Nola Cooke (Australian National University)
Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 3/1/1998
Analyses of regionalism in the Vietnamese past usually adopt a north-south dichotomy. This essay presents a more nuanced approach to one case, Nguyen rule in Cochinchina (Dang Trong), by arguing it was initially a form of Thanh Hoa colonialism, rather than colonization, and only developed a truly southern focus after Nguyen rulers failed to regain their family's ascendancy at the Restored Le court.
Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 3/1/1998
Analyses of regionalism in the Vietnamese past usually adopt a north-south dichotomy. This essay presents a more nuanced approach to one case, Nguyen rule in Cochinchina (Dang Trong), by arguing it was initially a form of Thanh Hoa colonialism, rather than colonization, and only developed a truly southern focus after Nguyen rulers failed to regain their family's ascendancy at the Restored Le court.
As efforts to understand the Vietnamese past increasingly venture beyond conventional colonialist or nationalist frameworks, the opaque areas within these older approaches correspondingly emerge as interesting sites for historical reconsideration. In Vietnamese history questions of regionalism have long been obscured in one of these historiographical blind-spots. This is not to say that there has not been much earlier debate on this issue, but that the opinions proferred in French colonial and various post-colonial writings too often derived from contemporary political concerns. Now the twentieth-century fate of the Vietnamese people has been settled, and enough smoke has dispersed from those earlier polemics for us to see issues of regionalism at various times and places in the Vietnamese past as matters for historical analysis and argument rather than political debate. That is the purpose of this essay. It re-examines one aspect of a large, and historically-significant, instance of regionalism, the Nguyen realm of Dang Trong in modern central and southern Vietnam, by exploring the regionalism specific to Nguyen ruling circles in the seventeenth century, and suggesting some of its local consequences.
In recent years other scholars have considered early Dang Trong either in general(2) or more specifically, by analyzing contrasting accounts of its founder, Nguyen Hoang, in the late seventeenth-century Le and nineteenth-century Nguyen annals.(3) In their chronological frameworks, these scholars all follow the lead of Hue dynastic historians by directing their attention to Nguyen Hoang and his successors. For the Nguyen court's Historical Office, which compiled the 1844 Dai Nam Thuc Luc Tien Bien that chronicles the predynastic centuries of Nguyen rule, the pivotal moment in the kingdom's history was 1558, when "obedient to the will of heaven, the Most Praiseworthy Great Ancestral Emperor set up our government in the South".(4) In contrast, current scholars more often place the watershed in 1600, when Nguyen Hoang quit the Trinh-dominated Restored Le court for good and returned south to set his provinces of Thuan Hoa and Quang Nam on a course towards independence. If current scholars agree on basic chronology, however, they adopt quite antithetical positions regarding the nature of Nguyen rule in Thuan-Quang. (For these and other places cited, see map on p. 124.)
Yang Baoyun's 1993 study, Contribution a l'histoire de la principaute des Nguyen au Vietnam meridional (1600-1775), accepts without question the old historiographical assumptions of a single Vietnamese people formed by and infused with Chinese culture. If the Nguyen realm was merely the most successful of several principalities "created while a legitimate dynasty [the Le] occupied the throne",(5) the Nguyen themselves fitted comfortably within a narrow sinic frame. Not only does Yang believe them probable Chinese descendants and exemplars of a "traditionally 'sinicised'" Vietnamese culture, he also presents Nguyen rule as little more than an assimilationist, Confucianist expansion of that Sino-Vietnamese elite culture into the south.(6) By contrast, Li Tana's forthcoming social and economic history of Dang Trong reacts strongly against the notion that this time and place can be adequately represented as merely a regional variant within a single Vietnamese history and tradition defined by northern models. She presents the Nguyen as dynamic, innovative rulers open to new ideas and to local influences, equally ready, for instance, to domesticate a Cham goddess or revise Vietnamese Buddhism to create a state religion distinctive from that of their northern enemies and attractive to their disparate local subjects? For her, Nguyen rule was a new departure in Vietnamese history. In this respect, Li is close to Keith Taylor's vision of the south as a new world facilitating the development of a new sort of Viet people, and of Nguyen Hoang as a man whose exposure to "the larger world of Southeast Asia enabled him to establish a new version of being Vietnamese distinguished by relative freedom from the Vietnamese past and the authority justified by appeals to that past". Dang Trong thus represented an open moment, a historical disjuncture within which diversity flourished. If southern difference challenged newcomers, it also encouraged cultural flexibility and allowed them to evade the constraints of old identities and begin again. When Nguyen Hoang returned south in 1600, Taylor concludes, he was prepared "to risk being pronounced a rebel, because he had found a place where this no longer mattered".(8)
At first glance this divergence of views might seem just another round in the old discursive contest between emphasizing continuity or emphasizing change as interpretive devices in historiography. In fact, the disparity arises from incomparable methodological approaches to studying the Vietnamese past. Yang rests squarely on the longstanding colonial construction of Vietnam as a "little China", a country whose people and culture were so decisively shaped by their thousand year experience of Chinese rule that they remained essentially sinic and fundamentally unchanged throughout the millennium of independence that followed. Formulated quite so bluntly, it is clear that this position derives from pre-colonial European beliefs about Asia, and especially from Hegel's influential 1830s assertion of the static nature of traditional China, where dynasties might rise and fall but whose people were doomed to reproduce ancient cultural patterns fixed in the classical era.(9) These ideas later became part of the common knowledge assumed in Eliacin Luro's equally influential 1870s study, Le Pays d'Annam.(10) Although derived from a self-congratulatory European and then colonial construction, the "Chinese model" paradigm outlived French colonialism and continued for years after to screen our perceptions of the Vietnamese past through a filter of Chinese cultural determinism. While no scholar would seriously deny a real degree of Han influence on traditional Vietnam, just as none would deny it in regard to traditional Korea, it is no longer credible to propose a "cherchez le chinois" methodology as the key to unlocking Vietnamese pasts. Taylor and Li, among others including myself, believe this historical monody, with its variations on a single Sino-Vietnamese theme, to be unnecessarily limited and limiting. By sharpening the tools of historical analysis we can hope to catch echoes of the complex polyphony of past Vietnamese experiences, to uncover once more, in Taylor's phrase, those "many voices that undermine the idea of a single Vietnamese past".(11)
Seeking to free long-stilled Viet voices, however, is more contentious than drowning them beneath a Chinese opera, and the seventeenth-century Nguyen seem no exception. Despite the value of recent studies, it seems to me that none of them has adequately placed the Nguyen in their own historical context, and thus none provides an interpretation of Nguyen rule at the time that is sufficiently regionally-nuanced. Scattered through the sources are clues that the construction of regional identity in seventeenth-century Cochinchina was more complex than is usually presented. This evidence suggests a need to differentiate between the sense of regional particularism peculiar to Nguyen ruling circles, based on family ties and shared descent from Thanh Hoa, and the localized Dang Trong regionalism of their Vietnamese subjects so ably analysed by Li. In this respect, it may be fruitful to conceive of Nguyen rule in early Dang Trong as a form of colonialism (rather than simply colonization) in which new rulers took over a land inhabited by others and, despite reaching a local modus vivendi, for a long time after remained emotionally and imaginatively involved with their former homeland.
The rest of this essay explores the evidence for this hypothesis. The story begins long before the seventeenth century, however, with a discussion of the Nguyen family before the Mac usurpation of 1527 led to the Le Restoration initiated by Nguyen Kim, Nguyen Hoang's father. Only this wider view makes it possible to incorporate into the account two elements vital to any analysis of Nguyen rule and Nguyen identity in seventeenth-century Dang Trong, family grouping (ho) and place of origin (que huong).
II. The Nguyen Before 1600
The Nguyen Family Line
Family relationships, reckoned both in terms of patrilineal descent and bilateral kinship groupings, always played an important part in structuring the traditional Vietnamese social world. At certain times and places, these kin relations also played a significant political role, irrespective of the existence of formal sinic institutional structures. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries appear such an era, although the Le annals for the era, Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu,(12) contain few traces of it. This is not surprising, given the nature of the text. As revised, corrected and extended in the late seventeenth century, the authorized version married a Trinh relation of the Restored Le era with what John Whitmore has argued was a Mac account of the earlier Le period which focused largely on the centralizing and sinicizing Le Thanh Tong reign (1460-97).(13) These few dazzling decades, the golden age of high scholarly endeavour and the apogee of literati political influence in three centuries of Le rule,(14) epitomised good government for all later scholars, and the annalists treated the period accordingly. For both sets of scholars, too, history was less a record of events than a fund of exemplary guidance for later generations. For them, reporting precise kinship links between various actors was a low priority, unless it reinforced important principles like the danger of allowing family to intrude into political life by, for instance, allowing royal maternal kin a role in government.
Given the aims and interests of its different compilers, Toan Thu should be treated primarily as a political text rather than a straightforward chronicle. Even during the Thanh Tong reign, when the new Chinese-style triennial examination system turned out massive numbers of Neo-Confucian indoctrinated literati and officials, other sources show that a sinic examination culture did not blossom everywhere in Dai Viet. Data on palace graduates reveals it was mainly a Red River plains phenomenon, involving men with similar regional background to those who later prepared and revised the Le annals. By contrast, the dynastic heartland provinces of Thanh Hoa and Nghe An further to the south were spectacularly under-represented among high examination laureates. In the Thanh Tong era they accounted for a mere five per cent of palace graduates. For the half-century before the Mac usurpation, scarcely 10 per cent of such graduates came from Thanh-Nghe, and only eight of them ever achieved the pinnacle of bureaucratic success by becoming Board Presidents.(15) To a real extent, therefore, Thanh Tong's attempted Neo-Confucian revolution from above, so applauded by later annalists, scarcely touched the elite of this area - but Thanh-Nghe men hardly disappeared from government, and their continued presence illuminates the special nature of this region at the time. High scholarly success was less important here for access to official careers than connections with the notable military families who had helped Le Loi expel the Ming.
In the 1410s, Thanh-Nghe had formed the southern boundary of Ming Chinese influence, with 12 Confucian schools there compared to 69 further north and a solitary exemplar further south.(16) After a minor local official and landowner, Le Loi, launched a successful anti-Chinese uprising in 1418, the Thanh-Nghe area gradually became the bastion of the anti-Ming struggle. From initial supporters among Le Loi's relatives, domestic servants, and other local landowning families, the rebellion expanded by the late-1420s to include one-third of all registered Thanh-Nghe men, according to the nineteenth-century historian, Phan Huy Chu. He calculated that by 1428 there were 250,000 men under arms before demobilization reduced their numbers to 100,000. Most would have been loyal Thanh-Nghe troops. Although the new government soon arranged a military conscription system for the whole country, Thanh-Nghe military men moved after Le Loi's premature death to bolster their regional pre-eminence in the officer corps by having his child successor order two out of three officers' sons in elite Thanh-Nghe units to follow their fathers into the military.(17) Over the next decade, Le Loi's lieutenants and their kin dominated the court and feuded among themselves for control of government.(18) It was 1448 before the court felt able to reduce the number of officers serving in palace miliary units.(19) Even so, the king who did most to curb their fractious influence, Le Thanh Tong, still owed his unexpected accession in 1460 to a group of Thanh Hoa military men.
Among the leading Thanh Hoa military ho of this era was the Nguyen of Gia Mieu ngoai trang village,(20) Tong Son district; yet it is necessary to look beyond the Le annals to trace them for much of the fifteenth century. Toan Thu never mentioned the founder of the Gia Mieu ngoai trang branch, Nguyen Cong Duan, although he was a significant figure in Le Loi's resistance war; and only occasionally noticed his oldest son, Duc Trung, the maternal grandfather of Thanh Tong's successor, Hien Tong.(21) This scant official notice may help account for inaccuracies in some earlier published Nguyen genealogies, including one in some editions of Phu Bien Tap Luc, the miscellany compiled by the eighteenth-century historian and Trinh official in mid-1770s Phu Xuan (Hue), Le Qui Don. This genealogy misconstructed the most outstanding figures from each generation into a line of fathers and sons, an error repeated in Phan Khoang's pioneering study, Viet Su: Xu Dang Trong 1558-1777.(22) Even Dao Duy Anh, the northern Vietnamese scholar who edited the 1962 translation of the pre-dynastic Nguyen chronicle, Tien Bien, tentatively suggested the famous early sixteenth-century general, Nguyen Hoang Du, was Nguyen Kim's father,(23) despite other sources agreeing Hoang Du had held a different, and lesser, title(24) than Nguyen Kim's father, the grand duke of Trung (quoc cong). Tien Bien's compilers did not provide the forbidden personal name of Trung quoc cong; but from other sources it is clear that he was Nguyen Van Thao, a son of Cong' Duan's ennobled fourth son, Nhu Trac.(25)
The genealogy recorded in Nguyen family registers from Gia Mieu ngoai trang (and elsewhere) traced their original ancestor back to a tenth-century hero, Nguyen Buc. How true this is cannot be determined, as it was not unusual for leading figures to claim an ancestral link with a distant luminary in the absence of other evidence. The genealogy constructed fifteen generations Of fathers and sons before Nguyen Kim, to all of whom it attributed either official posts or prestigious titles. After Nguyen Minh Du was murdered in the late Tran era by the later usurper, Ho Qui Ly, the family's fortunes waned. However, three generations later they revived after Le Loi defeated the Ming, for Nguyen Cong Duan had joined the new king early in the uprising and played a vital role supplying his troops. Various Nguyen family branches recorded his deeds, the king's rewards, and his high titles and positions, although the Le chronicle did not.(26) Some registers also contained copies of Le Loi's 1429 grant to Cong Duan of nearly 500 mau (about 200 hectares) of family inheritance land. The family registers reveal, too, that Cong Duan's fifth son, Tang, likewise joined the uprising and won high military office and the royal Le name in recompense.(27) If their omission from the Le annals indicates later lives outside the public eye, the next three Nguyen generations moved progressively towards the political centre stage.
