Mai Thúc Loan

Mai Hắc Đế
Mai Thúc Loan
Mai Hắc Đế
(Mai the Black Emperor)
Emperor of Annam
SuccessorRebellion crushed
Thạch Hà 22, Hà Nội, Annan, Tang China
DiedSeptember 16, 723 (aged 52–53)
Nghệ An, Annan, Tang China
Mai Thúc Loan (梅叔鸞)
Mai Huyền Thành (梅玄成)
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Mai Thúc Loan (or Mai Huyền Thành (梅玄成), self-proclaimed Mai Hắc Đế (梅黑帝, The Black Emperor or The Swarthy Emperor), was the Vietnamese leader of the uprising in 722 AD against the rule of the Chinese Tang dynasty in the provinces of Hoan Châu and Ái Châu (now Thanh Hóa and Nghệ An). Regarded as one of the major rebellions during the Third Chinese domination, the uprising of Mai Thúc Loan succeeded in capturing the capital Songping (now Hanoi) of the Tang's Annan protectorate and Mai Thúc Loan thus proclaimed himself Mai Hắc Đế, the emperor of the independent region for a short time before being put down by the military campaign after the order of the Emperor Xuanzong of Tang. Today Mai Thúc Loan is praised as one of the early national heroes in the history of Vietnam who contributed for the struggle for independence of the country.


According to Từ điển Bách khoa toàn thư Việt Nam, the date of birth of Mai Thúc Loan was unknown but he was from the Mai Phụ village, modern-day Thạch Hà District, Hà Tĩnh.[1][2] In the Basic Records of the New Book of Tang, his name was Mai Thúc Loan while in the Old Book of Tang the name was recorded as Mai Huyền Thành and the one in the Zizhi Tongjian was Mai Thúc Yên.[3]


In 722, Mai Thúc Loan rebelled in what is now Hà Tĩnh Province and proclaimed himself the "Swarthy Emperor" (Hắc Đế).[4][5] According to Khâm định Việt sử Thông giám cương mục, the title Black Emperor originated from his distinctively dark skin colour.[6] His rebellion rallied people from 23 counties with "400,000 followers". Many were peasants who roamed the countryside, plundering food and other items.[7] He also allied with Champa and Chenla, an unknown kingdom named Jinlin (“Gold Neighbor”) and other unnamed kingdoms.[8][9] A Chinese army of 100,000 from Guangdong under general Yang Zixu, including a "multitude" of mountain tribesmen who had remained loyal to the Tang,[8] marched directly along the coast, following the old road built by Ma Yuan. Yang Zixu attacked Mai Thúc Loan by surprise and suppressed the rebellion in 723.[10] The corpses of the Swarthy Emperor and his followers were piled up to form a huge mound and were left on public display to check further revolts.[11][7]


The traditional record about Mai Thúc Loan's uprising in historical chronicales of Vietnamese dynasties was brief, for example the Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư of Ngô Sĩ Liên only acknowledged that there was a rebellion led by the rebel leader Mai Thúc Loan in 722 with the said army of 30,000 soldiers with allies from Champa, Lâm Ấp and that the rebellion was quickly pacified by Tang troops.[3] In Khâm định Việt sử Thông giám cương mục, the total number of Mai Thúc Loan's forces was 40,000 but the compilers of the book expressed their doubt about this number and thought that it might be made by Tang generals who wanted to emphasize their victory over the uprising with the Emperor Xuanzong.[6] While Đại Việt sử ký and Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư only regarded Mai Thúc Loan as a rebel (giặc) of the Tang authority, Ngô Thì Sĩ in Đại Việt sử ký tiền biên, compiled during the Tây Sơn dynasty, praised the uprising as a symbol of the independent spirit of Vietnamese people and thus criticized Lê Văn Hưu and Ngô Sĩ Liên for misjudging the real value of Mai Thúc Loan's rebellion.[12]

