Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị, known as the Trung Sisters (? – c. 43) or Hai Bà Trưng (“the two Trung ladies”) in Vietnamese, are two Vietnamese female fighters known for repelling Chinese attacks for three years. They are considered national heroines.
The spark that ignites the powder
Daughters of a local prefect, Trưng Trắc (the eldest) and Trưng Nhị (his youngest) born at an unknown date in northern Vietnam. Growing up in a military family, the sisters were introduced to the arts of war and martial arts from childhood. Trưng Trắc marries Thi Sách, son of another prefect.
At the time, Vietnam, conquered in 111 BC, was under Chinese domination. While the occupation by the conquerors became heavier, Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị witnessed the sometimes cruel treatment suffered by the Vietnamese. As the expansion continues southward, Thi Sách opposes the Chinese assimilation policy. Eager to set an example against possible insurgents, the Chinese executed him. His death revolts Trưng Trắc and triggers a large insurrection movement.
In 39, the Trung sisters push back a Chinese unit from their village. They assemble a large army of women and embark on the fight against the Chinese armies. In a few months, they liberated the north of the country and conquered dozens of citadels. Reigning over the country, they manage to repel enemy attacks for more than three years. Opposite, however, the Chinese are mounting a mighty army to defeat them.
The final battle takes place around 43 AD. A legend says that Phung Thi Chinh, a noble Vietnamese captain of a troop of soldiers, gives birth on the front line but continues to fight with her baby in one arm and a sword in the other. The Vietnamese army is defeated and, in order not to fall into the hands of the enemy, Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị commit suicide by throwing themselves into the Hat River. Phung Thi Chinh is also said to have killed himself, carrying away his baby.
At the origin of the first resistance movement against the Chinese, the Trung sisters are considered national heroines in Vietnam. Among many other tributes, temples are dedicated to them and an annual holiday commemorates their passing.