2. The Official Quarter: Royal Citadel and Trinh Lord’s Palace (Continue)
In 1811 century the Royal citadel wall having fallen into disrepair, collapsed in many sections. In late 18th century, when the Tay Son’s military forces invaded the north from the south, all gates of the citadel were damaged except two: Dai Hung and Dong Hoa. The reign of the Tay Son which followed their victory saw the citadel repaired and fortified “based on the old foundation stretching from Dong Hoa to Dai Hung Gates.” (6-III:165) In addition, other projects were constructed. Soon, in 1802 Thang Long capital was taken over by Nguyen Anh who under the name Gia Long became the first Nguyen Emperor.
+ Trinh Lord’s Palace. In the 17th and 18th centuries when the Le King’s Royal citadel was reduced in size, its splendor deteriorated somewhat. “The power center of gravity of the capital officially shifted to the outer capital” with the appearance of the new complex of Trinh Lord’s palaces. (196:112)
As mentioned above, the Trinh Lord’s palace was located briefly in Thai Kieu hamlet (the alley of Kham Thien Market now) and in the Thao Tan Field (Municipal Theater today), was officially moved to the Phuc Lam guild area in the south of the capital. Le Huu Trac noted, “Passing Dai Hung Gate, turning to the right, going straight about half a dam, there appears Chanh Duong Estate.” (Chanh Duong Estate is Hoang Dinh Bao’s Estate near the Trinh Lord’s palace.) (15:28) According to The Geographic Book ofGiao Chau, the lord’s palace as drawn on maps, was located southwest of Ta Vong Lake. (42:159) According to maps from the Hong Due reign the lord’s Palace was south of Bao Thien Tower. Later, based on these maps, some researchers inferred that the Trinh Lord’s Palace was probably situated either in the middle of Trang Thi Street, near the Catholic church or according to historian Hoang Dao Thuy in the middle of Tho Nhuom Street or on Ly Thuong Kiet Street, or in the opinion of Hanoi scholar Tran Huy Ba, on what are now Ba Trieu and Nguyen Du Streets.
Some books mention sites relating to the Trinh complex of palaces between Sword Lake and the Red River. Those structures included the Five Dragon Tower (Ngu Long) which was later called Cuu Lau hamlet the current location of the International Post Office. There the Lord Trinh reviewed his troops or stood on Flag Offering Day (19-IV:37); the Ky Dao Pavilion and Truong Tin Pagoda at #5 Hang Chuoi Street today, which was a wharf on the Red River, was where incense was offered on the Flag Offering Day (19-II:204); So Vo Hoc military area was adjacent to the Royal Sacrificial Altar near the Nhi Ha River. (20-II:103) On a map of Hanoi drawn in 1831, the military area was recorded as Cuu Vo So (Old Arena) and may have been on the site of the Trung Sisters Temple nowadays. (28-I:111)
Diaries of Western merchants living in Thang Long-Ke Cho in the Trinh time described the complex of Trinh Lord’s Palace as one lying on the bank of the Nhi Ha River. Elephant stables housed about 150 to 200 elephants (Dampier’s estimation) which were taken daily to the river to drink and bathe. (150:52) The gunpowder stock and the military review field were described by Dampier as follows: “Before the Chua’s [the Trinh Lord’s] palace, there was a large parade or square place for the soldiers to be drawn up. On one side there is a place for the mandarins to sit and see the soldiers exercise. On the other side, there was a shed wherein all the cannons and heavy guns are lodged.” (150:52) During the Nguyen dynasty, on Ngo Quyen Street and Ly Thai To near the river, there was a hamlet called “Old Gun Storehouse hamlet.”
The beach used for troop review was the main site of ceremonies on Flag Raising Day and Wrestling Day. It was written in Licit Trieu Hien Chitong that, “After Flag Raising Day, fencing tournaments were organized in the sandbank in the middle of the river.” (19-II:55) Samuel Baron called this field Theckeedaw (perhaps that’s the transliteration of Te Ky Dan or Flag Offering Altar.) Three of nine maps of Thang Long under the Le dynasty refer to that field as lying between Sword Lake and the Red River. (108:72-74)
The Navy of the Le-Trinh administration practiced maneuvers regularly on the Red River. Phan Dinh Khue, a Chinese visitor who came to Ke Cho at the same time as William Dampier, noted, “On a sandbank 50-60 dam long along the river, there were many warships.” (175:80) By comparing different documents we can assume that the Trinh building complex spanned a large acreage and the main area was situated southwest of Sword Lake. Later, other structures were built towards the guild area to the east and southeast near the Red River, from the present-day History Museum to the Friendship Hospital.
During the Trinh time the complex of Trinh Lord’s palace included 52 palaces facing Sword Lake. That complex was a square, surrounded by walls and connected with the outside by two gates: Chinh Mon in the south and Tuyen Vu Gate in the east facing Sword Lake. (108:72-74)
What is now Sword Lake was then made up of Ta Vong and Huu Vong Lakes and extended to present-day Hang Chuoi Street. The Lord’s palaces probably were on the edge of and facing the lake. Lord Trinh had many pavilions built for admiring the moon and the lake waters. The Ta Vong communal house was constructed on Tortoise Knoll (the present day Tortoise Tower). “Khanh Thuy Palace was built and Dao Tai and Ngoc Boi Mountains were erected as symbols of military arts.” (This is the area in front of Ngoc Son Pagoda today) (6-III:182) Because the lake was large and close to his palace, the Lord Trinh often ordered his naval forces to train there. So the lake was also named Thuy Quart or Maritime Forces Lake.
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