Skip to content

World-Changing Women: The Trung Sisters

Updated Wednesday 25th February 2015

The Trung Sisters, to this day, are well-celebrated in Vietnam thanks to their succesful resistance against the Chinese army. Learn more about their history here...

The Trung Sisters Vietnam ? - c. 40AD Armed Resistance

A Statue of the Trung sisters is Ho Chi Minh City Creative commons image Icon Amore Mio under CC-BY-SA3.0 licence under Creative-Commons license A statue of the Trung Sisters in Ho Chi Minh City In 111 BC the Han Dynasty of China conquered what is now Vietnam.  As Chinese rule became increasingly more punitive there was frequent unrest among the Vietnamese people who protested against the imposition of taxation, Chinese culture and religion.  In AD 39, a landlord called Thi Sach rose up against the Chinese governor and was executed as a warning to others against rebellion.

Thi Sach’s wife, Trung Trac, was a well-educated and single-minded woman. According to local traditional accounts, together with her sister, Trung Nhi, she successfully repelled the Chinese from their village.  Then, with the assistance of neighbours they put together a large army, made up largely of women, which drove the Chinese out of Vietnam. This event is still celebrated today.  The following year, in 40 A.D. the sisters were made queens and successfully resisted Chinese attacks on Vietnam for duration of their rule.

The Trung sisters’ reign was, however relatively short lived. The Chinese gathered a large expeditionary army under the veteran general Ma Yuan to crush the rebellion. When the sisters were finally defeated they were said to have committed suicide by drowning themselves in the river rather than be captured.

Today the temple of Ha-Loi, located in a village of the same name, stands as a tribute to the sisters. Each year a festival is held to celebrate their courage. The Trung sisters are usually represented riding elephants, leading their people into battle.

This article is part of the world-changing women collection. All the articles in this collection are specially produced for the How women changed the world interactive tour created to reveal the untold stories the history books left out.

You can also view these articles without the interactive feature here.


Dig deeper into history 


For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Thinking Allowed: Gender inequality in China & Smokestack nostalgia Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Dmitry Kalinovsky | article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Thinking Allowed: Gender inequality in China & Smokestack nostalgia

Examining the pressures facing modern Chinese women and questioning the desire to reflect back and find value in our industrial past.

World-Changing Women: Cynisca Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Public Domain article icon

History & The Arts 

World-Changing Women: Cynisca

Spartan females had much more freedom than other women in the ancient world; this allowed Cynisca of Sparta to win the Olympics twice. Find out more about her victories here...

A hundred years ago: the murder of Sarajevo and Europe’s descent into war Creative commons image Icon By Alexf (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

A hundred years ago: the murder of Sarajevo and Europe’s descent into war

A hundred years ago, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand sparked the outbreak of the First World War

What makes a great Christmas number one? Creative commons image Icon Paul Conneally under CC-BY-NC-2.0 licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

What makes a great Christmas number one?

What do the Christmas chart-topping songs by Mr Blobby, Rage Against the Machine and Band Aid all have in common?

Hound hub Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: © Melektaus83 | article icon

History & The Arts 

Hound hub

Love labradors? Potty about poodles? Explore the Hound hub to find out more about our furry friends.

Visions of protest: Graffiti free course icon Level 1 icon

History & The Arts 

Visions of protest: Graffiti

This free course, Visions of protest: Graffiti, introduces students to contrasting understandings of graffiti. It draws on a wide range of graffiti examples, including mystery zebras in Hackney, fish graffiti in Morecambe, 'tags' in a Milton Keynes underpass, a McDonald's advert and exhibits at a highly established art gallery, the Tate Modern. Students will consider different arguments for and against the perception of graffiti as a form of art or as vandalism and explore how graffiti has been used as a form of communication and as an articulation of protest.

Free course
8 hrs

History & The Arts 

Outside the Book

What function does comedy serve? What do people in power learn by watching tragedies? In this collection of five animations comedienne Josie Long guides us into the fascinating world of Literary Theory. Along the way we’ll discover two very different types of poet (and lover): The Petrarchan and The Libertine, we’re given insight into the complexity behind the term author and learn the difference between a book and the idea of a book. This collection was created in conjunction with The Open University course A334 English Literature from Shakespeare to Austen

10 mins
History of reading tutorial 3: Famous writers and their reading - Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Vernon Lee Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 2 icon

History & The Arts 

History of reading tutorial 3: Famous writers and their reading - Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Vernon Lee

Have you ever wondered about the reading tastes and habits of famous writers in the past? This free course, History of reading tutorial 3: Famous writers and their reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Vernon Lee, is the third tutorial in a series designed to help users of the UK Reading Experience Database (UK RED) search, browse and use this resource, and explores the connections between the evidence of a writers reading and their literary output. The previous tutorials focus on methods of uncovering evidence of reading, and the use of evidence to understand the reception of a literary text. UK RED is a resource built and maintained at The Open University.

Free course
1 hr
Cider with Rosie Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: By Ida-May Jones © BBC article icon

History & The Arts 

Cider with Rosie

Discover Laurie Lee’s glamorous London life and explore the village he made famous.