Cong Duan's oldest son, Duc Trung, was among the 12 Thanh Hoa military officers who engineered Thanh Tong's accession, after a brother tried to usurp the throne. Duc Trung's daughter then entered the palace and soon gave birth to the crown prince, for which she received an imperial title. By 1470, Duc Trung himself was Thanh Hoa provincial governor and army commander, but after the 1470 campaign against Champa he vanished from the annals until his death in 1499. For much of this time he may have been in retirement in Thanh Hoa. By 1499 Thanh Tong was also dead and Duc Trung's grandson on the throne. According to one source, Hien Tong's short reign (1497-1504) may have seen the first real flourishing of Nguyen ho influence, for the king supposedly favoured his maternal relatives so much that over 200 of them became court officials.(28) When Uy Muc succeeded his shortlived brother, Tuc Tong, in 1505 their position declined, for the new king secretly murdered his grandmother, Duc Trung's daughter. She had wanted the throne to go to a prince who was not, like Uy Muc, merely the son of a lowly serving maid.(29)
This deed inaugurated a reign stained by the murder of officials and royal family members and by the king's debaucheries and excesses, among them indulging the ambitions of his maternal relatives who, for the first time, were not Thanh Hoa men. Finally, in 1509, hatred of his Le kindred caused Uy Muc to expel some royal family members and high dignitaries to Thanh Hoa. It was a serious mistake. One of them, Nguyen Van Lang, oldest son of Cong Duan's son Tang and a senior military officer in Thanh Hoa,(30) was incited to rebel by a Le family member. After he raised the provincial army and local volunteers, an imprisoned Le prince, Oanh, escaped to join them and become their lord. Within weeks it was all over and Uy Muc dead, either by suicide after his armies deserted or, in another version, killed by Nguyen Van Lang along with all his maternal relatives.(31) The coup leaders enthroned Oanh, an adolescent grandson of Thanh Tong whose mother belonged to the numerous and influential Thanh Hoa ho of Trinh Kha, a lieutenant of Le Loi. At least two coup leaders, Trinh Duy San and Trinh Duy Dai, also belonged to this ho, as did others who came to prominence after 1509.(32) In 1510, the new king, Tuong Duc, rewarded the leaders with ennoblements or promotions which put the Presidency of four out of the five civil Boards as well as the Censorate in their hands.(33) Several members of the Nguyen ho also figured among them, including Nguyen Kim's father who received the high rank of Deputy Grand Tutor and noble title of Trung quoc cong.(34)
Mac annalists later presented this event as a Restoration, a self-strengthening return, after Uy Muc's excesses, to the Hong Duc practices of the Thanh Tong era.(35) But it can also be seen as a coup, following a successful regional revolt. The events of 1509, with their possible regicide, marked a watershed in Le dynastic history and politics. Despite later literati extenuations, in reality a group of subjects had, for the first time, rebelled against the legitimate king (rather than against a usurper as in 1460) and had set up his replacement to suit their own convenience. Had another prince fled to Thanh Hoa, the rebels would undoubtedly have accepted him as readily as Oanh, for any figurehead Le prince lent some legitimacy to their revolt. Arguably, therefore, the gradual emergence of the new pattern of relations at the highest political level that would later characterize the Restored Le dynasty should be dated from 1509. If this was the first time a powerful general, acting to secure his own interests, destroyed a Le king and replaced him with a more acceptable successor, it was hardly the last. The 1509 example would be followed twice before the Mac usurpation of 1527, in 1516 by Trinh Duy San and 1522 by Mac Dang Dung himself. Then, with some variations, it would be repeated in 1554, 1572 and 1620 by the first three Trinh lords as they evolved the political system of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century northern Vietnam in which a ruling generalissimo, nominally responsible to a ritual monarch, wielded effective royal power. Closer to the event, the 1509 coup also ushered in the catastrophic decade that would end with the Le monarchy fatally crippled and unable to perform its crucial centripetal function within government or society. The decay had begun under Uy Muc. Thanh Tong's centralized structure required an active and authoritative adult king at its apex, a figure of respect able to exercise power impartially, to reward and punish equitably, and to behave in a way that would elicit enough loyalty from his kin and officials alike to sublimate their competing needs and desires in his service. Uy Muc's refusal to play this role had created a void at the heart of government that had facilitated the 1509 coup, but which the new king's dependence on the coup leaders worsened. As the institutional position of the monarchy slowly weakened, decay and division spread from the centre to the provinces.
The first indication of the potential seriousness of the situation was the 1511 Tran Tuan revolt. Tuan, the grandson of a former Board President, raised his followers in the western province of Son Tay but, in an unprecedented move, turned them immediately against the capital. Within ten days the rebels had beaten both Nguyen Van Lang and Trinh Duy San. Panic-stricken inhabitants of Thang Long tried to flee but Tuong Duc insisted even women and children remain. Inspectors checked the homes of high officials and literati for compliance, with the result that at least five men, including two serving officials, were executed. By a stroke of luck, Trinh Duy San managed to kill Tran Tuan and the leaderless rebels were finally crushed.(36) Nevertheless, an echoing revolt broke out in Son Tay and neighbouring Hung Hoa in 1512. In 1514 a three year shamanistic rebellion began, followed by three sporadic revolts in 1515, one of them in Thanh Hoa itself. All were eclipsed in 1516, however, by the massive Tran Cao rebellion. Sweeping out of the hilly north-eastern districts of Hai Duong with 10,000 followers and gathering strength as they went, Tran Cao's forces marched directly on the capital.(37) At this critical point, Trinh Duy San rebelled, murdered Tuong Duc and named his successor. Van Lang's son, Hoang Du, camped north of the river with his army and young kinsmen, discovered Duy San's coup too late to save the king enthroned by his father, but in revenge allowed his army to burn and pillage the capital in advance of Tran Cao's men.
Thereafter relations between the Nguyen ho and Trinh ho deteriorated. Nguyen Van Lang's death in 1513, and his burial "with the ritual [appropriate to] a royal prince",(38) had freed Trinh Duy San from any restraining respect for the older man's authority. Now pride in his own power made Duy San and his kin "contemptuous of the Nguyen ho".(39) Younger kinsmen on both sides schemed against their rivals, so that the Nguyen soon reciprocated Trinh animosity. With little effective royal authority, and the worst of the Tran Cao revolt over, 1517 saw internecine clashes between the armies of Hoang Du and Trinh Tuy, especially after Van Lang's brother, Lu, denounced two senior officials from the Trinh ho for treason. When Hoang Du fought his way back to Thanh Hoa, a newly-rising general, Mac Dang Dung, had Van Lang's body disinterred and decapitated as a grisly warning to his son. The next year, however, when the new king fled the capital and called on Hoang Du's help, the Thanh Hoa army marched north only to be annihilated by Son Tay rebels. Hoang Du escaped back to Thanh Hoa but probably died soon after.(40) A few years later, in 1522, with the kingdom mired in civil disorder, Mac Dang Dung briefly joined the king-makers before finally taking the throne himself in 1527. Shortly after, a Thanh Hoa officer who was "spoken of as the son of Hoang Du",(41) according to Toan Thu, slipped into the Lao mountains to begin the long struggle for Le Restoration, and the restoration of his family's fortunes. He was Nguyen Kim, a cousin rather than a son of Hoang Du but no doubt ready to capitalize on his kinsman's fame. He was soon joined by men who may have belonged to the Nguyen ho's greatest rival, the lineage descendants of Trinh Kha, bringing a young Le descendant whom they set up as their king.(42)
This is where the Nguyen court's pre-dynastic chronicle, Tien Bien, begins its account. Its compilers' only comment on the Nguyen before Nguyen Kim's father was that they were a "ho of renown in Thanh Hoa".(43) Their unconcern reflected the political ideology and historical orthodoxy of the Hue court at the time, which separated Nguyen Kim from his forebears and Nguyen Hoang from his father in a double removal integral to its doctrine of origins that taught Nguyen Hoang had founded the kingdom in 1558.(44) This is apparent as early as 1804, when the dynastic temple, the Thai Mieu, was constructed. A separate temple was built for Nguyen Kim, located behind the one that honoured his son and the next eight generations of his descendants, "in order to show [Nguyen Hoang] was independent" of his father.(45) This dynastic rewriting of history was highly controversial among northern literati, who resisted its retrospective legitimation of Nguyen power and casual disregard of their forebears' loyal service to the Le and Trinh.(46) It was unlikely, then, that the Nguyen Historical Office would flout dynastic orthodoxy or heed its critics by linking the dynasty more explicitly with northern ancestors who were, regardless of their importance, still only subjects of the Le. Instead, Tien Bien basically ignored the generations before Nguyen Kim,(47) and presented the pre-1558 Nguyen as a family of provincial rather than national significance. The tactic distanced the dynasty from its controversial origins as Le officials while emphasizing its provenance in the imperial province of Thanh Hoa.
It is not necessary to accept either the contentious claims or the frames of reference of Le or Nguyen annalists in this matter. When Nguyen Kim went to Laos to initiate the Le Restoration, he was no parvenu claiming a doubtful relationship to Hoang Du, as the Le chronicle implied, nor merely the offspring of a well-known provincial family whose father had won some fame helping Tuong Duc to the throne, as Tien Bien preferred. Rather, he was a Tong Son Nguyen from Cong Duan's illustrious lineage branch, among the most politically influential kin groupings of the previous generation. The Mac usurpation had cost them almost as much as the Le, and offered little or no hope of future recovery. A keenly-felt loss of family influence and prestige no doubt spurred Nguyen Kim as much, or more, than loyalty to the shadowy, debased Le monarchy whose restoration to the throne, nevertheless, remained the essential pre-requisite for his own family's return to pre-eminence.
I have lingered on the Nguyen family line not simply to show its political significance before 1527, although its eminence certainly illuminates why members of this ho undertook the Le Restoration and perservered through its first disappointing decade. Their story also illustrates the emergence of kinship as a primary mechanism for organizing sixteenth-century high politics. This was the political pattern Nguyen Hoang took south in 1558, where his successors would later apply it assiduously.
Kinship and High Politics in Sixteenth-Century Vietnam
Even from the limited Toan Thu account it seems clear that rivalries between high ranking Thanh Hoa military families, so characteristic of the early years of Le rule, reemerged into the political arena in the sixteenth century. This outcome is usually attributed to the weakness or incompetence of the kings after Hien Tong; but more than personal failings seem involved. After four decades of sinic reform and adaptation in government, the system should have been strong enough to survive five years under Uy Muc, as it apparently did until the king roused a coalition of Thanh Hoa interests against himself. The monarchy never really recovered afterwards, in large part because individual kings were repeatedly checked and thwarted by the power of the Thanh Hoa military 0 who came to prominence after 1509. Their strength in turn may have derived from a family structure and ethos increasingly at variance from those of Dong Kinh literati and mandarinal families.
Since the 1460s, Le Thanh Tong's reformed examination system had sought to inculcate sinic family structures and practices among aspirants and degree holders. The new literati were intended to be social exemplars whose lives conformed to strict Neo-Confucian family morality. Indeed, village chiefs had to certify this officially before candidates were admitted to the examinations, and any subsequent trespass could deny the offender a mandarinal career.(48) But Thanh Hoa was as yet only lightly brushed by Confucianization and its military mandarinal families did not usually send sons to the civil examinations, or at least to their highest level. Fewer changes to older family practices might be reasonably assumed here, as some indicators suggest. One sign of change, for instance, was whether families shunned surname endogamy, an old Vietnamese practice now banned by Thanh Tong. As Insun Yu has observed, ordinary people ignored the law and only members of the ruling class, whose marriages were known to officials, felt compelled to obey it.(49) Yet Nguyen Kim married a Tong Son woman with the same surname with no ill effect on his military career, or those of the fathers who arranged the union.(50) Toan Thu also offers a glimpse of a different family ethos; its compilers blamed the armed conflict between Hoang Du and Trinh Tuy on their acceptance of "the treacherous words of their juniors", implying that in these ho the younger generation was not sufficiently disciplined to filial obedience and deference to leave politics to its seniors.(51) Here and elsewhere the sources hint at an entourage of young kinsmen and clients competing for the favour of their influential patron in a situation of comparative equality, not unlike that of ordinary Vietnamese families at the time,(52) in which talent, not birth order, mattered most.
The other great difference between the Thanh Hoa military families and Thanh Tong's Neo-Confucian elite lay in the nature of their allegiance to the Le monarchy. Unlike the new literati, all prominent Thanh Hoa military lineages traced their political roots to Le Loi and the anti-Ming struggle. This allegiance formed the corner-stone of family history and influence; but its focus varied from the Neo-Confucian loyalty inculcated in the examinations which stressed proper relationships and the king as intermediary between heaven and earth, upon whose virtue (or its absence) rested the fate of his dynasty. The 1509 rebel leaders apparently saw things rather differently. Their coup was effectively a provincial rebellion led by men whose families had intermarried with the ruling house. It invoked personal, familial and parochial bonds and loyalties among Le family members, military men, provincial officials and ordinary people in Thanh Hoa. All probably felt themselves, one way or another, to have a stake in the Le dynasty, and believed they acted to safeguard it against the incumbent king. Yet, by acting from superior allegiance to the ruling family, the 1509 coup altered the balance between the monarchy and the military, to royal disadvantage. Within the wider notion of loyalty to the Le lurked the possibility of disobedience to a ruling king, especially when key actors assumed dynastic and self-interest coincided. After 1509 this calculation seems implicit in events like Trinh Duy San's regicide or Nguyen Hoang Du's refused to obey a royal order in 1517.(53) By making loyalty to the dynasty paramount,(54) the Thanh Hoa military rebels created a situation in which they could mobilize their kin groups and military retainers into informal but effective political support networks, outside the constraints of the formal administrative system.
