Đại Việt Cavalry (Trần dynasty) 大越重骑兵


These were some of the heaviest cavalry fielded by the Vietnamese 陳 Trần dynasty which resisted the three massive Mongol invasions.


He wears a distinctive ornate bronze helmet which covers his entire head save his eyes, a scale cuirass with iron padded chestplates and armed with Pole-arm « Great Breach Knife - Giáo-Đao or Phác-Đao - 撲 刀» and a longsword. He also carries a «cái khiên» lacquered shield made of wood, and reinforced with a rattan edge and bindings. The surface is lacquered black with inset decoration of silver foil.


Thank you to my Patrons who has contributed $10 and above: 
You helped make this happen!
➢ ☯ José Luis Fernández-Blanco
➢ ☯ Stephen D Rynerson
➢ ☯ Michael Lam
➢ ☯ SRS (Mr. U)

Comments

Der said…
There was a Chen Dynasty in southern China too during the Age of Division before the reunification by the Sui Dynasty. I wonder if there is a connection between that Chinese Chen dynasty and this Tran dynasty of Vietnam?
Dragon's Armory said…
Great observations sir! In fact, the Chen and Tran "陳" are exactly the same character! However I'm not sure if they are connected. I know that the last Southern Dynasty (of the North and Southern dynasty was named Chen and controlled all the way up to the verge toward central Vietnam) They even engaged wars with the Chams before both agreed to a normalized trade relationship.
Der said…
I've always wondered why the Chinese never expanded south more into South East Asia like the Huns/Turks/Mongols expanded south into China. I mean, China should extend all the way down to the Malay Peninsula to Singapore starting in ancient times.
Dragon's Armory said…
That's an interesting idea and I can't fully answer that, for one thing, in the first millennium most of Vietnam (northern Vietnam) was controlled by China, in time, during the Southern dynasties and the Sui the Chinese became neighbors with the Chams- the fact that China did not pursue overarching territorial ambitions there is really interesting, specially considering most of the region was drastically underpopulated compared to the north.

But I think the affairs of the north, the east and the west always kept its eyes to the north and the east with Korea. The Korean kingdoms and the various Khaganates always caused problems so it was paramount to counter them, and if you remember, Tang always tried to micromanage and meddle with the Korean kingdoms while expanded deep into the west while repelling the northern steppe barbarians. Plus, for the majority of the history of the first millennium southern China was pretty peaceful (and could easily be put down if there's a rebellion)
Michael Lam said…
Don't forget there is the Nam Viet (南越) kingdom in the south which encompassed the South Chinese province of Guangdong (广东) and North Vietnam. It exited from 204 - 111 BC. This might explain why Cantonese sounds so similar to Vietnamese, they were probably rooted in the same mother tongue spoken by the Baiyue (百越) people, an ancient conglomeration of indigenous non-Han hill tribes. That's also why Cantonese people call themselves Tang people (唐人) as opposed to Han people (汉人), as evidenced by the fact that they were not fully assimilated into China until after the Han Empire had ended.
Michael Lam said…
To answer Der's question of why China never expanded further, I think the answer is severalfold:
1) A lot of the time, the Chinese Empire was mired internal problems, e.g. famine, succession crises, civil wars
2) Logistically, even if you can conquer more land, you have to station troops there to guard it and send settlers to sinicize it. This called for resources the empire simply didn't have
3) Financially, as the British Empire found out, sometimes having more colonies actually cost you more money then what you can gain

An example of what I a talking about is Richard the Lion Heart never took Jerusalem even though he had defeated Saladin at the time and there was no army strong enough to stop him. He knew that if he had conquered the city, he would have to stay the rest of his life to guard it. Similarly, in the Ming Dynasty, Admiral Zheng He commanded the biggest navy in the world, housing 30000 troops as he got all the way to East Africa. He could have easily taken those land, but guarding and administering them would have been a nightmare. The Chinese Empire's main threat were the nomads from the North, hence the fleet was not maintained and most of the money went to maintaining the Great Wall.

