Vietnam Revolution 1945 II
Program InformationSeries: A Moment in Time
Year Produced: 2010
Taking advantage of internal conflict between Vietnamese factions and pressed by missionaries of the Roman Catholic Church, French traders and finally the French government moved slowly into Vietnam.For more information visit: http://amomentintime.com
Lead: Taking advantage of internal conflict between Vietnamese factions and pressed by missionaries of the Roman Catholic Church, French traders and finally the French government moved slowly into Vietnam.
Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: The first significant penetration of Vietnam by Europeans was accomplished by Catholic missionaries. Alexandre de Rhodes, beginning in 1627, won many converts by his intense preaching. Aside from the religious attraction, merchants saw conversion as a chance to increase their contact with western traders. Peasants were drawn because Christianity meant relief from oppression by the Vietnamese aristocracy. Hundreds of thousands were converted and entire districts, particularly in the impoverished north, went over to the new faith.
By the late 1700s, French missionaries such as Pierre Pigneau de Behine had moved beyond preaching and teamed with adventurers--most notably Charles Hector d'Estaing, ancestor of French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing--and were vigorously meddling in Vietnamese politics. Just by chance, during one of the region's periodic insurrections, Pigneau de Behine came to the aid of Nguyen Ahn whose clan had dominated southern Vietnam for centuries. Using French troops, Nguyen Ahn crowned himself emperor at Hue in 1802. It was an ominous moment. From that point, French intrusive pressure became almost constant.
By 1890, imperialists in the French government had prevailed. Despite occasional isolated but spirited Vietnamese resistance, by military conquest and manipulation of various national factions France had come to control all of Indochina. The name Vietnam even ceased to exist. The country was divided into three administrative zones: Tonkin in the north, Annam in the center, and Cochinchine around Saigon in the South. In a process of pacification--similar to that of French and American forces in future decades--and through acts of incredible brutality, France crushed the Vietnamese. However, colonialism brought with it western ideas, and these helped bring a resurgence of Vietnamese nationalism.
Next: Ho Chi Minh, the pragmatic Communist.
At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.