As the sixteenth century progressed, the Le Restoration moved into relatively uncharted political territory. Lacking other means to forge political loyalties at the highest level, Nguyen and Trinh repeatedly charged kin relations with political significance by making marriage the primary mechanism for organising alliances. Their strategy supports the assumption that, despite the use of sinic terminology, family practices in Thanh Hoa military circles still retained a strong bilateral bias,(55) making them similar to pre-Thanh Tong norms wherein daughters kept close links with their parental lineage after marriage and enjoyed equal inheritance rights with sons. No submissive traded chattels, these married Nguyen daughters were intermediaries intended to bind allied families closer together, or to use their influence on behalf of their natal kin, as in the case of Nguyen Hoang's appointment to Thuan Hoa or the "secret letter" Trinh Trang's principal wife sent to her ruling Nguyen brother at a time of heightened tension in 1623.(56)
The sixteenth century provides several examples of this approach to structuring high political relations. When the talented Trinh Kiem(57) joined the Restoration in the late 1530s, Nguyen Kim soon recognized his worth and married the newcomer to a daughter. Several decades later, when Nguyen Hoang quit the Le court in 1600, he married his daughter Ngoc Tu to her cousin, Trinh Trang.(58) But the Nguyen also made marriages with the usurping Mac ho. In 1558, Mac Canh Huong, brother of a former Mac ruler and uncle of the current king, gathered his family and retainers to follow Nguyen Hoang south to Thuan Hoa. There he married a sister of Nguyen Hoang's wife, who was mother of the successor, Nguyen Phuc Nguyen. The Hal Duong contingent that accompanied him founded a village to which one of his Mac nieces later fled rather than withdraw to Cao Bang with her brothers, the next two rump Mac rulers, when Le Restoration forces drove them from the Red River plains in 1593. After Canh Huong's wife sent his niece to serve Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, she became his favourite and gave birth to several children. Her second son, Nguyen Phuc Lan, ruled from 1635 to 1648, while her oldest daughter married the son of her uncle, Mac Canh Huong. These Nguyen marriage alliances with the Mac disturbed the Trinh. As early as 1620, according to the Jesuit missionary Cristoforo Borri, they feared Nguyen Phuc Nguyen and his Mac brother-in-law might invoke their kinship to join forces and attack on two fronts, as almost occurred in the late 1650s.(59)
One final point is worth noting. The great weakness in this family system occurred at the intergenerational nexus. Children expected to inherit equally and to separate after their parents' deaths, if not before. But power, unlike property, was indivisible. Without effective primogeniture, ambitious Nguyen or Trinh sons necessarily became competitors with their brothers. In several cases succession crises erupted into fraternal rebellions, in the south most notably in 1635. In the north, the situation was further complicated for the Trinh by attempts on the part of the Le kings to free themselves at these critical junctures, either by fleeing or by plotting with a disaffected Trinh son.(60) The Trinh finally solved this problem by combining older and newer styles of family morality. In 1619 the Le son of a Trinh woman took the throne, with a Trinh empress, as Than Tong. Thereafter every other seventeenth-century Le king was one of his sons, including two raised after Than Tong's death as the adopted sons of Trinh Tac. By then, the revival of Confucian morality at the time enabled Tac to tighten existing kinship bonds even further: from 1671 to 1705 filial piety demanded that kings Gia Tong and Hy Tong venerate the Trinh Lord as their (adopted) father. Gia Tong even conferred the imperial status of "Great Mother of the State" (Quoc Thai Mau) on his Trinh foster-mother.(61)
In the sixteenth-century, then, warfare and territorial division created a political environment in which family and kin relations were repeatedly exploited for diplomatic or political purposes, although perhaps with no more conspicuous success than when contending European noble houses adopted similar strategies. But if both Trinh and Nguyen bent family ties to political ends, for the Nguyen another factor, equally natural and direct, counted as much-shared original "homeland" (que huong). Smaller and more parochial than geographical regions, and redolent with emotional attachments, que huong formed a significant element in a person's sense of identity and belonging, and also in defining the non-kin most likely to be trusted in difficult times. The Nguyen homeland was Tong Son district in Thanh Hoa, to which the discussion now turns.
Tong Son District, Thanh Hoa Province
Under the Le, Thanh Hoa was the first province south of the Red River plains, an area of more broken ground with a vast, mountainous hinterland inhabited by non-Viet peoples. In 1466, when the province first received its name, it comprised six prefectures (phu), 22 districts (huyen) and four minority areas (chau). Tong Son belonged to Ha Trung prefecture, the only mountainous district in a strategic jurisdiction stretching inland from the coast. Later two Thanh Hoa prefectures north of Tong Son's landmark Mount Tam Diep were transferred to Son Nam province, leaving four in Thanh Hoa. As Thanh Do phu was almost entirely Muong, Le annalists ignored it and used the phrase "the three phu" to describe this province.(62)
Neither Thanh Hoa nor Nghe An were centres of Confucian studies before the seventeenth century, Tong Son perhaps least of all. No palace-level graduates passed from here under the Le or the Nguyen, and the district's first nineteenth-century regional level graduate only appeared in 1870.(63) Sporadic references reveal the Nguyen as more Buddhist than Confucian in orientation. Nguyen Duc Trung's last request in 1499, for instance, was for his grandson, Hien Tong, to repair the Thien Phuc Buddhist pagoda in Son Tay where Duc Trung had journeyed at Thanh Tong's request, shortly after his daughter entered the palace, to pray for the birth of an heir.(64) Much later, both Nguyen Hoang and his daughter Ngoc Tu erected Buddhist pagodas with engraved stelae in Tong Son,(65) co-locating here two of only 24 new pagodas reportedly built in the sixteenth century.(66) Of the 17 pagodas listed in the nineteenth-century Nguyen gazetteer for Thanh Hoa, nine were sited in either Tong Son (four) or adjacent Vinh Loc (five) districts, with one in the latter district founded as early as the Ly dynasty.(67) There may even have been a local Buddhist tradition in this mountainous precinct, since Tran Buddhist establishments traditionally favoured hilly areas. Whatever the case, it seems that the Buddhist inclination so strongly exhibited by Nguyen rulers of Dang Trong, from Nguyen Hoang onwards, was not new but rather brought with them from Tong Son.
In another respect Tong Son was even more singular. As late as 1813, 30 per cent of the district's 62 settlements were described, in a list of villages from Nghe An north, as trang, "manors" or "estates", rather than the far more usual "commune" (xa), "village" (lang) or "hamlet" (thon). Overall, trang represented 1.7 per cent of the 11,266 settlements listed, with the central riverine provinces of Hal Duong, Son Tay and Kinh Bac containing only one trang each from 4,532 villages. In Tong Son by contrast, there were 19 "manors", including every settlement in the canton (Upper Ban) that contained Gia Mieu ngoai trang.(68) Trang dien had first appeared under the Tran as an early form of private land ownership in which large estates were tilled by workers fled to the landlord (gia no). The Ming invasion disrupted this type of tenure. Some trang still existed under the Le but they grew rarer by the sixteenth-century, due in part to Thanh-Tong's attempt to place all Viet settlements under direct central government control.(69) New trang were developed in mountainous areas in the eighteenth century, but many were deserted during the Tay Son period (1787-1802).(70) After that, surviving trang designations may have indicated little more than how a village originated, with "manors" more likely to be found on higher, hilly ground unsuited to wet rice cultivation. What a trang designation might have meant in fifteenth-century Thanh-Nghe, however, is moot. Forty-three per cent of surviving "manors" were clustered here in 1813, and it is tempting to imagine some at least originated as rewards in land and labourers granted by Le Loi to his most valued followers. In this respect it is interesting that the Nguyen gazetteer says Gia Mieu ngoai trang had originally been the "village" (lung) of Gia Hung before becoming a "manor".(71) Might this rare reversion have occurred when Le Loi granted 500 mau to Nguyen Cong Duan in 1429, and might some other Thanh-Nghe trang have begun similarly?
Speculation aside, the point remains that the Tong Son village pattern indicates the Nguyen home district was quite unlike those in the Red River plains further north, or indeed in many less mountainous districts of Thanh Hoa itself. With poor agricultural land and military families dominant locally, ambitious young men and excess mouths alike may have naturally enlisted as the military retainers of those families rather than move to farm elsewhere. Along with close horizontal ties between inter-marrying military families, this might also have been an area with strong vertical links between locally powerful families and their tenants, former tenants or landless fellow-villagers.
If Tong Son district was unusual within Thanh Hoa, the Thanh-Nghe region to which it belonged was likewise regarded as different from the Red River plains. In vernacular parlance from at least the early sixteenth century, as recorded by the missionary Alexandre de Rhodes, Thanh-Nghe formed part of dang trong, "the inner road", a vast, ill-defined area stretching south to Champa and beyond, in contrast to the four provinces around the capital called dang ngoai, "the outer road".(72) As Keith Taylor has suggested, these two terms may be illuminated by another contemporary vernacular coupling, the prepositional components in the phrases vao nam, "to go in to the south", and ra bac, "to go out to the north". These terms probably arose from travellers contrasting the sense of breadth and openness in the northern plains with the experience of narrowness and enclosure by mountains that began as one travelled south.(73) If so, when Nguyen Hoang went to Thuan Hoa in 1558, in one respect at least he was simply travelling further along this "inner road" rather than quitting familiar surroundings for an alien and exotic southern periphery. Though the Trinh/Nguyen war later politicized the concept of "Dang Trong", conflating "the inner road" with the separate Viet realm whose northern border lay in Bo Chinh, in Hoang's time the general term surely implied some perceived commonality between Thanh-Nghe and Thuan-Quang. After Le Restoration forces returned to Thanh Hoa in the 1540s, and especially after the fighting intensified in the late 1550s, a different sense of interiority developed here, one which would persist for centuries. It rested on a differentiation between "internal" Thanh Hoa, "the three phu", and the two prefectures earlier transferred to Son Nam, which later became "external" Thanh Hoa. In this case, "internal" and "external" (noi/ngoai) were not directional but political concepts used to situate officials, armies, and so forth, in terms of their literal or symbolic proximity to the king. The usage was common in Le administration before and after the Restoration,(74) but in the sixteenth century it gained political weight as an explicit statement of Le legitimacy, an assertion of centrality derived from the presence of the true king. It also underscored "internal" Thanh Hoa's sense of superior status as the royal province.
For decades, the effective Le-Mac frontier, as delineated by a wall that ran in part across the northern Tong Son border, was the boundary between "internal" and "external" Thanh Hoa.(75) Le armies relied on soldiers from these three "internal" phu, and from Nghe An. After provincial-style administrations were set up in 1559, to control population and land resources more closely, Le forces almost doubled in size to 120,000.(76) They stayed at that level until the early 1590s, despite decades of bloody conflict, because the Trinh local administration was able to conscript one-third of registered adult males here. Where Thanh-Nghe had earlier mainly been a recruiting ground for officers and their retainers, these figures suggest how much the Restoration militarized the whole region in the later sixteenth-century, with Tong Son at the forefront because of its strategic location. After the Restoration this situation was normalized: from 1597 until 1721, Thanh-Nghe was the bulwark of the Restored Le, supplying nearly all its military strength. From the vast area to its north, beginning with the two "external" prefectures, the army normally accepted only a few strong volunteers. Dong Kinh conscripts were occasionally required in emergencies, but upon such occasions they were quickly discharged.(77)
Tong Son ancestry would become a defining element for the political and social elite of the Nguyen realm, as will appear later. Europeans who regarded the entrenched Tong Son lineages of Cochinchina as a nobility were basically correct. In 1804, the Gia Long emperor (1802-1819) recognized the area's importance when he renamed Gia Mieu ngoai trang "Qui huong" (precious village) and Tong Son "Qui huyen" (precious district). This change celebrated more than just distant Nguyen origins, however. As the 1802 victory proclamation of this last Nguyen ruler with personal experience of Dang Trong acknowledged, the Nguyen que huong had been a source of supernatural potency, a vital spiritual asset for Nguyen Hoang and his successors. "For our government", it proclaimed, "Tong Son poured forth spirit vitality, Gia Mieu created a good augery",(78) beneficent powers that had hovered protectively over the foundation of the Nguyen kingdom. It is most likely that these blessings were geomantic and focussed by the tombs of Nguyen Cong Duan's ho since, like other Vietnamese, Gia Long believed advantageously located ancestral tombs channeled the magical forces of nature to the benefit of their descendants. Gia Long recognized Tong Son's significance in other ways, too. In 1802 he waived its taxes as a special dispensation that continued until 1808.(79) Also, Tong Son soldiers found early welcome in the nineteenth-century officer corps, at the time a rare inclusionary gesture towards men from the former Le/Trinh north. If later Nguyen courts sought to play down the dynasty's northern ancestry, Gia Long's actions may hint at a greater appreciation of Tong Son, and of Nguyen Cong Duan's descent line, among earlier Nguyen rulers.
Nguyen Hoang Takes the "Inner Road" South
When Nguyen Hoang went south in 1558, he took with him perhaps one thousand family members, retainers, and troops from Tong Son. Later, as his fame and authority spread, many others came from his natal district to found military colonies in the strategic area of modern Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien provinces.(80) While it is not surprising that Tong Son men might later flock to the scion of the most famous family from their district, why did Nguyen Hoang himself go south when he did?
Partisan Nguyen sources later gave colourful accounts of Hoang's southern appointment, each reinforcing orthodox images of new beginnings. According to these sources, Trinh Kiem had arranged the murder of Hoang's older brother, Uong, but later came to envy Hoang's own achievements. The maternal uncle who had raised him, Nguyen U Ty, advised Hoang to feign illness, according to Tien Bien, or madness, according to the official biographies, and then to ask his sister, Kiem's principal wife, to solicit his appointment as governor (tran thu) of Thuan Hoa, a land of difficulties and obstacles where they would "later attempt great things". (Tien Bien attributed similar advice to the Hai Duong scholar and mystic, Nguyen Binh Khiem.) According to Liet Truyen, Kiem dispatched his supposedly insane brother-in-law south hoping that either unhealthy local water or Mac soldiers might finish him off. Tien Bien was necessarily more circumspect, as it also cited Kiem's petition to the king which described Thuan Hoa's importance as a source of men and materiel whose people, however, did not all follow the Le cause. To restore order there, and benefit from local taxes, Kiem proposed to send Nguyen Hoang, a man qualified for the difficult post both by heredity and his own skills in strategy and planning. The Le king approved and, as Liet Truyen exalted, "from that was first laid the foundations of the South".(81) Tien Bien equally underscored the point by insisting, first, that absolutely all the officials in place obeyed Hoang as their "lord" (chua), rather than as a Trinh-appointed governor (tran thu), and then followed up with a 1559 entry proclaiming the new era: "everything began at that time".(82)
Whatever their factual content, both accounts were harnessed to nineteenth-century dynastic orthodoxy and need cautious treatment. Trinh Kiem, for instance, may have envied Nguyen Hoang but seems not to have entirely distrusted him since, only months before his death in 1570, he extended Hoang's authority to Quang Nam. Yet if Nguyen Hoang did not necessarily flee south to save his life, why quit the centre of Restoration activity? Assuming that Hoang ultimately wanted to reclaim his father's position, then his chief motive was surely the frustrated realization that he had no hope of challenging Trinh ascendancy at the time, for two main reasons. First was Kiem's prestige and power. Not only had he, as supreme commander, been building a network of loyal subordinates for a decade, but Kiem's 1557 military successes in Son Nam had now made him unassailable. Further, Kiem was also widening his power-base. After returning from Son Nam in late 1557, Kiem instituted a conscription reform which, over the next two years, would ultimately deliver him greater administrative control over Le-held areas via his new military governors.(83) Indeed, Hoang's own appointment can be seen as part of this tightening of control over people and land as the necessary resource base for future campaigns, especially in the emphasis placed on tax collection in his instructions.
