Trần Hưng Đạo

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Trần Hưng Đạo
Imperial Prince of Đại Việt
Grand Prince of Hưng Đạo
Statue of Tran Hung Dao, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.jpg
Nam Dinh Province, Đại Việt
Died1300 (aged 7172)
Hải Dương, Đại Việt
Spouse Princess of Nguyên Từ
Issue Trần Thị Trinh
Trần Quốc Nghiễn
Trần Quốc Hiện
Trần Quốc Tảng
Full name
Trần Quốc Tuấn
House Trần Dynasty
FatherPrince Trần Liễu
Mother Princess of Thiện Đạo
OccupationCommander-in-chief of the armies (Quốc Công Tiết chế)

Trần Hưng Đạo (Vietnamese:  [ʈə̂n hɨŋ ɗâːwˀ] ; 12281300), real name Trần Quốc Tuấn (陳國峻), also known as Grand Prince Hưng Đạo (Hưng Đạo Đại Vương - 興道大王), was a Vietnamese royal prince, statesman and military commander of Đại Việt military forces during the Trần Dynasty. [1] [2] Hưng Đạo commanded the Vietnamese armies that repelled two out of three major Mongol invasions in late 13th century. [3] His multiple victories over the Yuan Dynasty under Kublai Khan are considered among the greatest military feats in Vietnamese history.[ by whom? ]



Trần Hưng Đạo was born as Prince Trần Quốc Tuấn ( ) in 1228 to Prince Trần Liễu, the elder brother of the new child emperor, Trần Thái Tông, after the Trần Dynasty replaced the Lý family in 1225 AD. Some time later, Trần Liễu-- the Empress Lý Chiêu Hoàng’s brother-in-law at the time-- was forced to defer his own wife (Princess Thuận Thiên) to his younger brother Emperor Thái Tông under pressure from Imperial Regent Trần Thủ Độ to solidify Trần clan’s dynastic stability. The brothers Trần Liễu and Emperor Trần Thái Tông harboured grudges against their uncle Trần Thủ Độ for the forced marital arrangement.

Trần Quốc Tuấn, his father Trần Liễu, and Emperor Trần Thái Tông had a very close relationship. Liễu would find great tutors to teach his son, Trần Quốc Tuấn, with the hope of one day becoming a great leader of Đại Việt and regain his family honour. On his deathbed, Liễu told his son to avenge what he felt was personal shame forced upon him and his brother, Trần Thái Tông, by the Imperial Regent Tran Thu Do.

The first Mongol invasion

Trần Hưng Đạo
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Trần Hưng Đạo

During the first Mongol invasion of Vietnam in 1258, Trần Hưng Đạo served as an officer commanding troops on the frontier.[ citation needed ]

The second Mongol invasion

In 1285, Kublai Khan demanded passage through Đại Việt for his Yuan army in order to invade of the Kingdom of Champa (the Central of modern-day Viet Nam). When the Đại Việt government refused, the Mongol army, led by Prince Toghan, attacked Đại Việt and captured the imperial capital Thăng Long (modern day Hanoi). The Emperor Emeritus Trần Thánh Tông and Emperor Trần Nhân Tông appointed Trần Hưng Đạo as the Commander-in-chief of the armies (Quốc công tiết chế thống lĩnh chư quân). The prince of Hưng Đạo initially built defensive lines the frontier areas, but those were rapidly broken by Toghan's armies. It was in that episode that his loyal servant, Yết Kiêu, saved him from being nearly captured by the Mongols. Then he retreated to Vạn Kiếp, where he had a discussion with Emperor Trần Nhân Tông. The two agreed to call 200.000 troops from north-east areas to assemble in Vạn Kiếp. [4] Here, on 11 February 1285, Viet navy under the direct commander of the emperor and the prince of Hưng Đạo fought a huge battle with Toghan's fleet. The Yuan fleet suffered heavily but they managed to win the battle. Emperor Trần Nhân Tông and Prince of Hưng Đạo eventually retreated to the imperial capital, Thăng Long. The Yuan forces pursued to Thăng Long and broke its defenses; however, the prince of Hưng Đạo's troops kept the enemy at bay long enough for the two emperors to escape from the city with the imperial family and the bulk of the army. The prince of Hưng Đạo and other generals escorted the royal family, staying just ahead of the Mongol army in hot pursuit. The Yuan army effectively controlled most of Annam, and surrounded the remaining Dai Viet leadership on land; however the latter fled to an island. Despite their martial success, the Yuan forces struggled greatly with heat and disease. As a result, the Yuan forces again retreated to wait until colder weather. [5] Then Viet forces, divided into field armies commanded by the two emperors; Grand Chancellor Trần Quang Khải, Grand Prince of Chiêu Minh; Trần Nhật Duật, Prince of Chiêu Văn; and Trần Quốc Tuấn, Prince of Hưng Đạo conducted highly effective counterattacks, killing many Yuan generals like Sogetu. [6]

