The Trung Sisters

By: Mick Yates

Two of the most legendary figures in the history of Vietnam are Trung Nhi and Trung Trac (The Trung Sisters) who jointly ruled Vietnam during the first century AD.


Daughters of the powerful Vietnamese lord and military leader Me Linh, the sisters lived during the Chinese Han Dynasty rule.  They grew up witnessing Chinese oppression of the Vietnamese people and spent their childhood mastering the arts of warfare and weaponry.


Trung Trac married Tri Sach and together they protested against the forced assimilation and exploitation of the Vietnamese people.  This led to the assassination of Tri Sach by order of the Chinese governor of Chiao Chi in 39 AD.  The sisters, drawing on the widespread feelings of discontent, organised a rebellion army of 80,000, which included 36 female generals.  Legend states that the Trung sisters killed a much feared tiger and used its skin to write a proclamation urging the people to join them against the Chinese.


Within two months the sisters and their army had retaken 65 cities.  This early revolt led to the creation of the first royal government of Vietnam, along with the expulsion of the Chinese.  For the first time in a century and a half Vietnam was an independent country. 


The sisters ruled Vietnam with remarkable fairness and wisdom, inspiring loyalty and promoting peace, prosperity and freedom.  They later committed suicide when immense Chinese forces recaptured the region, but nearly 2,000 years on remain a source of pride for the Vietnamese.  Temples have been built in their honour and the people of Vietnam celebrate their memory every year with Hai Ba Trung day.


By Melanie Smith