China has a long history in southern Asia. The Vietnamese history is much more recent,at least the recorded history. The Vienamnese are first noted at about the sanme time Alexander is carving out his empire in the West. They were a group of scattered tribes with cultural similarities, but no centralized political organization. They were first noted in southern China and what is now northern Vietnam. There is no recorded history to explain this early era, but there are legendary figures. Shadowy ancient kings susposedly ruled over Van Lang for thousands of years. One of these kings reportedly founded the small kingdom of Au Lac, in the Red River valley. This was suposedly the first Vietnamese political entity. There is no historical data to substantiate these legends. Whike the Vietnamese were pre-literate during this period, the Chinese were not and there is little in the voluminous Chinese historical record to shed light on early Vietnamese history. There is, however, archaeological evidence. The Red River Delta appears to have been a cultural hotspot. People there may have been among the first people of East Asia to develop agriculture. Archaeologists report a fairly advanced Bronze Age civilization in the Red River Delta (1st century BC). What follows is competition often resulting in war with the Han Chinese to the north and the Thais and Kymers to the west. Chinese efforts to cinquer abd assumikate the Vietnamese failed, but over time the Chinese drove the Vietnamese south and the Vietnamese spread south into south and the Mekong Delta. The Vietnamese primarily remained along the coast and the two important river valleys. The British moved into Southest Asia from India, including Burma and Mlaya to the west ad south and Jong Kong to the north. It was the the French who showed an interest in Vietnanm and the surrounding states. first French intervention in Southeast Asia w Cambodia which asked for protection from the Thais. The French victory in the Sino-French war (1884-85) opened the way to seize control of Vietnam. France seized control over northern Vietnam and formed Indochina (October 1887) from Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina (modern Vietnam) and the Kingdom of Cambodia. The French added Laos to Indochina after the Franco-Siamese War. We do not yet have a history page on Vietnam. After Workd War II and the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu (1953), Vietnam ws partitioned. The United States attempted to preserve the independence of South Vietnam. When the war dragged out, the American public demanded an end to the War. American forces withdrew (1973). After the U.S. Congress cut off aid to South Vietnam, North Vietnam forces cimpleted the conquest of South Vietnam (1975).
China has a long history in southern Asia. The Vietnamese history is much more recent,at least the recorded history. The Vienamnese are first noted at about the sanme time Akexander is carving out his empire in the West. They were a group of scattered tribes with cultural similarities, but no centralized political organization. They were first noted in southern China and what is now northern Vietnam. There is no recorded history to explain this early era, but there are legendary figures. Shadowy ancient kings susposedly ruled over Van Lang for thousands of years. One of these kings reportedly founded the small kingdom of Au Lac, in the Red River valley. This was suposedly the first Vietnamese political entity. There is no historical data to substantiate these legends. While the Vietnamese were pre-literate during this period, the Chinese were not and there is little in the voluminous Chinese historical record to shed light on early Vietnamese history. There is, however, archaeological evidence. The Red River Delta appears to have been a cultural hotspot. People there may have been among the first people of East Asia to develop agriculture. Archaeologists report a fairly advanced Bronze Age civilization in the Red River Delta (1st century BC).
china was one of the early river valley civililzations at first based on the Yellow River. It developed iunsolation from the other great river valley civilizations. Several indeopendentvstates developed which were in competitiin with each other. war was endemic. None of these states were powerful enough to expand Chinese controlinto Southeast Asia.
The Ch'in dynasty in China completed its conquest of the neighboring wrring states (221 BC). This created a unified China fior the first time. And the Chinese unlike the Europeans, came to see this as the accepted ideal. The Ch'in Empire did not long surviuve the death of its founder--Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇) (259–210 BC). What is now Vietnam was not included in the first Chinese Empire, but it ws affected by the demise of that Empire. The Chinese military commander in the south formed his own independent state--Nam Viet. His new state included not only southern China,but also Au Lac which included the Red River Valley. A bew Chimese emperor unified China. As part of this process his armies invaded and conquered Nam Viet (111 BC). Ethnic Vietnamese had lived in southern China, but for the first time te Red River Valley and most of the Vietnamese population was brought under control of the Han Chinese. At first the Chinese ruled through local Vietnamese chieftains. The Chinese from an early point decided to assimilate the Vietnamese culturally into the Han Empire. Chinese administrators with these instructions were dispatched to replace the local chietans who were from the landed nobility. The Chinese set up political institutions based on their own political model. They also imposed Confucianism as the approved ideology which at the time was metomoprphizing intoa kind of religion. The Chinese also intriduced their language as the medium of official and literary expression. At the time there were no schools for the peasantry, so the language policy did not affect the grrat mass of the population which was in any case iliterate. .
