Trung Trac and Trung Nhi (c. 12—43 CE) were Vietnamese heroes. During this time in Vietnam, women had far more freedoms than they would have in later years. Women could inherit their mothers’ property, could enter politics, and could be judges, warriors, and traders. Vietnamese women were the forefront in resisting and rebelling against conquerors.
The two sisters were the daughters of a very powerful and respectable Vietnamese lord. Trung Trac, the eldest, was married to another lord, Thi Sachi. They were key figures in the rebellion against the Han Dynasty. Before the rebellion, the Vietnamese were subjects under the harsh rule of the Chinese governor To Dinh. In order to free the country and their people, the Trung sisters amassed an army of 80,000 people to push back on Chinese forces. Among these soldiers was their mother. They gave most leadership positions to women, as seen in the battle rosters in ancient Vietnamese temples. As a battle force, they were incredibly effective. They freed sixty-five fortresses, and successfully pushed the Chinese armies out of Vietnam.
After the victory, the Vietnamese proclaimed Trung Trac as their new leader. They gave her the name “Trung Vuong” which meant “She-King Trung”. As queen, she established the royal court in Me-linh and abolished the tribute taxes that the Chinese government had imposed. In the three years that she reigned, she attempted to restore the Vietnamese government to traditional Vietnamese values.
During her reign, she engaged in constant battles with the Chinese. In 43 BCE, her and her sister’s troops were badly defeated. To save their honor in the traditional Vietnamese way, they committed suicide in order to avoid being at the mercy of their enemies.
Legacy: Many believe that without the initiative of the Trung sisters, Vietnam would not be an independent state today.