In official histories, the peasant girl Ỷ Lan first appeared as a favorite royal concubine then became regent for her six-year-old son during a tumultuous era in the late eleventh century as the young Đại Việt kingdom faced challenges from Champa in the south and Song China in the north. Her remarkable social transformation became absorbed into medieval folklore and literature as a Cinderella-like figure. She was also admired as a learned Buddhist and venerated as a Guanyin figure and mother goddess in folk religion. She thus became the subject of lore, legends and hagiographies associated with numerous temples and local village festivals in the Red River delta. In modern times Ỷ Lan has been glorified as a patriotic heroine in nationalist historiography and literary dramatizations in traditional theater such as Chèo and Cải Lương well into the early twenty-first century. This paper analyzes the evolving portrayal of Queen Ỷ Lan in Vietnamese history and culture. A multi-faceted understanding of her discursive transformation can help explain the timeless vitality of this powerful female figure in the context of a male-dominated society through centuries of Confucian ideology, modern nationalism as well as the contemporary promotion of gender equality in Vietnam.