History Files
 

 

Far East Kingdoms

South East Asia

 

 

 

Vietnam

Modern Vietnam emerged from two states, Annam (otherwise known as Nam Viet or Dai Viet) in the north, and Champa in the south. It was a variation of the name 'Nam Viet' that was eventually selected as the fully unified country's name in the 1940s, during Japanese occupation. Prior to that, the ancient northern kingdom eventually became free of Chinese rule and later conquered its long-term rival, Champa. Even this expanded kingdom still did not fully resemble the modern country - it would be the best part of four hundred years before that would happen. Today Vietnam occupies an 'S' shape at the eastern end of South-East Asia. The South China Sea presents it with a long coastline, while its territory stretches from the Red River in the north to the Mekong Delta in the south.

The Mekong Delta region was originally Cambodian, while the region has a long history of other groups occupying parts of modern Vietnam. In the highlands of western Vietnam were dozens of non-Vietnamese ethnic groups such as the Rhadé, the Jorai, and the Tai, and in the southern coastal towns, such as Hoi An, near Danang, there were vibrant communities of Japanese and Chinese traders.

(Additional information from Vietnam: A New History, Christopher Goscha.)

Thuc Rulers of Annam
257 - 207 BC

Annam is Chinese for 'The Pacified South'. This was a Viet state in the Red River Delta. It and its successors were strongly influenced by China, and spent a long period as part of China. The Thuc Dynasty lasted for almost exactly the same period as the Chinese Ch'in. The name Annam was largely used to describe Vietnam as a whole until the end of the French colonial period.

257 - 207 BC

An Duong

207 BC

Annam is replaced by the Chieu Dynasty of Nam Viet.

Chieu Rulers of Nam Viet / Nan Yue
207 - 111 BC

207 - 137 BC

Vu Vuong

137 - 125 BC

Van Vuong

125 - 113 BC

Minh Vuong

113 - 111 BC

Ap Vuong

111 BC

Duong Vuong

111 BC - AD 544

The state is conquered by the Han Chinese. It eventually re-emerges under the Li Dynasty.

Kings of Champa
192 BC - AD 1471

Strongly influenced by India even down to the names of its kings. Its name may have originated from the capital of the Indian Iron Age kingdom of Anga. Its eventual conquest meant its culture was submerged by a Chinese-influenced one. The capital was at Indrapura.

AD 1300s

Po Binasor

Twice defeated the Nam Viet and sacked Hanoi.

Kings of Nam Viet
AD 544 - 1533

Nam Viet formed much of what became familiar as Vietnam. Occupied by China since its previous Chieu rulers were conquered in 111 BC, It re-emerged as an independent kingdom, at first briefly, later more permanently, until it broke up by 1533.

Early Li / Ly Dynasty

544 - 548

Bon

548 - 571

Kuan Phuc

549 - 555

Thien Bao

571 - 603

Phat Tu

603 - 939

Conquered by the Sui Chinese, the Nam Viet kingdom eventually re-emerges under the Ngo Dynasty.

Ngo Dynasty

The Ngo were unable to subdue a dozen local military chiefs and never secured recognition from China.

939 - 945

Kuyen

945 - 951

Duong Tam Kha

951 - 954

Suong Ngap

951 - 965

Suong Van

965 - 968

The kingdom is controlled by the Northern Sung Dynasty of China.

Dinh Dynasty

Short-lived, but the dynasty defeated the warlords and pacified the Chinese with tribute.

968 - 979

Dinh Tien

979 - 981

Dinh De Toan

Early Le Dynasty

The Early Le began by defeating a Chinese invasion in 981. The following year they attacked Champa, killed its king, sacked the Cham capital (Indrapura), and came home with an enormous amount of booty. Le Hoan's successor, however, was dethroned by the first monarch of the Later Ly dynasty.

981 - 1005

Le Hoan

1005 - 1009

Trung Tong

Dethroned.

Later Li / Ly Dynasty

The Ly replaced warlords with a Chinese-style civil service bureaucracy at Hanoi, and thus granted their country with a far greater degree of stability. The Le called their country Dai Viet, but the Chinese name of Annam ('The Pacified South') was used everywhere else. The country prospered, and the government encouraged cultural progress by vigorously promoting literature, art, and Mahayana Buddhism.

