“Edict on the Transfer of the Capital”

The great transfer of the capital in the autumn of 1010 from Hoa Lu (present-day Ninh Binh Province) to Dai La Citadel (present-day Hanoi) is closely connected with the famous "Edict on the Transfer of the Capital" compiled and released by King Ly Cong Uan (974-1028).

According to old historical records, in the spring of Canh Tuat Year (the Year of the Dog – 1010), during his trip to the district of Co Phap (present-day Tu Son District, Bac Ninh Province) to grant money and silk to the local elderly people, King Ly Thai To (birth name as Ly Cong Uan), founder of the Ly Dynasty (1009-1225), compiled the “Edict on the Transfer of the Capital”, discussing with his mandarins about the moving of the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La.
Another old historical document writes: in the autumn of July 1010, King Ly Cong Uan transferred the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La. As soon as the royal dragon boat landed at the wharf in Dai La Citadel, he saw a gold dragon soaring toward the heavens. The King thought that was a good omen, so he changed the name of Dai La into Thang Long (Soaring Dragon).

The statue of King Ly Cong Uan in Hanoi, with his right hand holding the “Edict on the Transfer of the Capital” and his left hand pointing to Thang Long land.

The “Edict on the Transfer of the Capital” inscribed on the screen at the entrance gate of the Do Temple (in Bac Ninh Province), where the Ly kings are worshipped.

The Edict on a huge embroidered picture (right side) made by artisans of the embroidery village of

Van Lam (in Bac Ninh Province) as a gift to Hanoi on its 1,000th anniversary.

In the “Dai Viet su ky toan thu” (Complete Annals of Dai Viet) by royal historian Ngo Si Lien, on the wood blocks made in the 18th Chinh Hoa Year (1697), the entire edict by King Ly Cong Uan was inscribed, part of which reads: “Moreover, Dai La Citadel is in the very heart of the universe. The position evokes that of soaring dragon and sitting tiger, in the centre of the four directions, is convenient for the development of the nation. This area is large and flat, high and bright; the population is not suffering from flooding or darkness; everything is in full prosperity. After investigating all lands of Vietnam, this place is actually the gathering venue of people from across the nation, the most appropriate place for eternal capital’s location.”

Today many people consider King Ly Cong Uan a visionary. Apart from discovering a good land of the “soaring dragon and sitting tiger” suited to his sovereignty and for sustainable construction of the capital, he had a deep love for his subjects by finding the good land of Thang Long for their prosperity.
Discussing the value of the “Edict on the Transfer of the Capital”, one of the first administrative documents in Vietnam’s feudal time, many scholars said that the Edict was a record not only of historical significance that manifested King Ly Cong Uan’s good vision, precise forecast and deep wisdom when he chose Thang Long as the capital, but also of the art value.
According to late Professor Tran Quoc Vuong, the “Edict on the Transfer of the Capital” affirmed the position of Thang Long capital, and it was considered a work that founded the literature of Hanoi and the Ly Dynasty.
One thousand years have passed since the “Edict on the Transfer of the Capital” was compiled. A lot of things have changed, but the forecast value of the Edict with only 214 Chinese letters seems unchanged. After the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225), Thang Long continued to be the capital of the Tran (1225-1400), Le So (1428-1527), Mac (1527-1592) and Le Trung Hung (1592-1788). It is now Hanoi, the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, “the capital of conscience and virtue”, “a city for peace” and a beloved capital of more than 80 million Vietnamese people. This proves that the old Thang Long – present-day Hanoi is exactly a land of “scenic beauty” and “geographically significance”, hence it is worthy of being a capital with sustainable development.

Story: Thanh Hoa
Photos: Tat Son


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