAMESE DYNASTY WAS CURRENTLY IN POWER, their guohao remained "Dai Viet" until the Nguyen dynasty, even during the fragmentation period of between Trinh and Nguyen. The Chinese emperor would still bestow the same title "Annan Guowang" to the king of Le dynasty, even if he was then only a figurehead. It was an almost unbroken name for the land where the king ruled, even though from outside they still called it Annan or Giao Chi (Jiaozhi). Thus, in almost all titles written about Vietnam, extant or disappeared, we found "Hoang Viet" (The Royal Viet), "Dai Viet" (The Great Viet). "Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu" for example didn't list Le, Ly, Tran and later Le as the name of the STATE, but simply the name of a dynasty. The "guohao" remained "Dai Viet", that was the significant difference between "Han, Zhao, etc" and the Vietnamese. In fact, the Vietnamese NEVER used the name of a dynasty to name their own state.

that's why Viet regimes claimed successor to Nam Viet.
This is a significantly more complex issue, they regarded themselves as a successor to different ancestors at different times. When the Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu was written in the 16th century, they already manufactured an entire king Hung's lineage who supposed to rule the land of Viet since antiquity.

During the period of intense civil war, between the Trinh and Mac lords, with Bau lords (regional power in Tuyen Quang province) involved in sporadic conflicts, the name of the country remained "Dai Viet", not "Le" as in the name of the figurehead dynasty.

For more information:
https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chúa_Trịnh
https://vi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chúa_Bầu
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mạc_dynasty

The Mac kings actually proclaimed themselves "kings" while Trinh lords didn't use this title since they employed the political trope "helping the king" to legitimize their power, in this case the Le dynasty.

You can say the same about several of the regimes of the Warring States, Northern and Southern dynasties and even the Dong Wu of the three kingdoms period. The idea that there is a unified Chinese identity without cultural variances and the lack of desire for independent line of rule is just the product of modern nationalist narrative. I do not see fundamental differences between Dong Wu and Nam Viet.
No, during Warring States Period, you say "Qinguo" (State of Qin), "Yanguo" (State of Yan) etc, other periods followed suit. In Vietnamese history, that was rarely the case, the overall name remained "Dai Viet". Nobody, even in folk culture, called "State of Trinh", "State of Mac" or "State of Bau".

It is certainly interesting to research more deeply into the idea of statehood in Vietnamese history.

You can say the same about several of the regimes of the Warring States, Northern and Southern dynasties and even the Dong Wu of the three kingdoms period. The idea that there is a unified Chinese identity without cultural variances and the lack of desire for independent line of rule is just the product of modern nationalist narrative. I do not see fundamental differences between Dong Wu and Nam Viet.
I don't have the experience with 3 kingdoms history. But what I mean to say before is that the "Chaogong" system served as a mean for the Viets to preserve peace with Chinese dynasty. Due to the balance of power, they chose to be submissive outward to buy peace and to be bestowed the title "king". It was quite like a contract.

There are indeed plenty of writings where the Viets attempt to establish a unique identity, but I am not convinced how this significantly differs from other "Chinese regimes" such as Liao, Xixia, or even Dong Wu and Shu Han, which also speaks of different customs from the "central state". There simply weren't clearly defined nations.
It survived much longer thus allowing for future evolution.
 
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