The fourth Chinese domination was a period of the history of Vietnam, from 1407 to 1427 during which the country was invaded and ruled by the Chinese Ming dynasty. It was the result of the conquest of the region in 1406 to 1407. The previous periods of Chinese rules, collectively known as the Bắc thuộc periods in Vietnam, were longer-lasting, constituting much of Vietnam's history from 111 BC to 939 AD. The fourth Chinese occupation of Vietnam was eventually ended with the establishment of the Lê dynasty.


Ming invasion of Vietnam

The former ruling dynasty of Đại Việt, the Trần, had relations with the Yuan and Ming Empire as a tributary. However, in 1400, Hồ Quý Ly deposed and massacred the Trần house before usurping the throne. After taking the throne, Hồ renamed the country from Dai Viet to Dai Ngu. In 1402, he abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Hồ Hán Thương (胡漢蒼).

In October 1404, Trần Thiên Bính (陳添平) arrived at the Ming imperial court in Nanjing, claiming to be a Trần prince. He notified the court of the treacherous events that had taken place and appealed to the court for the restoration of his throne.

The Yongle Emperor of the Ming Empire issued an edict reprimanding the usurper and demanding the restoration of the Tran throne, a pretext to the annexation of Vietnam. As the party crossed the border into Lạng Sơn, Hồ's forces ambushed them and killed the Trần prince that the Ming convoy were escorting back.

In the winter of 1406, the Ming armies began their invasion. Zhang Fu and Mu Sheng departed from Guangxi and Yunnan respectively to launch a pincer attack into enemy territory. On 19 November 1406, they captured the two capitals and other important cities in the Red River Delta. Hồ Quý Ly and his son were captured on 16 June 1407, they were caged and brought as prisoners to the Yongle Emperor in Nanjing.

Revolt of Trần aristocrats

There was several revolts among the Vietnamese people against the Ming authorities, only to be crushed by the Ming army. Among the people who led the rebellion were, Trần Ngỗi (revolted 1407–09), a young son of the late Trần emperor Trần Nghệ Tông and Trần Quý Khoáng, a nephew. These revolts were short-lived and poorly planned but they helped lay some of the groundwork for Lê Lợi's war for independence.

Lam Sơn uprising

Lê Lợi, one of Vietnam's most celebrated heroes, is credited with rescuing the country from Ming domination in 1428. Born of a wealthy landowning family, he served as a senior scholar-official until the advent of the Ming, whom he refused to serve. After a decade of gathering a resistance movement around him, Le Loi and his forces finally defeated the Ming army in 1428. Rather than putting to death the captured Ming soldiers and administrators, he magnanimously provided ships and supplies to send them back to China. Le Loi then ascended the Vietnamese throne, taking the reign name Lê Thái Tổ and establishing the Lê dynasty (1428–1788).

Suppression of Vietnamese culture

When the Ming invaded; all classical Vietnamese printing blocks, books and materials were burned and suppressed. Vietnamese records like gazettes, maps, and registers were instructed to be burned, saved for one copy.[1]

This policy was strictly enforced by Yongle emperor. His command to the army in Vietnam in July 1406 is as follow:

兵入。除釋道經板經文不燬。外一切書板文字以至俚俗童蒙所習。如上大人丘乙已之類。片紙隻字悉皆燬之。其境內中國 所立碑刻則存之。但是安南所立者悉壞之。一字不存。

"Once our army enter Annam (Vietnam currenly), except Buddhist and Taoist text; all books and notes, including folklore and children book, should be burnt. The stelas erected by China should be protected carefully, while those erected by Annamese (Vietnamese currently), should be completely annihilated, do not spare even one character."

Yongle's command on 21 May 1407 read:

"I have repeatedly told you all to burnt all Annamese books, including folklore and children books and the local stelas should be destroyed immediately upon sight. Recently I heard our soldiers hesitated and read those books before burning them. Most soldiers do not know how to read, if this policy is adapted widely, it will be a waste of our time. Now you have to strictly obey my previous command, and burnt all local books upon sight, without hesitation."

For this reason almost no vernacular chữ nôm texts survive from before the Ming invasion. Various ancient sites such as pagoda Bao Minh were looted and destroyed. The Ming dynasty applied various Sinicization policies to spread more Chinese culture in the occupied nation.


The Ming government began a harsh rule of both colonization and sinicization. Valuable artifacts such as gems, jade, gold, pieces of art as well as craftsmen were transported to China. The Chinese had greatly encouraged the development and the use of gold and silver mines. But right after the silver and gold were extracted they impounded them and sent a fraction of these minerals to Beijing. They also imposed salt taxes, but a slightly heavier tax against those who produced salt in Annam.