1010 - 1028

Thai To

1028 - 1054

Thai Tong

1054 - 1069

Thanh Tong

1069 - 1072

Thanh Tong

Later Le Dynasty

1072 - 1127

Nan Ton

1127 - 1138

Than Tong

1138 - 1175

Anh Tong

1175 - 1210

Kao Tong

1210 - 1224

Hue Tong

1224 - 1225

Tieu Hoang

Early Tran Dynasty

1225 - 1258

Thai Tong

1258 - 1277

Thanh Tong

1278 - 1293

Nan Tong

1288

The Nam Viet defeat the invading Mongols.

1293 - 1314

Anh Tong

1314 - 1329

Minh Tong

1329 - 1341

Hien Tong

1341 - 1369

Du Tong

1370 - 1372

Nghe Tong

1372 - 1377

Due Tong

1377 - 1388

De Hien

1388 - 1398

Tran Thuan Tong

1398 - 1400

Tran Thieu De

Ho Dynasty

1400

Ho Qui Ly / Kui Li

Usurper.

1400 - 1407

Han Thuong

1407 - 1428

The country is occupied by the Ming Chinese.

Later Tran Dynasty

1407 - 1409

Hau Tran Jian Dinh De

1409 - 1413

Hau Tran

1413 - 1428

[Vacant]

Later Le Dynsty (Restored)

1428 - 1433

Thai To

1433 - 1442

Thai Tong

1442 - 1459

Nan Tong

1460 - 1497

Thanh Tong

1497 - 1504

Hien Tong

1504 - 1509

Vi Muc De

1509 - 1516

Tuong Duc De

1516 - 1522

Tieu Tong

1522 - 1527

Kung Hoang

Mac Dynasty

1527 - 1529

Dang Dung

1529 - 1533

Dang Doanh

d.1540

1533

The kingdom of Nam Viet breaks up. The most prominent survivor is the kingdom of Dai Viet.

Kings of Dai Viet (Nguyen Dynasty)
AD 1533 - 1954

Dai Viet was the kingdom which eventually conquered other, more minor, kingdoms to form the basis of modern Vietnam. The Vietnamese warlords of the Nguyen family finally displaced the Chams and Khmers and, in the eighteenth century, completed their 'southern advance' in the region to the south of Saigon. The expanding Vietnamese empire had long been divided between the Nguyen in the south and the Trinh lords in the north, but Nguyen Emperor Gia Long unified Vietnam in 1802. Sadly it was less than sixty years before the French gradually subdued the country in the second half of the nineteenth century and once again divided it - this time into the protectorates of Tonkin in the north, Annam in the centre, and the colony of Cochinchina in the south.

(Additional information from Vietnam: A New History, Christopher Goscha.)

1533 - 1545

Kim

1545 - 1558

The country is split by civil war.

1558 - 1613

Hoang

1613 - 1635

Phuc Nguyen

1635 - 1648

Phuc Lan

1648 - 1687

Phuc Tan

1687 - 1691

Phuc Tran

1691 - 1725

Phuc Chu I

1725 - 1738

Phuc Chu II

1738 - 1765

Phuc Khoat

1765 - 1778

Phuc Thuan

1778 - 1802

Anh

1802 - 1820

Gia Long

Emperor.

1802

It is under Emperor Gai Long that the kingdom of Dai Viet absorbs the other Vietnamese kingdoms to create a single kingdom.

1820 - 1841

Minh Mang

1831 - 1834

The Siamese-Vietnamese War has the alternate title of the Siamese-Cambodian War. Following Ang Chan's recapture of the Cambodian throne in 1812, the Siamese have been moving into northern Cambodia and then advancing towards the south in support of their own claimant. The Cambodians are routed at the Battle of Kompong Chang in 1832, and Ang Chan is forced to flee to Viet Nam. Siam is soon distracted by a revolt by the Cambodians at the same time as the Vietnamese-controlled Laos revolt. A Vietnamese army of 15,000 advances towards the Siamese in 1833, forcing the latter to withdraw. Ang Chan is restored, albeit as a Vietnamese puppet.

