Thuận Thiên (順 天, lit. "to obey Heaven") was the mythical sword of the Vietnamese King Lê Lợi, who liberated Vietnam from Ming occupation after ten years of fighting from 1418 until 1428.Lê Lợi then proclaimed himself king of the newly established Lê Dynasty. According to legend, the sword possessed magical power, which supposedly made Lê Lợi grow very tall. When he used the sword it gave him the strength of 10 thousand men, and the legend is often used to justify Lê Lợi's rule over Vietnam. The sword has been associated with Lê Lợi since the early phase of the Lê Dynasty.
The Thuận Thiên sword was used to affirm the legitimacy of Lê Lợi as the Vietnamese leader in the revolution against the Ming occupation and associated with Lê Lợi the rightful sovereignty of Vietnam. In Vietnam, the legitimacy of the monarch is known as the mandate of heaven.
Lê Lợi revolted in 1418 against the Ming Dynasty, who had invaded and occupied Vietnam in 1407. Initially the military campaign against the Chinese was only moderately successful. While Lê Lợi was able to operate in his home province of Thanh Hóa, for the first 2–3 years, he was unable to muster the military forces required to defeat the Ming army in battle. As a result, he waged a guerrilla campaign against the large and well organized Chinese army. According to legend, to help Lê Lợi, a local God, the Dragon King (Vietnamese: Long Vương) decided to lend his sword to Lê Lợi. But there was a catch; the sword did not come straight to him in one piece. It was split into two parts: a blade and a sword hilt.
First, in Thanh Hóa province, there was a fisherman named Lê Thận, who was not related to Lê Lợi in any way. One night, his fishing net caught something heavy. Thinking of how much money he would get for this big fish, he became very excited. However, his excitement soon turned into disappointment when he saw that his catch was a long, thin piece of metal which had somehow become entangled to the net. He threw it back into the water, and recast the net at a different location. When he pulled the net in, the metal piece had found its way back into the net. He picked it up and threw it far away with all his strength. The third time the fishing net came up, the same thing happened, the metal piece was once again caught in the net. Bewildered, he brought his lamp closer and carefully examined the strange object. Only then did he notice that it was the missing blade of a sword. He took the blade home and not knowing what to do with it, put it in the corner of his house.
Some years later, Lê Thận joined the rebel army of Lê Lợi, where he quickly rose in ranks. Once, the general visited Lê Thận's home. Lê Thận's house lacked lighting, so everything was dark. But as though it was sensing the presence of Lê Lợi, the blade at the corner of the house suddenly emitted a bright glow. Lê Lợi held up the blade and saw two words manifesting before his very eye: Thuận Thiên (Will of Heaven). With Lê Thận's endorsement, Lê Lợi took the blade with him. One day, while on the run from the enemy, Lê Lợi saw a strange light emanating from the branches of a banyan tree. He climbed up and there he found a hilt of a sword, encrusted with precious gems. Remembering the blade he found earlier, he took it out and placed it into the hilt. The fit was perfect. Believing that the Heaven had entrusted him with the great cause of freeing the land, Lê Lợi took up arms and rallied people under his banner. For the next few years, the magic sword brought him victory after another. His men no longer had to hide in the forest, but aggressively penetrated many enemy camps, captured them and seized their granaries. The sword helped them push back the enemy, until Vietnam was once again free from Chinese rule. Lê Lợi ascended the throne in 1428, ending his 10-year campaign, and reclaimed independence for the country.
One year after ascending the throne, Lê Lợi was on a dragon boat cruising around Hồ Lục Thủy (Green Water Lake), directly in front of his palace. When they came to the middle of the lake, a giant turtle with a golden shell (Kim Qui) emerged from under the water surface. Lê Lợi ordered the captain to slow down, and at the same time looked down to see that the magic sword on his belt was moving on its own. The golden turtle advanced toward the boat and the king, then with a human voice, it asked him to return the magic sword to his master, Long Vương (Dragon King), who lived under the water. It suddenly became clear to Lê Lợi that the sword was only lent to him to carry out his duty, but now it must be returned to its rightful owner, lest it corrupt him. Lê Lợi drew the sword out of its scabbard and lobbed it towards the turtle. With great speed, the turtle opened its mouth and snatched the sword from the air with its teeth. It descended back into the water, with the shiny sword in its mouth, and for a long period a flickering light was said to have been seen from beyond the muddled depths of the lake. From then on, people renamed that lake to Hồ Gươm (Sword Lake) or Hồ Hoàn Kiếm (Lake of the Returned Sword).
A few historians believe that the Thuận Thiên sword was an expedient of Lê Lợi's strategist Nguyễn Trãi, regarding it as a ploy to gain legitimacy for Lê Lợi to lead an uprising against the Chinese. The expedient was successful, as the sword's legend quickly spread across the country, leading the populace to regard Lê Lợi as the rightful ruler of Vietnam, especially among those with high levels of antipathy towards the Chinese, who were longstanding historical enemies of Vietnam.