Today Mai Thúc Loan is appreciated as one of the early national heroes in the history of Vietnam who contributed for the struggle for independence of the country.[13] In the site of his ancient citadel of Vạn An, people erected a temple to worship Mai Thúc Loan and he was considered being equal with other Vietnamese emperors although his rule was short-lived and he was not officially called an emperor of Vietnam in dynastic historical books.[2][6] According to folk legend, Mai Thúc Loan had a daughter named Mai Thị Cầu and a son named Mai Kỳ Sơn who followed their father in fighting against the Tang Dynasty, today there still remains a shrine to worship Mai Thị Cầu and Mai Kỳ Sơn in Haiphong where people hold an annual festival in the third lunar month to celebrate the deeds of Mai Thúc Loan's children.[14][15] A street of Hanoi and several places in Vietnam are named in honour of Mai Thúc Loan.[16][17][18][19]



  1. ^ "Mai Thúc Loan". Từ điển Bách khoa toàn thư Việt Nam (in Vietnamese).[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b Trần Trọng Kim 1971, p. 26
  3. ^ a b Ngô Sĩ Liên 1993, p. 44
  4. ^ Kiernan 2019, p. 114. sfn error: no target: CITEREFKiernan2019 (help)
  5. ^ Schafer 1967, p. 342.
  6. ^ a b c National Bureau for Historical Record 1998, p. 58
  7. ^ a b Walker 2012, p. 180.
  8. ^ a b Taylor 1983, p. 192.
  9. ^ Schafer 1967, p. 63.
  10. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 39.
  11. ^ Taylor 1983, p. 193.
  12. ^ Phan Huy Lê, Dương Thị The, Nguyễn Thị Thoa (1985). "Vài nét về bộ sử của Vương triều Tây Sơn". Hán Nôm Magazine (in Vietnamese). Hanoi: Institute of Hán Nôm (1/1985).{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ "Fight for your life". 2008-04-05. Archived from the original on 2009-02-26.
  14. ^ "What's On April 3 – 10". 2006-04-03. Archived from the original on 2008-12-31.
  15. ^ "Hai chị em Mai Thị Cầu – Mai Kỳ Sơn" (in Vietnamese). Library of Haiphong.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "I love even the dust of Vietnam". 2007-02-05. Archived from the original on 2010-03-09. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
  17. ^ "Flood tides a chronic problem". 2006-10-24. Archived from the original on 2008-06-19. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
  18. ^ "Vietnam's oldest baobab tree discovered". 2007-04-03. Archived from the original on 2009-08-17. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
  19. ^ Patricia M. Pelley Postcolonial Vietnam: New Histories of the National Past 2002 Page 277 Notes to Chapter Four "16. In addition to discussing the work of Nguyễn Trãi, he mentioned the two Trưng sisters, Lý Bôn, Mai Thúc Loan, Phùng Hưng, Ngô Quyền, Trần Hưng Ðạo, Lê Lợi, and Nguyễn Huệ. Others quickly added the Hùng kings and Lady Triệu to the list. ...VSD 20 (August 1956) 7-20."


  • National Bureau for Historical Record (1998), Khâm định Việt sử Thông giám cương mục (in Vietnamese), Hanoi: Education Publishing House
  • Ngô Sĩ Liên (1993), Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư (in Vietnamese) (Nội các quan bản ed.), Hanoi: Social Science Publishing House
  • Trần Trọng Kim (1971), Việt Nam sử lược (in Vietnamese), Saigon: Center for School Materials
  • Taylor, K.W. (2013), A History of the Vietnamese, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780520074170
  • Taylor, Keith Weller (1983), The Birth of the Vietnam, University of California Press, ISBN 9780520074170
  • Schafer, Edward Hetzel (1967), The Vermilion Bird: T'ang Images of the South, Los Angeles: University of California Press, ISBN 9780520011458
  • Walker, Hugh Dyson (2012), East Asia: A New History, ISBN 978-1477265161
Mai Thúc Loan
Born:  ? Died: 723
Regnal titles
Preceded by Emperor of independent Vietnam
Succeeded by
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2800s BC–43 AD
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