Learn About the History of the Nanyue Kingdom

The contemporary Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hong Kong, Macau, southern Fujian, and central to northern Vietnam were all part of the ancient kingdom of Nanyue, which was ruled by Chinese emperors of the Zhao line. Following the fall of the Qin dynasty in 204 BC, Zhao Tuo, the Commander of Nanhai in the Qin Empire, founded Nanyue. The commanderies of Nanhai, Guilin, and Xiang made up the initial composition of this earlier kingdom in the history of Vietnam and its evolving empire.

Zhao Tuo submitted to the Han dynasty’s Emperor Gaozu in 196 BC, and the Han empire referred to Nanyue as a “foreign servant,” or a vassal state. As ties between the Nanyue and the Han dynasties frayed in 183 BC, Zhao Tuo started referring to himself as an emperor and implying that the Nanyue and the Han dynasties were on equal footing. When Han and Nanyue relations improved in 179 BC, Zhao Tuo once more submitted, this time to Han’s Emperor Wen as a subject state. Since Nanyue continued to have independence from the Han and Zhao Tuo was addressed as “Emperor” throughout Nanyue until his passing, the submission was only really cosmetic. Zhao Xing, a leader of the fourth generation, aimed to have The Han Empire officially recognize Nanyue as a member. Zhao Xing’s older brother Zhao Jiande was put on the throne when his Prime Minister Lü Jia assassinated Zhao Xing after fiercely objecting. This forced a conflict with the Han dynasty. The following year, 100,000 soldiers were dispatched to battle against Nanyue by Emperor Wu of Han. By the end of the year, the army had obliterated Nanyue and installed the Han dynasty. Five generations of kings ruled the dynastic state for 93 years.

The Founding of Nanyue

Qin Shi Huang focused on the Xiongnu tribes of the north and west as well as the Hundred Yue peoples of what is now southern China after he had conquered the six ancient Chinese kingdoms of Han, Zhao, Wei, Chu, Yan, and Qi. Around 218 BC, the First Emperor sent General Tu Sui and 500,000 Qin men to assault the Hundred Yue tribes of the Lingnan region in five companies. The Minyue was attacked by the first company at Yuhan which is modern Yugan County in Jiangxi Province, who ultimately defeated them and established the Minzhong Commandery. To apply defensive pressure to the southern clans, the second company entrenched at Nanye. Panyu was inhabited by the third firm. The fifth unit was stationed outside Tancheng, while the fourth company was stationed close to the Jiuyi Mountains. Shi Lu was given responsibility by the First Emperor to manage supply logistics. To assure the security of the Qin supply channels, Shi first led a regiment of soldiers via the Ling Channel before navigating the Yangtze River and Pearl River water systems. Western Valley Yue tribe chieftain Yi-Xu-Song was slain during a successful Qin attack by the Western Valley Yue tribe. The Western Valley Yue chose a new leader to continue fighting the Chinese army because they were unwilling to submit to the Qin and had retreated into the bush.

When the First Emperor of Qin passed away in 210 BC, his son Zhao Huhai succeeded him as the Second Emperor. The opportunity to overthrow the Qin government was grasped by soldiers Chen Sheng, Wu Guang, and others the next year. Much of China had uprisings, and the Yellow River valley fell into anarchy. Following the initial uprisings, Nanhai Lieutenant Ren Xiao summoned Zhao Tuo to hear his final orders before passing away. Ren outlined the region’s natural advantages and how a kingdom could be established there with the help of the many Chinese settlers to fend off the warring factions in the Chinese north. Soon after drafting the edict designating Zhao Tuo as the new Lieutenant of Nanhai, he passed away. Zhao Tuo sent orders to his soldiers in Hengpu Pass, Yangshan Pass, Huang Stream Pass, and other garrisons to strengthen themselves against any northern troops after Ren’s death. Additionally, he killed any remaining Qin officials stationed in Nanhai and replaced them with his own reliable friends.