Second was the 1556 change in the imperial descent line. In that year, the son of the king established by Nguyen Kim died childless. The situation imperilled the whole Restoration enterprise, forcing Kiem to scour the land for a Le family member who could be enthroned as a legitimizing figurehead. Necessity forced him to accept a descendant of Le Loi's older brother and not of the dynastic founder, a rupture Toan Thu glossed over by insisting Anh Tong nevertheless still bore the Mandate of Heaven.(84) Self-interest ensured the Le generals upheld the succession, Nguyen Hoang among them, yet the enthronement clearly disadvantaged him politically. The new king owed his position to Trinh Kiem, not to the Nguyen, and would obviously favour Trinh over Nguyen. Whatever the relationship between Kiem and Hoang, Kiem would never advance the interests of a brother-in-law ahead of those of his own sons. While fortune might turn again in Nguyen favour, nothing suggested it would happen soon. Better, therefore, to quit the centre for a region where, should it be required, Hoang might hope to re-establish his family's fortunes from a new base.
This is not a perspective one would find in either Le or Nguyen chronicles, as Keith Taylor's finely-nuanced reading of these sources shows.(85) For the northern annalists, the Nguyen were unfilial rebels whose existence flouted the final triumph of the Restoration; for the southern historians nearly two centuries later, Nguyen Hoang had founded the kingdom in the south and his seventeenth-century descendants formed links in the legitimate succession of "saints and sages who handed it on for more than two hundred years".(86) Nevertheless, other sources reveal that, despite the allure of the south, memories of their lost northern heritage - "nostalgia for Dong Kinh",(87) as the Chinese monk Da Shah put it in 1697 - troubled seventeenth-century Nguyen rulers. Notwithstanding Taylor's forcefully-argued thesis that Nguyen Hoang's wider exposure to Southeast Asia enabled him to establish "a new version of being Vietnamese distinguished by relative freedom from the Vietnamese past and the authority justified by appeals to that past", this seems to me a later development. Rather, Nguyen Hoang and his seventeenth-century successors inhabited a political landscape wherein precisely the meaning of the recent past and the authority justified by it were central to their concerns. If the Trinh condemned Hoang "in the context of values announced by the traditional seat of Vietnamese authority ... because he did not honor his obligations to the dead [and] broke free from the bond of merit that linked him with his ancestors",(88) does this make their accusation true? Surely exactly these issues were contentious between Nguyen and Trinh. Would Nguyen Hoang's illustrious ancestors, the lineage descendants of Cong Duan, have approved his failure to uphold family tradition by deferring to the upstart Trinh? Was it not likely that Hoang's own sense of familial obligation and his awareness of the bond of merit linking him to his forebears were among the most potent engines driving him south and strengthening the resolve of his first successors to deny the legitimacy of Trinh propaganda and political power alike?
I believe there is enough evidence to suggest that, despite Dang Trong's openness to Southeast Asia, seventeenth-century Nguyen ruling circles were less influenced by their local environment than by their Restoration and Thanh Hoa roots. Fundamentally, this was because the earliest Nguyen Lords still looked northwards and accepted their inherited family duty to complete the Le Restoration as begun by Nguyen Kim. In this respect, Nguyen Hoang's last reported words are instructive. For him, the south mattered most as a wealthy, secure base, endowed with all the resources necessary to "teach the people and train the troops in order to raise them against the Trinh ho and found a thousand year heritage". If not immediately successful, Hoang counselled to "try to hold tight to the territory and await a favourable occasion", in other words, not to give up the straggle? In 1635, Hoang's son reinforced the message. Harking back to the legacy he now handed on, Chua Sai (1614-35) urged his successor "to help the royal house on high [that is, the Le] and to save the people below".(90) Both death-bed statements subvert later dynastic orthodoxy to create a textual dissonance suggestive of seventeenth-century origins. In the eighteenth century, the meaning of the inheritance passed down through generations of Nguyen rulers shifted from restoring their fortunes (and the Le) in the north to founding a kingdom in the south, as will be seen later. Earlier, however, the notion clearly meant something else: with their last words both Hoang and his son pointed their descendants and successors north, to Thanh-Nghe and the Le, and through them to control of Dong Kinh.
From this perspective, the seventeenth century in Vietnam appears more like the apotheosis of Thanh Hoa ambitions in Dai Viet, with Trinh and Nguyen ultimately contesting the same goal, than as the era in which a new southern orientation first flourished in Viet ruling circles. This does not deny Nguyen interest in the south, particularly in its wealth. Khmer sources, for instance, show that in 1623 Chua Sai had obtained royal permission to collect taxes in Prei Nokor and Kampong Krabei (the future Dong Nai-Gia Dinh area), no doubt spurred by Vietnamese economic activities occurring there outside Nguyen control.(91) With a northern war likely, Chua Sai was hardly seeking to expand territorially but rather to use southern resources to bolster his position. A more obvious example of Nguyen Hoang's death-bed strategy of using the south to fight the north came in 1658, when dissident Khmer princes invited Chua Sai's grandson to support their revolt. Chua Hien (1648-87) agreed, but for his own reasons. At the time, the Nguyen controlled seven southern Nghe An districts and occupying them was both expensive and precarious. Given the chance to divert Cambodian wealth to this difficult campaign, Chua Hien exploited it ruthlessly. If Tien Bien glossed over this small War,(92) Khmer, Dutch and missionary sources were far more explicit, all agreeing the Nguyen army sought to loot anything that would assist them against the Trinh. They repatriated huge quantities of arms, more than a thousand artillery pieces, hundreds of elephants and horses, and the contents of the royal treasury in 27 large and 70 small boats.(93) The war materiel, Le Qui Don later reported, went straight to Quang Binh headquarters in far northern Dang Trong.(94) Regardless of later events, then, it was Nguyen northern aspirations rather than southern expansionism that drove their first sortie into the Mekong delta.
Certain institutions, norms and practices, taken together, also strongly suggest the influence of their Restoration or Thanh Hoa roots on seventeenth-century Nguyen rulers. They are military government, Tong Son-Thanh Hoa primacy, and the militarization of society, considered in turn below.
III. Thanh Hoa Influences on Nguyen Rule in Cochinchina
When Nguyen Hoang arrived in Thuan Hoa much of it had been under Le administration since 1428. At that time, Thuan Hoa and Tan Binh (southern Quang Binh) had been grouped with Thanh Hoa and Nghe An into the administrative region of Hal Tay, with each sub-division required to raise a regiment of troops. Government control strengthened over the decades, so that by 1467 Thuan Hoa alone contributed four regiments. The great exception was Bo Chinh (northern Quang Binh), which had remained a sparsely settled place of exile until 1470 when Le Thanh Tong invited landless peasants to take up former Cham lands there.(95) At minimum, then, the area had known the Le legal code, the Le system of population and land registers, and the Le provincial organization before the Mac usurpation. What happened under the Mac is unknown, but by the mid-1550s at least Thuan Hoa and neighbouring Quang Nam were ruled by Le appointees again. Thuan Hoa was entrusted to a Tong Son man, Tong Phuc Tri,(96) and Quang Nam to the locally-born Bui Ta Hun.(97) When Hoang arrived, therefore, an ad hoc governing system already existed, a system of military rule derived from former Le provincial practice.
Le provincial administration originally comprised three Offices: a Government Office which combined the functions of the Six Boards in the capital, (census, taxation, ceremonial, and appeals against judgements by prefectural or district officials); an Inspectorate which reported on officials and the state of the local population; and a Military Command, headed by the highest ranking local official, which maintained order and suppressed unrest.(98) Military officers had occasionally headed the Government Office as well until their poor education prompted Le Thanh Tong to cease the practice some time after 1470, when Nguyen Duc Trung still combined top military and civil positions in Thanh Hoa.(99) During the Restoration a new military governorship emerged, the tran thu, which merged the main powers of the Government and Military Offices while dispensing with the Inspectorate. Nguyen Hoang's commission shows its wide jurisdiction during the Restoration: all local civil and military matters, including census and tax registers, were his responsibility.(100) From 1558 until Minh Mang's reforms of the 1830s, which reestablished a Censorate after nearly three centuries' absence in the south, Nguyen rulers controlled their realm through a military government in which military mandarins were hierarchically superior to lettered officials. Arguably, this governing arrangement was the most enduring legacy of the Le Restoration in Vietnam.
The system operated through a network of military (headquarters) camps (dinh). Early in the Restoration, dinh served purely military functions, but from the 1550s, when tran thu began being appointed, their dinh doubled as regional administrative centres.(101) Nguyen Hoang's first headquarters at Ai Tu (modern Quang Tri),(102) and his other camps thereafter, remained his sole administrative centre until a separate dinh was established in Quang Nam in 1602 to increase Nguyen control over this wealthy southern territory.(103) In all, thirteen dinh were set up, with even the ruler's residence a dinh, the "Main Camp" (chinh dinh),(104) until the 1744 political reforms redesignated it a royal capital (kinh do). As the power of the Nguyen expanded beyond Phu Yen, they first set up a dinh to control a new area, often for several years, before instituting the census procedures that inaugurated closer government control.(105) Probably as a reflection of different stages of settlement, the dinh's rights and powers over local people varied between places, especially south of Phu Yen where eighteenth-century dinh officials could conscript militia without even entering their names on the military registers.(106) Dinh often became population centres attracting traders and missionaries; but as Leopold Cadiere's reconstruction of Dinh Tram (Quang Binh) from later cadastral records showed, they remained predominantly military. Dinh Tram, for instance, only devoted a small area to civil functions. While offices for "left and right clerks" flanked the tran thu's residence, they probably housed camp clerical functionaries. Local representatives of the three Nguyen Offices set up in 1614 to collect certain local taxes, keep land and population registers and settle disputes, by contrast, were banished to a modest building next to the smithy.(107)
As Li Tana has observed, the dinh system "symbolically organised the whole country into fighting units";(108) yet, like the hierarchical superiority of military officers that it enshrined, this arrangement was not a Nguyen innovation but a Restoration legacy preserved for centuries afterwards. Some other administrative elements seemingly peculiar to Dang Trong equally derived from past practices. Notable were the civil positions heading prefectures and districts (tri phu and tri huyen) and the secretary-registrars (ky luc) in the dinh. In 1615 Chua Sai set the attributes of phu and huyen civil officials by simply reconfirming the earlier Le practice of limiting them to legal matters.(109) By the mid-eighteenth century this under-use of educated men so rankled with some that a senior civil mandarin asked the king to transfer fiscal powers to tri phu and tri huyen as a way to combat the excesses of the existing corrupt system. The request failed,(110) ensuring that these educated mandarins never improved on their lowly position in over two centuries. The ky luc office, by contrast, owed its importance to Restoration practices. Originally created by Le Thanh Tong to monitor his generals' conduct in the field, the Restoration press of military business enlarged its role.(111) Although later abolished in the north, ky luc persisted in Dang Trong where encumbents acted as civil deputies to the military governors, probably echoing Restoration procedures.
The administrative function in which Thanh Hoa norms and Restoration practice may have most influenced seventeenth-century ruling circles was the small place of examinations in society at large, and in official recruitment especially. In Nguyen Hoang's time, Thanh Hoa was a military rather than scholarly area: the first Le "examination by royal decree" only occurred in 1554, compared to regular Mac triennial regional and palace level examinations. During the first 50 years of the Restoration only three such competitions were held, recruiting a mere 27 lettered officials,(112) before a triennial Le palace examination finally reappeared in 1589. In the south, on admittedly slight evidence, it may be that only a basic system of parochial, one-day examinations existed, held every fifth spring and corrected by local officials. Some of its graduates entered clerical posts, the rest won five year exemptions from personal tax. The system, called the "spring examination", is usually dated from 1632, following a Tien Bien entry for that year; but this entry may describe an existing practice changed to a six-year cycle in 1632, in line with new census procedures, rather than one freshly minted that year.(113) Whatever the case, graduate numbers - or interest in clerical posts - may have been low. While successful candidates could be directly appointed to the three Nguyen central Offices, if vacancies still remained, the posts were to be sold to anyone.(114) Even when a tougher, three-day competition on a nine-year cycle began in autumn 1647,(115) only seven men won the higher title that enabled direct appointment to a district or prefecture, while 24 negotiated a literacy test to become clerical staff. From then until the expansion of education in the Minh-Vuong reign (1691-1725), Tien Bien noted only four more examinations,(116) providing at minimum another 18 district or prefectural officials, and 80 clerks for the three Offices. These are modest results for a realm containing five phu and 21 huyen by the early eighteenth century, plus hundreds of clerical positions in the capital and the dinh.(117)
Lack of incentive surely influenced these results: like Restoration-era Thanh-Nghe, Thuan-Quang had no elite examination culture, and its officials usually gained their posts through kinship, recommendation, or purchase rather than via the arduous examination route.(118) In 1684 Chua Hien discouraged local scholars even further by scrapping the easier "spring examination", despite a protest from the locally-born civil mandarin, Tran Dinh An. His successor, Chua Nghia (1687-91), relented and in 1689 reinstated the lesser contest, piously declaring that examinations existed "to nurture men of talent".(119) However, what this actually meant in Dang Trong, then and later, was that these decidedly nonConfucian examinations existed to enable locally-born poor, or otherwise socially undistinguished, men to gain access to lower-level official posts. Literary contests were never intended, or used, to give entree to the ruling circles whose members monopolized the upper reaches of power. A different, and far more exclusive, set of qualifications pertained there, ones that had come south with Nguyen Hoang: descent and original homeland. It is to this defining Thanh Hoa imprint on Nguyen rule in Dang Trong that the discussion now turns.
Tong Son-Thanh Hoa Supremacy
It is difficult to exaggerate the political and social significance of Tong Son (and to a lesser extent Thanh Hoa) descent in the Nguyen kingdom. Just as William the Conqueror and his early successors relied on their immigrant Norman vassals to rule eleventh- and twelfth-century England, so the Nguyen ruled Dang Trong by using men from "their own family, their own district [Tong Son] and Thanh Hoa province".(120) As in post-Conquest England, in seventeenth-century Thuan-Quang the new ruling order created a two-tiered society in which the locally-born were politically inferior to the newcomers of more prized birth. And just as William and his Angevin successors diverted English taxes to fund royal concerns in France, so too did the seventeenth-century Nguyen devote Thuan-Quang resources to funding a war with their former homeland in which many of their longer settled southern subjects may have had little interest.
