Tran Quy Cap, also known as Thich Phu or Thai Xuyen, was born in 1870 in Thai La hamlet, But Nhi village, Dien Ban district, Quang Nam province. Tran Quy Cap from his young age showed to be intelligent, good at studying, curious and had great character.
In 1904, he took the exam and got his doctorate along with Huynh Thuc Khang. At this time, in our country Confucianism was receding, new schooling began to take place. Tran Quy Cap regularly interacted with Mr. Phan Chau Trinh, Mr. Phan Boi Chau, researched new books and newspapers, progressive ideas, promoted new learning, through education reformation to improve people’s intellectual, people’s consciousness of rights and national self-reliance. In Quang Nam, Phan Chu Trinh together with his comrades including Tran Quy Cap founded Duy Tan association. Duy Tan Association selected many elite young people and sent them to Japan to study as the core for later country’s revolutionary movement. Tran Quy Cap together with a number of intellectuals in the region established “New Schooling Association” and received a great response from the people.
In 1906, he and a number of people founded agronomic associations, trade associations, schools... He also wrote poems and songs to promote trade, agricultural extension, reclamation of land for agricultural production in a new way. “The song of summoning the soul of the country” is also known as “encouragement to study” (studying for self-strengthening), calling on people to learn national character script to improve people’s intellectual level. Also in this year, the French colonialists and Hue court mandarins appointed him as a teacher in Thang Binh - Quang Nam for easy monitoring and control. Although he did not want to become a mandarin, but with the encouragement of his old mother and close friends, he took office and contrary to the intentions of the feudal court mandarins, he was even more able to communicate and spread the Duy Tan movement.
He opened New Schooling classes, invited teachers to teach national characters and French characters right in province schools. He made many contributions to the Duy Tan movement, always propagating and promoting new schooling, rejecting exam-orientation, and abolishing outdated procedures. The French colonialists and feudal mandarins saw his importance to the intellectuals and people. Therefore, they used an excuse to transfer him to Tan Dinh (present-day Ninh Hoa town - Khanh Hoa) to work as a teacher. Here, he continued to contact his friends in the countryside and pursued his aspirations. He went to many places to give speeches and propagate Duy Tan ideology, which was responded by the majority of people, especially scholars and young people from all classes. The mandarins here were very angry and found ways to harm him. They often let their secret agents monitor and control his letters and papers strictly.
On one occasion of receiving a letter from home announcing the people’s struggle situation, he wrote in the letter 7 words “ngô dân thử cử, khoái khoái khoái” ( “the people did that and it makes me very satisfied and pleased”) Seeing clearly that this was a great opportunity to kill the person they had been following for a long time, they arrested him while he was teaching and sent him to jail in Dien Khanh Citadel. Tran Quy Cap was accused of “asking for help from another country” and sentenced to “beheading”.
On the morning of June 15, 1908 (ie, the 17th day of the 5th lunar month) at the Beheading hill area, Tran Quy Cap was executed. Tran Quy Cap showed a brave attitude before death without fear, neck with handcuffs, hands with chains from Dien Khanh Citadel prison to Can River Bridge. Arriving at the place of execution, Tran Quy Cap remained calm, pulled the mask over his face, demanded an altar facing the North, bowed to his homeland, then bowed to the people, said goodbye to those who came to see him off. Then chivalrously showed his head for cutting. The colour of his face did not change. It remained calm and dignified like when he taught his students and criticized literature.
Before Tran Quy Cap's death, not only the people were very sympathetic and resentful, but even the contemporary mandarins and civil servants felt sorry for and admired the will of the patriotic scholar.
Although Tran Quy Cap was not born and grew up in Khanh Hoa, his life, career and departure from this world were associated with the land of Frankincense. It is clear that the life and career of a famous celebrity does not belong to anyone alone, but he belongs to the Fatherland, to the heroic Vietnamese people!
The country is grateful to him, the people miss him. Today, his name is named for roads, schools ... all over the country. In 1970, Khanh Hoa people built a temple to worship Tran Quy Cap along with two leaders of the Can Vuong Khanh Hoa movement, Binh Tay General Trinh Phong and military counselor Nguyen Khanh, on Can River bank. The temple is called “Trung liệt điện” (Patriotic Hero Temple), located on an area with the customary name “Beheading hill”, where the enemy killed many patriots and soldiers of Can Vuong movement. At that time, our country was still at war against the invading American imperialists, so the construction of “Patriotic Hero Temple” was even more meaningful to promote the patriotic movement against foreign invaders, upholding the example of the heroic martyrs who passed away for the Fatherland.
In 2003, on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Khanh Hoa province, the temple was moved back inward, about 50m from the old temple area. The temple was embellished on a larger scale, but it still followed traditional architectural structures such as: ancient upstairs, dragon-shaped decorative patterns on the roof corners, roof tiled with boat-like-shoe-vamp tiles. The temple faces East. The front of the temple is embossed with 3 words “PATRIOTIC HERO TEMPLE”. Next to the temple is an ancient Holarrhena pubescens tree, which marks the crimes of the feudal colonial regime that executed many soldiers in our country's revolutionary movements.
In the main hall, there is an altar with the tablet with the names of strong-willed scholar Tran Quy Cap, Binh Tay General Trinh Phong and Military Counselor Nguyen Khanh. On the upper part of the main hall, there are 4 Chinese characters “Trung Nghi Cam Nhan”, which means: “person with loyalty converting everyone”. In the main hall there is an embossed pair of couplets praising the patriotic spirit:
Vi thân hồ, vi gia hồ, vi thiên hạ hồ, thiện chí anh hùng do vị bạch
Thử thiên giả, thử địa giả, thử giang sơn giả, oan hàm tuyền ngưỡng (..) năng minh
“For the sake of the self? for the family? for the whole world? The heroic spirit has not yet been revealed?
Here this sky, this land, this country, the injustice of the dead has been revealed.”
Every year, on the 16th day of the 5th lunar month at Tran Quy Cap temple, a memorial ceremony is held with the presence of leaders of all levels of local authorities and people to review the tradition of “drinking water, remember the source” of the Vietnamese people.
In 1991, Tran Quy Cap temple was classified as a national historical-cultural relic by the Ministry of Culture and Information (currently known as the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism).