Coins and Banknotes of Vietnam
and French Indochina
XIII. The 陳 Tran Dynasty. - 1225-1414.
By the marriage of the Queen 昭皇 CHIEU-HOANG with the Prince 陳景 TRAN-CANH the new dynasty came to power which governed Annam for two centuries.
TRAN-CANH, afterwards known by the name of 太宗 THAI-TOHG, was so unfortunate in his domestic affairs, that he ran away from the palace and took refuge in a pagoda, refusing to reign any longer. He was requested by his courtiers to return to the capital, but as the Chinese were then invading the kingdom, he went to the frontier with his army and drove them back to their own country.
Tired however of the throne, Thai-tong abdicated in 1258 in favour of his son 聖宗 THANH-TONG, who had to fight and drive away the Mongols then invading Annam for the first time. But he ultimately had to agree to pay a triennial tribute to China, which has been continued to the present day. The rest of his reign was peaceful; following his father's ex-ample, he abdicated in 1279 in favour of his son 仁宗 NHON-TONG.
When this king ascended the throne, an order was received from the Emperor KUBLAI that he should personally appear at his court. The king refused to accede to this demand, and thus originated the second Mongol invasion of the country, in 1285, by an army of 500,000 men commanded by OMANHI. A brother of the king, called TRAN ICH-TAO, took the side of the Mongols, and together they defeated the Annamese army, driving the king to the mountains of the 清華 Thanh-hoa province. Once masters of the country, the invaders raised the treacherous Tran Ich-tac to the throne, but the loyal Annamese very soon gathered a fresh army which defeated the Mongols in several battles, and compelled them to recross the frontiers. In 1286 another Mongol expedition came to Annam, but was also defeated and driven back to China. In 1288 peace was signed. Four years afterwards the King Nhong-tong abdicated in favour of his son 英宗 ANH-TONG. Nothing particular is mentioned about him in the Annals, except that he abolished the custom followed by his predecessor of tattooing on the legs the picture of a dragon as a mark of nobility and sign of valour.
Anh-tong also abdicated in 1314 in favour of his son 明宗 MINH-TONG, whose reign was peaceful and devoted to the organization of the country. Following the rule established by his predecessors, the king ceded the throne in 1330 in favour of his son 憲宗 HIEN-TONG. This king died after a reign of twelve years without leaving a direct heir, so his younger brother 裕宗 DU-TONG was made king under the regency of his father, the King Minh-tong.
During the reign of Du-tong the kingdom was on several occasions desolated by droughts and floods, which necessitated frequent distributions of rice and cash to the needy. There was also a considerable number of rebels and thieves in the provinces, which were taken prisoners and beheaded. At this time the export trade of Annam was largely developed, and the number of foreign vessels arriving at its coasts became quite important.
King Du-tong died in 1368 without leaving a direct heir, and on this account there is an interregnum of two years in the history of Annam, passed in fights and quarrels between the members of the Royal family. At last, in 1370, 藝宗 NGHE-TONG was proclaimed king; at first he had to maintain his rights against another Royal Prince, and three years later he was driven from his capital by the hordes of Ciampa who invaded the country. The king then abdicated in favour of his younger brother 睿宗 DUE-TONG, who in 1378 was killed in a war against Ciampa.
Then came to power a nephew of the King Nghe-tong, called Prince KIEN, and designated by the name of 廢帝 PHE-DE, who, after a reign fraught with disturbances and rebellions, was dethroned and succeeded in 1390 by 順宗 THUAN-TONG. It was at this period that the decline of An-nam's power set in. The kings were unable either to repress the rebellions which broke out in the provinces, or to resist the invasions of neighbouring tribes. The people lived in a continual state of war, and this contributed to the rise, above their ordinary sphere, of the more fortunate generals. The result was the same as in every country in the world: the military prestige gained by the victories of those generals increased their ambitious views and made them anxious to place the crown on their own heads, either by palace intrigues, or by a rebellion of the soldiers under their command. Thus, during the reign of Thuan-tong, it was easy to predict the course of events. His power was altogether in the hands of General 胡桻季 Ho QUI-LY, whose influence during the last reign had already been paramount. In the same year in which Thuan-tong was proclaimed king. General Ho had the good fortune to defeat the mobs of a rebel bonze who had revolted in the province of Thanh-hoa under the name of 昌符 XUONG-PHU; and to bring to a successful close a long campaign against the armies of Ciampa. Peace was restored in the country, and its real ruler Ho QUI-LY devoted himself to its administration, instituting the laws relating to Paper-money, as we have already seen. He also ordered the construction of a new city which was to be made the capital of the kingdom. This town, built in the province of 清華 Thanh-hoa, was called 西都 Tai-do or Western Capital, and the Court took possession of it in the 11th moon of 1398.
Four months later Ho Qui-ly forced the King Thuan-tong to resign in favour of 少帝 THIEU-DE, a boy three years old. During the ceremonies of his proclamation, Ho Qui-ly nearly became the victim of a conspiracy against his life by the Lords and Mandarins; but they had to pay dear for it, as nearly four hundred of them lost their heads in consequence. At last this general became weary of supporting mock kings, and in 1402 took the throne for himself. His history will be continued later on when dealing with other rebels. He was dethroned in 1407 by the intervention of the Chinese army, and the Annamese proclaimed 簡定帝 GIAN DINH-DE as their king, and proceeded to fight in the 爻安 Nghe-an province against the customary invaders of the country. But another 陳 Tran Prince raised his banner against him, and having assembled a numerous army, proclaimed himself king in 1410 under the name of 重光帝 TRUNG QUAN-DE. This political division of the country was only favorable to the Chinese invaders, as was soon seen by the two Annamese parties, who in consequence joined hands under the supremacy of TRUNG QUANG. But it was already too late, as the Chinese had made great progress, and at last, in 1414, made Trung Quang prisoner, subdued Annam, and caused it to become a province of the Chinese Empire.
No. 16. (Barker: see 13.1-13.2)
Obverse: 元豐通寶 Nguyen-phong-thong-bao.
Reverse: without rim.
No. 17. (Barker: see 13.1-13.2)
Same as before, but having the character 元 written in the running hand style. Diminutive coins issued by King 太宗 THAI-TONG (1225-1258) in his third nien-hao.
No. 18. (Barker: none)
Obverse: 紹豐平寶 Thieu-phong-binh-bao, or cheap coin of Thieu-phong.
Reverse: without rim.
No. 19. (Barker: none)
Same as before, but having the character 紹 written in the running hand style.
No. 20. (Barker: see 18.1-18.8)
Obverse: Same as before, but having 元寶 Naguyen-bao or original coin, instead of 平寶 Binh-bao. The four characters are written in the seal style. Diminutive coins issued by King 裕宗 DU-TONG (1342-1370) in his first nien-hao.
No. 21. (Barker: 21.20-21.26)
Obverse: 大治通寶 Dai-tri-thong-bao.
No. 22. (Barker: 21.2-21.19)
Same as before, but of smaller size.
No. 23. (Barker: 20.17)
Same as before, but having 元寶 Nguyen-bao instead of Thong-bao.
Of all kings of the Tran Dynasty, Du-tong cast most cash, and this was due to the calamities suffered by the country during his reign; for, owing to the repeated loss of crops, there were frequent distributions of cash to the people This king was also the first who, during his second nien-hao, cast the three above coins of size equal to those current in China.
His successor did not cast cash, but some were issued by the rebels who were in arms from this period until the end of the dynasty.