Military and administration

Non-Han ethnic minorities fought in the Chinese army against the Ho.[2] It was instructed that the Ming army should free foreign prisoners who were jailed in Vietnam.[3]

To keep the people under control in Vietnam, the Ming government issued, and utilized the "So Ho" system, (literally meaning Family Book) at the lowest village community level. Whenever there was a change in a family, a change in the book was recorded and approved. Based on this information, they created a systematic military service enrollment process for all young men deemed fit enough to serve in the future for the Imperial Chinese Army. This process was no different than what other governments did to subjugated areas, nonetheless, this had created a negative feeling against the Chinese government. In addition, many talented Vietnamese individuals with varying trades and backgrounds who could make significant contributions were allowed to become government officials in China where they served in the Chinese imperial government.

The Ming's ethnic Vietnamese collaborators included Mac Thuy whose grandfather was Mạc Đĩnh Chi who was a direct ancestor of Mạc Đăng Dung.[4][5]

Vietnam received firearms from Ming dynasty rule over Vietnam.[6][7]

The conquest of Champa was enabled when Vietnam's north received gunpowder weapons from the Ming dynasty along with Neo-Confucianist thought.[8]

It was recorded that the union of Vietnamese women and Chinese (Ngô) men produced offspring which were left behind in Vietnam, and the Chams, Cẩu Hiểm, Laotians, these people, and Vietnamese natives who collaborated with the Ming were made into slaves of the Le government in the Complete Annals of Đại Việt.[9]

There was no mandatory required reparation of the voluntarily remaining Ming Chinese in Vietnam. The return of the Ming Chinese to China was commanded by the Ming and not Le Loi. The Trai made up the supporters of Le Loi in his campaign. He lived among the Trai at the border regions as their leader and seized the Ming ruled lowland Kinh areas after originally forming his base in the southern highland regions. The southern dwelling Trai and Red River dwelling Vietnamese were in effect locked in a "civil war" during the anti Ming rebellion by Le Loi.[10]

The leader Lưu Bác Công (Liu Bogong) in 1437 commanded a Dai Viet military squad made out of ethnic Chinese since even after the independence of Dai Viet, Chinese remained behind.[11] Vietnam received Chinese defectors from Yunnan in the 1400s.[12][13]

See also


  1. ^ http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/entry/916
  2. ^ http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/entry/906
  3. ^ http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/entry/920
  4. ^ K. W. Taylor (9 May 2013). A History of the Vietnamese. Cambridge University Press. pp. 232–. ISBN 978-0-521-87586-8. 
  5. ^ Bruce M. Lockhart; William J. Duiker (14 April 2010). The A to Z of Vietnam. Scarecrow Press. pp. 229–. ISBN 978-1-4617-3192-4. 
  6. ^ Military Technology Transfers from Ming China and the Emergence of Northern Mainland Southeast Asia (c. 1390-1527) Sun Laichen Journal of Southeast Asian Studies Vol. 34, No. 3 (Oct., 2003), pp. 495-517 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of Department of History, National University of Singapore Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20072535 Page Count: 23
  7. ^ Michael Arthur Aung-Thwin; Kenneth R. Hall (13 May 2011). New Perspectives on the History and Historiography of Southeast Asia: Continuing Explorations. Routledge. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-1-136-81964-3. 
  8. ^ Jeff Kyong-McClain; Yongtao Du (2013). Chinese History in Geographical Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 67–. ISBN 978-0-7391-7230-8. 
  9. ^ https://leminhkhai.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/the-ngo-in-the-du-dia-chi-were-not-the-ming/#comment-56679
  10. ^ K. W. Taylor (9 May 2013). A History of the Vietnamese. Cambridge University Press. pp. 191–. ISBN 978-0-521-87586-8. 
  11. ^ Li, Tana (2010). "3 The Ming Factor and the Emergency of the Viet in the 15th Century". In Wade, Geoff; Sun, Laichen. Southeast Asia in the Fifteenth Century: The China Factor. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 95–96. ISBN 978-988-8028-48-1. 
  12. ^ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248395427_The_Ming_factor_and_the_Emergence_of_the_Viet_in_the_15th_century p. 88 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tana_Li/publication/248395427_The_Ming_factor_and_the_Emergence_of_the_Viet_in_the_15th_century/file/60b7d51df84438389a.pdf
  13. ^ Geoff Wade; Laichen Sun (2010). Southeast Asia in the Fifteenth Century: The China Factor. Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 978-9971-69-448-7. 

Further reading

  • Viet Nam Su Luoc by Trần Trọng Kim
  • Viet Su Toan Thu of Pham Van Son
  • Tsai, Shih-shan Henry. (1996). The Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty (illustrated ed.). SUNY Press. ISBN\ 1438422369. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
Preceded by
Hồ dynasty
Later Trần dynasty
Fourth Chinese domination of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Later Lê dynasty