AN ABRIDGED TIMELINE OF VIETNAMESE HISTORY
Hạ Long Lưu Văn Vịnh
3000 BC: Phùng Nguyên culture was concentrated in the northern area of Red River delta.
700 – 300 BC: The 18 legendary Kings Hùng Vương, founders of Hồng Bàng dynasty. Various tribes successively ruled what is now North VN. Văn Lang state established with Phong Châu (now Vĩnh Phú) as capital and a population of about 600,000.
500 BC: Red River culture also known as Đông Sơn bronze drum culture.
258 BC: Âu and Lạc tribes joined to become Âu Lạc confederation. Hùng Vương era ended. King An Dương Vương ruled Âu Lạc for 50 years; Cổ Loa (now Hà Nội) was capital.
111 BC: Han dynasty conquered Nam Viet kingdom, and renamed it Giao Chỉ. Start of nearly 1,000 years of Chinese rule.
Wikipedia on Vietnamese (one of Yues) origin: The Baiyue [百 越] (Bách Việt, Hundred Yues) were an ancient conglomeration of indigenous non-Chinese hill tribes who inhibited what is now Southern China and Northern Viet Nam from 1st century BC to 1st century AD. Minyue in Fukien, Nanyue in Guangdong…all Yues were displaced and assimilated into Chinese culture during Han period, except Luo Yue (Lạc Việt) in now Northern Vietnam.
40 AD: The Two Trưng Sisters revolted against Chinese domination, joined by people from the 65 regions of former Nam Viet kingdom.
544 – 548: A dynasty founded by Lý Nam Đế (Lý King of the South), named the country Vạn Xuân Empire (Eternal Spring), with Long Biên (now Hà Nội area) as capital. Chinese army marched into Vạn Xuân territory and later was chased out in 550 by general Triệu Quang Phục, who proclaimed himself King Triệu Việt Vương, restored national independence from 550 to 571. From 571 to 602 he was replaced by king Lý Phật Tử. Vạn Xuân Empire secured 58 years of independence.
1st and 2nd century AD: Buddhism came first from India, then from China, most active in Luy Lâu, about 30km north of Hanoi. During Chinese rule, many revolts took place. For lack of soldiers and administrators, the Chinese concentrated in certain areas (such as Luy Lâu and Đại La) and the Vietnamese people persisted in villages, hiding in remote areas, jungles and mountains, keeping their native language and culture intact.
938: Ngô Quyền defeated Chinese naval armada in Bạch Đằng river, ending1,000 years of Chinese rule. Followed by Đinh Tiên Hoàng House (968-980), and Lê Đại Hành House (980-1009).
1010 – 1225: King Lý Thái Tổ took over Đại Việt, picked Thăng Long (now Hà Nội) as capital. The Lý dynasty was the longest in VN history. It administered the country embracing humanistic Buddhist teachings and Confucianist principles for behavior and way of life.
1225-1400: Trần dynasty replaced Lý, still adopting the belief that “the three religions (Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism) came from the same source” and embracing local worshipping of heroes, gods and goddesses. Buddhist monks played eminent role in education and spiritual life of the royal family and laymen. Somewhat similar to Japan’s samurai period (from 8th to 11th centuries). General Trần Hưng Đạo and his troops defeated Mongol invaders in 1258,1285,1288 by blocking their supply lines and using guerilla tactics. Bạch Đằng River victory recalled the victory of 938 by Ngô Quyền. The Mongol navy was destroyed by the pole-and-tide stratagem (iron-headed poles planted on the river bottom).
1400-1407: Hồ dynasty. Chinese invaded and ruled the country for 20 years.
1428-1527: Lê dynasty founded, with Lê Lợi as supreme leader and Nguyễn Trãi as adviser. They fought for 10 years against the Ming colonial force, restored independence in 1428.
1527-1592: Mạc dynasty held power for 65 years, plus 80 years in Cao Bằng reserved zone (1594-1677), protected by Ming Chinese empire.
