Zhao Tuo, known in Vietnamese contexts as Triệu Đà, was a Qin
dynasty Chinese general who participated in the conquest of the Baiyue
peoples of Guangdong,
Guangxi and Northern Vietnam. After the fall of
the Qin, he established the independent kingdom of
Nanyue (Nam Viet)
with its capital in
Panyu (now Guangzhou) in 214 BC. In
traditional Vietnamese history, he is considered an emperor of Vietnam
and the founder of the Triệu dynasty, although some modern
historians regard him as a foreign invader.
1.1 Early life
1.2 Conquest of Âu Lạc
1.3 Creation of Nanyue
1.5 Han hostility
4 See also
A statue of Zhao in front of
Heyuan Railway Station
A statue of
Zhao Tuo in Hebei, China
Zhao was born around 240 BC in
Zhending in the state of Zhao (within
modern Hebei). The kingdom of Zhao was defeated and annexed by Qin in
222 BC, whereupon
Zhao Tuo joined it, serving as one of its generals
in its conquest of the
Baiyue lands to its south.
Conquest of Âu Lạc
By Vietnamese historians, rather than Chinese history records, in 207
Zhao Tuo defeated An Dương Vương, king of
Âu Lạc in north
Vietnam. The next year, he annexed
Âu Lạc into his province.
Creation of Nanyue
At the end of the Qin Dynasty, Zhao took control of a region
Guangzhou and Xingu.
Zhao Tuo built up his power
and took over the territory, partially through alliances with native
Baiyue nobility and chieftains. The Qin governor advised Zhao to found
his own independent kingdom, since the area was remote and there were
many Chinese settlers there. He then declared himself king of
Nanyue ("Southern Yue"). His capital was at
Panyu (modern Guangzhou).
For an extended period,
Nanyue was at war with Changsha to the north,
Minyue to the east, and the Southwestern Yi (西南夷) to the west.
Within Nanyue, there were rebellions from the
Tây Âu (Chinese:
西甌; pinyin: Xīōu) and
Lạc Việt (Chinese: 駱越; pinyin:
Luòyuè) tribes. The largest threat to Zhao came from the Han
Dynasty, which continued to claim the territory as a province.
However, at the time, the Han
Dynasty was in no position to challenge
In 196 BC, the Han official Lu Jia gave Zhao a seal legitimizing him
as king of
Nanyue in return for his nominal submission to the Han
emperor. On this occasion,
Zhao Tuo squatted and wore his hair in a
bun in the
Baiyue manner. Early in his reign, Emperor Gaozu gave
three commanderies to the prince of Changsha Wu Rui (長沙王吳芮)
and appointed Yao Wuyu as marquis of Haiyang (海陽侯徭無餘) and
Zhi as prince of Nanhai (南海王織). Emperor Gaozu also put an army
in Changsha state to watch over the
Nanyue kingdom, which made Zhao
Tuo worried about a sudden attack.
Zhao Tuo took an opportunity to
trade and import things in large amounts from the Central Plains. Zhao
Tuo also gave tribute to central authority. After Gaozu died, Emperor
Hui ascended the throne and continued his predecessor's treaty
obligations to Nanyue.
After seven years of the reign of Emperor Hui, Empress Dowager Lü
came to power. In 183 BC, during the later days of her reign, the
Empress suddenly declared trade restrictions. This included useful
products such as iron tools and horses to
Nanyue territory. Wu Rui,
the king of Changsha, was treated well by the Empress. The Han Empire
had originally been founded through alliances with other houses, but
Gaozu had removed all the kings from other dynasties except for Wu
Rui. The empress, however, wanted to appoint kings from her own
family. The blockade had a great impact on the
Nanyue economy, since
Nanyue needed iron plow tools.
Zhao Tuo faulted the Prince of Changsha
for the blockade, sending messengers to the capital of
Chang'an to ask
for its end. But Wu threw the messengers into prison and, upon his
advice, the empress dowager killed Zhao's relatives in the Central
Plains and destroyed his ancestral tomb.
Zhao Tuo declared himself the Martial Emperor of Nanyue
in 183 BC; from this, he is traditionally counted the first emperor of
Vietnam. He sacked Changsha to the North, prompting a counterattack
from Han. However, most of the empress dowager's army died from
disease on their way to Nanyue. The military conflict did not stop
until her death. As the victor,
Zhao Tuo extended his territory by
conquering towns near the boundary with Han's domains. He also
established relationships with Minyue,
Tây Âu (西甌), and Lạc
Việt. The war almost wiped out the trading relations between the
Central Plains and Nanyue.
In 179 BC, Emperor Wen ascended the throne. The new emperor abolished
some of Qin's cruel forms of punishment. Zhao communicated with the
Emperor that if he removed the two generals from Changsha and restored
his relatives in Zhending, he would make peace with Han. Emperor Wen
responded positively, repairing the tombs of Zhao's ancestors,
promoting a surviving member of Zhao family, and moving the Han army
out of Changsha. Afterwards,
Zhao Tuo abandoned his title of emperor.
Nanyue became a vassal state of the Han again, although Zhao Tuo
retained the autonomy of his kingdom and was referred to as emperor
Nanyue until his death in 137 BC, aged 103.
A street in Hiệp Phú Ward (District 9) in
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City is named
^ Brantly Womack (2006).
China and Vietnam: the politics of asymmetry.
Cambridge University Press, 2006. p. 100.
^ Taylor (1983), p. 23
^ Twitchett, Denis; Loewe, Michael, eds. (March 2008). "2 - The Former
Han Dynasty". The Cambridge History of China: Volume 1: The Ch'in and
Han Empires, 221 BC–AD 220. 1. Cambridge University Press.
p. 128. ISBN 9781139054737.
^ a b Taylor, Keith Weller, The Birth of Vietnam, p. 24. University of
California Press, 1991.
^ Hồ Đình Quý (2007-11-20). "Vì sao chọn Triệu Đà để
đặt tên đường? (Why choosing Triệu Đà to name the
street)". Retrieved 2014-09-07.
Taylor, Keith Weller. (1983). The Birth of
reprint ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 0520074173.
Retrieved 7 August 2013.
History of China
History of Vietnam
Qin's campaign against the Yue tribes
Nam Việt War
An Dương Vương
Phiên Ngung Palace
Museum of the Mausoleum of King Triệu Mạt
Luobowan Tomb No.1
Đông Sơn culture
Born: 240 BC Died: 137 BC
An Dương Vương
as king of Âu Lạc
King of Northern Vietnam
203 BC – 137 BC