1841 - 1848

Thieu Tri

1841 - 1845

The 'Siamese-Vietnamese War in Cambodia', as it is known, has seen increasing Vietnamese influence in Cambodia during the reign of Queen Ang Mey. The Cambodians rebel in 1841, overthrowing the pro-Vietnamese elements and appealing to Siam. Their chosen candidate is Prince Ang Duong, and he is duly installed by force in 1842. Viet Nam and Siam now face strike and counter-strike by their respective armies while the Cambodians rebel against the same Siamese heavy-handedness that started the war in the first place. On 13 September 1845, the Vietnamese take Phnom Penh and Siam is forced to withdraw. During the subsequent peace negotiations, Cambodia is placed under joint Siamese-Vietnamese protection.

1848 - 1883

Tu Duc

1863

King Norodom requests that France establishes a protectorate over Cambodia, ending joint Siamese-Vietnamese protection. Siam voluntarily relinquishes its role and recognises the French protectorate of Cambodia. Viet Nam has its own problems, with creeping French colonial activities taking place within its borders.

1883 - 1940

Dai Viet comes under a French protectorate.

1883

Duc Duc

1883

Hiep Hoa

1883 - 1884

Kien Phuc

1884 - 1885

Ham Nghi

1885 - 1889

Dong Khanh

1885 - 1907

Thanh Thai

1907 - 1916

Duy Tan

1916 - 1925

Khai Dinh

1926 - 1945

Bao Dai

Japanese puppet (1940-45). Abdicated.

1940 - 1945

The country is occupied by Japan. During this period it is renamed by the emperor from Annam to Vietnam. Bao Dai's abdication has been seen by the author Stanley Karnow, as a relinquishing of the 'mandate of heaven', with Ho Chi Minh succeeding to it as the only apparent leading figure in the country to be pursuing the dream of a free Vietnam.

1945 - 1954

The French Protectorate is re-established. Almost immediately, in 1946, communist forces provided with arms and supplies by China attempt to take control of the country. The First Indochina War becomes a key battleground in the Cold War. France is provided with supplies and arms by the USA, which is highly concerned about the 'domino effect' of country after country falling to communism, but it is French soldiers who fight on the ground in a war that is largely overshadowed by the USA's subsequent involvement in the region.

1949 - 1955

Bao Dai

Restored by France. Head of state of South Vietnam.

1954 - 1955

On 7 May 1954 the Viet Minh defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu, effectively ending French involvement in Indochina. The democratic republic of Vietnam is declared in the north of the country, and this does nothing to end the fighting.

Modern Vietnam
AD 1954 - Present Day

The socialist republic of Vietnam is located along a relatively narrow band of land at the eastern end of the south-east Asian region. Reaching down from the Red River, at the northern and southern ends this 'band' widens out around the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) respectively. The country is bordered by China to the north, across the South China Sea to the east by the Philippines and to the south and south-east by Malaysia, and to the west by Cambodia and Laos.

Vietnam primarily emerged into history in the form of two kingdoms, Annam (otherwise known as Nam Viet or Dai Viet) in the north, and Champa in the south. The northern kingdom encompassed parts of southern China along the South China Sea coastline, and eventually it managed to free itself of Chinese dominance. Later it conquered Champa to form a single state that was vaguely similar to the modern one in terms of territory (in the north and centre of modern Vietnam). The Mekong Delta region in the far south of the country was not originally Vietnamese but Cambodian. That united Nam Viet eventually fell under the domination of French colonialism in the nineteenth century and into the first half of the twentieth century.

Following the end of the Second World War, Japanese occupation was replaced by an attempt to re-establish the French Protectorate in 1945. After fighting the Japanese for five years, this was certainly not part of the plans of the country's communist forces. They were encouraged by newly-communist China to attempt to take control of the country. They did so in the north, with a capital at Hanoi, The First Indochina War was the result of this opposition, with outside forces becoming involved because this battleground was seen as being a key piece of the Cold War struggle between democracy and communism. With France having withdrawn from Indochina, the USA had to involve itself directly, no longer simply supplying arms. In the end, such was the determination and ingenuity of the communist forces, even the USA couldn't change the outcome. In 1975-1976 the country was fully united under a communist government and modern Vietnam was now its own master after almost a century of outside involvement.

