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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...

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

A Statue of the Trung sisters is Ho Chi Minh City 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.


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