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Ly Dynasty (1009 AD - 1225 AD)

The Ly, who reigned the country for more than two centuries, were the first of the enduring national dynasties. Ly Cong Uan was a disciple of a famous monk, Van Hanh, who helped him rise to power in the Hoa Lu court. Assuming the name of Ly Thai To, the new sovereign inaugurated his dynasty with a change of capital. The capital was named Thang Long (Ascending Dragon) after the King saw an apparition of an ascending dragon.

The Ly, who reigned the country for more than two centuries, were the first of the enduring national dynasties. Ly Cong Uan was a disciple of a famous monk, Van Hanh, who helped him rise to power in the Hoa Lu court. Assuming the name of Ly Thai To, the new sovereign inaugurated his dynasty with a change of capital. The capital was named Thang Long (Ascending Dragon) after the King saw an apparition of an ascending dragon.

In 1054, King Ly Thanh Ton, re-christened the country Dai Viet. Buddhism flourished as the national religion. Buddhist masters, assisted the Ly kings in their rule. Under the impulse of Confucian administrators, the Ly Dynasty consolidated the monarchy by setting up a centralised government and establishing a tax system, a judiciary system and a professional army. Important public works, including the building of dikes and canals, were undertaken in order to develop agriculture and settle the population.

The monarchist centralisation endowed the king with three roles: absolute monarch and religious chief of the empire; mediator between the people and Heaven; and father of the nation. Meanwhile, the mandarin court became an institution composed of six department: staff, finances, rites, justice, armed forces and public works.

In 1070, a national college was founded to educate future mandarins. The college, known as Van Mieu, has been restored and still stands in Hanoi. Knowledge of the Confucian classics, as well as the mastery of literary composition and poetry, were the main requirements of the rigorous three year course, which culminated in a very competitive diploma examination.

The Ly Dynasty started to decline during the Ly Anh Tong (1138 - 1175) reign. The country fell into chaos as rebellions rose everywhere. The people lived in misery and poverty. In 1208, the Quach Boc rebellion caused the Court to escape from the capital. The Emperor hid in Phu Tho and the Crown Prince, Sam, hid in Nam Dinh. Sam then got married with Tran Thi Dzung, daughter of a fisherman of that region and was supported by the Tran family to fight against the Quach rebellion. He succeeded in suppressing the revolts and members of the Tran family were conferred to important positions in the Court. The Tran family held the reins of the empire. Sam was forced to forgo his seat in 1224. Ascending the throne was his daughter, Chieu Hoang, at the young age of seven.
 
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