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Ulyanov M.Yu. (Moscow)

The Thai ethnic groups' attempt to establish a state in the 1-st half of the XI century (10381053). The comparative analysis of the mentions of Dai Viet su ky toan thu and Songshi


This paper deals with the studying of the attempt to establish a state, undertaken in 10381053 A.D. by Thai ethnic groups, headed by Nong (Viet. Nung) clan (with Non Zhi Gao, Viet. Nung Tri Cao, as a leader), as well as by other largest Thai clans, first of all, Huang (Viet. Hoang).


As far as the information on the Thai states existence can be found already in Tan sources (for example, Xin Tanshu), and attempts to establish a state didn't stop after Nong Zhi Gao's defeat, so it is clear, that it is a historical phenomenon, which requires an attentive study. The movement in the XI-th century showed that certain part of Thai society in its development was ready to step from pre-state to state level.


The basic task of this paper is to specify and characterise all stages of this movement, and to try to clear up its historical meanings for Dai Viet and the Song Empire.


As the movement of Thai clans damaged the interests of Dai Viet and the Song Empire, it was described in the annals of the both states. Naturally, the detailed research should be made on the basis of all known sources. In this paper under comparative analysis would be only two main important historical sources of Dai Viet and China, Dai Viet su ky toan thu (or Toan thu) and Songshi. The comparison of fragments from Toan thu (TT) and Songshi (SSH) allows us to see, the same events from the both states point of view. It is important that we can get from them not only complementary, but also confirmed information. Without doubt, it testifies the reality of described facts.


At first, we should specify chronological frameworks and basic periods of Thais movement, and then we will try to give their brief characteristics. Let's notice, that practically every period began with the announcement of a new name of the state.


1. 10381039 Nong Cun Fus (Viet. Nung Ton Phuc, Nong Zhi Gao's farther) actions. The announcement of the first name of the Thai state, his self-declaration as an Emperor. A defeat from Dai Viet;
2. 10401043 Nong Zhi Gaos actions. The announcement of the second name of the state. A defeat from Dai Viet. Acknowledgement of vassal dependence on Dai Viet;
3. 10441049 Nong Zhi Gaos demonstration of his fidelity to Dai Viet. The first invasion into Chinese territory. The announcement of the third name of the state;
4. 10491051 Preparation for decisive action. Break off with Dai Viet. Acknowledgement of the vassal dependence on the Song Empire. Unsuccessful attempt to come to power in Yong province of China with a sanction of the Song Emperor;
5. 10521053 Thais final action. The announcement of the forth name of the state. A campaign against Guangzhou. Defeat.


It is necessary to stress out, that the year 1049, when it spread out from the borders of Thai enclave into Chinese territory, became a turning point of the Thai's movement,. So the movement can be divided into two principal stages:
before 1049 (periods 13) and after 1049 (periods 45).

1. Periods 13 (10381049)

Historians of the both countries recorded the fact of the Thai tribes' consolidation under the leadership of Nong clan and their defeat from Dai Viet. But the information on establishment of the first Thai state's can be found only in TT. The first period was very important for Dai Viet. It is testified by the largest amount of its description in comparison with other years. Such an importance can be explained also by the fact, that the events of this year occurred on the territories, which were under Dai Viets authority. The situation there was so critical that required a direct action of the Dai Viet Emperor.


Lack of the information on the first state and the less amount of the SSH's information on the first period shows, that at the beginning, China did not paid a special attention to Thai's movement. It can be probably explained that the establishment of the first state was considered in China as an internal affair of Dai Viet, but the second state damaged the Songs' interests in the South-West (province Yong).


It is interesting that the second period's description is quite similar in both texts. It seems that this period had the same importance for the both states. Two years (10411043) the Dai Viet's state authorities tried to neutralize Thai's struggle, on the third year they achieved the compromise, but at which expense! The extremely high title of taibao (Viet. thai bao), granted to Nong Zhi Gao, shows us that this movement was perceived in Dai Viet as much more dangerous, than TT writes. The text of Ly Thai Tong's edict, inserted into TT, points out, that Dai Viet's officials were afraid of Thai's attack on its interior territories.


The second period is described by the two sources in different ways. But these descriptions have not a contradictory, but a complementary character. That's why the meaning of this period's events for Vietnamese history cannot be understood without SSH's mentions.


