Mạc dynasty

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Kingdom of Đại Việt

Đại Việt Quốc (大越國)
Map of Southern and Northern Dynasties of Vietnam.png
The Mạc (in green) still control northeast Vietnam and Later Lê dynasty reclaim the rest of territory after 1592
Capital Đông Kinh

Cao Bằng
Common languages Vietnamese
Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism
GovernmentMonarchy and Autonomy state
Mạc Đăng Dung (first)
Mạc Kính Vũ (last)
Currency Văn
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Blank.png Later Lê dynasty
Revival Lê dynasty Blank.png

The Mạc dynasty (Vietnamese : Nhà Mạc; Hán Việt: , Mạc triều), as known as Mạc clan or House of Mạc ruled the whole of Đại Việt between 1527 and 1533 and the northern part of the country from 1533 until 1592, when they lost control over the capital Đông Kinh for the last time. [lower-alpha 1] Later Mạc representatives ruled over the province of Cao Bằng (with the direct support of the Ming and Qing dynasties) until 1677.

Vietnamese language official and national language of Vietnam

Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. It is the native language of the Vietnamese (Kinh) people, as well as a first or second language for the many ethnic minorities of Vietnam. As a result of Vietnamese emigration and cultural influence, Vietnamese speakers are found throughout the world, notably in East and Southeast Asia, North America, Australia and Western Europe. Vietnamese has also been officially recognized as a minority language in the Czech Republic.

Names of Vietnam

Việt Nam is a variation of Nam Việt, a name that can be traced back to the Triệu dynasty. The word "Việt" originated as a shortened form of Bách Việt, a word used to refer to a people who lived in what is now southern China in ancient times. The word "Việt Nam", with the syllables in the modern order, first appears in the 16th century in a poem by Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm. "Annam", which originated as a Chinese name in the seventh century, was the common name of the country during the colonial period. Nationalist writer Phan Bội Châu revived the name "Vietnam" in the early 20th century. When rival communist and anti-communist governments were set up in 1945, both immediately adopted this as the country's official name. In English, the two syllables are usually combined into one word, "Vietnam." However, "Viet Nam" was once common usage and is still used by the United Nations and by the Vietnamese government.

Hanoi Municipality in Hà Nội, Vietnam

Hanoi is Vietnam's capital and second largest city by population. The city mostly lies on the right bank of the Red River. Hanoi is 1,720 km (1,070 mi) north of Ho Chi Minh City and 105 km (65 mi) west of Haiphong.


Mạc Đăng Dung

The founder of the Mạc dynasty was a man who was related to a famous Trần dynasty Confucian scholar named Mạc Đĩnh Chi. The Ming's ethnic Vietnamese collaborators included Mac Thuy whose grandfather was Mạc Đĩnh Chi who was a direct ancestor of Mạc Đăng Dung. [1] [2] Unlike his ancestor, Mạc Đăng Dung chose to enter the military and ascended the ranks to become the senior general in the Vietnamese army. Later he seized power in a coup d'état and ruled Vietnam from 1527 till his death in 1541. Officially he resigned his position as Emperor in favor of his son but the reality was, he continued to rule. [3]

Trần dynasty dynasty of Vietnam

The Trần dynasty ruled in Vietnam from 1225 to 1400. The dynasty was founded when emperor Trần Thái Tông ascended to the throne after his uncle Trần Thủ Độ orchestrated the overthrow of the Lý dynasty. The final emperor of the dynasty was Thiếu Đế, who at the age of five years was forced to abdicate the throne in favor of his maternal grandfather, Hồ Quý Ly. The Trần dynasty defeated three Mongol invasions, most notably in the decisive Battle of Bạch Đằng River in 1288.

Confucianism Chinese ethical and philosophical system

Confucianism, also known as Ruism, is described as tradition, a philosophy, a religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, a way of governing, or simply a way of life. Confucianism developed from what was later called the Hundred Schools of Thought from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, who considered himself a recodifier and retransmitter of the theology and values inherited from the Shang and Zhou dynasties. In the Han dynasty, Confucian approaches edged out the "proto-Taoist" Huang–Lao as the official ideology, while the emperors mixed both with the realist techniques of Legalism.

Mạc Đĩnh Chi Confucian scholar

Mạc Đĩnh Chi (莫挺之) (1272–1346) was a renowned Vietnamese Confucian scholar who was the highest-scoring graduate in the palace examinations at the age of only twenty-four. He served three Trần Dynasty emperors — first Trần Anh Tông until 1314, then his son Trần Minh Tông from 1314 to 1319, and finally the grandson Trần Hiến Tông after 1329. Mạc Đĩnh Chi was sent twice as envoy to the Chinese court. Among the Trân Dynasty court scholars he was almost unique in that his academic degree was recognized by the Chinese.