The third Mongol invasion

In 1287, Kublai Khan this time sent one of his favorite sons, Prince Toghan to lead another invasion campaign into Đại Việt with a determination to occupy and redeem the previous defeat. The Yuan Mongol and Chinese forces formed an even larger infantry, cavalry and naval fleet with the total strength estimated at 500,000 men according to the [need an original accounting of a source or book] original Viet history.

During the first stage of the invasion, the Mongols quickly defeated most of the Đại Việt troops that were stationed along the border. Prince Toghan's naval fleet devastated most of the naval force of General Trần Khánh Dư in Vân Đồn. Simultaneously, Prince Ariq-Qaya led his massive cavalry and captured Phú Lương and Đại Than garrisons, two strategic military posts bordering Đại Việt and China. The cavalry later rendezvous with Prince Toghan's navy in Vân Đồn. In response to the battle skirmish defeats at the hands of the Mongol forces, the Emperor Emeritus Trần Thánh Tông summoned General Trần Khánh Dư to be court-martialed for military failures, but the general managed to delayed reporting to the court and was able to regrouped his forces in Vân Đồn. The cavalry and fleet of Prince Toghan continued to advance into the imperial capital Thăng Long. Meanwhile, the trailing supply fleet of Prince Toghan, arriving at Vân Đồn a few days after General Trần Khánh Dư's had already occupied this strategic garrison, the Mongol supply fleet was ambushed and captured by General Trần Khánh Dư's forces. Khánh Dư was then pardoned by the Emperor Emeritus. The Mongol main occupying army quickly realized their support and supply fleet has been cut off.

The capture of the Mongol supply fleet at Vân Đồn along with the concurring news that General Trần Hưng Đạo had recaptured Đại Than garrison in the north sent the fast advancing Mongol forces into chaos. The Đại Việt forces unleashed guerrilla warfare on the weakened Mongol forces causing heavy casualties and destructions to the Yuan forces. However, the Mongols continued advancing into Thăng Long due to their massive cavalry strength, but by this time, the emperor decided to vacate Thăng Long to flee and he ordered the capital to be burned down so the Mongols wouldn't collect any spoils of war. The subsequent battle skirmishes between the Mongols and Đại Việt had mixed results: the Mongols won and captured Yên Hưng and Long Hưng provinces, but lost in the naval battles at Đại Bàng. Eventually, Prince Toghan decided to withdraw his naval fleet and consolidated his command on land battles where he felt the Mongol's superior cavalry would defeat the Đại Việt infantry and cavalry forces. Toghan led the cavalry through Nội Bàng while his naval fleet commander, Omar, directly launched the naval force along the Bạch Đằng River simultaneously.

The Battle of Bạch Đằng River

The Mongol naval fleet were unaware of the river's terrain. Days before this expedition, the Prince of Hưng Đạo predicted the Mongol's naval route and quickly deployed heavy unconventional traps of steel-tipped wooden stakes unseen during high tides along the Bạch Đằng River bed. When Omar ordered the Mongol fleet to retreat from the river, the Viet deployed smaller and more maneuverable vessels into agitating and luring the Mongol vessels into the riverside where the booby traps were waiting while it was still high tide. As the river tide on Bạch Đằng River receded, the Mongol vessels were stuck and sunk by the embedded steel-tipped stakes. Under the presence of the Emperor Emeritus Thánh Tông and Emperor Nhân Tông, the Viet forces led by the Prince of Hưng Đạo burned down an estimated 400 large Mongol vessels and captured the remaining naval crew along the river. The entire Mongol fleet was destroyed and the Mongol fleet admiral Omar was captured. [7]

The cavalry force of Prince Toghan was more fortunate. They were ambushed along the road through Nội Bàng, but his remaining force managed to escape back to China by dividing their forces into smaller retreating groups but most were captured or killed in skirmishes on the way back to the border frontier.