In the beginning of this period (1044) Nong Zhi Gao personally paid a visit to Dai Viet. This visit showed that the Vietnamese could achieve the purpose to prevent the threat of Thai's invasion into the delta of Hong-ha river, which undoubtedly was rather real.


It looks like Nong Zhi Gao's visit to Dai Viet was a political measure, aimed to make himself secure during a campaign against Chinese Yong province from the Vietnamese attack to the Thai army's rear. The text of SSH gives the unique information about Thai's attack on a Yong province, when part of its territory was captured and the third name of the state was announced by Nong Zhi Gao.


In 1048 Nong Zhi Gao was so strong, that he decided to break off any relations with Dai Viet. In reply to that, the Viets were made to take drastic measures and to send army. Thai's defeat finally secured Dai Viet against their new invasion and forced Nong Zhi Gao to turn his efforts against Chinese territories.
So, in Vietnamese annals the description of the third period is limited by the Thai leader's visit to the Dai Viet's court (1044) as the earliest event and by the defeat from the Viets (1048) as the latest one, but the mention about new (the third) Thai state's establishment on the territory of Chinese province can be found only in SSH.

2. Periods 45 (10491053)

There is no any description of the forth period's events in TT. They are very important for the history of Vietnam, but the data on them is available in SSH only.


The army of Nong Zhi Gao once again invaded into Chinese Yong province. Dai Viet tried again to execute Thai, but at that time they could not achieve a success. Thus we see, that the Thai movement gained strength and in 1050, it achieved a new qualitative level on one hand, Dai Viet wasn't able to pacify them, and, on the other hand, Nong Zhi Gao considered himself to be strong enough to start attempts to compel the Song to recognise him as a monarch of an independent state. After failing, he began to prepare a new attack on Yong province.


The description of Nong Zhi Gao's actions in 10491050 is not available in TT. It can be explained by the fact that they took place not on the Vietnamese territory, but on the territory of Chinese Yong province. SSH informs about the facts, which happened after Nong Zhi Gao's captivity he refused dependence on Dai Viet and accepted dependence on China.


But it does not seem to be significant for the Vietnamese authorities. Probably, this break off was not finally recognised in Dai Viet. In 1053 a messenger of Nong Zhi Gao arrived to Dai Viet with the request for assistance. Dai Viet agreed to help at once and even put forward its army. The Dai Viet's court realised, that the large-scale actions of Nong Zni Gao against Dai Viet were hardly possible any more, and the objects of his next attack would be the areas in the South of China. Quite probable, that meanly at that time Dai Viet recognised a possibility to start direct military actions against China in the nearest future.


During the year 1051 Nong Zhi Gao was preparing for the large-scale company in the South of China. Such a long time of preparation shows that Nong Zhi Gao attached great importance to that. He perfectly realised that it should be a decisive campaign. The offensive began in the spring of the year 1052 with the announcement of the forth name of the state. As its name was the Great South, we can judge that Nong Zhi Gao applied already for superiority not only among Thai nationalities, but also among whole population of the South.


The authors of both texts paid a especial attention to the events of the fifth period. But the dimensions of the SSH description are larger then in TT, because they didn't applied directly to Dai Viet. For the Chinese, the event of the greatest importance was the movement's rise, when Guangzhou, an economic and political centre in the South of China, was besieged by the Thai army for nearly 3 months.


In 1052 the South was embarrassed. The Chinese local authorities were not able to organise a resistance to Nong Zhi Gao. His army reached Guangzhou overland and by the river practically without obstacles. 57-day's siege become the culmination of all movement. Thai's victory could cause their domination on the whole area of Guanxi and Guandong. But the city was ready to defence, besides, the commanders of the nearest provinces could collect army and attacked Nong Zhi Gao. It is clear, that accepting the reasonable decision to retreat, he obviously accounted to repeat a campaign in Guanzhou later.