Conquest of Âu Lạc

In the early years of Nanyue’s existence, the kingdom of u Lc lay south of Nanyue; u Lc was predominantly situated in the Red River delta region, while Nanyue included the commanderies of Nanhai, Guilin, and Xiang. Because of their shared anti-Han feeling and the fact that Nanyue and u Lc coexisted, u Lc recognized Nanyue’s suzerainty. Fearing a Han onslaught, Zhao Tuo increased and strengthened his troops. Zhao Tuo, however, marched southwest and effectively took u Lc in 179 BC as Han and Nanyue tie strengthened.

Nanyue under Zhao Tuo

After years of conflict with his enemies, Liu Bang united Central China and founded the Han dynasty in 202 BC. Feudal lords persisted in their rebellion as the Xiongnu made regular inroads into northern Chinese territory, leaving many sections of China depopulated and impoverished because of the fighting. The Han court was consequently forced to approach Nanyue initially with the utmost caution due to the unstable status of the realm. To win Zhao Tuo’s loyalty, Liu Bang, then Emperor Gaozu, dispatched Lu Jia to Nanyue in 196 BC. Zhao Tuo was waiting for Lu when he got there, and it’s stated that when he did, he found him clothed in Yue clothes and being received according to their customs, which infuriated Lu. After a lengthy discussion, Lu reportedly reprimanded Zhao Tuo, reminding him that he was Chinese, not Yue and that he should have kept up Chinese attire and etiquette and not forgotten his ancestors’ customs. Lu praised the power of the Han court and forbade a tiny kingdom like Nanyue from daring to challenge it. He also vowed to assassinate Zhao’s relatives in actual China, burn their family cemeteries, and force the Yue to remove Zhao from power. Zhao Tuo then made the decision to accept Emperor Gaozu’s submission with a seal to Han power.

The War and Decline of Nanyue

The Han-Nanyue border towns were attacked by the 2,000 men led by Han Qianqiu, and the locals of Yue stopped fighting them and instead provided them with food and safe passage. The warriors moved swiftly into Nanyue land and were just 40 li from Panyu when they were attacked and destroyed by a regiment of Nanyue soldiers. Then, with the aid of military reinforcements, Lü Jia erected the ceremonial wooden box containing the imperial tokens of the Han emissaries, together with a phony letter of apology, on the border between Han and Nanyue. Emperor Wu was furious when he learned about the coup and Prime Minister Lü’s deeds. He then provided restitution to the slain emissaries’ families ordered an army to be immediately assembled and ready to assault Nanyue. Emperor Wu ordered a 100,000-man army, organized into five companies, to attack Nanyue in the autumn of 111 BC. General Lu Bode led the first company, which moved down the Huang River, now known as the Lian River, from Guiyang to modern-day Lianzhou. Commander Yang Pu led the second company as it moved from the Yuzhang Commandery, which is now modern Nanchang, down the Zhen River and via the Hengpu Pass. Zheng Yan and Tian Jia, two Yue chieftains who had joined the Han dynasty, served as the leaders of the third and fourth companies, respectively.

Tây Vu Vng revolted against the First Chinese rule from the Western Han dynasty following the fall of Panyu. The other commanderies and counties of Nanyue thereafter submitted to the Han dynasty, bringing an end to Nanyue’s 93-year existence as an independent and mostly sovereign kingdom. He was assassinated by his aide Hoàng ng. Emperor Wu, who was traveling to conduct imperial inspections, learned of Nanyue’s loss while staying in Zuoyi County in Shanxi Province. He immediately established the new county of Wenxi, which means “Hearing of Glad News.” After being apprehended, Lü Jia was killed by Han soldiers, and the emperor received his head. He built Huojia County, which translates to “Capturing Jia,” while he was traveling.

The rise and fall of previous kingdoms in Vietnam paved the way to where the country is today. There is so much enduring history that forms the interplay of its rich culture, traditions, location, leadership, and the many aspects of its sturdy development. Vietnam is well known for its rich landscape and geographical location. You might as well venture into the awe-inspiring top travel destinations of Vietnam that depicts so much of the rich historical background and natural ardor of this wonderful place.