A final example is the Roman Empire, the Western counter part to the Chinese Empire. It eventually split in half despite the fact that it was no longer expanding. It just made more administrative sense to govern it from two capitals. And even that solution couldn't prevent the empire from eventually collapsing under its own weight. And the same logic can be applied to the Russian Empire and Ottoman Empire - sometimes less is more.
Dragon's Armory said…
I pretty agree with all of Michael's points. Sometimes its more of a hassle to extend into an area where there is a concentrated population again.
Slash Hack said…
Also, the Chinese dynasties faced constant unrest in these regions such as Vietnam. The Song and Ming dynasties tried to hold these regions but eventually lost it since it's not cost-effective to maintain them. Just like the Vietnam war in the 20th century, the locals fought a guerrilla war and conventional warfare cant beat this tactic. The other important point is the doctrine of Confucianism. Confucianism focused China to treat "everyone" with respect even in geopolitics. Unlike the western doctrine of imperialism, China respected the sovereignty other ethnic groups that's why Chinese emperors only required "tributes" from surrounding nations to show their obedience. However, the confusion doctrine restricted Chinese expansion outwards and slowly China became a demilitarized nation that's always weaker than the Han Dynasty because of fears of military uprisings. The Song Dynasty and the late period of the Ming Dynasty is a reflection of this as its army is powerless to defend against northern invaders and even the Vietnam dynasties...
Dragon's Armory said…
Not quite, yes, the Confucian were very inward looking thus not very expansionist, (at least compared to western powers) but they are by no means respected everyone equally at all, for instance, the very notion of the tributary system required an inferior supplicant and a superior to receive such homage. Also- there is quite a bit of a ranking system going on, for instance, no matter what, Korea was treated as number 2 of the tributary state's relationship, Korean was seen as the younger brother in this system. This very nature makes it very hierarchical and ranked. I'm not arguing against the system, merely to point out that its not equal by modern notions at all.

Now- on an off topic point, this actually has some benefits, it created almost a papal- like system of interwoven "East Asian political" scene, where if a tributary vassal state was invaded or had its family displaced by a coup, it would provoke a response from China (a Kingmaker role.) And there is some argument that overall it created a more stable system compared to Western European politics, where peace lasts over 200 years but its kind of beyond the topic.

On the subject of conservatism, and regional isolationism, I do think Confucianism has a positive and stabilizing effect over all (not social- as in women but in a geopolitical sense) since big wars are much rarer compared to Europe and the Americas. The total wars between China and Korea/ Vietnam could be counted with hands alone, and lets not forget that no native Chinese dynasty ever invaded Japan (Kublai being foreign of course)
Slash Hack said…
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Der said…
Confucianism ... or more correctly 'Ruism' ... then should be replaced with Legalism then. Confucianism is a luxury and okay for a world where 'China' is virtually the entire world. But in this current geopolitical environment of competing nation-states, perhaps the philosophy that made the State of Qin great, namely Shang Yang's philosophy of Legalism, should be adopted? Raw, naked military power and force is what this world respects unfortunately. The 'soft power' represented by Ruism just won't cut it any more right? The 'hard power' of Legalism will teach the barbarians true respect for China.
Dragon's Armory said…
I...can't really tell if you are serious with this one man, but I'll tackle it straight faced. No, I don't think Legalism is a good idea for any society (except perhaps when a society is temporarily course correcting from something else.) It'd have to be some major degenerate ridden mess if I'd even considering advocating a Hobbesian solution to any people. I oppose Legalism primarily because its impersonal, it likelihood of presuming people to be guilty and mean, also its restriction on individual liberty. Plus- a lot of its repressive totalitarian elements could be translated into more rational common-sense conservative approaches.

For instance- China secures its economy and its brands by economic nationalism, high tariffs and support for its native tech companies, China muscled its territorial claims through showing off its navy and deploying troops on contested boarders. All of it was still not war. It's military power and bullying chest pounding, but still not divorced from what a conservative who advocate for strong boarders, national defense and native- first policy would do. I don't necessarily agree with it, just to point out the technicalities.

Well, since we got to talk about politics I think I should state a bit of myself. I consider myself a centrist, left- leaning but very disillusioned from an American POV. For my love of history I would freely admit I am a conservative in terms of academics and practical policies. If I lived in Europe I'd probably be a conservative in both Germany and Sweden. For China I'd be a left leaning centrist with a strong attachment to traditional culture (mainly because its been bleached by the last 50 years.)