1543: Nguyễn lord rose in Thanh Hoá to restore the old Le dynasty, later replaced by Trinh lord. Defeated Mac dynasty in 1592. The new Lê dynasty actually in the hand of Trinh lord, replacing Mạc dynasty in the north.
1593-1786: Southern land at that time was under the Nguyen lord’s descendants (1558), creating an autonomous zone, quite independent from central government in the north. Fighting between north and south forces lasted for almost 50 years with 7 big battles.
1778-1802: Deep south, in Tây Sơn (now Qui Nhơn-Bình Định) mountainous area, 3 Nguyễn brothers rose up against the Nguyễn lord in Phú Xuân (now Huế). Brother Nguyễn Huệ defeated Nguyễn lord, Trịnh lord in the north, and crushed Chinese Qing troops who came to help the Lê dynasty (1789). Many montagnards were with Tây Sơn force. Nguyễn Huệ now became the King of a unified Đại Việt (Great Viet).
1802-1884: King Quang Trung Nguyễn Huệ died in 1792. Nguyễn Ánh, a persistent descendant of Nguyễn lord, defeated Tây Sơn forces in Phú Xuân (Huế) and again reunified the country from north to deep south. Huế became capital, nation’s name changed to Việt Nam (Việt in the South).
1884-1945: France occupied South Viet Nam in 1867, Việt Nam became a French protectorate in 1884. Việt Nam was divided into 3 parts : Tonkin (Bắc kỳ – north), Annam ( Trung kỳ – central), Cochinchine (Nam Kỳ – south).
1905-1940: Nationalist resistance and modernization movement. Đề Thám and his guerilla resistance zone Yên Thế lasted for almost 30 years (1883-1915). Quang Phục Hội and Đông Du (200 Vietnamese youths sent to Japan for education and training, led by Prince Cường Để and scholar Phan Bội Châu, Duy Tân and Đông Kinh Nghĩa Thục School for cultural and social modernization led by Phan Chu Trinh.
1927-1930: Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng (People’s Party) founded by 26-years-old Nguyễn Thái Học. Party members rose in most provinces in the north, but quickly and brutally suppressed by French colonialists. Many nationalist parties followed, such as Quốc Dân Đảng, Đại Việt, and Duy Dân. Meanwhile, Vietnamese Communist party, officially founded in China in 1930, concentrated in central VN, (birth place of Hồ Chí Minh), with many cadres trained in Moscow from 1923 to1940. In South Viet Nam, two parties of resistance, Hoà Hảo and Cao Đài, as religious groups, attracted many grass-root followers, resisted against French and later against atheist communists.
1940: Japanese troops entered Indochina, ended French colonial power in March1945.
March 1945: King Bảo Đại and his chief of staff Phạm Quỳnh declared independence from France, formed a democratic government with Trần Trọng Kim as Prime minister.
August-1945: A huge meeting organized by nationalists in Hà Nội to celebrate independence was usurped by VN communist cadres (disguised under the name of Viet Minh Front for Independence). The communists turned the meeting into an opportunity to falsely claim their credit in public. A vacuum of power existed in north VN when Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945 due to the US attack by atomic bombs. This occasion helped the communist party (with Soviet and Red China behind) steal the power from the King and from the Japanese occupants. The communists proclaimed independence on Sept 2,1945, six months after the Declaration of Independence by king Bảo Đại. A tragic famine killed almost 2 million people in northern VN as the Japanese kept rice for their own troops combined with severe drought. The communist party at that time killed thousands of nationalist opponents, including many Trotskyists in the south.
1946: After World War II, French troops came back to Viet Nam. Viet Minh resistance force, including patriotic nationalists and communists, in mountainous areas and jungles, gained victories after 1949 when Mao controlled mainland China. Viet Minh resistance now, with enormous military supplies from China, Soviet, strong enough to defeat French troop in Điện Biên Phủ battle in May1954.