It is all this that gives Nguyen Cochinchina such a colonial appearance to me. For a century and half between the building of the Dong Hoi walls and the collapse of the Nguyen state, with only rare exceptions, the men recorded in the upper echelons of power all shared the same qualification: an ancestral accident of birth that placed their lineage roots in Tong Son district, or occasionally in Thanh Hoa. The Trinh had emerged from the Restoration with a similar reliance on Thanh Hoa officers and men; but by the 1660s, the need for a more focussed administration, the expectations of Dong Kinh Sino-Vietnamese elite families, and the spread of examination culture into Thanh-Nghe itself all caused a local accommodation that made northern government thereafter regionally representative at every level.(121) Yet even in the eighteenth century, when the distant Nguyen que huong had long formed part of a separate and inaccessible realm, ancestral descent from that tiny area remained vital for aspirants to power in Dang Trong. I know of no other similar type of rule in Vietnamese history, although in almost every other respect Nguyen rule in Dang Trong corresponded to the functioning core, or "countenance", of Tran rule two centuries before, as recently analysed by Oliver Wolters.(122)
The text which most celebrates Tong Son pre-eminence in the seventeenth century is the mid-nineteenth-century court compilation, Dai Nam Liet Truyen. Although the members of its editorial board, headed by the most influential mandarin of his generation, Truong Dang Que, were all graduates, their account still faithfully reflected the dominance of Tong Son descent in those years. Structurally, the text moves horizontally, from inner (the royal family) to outer (various subjects), and then chronologically, beginning with Nguyen Hoang's arrival.(123) Far from ignoring kin linkages among its entries, Liet Truyen diligently collected them and grouped lineage members together, noting any sons who married Nguyen princesses or daughters who gave birth to Nguyen Lords. Examining the text suggests that, right from Nguyen Hoang's time, three interlocking criteria defined the highest status: Tong Son descent, intermarriage with the royal family,(124) and high military office. Of the three, however, Tong Son descent seems most vital, as Nguyen Hoang himself showed when he differentiated between Le officials in place at his arrival, all of whom supposedly welcomed and assisted him. Tong Phuc Tri, the Tong Son born tran thu of Thuan Hoa, became a close collaborator of the new governor and their families intermarried, with impressive results. A daughter of Phuc Tri's grandson, Phuc Khang, became the mother of Chua Nghia (born 1649), her niece became Minh Vuong's mother (born 1675) and one of her nephew's married Minh Vuong's third daughter.(125) As for the locally-born Quang Nam officials, Tran Duc Hoa and Bui Ta Hah,(126) neither married offspring into the Nguyen ho. Their real recognition only came after death, when both became spirits of the realm, an elevation no doubt designed to co-opt their local status and popularity on behalf of the new rulers.
Scattered references in Tien Bien and Liet Truyen show how much access to power in seventeenth-century Nguyen government reflected ho and que huong. Of primary importance was the Nguyen ho itself, which bristled with high officials and senior commanders.(127) Many of Hoang's immediate descendants held key political posts as the military governors of strategic areas like Quang Nam or as dinh commanders, while his tenth son, Ton That Khe, served 41 years in government, nearly 20 of them as prime minister (1626 to 1646) in control of all business save capital punishment. Khe's 13 sons later all reached dinh commander rank,(128) as did the four sons of Nguyen Phuc Nguyen's oldest son, Ky, who had himself been tran thu of Quang Nam from 1614 until his death in 1631.(129) (The revolt of his brother, Anh, in 1635 caused the Quang Nam post to pass for the first time from the royal ho to a military commander.(130)) Among Hoang's other grandsons were the heads of the army and navy in 1627,(131) and the 1632 tran thu of Quang Binh.(132)
The sources also detail seven renowned Tong Son military lineages with important political roles in the seventeenth century (and after). In recognition of their importance, Liet Truyen halts its chronological flow to treat these families as units over several generations,(133) revealing a pattern of appointments to key military governorships among this small group. The same few lineage names repeatedly appear as tran thu or dinh commander in the strategic fortified northern border area of Bo Chinh and Quang Binh. Thus the great general, Nguyen Huu Dat, had close connections with Quang Binh and served in Bo Chinh, several members of Nguyen Cuu Kieu's lineage were military governors of dinh at Ai Tu, Bo Chinh or Quang Binh, and Truong Phuc Phan and his sons all served variously as tran thu in Bo Chinh or Quang Binh. The main exception here was Nguyen Huu Tien. His Thanh Hoa ancestry had helped him to a military career but it was his exploits in 1648 which won him charge of Quang Binh dinh.(134) For most of the seventeenth century, the military governors of this strategic redoubt were either members of the Nguyen ho, or of a tiny coterie of allied Tong Son families. When survival of the state was at stake, the natural Nguyen reflex was to trust their own lineage and a small, competitive group of retainers bound to the ruler by multiple personal ties, all ultimately resting on shared origin in one small district of Thanh Hoa. (Aware that such bonds might still prove fragile, the Nguyen buttressed sentiment with self-interest: rulers lavished lucrative rewards on loyal or successful lieutenants, but punished treachery harshly.) While talented local men of pre-1558 Thanh Hoa ancestry might occasionally win a place within this group, as did Nguyen Huu Tien, the seventeenth-century organization of power automatically excluded the vast majority of Thuan-Quang men,(135) who could only ever realistically aspire to subordinate roles within it.
Phu Bien shows that Tong Son descent provided privileged status in the eighteenth-century; but there is no reason to suppose these men less favoured at earlier times. First, many paid no personal tax. The Nguyen ho enjoyed a perpetual exemption,(136) while the sons and grandsons of high officials, exempt on their relatives' account, also enjoyed a privileged entry into officialdom which usually enabled them to pass inherited exemptions on to their sons. In legal matters, most were protected by higher placed kinsmen, who in turn benefitted from the eight special considerations (bat nghi) given to high rank in the Le Code.(137) In practice, the most powerful Tong Son officials were largely outside the law except in treason cases. One flagrant example was the 1725 murder of Nguyen Khoa Dang. The ancestor of this Hai Duong family had followed Nguyen Hoang south, perhaps with Mac Canh Huong, and had reached colonel rank; but his Nguyen Khoa descendants had only been mid-ranking civil officials until the patronage of Tran Dinh An helped Dang's father to prominence.(138) Northern ancestry and their family's early connection with Nguyen Hoang placed them on the edge of the ruling group, and Dang's integrity won him royal favour. At one point, however, he antagonised Minh-Vuong's oldest sister by demanding she return monies taken from the treasury, a common practice of Nguyen kin and royal maternal relatives alike. When her brother supported Dang, others returned their "loans"; but their hatred sealed Dang's fate. As soon as the king's death cancelled this royal protection, Minh-Vuong's brother-in-law, Nguyen Cuu The, arranged for Dang's murder. No punishment ensued. Instead, five years later the Tong Son man who had caused the assassination of a royal official, a capital offence under the law, was posthumously promoted to grand duke.(139)
Nearly three decades later Vo-Vuong tried to stem the rising tide of officials breaking the law and sent members of two notable families, Nguyen Huu Bac and Tran Dinh Hy,(140) to examine the situation from the capital north. Their recommendations institutionalized the de facto immunity of Tong Son ruling circles from serious punishment: criminal accusations against officers below the level of captain (cai doi), or ky luc for civil mandarins, should be dealt with according to the law, they advised, while men at these levels or higher should be judged by the king. In practice, this allowed them to mobilize patrons or relatives to intervene on their behalf. Only if the king reduced them to the rank of ordinary subjects could officials in the two highest categories, overwhelmingly Tong Son descended men, have legal proceedings instituted against them.(141) Tong Son descended military officers benefitted in particular: at the time, almost every regular officer at cai doi or higher came from this background because the promotion system routinely filled cai doi officer vacancies from two special units composed exclusively of descendants of the Tong Son officer corps. No Thuan-Quang men could aspire to cai doi posts except in an upland region or the militia, from which they could not pass on any tax exemption to their sons. In this respect they were treated the same as the vast majority of Thuan-Quang descended civil officials who toiled at the district level or below and whose sons enjoyed no rewards on account of their fathers' service.(142)
Tong Son descent also enhanced social status in the wider society. As noted previously, many Tong Son men had migrated during Nguyen Hoang's rule and founded numerous settlements in upper Dang Trong, from Bo Chinh to later Thua Thien province. These men and their descendants formed what Cadiere called "a class of privileged citizens": exempted from taxes and corvees, they could also assume office in any village they wished.(143) In the armed forces Thanh Hoa descent was equally prized. Eighteenth-century Thuan Hoa military regulations required every "true son of a Thanh Hoa man" to be conscripted immediately (rather than classified as militia or an ordinary taxpayer), under penalty of demotion for any official who failed to do so.(144) But the military went even further, according to an early nineteenth-century text, Nam Ha Tiep Luc. This claimed all Dang Tong troops were categorized on the basis of northern or southern ancestry, with the preferred group descended from ban huyen (Tong Son), followed by those with known northern ancestry (ban xu), and then men of northern descent whose exact origins were unknown (kinh nhan). The second category came from families with pre-1558 local roots, with Thuan Hoa classed higher (uu binh) than Quang Nam (tinh birth).(145) This concern with regional origins in the military echoes contemporary practice in the LeTrinh north where, as noted earlier, Thanh-Nghe men formed the vast bulk of the soldiery until 1721. Interestingly, they were also classed as uu binh, "privileged soldiers", the Nguyen term for Thuan Hoa men, perhaps hinting at a Nguyen preference for recruits from this longer settled area over the more commercial Quang Nam region, with its mobile population and open frontier.
Little is known of seventeenth-century military practices: Thuan Hoa's "privilege" may have derived from the greater ease of conscripting men and replacing them in its more settled villages; or from a sense that, as the Nguyen base area, it somehow resembled Thanh-Nghe. Whatever the case, Thuan Hoa housed the majority of Nguyen regular forces, in the capital or to its fortified north.(146) Over 40,000 were stationed there in the mid-eighteenth century and, the regulations suggest, were raised locally as well.(147) Calculating from Phu Bien data, it appears that in 1769, when Thuan Hoa taxpayers officially totalled 126,857 men,(148) the military (regulars and militia) accounted for about 25 per cent of the active, able-bodied adult males under government control. While this may seem a high proportion in an area untroubled by conflict for nearly a century, the proportion in Quang Nam at the same time was significantly greater. Just as in earlier Thanh-Nghe, so in mid-eighteenth-century Dang Trong the military priorities of ruling circles had shaped, and continued to shape, social organization. If this was true then, how much more likely was it in the seventeenth century?
Militarization of Society
Evidence for the intensive militarization of seventeenth-century Dang Trong society is scattered in the sources. The process probably dated from 1632, when Tien Bien recorded "the rule of census and conscription begins to operate", before outlining the adoption of an abridged version of the 1470 Hong Duc system implemented by Le Thanh Tong.(149) According to Phan Huy Chu, the 1470 system had operated in Restoration era Thanh-Nghe,(150) but there is no record of it for Thuan-Quang. A local system of taxpayer and land registers certainly existed there, for in 1614 the dinh representatives of the new Nguyen central Offices were specifically charged to maintain them.(151) The new census procedure was quite different, however, as can be seen by considering the main elements of the Hong Duc system, and the probable operation of the new arrangement in Restoration era Thanh-Nghe.
These rules originated just before Thanh Tong's expedition against Champa and were designed to give priority to soldiery and militia categories in classifying the active, adult male population. Basically, the system divided all men between 18 and 60 into six fiscal categories, the first two of which (trang "robust [soldier]" and quan "militia") also indicated eligibility for conscription, whether immediately or as need arose. Men so classed who were not conscripted paid the highest tax rate, much more than ordinary taxpayers (dan) or members of the remaining semi-exempted categories of old or infirm, wage labourers, and the indigent.(152) The Nguyen continued to use these Hong Duc categories to assess conscription and personal tax, whose 1470 Le name of tien sai du they also preserved; and the sources agree that the Nguyen established a census field, to which all eligible males in a designated area had to report for their status to be fixed, as under Thanh Tong. Details of how the abridged system worked in Dang Trong are not available, but there must have been a considerable simplification because the Nguyen lacked the large, well-organized administrative apparatus assumed by the 1470 rules. Major Le censuses demanded many civil and military officials attend the census field and, by 1482, verifying the results occupied scores, if not hundreds, of central officials, including the entire staff of the Finance and Administrative Boards as well as local prefects and district heads.(153)
Some clues indicate areas of simplification. First, the process was apparently vested in the local dinh, where Tien Bien located the "spring examination" that was held "at the census field".(154) The camp probably kept a copy of the register, making it easier to replace deserters or casualties from their villages of origin.(155) (This arrangement would give the army a close interest in compelling men to comply with census procedures.) Second, the Nguyen probably did not adopt Thanh Tong's formula that ensured households with three or more adult males could not all be classified as soldiers or militia. This change could have originated in the Restoration, as it seems likely that a disproportionate number of healthy Thanh-Nghe men were classified into the first two categories since, despite every trang being drafted at times, Le forces could still muster 120,000 in the early 1590s.(156) Under-populated Dang Trong needed to emulate just this sort of intensive militarization of society if, like Thanh-Nghe, it hoped to withstand the might of its northern enemy. In this respect it is surely significant that the 1632 census procedures were suggested by Dao Duy Tu, a talented Thanh Hoa man who had come south in 1625 to serve the Nguyen after being denied entry to the Le examinations. Born in the early 1570s, Duy Tu had first hand experience of the Restoration in Thanh Hoa and suggested the new census procedures, after hostilities had begun, as a way to "select taxpayers into the trang category".(157)
If the seventeenth-century census system did classify most robust men of fighting age as trang or quan, it helps us reconcile the late-1690s account of the visiting Chinese monk, Da Shah, with other sources which claim that a modified Hong Duc census system was in effect. Da Shah was told that "the craftsmen in the country were all soldiers", and described recruitment procedures as little short of kidnapping:
army officers went to the villages to round up soldiers. They captured all the fit men over 16 years old, tied them to bamboo yokes, and took them to the army.... When there was a war they were soldiers, when they were not needed as soldiers they worked for the state....(158)
Da Shan described a time of peace when Tien Bien records the triennial census system operated regularly.(159) If this is accurate, it means either that the military acted as a law unto themselves or, as seems more likely given Minh-Vuong's strong leadership and martial interests, that all healthy men were usually classified as trang or quan and thus liable for conscription, however carried out. If so, it also helps explain why Europeans reported average seventeenth-century head tax rates very much higher than the Hong Duc amount for subjects (dan) cited in Tien Bien: trang and quan paid twice (or more) the personal tax of ordinary dan.(160)
Moving from Thuan Hoa, I want to conclude with two cases that suggest a large proportion of Vietnamese society in Quang Nam was also heavily militarized by the exigencies of Nguyen rule. The first concerns the survivors of a 30,000 strong Trinh army smashed in 1648.(161) Tien Bien says Chua Thuong (1635-48) pardoned the men, possibly still numbering more than 20,000, and sent them to the five existing Quang Nam phu, from Thang Hoa and Dien Ban in the north to Phu Yen in the south. Former Chain territories here were only sparsely settled, so the ruler split the men into groups of 50 and allotted them rations, tools, and farm animals so they could establish villages and make their living in the mountains and marshes. In time, he added, they would become registered taxpayers and their sons "extra soldiers for the state". "From then on", Tien Bien concluded, "from Thang-Dien to Phu Yen villages [stretched] one after the other, and afterwards they became [part of the registered] population".(162)
One hundred years later the presence of their descendants in Thang Hoa and Dien Ban prefectures can be discerned from material in the Hanoi edition of Phu Bien. First, their traces may appear in certain local terminology. Uniquely in its catalogue of village names for Thang Hoa prefecture Phu Bien differentiates between 49 "principal" (chinh) communes and villages and 215 "new" (tan) settlements. In neighbouring Dien Ban, on the other hand, there are traces in jurisdictions called "dependencies" (thuoc), which were located near the mountains or the coast. Among the dependencies listed, like those of gold prospecting households, boat builders, or mat weavers, there are repeated references to thuoc called "new subjects" (tan dan) and "emigres/guests" (kieu cu). The same names also appear in Thang Hoa phu, although so many dependencies are listed here that the list surely incorporates some from further south.
