Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Trieu Au or Trieu Thi Trinh

(ca. A.D. 222-248)

Trieu Au is sometimes referred to as "the Vietnamese Joan of Arc." She was a rebel leader at the time when Vietnam was a territory of China. She was orphaned as a young girl and she subsequently lived with her brother and his wife, who may have been Chinese, but was treated by them more like a slave than a relative. After a time, Trieu Au killed her sister-in-law and escaped to the hills where she raised an army of at least a thousand men and women. She and her army fought and won more than thirty major battles against the Chinese before she was twenty-one years old. She then set up her own administration in the freed territory which she kept independent for several months. When going to a battle, she lead her troops wearing a golden armor while riding an elephant and with a sword in each hand. The Chinese forces defeated her army in A.D. 248 but Trieu Au committed suicide by jumping into a river instead of surrendering.

When her brother tried to discourage her military aspirations, she is believed to have said to him

"I will not resign myself to the lot of women, who bow their heads and become concubines. I wish to ride the tempest, tame the waves, kill the sharks. I have no desire to take abuse." 2

Contributed by Danuta Bois, 1998.

Bibliography:
1. Women Who Ruled: A Biographical Encyclopedia by Guida M. Jackson, Barnes & Noble Books, 1998
2. Women Warriors: A History by David E. Jones, Brassey's, 1997