Forty years after the destructive and long-lasting conflict, the Vietnam of 2016 is resolutely a nation rather than a war in the eyes of the world. The one-party communist state today is self-confident and is developing rapidly, its progress all-evident in the country's booming metropolises. Vietnam's allure is easy to appreciate as ancient, labyrinthine trading quarters of still-thriving craft industries lie alongside grand colonial mansions from the French era, all of which is overseen by twenty-first century glass-and-steel high rise towers. The country's monarchy, which removed itself from commanding the country as a whole in 1945, was also deposed in the south by President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1955. Since then the emperor and his descendants have maintained their use of the appropriate titles while living in exile (usually in France and Monaco). They have not overtly pursued a policy of having the monarchy restored. All such hereditary claimants to the throne are shown below with a shaded background.

(Additional information from The State of The World's Refugees 2000 - Chapter 4: Flight from Indochina, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and from External Links: Lonely Planet, and BBC Country Profiles.)

1954 - 1955

Bao Dai

Former emperor of Dai Vet. Usurped by President Diem.

1954 - 1965

Ho Chi Minh

'President' of North Vietnam. Died 1969.

1954 - 1960

On 7 May 1954 the Viet Minh defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu, effectively ending French involvement in Indochina. The democratic republic of Vietnam in the north of the country is recognised internationally by the Geneva Accords, now making Hanoi its capital. In the three hundred-day period of open borders, more than a million Vietnamese move south along with anti-communist forces, while a much smaller number move north. Perhaps two million more people are prevented from migrating south by the Viet Minh. The communist leader is Ho Chi Minh, the sixty-four year-old leader of the Viet Minh independence movement (from 1941), and now the 'president' of the north. The leader in the south, once he has 'won' a fraudulent campaign to create a republic and remove the king from office, is President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Viet Minh
The Vietnam Doc Lap Dong Minh (Vietnam Independence League) became far better known as the Viet Minh, a communist organisation that was founded by Ho Chi Minh in 1941 to conduct resistance operations against the French colonists and then the occupying Japanese

In 1956 President Diem begins campaign against political dissidents, but all this does is trigger a communist insurgency in the south in 1957. Within two years weapons and men from the north are infiltrating the south, and in 1960 the USA increases its aid to President Diem, eager to halt the 'domino effect' of states falling under communist leaderships. Although it remains undeclared, this is the start of the Vietnam War, or Second Indochina War.

1955 - 1977

Bao Dai

Deposed in 1955. King of Vietnam in exile.

1963

The communist guerrillas operating in South Vietnam are known as the Viet Cong. Now they defeat units of the ARVN, the South Vietnamese Army. President Diem is overthrown and then killed in a US-backed military coup.

1964

The US congress approves the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on 7 August 1964, increasing American military involvement in Vietnam and officially bringing it into the war. Otherwise known as the South-East Asia Resolution, it is a response to the eponymous fire-fight on 2 August 1964 between US naval forces which have been engaged in clandestine attacks on North Vietnamese installations and three Vietnamese gunboats which fail utterly to scare them off. The political spin of the incident is enough to win almost universal backing for increased US action in what is now a war in all but name.

1965 - 1986

Le Duan

General Secretary of the Central Committee (North Vietnam).

1968

After building up the number of its military forces in South Vietnam over the previous three years, the US now has half a million men in the country. The north launches the Tet Offensive - a combined assault by Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army on US positions. Morale in the US forces drops as the number of US casualties mounts by the day. During the campaign, and during an apparent moment of madness, more than five hundred civilians die in the US massacre at My Lai. Thousands more are killed by communist forces during their occupation of the city of Hue.

