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Far East Kingdoms

South East Asia

 

Nam Viet / Dai Nam Empire (Vietnam)
Nguyễn Dynasty (AD 1802-1945)
Incorporating Annam (AD 1884-1945)

The modern-day nation state of Vietnam emerged out of prehistory's Early Vietnam. Various early (and partially legendary) kingdoms followed but northern Vietnam then endured a sequence of occupations and independence which began with the 'First Chinese Domination of Vietnam' and ended with the 'Third Chinese Domination of Vietnam'.

A series of revolts in the eighth century occupied province of Annam helped to feed the growing Viet sense of national consciousness. In AD 938, Ngo Quyen won a glorious victory against occupying Southern Han forces along the banks of the River Bach Dang. The victory put an end to a thousand years of near-continuous Chinese domination. That was replaced with the restored Nam Viet kingdom and a long period of national independence and sovereignty which started with the Ngo dynasty.

Later history witnessed a period of decline and a usurpation by the Ho dynasty, along with many rebellions, and then an invasion by the Ming. That occupation was brief, however, being contested by the rebellious Later Tran emperors. The Ming were finally ejected by the founder of the Later Le dynasty, and the country was rebuilt after two decades of Chinese control. Later rulers allowed court intrigues to take precedence over state-building so, in 1527, General Mac Dang Dương took control to lead his own Mac dynasty.

Its fortunes were mixed, and the country quickly became divided with the Revival Le dynasty holding the south. The civil war came to an end in 1592 and a restored Dai Viet saw its Revival Le emperors quickly reduced to the status of figureheads and puppets in the hands of the competing Nguyễn and Trịnh lords of the south and north respectively.

It was a new arrival on the political scene, the Tay Son, which gradually destroyed Nguyễn military capability. For the first time their impressive defensive works were weakened so, in the final act of the Trịnh-Nguyễn Civil War, the Trịnh launched an attack on 15 November 1774. At last they were able to break through, although they left the Tay Son to complete the job of destroying the Nguyễn and then launch a takeover of the rest of the country.

Nguyễn Phuc Anh, one of the last survivors of the loss of the south, himself displaced the Tay Son emperors to become emperor as Gia Long. One of his first acts was to change the name of Dai Viet to Nam Viet (in 1802). The Chinese, when asked for approval, made it clear that they associated that name with the ancient anti-Chinese kingdom of Nan Yueh. Instead they proposed 'Vietnam' as an acceptable compromise.

It was under Gia Long's rule that the kingdom of Dai Viet absorbed other Vietnamese holdings to create a single kingdom. In 1839 he renamed the state again, this time to Dai Nam. Unfortunately, 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.

Now it was formed of three protectorates which were taken from the Dai Nam administrative establishment: Tonkin in the north, Annam in the centre, and the colony of Cochinchina in the south. In 1884 they enforced a name change from Viet Nam or Vietnam to Annam, while in 1887 they forcibly included the state within the new colonial administrative creation of French Indochina.

Rulers of Vietnam had a personal name (ho huy), a temple name (mieu hieu), a posthumous style (dang ton hieu), and an era name or names (nien hieu), all of which was initiated during each respective reign. Some rulers, such as Bao Dai, are often referred to by their era name, and it is largely era names which are shown below (unless specified otherwise).

Traditional House, Vietnam

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from Vietnam: A New History, Christopher Goscha, from Early Mainland Southeast Asia, C Higham (River Books Co, 2014), from Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopaedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, Keat Gin Ooi (ABC-Clio, 2004), from A History of the Vietnamese, Keith W Taylor (Cambridge University Press, 2013), from Times Atlas of World History (Maplewood, 1979), from Historical Atlas of the World, R R Palmer (Ed, Chicago, 1963), from The Times Atlas of World History, Geoffrey Barraclough (Ed, Hammond Inc, 1979), from Asia in the Modern World, Claude A Buss (Macmillan Publishing Co, 1964), from Kingdoms of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, Gene Gurney (Outlet, 1986 (reissued 1988)), from Oxford Atlas of World History, Patrick K O'Brien (Ed, First Edition, Oxford University Press, 1999), from The Birth of Vietnam, Keith Weller Taylor (University of California Press, 1983), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Vietnam (Countrystudies), and Vietnam from the 1st to the 10th centuries AD (Vietnam National Museum of History), and Vietnam from the 10th century AD to the mid-20th century AD (Vietnam National Museum of History), and Vietnam (Rulers.org).)

1802 - 1820

Gia Long

Emperor. Surviving Nguyễn clan member. Defeated Tay Son.

1803

When Gia Long's envoys reach Peking to establish diplomatic relations with China, the Chinese make it clear that they associate the new name of the state - Nam Viet - with the ancient anti-Chinese kingdom of Nan Yueh and refuse to recognise it. They propose a compromise in the form of 'Viet Nam' or Vietnam which the envoys are able to accept.

