Ly Cong Uan: Founder of the Ascending Dragon
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      After the death of the Vietnamese King Le Long Dinh, he was succeeded by Ly Cong Uan, the first emperor of the Ly dynasty, the longest reigning of the 15 great dynasties, lasting from 1010 to 1225.
      After taking the throne Ly Cong Uan took as his reigning name Ly Thai To, and reigned over "Dai Viet" from 1010 to1028. He was a native to Co Phap village, Tu Son district, Bac Ninh province. His mother, Pham Thi Nhan, visited Tieu Son pagoda in Tu Son district, after which she became pregnant and on 12 January, Lunar year Giap Tuat, gave birth to a son. However, the family was so impoverished that they could not even feed themselves. So, Pham Thi Nhan bundled up her son and left him at the Three-Door pagoda. She died not long after that. A Zen Buddhist took the baby into the pagoda and took care of him, giving him the name of Ly Cong Uan.
      As he grew up, Cong Uan became very handsome, strong and extremely intelligent, learning very fast. By the age of 6 years old he could recite from memory numerous Buddhist prayers and sutras.
      One day, the Buddhist monk asked Uan to take a cone-shaped cookie made of cooked sticky rice, called an oan, as an offering to the Guardian Spirit in the pagoda. But Uan was hungry so he stealthily took one piece of oan and ate heartily before making the offering. That night, The Guardian Spirit informed the Buddhist monk in his dream about the boy's rudeness. When he was reprimanded by the monk, Uan was indignant at the Guardian Spirit, so he wrote on the back of the Guardian Spirit: "Be exiled to three thousand miles." The Guardian Spirit appeared again in the monk's dream, lamenting and saying good-bye because he was being turned out. Looking closely at the words, the Buddhist monk recognised Ly Cong Uan's handwriting, so he again reprimanded him and asked him to rub them out.
      Not long after that, when Uan grew old enough, the monk sent him to Tieu Son pagoda and asked the Buddhist priest Van Hanh's favour to go on teaching Cong Uan. Monk Van Hanh was the brother of Ly Khanh Van. Monk Van Hanh was a person of great learning and esteemed statesmanship.
      Cong Uan, though, was not always a good student and often became so involved in recreation, that he neglected his studies. After one such episode, he was tied at the three-door pagoda gate overnight. Deep in the night, mosquitoes bit him so hard he could not get a wink of sleep, so he hummed a poem to the pass the time:
"The sky is used as a mosquito net, the earth as a mat
Sleeping well together with me are the Sun and the Moon
I do not dare to stretch my legs in the deep of the night
Just in fear that the nation would tilt."
      This incident, which proved Uan's gift with words, impressed the monk Van Hang very much when he was told. This sort of skillful poetry was always considered a "royal" talent. After that time, the monk taught Ly Cong Uan with a hope that Uan would one day be king.
      Thanks to Van Hanh's diplomatic talent and a wide acquaintance, Ly Cong Uan was brought into the court. The young man trained himself harder as a scholar and a warrior and was appointed a powerful commander in the court. After Le Long Dinh (aka Le Ngoa Trieu) died, Buddhist monk Van Hanh and the courtiers made Uan emperor (Ly Thai To), with the dynastic title Thuan Thien. He took up residence in Hoa Lu, opening up the era of the Ly dynasty. Over the years, the Ly would become one of the greatest dynasties in Vietnamese history, destroying the Tong, pacifying the Chiem and protecting the national sovereignty of Dai Viet from her powerful neighbors.
      In July 1010, King Ly Thai To moved the capital to Dai La citadel. According to legend, while on the lake, Ly Thai To saw a vision of a great, golden dragon fly out of the water and up into Heaven. Another account says that he watched the arrival of a fleet of dragon boats, then, upon beholding the golden dragon boats flying into the sky, immediately named the imperial city Thang Long (ascending dragon). However it happened, this was when the site of the modern city of Ha Noi became the capital of the Vietnamese Empire.
      As King, Ly Thai To worked to reform and improve the affairs of the court. He tried to make the government more efficient by dividing the country into 24 provinces. However, in March 1028, king Ly Thai To passed away at the age of 55, ending his 18-year rule. The Ly dynasty would reign for many years after him, and Emperor Ly Thai To would go down in history as one of the greatest rulers in the national history of Viet Nam, particularly for founding the capital city at Ha Noi. The literary work attributed to him in the "Complete History of Dai Viet", the "Edict to Remove the Imperial City" was written in 1010 and stands out as one of the most important Vietnamese written works. It stressed classic Vietnamese ideals for the unity, independence, prosperity and security of the country.
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