Statue of Tran Hung Dao in Quy Nhon Tuong dai Tran Hung Dao o Lang chai Hai Minh - TP Quy Nhon.JPG
Statue of Trần Hưng Đạo in Quy Nhơn

In 1300 AD, he fell ill and died of natural causes at the age of 73. His body was cremated and his ashes were dispersed under his favorite oak tree he planted in his royal family estate near Thăng Long in accordance to his will. The Viet intended to bury him in a lavish royal mausouleum and official ceremony upon his death, but he declined in favour of a simplistic private ceremony. For his military brilliance in defending Đại Việt during his lifetime, The Emperor posthumously bestowed Trần Hưng Đạo the title of Hưng Đạo Đại Vương (Grand Prince Hưng Đạo).


  1. Trần Quốc Nghiễn, later Prince Hưng Vũ
  2. Trần Quốc Hiện, later Prince Hưng Trí
  3. Trần Quốc Tảng, later Prince Hưng Nhượng, father of Empress Consort Bảo Từ of Emperor Trần Anh Tông
  4. Trần Quốc Uy, later Prince Hưng Hiển
  5. Trần Thị Trinh, later Empress Consort Khâm Từ Bảo Thánh of Emperor Trần Nhân Tông
  6. Empress Tuyên Từ
  7. Princess Anh Nguyên, later wife of General Phạm Ngũ Lão



The majority of cities and towns in Vietnam have central streets, wards and schools named after him. [8] [9] [10]


He is revered by the Vietnamese people as a national hero. Several shrines are dedicated to him, and even religious belief and mediumship includes belief in him as a god, Đức Thánh Trần (Tín ngưỡng Đức Thánh Trần).

See also

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Lý Nhân Tông Emperor of Đại Việt

Lý Nhân Tông, given name Lý Càn Đức, was the fourth emperor of the Lý Dynasty, reigning over Vietnam from 1072 to his death in 1128. Succeeding his father Lý Thánh Tông at the age of 7, during his early reign Lý Nhân Tông ruled with the assistance of his mother Ỷ Lan and the chancellor Lý Đạo Thành who were both considered competent regents and were able to help the emperor maintain the country's prosperity. Appreciated as a great emperor of the Lý Dynasty, Lý Nhân Tông made important contributions to the development of Đại Việt, especially for establishing Confucianism as the official philosophy of the state, creating Confucian-based imperial exams, and creating schools based on the Confucian system of learning. During his 55-year reign, which was the longest reign for any Vietnamese monarch, Lý Nhân Tông also experienced several wars against Đại Việt's neighbours, the Song Dynasty and the kingdom of Champa in which the Lý–Song War (1075–1076) was the fiercest.

Battle of Bạch Đằng (1288) Vietnamese victory against Mongol invasion

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Trần Nhân Tông Emperor of Đại Việt

Trần Nhân Tông, given name Trần Khâm, was the third emperor of the Trần dynasty, reigning over Đại Việt from 1278 to 1293. After ceding the throne to his son Trần Anh Tông, Nhân Tông held the title Retired Emperor from 1294 to his death in 1308. During the second and third Mongol invasions of Đại Việt, the Emperor Nhân Tông and his father the Retired Emperor Thánh Tông were credited as the supreme commanders who led the Trần dynasty to the final victories and since established a long period of peace and prosperity over the country.

Trần Thánh Tông Emperor of Đại Việt

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Trần Thái Tông Emperor of Đại Việt

Trần Thái Tông was the first monarch of the Trần Dynasty, reigned Đại Việt for 33 years (1226–58), being Retired Emperor for 19 years. He reigned during the first Mongol invasion of Vietnam before eventually abdicating in favor of his son Trần Thánh Tông in 1258.

An Tư, was a princess during the Trần Dynasty (1225–1400), the youngest offspring of emperor Trần Thái Tông. The exact year of her birth and death are unknown. The Đại Việt sử kí toàn thư (1675) only records that “the servants were ordered to give Princess An Tư to Togon to buy time”.

Prince Trung Võ Trần Thủ Độ was a general and leader of the Trần clan during the reign of Lý Huệ Tông and Lý Chiêu Hoàng of Vietnam. Trần Thủ Độ was credited for overthrowing the Lý Dynasty and establishing the Trần Dynasty by his arrangement of marriage between the Empress Regnant Chiêu Hoàng and his nephew Trần Cảnh. After the coronation of Trần Cảnh, now Trần Thái Tông, Trần Thủ Độ was appointed grand chancellor and regent of the Emperor.