Viet Emperor Gia Long
Emperor Gia Long was aided in the winning of his kingdom by French mercenaries and other western soldiers of fortune, but he never fully trusted Europeans or their motives

1820 - 1841

Minh Mang

Son. Generally opposed to European influence.

1831 - 1834

The Siamese-Vietnamese War has the alternative 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, the same year in which Minh Mang begins to suppress Christians in Vietnam. This policy will soon begin to cause trouble with the colonial French in the region.

Ang Chan is forced to flee to Vietnam. Siam is soon distracted by a revolt by the Cambodians at the same time as the Vietnamese-controlled Lao revolt. A Vietnamese army of fifteen thousand advances towards the Siamese in 1833, forcing the latter to withdraw. Ang Chan is restored, albeit as a Vietnamese puppet.

Champa My Son temple
The Mỹ Sơn Hindu temple was indicative of Champa's religious inclinations in the fourteenth century, and also of its Indian influences, which were prevalent across much of South-East Asia

1832

The Cham rump state of Panduranga has been paying its tribute to the southern viceroy rather than directly to the emperor. Despite warnings and imperial insistence that this be changed, the orders have been ignored. Now, upon the death of the friendly viceroy of Saigon, Minh Mang annexes the state and holds as a royal hostage its last king.

1835 - 1839

At a point after 1835, Vietnam annexes the former kingdom of Xieng Khouang from the Siamese kingdom of Krung Thep. In 1839, the emperor changes Vietnam's name to Dai Nam, but the change is not approved by China.

1841 - 1847

Thieu Tri

Son. Continued father's policies.

1841 - 1848

The 'Siamese-Vietnamese War in Cambodia', as it is known, has seen increasing Vietnamese influence in Cambodia during the reign of Queen Ang Mey of Cambodia. 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. Vietnam and Siam now face strike and counter-strike by their respective armies while the Cambodians rebel against the same Siamese heavy-handedness which had started the war in the first place.

Early Bangkok in 1900
This photo shows a floating dock on the River Chao Phraya in Siam's Bangkok around 1900, over a century after the city's founding by King Rama I

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

Son. No children. Died cursing the French.

1848 - 1851

The kingdom of Xieng Khouang is restored in 1848 as a Vietnamese vassal. However, that dominance is short-lived. Xieng Khouang re-establishes its independence in 1851.

1849

During a period of exceptionally heavy rainy seasons there is an outbreak of cholera. Estimates count fatalities at about 600,000 while two million may be affected in some way. A sense of disquiet is beginning to emerge in the population as Tu Duc continues the stringent anti-Christian isolationist policies of his father and grandfather.

1858 - 1861

The French have finally had enough of the Viet refusal to allow them full access and influence in the country. They launch a military campaign which takes Da Nang, which the French refer to as Tourane. There they set up a colonial governorship. In the following year they capture Gia Dinh (Saigon). In 1861, provinces surrounding Saigon are added to French holdings.

French Zouaves in the Crimea
This illustration of French Zouaves (light infantry, generally drawn from North Africa) in the Crimea was published in The Charleston Mercury on 21 November 1861

1862

Faced with local rebellions and French military dominance, Emperor Tu Duc cedes his lost provinces to the French as part of the Treaty of Saigon. The area becomes a French colony which will soon be known as Cochinchina.

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. Vietnam has its own problems, with creeping French colonial activities taking place within its borders.

1883 - 1884

Tonkin (northern Vietnam) and Annam (central Vietnam) become French protectorates when the Qin formally abandon their own claim to overlordship. In 1884 the name 'Vietnam' reverts to Annam under French control (although this act is not universally agreed in modern sources). The emperors are figureheads, with French governors holding true power (backed in blue).

French colonial residence in Laos
The French colonial presence in Laos built the Bureau de la Residence in 1915 (today it serves as the offices of the country's Ministry of Information and Culture)

1883

Duc Duc

Adopted son. Deposed by court officials after 3 days.

1883

Hiep Hoa

Son of Thieu Tri. Reigned for 4 months (30 Jul-29 Nov).

1883 - 1884

Kien Phuc

Grandson of Thieu Tri. Acceded aged 15 (2 Dec-31 Jul). Died.

1884 - 1885

Charles Thomson

French governor of Cochinchina, based in Saigon.

1884 - 1885

Ham Nghi

Brother. Fled to mountains to lead guerrilla fight to 1888.

1885 - 1886

Ham Nghi flees the capital to head for the mountains from where he conducts a guerrilla campaign against the French until he is betrayed by the head of his guard. They declare him to be officially deposed in 1886, replacing him with a more malleable puppet emperor.

1885 - 1886

Charles Auguste Frédéric Begin

French governor of Cochinchina, based in Saigon.

1885 - 1889

Dong Khanh

Brother. Pro-French. Died aged 24.

1886 - 1887

Ange Michel Filippini

French governor of Cochinchina, based in Saigon.

1887

Noël Pardon

Acting French governor of Cochinchina.

1887

Jules Georges Piquet

Acting French governor. Later Indochina.

