Trần Thái Tông

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Trần Thái Tông
Lăng Trần Thái Tông.jpg
Trần Thái Tông's tomb in Thái Bình Province
Emperor of Vietnam
Reign 11 January 1226 – 30 January 1258
Predecessor Lý Chiêu Hoàng
Successor Trần Thánh Tông
Born (1218-07-17)17 July 1218
Died 5 May 1277(1277-05-05) (aged 58)
Spouse Lý Chiêu Hoàng (m. 1226–1237)
Lý Ngọc Oanh
Issue Trần Thánh Tông
Tran Ich Tac
Full name
Trần Cảnh
Temple name
Thái Tông 太宗
House Trần Dynasty
Father Trần Thừa
Mother Lady Lê

Trần Thái Tông (birth name: Trần Cảnh, 17 July 1218 – 4 May 1277) was the first emperor of the Trần Dynasty, seated on the throne for 33 years (1226–58), being Grand Emperor for 19 years.

Early life

Trần Thái Tông's given name was "Trần Cảnh" (). He was born in 1218 during the last years of the Lý Dynasty. Trần Thủ Độ, his uncle, prepared the way for his marriage to Queen Lý Chiêu Hoàng, the last queen of the Lý Dynasty, who later abdicated to make him the founder of the Trần Dynasty in 1226.

His progress to the throne in particular and the replacement of the Trần Dynasty over the Lý Dynasty in general were mostly thanks to the efforts of Trần Thủ Độ, Trần Cảnh's uncle. At that time, Trần Thủ Độ was the front commander of citadels of the Lý Dynasty. Trần Cảnh's father, Trần Thừa, was also an official under the Lý Dynasty, like Trần Thủ Độ. He had been "Nội thị khán thủ", one of the most important officials in the Lý Dynasty.


During his reign Trần Thái Tông used three era names: Kiến Trung (1225–1232), Thiên Ứng Chính Bình (1232–1250) and Nguyên Phong (1251–1258).

He commanded the armies, and decided not to protect his capital from the first Mongol invasion of Vietnam in 1258. Instead, with the help of his military commanders, he opted for small scale battles and guerrilla warfare. Even though he finally forced the Mongols to retreat, he agreed to send tribute every 3 years to the court of the Mongol Empire.

Learned in both Confucianism and Buddhism, he ruled the country wisely and authored several profound works on Buddhism, the most famous of which is Khoa Hu Luc (Instructions on Emptiness), a Zen manual. A prodigious writer, he left behind a substantial number of works, of which only a small number survive.

A boy student was given money in exchange for becoming a eunuch by Tran Canh in 1254 since many men castrated themselves to become eunuchs during the Tran and Ly dynasties.[1]

In 1258 he abdicated the throne in favor of his son, crown prince Trần Hoảng (Trần Thánh Tông).


There is nothing that gives reference to exactly how many children he had, but it is known that he had children by the name of Trần Trịnh [2] (died prematurely), Tĩnh Quốc Vương Trần Quốc Khang,[3] Trần Hoảng, Chiêu Minh Vương Trần Quang Khải, Trần Nhật Vĩnh, Chiêu Quốc Vương Trần Ích Tắc, Chiêu Văn Vương Trần Nhật Duật, Chiêu Đạo Vương Trần Quang Xưởng, princesses Thiên Thành (wife of Hưng đạo Vương Trần Quốc Tuấn), Thiều Dương, Thuỵ Bảo, An Tư.

Relation with Trần Liễu

Trần Liễu was Trần Thái Tông's elder brother. In 1237, Trần Thái Tông and Empress Chiêu Thành still did not have any son to maintain the continuation of his dynasty, due to Trần Trịnh's premature death.

At that time, Princess Thuận Thiên, Trần Liễu's wife, had been pregnant with Quốc Khang for 3 months. Trần Thủ Độ and princess Thiên Cực (his wife) advised the emperor to arrogate that pregnancy to himself to maintain the continuity of the dynasty. Taking that advice, the emperor gave injunction to create princess Thuận Thiên empress Thuận Thiên, and demote Chiêu Hoàng down to princess. Because of this, Trần Liễu took his army to Cai River to rebel. This incident embarrassed Trần Thái Tông and he left the capital for Yên Tử mountain. Only after taking advices of Trần Thủ Độ and Phù Vân Buddhist priest, he came back to the capital. Two weeks later, Trần Liễu surrendered. Trần Thủ Độ intended to behead him, but Trần Thái Tông covered him by his body, so that Trần Thủ Độ could not do anything. After that, he gave him his territory, consisting of Yên Phụ, Yên Dưỡng, Yên Sinh, Yên Hưng, Yên Bang. Due to the name of his territory, Liễu is also called Yên Sinh Vương.


  1. K. W. Taylor (9 May 2013). A History of the Vietnamese. Cambridge University Press. pp. 121–. ISBN 978-0-521-87586-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. from Đại Việt Sử Ký Toàn Thư
  3. de facto the offspring of Trần Liễu and Princess Thuận Thiên


  • Đại Việt Sử Ký Toàn Thư.

External links

Preceded by
Lý Chiêu Hoàng
King of the Trần Dynasty
Succeeded by
Trần Thánh Tông