An Dương Vương

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An Dương Vương
AnDuongVuong, crop.jpg
Statue of An Dương Vương in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
King of Âu Lạc
Reign257 BC – 208 BC or 208 BC - 179 BC
PredecessorHùng Duệ Vương of Văn Lang
SuccessorDynasty collapsed
Triệu Đà of Nanyue
Died208 BC[1] or 179 BC[2][a]
IssueMỵ Châu
Full name
Thục Phán ()
HouseThục Dynasty
FatherThục Chế (in Tày people's legend)[3][4]
An Dương Vương
Vietnamese name
VietnameseAn Dương Vương
Birth name
Vietnamese alphabetThục Phán

An Dương Vương (Vietnamese: [ʔaːn zɨəŋ vɨəŋ]) was a legendary and the only ruler of the kingdom of Âu Lạc (now Vietnam). As the leader of the Âu Việt tribes, he defeated and seized the throne from the last Hùng king of the state of Văn Lang and united its people - known as the Lạc Việt - with his people the Âu Việt. An Dương Vương fled and committed suicide after the attack and razing of his capital Cổ Loa. His reign is also known as the Thục dynasty.

Later written accounts

According to Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư (1479), Phán a son of Prince Thục Chế (蜀制; Shù Zhì), a descendant of Lô Tử Bá Vương (literally, "Reed Hegemon-King"), the last ruler of state of Shu (, SV Thục),[5][6] which had been conquered by Qin king Huiwen in 316 BCE. However, a contributor to Khâm định Việt sử Thông giám cương mục (1871) skeptically questioned Phán's status as a descendant of Shu kings.[7]

According to Tày legends, when Chế was a small child, his relatives brought him south and sought refuge in the southern Chinese provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan and then moved to modern-day northwestern Vietnam. Twenty-five years later, Chế married a native woman and had a child named Phán, who would beceme a well-known warrior in his adulthood. Phán united the southern Yue tribes and Sinitic refugees in Tây Âu through force. Later on, Phán and his forces defeated the Hùng king, ruler of the neighbouring Lạc Việt, and annexed the Lạc's Văn Lang state in the Red River Delta into Phán's newly established Âu Lạc kingdom. In 214 BC, Huiwen's descendant Qin Shi Huang ordered the invasion and subjugation of the Yue territories, and Âu Lạc's resistances lasted until 208 BC.

Some modern Vietnamese[who?] believe[why?] that Thục Phán came upon the territory of the Âu Việt tribes (modern-day northernmost Vietnam, western Guangdong, and southern Guangxi province, with its capital in what is today Cao Bằng Province).[8]

Thục Phán's Conquest of Văn Lang

Thục Phán assembled an army and defeated the 18th dynasty of the Hùng king, the last line of rulers of the Hồng Bàng dynasty of Văn Lang, around 257 BC. He proclaimed himself An Dương Vương (literally "Peaceful Virile King") and renamed Văn Lang as Âu Lạc after the names of the conquering and conquered peoples. He established his fortress and new capital on a rise above the Red River valley at Co Loa in present-day Hanoi's Dong Anh district, about 16 kilometers (10 mi) north-east of the city centre.[9]

An Dương Vương and Âu Lạc's administration

There is little recorded or written about how the new Âu Lạc was administered and organized.

Nonetheless, based on legendary records, An Dương Vương was seemingly an astute, intelligent, and significant figure. Certainly he was a talented general who knew how to exploit the confusion and turmoil in China during that period, not only to take control of territory and establish a separate state for his people, but also to secure his state's prosperity and survival. China at this time was the subject of numerous battles between the various Warring States who were fighting for overall control and domination of their neighbouring states. Eventually, the Qin state rose to power and unified China in 211 BC under Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Around the time that Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of the Great Wall, An Dương Vương began the construction of a spiral fortress called Cổ Loa Citadel (Vietnamese: Cổ Loa Thành) to defend his state against invasions.

