About 2,000 years ago people in North Vietnam began growing rice in the Red River Valley. To irrigate their crops they built dykes and dug canals. They were forced to work together and so an organized kingdom emerged called Van Lang. However in the 2nd century BC the Chinese conquered the area. The Chinese ruled northern Vietnam for more than 1,000 years and Chinese civilization had a great impact on the Vietnamese. However in South Vietnam there was Indian influence. From the 1st century to the 6th century AD the southernmost part of Vietnam was part of a state called Funan.
In the middle of Vietnam an Indian influenced state called Champa arose in the 2nd century AD.
In North Vietnam the people resented Chinese rule and in 40 AD the Trung sisters led a rebellion. They formed an independent state. However in 43 AD the Chinese crushed the rebellion and the sisters killed themselves. The Chinese continued to rule North Vietnam until the 10th century. Finally in 938 a leader named Ngo Quyen defeated the Chinese at the battle of Bach Dang River and North Vietnam became an independent state.
In the 13th century the Mongols invaded Vietnam three times. In 1257 and 1284 they captured the capital but each time they soon withdrew. Then in 1288 the Vietnamese leader Tran Hung Dao routed the Mongols at the Bach Dang River.
However in the early 15th century China tried to regain control of North Vietnam. In 1407 they occupied the country but their rule was resisted. In 1418 Le Loi began the Lam Son Uprising. By 1428 the Chinese were driven out and Le Loi became the Emperor Le Thai To. Under his successors the central Vietnamese state of Champa became a vassal state of North Vietnam.
However in the early 16th century the power of the Le dynasty declined. During the 17th and 18th centuries two rival families effectively held power, the Trinh in the north and the Nguyen in the south. The Nguyen family conquered the Mekong Delta from the Khmer Empire.
In the 1770s a rebellion began in the town of Tay Son. Three brothers called Nguyen led it. Gradually they took territory from the Nguyen lords in the south and the Trinh lords in the north. By 1786 they were in control of the whole of Vietnam and one brother, Nguyen Hue made himself Emperor Quang Trung. In 1788 the Chinese intervened in Vietnam but the Vietnamese routed them at Dong Da.
However a Nguyen lord named Nguyen Anh escaped. He raised an army and from 1789 he pushed back the rebels. Nguyen Anh took Hanoi in 1802 and made himself Emperor Gia Long. Under him Vietnam became a strong united kingdom.
Meanwhile the Portuguese reached Vietnam by sea in 1516. In their wake came missionaries, first Dominicans then Jesuits and the Roman Catholic Church made some headway in Vietnam. The French in Vietnam
In the late 19th century Vietnam became a French colony. However the French took over Vietnam in stages. In 1859 they captured Saigon. Finally in 1883 North and Central Vietnam was forced to become a French protectorate.
The French built infrastructure in Vietnam such as the Saigon to Hanoi railway. They also built roads and bridges. However the building was funded by heavy taxation. Naturally the Vietnamese wanted independence. The Communists spearheaded the struggle for independence. Ho Chi Minh founded the Revolutionary Youth League from the safety of China in 1925. In 1930 it became the Vietnamese Communist party.
In 1940 the Germans defeated France. Japan decided to take advantage of French weakness and they forced the French government to allow Japanese troops to occupy French Indo-China, although they left the French administration in place.
The Vietnamese Communists or Viet Minh fought the Japanese and by 1945 they controlled parts of North Vietnam. Meanwhile in March 1945 the Japanese took control of the administration of Vietnam and when Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945 they left a power vacuum.
Ho Chi Minh...
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