, temple name = , house = Triệu dynasty , birth_date = 240 BC , birth_place = Zhengding County, Shijiazhuang, China , death_date = 137 BC (aged 103) , death_place = Nanyue , place of burial = Guangzhou Zhao Tuo or Triệu Đà (), was a Qin dynasty Chinese general and first king of Nanyue (Nam Việt). He 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 with its capital in Panyu (now Guangzhou) in 204 BCE. Some traditional Vietnamese history scholars considered him an emperor of Vietnam and the founder of the Triệu dynasty, other historians contested that he was a foreign invader.



Zhao Tuo was born around in Zhending in the ancient Chinese states, state of Zhao (state), Zhao (within modern Hebei). When the state of Zhao was defeated and annexed by Qin (state), Qin in , Zhao Tuo joined the Qin, serving as one of their generals in the conquest of the Baiyue, Yangyue (楊越). The territory of those conquered Yues was divided into the three provinces of Guilin, Nanhai, and Xiang. Zhao served as magistrate in the province of Nanhai until his military commander, Ren Xiao, fell ill. Before he died, Ren advised Zhao not to get involved in the affairs of the declining Qin, and instead set up his own independent kingdom centered around the geographically remote and isolated city of Panyu (modern Guangzhou). Ren gave Zhao full authority to act as military commander of Nanhai and died shortly afterwards. Zhao immediately closed off the roads at Hengpu, Yangshan, and Huangqi. Using one excuse or another he eliminated the Qin officials and replaced them with his own appointees. By the time the Qin fell in 221 BC, Zhao had also conquered the provinces of Guilin and Xiang. He declared himself King Wu of Nanyue (Southern Yue).

Conflict with the Han

In 196 BC, Emperor Gaozu of Han dispatched Lu Jia (Western Han), Lu Jia to recognize Zhao Tuo as king of Nanyue. Lu gave Zhao a seal legitimizing him as king of Nanyue in return for his nominal submission to the Han. In 185 BC, Empress Lü's officials outlawed trade of iron and horses with Nanyue. Zhao Tuo retaliated by proclaiming himself Emperor Wu of Nanyue and attacking the neighboring kingdom of Changsha, taking a few border towns. In 181 BC, Zhou Zao was dispatched by Empress Lü to attack Nanyue, but the heat and dampness caused many of his officers and men to fall ill, and he failed to make it across the mountains into enemy territory. Zhao began to menace the neighboring kingdoms of Minyue, Âu Việt, Western Ou, and Lạc Việt, Luo. After securing their submission he began passing out edicts in a similar manner to the Han emperor. In 180 BC, Emperor Wen of Han made efforts to appease Zhao. Learning that Zhao's parents were buried in Zhending, he set aside a town close by just to take care of their graves. Zhao's cousins were appointed to high offices at the Han court. He also withdrew the army stationed in Changsha on the Han-Nanyue border. In response, Zhao rescinded his claims to emperorship while communicating with the Han, however he continued using the title of emperor within his kingdom. Tribute bearing envoys from Nanyue were sent to the Han and thus the iron trade was resumed.

Conquest of Âu Lạc

Having mobilized his armies for war with the Han dynasty, Zhao Tuo found the conquest of Âu Lạc both "tempting and feasible". The details of the campaign are not authentically recorded. Zhao Tuo's early setbacks and eventual victory against King An Dương were mentioned in ''Records of the Outer Territories of the Jiao province''. Records of the Grand Historian mentioned neither King An Duong nor Zhao Tuo's military conquest of Âu Lạc; just that after Empress Lü's death (180 BCE), Zhao Tuo used his own troops to menace and used wealth to bribe the Minyue, the Âu Việt, Western Ou, and the Lạc Việt, Luo into submission. However, the compaign inspired a legend whose theme is the transfer of the turtle claw-triggered crossbow from King An Duong to Zhao Tuo. According to this legend, ownership of the crossbow conferred the political power. As described in one account, Cao Lỗ is quoted as saying:“He who is able to hold this crossbow rules the realm; he who is not able to hold this crossbow will perish.” Unsuccessful on the battlefield against the supernatural crossbow, Zhao Tuo asked for a truce and sent his son Trọng Thủy, Zhong Shi, to submit to King An Dương to serve him. There, he and King An Duong’s daughter, Mỵ Châu, fell in love and were married. A vestige of the matrilocal organization demanded that the husband came to live in the residence of his wife’s family. As a result, they resided at An Duong’s court until Zhong Shi managed to lay his hands upon the magic crossbow that was the source of King An Duong’s power. Meanwhile, King An Duong treated Cao Lỗ disrespectfully, and he abandoned him. Zhong Shi had Mỵ Châu show him her father's sacred crossbow, at with point he secretly changed its trigger, thus neutralizing its special powers. He stole the turtle claw, rendering the crossbow useless, then returned to his father, who thereupon launched new attack on Âu Lạc and this time defeated King An Dương. History records that, in his defeat, the King jumped into the ocean to commit suicide. In some versions, he was told by the turtle about his daughter's betrayal and killed his own daughter before killing himself. A legend, however, discloses that a golden turtle emerged from the water and guided him into the watery realm. Zhao Tuo subsequently incorporated the regions into his Nanyue domain, but left the indigenous chiefs in control of the population with the royal court in Cổ Loa. For the first time, the region formed part of a polity headed by a Chinese ruler. He posted two legates to supervise the Âu Lạc lords, one in the Hong River Delta, Red River Delta, which was named Giao Chỉ, and one in the Mã River, Mã and Cả River, which was named Cửu Chân. Some records suggest that he also invested a king at Cổ Loa who continued to preside over the Âu Lạc lords. The legates established commercial outposts accessible by sea.


Zhao Tuo died in 137 BC and was succeeded by his grandson, Zhao Mo.


His memorial is in Tuocheng Town, Longchuan County, Guangdong, Longchuan County, Guangdong.

See also

* History of China * History of Vietnam * Qin's campaign against the Yue tribes * Nam Việt * Triệu dynasty * Phiên Ngung * Trọng Thuỷ * Han-Nam Việt War * An Dương Vương * Âu Lạc * Phiên Ngung Palace * Museum of the Mausoleum of King Triệu Mạt * Luobowan Tomb No.1 * Đông Sơn culture * Changsha (state) * Minyue * Yelang * Bách Việt



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Zhao, Tuo Qin dynasty generals Vietnamese kings Year of birth unknown Politicians from Shijiazhuang Qin dynasty politicians Generals from Hebei Nanyue 137 BC deaths 2nd-century BC Chinese monarchs 3rd-century BC Chinese monarchs Han dynasty people