Second, the assumption that these settlements were pioneered by captured Trinh soldiers also arises from an otherwise inexplicable section of Phu Bien discussing the number of subjects, number of people exempt from military service and the number going to the military in 1753 in the five northerly prefectures of Quang Nam where the Trinh soldiers settled.(163) The text gives the total tax paying population of the area as 152,370 men, of whom 91,396 were "taken for soldiers" (lay binh linh). Even assuming this meant liability for conscription rather than active service, it represents an astonishing 60 per cent of taxpayers.(164) The key to this situation lies with a group of people categorized as ban phu. It is not known precisely who these people were; but the term can be literally translated as "[from our] origins cared for/encouraged/governed" or "[from our] origins regarded by [the] superior",(165) assuming ban has the same meaning as in ban huyen (Tong Son) or ban xu (Thanh Hoa). Ban phu were a special conscription category. While villages belonging to the royal treasury here were entirely exempt from military service, as were half of the subjects whose taxes either went directly to the government (noi vi tu) or to an official as salary (nhieu phu), all ban phu were liable for conscription. This distinctive characteristic may identify them as descendants of the 1648 Trinh soldiers. The 69,906 men in this category in these five prefectures represented over three-quarters of the men in the 1752 list who were "taken for soldiers", suggesting Chua Thuong's pronouncement was implemented literally by his successors.
Whatever the case, this Phu Bien data indicates an extraordinary degree of militarization of registered taxpayers, whether potential or actual, throughout the area. Not only were all the ban phu liable for military service, but so too was every second taxpayer outside villages belonging to the royal treasury. Let us take Qui Nhon, where the Tay Son rebellion would erupt 30 years later, as the example. Phu Bien recorded that 26,769 taxpayers here had to provide 17,756 soldiers, with 6,469 coming jointly from men classed as noi vi tu (10,904) and nhieu phu (2,033) and the rest from the 11,287 ban phu, who represented 42 per cent of taxpayers. Only 12,545 people in villages belonging to the royal treasury escaped. Of those "taken for soldiers", 6,240 manned 52 base units and seven larger ones, suggesting that up to half the conscription pool may have been on active service at the time. The Qui Nhon proportion of ban phu, though higher than Phu Yen (25 per cent), was lower than in either Quang Ngai (56 per cent) or the two most northerly prefectures, Thang-Dien (55 per cent), a result consonant with the likely settlement pattern after 1648. Thanh-Nghe strangers undoubtedly preferred to live closer to existing Vietnamese settlements than to strike out for the exotic unknown further south. While it is not certain if the same conscription liability existed in the late seventeenth-century, I see no reason to doubt it.
The second case in Quang Nam concerns the far south. In 1698, immediately after a major census, Minh-Vuong established an administrative organization for Gia Dinh phu,(166) a region stretching from Dong Nai, south of Chain Panduranga (Phan Rang), to My Tho on the Song Tien branch of the Mekong. Its population was very diverse: wandering Viet peasants had been farming among the indigenous Khmer and minority peoples from at least the early seventeenth century, while 3,000 Ming loyalist Chinese, suddenly arrived seeking asylum in 1679, had also been dispatched there. The Chinese had mainly settled in two places: My Tho in the south and further north at Ban Lan, where they founded an important trading centre (Dong Pho) upriver from Can Gio harbour. The 1698 arrangements acknowledged this settlement pattern by siting two dinh, under military governors, in the main areas of Chinese settlement: Tran Bien in later Bien Hoa province, and Phien Tran in later Dinh Tuong. Two civil jurisdictions (huyen) were created to administer the area in-between, from upper Dong Nai (Phuc Long) to Saigon (Tan Birth), perhaps indicating denser Vietnamese settlement here.
Just how many Vietnamese peasants had colonized the area before 1698 is an open question. Some modern Vietnamese scholars, like the distinguished historian Nguyen Dinh Dau,(167) have followed the figures of Trinh Hoai Duc, a high official of the Gia Long-early Minh Mang periods (1790s-1820s), whose Gia Dinh Thong Chi asserted there were "already more than 40,000 households" in Gia Dinh phu by 1698.(168) However, Tien Bien and Liet Truyen later implicitly rejected this when they wrote: "to open the land for more than one thousand miles, to acquire more than 40,000 households, [they] immediately recruited wandering people from Bo Chinh south to go and live there".(169) One can only speculate; but the mid-nineteenth-century compilers may have rejected Hoai Duc's assertion on the basis of Phu Bien data, unavailable to the earlier author, that showed fewer than 20,000 registered taxpayers in Gia Dinh phu in 1769.(170) Can these sources be reconciled? Perhaps the low 1769 figure reflected a restless desire to elude Nguyen control which had driven many existing Gia Dinh Vietnamese to quit their holdings after 1698 and strike deeper into the delta, for much of the eighteenth century a sort of administrative no-man's land between the expanding influence of Ha Tien to the west and Gia Dinh to the north-east. If so, they left no records so it is impossible to say. But perhaps these contending claims can be resolved by probing their strange concurrence on the specific figure of 40,000 households. Had the Nguyen successfully transferred south up to one quarter of a million ordinary people in the later seventeenth century, there should be some evidence in contemporary reports, but none exists. Instead, it is necessary to look to the military.
In 1698, Tien Bien recorded that the two dinh in Gia Dinh received a full complement of naval and army units, including provincial militia. Phu Bien reveals what that actually meant. According to Nguyen Khoa Thuyen, a senior Gia Dinh civil official for 16 years whom Le Qui Don questioned "about the real number of militia and subjects in that region", there were "several tens of thousands of militia in the prefecture". The Nguyen had wanted to open up the south, Thuyen explained, so they had taken the land and "recruited subjects called quan" (mo dan goi quan), that is, men in the quan (militia) tax category, and settled them in military villages.(171) As Vietnamese men were usually married by their late teens, it seems likely that most of those so enlisted would have brought family with them. Phu Bien then goes on to tally over 40,000 militia positions in the prefecture, in which descendants of these men no doubt served.(172) As active militia, however, they did not appear on the civil tax register. If this analysis is correct, then more than 60 per cent of the adult Vietnamese males under Nguyen control in eighteenth-century Gia Dinh were also military men. A higher than supposed population density here certainly helps explain how a commercial rice industry could have developed so rapidly in the eighteenth-century, as well as perhaps illuminating how otherwise sparsely-populated Gia Dinh could provide the bulk of the future Gia Long's army in his long struggle against the Tay Son. As late as 1822 the imprint of this mass militarization remained visible to two English visitors to Saigon who recorded that all the Vietnamese men there were "the King's servants" (John Crawfurd) and that "every thing (sic) was done by soldiers" (George Finlayson).(173)
Nguyen rule in seventeenth-century Dang Trong was thus basically a matter of military government, dominated by the Nguyen ho and a handful of closely affiliated Tong Son families, whose priorities successfully militarized the society under their control. If the overriding Nguyen purpose was to withstand Le-Trinh attack, their goal was not simply to establish their own realm in the south. Rather, there was a continuing emotional attachment to the idea of a single Viet kingdom, and to the burning Nguyen desire to punish the Trinh. Indeed, for Nguyen Phuc Tan, born in 1620 and ruling as Chua Hien from 1648 to 1687, the anti-Trinh war was almost a personal crusade. War was the raison d'etre of seventeenth-century Nguyen rule but, despite their successes, the Nguyen fell short of their main goal. Keith Taylor has recently characterized the Trinh-Nguyen wars as a regional conflict between "quite different kinds" of Vietnamese, whose views of themselves and their adversaries were grounded in the "particular terrain in which they dwelled and in the cultural exchanges available in that terrain".(174) That may well be true for the ordinary soldiery on both sides. As far as their leaders are concerned, however, what strikes me is their similarity, especially regarding their basic goal. Both fought ultimately to control the Le monarchy, and through it the country. Instead of treating this era as one of conflict between generic "northern" and "southern" regions, which obscures the Thanh-Nghe connection, it seems to me more enlightening to see it as a time when two Thanh Hoa military ho, closely related by blood and marriage since the Restoration, mobilized their Thanh-Nghe allies and their local resources in an extravagant and stubborn series of campaigns to decide the future of Dai Viet. Despite the blood and treasure expended, neither side won the victory it sought: the Trinh failed to regain Thuan-Quang and complete their Restoration; while the Nguyen never regained Nguyen Kim's place by destroying the family that had dislodged their line and usurped its ascendancy at court.
Throughout the war the Nguyen remained ostentatiously Le loyalist, as Chua Hien exemplified. One of his first recorded acts as Lord was to send condolences on the 1649 death of the Le king Chan Tong, a potentially inflammatory reminder of Nguyen loyalist claims that the Le chronicle ignored.(175) Then in 1655 he invaded the north,(176) a master stroke that won him control of seven Nghe An districts south of the Vinh river(177) for five years. When the strains of occupation and growing disaffection among Nguyen troops forced them back behind the Dong Hoi walls in 1661, Trinh Can counter-attacked with the Le king himself in attendance, a legitimist gesture that cemented the loyalty of formerly occupied southern Nghe An. It proved less effective with the Nguyen. When confronted with an envoy announcing a message from the "Le Son of Heaven", a Nguyen officer responded, before shooting him dead: "Last year when we withdrew ... you followed and fought us. Did you have an imperial order from the Le Son of Heaven then? If you want to fight, then fight, but how do you dare lie like that?"(178) The supposed lie was, of course, that the "Le Son of Heaven" would order an attack on his loyal Nguyen subjects. This was spelt out plainly in 1672. Shortly before the campaign, the Trinh issued a minatory proclamation rehearsing at length their version of Nguyen Hoang as a formerly meritorious subject turned disloyal, and demanding Thuan-Quang people return to their original Le allegiance.(179) In a conference between opposing officers two months later, the Trinh envoy asked why the Nguyen had previously refused to receive imperial orders from the Le king. The response was categorical.
You are mistaken. In earlier times our ancestral king [Nguyen Hoang] helped the Le dynasty, everyone knows it. But now the Trinh have absolute power, they draw up royal orders themselves, while the things that happened in the Chinh Tri and Hoang Dinh reign periods(180) do not bear speaking about. The envoys of previous years were sent by the Trinh, not the Le.(181)
This official Nguyen position never wavered in the seventeenth century, even though winning the battles but not the war was the essential pre-requisite to creating their own kingdom in the south.
It is not such a great step from the 1672 image of a thwarted, captive Le monarchy to a view that saw the cynical Trinh murder of Le kings and their long impotence as having extinguished Le ancestral virtue, taking with it their legitimizing mandate and claims on Nguyen loyalty alike. To take that step, however, Nguyen rulers had to renounce their ancestral ambitions in Dong Kinh. While it did finally happen, it took a long time. I want to conclude with some brief remarks about this slow shift in perspective from the seventeenth-century Nguyen "nostalgia for Dong Kinh", reported by Da Shan in 1697, to their own sense of localization, the creation of a Nguyen que huong in the south.
From the Failed War for Dai Viet to a Nguyen Homeland in the South
History teaches that the Trinh-Nguyen wars began in 1627 and ended by securing de facto southern independence during a century-long truce after the failure of the last Trinh campaign in 1672. Lacking the benefit of hindsight, Nguyen rulers saw matters differently. In 1676, missionary sources say they mobilized 40,000 men after a false alarm and would themselves have marched north but for the untimely death of prince Hiep, the victor of 1672.(182) In 1682 Chua Hien wanted to exploit Trinh troubles in Hai Duong and Cao Bang, and the death of his great adversary Trinh Tac, to attack once more, only to find his army supposedly too unprepared for the enterprise.(183) In 1710, his grandson Minh-Vuong visited the old battlefields, reminisced about the glorious deeds of Nguyen Huu Dat and then sent spies into northern Bo Chinh. A few years later, in 1716, he decided his country was prosperous enough to send "a great army to punish the North". It was only when spies reported the north could not be beaten at the time that Minh-Vuong shelved the idea, to which none of his successors returned.(184) In other words, for nearly 50 years after 1672, Nguyen rulers still fitfully dreamed of resuming the conflict. The same northern pre-occupation also appeared in the titles the Nguyen awarded themselves as they moved towards royal status: from Minh-Vuong on, all incorporated their claim to Dai Viet. Da Shan said Minh-Vuong called himself "King of Dai Viet" (Dai Viet Quoc Vuong) in the mid-1690s,(185) although his official title was only Quoc Chua, "Lord of the State".(186) In 1702 Minh-Vuong's attempt to win Chinese recognition as a separate tributary was rebuffed on the grounds that he was a "vassal subject" of the Le.(187) Undeterred, in 1709 he authorized a state seal with the words "the Nguyen Lord who governs the state of Dai Viet forever".(188) His successor, Ninh-Vuong (1725-38), went even further: his seal, as shown in a 1729 temple inscription, simply proclaimed him "King of Dai Viet".(189)
Between then and 1744, however, a sea change occurred. Vo-Vuong (1738-65) and his entourage, still Tong Son men in the main, lost interest in the ancestral struggle with the north and reoriented themselves fully towards the expanding horizons of the southern Indochina peninsula. Naturally, the counter-current had begun long before, and can be detected as early as 1672, when Nguyen Huu Dat articulated a sense of local difference anathema to Nguyen orthodoxy at the time. Dat, the most intriguing figure of seventeenth-century Dang Trong, was both an intelligent general and an Odyssean cunning man who, as a youth, had tricked the 1627 Trinh invaders into departing and thus won the Nguyen time to build the great defensive wall at Dong Hoi.(190) Dat later fought in every major campaign, and was second-in-command in Nghe An. Much more than anyone else in ruling circles, his views had been shaped by real experience of the people and places in that distant and increasingly imaginary ban xu, the "original region" from which so many of the structures and practices of Nguyen rule derived. In 1672, in the darkest days of the entire war when at least 100,000 Trinh troops marched against them, Dat did not rally spirits by reciting the Nguyen version of history or appealing to the justice of their cause. Rather, he boldly invoked two elements that had probably begun to influence officers on active duty in northern Thuan Hoa since the mid-1650s: pride in Nguyen military achievements, and a sense of the foreign inferiority of their enemy. "Years ago in Nghe An", he declared, "we went deep into foreign territory(191) but the Trinh army didn't dare do anything.... Now we are the masters (chu) and they are our guests, what is there to fear." Dat's bold assertion of southern difference won him no reward at the time,(192) but 60 year later, in the Vo-Vuong reign, Tong Son ruling circles generally had come round to his view. It is from this time that it becomes possible to date the growing sense of a Nguyen homeland in the south that came to full fruition in the 1790s, with Nguyen Phuc Anh in Gia Dinh. Charting the process in detail is beyond the scope of this essay, but two milestones in the Vo-Vuong reign deserve to be noted, since together they both pointed definitively away from the northern past to the Nguyen's southern future. I will conclude with them.