Mac dynasty dragon head, stone RongMac.JPG
Mạc dynasty dragon head, stone

Mạc Đăng Dung, famed for his strength and cunning, got his start as a bodyguard for the cruel and reviled Lê Emperor – Lê Uy Mục (around 1506). Over time, despite the deaths of several emperors, Mạc Đăng Dung increased his power and gained many supporters. However, he also gained the enmity of other rivals for power.

Lê Uy Mục, also called Lê Tuấn (黎濬), was the eighth emperor of the later Lê dynasty of Vietnam. He was the second son of Emperor Lê Hiến Tông and the elder half-brother of his direct predecessor, Emperor Lê Túc Tông.

Around 1520, a civil war started. This war would last, with occasional breaks, for the next 150 years. Apparently fearing the growing ambition of Mạc Đăng Dung, the young Emperor, Lê Chiêu Tông, fled to the south. A revolt started with the Trịnh and the Nguyễn families claiming to support the Emperor against the power of Mạc Đăng Dung. Mạc Đăng Dung responded by proclaiming that the Emperor's younger brother, Prince Xuan, was now the true Emperor and installed as Emperor under the name Lê Cung Hoàng. The revolt was ended, temporarily, when Mạc Đăng Dung's forces captured and executed Lê Chiêu Tông along with the leaders of the revolt.

Lê Chiêu Tông was an emperor of the Lê Dynasty of Vietnam who ruled from 1516 to 1527. He was the son of Lê Sùng and nephew of the preceding king Lê Tuong Duc. As Lê Tuong Duc was assassinated in 1516, the young Lê Chieu Tông was put on the throne. His short reign was heavily colored by continuing factionalism and jockeying for power between the Mạc and Nguyen families, and his own.

Trịnh lords Noble feudal Vietnamese clan

Trịnh lords, also known as Trịnh clan or House of Trịnh, were a noble feudal clan who were the de facto rulers of northern Vietnam while Nguyễn lords ruled the southern Vietnam during the Later Lê dynasty. Both of two rulers referred to themselves as Chúa (lord) and controlled their countries while the Later Lê emperors did not have any real power, only maintained their title. The Trịnh lords traced their descent from Trịnh Khả, a friend and advisor to the 15th-century Vietnamese Emperor Lê Lợi. The Trịnh clan had officially 12 lords that ruled Northern Vietnam and the royal court of Later Lê dynasty for more than 2 centuries.

Nguyễn lords Noble feudal clan of Vietnam

The Nguyễn lords, also known as Nguyễn clan or House of Nguyễn, were rulers of the Kingdom of Đàng Trong in Central and Southern Vietnam, as opposed to Đàng Ngoài or Outer Realm, ruled by the Trịnh lords.

In 1527 Mạc Đăng Dung removed the figurehead Emperor he had installed earlier and proclaimed himself as the new Emperor under the title Minh Đức. This usurpation of the throne from the rightful Lê Emperors was not well received by the officials in the government. Some were killed, some committed suicide, some fled to the south to join a new revolt by the Trịnh and the Nguyễn against the Mạc Emperors.

A new revolt began, and both sides tried to pull in allies, mainly the Ming dynasty but also from King Phothisarat I of Lan Xang (modern-day Laos). Mạc Đăng Dung, through submissive diplomacy and massive bribes, convinced the Ming not to attack in 1528. He then abdicated his position as Emperor in favor of his son, Mạc Đăng Doanh a year later. However, this was done purely to solidify his son's claim to rule after he was gone. In reality Mạc Đăng Dung continued to rule with the title of Senior Emperor (Viet: Thái thượng hoàng).

Ming dynasty Former empire in Eastern Asia, last Han Chinese-led imperial regime

The Ming dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China – then known as the Great Ming Empire – for 276 years (1368–1644) following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese. Although the primary capital of Beijing fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng, regimes loyal to the Ming throne – collectively called the Southern Ming – survived until 1683.

Photisarath King of Lanxang

Photisarath son of King Visoun of Lanxang, is considered to be the most devout of the Lao kings. He banned spirit worship and built temples upon the sites of spirit shrines. His elephant fell and crushed him while he sought to display his prowess to the diplomatic corps. His son Setthathirath returned from Chiang Mai to succeed him to the throne of Lan Xang.

