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Dinh Dynasty (968-980)

Although the Viet culture of Giao Chau Province, as it developed under Tang hegemony, depended upon Chinese administration to maintain order, there was growing cultural resistance to the Tang in the border regions. A revolt among the Muong people, who are closely related to the central Vietnamese, broke out in the early eighth century. The rebels occupied the capital at Tong Binh (Hanoi), driving out the Tang governor and garrison, before being defeated by reinforcements from China. Some scholars mark this as the period of final separation of the Muong peoples from the central Vietnamese, which linguistic evidence indicates took place near the end of the Tang dynasty.

In the mid-ninth century, Tai minority rebels in the border regions recruited the assistance of Nan-chao, a Tai mountain kingdom in the southern Chinese province of Yunnan, which seized control of Annam in 862. Although the Tang succeeded in defeating the Nan-chao forces and restoring Chinese administration, the dynasty was in decline and no longer able to dominate the increasingly autonomous Vietnamese.

The Tang finally collapsed in 907 and by 939 Ngo Quyen, a Vietnamese general, had established himself as king of an independent Vietnam. Having driven out the Chinese, Ngo Quyen defeated a series of local rival chiefs and, seeking to identify his rule with traditional Vietnamese kingship, established his capital at Co Loa, the third century B.C. citadel of An Duong Vuong. The dynasty established by Ngo Quyen lasted fewer than thirty years, however. The formation of stable institutions of government which could function without the sustaining influence of a foreign occupying power proved difficult, and during the latter part of the tenth century there were no less than a dozen autonomous local leaders in the Red River valley.

One of them, Dinh Bo Linh, defeated his rivals in 968. Dinh Bo Linh, who reigned under the name Dinh Tien Hoang. He brought political unity to the country, which he renamed Dai Co Viet (Great Viet State).

The Chinese continued to refer to it as Annam. Aware of the superior power that the newly established Chinese Sung dynasty (960-1126) could bring against him, Dinh Bo Linh embarked ona course which was to establish the basis for future relations with China for many centuries. After uniting the Vietnamese and establishing his kingdom, Dinh Bo Linh sent a tributary mission to the newly-established Chinese Northern Song dynasty. He sent an embassy to the Sung court, requesting confirmation of his authority over Dai Co Viet. This diplomatic maneuver was a successful attempt to stave off China's reconquest of its former vassal. The Song emperor gave his recognition to Dinh Bo Linh, but only as "King of Giao Chi Prefecture," the title of vassal king of a state within the Chinese empire. This embassy agreed to send a triennial tribute to China. Acceptance of Chinese suzerainty was softened by the understanding that the Chinese would not attempt to restore their authority over the country. Moreover, Dinh Bo Linh was permitted to call himself emperor at home and in dealing with countries other than China. Peace with China was maintained during most of the Dinh dynasty.

Relations with the Kingdom of Champa to the south were unfriendly, and the two kingdoms were in frequent conflict. Champa was then within the Indian rather than the Chinese cultural sphere.

The major accomplishments of Dinh Bo Linh's reign were the establishment of a diplomatic basis for Vietnamese independence and the institution of universal military mobilization. He organized a 100,000-man peasant militia called the Ten Circuit Army, comprising ten circuits (geographical districts). Each circuit was defended by ten armies and each army was composed of ten brigades. Brigades in turn were made up of ten companies with ten ten-member squads a piece.

The Dinh dynasty did not outlast the first emperor, whose throne was usurped. Not until the rise of the Ly dynasty (1009-1225) did the Vietnamese monarchy consolidate its control over the country.



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