05/10/2009 | 11:10:43

The Mac, restoration and recession of the Le dynasties

At the end of the Le dynasty, the Court itself had become weakened and unstable, it was presided over by a powerless Emperor Le Uy Muc. The socio-political crisis was severe and it reached its peak in the 18th century because the ambitious mandarins ultimately governed only in their own interests.

The most notable rivalry was led by Mac Dang Dung. He had experienced being an imperial guard under Le Uy Muc, then Deputy Commander-in-Chief and an Earl under Tuong Duc, then a marquisate and a Duke under Chieu Tong. By that time he commanded 13 marine and ground regiments, this was until Cung Hoang Mac Dang Dung became an influential person.

It has been noted that he "had defeated many enemies, gaining greater and greater power, whereas the Emperor's army was weak. "The people's hearts were with Mac Dang Dung" - from “Dai Viet thong su” by Le Quy Don. Mac Dang Dung had proved himself to be a talented man of great privilege, and so Thang Long once more witnessed an important event: the take-over of the Le by the Mac dynasty (1527).

The Mac, however, came to power during a complicated situation where the decentralisation of power became acute, preventing the unification of the country.
In 1592 Trinh Tung, Trinh Kiem's son conquered Đong Đo. Mac Mau Hop was killed. Le The Tong was helped by Trinhs' noble family to become the Emperor. This is a unique event in the history of Vietnam that a country was ruled by both an Emperor and a Noble Lord, it was called the Dynasty of the Le Restoration.

The Mac dynasty opened a period of disagreements, the conflict between the North Court, controlled by the Mac and South Court, controlled by the Le dynasty, then the rivalry between Dang Ngoai (in the North) and Dang Trong (in the South).

Although the political situation under the Mac was rather complex, the economy and culture actually saw a rapid development. Markets were set up in many places, especially in Kien An. The urban population grew fast, some people became the owners of shops and workshops, but the majority were small producers and traders. This is why Thang Long did not surpass the model of a middle-age urban structure to define itself as a "free city" as it would have done in the West. It was in this period that Thang Long witnessed the development of culture and of the examination system.

Many intellectuals were awarded doctorate degrees, among whom Tran Thi Due was a woman. Some of them became great intellectuals, such as Nguyen Binh Khiem and Phung Khac Khoan. Among those who established the glorious chapter of Thang Long, some were of Hanoi origin, such as Dang Tran Con and Bui Huy Bich, and some were from elsewhere, such as Le Quy Don, Nguyen Gia Thieu and Đoan Thi Diem. This period made a step towards the cultural restoration of the centuries to follow.

Under the Restoration of the Le, Thang Long underwent a lot of changes. Separate from the royal palace stood Lord Trinh's Palace, the real headquarters of the nation, with many luxurious structures, such as Lau Ngu Long (Five-Dragon House) on the east of Hoan Kiem Lake (the Lake of the Restored Sword), Dinh Ta Vong (Ta Vong Local Temple - Turtle's Island now) and Thuy Khanh Palace (on Jade Mountain). Also notably a lot of commercial firms were established by Dutch and English merchants and especially by Chinese boat people. The rivalry between the Trinh clan in the north, and the Nguyen clan in the south, ended in 1786 in an uprising led by Nguyen Hue, a great commander and strategist.

Handicrafts flourished in Thang Long thanks to the talented artisans and craftmen who had brought the crafts from other parts of the country to the city. They grouped together according to their occupations, such as cotton, silk and dyes in Truc Bach, Yen Thai, Trich Sai, Nghia Đo, copper in Ngu Xa, red silk in Hang Dao and soon. The street names indicate the business or trade of the residents and they were a good guide to the Thang Long society, such as inlay in Hang Khay, jewelers in Hang Bạc and drums in Hang Trong. In spite of the many changes, Thang Long was the largest political, economic and cultural centre in the country./.

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