Chinese ideographs were adopted as the written form for the Vietnamese spoken language. This was a fairly wasy step because there was not yet a written form of Vietnamese. This Chinese infusion was not just official. Chinese art, architecture, and music spread to Vietnam. And had a powerful affect on the Vietnamese. There was resistance to Chinese rule. It wa at first disorganized and spradic, but grew in importance over time as Chinese assimilation policies touched and offended more and more Vietnamese. The most notable early revolt was launched by two susters (39 AD). They were the wiudows of aristocrats--the Trung sisters. The Trung Susters Revoly achiecved some success, defeating thecrelativelyvsmall Chinese occuoation force. Trung Trac, the elder sister,briefly ruled an independent Vietnamese state. The Emperor dispatched a large army to the south and reconquiered Vietnam (43 AD). The Chinese would control Vietnam for a millenium. Over that time the cultural influence was enormous.
The Trung Sisters' Revolt was only the beginning of the Vietnamnese effort to gain independence from the Chinese. During the millenia of Chinese control there were other revolts of varying importance. The Vietnamese could never hope to defeat the Chinese in normal time. There weee,however,periods of Chinese decline, especually as aynasty began losing control and the Vietnamese were in the perifery of the Chinese Empire. Ngo Quyen took advantage of one such period (939 AD). He organized a military force which oiverwealmed the Chinese occupation force. He set up the first Vietnamese state in a millenium. Ngo Quyen died only a few years after his great success. The result was a lawless period with various war lords attempting to seize control. The Chinese perhps considering the cost did not intervene to retake their former colony.
Finally the Ly Dynasty seized control (early-11th century). This was the first of the imortant Vietnamese royal dynasties. There were several important Ly monarchs. The Ly Dynasty dominated Viet Nam for over 200 years (1010 to 1225).
Vietnam had a mostly aricultural economy and as throughout southern China and Southeast Asia, the peasantry cultivation system was wet ruce. The Red River was a tremendously rich agricultural area. Most peasants did not own their own land. The land was owned by influentialnoble families, a form of feudal system. Important nobels might own thousands of peasants as well as domestic slaves. There was a class of landholding peasants who owned relatively small plots. They were often vulnerable to the nobel lords hungry for more lands. Various Ly moiarchs intervened to oritect theckad-owning peasantry,in part because the great nobels could be a threat to the throne. The monarchs attempted to exert their authority, which meant limiting the powers of the nobility. The same process took place in Europe. In some occassions large estates were broken up. The pesants whon got land were thus highly loyal tothe monarchy. While agriculture was the foundation of the economy, there was also commerce and some manufacturing. Artsans sold products in local markets. Vietnam remained a predominately agriculturalsociety and was niot a major participant in regional trade.
Viuetnam emerged as a regional power as thge Kymer Empire in the south declined. Under both the Ly dynasty and the succeeding Tran Dynasty (1225-1400), Vietnam expanded. They faced a nmajor challenge after the aggressive Mongols seized control of China. (13th century). After securing cintrol of southern China which had resisted the Moingols for a time, they looked at the rich Red River Dekta whuch has fir centuries been a part if the Chinese Empire. Kublai Khan dispatched a Mongol army south to retake thecRed River Delta. The Vietnamese resisted forcefully. The Mongols and Vietnamese fought several battle. The Vietnamese managfed to defeat the Mongils,one of the few armies to do so. The Mongis withdrew back across the border. With the Mongols defeated, the Vietnamese turned their attebtiin south. The independent Vietnamese state was centered in the Red River Valley and Delta. The Kingdom of Champa lay to the south in what is now central Vietnam. Champa wa a seafaring state. It rose after the Vietnamese had achieved independemce and Chinese control of the area ended (10th century AD). Several wars were fought between the two states. Cham armies on several occassions penetrated deep into the Red River Valley and captured the capital near modern Hanoi. Vietnamese forces also defeated Chapa forces on many occassions and over time pushed Champa southward. . The Vietnamese decisuvely defeated Champa (15th century). They occupied the Cham capital which was located near modern Da Nang. Thisxwas the beginning of Vietnam's drive south toward the rich Mekong Delta. Successive Vietnamese rulers continued the push south, destroying the remanents of the Cham Kingdom. This eventually brought them to the marshy Mekong delta. Here they faceec a new enemy--the Khmer Empire. The Kymers had once dominated much of Southeast Asia, but by the time they were confrontedcby thecVietnamese were in a a state of decline (late-16th century). They were unable to effectively resist the Vietnamese advance. The Vienamese were able to occupy much of the Delta (early-17th century). From there they began to push west into wgat is now modern Cambodia. They weee posed to convert the surviving Kymer state into a vssal state.
The Vietnamese advance south into the Mekong Delta and west into the kymer Kingdom was interupted by another Chinese invasion. The Ming who now conytolled China invased and conquered Vietnam (1407). The Ming renewed the effiort to again assimilate the Red River Valley and the Vietnamese into their empire. This time Chinese rule only lasted two decades.