The Lê dynasty, also known as Later Lê dynasty, was the longest-ruling Vietnamese dynasty, ruling Đại Việt from 1428 to 1789. The Lê dynasty is divided into two historical periods – the Early period or Lê sơ triều before usurpation by the Mạc dynasty (1527–1683), in which emperors ruled in their own right, and the restored period or Revival Lê, in which figurehead emperors reigned under the auspices of the powerful Trịnh family. The Restored Lê period is marked by two lengthy civil wars: the Lê–Mạc War (1533–1592) in which two dynasties battled for legitimacy in northern Vietnam and the Trịnh–Nguyễn War (1627–1672) between the Trịnh family in Tonkin and the Nguyễn lords of the South.
Lê Lợi, temple name Thái Tổ Emperor, title Bình Định vương was a Vietnamese rebel leader who founded the Later Lê dynasty and became the first emperor of the restored empire of Đại Việt after it was conquered by the Ming dynasty. In 1418, Lê Lợi and his followers in his homeland rose up against Ming rule, was called the Lam Sơn Uprising. He was known for his effective guerrilla tactics, including constantly moving on the wing and using small bands of brigands to ambush the regular Ming units. Nine years later, his resistance movement successfully drove the Ming armies out of Vietnam and liberated the country. Lê Lợi is among the most famous figures of Vietnamese history and one of its greatest heroes.
The Nguyễn lords, also known as the Nguyễn clan, were rulers of Đàng Trong in Central and Southern Vietnam, as opposed to Đàng Ngoài or Outer Realm, ruled by the Trịnh lords.
Nguyen Kim was a Vietnamese statesman who was the ancestor of the famous Nguyễn Lords who later ruled south Vietnam. During his rule, the war with the Mạc Dynasty started.
Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Gươm Lake or Tả Vọng Lake, is a fresh water lake, measuring some 12 ha in the historical center of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.
The Yangtze giant softshell turtle, also known as the Red River giant softshell turtle, the Shanghai softshell turtle, the speckled softshell turtle, and Swinhoe's softshell turtle, is an extremely rare species of turtle in the family Trionychidae. The species is endemic to eastern and southern China and northern Vietnam. Only five to six living individuals are known, one in China (captive) and three to four in Vietnam (wild). Following the deaths of a wild individual in Vietnam in January 2016 and a captive individual in China in 2019, and it is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List. It may be the largest living freshwater turtle in the world. The female of the last breeding pair died at Suzhou Zoo in China in April 2019. A wild female was discovered in Vietnam on October 22, 2020.
The Hoàn Kiếm turtle, also R. leloii, was an obsolete or controversial taxon of turtle from Southeast Asia, based on specimens from Hoàn Kiếm Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. Most experts classify this turtle as synonymous with the rare Yangtze giant softshell turtle, although some Vietnamese biologists asserted that R. leloii is a distinct species. If the two taxa are to be considered distinct, R. leloii may be considered extinct.
The One Pillar Pagoda (Vietnamese: Chùa Một Cột𠬠榾, formally belongs to an architecture complex called Diên Hựu tự [延祐寺] which means Extend Bless pagoda. The pagoda is a historic Buddhist temple in the central Ba Đình district, Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The most famous part of this architecture complex is Liên Hoa Đài [蓮花臺] which is a temple with special structure: a building laid on one pillar. The original pagoda was built in 1049, had some additions and be perfected in 1105. It is regarded alongside the Perfume Temple, as one of Vietnam's two most iconic temples.
Phú Xuân (富春) was the historic capital of the Nguyễn lords, the Tây Sơn dynasty, and later became the Nguyễn dynasty's capital.
Turtle Tower, also called Tortoise Tower is a small tower in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake in central Hanoi, Vietnam.
Thuận Hóa was a historic territory in central Vietnam. It consisted of the modern provinces of Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, and Thừa Thiên–Huế.
Dream memoir of Southern Man is a memoir written by Vietnamese official Hồ Nguyên Trừng during his exile in Ming dynasty in the early 15th century.
Thánh Gióng, also known as Phù Đổng Thiên Vương, Ông Gióng and Xung Thiên Thần Vương is a mythical folk hero of Vietnam's history and one of The Four Immortals. According to the legend, Gióng was a boy who rode on an iron horse and won against the enemy of the state. The most well known version of the legend had him battle against the Chinese army, thus, he is considered the first anti-invasion hero of the Vietnamese. Some researchers believe he is the Vietnamese version of Vaiśravaṇa.
Võ Bình Định is a regional form of martial arts in Vietnam.
Vietnamese mythology comprises national myths of the Vietnamese people together with popular aspects of folk religion in Vietnam.
The Lam Sơn uprising was a nationalist rebellion led by Lê Lợi in the province of Jiaozhi from 1418 to 1427 against the occupation of Vietnam by Ming China.
Ngô Xương Ngập, formally King of Thiên Sách (天策王), was a co-ruler of the Annam kingdom of Early independent Vietnam. He was the eldest son of Ngô Quyền, the founder of Ngô family.
The Lê–Mạc War was a 59 year-long civil war waged between two Vietnamese dynasties, the Mạc and Revival Lê, during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period of Vietnamese history.
The abdication of Emperor Bảo Đại took place on 25 August 1945 and marked the end of the 143-year reign of the Nguyễn dynasty over Vietnam ending the Vietnamese monarchy. Bảo Đại abdicated in response to the August Revolution a ceremony handing power over to the newly established Democratic Republic of Vietnam which was established during the end of World War II as Vietnam had been occupied by French and later Japanese imperialists.
Kim Quy is a mythical golden turtle god appearing in several Vietnamese legends.