The legend of Cổ Loa Citadel and the Magical Crossbow

Cổ Loa Citadel and Âu Lạc

After Thục Phán defeated the last Hùng king and ascended to the throne as An Dương Vương, he renamed Văn Lang to Âu Lạc and established the Cổ Loa Citadel as his new capital.[10] He saw the strategic and geographic importance of Cổ Loa. On two of its sides, Cổ Loa was surrounded by impenetrable mountains and forests. There was also a river flowing by. It is not known why An Dương Vương favoured the spiral, shell-like shape of Cổ Loa Citadel, but it is said that its construction was extremely tough and difficult to complete. According to legend, each time it seemed near completion, the work was undone at night by a horde of evil spirits.

The legend of Cổ Loa and the Magic Crossbow

An Dương Vương burnt incense, prayed, made offerings and evoked the gods to help him. One night, in a dream, an old and frail man with long, white hair came to him and told him the only person who could help him build his citadel was a golden turtle that lived somewhere around Cổ Loa.

A few days later, while sitting in a boat on the river and thinking about the meaning of his dream, a giant golden turtle suddenly emerged from the water. The golden turtle told An Dương Vương that he would need one of its claws in order to accomplish his plan. Pulling out one of its claws and throwing it to An Dương Vương, the turtle vanished.

An Dương Vương had Cao Lỗ, his weaponry engineer, build a crossbow incorporating this claw which could shoot thousands of arrows at once. Indeed, right after obtaining this claw, An Dương Vương saw his fortunes change. His capital started taking shape. His kingdom prospered and soon was coveted by neighbouring states. Among those who coveted his territory was Zhao Tuo (Triệu Đà in Vietnamese), a Qin general who refused to surrender to the newly established Han Dynasty. For a period of ten years around 197 to 179 BC, Triệu Đà attempted many invasions to conquer Âu Lạc but failed each time due to An Dương Vương's military skills and defensive tactics.

Triệu Đà's scheme

Triệu Đà, having been beaten several times, devised a new plan. He negotiated a peace treaty with Âu Lạc. He determined to find out the strengths and strategies of his foe. He even went so far as to propose marriage between An Dương Vương’s daughter, Princess Mỵ Châu () and his son Trọng Thủy (, Zhong Shi). In time Triệu Đà found out through his daughter-in-law Mỵ Châu that An Dương Vương had a magic crossbow that made him almost invincible. Triệu Đà then he told his son Trọng Thủy to sneak into his father-in-law's palace and steal this "magic crossbow", replacing it with a fake. Triệu Đà, with the magic crossbow in his hands, launched a new attack on his foe and in-law An Dương Vương.

The deaths of Mỵ Châu and Trọng Thủy

This time, Cổ Loa fortress fell into Triệu Đà's hands. An Dương Vương grabbed Mỵ Châu, his only daughter, and fled the scene of the battle. He rode to the river and encountered the giant golden turtle, which told An Dương Vương, “The enemy is sitting right behind you!”

Angered by his own daughter's betrayal, the king slew his daughter (in a popular version of the tale he beheaded her). Then he jumped into the river with the giant golden turtle.

Trọng Thủy, searching for his beloved wife , arrived a few minutes later at the scene. Her body was lying in a pool of blood and his father-in-law was nowhere to be seen. In accordance with conjugal fidelity and devotion, he drew his sword and killed himself as well, in order to be with his wife forever in eternity. In another version of the legend, after discovering Mị Châu's body, Trọng Thủy took her home. Later, when Trọng Thủy was in control of Âu Lạc, he was depressed as he missed Mị Châu. One day when he went to the well to take water for a bath, he saw Mị Châu's reflection in the well. So he jumped into the well to reach her and drowned. It was said that he actually committed suicide at the well because of his guilt for allowing his wife to be killed.

Having defeated An Duong Vuong, Triệu Đà annexed the newly conquered territory, created the combined state of Nam Viet (Nanyue) and proclaimed himself the first emperor of the Triệu Dynasty (207–111 BC).

The story of Mỵ Châu and Trọng Thủy is a tragic love story often retold in Vietnamese literature.


