Through the French and Chinese, the Vietnamese culture has been influenced by two major religions, Catholicism and Buddhism. According to Joseph Buttinger in Vietnam: A Political History, Vietnam was first ruled by the Chinese in the year 111 B.C in which they ruled Vietnam for a thousand years (25). After the Chinese, the Portuguese, English and the Dutch also came to Vietnam but the French started its great influence on Vietnam in 1615 with the Catholic missionaries (SarDesai 31). This study analyzed the effects of Catholicism on the Buddhist-Vietnamese culture by investigating the origins and conflicts between the two religions. Sources such as Vietnam: A Political History by Joseph Buttinger, Vietnam: The Struggle for National Identity by D.R.SarDesai were used to research about the history of Vietnam and the Buddhist and Catholic influences on Vietnam.
The history of Vietnam was not recorded until 111 B.C when the Chinese first entered the capital of Nam Viet (Buttinger 25). For a thousand years, the Chinese ruled Vietnam which as a result led to “Chinese cultural and technical influences” to which brought “new tools, and new materials… and Chinese customs and learning…” (Buttinger 28). When the French first came to Vietnam in 1669, they came because they saw how the Dutch and Portuguese were doing so well in trading with Vietnam so they wanted to make a profit as well but when they landed onto the shores of Vietnam, they realized that they came too late and trading in Vietnam became unprofitable so they left (Buttinger 60). Although, French trading with Vietnam did not start until 1669, French influence was already upon the Vietnamese due to the Jesuits.
In 1615, the Jesuits came to Vietnam in order to try to teach the Vietnamese, the Catholic religion. A Catholic missionary by the name of Alexandre De Rhodes spent 4 decades in Vietnam trying to convert and teach the Vietnamese people the words of God (SarDesai 31). He is known most for creating the Vietnamese alphabet although he did not intend for this to happen but rather he created it so that he could communicate better with the Vietnamese. Many of those who converted to the religion were those in poverty while those who stayed to their beliefs did not convert because they were “convinced that most of the Westerners pursuing spiritual goals were allied with the agents of worldly conquest” (Buttinger 65).
In the 1820s, while the French were in Vietnam, there were a series of conflicts between the government and the Catholic missionaries. Under Emperor Minh Mang, there were a lot of persecutions of converts and missionaries which continued through the rule of Thieu Tri and then in the beginning of Tu Duc’s rein (SarDesai 32). Minh Mang and Thieu Tri persecuted the French converts and missionaries because they believed that they were invading the Vietnamese culture and “westernizing” it to the extent where they felt that the traditions were disappeared as a...