The first was the final transition, in 1744, to the outward styles and forms of an independent kingdom within the broad Han tradition. This transformation has been discussed elsewhere,(193) and I shall not reiterate its details here. To the best of my knowledge, however, what historians have never discussed is the enthronement edict that validated the whole process. Although obscure, it is not impenetrable; and a careful reading reveals a major ideological shift from the political orthodoxy of the seventeenth-century. It is usually held that the Nguyen "always recognised the supreme authority of the Le as sole emperors", to take Le Thanh Khoi as typical.(194) Thus when Vo-Vuong made himself king (vuong) it supposedly placed him no higher than the Trinh, who had used a royal title since 1599. But the 1744 enthronement edict argues otherwise. Its first bold statement, "Our government arose from O Chau", officially endorsed the emotive and imaginal rupture with Nguyen northern origins that Nguyen Huu Dat had expressed in 1672. By deliberately locating the kingdom's roots in a place resonant with pre-Le connotations, the edict by-passed Le claims to reach back to the Cham-ruled area originally ceded to the Tran at the same time it associated the kingdom's foundation with Nguyen Hoang, whose first camp had been set up in former O Chau. The edict then traced the development of the Nguyen kingdom which finally emerged as a separate and distinct realm with its own spiritual, psychic, and magical resources different from those of the north. So important is the light this document throws on the longstanding belief that the Nguyen never contested Le suzerainty over the south that I shall quote it at length, in a translation from the original Chinese generously provided by Li Tana.(195)
After locating the kingdom's origin in O Chau, where its foundation "obeyed the order of fate", the edict continued:
My ancestor [Nguyen Hoang] opened up and occupied half the territory; like a powerful tiger Than Tong(196) pranced ahead into the seven districts and almost took back the golden land. While this accomplishment was due to the ambition of winning the ascendant position, it was also because of Heaven's favour that such great achievements could be made. With dominant influence Minh Vuong was able to repress rebels in Dong Pho [Bien Hoa](197) and my father the king paid attention to political achievements and thus gained the hearts of the people of the South.... However ... it still remains in our reign to fulfill the wishes of the mountains and the rivers. As long as the [supreme] ruler remains the same, people will still look to him for leadership. And that is why, while I am still young, I want to carry on my ancestors' cause. Although I have been in power for seven years I am yet to make the greatest achievement.... While I have been exerting myself to meet my ancestors' expectation, which is also the divine will, I have often been recently told of all the positive auguries [in the country]: that I am respected by everyone from high to low, and that all good elements are present. The dragon is about to jump. Turning from heaven to earth, we see all the modest signs that symbolise good fortune. [Because of all this] everyone urged me to advance [to the throne]....
Oh that I could renovate the mandate of heaven in [the hands of] one virtuous [man], and ... bring humankind together into the great harmony, and thus come a little closer to seeing the world as once it was.(198)
The document begins by acknowledging the "ancestors' cause" in the seventeenth-century had been to "take back the golden land", Thanh-Nghe at least and probably Dong Kinh, and to win back their lost ascendancy there. Twinned with this, however, was the Nguyen enterprise in the south, whose foundation had been "decreed by fate". As eighteenth-century Nguyen rule developed with firmness and benevolence, the southern "mountains and rivers" came to desire the Nguyen as their kings. With this potent metaphor for the land and its supernatural powers the shift begins from seventeenth- to eighteenth-century concerns. When the spirit forces of the land wanted the Nguyen to distinguish their leadership from that of the Le king in the north, the meaning of Nguyen "ancestral expectations" in the text also definitively changed. No longer focussed on northern ambitions, it now took on the meaning common in all nineteenth-century formulations: the creation of a distinctive kingdom in the south. That this was also Heaven's will is confirmed by all the good auguries at the time and by consulting the I Qing. The resulting divination showed "the dragon about to jump", referring to the first hexagram, Qian, the Creative, six unbroken lines whose "essence is power or energy", whose "image is heaven" and in the human world "denotes the creative action ... of the ruler or leader of men".(199) In the emphasized fourth line, the royal dragon is in motion between two states: no longer on earth (lines one and two) yet still not in heaven (line five). A fluid moment of great potentiality is open, when the superior man can effect his destiny, as sage or hero according to the truth of his inner nature.(200) Vo-Vuong's choice at this fateful time is known. Not only did he take the throne, but the edict placed his action squarely within the broad Han tradition of kingship in which the virtuous man, ruling by heaven's decree, might return humanity to the great harmony and bring society closer to the ancient ideal.
It is doubtful whether this edict circulated outside the court and the highest echelons of government. Le Qui Don, for instance, seemed unaware of it and included no copy of it in Phu Bien. Certainly, it would not have been politic to flaunt such provocative statements before either the Le court or the Qing court in Beijing. Internal political considerations, too, probably told against broadcasting the full text too widely. The Dang Trong power structure, after all, institutionalized the political pre-eminence of ban huyen, which this document clearly undermined. These factors, perhaps infused with a lingering sense of cultural affinity, may help explain why Vo-Vuong still deliberately chose to retain certain symbolic links with the Le court, like using Le reign titles to date diplomatic documents destined for the two northern courts, and modest reference to himself therein by non-royal titles.(201) But Vo-Vuong made no such concessions to his southern neighbours: like them, he would henceforth be styled a "heavenly king" (thien vuong).(202) In his own court, too, Koffler reported the king was saluted in imperial terms as "Duc Thanh Thuong",(203) a title equally used by the Le.(204) In his southern homeland, therefore, Vo-Vuong regarded himself as different from but equal to the Le. He was the man destined to rule there, by the choice of heaven and the southern spirit world and thanks to the accumulated merit of his ancestors.
The second milestone was a valedictory gesture two decades later, at the end of Vo-Vuong's reign. In 1764 Le Duy Mat, a Le legitimist rebel who had defied Trinh forces from the Thanh Hoa mountains for over two decades, appealed to Dang Trong for assistance. Duy Mat's entreaty praised Nguyen Kim and Nguyen Hoang before stirring the historical animus between Trinh and Nguyen; it traversed the Trinh regicides; and then begged the Nguyen to help "support the Le and exterminate the Trinh", the battle-cry that had rolled across the north during two decades of peasant unrest. But he was a hundred years too late. Vo-Vuong politely rewarded the messengers but declined the request. Absorbed in expansion to the south and the west, he did "not want to cause disturbances at the border", he explained.(205) Provided the northern border remained calm, what happened beyond it no longer closely concerned the Nguyen king in Dang Trong.
1 This essay initially grew from many stimulating communications with Li Tana while she was preparing her doctoral thesis for publication. I am greatly indebted to her assistance and encouragement. The final version also owes much to Keith Taylor's critique of an earlier draft, for which I am most grateful. Finally, I want to thank the Australian Research Council for the funding that made this work possible.
2 Yang Baoyun, Contribution a l'histoire de la principaute des Nguyen au Vietnam meridional (1600-1775) (Geneva: Editions Olizane, 1992) and Li Tana, Nguyen Cochinchina: Southern Vietnam in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Monograph, 1998).
3 Keith W. Taylor, "Nguyen Hoang and the Beginning of Vietnam's Southward Expansion", in Southeast Asia in the Early Modern Era. Trade, Power, and Belief, ed. Anthony Reid (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 42-65.
4 Dai Nam Thuc Luc Tien Bien [Veritable Records of Dai Nam, Early Volume], trans. Nguyen Ngoc Tinh (Hanoi: NXB Su Hoc, 1962), pp. 9-10 [hereafter TB]. A similar statement appears in the pre-dynastic official biographies, Dai Nam Liet Truyen Tien Bien [Arranged Stories of Dai Nam, Early Volume], trans. Do Mong Khuong and Hoa Bang (Hue: NXB Thuan Hoa, 1993), p. 9 [hereafter DNLT].
5 Yang, Principaute des Nguyen, p. 1.
6 Ibid., pp. 169-70 for their supposed Chinese descent; pp. 136-46 for the Nguyen as sinophile Confucians (quote p. 146), and pp. 148-50 for their assimilationism.
7 Li, Nguyen Cochinchina, Chapter 5.
8 Both quotes, Taylor, "Nguyen Hoang", p. 64.
9 G. W. F. Hegel (trans. J. Sibree), The Philosophy of History (New York: Dover Books, 1956), p. 115.
10 For Luro's recycling of his ideas, see Nola Cooke, "Colonial Political Myth and the Problem of the Other: French and Vietnamese in the Protectorate of Annam" (Ph.D. diss., Australian National University, 1991), ch. 5.
11 K. W. Taylor, "Preface" in Essays Into Vietnamese Pasts, ed. K. W. Taylor and John K. Whitmore (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, Studies on Southeast Asia No. 19, 1995), p. 5.
12 Dai Viet Su Ky Toan Thu [Complete Historical Records of Dai Viet], ed. Dao Duy Anh (Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1965-68), 4. vols [hereafter TT].
13 John K. Whitmore, "Chung-hsing and Cheng-t'ung in Texts of and on Sixteenth-Century Viet Nam", in Vietnamese Pasts, Taylor and Whitmore, pp. 116-36.
14 For this period see Nola Cooke, "Nineteenth-Century Vietnamese Confucianization in Historical Perspective: Evidence from the Palace Examinations (1463-1883)", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 25,2 (1994): 277-82, 300, 303, 305.
15 Or 27 from 501 Thanh Tong graduates; and 8 from 110 Board Presidents. My calculations from data in Nguyen Hoan et al., trans. Ta Thuc Khai, Dai Viet Lich Trieu Dang Khoa Luc [Register of High Graduates of the Previous Dynasty of Dai Viet], I (Saigon: Bo Quoc-Gia Giao-Duc, XB, 1962).
16 John K. Whitmore, Vietnam, Ho Quy Ly and the Ming (1371-1421) (Lac-Viet Series No. 2, Yale Centre for International and Area Studies, 1985), p. 112.
17 Phan Huy Chu, trans. Vien Su Hoc Viet Nam, Lich Trieu Hien Chuong Loai Chi, Binh Che Chi [Categorized Overview of the Regulations of Previous Governments, Commentary on the Military System] III (Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1992), pp. 11, 24 [hereafter LTHCLC]. The order was issued in 1434.
18 John K. Whitmore, "The Development of Le Government in Fifteenth-Century Vietnam" (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1968).
19 LTHCLC, Birth Che Chi, III, p. 11; TT III, p. 141.
20 TT, IV, p. 123 says Hoang's father came from Bai-trang, which I cannot locate. Whether true or not, Gia Long recognized Gia Mieu ngoai trang as their ancestral village. Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi [Commentary on Unified Dai Nam], trans. Pham Trong Diem and Dao Duy Anh, II (Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1970), p. 199 [hereafter DNNTC].
21 TT, III, pp. 175, 180, 213-14, 227, 236. Neither he nor his 3rd and 4th generation descendants, Van Lang and Hoang Du, feature in Le Qui Don, trans. Ngo The Long and Van Tan, Le Quy Don Toan Tap. III Dai Viet Thong Su [Collected Works of Le Qui Don. General History of Dai Viet] (Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1978) [hereafter DVTS] or LTHCLC, Nhan Vat Chi [Review of Notables] I. A brief entry on Van Lang does appear in the section on Thanh Hoa notables in DNNTC, II, pp. 271-72.
22 Le Qui Don, trans. Dao Duy Anh et al., Le Quy Don Toan Tap. I Phu Bien Tap Luc [Collected Frontier Miscellanies] (Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1977), pp. 47-48 [hereafter PB]. The 1972 Saigon edition does not contain the genealogy. However, material identical to the Hanoi edition appears in Phan Khoang, Viet Su: Xu Dang Trong 1558-1777 [Viet History: Dang Trong] (Saigon: Khai Tri, 1967), pp. 131-33, sourced to a manuscript copy in the then Saigon Institute for the Study of Antiquity.
23 TB, p. 27, footnote 1.
24 Marquis of An-hoa (hau). TT, IV, p. 72; PB, p. 47; and DNNTC, II, p. 272.
25 Family register data from Gia Mieu ngoai trang published in Nguyen Vinh Phuc, "Gop y kien ve bai 'May van de dong ho, gia dinh va cuoc doi Nguyen Trai'" ["Some ideas about the article 'A few questions about the lineage, family and life of Nguyen Trai'"], Nghien Cuu Lich Su [Historical Research] 198, 5-6 (1981): 85-86. A similar but less detailed genealogy appeared in the mid-nineteenth century in Phan Thuc Truc, trans. Le Xuan Giao, Quoc Su Di Bien [Transmitted Volume of State History], I (Saigon: Tu Sach Co Van, 1973), p. 52.