Lan Xang unified kingdom from 1354 to 1707, one of the largest kingdoms in Southeast Asia

The Lao Kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao existed as a unified kingdom from 1354 to 1707.

Mạc Đăng Dung's return

Statue of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, crimson and gilded wood (16th century) National Museum Vietnamese History 82.jpg
Statue of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, crimson and gilded wood (16th century)

The revolt in the south gathered strength and over the next three years all the provinces south of the Red River were captured by the Nguyễn and Trịnh armies. In 1533 the figurehead Lê Emperor, Lê Trang Tong, was officially crowned at the newly recaptured western capital.

At this point, Mạc Đăng Doanh died and his father reclaimed the throne. The Ming Chinese threatened Mạc Đăng Dung with an invasion of 110,000 men ready to invade Vietnam from Guangxi in 1540. Mac succumbed and caved in to Chinese pressure and accepted the bitter demands the Chinese made, including crawling barefoot in front of the Chinese, giving up land to China, downgrading the status of his polity from a country to a chieftaincy and giving up official documents like tax registers to the Ming. [4] [5] [6] The Ming official position was that the Mạc should rule over the northern half of Vietnam, while the Lê should rule over the southern half (in other words, below the Red River). Then the Ming returned home. The Nguyễn and the Trịnh refused to accept this division of the country and the war continued.

In 1541 Mạc Đăng Dung died and was succeeded by his grandson Mạc Phúc Hải.

1541–92: Lê–Mạc wars

Mạc Phúc Hải ruled only for six years, during which he was defeated by the Trịnh army and lost more territories. He was succeeded by Mạc Phúc Nguyên (1545–61) who had to fight a war with his brother Trung.

Mạc Mậu Hợp ruled from 1561 to 1592. He was the last significant Mạc ruler. In 1572 the capital was captured by the Trịnh army but then he recaptured it a year later. Then, in 1592, Trịnh Tùng unleashed a massive invasion of the north and conquered Hanoi along with the rest of the northern provinces. Mạc Mậu Hợp was captured during the retreat and was cut to pieces over three days.

The last 80 years

The Mạc now lost all of Vietnam except for the areas around Cao Bằng Province which was under the formal protection of the Ming army. The new Mạc leader was Mạc Kinh Chi. He managed to assemble a large army which defeated the army of Trịnh Tùng but a year later, he and his army were wiped out by a new Trịnh army under Trịnh Tùng.

Mạc Kinh Cung ruled for more than twenty years (1593–1616). Based out of Van Ninh (Quảng Ninh Province?) the Mạc army staged many attacks against the Trịnh. The Trịnh requested and received aid from the Nguyễn and the joint army (with Nguyễn Hoàng) defeated the Mạc.

In 1598 yet another official Ming commission declared the Mạc to be rulers over Cao Bằng province and so the Mạc rulers stayed in this protected area, occasionally launching raids into Trịnh controlled Vietnam.

During his time in power, the Trịnh Lord Trịnh Tráng made several offensives against the Mạc without much success. He also began the Trịnh–Nguyễn War which started to go badly for him after the disaster at the battle of Truong Duc in 1648.

The next Trịnh Lord, Trịnh Tạc was more successful than his father. He pushed the Nguyễn back to their original lands and then spent the next 15 years rebuilding the country and his army.

Up until this point the Trịnh had been prevented from completing the final destruction of the Mạc because the Mạc were protected by the Ming dynasty. But now the Ming had fallen (in 1644) and had been replaced by the Manchu. As a result, the Mạc no longer enjoyed the same relationship with the Chinese government. In the early 1660s, the Mạc made the mistake of siding with a disloyal governor and so the Kangxi Emperor withdrew his protection of the Mạc. Learning of this change, in 1667, Trịnh Tạc invaded Cao Bằng, defeated the Mạc army and drove them out of the province and into China.

The last mention of the Mạc comes in 1677 when a Mạc army invaded northern Vietnam from their refuge in southern China. This invasion was defeated by the Royal (Trịnh) army, still under the command of Trịnh Tac.

So ended the long but ineffective dynasty founded by Mạc Đăng Dung. The civil war he started continued after his descendants lost control of Hanoi and turned into a war between the Trịnh and the Nguyễn. The Vietnamese civil war finally came to an end with the peace of 1672.


