LE LOI AND THE LE DYNASTY

Because of weak leadership in Vietnam, China returned to dominate the state briefly from 1407 to 1427. According to William Duiker, in our core text Sacred War, Le Loi and Nguyen Trai ended that period of Chinese rule following a major 1426 victory.

Le Loi was an aristocratic landowner, and Nguyen Trai was a Confucian statesman, poet, and military adviser to Le Loi. Other historians point out the fact that these Vietnamese leaders used guerrilla tactics over the ten-year period of their revolution against the Chinese.

Le Loi became founder of the Le Dynasty, ascending the throne as Le Thai To. He instituted land reforms and the Vietnamese maintained peaceful relations with former enemy China for more than 300 years. The Le Dynasty ruled Vietnam from 1428 to 1788, a total of 360 years, making it the longest one in Vietnam's history.

The second-most significant ruler within the Le Dynasty was Le Thanh Tong. He ruled from 1460 to 1497 and is regarded as one of the major writers and poets in Vietnam's history. According to Michael R. Nichols, this emperor oversaw Vietnam's thirteen provinces and its literary and scientific golden age. Almost 200,000 men were in the standing army. The earliest and most complete map of Vietnam appeared during his reign, also. The crowning achievement of Le Thanh Tong was the Hong Duc Code, a legal code which provided legal and property rights for women.

Beginning in 1527, Vietnam found two famous families controlling northern and southern parts of the Le state. Trinh Lords ruled the north under the Le kings and the southernmost area was under Nguyen Lords. Their military and political rivalry would not end until 1788, bringing an end to the Le Dynasty and beginning a modern period under the Nguyen Dynasty, which is discussed in the next section of this study module.

It should not be surprising to learn that during the Vietnam War,  Vietnamese opposed to the United States cited Nguyen Trai as another model patriot and historic leader. Many founding members of the Indochinese Communist Party, about which we shall learn more later, were from families in the Confucian ruling elite within modern Vietnam. Many Vietnamese today regard Nguyen Trai Vietnam's most significant poet-writer in their history. Nationalists also hailed Le Loi as an earlier Vietnamese hero.

 

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