For the Vietnamese history's study it is important that after suffering a defeat in 1052, Nong Zhi Gao in 1053 asked Dai Viet for military assistance, and Dai Viet did not refuse, but directed an army to support him. This decision was taken not spontaneously, but as a reaction to the local Chinese authorities' actions. TT tells, that originally, even before the first Thai's invasion to Yong province in 1044 (or in 1049), Dai Viet acted against Thai in co-operation with the Song Empire. In 1052 the Emperor of Dai Viet addressed to the Chinese court with the request to allow him to put forward an army in order to help punishing Nong Zhi Gao. And only the Chinese commander-in-chief Du Qing's opinion about the inexpediency of letting rather strong Dai Viet's army come into the weakened Song South, forced the central Song authority to issue the decree about stopping this army. Just after that the Viets also had agreed to help Nong Zhi Gao, but, what is remarkable, they did not involve in battle actions. Whether the rout of Nong Zhi Gao took place so promptly, or the Viets lingered over intentionally. It seems, that in the beginning of the 50-ies Dai Viet's authorities occupied a circumspect position, making the rate more on political manoeuvres, than on military actions. It is quiet understandable, because at that time the outcome of the global hegemony over the region was being decided. Under the circumstances, Dai Viet's authorities tried to keep the domination over the Thai by all possible ways: they demonstrated to the Chinese readiness for joint actions on their suppression and demonstrated to the Thai readiness for their support in the struggle against the Chinese.


It is also important for the Vietnamese history study, that up to the middle of the XI-th century the centralised administration in the South of China practically did not shaped. The government was carried out by the local military and civil officials, which settled down only in the centres of Chinese Diaspora, i.e. at the centres of provinces, around which the periphery, alien to the Hans, stretched. Probably, only after the terrible stress of 10521053 Chinese authorities started goal-directed measures on assimilation of the South, but it was reached more than hundred years after. The sources of the 2-nd half of the XII-th century, for example, the works of Fan Chengda Guihai yuheng zhi (1175) and of Zhou Qufei Lingvai dai da (1078), began to mention on the system of a boundary zone (Viet. bien), disposed in depth.


It's worthnotable, that the both texts' mentions on above-said events practically have no divergence. An unique significant divergence could be underlined in the description of the final Thais defeat, first of all, of Nong Zhi Gaos and his mothers assassination. According to TT, in 1053 he escaped to Dai Ly state, where he was killed, and his head was sent to the Song Emperor. At that very year the Chinese killed his mother. But this information is unavailable in SSH.


According to SSH, the Chinese governor of Guangxi province fascinated Nong Zhi Gao's mother, brother and sons and waited for him. But Nong Zhi Gao did not appear. As soon as the governor was informed about his death, his relatives were killed. Nevertheless, after that, the Chinese did not believed, that Nong Zhi Gao was not more alive. Moreover, when rumours, that he was announced in Sichuan (Viet. Tu Xuyen), appeared, the secretary of the Song Emperor immediately was engaged personally in this deal. In the other words, Chinese authorities did not know about Nong Zhi Gaos death for sure.


Before the defeat, Thai's state was considered by Dai Viet and China as a vassal monarchy. After the defeat, Thai territories formed an independent area in the Chinese Empire (subordinated to Yong province in Guangxi), which was headed by the leaders from the same clans, first of all, from the Nongs, decorated by official titles. The Chinese curbed the main lineage of Nong Zhi Gao by assassinating his close relatives, but the representatives of Nong clan managed to keep prevailing positions among Thai. A certain Nong Zong Dan in 1057 undertook an effort to be recognised as a subject of China on the same territories, where Nong Zhi Gao used to rule. As distinct from Nong Zhi Gao, he and his son were satisfied with minor official posts and magnificent ranks. It is important, that according to the last mention of SSH on the period of confrontation between 1064 and 1067, Zong Dan, probably, sympathised with Dai Viet, as in the beginning he was on the side of the Dai Viet's Emperor Ly Nhan Tong (10721127).

Some conclusions

The analysis shows that in states' annals (both in China and Dai Viet), first of all, the events, which had taken place on their territories, were recorded, and only then the most important events, which had taken place in the neighbouring states' territories. It testifies the necessity to use the both Vietnamese and Chinese sources for the analysis of the historical processes, which occurred in the area of Vietnamese- Chinese border. The similarity of the considered events' characteristics in two various historical traditions, practically separated at that time, Vietnamese and Chinese, points out, that we deal with a rather objective information.


The differences between the two sources' evidences can be explained by the fact, that Dai Viet mostly paid an attention to the stage of the movement expansion, when it was oriented against Dai Viet, and the Song Empire to the stage of its suppression, when it was oriented against the Chinese.
Both sources contain the complementary and not contradictory information. The data on the events of 1038 (the 1-st period), 1043 (the 2-nd period), 1048 (the 3-rd period) is available only in TT, and on the events of 1049 and 1050 (the 4-th period) only in SSH.


