Women in Kingdom's Expansion
Bac sy Nguyen Le Hieu
         Several women have distinguished themselves in the history of Việt-Nam. The Trưng sisters and Lady Triệu were national heroines who rose against Chinese occupying forces. Lê-Chân and Bùi-Thi-Xuân proved that women could command fighting forces as effectively as-if not better than-male generals. Women revolutionaries in modern time as Nguyễn-Thị-Giang and Nguyễn-Thị-Minh-Khai remain great role models for generations. There were also women who quietly contributed to the expansion of national territory. Princess Huyền-Trân was well recognized for the acquisition of the territory of Ô-Lý (Urik), renamed Thuận-Hóa and nowadays, the provinces of Quảng-Tri and Thưà-Thiên. Last year, a monument was erected in her honor in Huế.

         Two other princesses helped bring to the country larger territories, although little has been mentioned about their achievement. This paper will address their contribution to Đại-Việt Kingdom's expansion.

         Political background
         From 1527 to 1693, the kingdom knew the first episode of division when Mạc-Đăng-Dung seized the throne and founded the new Mạc monarchy, which controlled the country's northern part, including the capital Thăng-Long. He could not rally several followers of the former Lê dynasty, which resurrected in the south. The Mạc-Lê conflict lasted for 65 years until the end of the sixteenth century, when the Lê camp defeated the Mạc but the country was still not reunified. While the Lê, supported by the House of Trịnh controlled the larger central part of the kingdom, the Mạc, with Chinese support, still hung on in the northern frontier province of Cao-Bằng. Squeezed between China and Đại-Việt, the Mạc family could not thrive and merely survived for another 75 years. Nominally supporting the Lê, Chuá (Lord) Nguyễn-Hoàng withdrew his forces to the tiny and southernmost province of Thuận-Hóa with the secret goal of founding a new kingdom. He soon led an open revolt against the Trinh who held the real power under the nominal kingship of the Lê.

         As soon as Nguyễn-Hoàng reached Thuận-Hóa, he reorganized local administration, strengthened his army, and built up fortifications for defense against the Trinh's expeditions. Survival for the Nguyễn must rely on southward territory expansion and earning local population's trust.
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