Today Hanoi celebrates its thousandth anniversary, and when I went to Wikipedia to find out what happened in 1010, I discovered an astounding array of historical names:
During the Chinese domination of Vietnam, it was known as Tống Bình (宋平) and later Long Đỗ (龍肚; literally “dragon’s belly”). In 866, it was turned into a citadel and was named Đại La (大羅).
In 1010, Lý Thái Tổ, the first ruler of the Lý Dynasty, moved the capital of Đại Việt (大越, the Great Viet, then the name of Vietnam) to the site of the Đại La Citadel. Claiming to have seen a dragon ascending the Red River, he renamed it Thăng Long (昇龍, Ascending dragon) – a name still used poetically to this day. It remained the capital of Vietnam until 1397, when the capital was moved to Thanh Hóa, also known as Tây Đô (西都, Western Capital). Thăng Long then became Đông Đô (東都, Eastern Capital).
In 1408, Chinese Ming Dynasty attacked and occupied Vietnam, then they renamed Đông Đô as Đông Quan (東關, Eastern Gateway). In 1428, Vietnamese overthrown the Chinese under the leadership of Lê Lợi who later founded the posterior Lê Dynasty and renamed Đông Quan as Đông Kinh (東京, Eastern Capital – the name known to Europeans as Tonkin. The same characters are used for Tokyo, Japan). Right after the end of Tây Sơn Dynasty, it was named Bắc Thành (北城, Northern Citadel).
In 1802, when the Nguyễn Dynasty was established and then moved the capital down to Huế, the name of Thăng Long (昇龍, “ascending dragon”) was modified to become different Thăng Long (昇隆, to ascend and flourish). In 1831 the Nguyễn emperor Minh Mạng renamed it “Hà Nội” (河内, [which] can be translated as Between Rivers or River Interior).
During my period of obsession with Vietnamese history about a quarter of a century ago, I’m sure I knew it had only been called Hanoi since 1831, but the fact came as a fresh surprise to me now.
Incidentally, check out this sentence in the NYT story about the celebration:
Like most of their countrymen, few Hanoians, absorbed in getting and spending, live their lives to the rhythms of the patriotic marching tunes that filled the air last week.
So do most of their countrymen live their lives to the rhythms of the patriotic marching tunes or not?
Update. Mark Liberman has posted about this at the Log, and an interesting if sometimes bizarre discussion has ensued (a number of people don’t seem to understand that the sentence is saying the opposite of what it means to say).