Le Loi organized residtance fiorces and defeated the Chinese. He foundde the Le Dynasty. The Le vigorously primoted Viernamese interests for a century. The dynasty began to decline (16th century). Two rival arusticratic families vied for control, the Trinh and the Nguyen. The Rinh prevailed,but to allay tenions, the Nguyen were given fiefdom in the south. , Rather than reduce tensions, this resulted in dividing Vietnam into two separate andcrival zones. It also provided an entry for Europen navalpowers who reached the Pacific (16th century). Vietnam was not initially a major concern of the Eyrooeans who were morevinterested in China,Japan,and the soice islands (Modernn Indonesia).
The Le dynasty was near collapse (late-18th century). The dynasty was split by internal divusions. Nobel fabilie had seized control of important agricultural land, the major source of wealth. Disposed and abused peasants-led by the Tay Son brothers revolted. Nguyen Hue managed to reunite Vietnam (1789). He died, however, shortly after unifying the country. His brother Nguyen Anh managed to defeat the Tay Son peasant armies. As Emperor Gia Long, he established a new dynasty (1802). We have a page on Assam/Vietnam royalty.
French Indochina was the Southeastern Asian provinces of the Second French colonial empire constructed after the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century. It was a federation of three Vietnamese regions (Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina) and Cambodia (1887). Laos was subsequently added (1893). The capital was at first established at Saigon (Cochinchina). The French then moved it to Hanoi (Tonkin) (1902). After the German invasion of France During World War II the colony was administered by Vichy authorities. Vichy did not, however, have the military capability of protecting Indochina from the Japanese. The Japanese moved into Indiochina to cut off supplies to the Nationalist Chinese and as part of a build up of military forces to seize what they referred to as the Southern Resource Area. The Japanese move into southern Vietnam which brought them within range of the Phillipines, Dutch East Indies, and British Malaya triggered an American oil embargo. The Japanese as a result, launched thePacifi War wih aarrtier attack on Pearl Hsarbor. The Allies during the War supported the Vietminh, a communist guerrila force which resisted the Japanese occupation. When France attempted to restablish their colonial authority after the Japanese defeat, the Vietminh led by Ho Chi Minh, launched a revolt which developed into the French Indochina War (1946). The French granted a level of independence to a government led by former Emperor Bảo Đại (1949). After the French defeat at Dien Phen Phu. the Geneva Accord split Vietnam into a Communist North and a non-Communist south (1954). The Vietminh became the government of North Vietnam. The Bảo Đại government continued to rule in the south. The French colonial administration of Annam (central Vietnam) was dissolved (1955). Annam was divided between North and South, as detailed in the Geneva Accord.
Vietnam is the most controversial war in American history. Even after several decades the debate over the war continues. President Eisenhower refused to come to the aid of the French as they attempted to reimpose colonial rukle. He did support low levels of assistsance to non-Communist South Vietnam. American Presidents Kennedy and Johnson committed American combat troops primarily as part of a Cold War commitment to fighting Communism. The reality in Vitnam was much more complex. American officials failed to perceive the nationalist dimmensions of the War. The developing fisures in the Communist world were also not appreciated. Perhaps the most serious miscalculation was the military assessmnent of the ability of North Vietnam to resist American military power. The role of the American press is one of the most intensely debated aspects of the War. Presiden Nixons strategy in nwith drawing from Vietnam had also beem inteensely debayed. The war was waged at great human and material cost. The impact on the American economy was significant. There was also a powerful impact on American culture and society.
The North Vietnamese Army xompleted the conquest of South Vietnam (1975). The North and South were officially united as the Socialist Reoublic of Vietnam (1976). South Vienamese officials , army officers, and sympthitizers were arrested. Some were executed, Mny were interned in brutal reducation camps. Hundreds of thousands tried to fleee tghe Communists, creating the Boat People tragedy. Tenions developed with the Kymer Rouge who had seized control of Cambodia and launched thge infamous genocide. The Vietnamese invaded Cambodia (1979). They installed a pro-Vietnamese government. oon after, the Chinese attacked in the north,obsrensibly overe a bordr dispute. Vietnamese troops were stationed in Cambodia and Laos (1980s). The Vietnamese withdrew most of its forces from Laos (1988). The next year they withdrew all of their forces from Cambodia (1989). The Communists proved very successful an mobiliizing the North Vietnamese opeople militarily. They proved to be total failures at managing the economy. The vibrant economy if Siuth Vietnam declined to the sane turpor as the northern economy. Damage from the War was a factor. But far more damaging was Communist ideology. The collectivize agriculture and nationalize of businesses not only aroused hostility in the south, but resulted in decling harvests and production. It would take Communidt officials three decades to learm wghat the Soviets abd Eastern Ruropeans lready knew, Communist economies destroyed rather than created wealth. Economic failure made it impossible to addresses social problems and basic needs. Heavy military spending also was a drag on the economy. So while other contries in the region prospered, living standards in Vietnam actially declined turning Vietnam with its ruch agriculturalland one of tge poorest countries in the world. Communist officials oberving the results of market reforms in China and begun to take a few tentaive steps in that direction.
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