1887 - 1888

Now firmly in control of the imperial throne, the French unite Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina, and Cambodia into the 'Union of Indochina', otherwise known as French Indochina. In 1888, the French capture Ham Nghi and exile him to Algeria.

French Indochina
French colonial holdings in South-East Asia were generally referred to as French Indochina, but officially they were the Indochinese Union until 1947, and then the Indochinese Federation

1889 - 1907

Thanh Thai

Son of Duc Duc. Acceded aged 10. Deposed & exiled.

1893

France creates a new state formation known as Laos out of the kingdom of Luang Prabang and the province of Xieng Khouang. Laos is added to French Indochina.

1907 - 1916

Duy Tan

Son. Deposed and exiled following a rebellion.

1916 - 1925

Khai Dinh

Son of Dong Khanh. Died from tuberculosis.

1926 - 1940

Bao Dai

Son. Became puppet under 'Occupation' (1940-1945).

1940 - 1945

Japanese influence from 1940 is instantly very strong, but turns into full invasion of French Indochina in 1941 (although there seems to be disagreement about that occupation as Hammond's states 1940 and Rulers says 1945). The emperor remains a puppet but now under new masters in Japanese Occupation Vietnam.

Japanese Occupation of Annam (Vietnam)
AD 1940 - 1945

The modern-day nation state of Vietnam emerged out of prehistory's Early Vietnam. Various early (and partially legendary) kingdoms followed but the 'Third Chinese Domination of Vietnam' saw the occupied country being named Annam.

Occupying Southern Han forces were defeated in AD 938 and a restored Nam Viet kingdom witnessed a long period of national independence, starting under the Ngo dynasty. Undergoing various name changes along the way, by the eighteenth century the state had become Dai Viet. It was a divided state in which the successor to the Nguyễn lords displaced the Tay Son emperors to become emperor himself as Gia Long.

One of his first acts was to change the name of Dai Viet to Nam Viet (in 1802). Unfortunately, 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. In 1884 they enforced a name change from Viet Nam or Vietnam to Annam and in 1887 merged the country into French Indochina.

The former Viet empire was occupied by imperial Japan towards the start of the Second World War, although the precise date seems to be open to interpretation. Hammond's states 1940 while Rulers says 1945. Annam nominally remained a French protectorate until March 1945, when Japan proclaimed its independence under Japanese protection.

In spring 1945, Japan removed the Vichy French administration of Indochina and authorised Cambodia, Laos, and Annam to declare independence within the Japanese 'Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere'. On 12 June 1945, Annam changed its name back to the Vietnam empire even while events were driving towards territorial division as North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

Traditional House, Vietnam

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from Vietnam: A New History, Christopher Goscha, from Early Mainland Southeast Asia, C Higham (River Books Co, 2014), from Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopaedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor, Keat Gin Ooi (ABC-Clio, 2004), from A History of the Vietnamese, Keith W Taylor (Cambridge University Press, 2013), from Times Atlas of World History (Maplewood, 1979), from Historical Atlas of the World, R R Palmer (Ed, Chicago, 1963), from The Times Atlas of World History, Geoffrey Barraclough (Ed, Hammond Inc, 1979), from Kingdoms of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, Gene Gurney (Outlet, 1986 (reissued 1988)), from Oxford Atlas of World History, Patrick K O'Brien (Ed, First Edition, Oxford University Press, 1999), from The Birth of Vietnam, Keith Weller Taylor (University of California Press, 1983), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Vietnam (Countrystudies), and Vietnam from the 10th century AD to the mid-20th century AD (Vietnam National Museum of History), and Vietnam (Rulers.org).)

1940 - 1945

Bao Dai

Former Annam emperor, now Japanese puppet. Abdicated.

1940 - 1945

The country is occupied by Japan. In spring 1945, Japan removes the Vichy French administration of Indochina and authorises Cambodia, Laos, and Annam to declare independence within the Japanese 'Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere'.

During this period Annam is renamed by the emperor to Vietnam, on 12 June 1945. The Japanese are driven out on 15 August 1945 by the communist forces of Ho Chi Minh.

Japanese troops in Vietnam
Japanese troops enter Haiphong in Vietnam as part of the empire's wartime expansion across the Pacific region until 1945

Bao Dai's abdication on 25 August 1945 is 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 - 1946

The French protectorate of Vietnam is re-established but Ho Chi Minh's communist forces in the north refuse to submit. On  2 September 1945 a democratic republic is proclaimed there, with a capital at Hanoi.

On 1 June 1946, Vietnam becomes a de facto divided country when the French establish the autonomous republic of Cochinchina.

The First Indochina War between North Vietnam and what soon becomes South Vietnam and their respective supporters becomes a key battleground in the Cold War. Vietnam suffers enormously by being the focus of this particular theatre of operations.

Ho Chi Minh
Founder of the Indochina Communist Party in 1930 and its successor, the Viet-Minh in 1941, and president from 1945 to 1969 of the 'Democratic Republic of Vietnam' (North Vietnam), Ho Chi Minh died on 2 September 1969

 
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