Btw: I actually write about Ruism, I have a book coming out soon about the Warring States and the formation of the Chinese consciousness.
Der said…
Thanks for the comments.

I look forward to your books, where can I get a copy?

My advocacy of Legalism is simply based on the fact that it worked for Qin, why not China? The impersonal aspects of Legalism is what makes it 'modern' in a sense ... it doesn't matter what your status is, all are equal before the law. And severe punishment prevents crime, instead of just reacting to it. In terms of foreign policy, every citizen of the state is harnessed for the good of The State, a cog in a giant army and nation under arms. Legalism previewed Fascism thousands of years before the fascists. We live in a dog eat dog world, where the strong survive and weak perish ... "the strong do as they will, while the weak suffer as they must" is what the Athenians told the Melians right? This is the world we live in, the softenss of Ruism has no place surely?? Let those dark brothers of the Ruists, the Legalists give it a try maybe?
Dragon's Armory said…
Well, looking at the Empire, Military dictatorship, isolationist Maoist state of the 20th century, I'm going to have to say no, I'm a practical person (despite having my own ideals.) I'm disillusioned with much of the west, too much partisan rhetoric and nothing gets done, but the east got its own problems, too much chestpounding. Right now I'm just keeping an eye on the One Track One Road initiative, at least its something, at least its a new direction out of the global economic slump. Meanwhile Asia in general could scale its militarism wayyy back. Way too much bad blood.
Slash Hack said…
Personally, I believe the Chinese dynasties should have adopted all ideas of thought and continued the system of hundred schools of thought. It promotes competition and advancement an important catalyst that any civilization needed to remain dominant. Confucian should belong to more of a religious practice and not applied to social, economic and political practice.
Slash Hack said…
Legalism didn't work for Qin, it did for a short well but it promoted the harsh disciplined society and in many regions of China during the Warring States period, it went against a lot of the soft ideas of Confucian and Mohism like thoughts. Legalism is good for forming a state and empowering the military but it is not an ideal thought that should be implemented alone for prolonged periods of time. It's also attributed to the downfall of the Qin and the rise of the Han Dynasty.
TheXanian said…
@ Slash Hack Learn some history before you post your comments. The Song was not as weak as you think. They had held against the Khitans, the Tanguts, the Jurchens, and the Mongols for nearly 320 years, making it the second longest Chinese dynasty after the Qin (the longest was Han). If they were so weak and incompetent, then how could they held up for so long? It took the Mongols and their numerous auxiliaries from across their Eurasian empire 45 years to conquer the Southern Song, longer and harder than any of their conquest. And they had also lost a prince and a khan in the bitter war against the Song.

And I don't understand why you try to add vietnam dynasties as Song's enemy. For the most part Song and Dai Viet maintained a friendly relation. The only time they went to war was in 1075. At first the Song was ill-prepared since they didn't expect that the viets would attack them and that most of their armies were stationed at their northern border, however as soon as they sent armies southward the viets had quickly been pushed back to vietnam. The Song army pursued them into Dai Viet territory, captured several towns in northern Vietnam, and fought a large battle with the viets in the Red River Valley where both sides claimed that they had defeated the other. Then they were both exhausted and signed a peace treaty; the Song returned captured towns to Dai Viet. And that's the end of the story. I don't think this war could by any means serve as a proof of Song's weakness.
Dragon's Armory said…
"320 years, making it the second longest Chinese dynasty after the Qin (the longest was Han)."
^ Did you list the Qin as one of the longest lasting ones?

Also no, the Han was not the longest, the Zhou and the Shang were longer,
TheXanian said…
I said "after the Qin", meaning that Shang and Zhou were excluded.

And no, I didn't list the Qin as one of the longest lasting ones.

Semantics aside, the Song should still be considered as one of the longest lasting ones, and I think this proves that they were not a weak and incompetent dynasty, or else their rule would not last that long.

