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"THE INSURRECTION OF THE TWO TRUNG SISTERS," by Van Tan (in Vietnam Advances [Hanoi, 1960] )

The insurrection of the two sisters Trung Trac and Trung Nhi was the first in the annals of the struggle waged by Vietnam against the domination of the Chinese feudalists and also the first in the process of development of the Vietnamese nation.

In the year 34 of our era, under the Han dynasty, a Chinese governor named To Dinh ruled over the country of Ciao Chi, which corresponded roughly to present-day North Vietnam. Our subject country was turned into a land of allegiance by the Chinese court. To Dinh, greedy and brutal, carried out a policy of harsh exploitation and oppression. He forced the population to dive into the depths of the sea for pearl oysters, and to hunt elephants and rhinoceros in the forest for their ivory and horns. ...A noble of the country at the time had two daughters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, both renowned for their bravery and much respected by the people. The two sisters felt a deep hatred for To Dinh.

In the year A.D. 40, To Dinh had Thi Sach, Trung Trac's husband, put to death. She and her sister, Trung Nhi, called on the people to rise up and throw off the foreign yoke. The people won victory after victory. In a short space of time, they liberated sixty-five towns. To Dinh and his men had only just sufficient time to flee away. Immediately after this brilliant campaign, Trung Trac was proclaimed sovereign by the people, with the title Trung Vuong [Queen Trung] .She set up her capital at Me Linh, in the present province of Vinh Phuc. It was the first investiture of a royal title in the history of our people, and it happened to be conferred on a woman. Thus, after having borne the Chinese feudalists' yoke for nearly three centuries, our country, under the leadership of a woman, with a hard struggle regained its right to independence.

The reaction of the Chinese court promptly followed. A great feudal power in Asia, the China of the Hans could not allow a province on the doorstep of the empire to take back its freedom by force of arms. In the year A.D. 42, after two years of careful preparation, the Chinese emperor ordered Ma Yuan, a great strategist, to go and fight against Trung Vuong. Assisted by his best lieutenants, Ma Yuan penetrated Giao Chi territory and got as far as Lang Bac, in present-day Bac Ninh province.

Trung Vuong went with her army to encounter Ma Yuan and fought battle after battle against him. Vanquished by an army greater in number, better organized, better equipped, and commanded by a veteran warrior, the two sisters fell back to the Hat Giang [present-day Day River], where they committed suicide by drowning. It was in the year A.D. 43.

In various regions of the country, the resistance went on bitterly and fiercely. But finally the insurgent army was crushed. For a second time, the country fell under the domination of the Chinese feudalists.

Despite its unfortunate end, the insurrection of the two Trung sisters has remained a symbol of the indomitable spirit of our people. Old prints depict the two sisters seated on the backs of elephants, dressed as warriors, their heads encircled with yellow turbans. In the fervent homage rendered to their heroines, the people did not want to admit that they had been defeated by the enemy and driven to suicide. According to the Thien nam ngu luc (Extracts from Tales of the South), a literary work dating from the seventeenth century, they entered the abode of the immortals. The people's admiration and faith in them have deified them, and every year, with the return of spring, on the sixtieth day of the second moon, the people of Hanoi celebrate the anniversary.