Those years, which were not described in the both sources (1041, 1042 the 2-nd period; 1045, 1046, 1047 the 3-rd period; 1051 the 4-th period), possibly, could be considered as time of Thai forces' regrouping and preparing for actions.


We have an opportunity to get a new information on Vietnamese history through the Chinese sources, and the other way round. So, we can see through TT, how the Thai movement was arising. It is of great importance to the history of China. And from the SSH we learned, that the Thai expansion was considerably greater than it was recorded in TT. Therefore, Dai Viets defeat to Nong Zhi Gao's army in 1040, and especially in 1048, before the invasion into Guangxi (1049), testifies to strength of Dai Viet's army, which could wage such large-scaled military campaigns. It is very important for the history of Vietnam.


The movement began with breaking off vassal position to Dai Viet. After that Nong Zhi Gao undertook an unsuccessful attempt to establish interstate relations with China. During the 4-th period the movement overstepped the bounds of the Thai's enclave and poured out into the territory of Chinese provinces Guangxi and Guangdong.


Vietnam and China took measures to prevent establishment of independent Thai state. Dai Viet's authorities had a precise political line in the relation with Thai and agreed with Thai autonomy on the Chinese border. The Chinese authorities, didn't at once realised a tremendous scale of their movement and practically did not issue direct instructions to local officials of Guangxi. The successes of Nong Zhi Gao showed, that in the 1-st half of the XI-th century the system of Chinese administration in the South of the Song Empire was rather weak, there were many territories, especially in the provinces Qin, Lian and Yong, with inconstant status, where authority belonged to local nobility, but not to the central government.


The Thai's movement under the leadership of Nong clan preceded and, probably, was a catalyst for the future confrontation between Dai Viet and the Song Empire at the end of the 50-ies 80-ies of the XI-th century (10591084). Its research is extremely important to the history of Vietnamese-Chinese relations in the XI-th century.


As a result of the war against Nong Zhi Gao, Dai Viet finally determined relation with Thai's tribes, which were under Nong, Huang and other native clans authority. As for China, due to the above-mentioned events, territories of the provinces Lian and Qin were finally included into imperial administrative system. An important role of a buffer zone of polyethnical Yong province was finally determined and the Song's system of two boundary areas, which was described in the XII-th century sources, also began to form.


The analysis of these sources showed, that the establishment of the Thai state was caused by the objective reasons of Thai ethnic groups development, and that the creation of their own state was not only a passing idea of the leader, but was a natural stage of the social development. The movement did not have a spontaneous character, and its leader represented the interests of the elite strata, which was already formed in XI-th century Thai society. The actions of this elite were well-prepared and goal-oriented. Its representatives were educated in China (through passing exams in Guangzhou), in a Confucian way, and it was leaded by Nong and Huang clans. This elite was ready to govern the state, command the troops and run the economy.


In the Middle Ages, a new state's legislation was needed to be recognised by the largest neighbouring states and authorities. The movement of Thai ethnic groups in the beginning of the XI-th century was also oriented to achieve recognition of Dai Viet and China. It was not without any reason, that Thai's leaders during about fifteen years changed the state's name four times, and sent diplomatic missions to China in order to achieve recognition as a monarch (wan, Viet. vuong) with all following consequences.
The research demonstrated, that the existence of Thai state in the XI-th century was not hypothetical, but real. It had grown out of a previous period of its formation. Thai state was organised according to the Confucius model (adopted in China and Dai Viet) imperial title and slogans of periods of reining were accepted, officials' posts were established, seals were made. Nong Zhi Gao needed only one thing the recognition. Such recognition could be received only from one of the three Empires: the Song Empire, Dai Viet or Kambujadesha.


Nong Zhi Gao tried to take the advantage of the situation, which the history gave him, but there were no conditions for the creation of an independent state in that time and in that place. Dai Viet was on rise, and the Song Empire continued to stimulate Chinese migration to the South. The Nong Zhi Gaos self-declaration as an Emperor, changes of the state's names, military and diplomatic politics of the Thai authorities testifies, that the process of Thai ethnic groups' state establishment in Guangxi was already completed, but there was no proper place for it in between Dai Viet and the Song China.



 
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