While contemporary historians of feudal Le and Nguyen dynasties regarded Mac rulers as downright usurpers, historians after 1945 debate over this controversial dynasty with more favorable and objective viewpoints. Modern researchers recognize that during the reign of Mạc Emperors, women enjoyed much more freedom and privileges than in the previous dynasties. The Mạc court also allowed domestic and foreign trade to flourish, resulting in the rise of Đông Đô and the surrounding areas such as Chu Đậu in Hải Dương province as an important link in the East-West maritime commerce route.

Many notable figures of the Mạc court, such as Prince regent Mạc Kính Điển, general Nguyễn Quyện, general Mạc Ngọc Liễn were praised by both friends and foes for their virtues, talents and exceptional loyalty, which is indeed rarely seen far and wide.

See also

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Nguyễn Kim Vietnamese regent

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Mạc Thái Tông

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Lê Thần Tông was the Vietnamese sixth emperor of Revival Lê dynasty.

Mạc Hiến Tông, birth name Mạc Phúc Hải (莫福海), was the third emperor of the Mạc Dynasty of Annam from 1540 to 1546. He was born in Cao Đôi village, Bình Hà district. He was the oldest son of emperor Mac Thai Tong and grandson of Mac Dang Dung.

Mạc Mậu Hợp

Mạc Mậu Hợp was the fifth and effectively last reigning emperor of the Mạc dynasty from 1562 to 1592.

Mạc Tuyên Tông Vietnamese king

Mạc Phúc Nguyên, also known as Mạc Tuyên Tông (莫宣宗), was an emperor of Vietnam's Mạc dynasty who reigned from 1546 to 1561.

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Revival Lê dynasty

The Later Lê Restoration is a distinction current in Vietnamese historiography. This period marked the ending of first Lê dynasty which had flourished for 100 years from 1427 to 1527 until the high-ranking mandarin Mạc Đăng Dung stole the throne of emperor Lê Cung Hoàng in 1527 and established the Mạc dynasty, ruling the whole territory of Đại Việt. The Lê royalists escaped to the Kingdom of Lan Xang. The Right Commander-General of the Five Armies and Marquess of An Thanh Nguyễn Kim started to summon the people who were still royal to the Lê emperor to form the new army and to organize a revolution against Mạc Đăng Dung. Nguyễn Kim returned to the land of Đại Việt and led the six-year civil war.

Mạc Thái Tổ emperor of Vietnam and the founder of the Mạc Dynasty

Mạc Đăng Dung, posthumous name Mạc Thái Tổ (莫太祖), was an emperor of Vietnam and the founder of the Mạc Dynasty. Previously a captain of the imperial guard of one of the Lê Dynasty emperors, he gradually rose to a position of great power. Mạc eventually deposed the last Lê monarch and became a monarch himself.

Battle of Cao Binh or Fall of Cao Binh, was the last battle of the Mạc dynasty's army in Vietnam history, when Trịnh Lords's army attack Cao Binh Citadel - the last capital of the Mạc dynasty. The battle happened in August 1677, at Cao Bằng, North Vietnam. Trịnh Lords's army leading by commander Đinh Văn Tả and Nguyễn Hữu Đăng. Mạc Kính Vũ emperor run away to China. Mạc force was defeated, bringing an end to the Lê-Mạc war. The Cao Bằng territory back to Đại Việt.

Lê–Mạc War was a long time civil war waged between two royal families, House of Mạc and House of Lê.


  1. K. W. Taylor (9 May 2013). A History of the Vietnamese. Cambridge University Press. pp. 232–. ISBN   978-0-521-87586-8.
  2. 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.
  3. Hodgkin 1981.
  4. Dardess 2012, p. 5.
  5. Yamazaki 2013.
  6. http://www.eacrh.net/ojs/index.php/crossroads/article/view/43/Vol8_Yamazaki_html



  1. Lockhart & Duiker (2010, p. 437):
    • Mạc Dynasty:
    • Mạc Thái Tổ (Mạc Đăng Dung) (1527–30)
    • Mạc Thái Tông (Mạc Đăng Doanh) (1530–40)
    • Mạc Hiến Tông (Mạc Phúc Hải) (1540–46)
    • Mạc Tuyên Tông (Mạc Phúc Nguyên) (1546–64)
    • ruler without imperial titles: Mạc Mậu Hợp (1564–92)


Preceded by
Later Lê Dynasty
Ruler of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Later Lê Dynasty
Preceded by
Ruler of North Vietnam
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ruler of Cao Bằng
Succeeded by

Coordinates: 16°28′N107°36′E / 16.467°N 107.600°E / 16.467; 107.600