DAVID LAN PHAM, F.A.B.I.
DUONG VAN NGA (952- 1000):
THE MOST POWERFUL QUEEN IN FEUDAL
Duong Van Nga
was one of King Dinh Tien Hoang’s wives. The Dinh dynasty was founded in 968 and
ended in 980.
Duong Van Nga was born in 952. It’s no doubt she was from the
famous Duong family that had beautiful ladies. King Ngo Quyen was son in- law of
Duong Dien Nghe, General and Imperial Commissioner of Tinh Hai. Duong Tam Kha,
son of Duong Dien Nghe, usurped the throne from the Ngo after King Ngo Quyen’s
death in 945.
Duong Van Nga was from a noble and powerful family. She was
young and beautiful. She was 28 years younger than Dinh Tien Hoang (924- 979).
She was younger than Generalissimo Nam Viet Vuong Dinh Lien, King Dinh Tien
Hoang’s eldest son. Needless to say Duong Van Nga was the most influential Queen
beside King Dinh Tien Hoang. In 974 she gave birth to Prince Dinh Tue when she
was 22 years old and King Dinh Tien Hoang was 50 years old.
Did Queen Duong Van Nga have any influence on King Dinh Tien
Hoang, who denied Dinh Lien’s birthright and right to succession to the throne
by choosing Prince Dinh Hang Lang, Dinh Lien’s younger brother, as his
This lunatic decision led to political crisis and chaos when
Nam Viet Vuong Dinh Lien killed his younger brother Dinh Hang Lang. Dinh Lien
was Dinh Tien Hoang’s eldest son. He was a talented Generalissimo deserving to
be King after King Dinh Tien Hoang’s death. He had resounding military exploits
during the Seigneurial War (945- 967). The death of Prince Dinh Hang Lang was
the beginning of the collapse of the Dinh dynasty. Bloodshed occurred in Hoa Lu.
King Dinh Tien Hoang and Dinh Lien were murdered by Do Thich in 979. Prince Dinh
Tue, Duong Van Nga’s son, was enthroned when he was 5 years old.
The Song troops were ready to cross the border to invade Dai
Co Viet (1). A bloodless coup took place in Hoa Lu (2). Queen Duong Van Nga gave
Generalissimo Le Hoan the royal robe. The infant King Dinh Tue was deposed not
only by Generalissimo Le Hoan but also by his own mother. Le Hoan acceded to the
throne. It was King Le Dai Hanh, founder of the Earlier Le (980- 1009). Le Dai
Hanh defeated the Song. Queen Duong Van Nga was involved in the bloodless coup
staged by Le Hoan and Pham Cu Luong to depose her son, the five-year-old King
Dinh Tue. But she lost nothing. She became Queen of the founder of the Earlier
Le at the age of 28.
Duong Van Nga was the two- dynasty Queen (Dinh & Earlier Le).
She had a daughter with King Le Dai Hanh: Princess Le Thi Phat Ngan, who was
Queen of King Ly Thai To, founder of the Ly (1010- 1225).
Duong Van Nga
Queen of King Dinh Tien Hoang, founder of the Dinh
dynasty (968- 980)
Duong Van Nga
Queen of King Le Dai Hanh, founder of the Earlier Le
dynasty (980- 1009)
Duong Van Nga
Mother in- law of King Ly Thai To, founder of the Ly
dynasty (1010- 1225)
She was really influential on the three founders of three
- The Dinh (968- 980)
- The Earlier Le (980- 1009)
- The Ly (1010- 1225)
Regarding Queen Duong Van Nga we have some historic
1. Who was behind King Dinh Tien Hoang’s lunatic decision? -
No-one but Queen Duong Van Nga. She was a young and beautiful Queen born into
the powerful Duong family. Duong Dien Nghe was Ngo Quyen’s boss and father
in-law. His son, Duong Tam Kha, was King from 945 to 950 after King Ngo Quyen’s
death. Of course, Duong Van Nga was proud of her great family and of her youth
and beauty. She looked down upon the other Queens. Her ambition was to enthrone
her son, Dinh Tue, so that she became Queen Mother. She would have nothing if
Nam Viet Vuong Dinh Lien were King. Eliminating Dinh Lien from his birthright
and right to succession to the throne was pushing Nam Viet Vuong Dinh Lien to
kill the young Prince Dinh Hang Lang. It’s time for Nam Viet Vuong Dinh Lien to
find his death to pave the way for Dinh Tue to become King.
2. It was written in history that Do Thich assassinated King
Dinh Tien Hoang and Nam Viet Vuong Dinh Lien while they were drunk. It was
rumored that Do Thich saw a star falling into his mouth in a dream. Nurturing
his royal dream he killed King Dinh Tien Hoang and his son, Generalissimo Dinh
Lien. Do Thich’s background was vague. An official at the Court? a eunuch? a
subaltern at the Royal Palace? Did someone make up Do Thich’s dream to cover up
the true architect of the assassination of King Dinh Tien Hoang and Nam Viet
Vuong Dinh Lien? The assassination aimed at ending the Dinh dynasty. An assassin
like Do Thich couldn’t be King. In Hoa Lu there were prestigious Generals such
as Nguyen Bac, Le Hoan, Dinh Dien, Ngo Nhat Khanh etc. How could an unknown Do
Thich accede to the throne? He was the hand but not the brain in this political
plot. Who orchestrated the fall of the Dinh? Queen Duong Van Nga? Generalissimo
Le Hoan? Possibly both of them?
3. Did Queen Duong Van Nga commit adultery with Generalissimo
Le Hoan? No proofs. But no smoke without fire.
a. Duong Van Nga was too young while Dinh Tien Hoang was too
old. The King spent time drinking rice wine. He was killed by Do Thich when he
was drunk. Generalissimo Le Hoan was 11 years older than Queen Duong Van Nga. Le
Hoan was the most powerful military man in Dai Co Viet after Nam Viet Vuong Dinh
Lien’s death. He was respected by many Generals in Hoa Lu except for Generals
Nguyen Bac, Ngo Nhat Khanh, Dinh Dien, who were loyal to the Dinh. To Queen
Duong Van Nga this military man was more attractive than the old King, a rice
wine addict. His soldatesque acts could satisfy her political ambition, that of
the most powerful Queen in history.
b. The preparation for the fall of the Dinh by Generalissimo
Le Hoan was well orchestrated. It couldn’t be successful without Queen Duong Van
Nga’s collusion. It underwent many steps: 1. the denial of Nam Viet Vuong Dinh
Lien’s birthright and right to succession to the throne. 2. the killing of
Prince Hang Lang by Dinh Lien 3. the assassination of King Dinh Tien Hoang and
Nam Viet Vuong Dinh Lien in 979. 4. the bloodless coup led by General Pham Cu
Luong in favor of Generalissimo Le Hoan facing the invasion of the Song troops
c. The Dinh dynasty ended in 980 when Queen Duong Van Nga
gave the royal robe to Generalissimo Le Hoan, who became King Le Dai Hanh. The
Chinese invaders were defeated by King Le Dai Hanh. Duong Van Nga became Queen
of the founder of the new dynasty: the Earlier Le (980- 1009).
David Lan Pham
Extract from Vietnamese Popular Tales
by David Lan Pham, F.A.B.I.
(1) Dai Co Viet: country’s name from
968 to 1010 (Dai Co Viet: Great Viet)
(2) Hoa Lu: capital of Dai Co
Viet under the Dinh and Earlier Le.
Trang Phạm Đình Lân