Slash Hack said…
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Slash Hack said…
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Slash Hack said…
@TheXanian I think your the one that needs more "history lessons" the largest Chinese dynasty is technical Qing dynasty. Your are completely wrong about Song dynasty, the Song Dynasties power lies with its economic power. The Song dynasty held more than half of the world's economic power because of its currency value, business tax and nearby countries such as Japan would trade Song's copper currency with silver and gold. The Song bought their peace with Khitans for almost 100 years and had to pay annual tribute of "200,000 bolts of raw silk and 100,000 taels of silver" and it was a great disgrace for many Han Chinese during the period. The Song held the Mongols for 45 years due to its geographic location of Southern China. The Song weakness was their military and also the lost of Sixteen Prefectures of Yan that the Song could never recover. The sixteen prefectures of yan was greatly important for its mountainous terrain which helped keep the Northen Nomadic tribes out but this loses kept Song at a continuous vulnerable position and left the captial of Kaifeng opened. Song was powerful for its economic power but not its military. Dai Viet for centuries had being part of China but became independent after the fall of the Tang. Although by name Dai viet wanted to be friends but border issues and raids continued and this part of history is hardly found in Western texts. The Song Dynasty would definintly had conquer Dai Viet if they had the power to and not peace through negotiations. You should do more research into Chinese text before spouting nonsences that everybody knows or are false.
Slash Hack said…
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Slash Hack said…
@TheXanian You should be the one to read more history read this http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/china03.htm before sprouting nonsense
Henrique Pires said…
China or chinese identity is an old protagonist as historical power


chinese have invaded mongolia, vietnam , manchuria, central asia, xinjiang, nepal, tibet , burma , korean peninsula, taiwan and even japan as " yuan dynasty '' although their purpose was never to make true colonies , remember capitalism is western history, there is no sense to invade and occupy lands just to spend money and get nothing in exchange ... the historical international relations of china was just so different like without populous nobility ( yahhhhhh Scholar-officials ) without populous nobility aspiring glory, fame , power and competing with each other much like the history of post-roman western europe saturated with nobiliarchical titles and with few effective civil offices until the nineteenth century ( an interesting observation: when China was dominated by a kind of feudalism of them until the Han dynasty, which had a weak Confucian system and heiress of the geopolitics of the Qin dynasty, each warlord advanced to the adjacent lands as a way to increase and strengthen his economy and so fight against the other fighting state, so the territory of china proper as we know it today was born going beyond the north china plain ) . Imperial China´s priority was for the development of an agricultural bureaucracy (though ironically they have achieved many cities that are among the largest throughout history, before the victorian city of london , beijing and edo/old tokyo were the most populous In the 18th to 19th centuries, with a population around one million ) and china just had no interest in the outside world, in their view the others were just people inclined to be Chinese / Tianxia / Huaxia/Zhongguo ,yah sinocentrism and subject to their vassalage system as tributary states , they thought they already had everything , the old chinese cartography is in 90% of its maps showing China as a whole world in the disk format and some irregular pieces in the border like the rest of mankind.... the majority of chinese thinkers have always had the false sense that the rest are barbarians without any respectable intellectuality or culture since the entire Eurasia came to trade in Chinese cities as merchants (Marco Polo was just an ant in this flood of foreign merchants) , in other words simple people without well developed customs and values with financial selfishness and who only resold what others produced, they produced nothing and lived on lies for profit, things so negatively seen by the Confucian work ethic that put peasants at a higher level of morality and respect through filial piety , it is interesting to note that the Chinese eventually influenced the world without even wanting that, I believe everyone here is already tired of hearing of Chinese inventions as a long list
Henrique Pires said…
For me, one of the biggest reasons China has been so politically stable (historically speaking), and when it was not so, explosive peasant revolts that debauched the power of the aristocracy with a facility far greater than the frequency in Europe is because the lack of nobility that owns lands and armies that repressed anyone they wanted according to their personalities and personal interests, with their will and abuse of authority greater than duty, as long as they will love to play the roles of abusive mini kings while their status is protected by the maximum sovereign

scholar-bureaucrats were the pseudo nobility of china, with temporary and selective positions, they would never have been able to effectively create dynasties, small royal houses that perhaps would one day rival the emperor's family, much like in Europe or pretty much like in the holy roman empire, without the factor called time, to accumulate land, power, prestige, and inbred relationships with other rising peer families, and pride as a political legitimizer to justify their actions by a tradition of continuity of their kinship

what do you think ?
Henrique Pires said…
for you , when was the golden age of confucianism in china ? i guess it was during the ming dynasty

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