Vietnamese historians typically view the main events of this era as having roots in historical fact. However interpretation and reconciliation of the history of the period has been set in, and sometimes against, the history of Soviet interpretation of history.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Sima Qian mentioned neither An Dương Vương nor Zhao Tuo's military conquest of Âu Lạc; just that after Empress Lü's death in 180 BC, Zhao Tuo used his troops to menace and wealth to bribe the Mân Việt, the Tây Âu, and the Lạc into submission


  1. ^ Complete Annals of Đại Việt, Outer Annals 1: Annal of Thục Dynasty
  2. ^ Records of the Grand Historian, vol. 113
  3. ^ "Thành Bản Phủ ở Cao Bình". Trang tin Ban quản lý di tích Khu tưởng niệm các Vua Nhà Mạc. 2012-02-27. Archived from the original on 2014-10-26. Retrieved 2015-02-17. Thục Chế làm vua được 60 năm thì mất, con là Thục Phán mới 10 tuổi, thay cha lên làm vua, cháu Thục Chế là Thục Mô giúp Thục Phán nhiếp chính.
  4. ^ "Hỏi – đáp về thời Âu Lạc". 2013-06-05. Sách “Ngược dòng lịch sử” của GS Trần Quốc Vượng viết rằng sau khi nước Thục bị Tần diệt, con nhỏ vua Thục là Thục Chế được lập lên ngôi, lưu vong về phía đông nam. Tuy nhiên qua thế hệ Thục Chế vẫn phải lẩn trốn trước sự truy nã của Tần và không có cơ hội khôi phục nước Thục cũ. Cuối cùng tới con Thục Chế là Thục Phán thì hình thành quốc gia nằm ở phía bắc Lạc Việt của họ Hồng Bàng. Và sau cuộc chống Tần thắng lợi đã buộc vua Hùng thứ 18 nhường ngôi, lập ra nước Âu Lạc.
    Truyền thuyết Cẩu chúa cheng vùa (“Chín chúa tranh vua”) của người Tày ở Cao Bằng cũng dẫn chúng ta đến hướng nghĩ như trên về gốc tích của An Dương Vương. Theo truyền thuyết này thì Thục Phán là con Thục Chế, vua nước Nam Cương (tên mới của nước Khai Minh?). Thục Phán đã lãnh đạo nước Nam Cương hợp nhất với Văn Lang để lập ra Âu Lạc. Kinh đô xưa của nước Nam Cương vẫn còn dấu tích khá rõ nét. Đó là kinh đô Nam Bình (Cao Bằng) với thành Bản Phủ là nơi vua ở.
  5. ^ Taylor (1983), p. 19
  6. ^ Asian Perspectives, Volume 28, Issue 1 (1990), p. 36
  7. ^ Khâm định Việt Sử Thông giám Cương Mục, 前編/卷之一, in Chinese
  8. ^ 1
  9. ^ Ray, Nick; et al. (2010), "Co Loa Citadel", Vietnam, Lonely Planet, p. 123, ISBN 9781742203898.
  10. ^ An Dương Vương Huy Long Tạ, Việt Hà Nguyẽ̂n – 2008 -"King An Dương Vương builds Loa Thành to protect the country but Triệu Đà sets up his son Trọng Thủy marries An Dương Vương's daughter, Mỵ Châu, to discover and steal the secret."
  11. ^ Patricia M. Pelley -Postcolonial Vietnam: New Histories of the National Past – Page 50 2002 "who relied more on the work of Lenin — most notably Trần Quốc Vượng, Hà Văn Tấn, and Phan Huy Lê — published two pathbreaking studies, Primitive Communism and The History of Feudalism, from which they conspicuously omitted the .....proceeding instead directly from primitive communism to feudalism. Inspired by Lenin's assertions regarding the Slavic countries, historians at the university insisted that beginning with the Hùng kings and the kingdom of Văn Lang... during the reign of An Dương Vương, who ruled the kingdom of Âu Lạc, and through the early stages of the Chinese occupation (from 2879 BC to 43 AD, in other words) Vietnamese society was based on primitive communism "