Trần Anh Tông Emperor of Đại Việt

Trần Anh Tông, real name Trần Thuyên (陳烇), courtesy name Nhật Sủy (日煃) or Nhật Sáng (日㷃/日𤊞), was the fourth emperor of the Trần dynasty, reigning over Vietnam from 1293 to 1314. After ceding the throne to his son Trần Minh Tông, Anh Tông held the title Retired Emperor for six years. As the first Trần emperor who ruled in total peace with respect to foreign affairs, Anh Tông was known for his successful reign of Đại Việt, which brought a long period of peace and prosperity over the country. He also had several military victories over the kingdoms of Champa and Laos.

Prince Chiêu Văn Trần Nhật Duật (1255–1330) was the sixth prince of Trần Thái Tông, first emperor of Trần Dynasty. Being younger brother of the Emperor Trần Thánh Tông, Trần Nhật Duật was one of the most important figures of Trần family and royal court during the reigns of four successive emperors Thánh Tông, Nhân Tông, Anh Tông and Minh Tông. In the second war of resistance against Mongol invasion, Trần Nhật Duật was the general who commanded Đại Việt army to defeat the navy of Mongol general Sogetu in Battle of Hàm Tử, one of the biggest victories of Trần Dynasty. With his knowledge of numerous foreign languages and cultures, Prince Chiêu Văn was also a prominent diplomat of Trần Dynasty who helped the Emperor to maintain good relations with several ethnic groups in the northwestern region of Đại Việt.

Prince Chiêu Minh Trần Quang Khải (1241–1294) was the third son of Trần Thái Tông, first emperor of the Trần Dynasty of Vietnam. Being the younger brother of the Emperor Trần Thánh Tông and holding the position of grand chancellor of the Trần Dynasty for many years, Trần Quang Khải was one of the most important figures of the Trần family and the royal court during the reigns of emperors Thánh Tông and Nhân Tông. In the second war of resistance against the Mongol invasion, Trần Quang Khải and Trần Hưng Đạo were two key commanders of the Đại Việt army who helped the Emperor defeat the troops of Kublai Khan's son prince Toghan. Besides his military and administrative activities, Prince Chiêu Minh was also a famous poet and was credited as the creator of the dance of flowers. Today, Trần Quang Khải is still considered as one of the most famous historical figures of the Trần Dynasty and is worshiped in several temples in Vietnam.

Marquis Hoài Văn Trần Quốc Toản was a marquis of the Trần Dynasty who was well known for his active role in the second war of resistance of Đại Việt against the Mongol invasion. Although there were only a few historical records about Trần Quốc Toản, he is still widely known as an example of patriotism in Vietnam while he participated and ultimately sacrificed himself for the country at a very young age. Today, story about Trần Quốc Toản is taught in Vietnamese schoolbooks and many places in Vietnam are named in honour of this young hero.

Prince of Bảo Nghĩa Trần Bình Trọng (1259–1285) was a general of the Trần Dynasty well known for his heroic action in the war of Dai Viet against the second Mongol invasion. After the capture of Trần Bình Trọng by the army of the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan's prince Toghan attempted to convince the Đại Việt general to surrender by telling him about the situation of the Trần Dynasty, saying that Trần Bình Trọng would get a minister's post in China. However, the general rejected his proposition, and thus, Toghan had him executed. Today, he is widely known as an example of patriotism in Annam, story about Marquis Bảo Nghĩa is taught in Vietnamese schoolbooks and many places in Vietnam are named in honour of this national hero.

Prince Nhân Huệ Trần Khánh Dư (?–1339) was the adopted prince of the Retired Emperor Trần Thánh Tông and a general of Đại Việt army in royal court of four successive emperors of the Trần Dynasty: Thánh Tông, Nhân Tông, Anh Tông, and Minh Tông. Although notoriously known by his greedy character in peace, Trần Khánh Dư was a prominent general during the war of resistance by the Trần Dynasty against the second and third invasions of the Yuan Dynasty. Especially, Prince Nhân Huệ was considered as one of the most skilled commander of Trần navy who was credited with the victory of Đại Việt in Battle of Vân Đồn (1287).

Trần Ích Tắc, or Prince Chiêu Quốc, was a prince of Đại Việt, the fifth son of emperor Trần Thái Tông of the Trần Dynasty, and the younger brother of the Emperor Trần Thánh Tông and grand chancellor Trần Quang Khải.

