French Colonialism And Vietnam Essay

1123 words - 4 pages

Unlike many other European countries that sought out the territory in Southeast Asia merely for increasing their power through trade, the French first began interactions with the region as early as the 17th century. Alexandre De Rhodes began an expedition to the Southeast Asia region with the desire to expand the Jesuit missionaries throughout the region to further their belief. For many years until the 18th century, the Jesuits expanded and created many missionaries throughout the region. The 18th century had brought an astronomical expansion in the trading markets throughout Europe and Asia as all the European superpowers began colonizing all of Southeast Asia to further their trading “empires.” The French would also begin to participate, not at the same level as countries such as the Netherlands or Great Britain, but more in moderation. At that time the French believed to confine their participation in Southeast Asia to religious advancement and moderate trading. It wasn’t until the 19th century until things would begin to take a turn and the French would become a major participant in Vietnam’s history.
As the missionaries began to expand across the region, the Nguyen Dynasty who was in control of Vietnam began to view them as a threat. The Vietnamese under the rule of the Nguyen Dynasty began to burn down the missionaries and murder anyone who was associated with them. In order to assist and protect the Paris Foreign Missions Society who was in charge of the religious advancement in the region, Napoleon III ordered French Admiral Charles Rigault de Genouilly to attack Da Nang on 1858. This was the first of many assaults the French would perform all over Vietnam, the next being the largest as a joint strike with the Spanish would eventually lead to capturing the port of Tourane. De Genouilly’s campaign would continue until the eventual capture of Saigon on February 8th 1859 that created controversy within the French military ranks. De Genouilly was found to be using inappropriate war strategies during his campaign, especially while undertaking Saigon, which resulted in his dismissal in 1859. De Genouilly would be replaced by Admiral Page who had been instructed by the French government to not make any more territorial gains in Vietnam for the French. Page was to only use military action if the catholic missionaries in the region were under any threat. Even though this was what he was ordered to do, this did not last very long as the French under Page began to take over more provinces. On April 13th, 1862 the Vietnamese ceded three additional provinces to the French. Then just a year later, the king of Cambodia exchanged control over the Battambang and the Siem Reap for French protection over Cambodia from the threatening Asian powers. Things would remain relatively under control for the French until 1884 when the Chinese would challenge the French’s ambition to control the Tonkin region (Northern Vietnam.)
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