The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War between the north and south, with US support for the latter, devastated the country and created pictures like these that helped to shape anti-war opinion around the world

1969 - 1973

Ho Chi Minh dies in 1969, removing the north's powerful figurehead (although he had officially retired in 1965), and President Nixon begins to reduce US ground troops in Vietnam as domestic public opposition to the war grows. The following year, Nixon's national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, and Le Duc Tho of the Hanoi government start talks in Paris but in the same year Cambodia finds itself being dragged into the widening conflict when Prime Minister Lon Nol mounts a successful coup against King Sihanouk. The king organises a guerrilla movement from exile, and with US forces in Vietnam also becoming involved, Cambodia quickly becomes mired in a civil war against the Khmer Rouge guerrilla forces.

1975 - 1976

With US troops having been pulled out in March 1975 under the terms of the 1973 ceasefire agreement in Paris, the cities of the south fall one by one to the communist forces. The South Vietnamese government surrenders unconditionally to North Vietnam on 30 April 1975, ending the Vietnam War. A communist republic is declared and the country is reunited in 1976 under a single leadership which consists of a largely ceremonial presidency, a ruling secretary-general of the Communist Party, the real power, and a prime minister. The 'Socialist Republic of Vietnam' is born. The event causes hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, mostly from the south, to flee the country, including many 'boat people'. Contrary to international fears, though, there are no mass executions of South Vietnamese.

1977 - 2007

Bao Long

Born in 1936. Son of Bao Dai. King of Vietnam in exile.

1978

Following several border incursions and attacks on Vietnamese villages by the Khmer Rouge rulers of Cambodia, Vietnamese troops invade and conquer of much of the country. The Khmer Rouge are pushed back from the heartland of the country and have to resume a guerrilla warfare approach to maintaining what positions they do retain. The pro-Vietnamese Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party wins the Cambodian elections in 1981, forming the Third Republic, but its rule is not internationally recognised and later faces mounting guerrilla resistance. Vietnamese dominance in Cambodia lasts until 1991, although the last Vietnamese troops are withdrawn in 1989.

1986

Truong Chinh

General Secretary of the Central Committee. Died 1987.

1986

Reformist elements within the central committee win a victory at the Sixth National Congress. The old guard of hard line leaders is replaced by the reformers themselves. A series of free market reforms eases the burden of the communist planned economy, altering it to a more open socialist market economy.

1986 - 1991

Nguyen Van Linh

General Secretary of the Central Committee.

1991 - 1997

Do Muoi

General Secretary of the Central Committee.

1992

The country adopts a new constitution which permits certain economic freedoms. The Communist Party remains the leading force in Vietnamese society, but is managing things in a far more moderate manner.

Modern Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Modern Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) is now the most highly-populated city in Vietnam, with a mixture of modern office skyscrapers, Oriental pagodas, and street food stalls that is the product of a reconciliation between American and Chinese influence

1994 - 1995

The US lifts its thirty-year trade embargo in 1994 and the following year restores full diplomatic relations. Vietnam becomes full member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

1997 - 2001

Le Kha Phieu

General Secretary of the Central Committee.

1997 - 1999

Le Kha Phieu becomes party leader, with Tran Duc Luong being chosen as president and Phan Van Khai prime minister. The following year, a senior party member, Pham The Duyet, faces charges of corruption, and economic growth slumps in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. In 1999 a former high-ranking party member, Tran Do, is expelled after calling for more democracy and freedom of expression.

2001 - 2011

Nong Duc Manh

General Secretary of the Central Committee.

2002

Russia hands back the Cam Ranh Bay naval base, once the largest Soviet base outside of the Warsaw Pact territories. President Tran Duc Luong is reappointed for second term of office by the National Assembly, which also reappoints Prime Minister Phan Van Khai for a second five-year term. The state apparatus continues to silence criticism of its management, and online censorship steadily builds as the internet becomes an increasingly powerful tool for dissent. However, the country does begin to open up to tourism, becoming a 'Mecca' for backpacker travellers.

2007 - Present

Bao Thang

Born 1943. Brother of Bao Long. King of Vietnam in exile.

2011 - Present

Nguyen Phu Trong

General Secretary of the Central Committee.