French Colonization in Vietnam

In the year 1857, Louis-Napoleon was finally convinced that an invasion was the best strategy, and he sent orders for French warships to seize Tourane without making any more attempts to negotiate with the Vietnamese.

Late in the year 1858, Tourane was taken, and Gia Dinh, which would eventually become Saigon, was seized in the early part of 1859. The Christian support for the French that the missionaries expected to come from Vietnam’s Vietnamese population did not materialise in either instance.

Early in the year 1860, the French were forced to withdraw from Tourane because of opposition from the Vietnamese as well as epidemics of cholera and typhoid. In the meanwhile, the concern in Paris was rising that the British would move in if France withdrew from the conflict.

The notion that France had a responsibility to spread the advantages of its superior culture to countries in Asia and Africa, who were seen to be less fortunate, was also prevalent in Paris at the period in question. This rationale was known as the “civilising mission.” (This was a frequent explanation for the colonial practises of most of the Western nations.)

In the meanwhile, the pressure from French corporate and military interests on the government to take decisive action mounted. Therefore, at the beginning of the year 1861, a French fleet consisting of 70 ships and 3,500 troops reinforced Gia Dinh, and after a series of terrible engagements, they seized control of the provinces that were located in the surrounding area.

In June of 1862, Emperor Tu Duc signed the Treaty of Saigon, thereby agreeing to the French demands for the cession of three provinces surrounding Gia Dinh (which the French had renamed Saigon) and Poulo Condore, as well as for the opening of three ports to trade, free passage of French warships up the Mekong to Cambodia, freedom of action for the missionaries, and payment of a large indemnity to France for its losses in attacking Vietnam.

Even the French were taken aback by how quickly and willingly the Vietnamese submitted to the humiliating terms of the treaty. Why did the monarchs cave in to French demands with such ease after successfully fending off invasions by the Chinese for the preceding 900 years?

It appears that the isolation of the monarchy from the people caused by decades of repression prevented Tu Duc and his court from attempting to rally the necessary popular support to drive out the French. This was the case despite the gravity of the loss of Saigon and the possibility of an overestimation of French strength.

In point of fact, Tu Duc thought that by appeasing the French in the south, he would be able to release his soldiers to put down a massive insurrection in Bac Bo that was backed by Christians. By 1865, he was successful in doing so. French missionaries were disillusioned when their government did not back the insurrection that they had encouraged their government to help.

This was particularly the case when hundreds of Christians were killed by Tu Duc’s army in the aftermath of the rebellion. However, the presence of missionaries was not the major reason for France’s continued involvement in Vietnam; rather, military and economic interests quickly emerged as the most compelling arguments for the country’s continued involvement.

During the French occupation of Indochina, the French naval played a pivotal role in the process. In the year 1863, Admiral de la Grandiere, the governor of Cochinchina (which the French had renamed Nam Bo), persuaded the king of Cambodia to accept French protectorate over his country by arguing that the Treaty of Saigon had made France the heir to Vietnamese claims in Cambodia.

This caused the Cambodian king to be coerced into accepting the protectorate. The annexation of Cochinchina was finally finished off by the admiral in June of 1867 when he took control of the last three western provinces. The next month, the government of Siam reached an agreement with the government of France to acknowledge a French protectorate over Cambodia in exchange for the cession of Angkor and Battambang, two provinces located inside Cambodia, to Siam.

After achieving success in Cochinchina, French naval and commercial interests shifted their focus to Tonkin (as the French referred to Bac Bo). The storming of the citadel of Hanoi in 1873, which was led by the French naval officer Francis Garnier, had the desired effect of compelling Tu Duc to sign a treaty with France in March 1874.

This treaty acknowledged France’s “full and entire sovereignty” over Cochinchina and opened up the Red River to commercial traffic. Garnier was killed, and his men were beaten, in a combat between Vietnamese regulars and Black Flag forces that was fought in an effort to capture Tonkin.

The latter were Chinese soldiers who had fled south during the Taiping Rebellion in that nation and had been employed by the Hue court to preserve peace in Tonkin. The Hue court was responsible for maintaining law and order in Tonkin.

In April of 1882, a French army led by naval commander Henri Riviere once again assaulted the citadel of Hanoi. This time, they were successful. In a fight against a Vietnamese-Black Flag army, Riviere and a portion of his soldiers were eliminated, serving as a reminder of what had happened to Garnier ten years previously. Riviere’s failure bolstered the French government’s commitment to create a protectorate in Tonkin by the use of military force.

This was in contrast to Garnier’s loss, which resulted to a partial evacuation of French forces from Tonkin. As a direct consequence of this, the French Parliament approved the allocation of greater funding to assist future military operations. As a consequence of this, Hue was conquered by the French in August 1883, after the death of Tu Duc the previous month. The official end of Vietnam’s independence came about as a result of the signing of a Treaty of Protectorate at the Harmand Convention in August 1883.

This Treaty created a French protectorate over North and Central Vietnam. In June of 1884, Vietnamese scholars and officials were coerced into signing the Treaty of Hue, which formalised the agreement that had been reached under the Harmand Convention. By the time the year 1884 came to a close, there were 16,500 French soldiers stationed in Vietnam. Despite this, though, resistance to French rule persisted. Can Vuong, which literally translates to “Loyalty to the King,” was an uprising that began in 1885 and gained support from both educated people and commoners.

It was centred on the ousted Emperor Ham Nghi. With Ham Nghi’s arrest and subsequent exile in 1888, the revolt was effectively put down at that point. The revolutionary and scholar Phan Dinh Phung continued to lead the resistance up to the year 1895, when he passed away. Can Vuong Movement, with its Heroes and Patriots, Laid Important Groundwork for Future Vietnamese Independence Movements Despite Its Failure to Evict the French, Can Vuong Movement Laid Important Groundwork for Future Vietnamese Independence Movements

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