Timeline of Vietnam History
Luong © 2001
- 111 BC: The Nam Viet kingdom (spreading from the Red River delta to north of Canton) is annexed by the Han and becomes the Chinese district of Giao-chi. The next thousand years is marked by progress in civilization, but also in the national sentiment. Numerous uprisings most notably the Trung sisters (40-43) and Ly Bon (542-545) rebellions, are crushed. During the entire Vietnam history, China remains both a model and a threat.
- 602: Chinese rule is now a protectorate, the capital being Dai La Thanh (Hanoi)
- 939: Ngo Quyen frees the country (Dai Co Viet) by vanquishing Chinese armies at the Bach Dang River.
- 968: Dinh Bo Linh pacifies the country, and reorganizes it following the Chinese model. Mandarins are recruited by literary contests from 1075 (Van Mieu temple) to 1919. The capital moves to Hoa Lu with the Dinh and first Le dynasties.
- 1010: The Ly dynasty moves the capital to Thanh Long (Hanoi). During their reign, Chinese, Khmer, and Cham attacks are repelled (most notably by Ly Thuong Kiet). The expansion towards the South begins, with territories conquered from the Cham (this resulted in the destruction of their culture).
- 1226: Tran dynasty.
- 1288: After thirty years of periodic invasions, the Mongols are defeated by Tran Hung Dao at the Bach Dang River.
- 1407: Chinese occupation Ming.
- 1428: After his victory against the Chinese armies, with the aid of Nguyen Trai, Le Loi begins the second Le dynasty, which sees further annexations in the South.
- 1524: Beginning of a long period of political instability. While the Le governs only nominally, a feudal war rages between the Trinh from the North (Thang Long) and the Nguyen from the South (Hue).
- 1651: Jesuit Alexandres de Rhodes publishes in Roma a Latin Vietnamese catechism and creates the Ngoc Ngu, the roman-based script currently used for Vietnamese (Vietnam is only one of three countries in Asia which uses a roman-based script).
- 1771: The Tay Son brothers start a rebellion causing heavy warfare in the next thirty years. One of the brothers, Nguyen Hue, reigns as Quang Trung and defeats the Chinese army at Dong Da.
- 1802: After pushing back the Tay Son with the help of French mercenaries recruited by Jesuit Pigneau de Behaine, Nguyen Anh (the only survivor from the massacre of the Nguyens by the Tay Son brothers) changes his name to Gia Long and starts the Nguyen dynasty. The capital of the unified country is now Hue.
- 1858: The French navy attacks Da Nang.
- 1867: Cochinchina (the South) becomes a French Colony.
- 1883: Tonkin (the North) and Annam (the Center) become French protectorates.
- 1887: Creation of the Indochina Union, Cochinchina, Annam, Tonkin, Cambodia, and latter Laos.
- 1932: Bao Dai, the last emperor, begins his reign as an infant.
- 1940: Invasion of Indochina by Japan. The French administrations collaborate and continue to run the government.
- 1941: Ho Chi Minh starts the Viet Minh. Leninism is thought of as an ideological weapon to serve Vietnamese nationalism against French colonialism.
- 1945 (March 9): The Japanese end up French authority. (Aug 19): The Viet Minh starts a general popular insurrection. Bao Dai abdicates. (Sept 2): Ho Chi Minh declares independence in Hanoi. US agents stand at his side. (Sept 23): The French authorities reoccupy the South.
- 1946: After the failed Fontainebleau conference between Ho Chi Minh and the French government, notably about the question of the status of Cochinchina (where elections towards reunification were cancelled) and the bombing of Hai Phong (6000 civilians killed), the war between the French troops and the Viet Minh begins.
- 1954: The bulk of the French army is defeated at Dien Bien Phu. This is the first time in history a colonial power is militarily defeated, a massive decolonization follows worldwide. At the Geneva conference, the country is partitioned at the 17th parallel as an interim stage. The North becomes the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, a communist state supported by China and the USSR. The strict communist ideology began to prevail at the 2nd congress of the Vietnamese labor party in 1951.
- 1955: Refusing to implement the Geneva accords, and in particular elections towards reunification, Ngo Dinh Diem proclaims himself president of the Republic of South Vietnam with backing from the West.
- 1959: The communist party decides to start military operations in the South. Construction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
- 1961: Kennedy increases US military aid to South Vietnam, first in the form of military advisors (16000 by 1965).
- 1963: Ngo Dinh Diem is assassinated in a US-initiated coup.
- 1964: Although elected as a dovish candidate against Goldwater, Johnson escalates the war. All but two US senators pass the "Tonkin Gulf resolution", which gives blank checks to US presidents over Vietnam.
- 1965 (Feb): First US aerial raids against the North. The tonnage of bombs, including chemical arms, used during the US intervention (mostly against civilian targets) in Vietnam exceeds that used during the whole WW II. (March). First US troops in Danang. Their number will grow up to more half a million. Nguyen Van Thieu is elected president.
- 1968 (Jan 31): The Viet Cong's Tet offensive, although a military failure, stuns the West and becomes a psychological turning point as it makes the public aware of the nature of the war and the impasse. Anti-war movements begin in the West, and are fuelled in the US by the revelation of the "Pentagon papers" in 1971 which show how US presidents had deceitfully handled the matter. Negotiations begin in Paris, but in the while military escalation continues helped by closer ties between US, China, and USSR.
- 1973: After the ratification of the Paris accords, the US military withdraws.
- 1975 (April 30): Viet Cong troops enter Saigon, after a two-month campaign in spite of the Paris accords.
- 1976: The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is officially proclaimed.
- 1978: Vietnam joins the USSR-lead Comecon. The tragedy of the Hai Hong, old cargo boat overloaded with refugees brings to the world attention about the "boat people" fleeing the new regime. They will total more than half a million people.
- 1979 (Jan): Vietnamese troops enter Phnom Penh and end the murderous Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. (Feb): A retaliatory invasion from China is repelled during a month-long war.
- 1987: A law on foreign investments marks the beginning of the liberalization of the economy (but not of politics, see also China and other Asian countries). The first tourists visit the country.
- 1989: Withdrawal from Cambodia. This is the first time for half a century that Vietnam is not engaged in any war.
- 1991: Relationships are normalized with China (note that this year saw the collapse of the USSR).
- 1995: Diplomatic relationships are fully normalized with the US, one year after the end of the US embargo.
Thanks for Nguyen Minh Thu for correcting mistakes in a previous version