Prince Yên Sinh Trần Liễu (1211–1251) was the elder brother of the Trần Thái Tông, the first emperor of Trần Dynasty. Initially, Trần Liễu was honoured by his younger brother with the title King Hiển but he was downgraded to Prince Yên Sinh after the short-lived revolt in fury of losing his pregnant wife, Princess Thuận Thiên, to the Emperor under the pressure of Imperial Regent Trần Thủ Độ. Besides this event, Trần Liễu was well known in the history of Vietnam for being father of Trần Hưng Đạo, commander-in-chief of the Đại Việt army during the second and third war of resistance against the Mongol invasion.

Mother of the Nation Lady Linh Từ Trần Thị Dung (?–1259) was the last empress and the last empress mother of the Lý Dynasty. She was entitled by the Emperor Lý Huệ Tông as Empress Consort of the Lý Dynasty from 1216 to 1225 before becoming Empress Mother of the Lý Dynasty when her daughter Lý Phật Kim was enthroned as Lý Chiêu Hoàng in 1225. After Trần Thủ Độ, Trần Thị Dung's cousin, successfully overthrew the Lý Dynasty and founded the Trần Dynasty, Trần Thị Dung was downgraded to Princess Thiên Cực while her brother Trần Thừa's son became Trần Thái Tông, first emperor of the Trần Dynasty. Besides Lý Chiêu Hoàng, Trần Thị Dung had another daughter who eventually also became Empress of the Trần Dynasty, the Empress Thuận Thiên.

Phạm Ngũ Lão (1255–1320) was a general of the Trần Dynasty during the reigns of three successive emperors Nhân Tông, Anh Tông and Minh Tông. His talent was noticed by Prince Hưng Đạo Trần Quốc Tuấn who married his adopted daughter to Phạm Ngũ Lão and recommended him for the royal court. Renowned as a prominent general in battlefield, Phạm Ngũ Lão was one of the few commanders of the Vietnamese army during the second and third Mongol invasion who did not come from the Trần clan. After the war of resistance against the Yuan dynasty, Phạm Ngũ Lão continued to participate in numerous military campaigns of the Trần Dynasty in which he often succeeded. Today, Phạm Ngũ Lão is still considered one of the most capable military commanders of both the Trần Dynasty and history of Vietnam.

Trần Quốc Tảng was the third son of Trần Hưng Đạo. He was a general of the Trần Dynasty during the reign of emperors Trần Nhân Tông and Trần Anh Tông who was also his son-in-law. As a member of Yên Sinh's line in Trần clan, Trần Quốc Tảng supported the plot of taking over the throne from Trần Cảnh's line which was opposed by his father Trần Quốc Tuấn and his elder brother Trần Quốc Nghiễn, this difference made Hưng Đạo break off the paternal relation with Trần Quốc Tảng until his death in 1300.


  1. Marie-Carine Lall, Edward Vickers Education As a Political Tool in Asia 2009 - Page 144 "... to the official national autobiography, the legends relating to the origins of the nation are complemented by other legends of heroes in order to constitute the Vietnamese nation's pantheon: Hai Bà Trưng, Lý Thường Kiệt, Trần Hưng Đạo, etc."
  2. Bruce M. Lockhart, William J. DuikerThe A to Z of Vietnam p374 Trần Hưng Đạo
  3. The Tran Dynasty and the Defeat of the Mongols
  4. Ngô Sĩ Liên (1993), Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư (in Vietnamese) (Nội các quan bản ed.), Hanoi: Social Science Publishing House, pp. 188-195.
  5. Descending Dragon, Rising Tiger: A History of Vietnam By Vu Hong Lien, Peter Sharrock
  6. Ngô Sĩ Liên (1993), Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư (in Vietnamese) (Nội các quan bản ed.), Hanoi: Social Science Publishing House, pp. 188-195.
  7. Ngô Sĩ Liên (1993), Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư (in Vietnamese) (Nội các quan bản ed.), Hanoi: Social Science Publishing House, pp. 196-198.
  8. Vietnam Country Map. Periplus Travel Maps. 200203. ISBN   0-7946-0070-0.Check date values in: |year= (help)
  9. Andrea Lauser, Kirsten W. Endres Engaging the Spirit World: Popular Beliefs and Practices in Modern Vietnam Page 94 2012 "These scholars may have underestimated existing links between male and female rituals. Nowadays, as Phạm Quỳnh Phương (2009) has noted, a strict distinction between the Mothers' cult and the cult of Trần Hưng Đạo is no longer upheld, "
  10. Forbes, Andrew, and Henley, David: Vietnam Past and Present: The North (History and culture of Hanoi and Tonkin). Chiang Mai. Cognoscenti Books, 2012. ASIN: B006DCCM9Q.


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