1946-1954: Most coastal and central cities in Viet Nam – from Hà Nội, Hải Phòng, to Huế, Nha Trang, Đa Lạt, Sài Gòn – were under control by nationalist government. French played military role (supported by USA) to counter communist force supported by China and the Soviet bloc. Nationalist government was quite autonomous from France, especially after Hạ Long Agreement on 5-6-1948 between king Bảo Đại (now Chief of State) and France’s Representative Bollaert to confirm VN independence and VN joined as an independent nation, in French Union. On 8-3-1949 French President V. Auriol and Bảo Đại signed an agreement to return Nam Kỳ to VN to form a complete unified state of VN. By 1950, the new VN government, led by Bao Đại, had diplomatic relations with 35 nations in the free world.
July 1954: Geneva Accord divided VN, at 17th parallel, into North VN under communist regime, and South VN under Republican regime allied with the Free world. Similar to North and South Korea, East and West Germany situation.
1954-1963: President Ngô Đình Diệm succeeded in transforming South VN into a well organized and prosperous country, closely aligned with other South East Asian countries. Meanwhile, since 1959, international communist block had nurtured its ultimate plan to redden the whole South East Asia and the world. Thus, the communist regime of North VN, copying Mao and Stalin plan of agrarian reform, during 1953-1956 killed around 175,000 innocent civilians to achieve their class struggle and socio-cultural purge.
1965: After the assassination of President Ngô, a military government was formed, first wave of US troops came to South Viet Nam to stop communist invasion and to protect SE Asia from falling into the communist yoke (domino theory).
1968: During their vicious Tết offensive, the communist troops (mostly from the North) during sacred New Year time, attacked 44 provinces, cities and districts, in the South. They occupied Huế for 25 days and killed 5,000-6,000 civilians (including 2 German professors at Medical School), officers… who came to celebrate traditional New Year with their families. Most communist troops were quickly defeated by South VN army, supported by US artillery, especially in Huế. But the left media in US and Europe, influenced by KGB, praised VC communist strength and judged the war as unwinnable, while in reality, they were on the brink of collapse and could recover only 4-5 years later. Their Moscow-trained leader Hồ Chí Minh died in 1969.
1973: Paris Accord allowed the communist troops from the North to stay in southern territory and they secretly received new weapons from Soviet and China. In contrast, when US troops withdrew, South VN armed forces gradually lost all military supplies from US. The unbalanced strength between communist North and nationalist South was clear.
1975: Lacking ammunition and diplomatic support, the South was in disarray. Overpowered by 20 well-equipped communist divisions, South VN collapsed on April 30, 1975. US Democrat-dominated Congress, pro-communist and anti-war groups refused to grant a few hundred millions to support South VN in its last efforts to survive.
The cruel loss of South VN was due to 3 factors : (1) Guerrilla tactics by Mao, using villages to surround cities (2) Relentless international communist propaganda network in USA and Europe (3) Change of US global strategy in 1972 by Nixon and Kissinger, who sacrificed South VN to buy peace from Red China, to split Soviet bloc. Besides, a newly built nationalist South VN did not have enough peace time to develop into a stable democratic society against the strong, well-organized international force.
1995: After millions of refugees bravely escaped communism, the whole world woke up and understood the cause of the tragic collapse South VN after an atrocious international communist invasion. US president Clinton, a former anti-war democrat, ended 20 years of embargo, established full diplomatic with communist VN, which soon suffered attacks from China from 1979-1984 due to border conflict and Cambodia’s geopolitical problem.
Today VN and China, both making sound progress in economy, joined UN and ASEAN group. Yet VN still maintains its egregious one-party dictatorship without human rights, with one motto : free market in the socialist direction. About 3 million Vietnamese refugees now live overseas, keeping nationalist tradition, whether in Australia, Europe or Northern America. They are also called “voters for freedom by foot.”