Trieu Thi Trinh was a hardcore Vietnamese battle-queen who tried to liberate her people from Chinese imperial aggression by thundering into combat mounted on the back of a colossal war elephant while clad in golden armor and carrying a blood-soaked sword in each hand. In her now-legendary quest to save her country from oppressive invaders, this determined rebel war-goddess terrified her enemies with so much estrogen-charged nitro human massacre-ation that after she died the enemy commander completely lost his shit and carved a hundred dicks into this walls of his headquarters to protect himself from having his nightmares repeatedly haunted by her vengeful restless spirit.
By 248 AD the armies of Imperial China had been firmly emplanted in the Vietnamese jungle for over 200 years, yet for some reason the wildly-oppressed and insanely-pissed Viet people still hadn’t really softened up to the idea of chafing under the suffocating yoke of foreign aggression. When the Han Dynasty collapsed in the year 220, the Viet people tried to rebel, but without an organized resistance they were crushed by the Kingdom of Wu in an unspeakable pointy beatdown, and the Vietnamese ruling family was deposed and replaced by guys who were much less likely to try and start shit with the constantly-ball-crushing armies of Imperial China.
This, of course, did not stop the Viet from wanting vengeance. And freedom. And preferably both at the same time, served cold with a big bowl of Pho and maybe a sweet roll or something.
This is an African Elephant, but you get the idea.
Details of Lady Trieu’s life are all over the place, but as far as we can tell she was orphaned at an early age and was raised by her brother and her brother’s brutally-unlikeable wife, who was a horrible witch. In a story that sounds like something out of a badass kung fu grindhouse movie, when Trieu was 19 she killed her evil sister-in-law in a straight-up hardcore backwoods street fight, fled into the wilderness, climbed a mountain, and spent the next several months training herself how to become an even more efficient human killing machine so that she could destroy the Chinese and liberate her people once and for all. When the men of the Province heard that there was some awesome hardcore babe living on a mountain punching trees and riding elephants and doing other tremendous feats of girl-manliness, they flocked to join her cause because that shit sounded awesome. Before long, Lady Trieu commanded an army of over a thousand warriors eager to paint the jungles red with human blood for their homeland.
Trieu’s recently-widowered brother didn’t really like the idea of his lil’ sis kicking off peoples’ heads and punching his girlfriend, so he climbed the mountain to tell Lady Trieu to chill the fuck out, get married, and start having kids like a normal medieval woman. Trieu, burning with rage at the occupation of her homeland, responded with a pump up speech so over-the-top pump-up hardcore that her brother was all like, “yeah dude, fuck it, I’m in. Where you keep the swords in this place.”
In the spring of 248 AD, the last thing the Chinese occupation forces expected to see charging out of the jungle was a pissed-off battle-babe riding a stampeding elephant and leading a swarming army of hardcore swordsmen who’d spent the last six months training on top of a mountain somewhere.
TRUNKS OUT BABY
Screaming into the battlefield with dual swords, Trieu and her army overran the enemy positions, driving the government forces back. The Chinese-appointed Vietnamese leaders appealed to China for help, and the King of Wu responded with a huge flood of warriors, but Trieu Thi Trinh took on all comers in an epic string of battles across Southeast Asia. Known as “The Lady General Clad in Golden Robe,” (a sweet nickname), Lady Trieu engaged the Chinese in several battles (some say as many as thirty) over the next six months, not only facing the enemy with guerilla attacks, but also launching full-scale assaults at walled cities – something few other Viet revolutionaries had ever done against the Chinese.
With her hardcore deeds of impeccable awesomeness inspiring the people and pumping everyone up, a bunch of insane legends started to sprout up about the mysterious Lady Trieu who was running around on a pachyderm pimp-slapping the enemy up and down the South China Sea. By the time her story was written down a few years after her death, Trieu went from an ordinary warrior woman to some kind of ultra-heroic other-wordly Goddess of War who was super hot, stood nine feet tall and and had three breasts, Total Recall style, which were so huge that she had to sling them over her shoulder to fight or strap them down with some mega sports bra. I can’t really decide if this is the girl version of “he needed a wheelbarrow to carry his balls around,” or if they were just Rob Liefled’ing her out superhero-style, but I guess it doesn’t matter. Legends also claim she had a voice that rang out as clear as a temple bell even over the din of a raging battlefield, and that after several battles the Chinese would flee at the sight of her because “it would be easier to fight a tiger than face Lady Trieu in battle.”
Lady Trieu stormed through Vietnam during the spring and summer of 248 AD, leading one of the most successful and widespread resistances to Chinese occupation that Vietnam would ever undertake. Unfortunately, Trieu’s armies were not equipped for siege warfare, so rather than assault most of the walled cities they were forced to make camp and lay siege – a bad place to be if you’re an under-equipped peasant army. The King of Wu bribed some of her men away, others got bored and left, and when the weather started to change, even more had to go home to sow their fields so their families wouldn’t starve in the winter. Weakened by the rapid loss of manpower, Trieu’s armies became vulnerable. She was attacked, defeated, and surrounded, and drowned herself in a river to avoid capture.
One Vietnamese chronicle says that the Chinese discovered Lady Trieu’s one weakness was that she was grossed out by dongs, so the Chinese ran into battle totally naked and she couldn’t handle it, but that seems like a stretch. Plus they already used that excuse when they talked about the Trung Sisters 200 years earlier.
Even in death, Lady Trieu continued her patriotic acts of badassitude. It started with the commander of the Chinese army, who, as I mentioned, had a psychotic existential meltdown and was terrorized by nightmares of the Viet warrior-queen for the rest of his life. It literally got so bad that he ordered a hundred wooden dicks be carved into the outside of his headquarters building to frighten her away (I’m sure the Imperial artisans were like, “Sure buddy, that’s why you put in that work order…).
In later years, Lady Trieu is also said to have been in the dreams of other revolutionary Viet heroes like Tran Hung Dao, materializing to give him advice kind of like when Babe Ruth shows up in Bennie the Jet’s bedroom in The Sandlot, only instead of tips on his batting stance she gave him hints on how to fight guerilla war against the bloody Mongol invasion. The government of Vietnam tried to write Trieu Thi Trinh out of public memory in the mid-15th century, when Neo-Confucianism took hold and issued a blanked “No Girls Allowed” rule in their history books, but legends like hers don’t just fade away. To this day, 800 years later, several shrines exist to honor her spirit, a bunch of streets are named after her, and the elephant-riding woman badass is still considered one of the greatest national heroes in Vietnamese history.
Lady Trieu postage stamp.
Marr, David G. Vietnamese Tradition on Trial, 1920-1945. University of California Press, 1984.
Miles, Rosalind and Robin Cross. Warrior Women. Quercus, 2013.
Olsen, Kirstin. Chronology of Women’s History. Greenwood, 1994.
Smith, Bonnie G. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. Oxford Univ. Press, 2008.