26 PB, p. 47 also has a brief entry on him.
27 Phuc, "Gop y kien ve bai": 85-86.
28 PB, p. 47. It is not in the Saigon edition.
29 He also had a Nguyen relative murdered who had advised the dowager empress. TT, IV, pp. 41-43.
30 Phuc, "Gop y kien ve bai": 85 shows him as the first of Tang's 8 sons. PB, p. 47 says he commanded at Tay Do, the Western Capital in Thanh Hoa, although it wrongly identifies him as Duc Trung's son. TT, IV, p. 51 gives no prior career details and only describes him as "a relative" of the empress who had been sent away from court.
31 TT, IV, pp. 45-55.
32 In particular, general Trinh Tuy. DVTS, pp. 207-213 for Trinh Kha and his ten ennobled sons, pp. 229-37 for Duy San, and pp. 237-38 for Duy Dai. LTHCLC, Nhan Vat Chi, I, pp. 324-27.
33 TT, IV, pp. 57-58. Though the Army Board (binh bo) is not mentioned, it was surely run by a supporter.
34 TB, p. 27. He is not in the TT list, nor is Van Lu, Van Lang's younger brother, even though the king erected a stele to commemorate his role. Van Lu compiled the register published by Nguyen Vinh Phuc.
35 Whitmore, "Chung-hsing and Cheng-t'ung", pp. 118-21.
36 TT, IV, pp. 68-69.
37 For the Tran Cao revolt, see Cooke, "Vietnamese Confucianization", pp. 288-92 or TT, IV, pp. 89-97.
38 TT, IV, p. 72.
39 DVTS, p. 229.
40 DVTS, p. 258.
41 TT, IV, p. 123.
42 Trinh Duy Tuan, Trinh Duy Duyet and Trinh Duy Lieu, according to PB, p. 25. TB, p. 28 only mentions the most senior, the old Le official and grand duke, Trinh Duy Tuan.
43 TB, p. 27.
44 It was due to the spirit potency of the ancestral kings that Gia Long had defeated the Tay Son and won back his family's heritage, according to the Nguyen foundation myth analyzed in Nola Cooke, "The Myth of the Restoration: Dang-trong Influences in the Spiritual Life of the Early Nguyen Dynasty (1802-47)", in The Last Stand of Asian Autonomies, ed. Anthony Reid (London: Macmillan, 1997), pp. 271-80.
45 Dai Nam Thuc Luc Chinh Bien [Veritable Records of Dai Nam, Principal Volumes], III, trans. Nguyen Ngoc Tinh and Dao Duy Anh (Hanoi: NXB Su Hoc, 1963), p. 171 [hereafter DNTLCB].
46 For a longer discussion, see Philippe Langlet, L'Ancienne historiographie d'etat au Viet Nam (Paris: EFEO, 1991), Vol. 1, passim.
47 While TB, p. 26, did record career highlights of Trung quoc cong, including his participation in the 1509 coup, it did not mention his relationship to its leader, his cousin Nguyen Van Lang.
48 Insun Yu, Law and Society in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Vietnam (Seoul: Asiatic Research Centre, Korea University, 1990), pp. 124-25.
49 Ibid., pp. 56-57.
50 Nguyen Hoang also married a Nguyen woman. DNLT, pp. 19-20.
51 TT, IV, pp. 84, 89.
52 Yu, Law and Society, pp. 81-88.
53 TT, IV, p. 89.
54 Interestingly, Whitmore notes that, after the Le Restoration, Trinh orthodoxy basically followed this line by emphasizing the sequence of dynastic legitimacy from Le Loi onwards, rather than stressing the Thanh Tong era as Mac historians had done. Whitmore, "Chung-hsing and Chengt'ung", pp. 130-31.
55 That the infant Nguyen Hoang was entrusted to his mother's brother to raise, and not to a patrilateral relative, also underlines the importance of bilateral kindred among these families.
56 TB, pp. 31, 51.
57 From the same district as Trinh Kha, but not from his descent line.
58 When Ngoc Tu's daughter later became the empress of Le Than Tong (r. 1619-42, and 1650-62), it made the Nguyen maternal kin of the Le king who nominally presided over several rounds of their conflict with the Trinh. DNLT, pp. 66-67.
59 DNLT, pp. 21-22, 67, 81-82; and Leopold Cadiere, "Au sujet de l'epouse de Sai-vuong", Bulletin des Antis du Vieux Hue IX, 3 (1922): 221-32 [hereafter BAVH].
60 The first occurred in 1572, and the second in 1619.
61 LTHCLC, Nhan Vat Chi [Review of Notables] I, pp. 207-209, 213. TT, IV, pp. 322-24.
62 LTHCLC, Du Dia Chi [Geography], I, pp. 42, 49-54, 56. DNNTC, II, p. 199. Nguyen Van Sieu, trans. Ngo Manh Nghinh, Phuong-Dinh Du Dia Chi [Phuong Dinh Geography] (Saigon: Tu Do XB, 1959), p. 223.
63 Nguyen Hoan, Dai Viet Lich Trieu or LTHCLC, Du Dia Chi, I, p. 80 for the Le, and Cao Xuan Duc, trans. Le Manh Hieu, Quoc Trieu Dang Khoa Luc [Register of High Graduates of the Current Dynasty] (Saigon: Bo Quoc-Gia Giao-Duc XB, 1962) for the Nguyen. For the regional graduate, Cao Xuan Duc, trans. Nguyen Thuy Nga and Nguyen Thi Lain, Quoc Trieu Huong Khoa Luc [Register of Regional Graduates of the Current Dynasty] (Ho Chi Mirth City: NXB Thanh Pho HCM, 1993), p. 407.
64 DNNTC, IV, pp. 200-201,229-30. The Master Pagoda (chua Thay), closely linked with the famous Tran dynasty monk, Dao Hanh. Also see TT, IV, p. 5.
65 Nguyen Hai and Trach Lain pagodas respectively. DNNTC, II, p. 257.
66 Minh Hai, Ha Van Tai, Nguyen Tai Thu, Buddhism in Vietnam (Hanoi: The Gioi, 1993), p. 147.
67 Linh-Xung, founded by the hero Ly Thuong Kiet. There were also six in another hilly district, Dong Son. DNNTC, II, pp. 257-60.
68 My calculations from Ten Lang Xa Viet Nam Dau The Ky XIX [Names of Vietnamese Villages and Communes at the Start of the Nineteenth-Century], ed. and trans. Duong Thi The and Pham Thi Thoa (Hanoi: NXB Khoa Hoa Xa Hoi, 1981), pp. 25-121, Tong Son, p. 107.
69 Truong Huu Quynh, "Fiefs and Manors in Medieval Vietnam", Viet Nam Social Sciences 3-4 (1986): 97-100; Yumio Sakurai, "The Change in Name and Number of Villages in Medieval Vietnam", Viet Nam Social Sciences 01-2 (1986): 127-32.
70 Yumio Sakurai, "Peasant Drain and Abandoned Villages in the Red River Delta between 1750 and 1850", in Last Stand, ed. Reid, pp. 137-39. Despite this, trang in Thai Nguyen, Lang Son and Hung Hoa still accounted for 25 per cent of settlements listed.
71 DNNTC, II, p. 240.
72 Alexander du Rhodes, Tu Dien Annam-Lusitan-Latinh (Thanh Pho HCM: NXB Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi, 1991), p. 201.
73 K.W. Taylor, citing Professor Nguyen Tai Can, in "Regional conflicts among the Viet peoples between the 13th and 19th centuries", paper presented at the Conference on "The Conduct of Relations Between Societies and States: War and Peace in Southeast Asia", Paris, 28-30 October 1996, pp. 7-8.
74 For the armed forces see LTHCLC, Binh Che Chi [Review of the Military System] III, pp. 17-21, 31-34. LTHCLC, Quan Chuc Chi [Review of Officialdom], I, p. 450 says Thanh Tong used it to differentiate officials working in the capital from those in the provinces dealing directly with the people.
75 DNNTC, II, p. 240 for the Pho Cat wall; DNNTC, III, pp. 225-26 for outer Thanh Hoa (later Ninh Birth).
76 TT, IV, p. 144.
77 LTHCLC, Birth Che Chi, III, p. 13.
78 Quoted in Cooke, "Myth of the Restoration", p. 272. For spirit vitality or the geomantic power of tombs, see p. 276.
79 DNTLCB, III, p. 179.
80 Leopold Cadiere, "Le Mur de Dong Hoi. Etude sur l'Etablissement des Nguyen en Cochinchine", Bulletin de l'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient [hereafter BEFEO] 6,1-2 (1906): 93 n. 2.
81 DNLT, pp. 75-76, quotes, p. 76. The account also included an omen on arrival that supposedly revealed Heaven's intention for Hoang to rule the south.
82 TB, pp. 30-33, quotes pp. 31, 32.
83 TT, IV, pp. 142-44.
84. TT, IV, p. 141.
85 Taylor, "Nguyen Hoang", pp. 42-65.
86 From a 1844 edict. A slightly different formulation appears in the foreword. TB, pp. 10, 14.
87 "Nostalgie de Dong Kinh", as Yang Baoyun translated Da Shan's memory of a conversation with Minh-Vuong. Principaute des Nguyen, p. 20. A later, more elaborate version of the claim that the Nguyen had once ruled Dong Kinh appears in Jean Koffler, "Description historique de la Cochinchine", Revue indochinoise 15 (1911): 453. This hints that a compensatory Nguyen mythologizing of the Restoration era formed part of their process of detaching from it.
88 All quotes Taylor, "Nguyen Hoang", p. 64.
89 TB, p. 44.
90 TB, p. 66. Cadiere, "Mur de Dong Hoi": 123 says one source claimed Chua Sai was preparing to march on the north within a few years when hostilities began in 1627.
91 Mak Phoeun, Histoire du Cambodge de latin du XVIe siecle au debut du XVIIIe (Paris: Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient, 1995), pp. 182-83.
92 TB, p. 98.
93 They also took back the Portuguese cannon maker, Jean de la Croix. Mak Phoeun, Histoire du Cambodge, pp. 297-300 for several contemporary accounts.
94 PB, p. 58.
95 Leopold Cadiere, "Geographie Historique de Quang Binh, d'apres les Annales Imperiales", BEFEO 2,1 (1902): 64-68.
96 DNLT, p. 78.
97 DNLT, pp. 87-88.
98 LTHCLC, Quan Chuc Chi, I, pp. 476-77; Philippe Langlet, La Tradition vietnamienne: un Etat national au sein de la civilisation chinoise (Saigon: BSEI, 1970), pp. 33-35.
99 LTHCLC, Quan Chuc Chi, I, p. 477. TT, III, p. 227.
100 TT, IV, p. 144.
101 LTHCLC, Quoc Dung Chi [Review of State Resources], II, p. 222; PB, p. 151.
102 Also known as "the old dinh" (Dinh Cuu) or colloquially as "the sandy dinh" (Dinh Cat).
103 TB, p. 42.
104 Perhaps echoing the Le "imperial camp" (ngu dinh) of the Restoration. Hien Chung, Quan Chuc Chi, I, p. 476.
105 Thus while Thai Khang dinh was established to control the area from Phu Yen to Phan Rang in 1653, its first census only occurred in 1669. TB, pp. 83, 112.
106 PB, p. 199.
107 Leopold Cadiere, "Les Lieux Historiques du Quang Binh", BEFEO III, 2 (1903): 191-94.
108 Li, Nguyen Cochinchina, ch. 2.
109 TB, p. 47. For the Le situation, see LTHCLC, Quan Chuc Chi, I, pp. 478-79.
110 TB, pp. 212-13 for an abbreviated version of PB, pp. 200-201.
111 LTHCLC, Quan Chuc Chi, I, p. 476.
112 My calculations from Le Trieu Lich-Khoa Tien-Si De Danh Bi Ky [Doctoral Graduates of the Former Le Court According to Stelae Inscriptions], I, ed. Cao Vien Trai (Saigon: Bo Quoc-Gia Giao-Duc, 1961), pp. 219-20, 225-26, 237. Most were from Thanh-Nghe, with 4 from Son Nam, 1 from Son Tay, and 1 from Thuan Hoa.
113 PB, p. 152 claims a five-year system existed from Nguyen Hoang; while TB, p. 63 dates the "spring examination" from 1632, where it was linked to the six-year major census introduced that year. However, TB specifically says graduates were "exempted from personal tax for five years", which makes no sense in a six-year cycle. Also, when the spring examination was suspended in 1684, TB, p. 129 says "at the major census" that year they "repealed the regulation of the [spring] examination at the census field", once more linking it directly to the six-year census. It gives no information for the intervening years.
114 TB, p. 64. PB, p, 146 claimed 40-60 people were recruited into the three Offices per examination, but this seems more like an eighteenth-century situation.
115 TB, p. 75. The editors compared it to the Le regional contest (thi huong), but the southern examination mainly tested literary skills, with the Chinese classics only included once, in the 1740s, after which the system closed down for a generation. This deliberate omission makes Yang's claim, in Principaute des Nguyen, p. 140, that the Nguyen "took great care to popularize the doctrine of Confucius" rather puzzling.
116 In 1660, 1667, 1675 and 1683. TB did not record them all: a biography for the period mentions an examination in 1652 that the chronicle ignored. DNLT, p. 147.
117 Yang, Principaute des Nguyen, pp. 41-42.
118 In the countryside dinh officials appointed whomever they wished. PB, p. 146.
119 TB, pp. 126, 136.
120 PB, p. 153.
121 K. W. Taylor, "The Literati Revival in Seventeenth-Century Vietnam", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 18,1 (Mar. 1987): 1-22; Cooke, "Vietnamese Confucianization", pp. 293-95.
122 This governing ensemble comprised: "a concern for immediate behaviour rather than future goals, reliance on personal relationships, relaxed public behaviour, the agency of "favour" or "merit", marriage alliances, entourages, a hands-off attitude towards villagers unless taxes and conscription were involved, the pervasive influence of Buddhism, ... and a universal respect for the spirits of the soil". O.W. Wolters, "What Else May Ngo Si Lien Mean?", in Settlers and Sojourners. Histories of Southeast Asia and the Chinese, ed. Anthony Reid, ASAA SE Asian Publication Series, No. 28 (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1996), p. 111. Wolters contrasts outward "appearance", especially those elements that created a convincing "imperial appearance", something of great concern to literati commentators, with the Tran regime's "countenance", or the mode of operation that, for men of the time, held it together and made sense of its particular style of government [p. 105]. This sort of distinction can also be fruitfully applied to the Nguyen political reforms of 1744, designed to give the regime a different appearance, and thus deflect an ill-omened prophecy, without significantly changing the usual mode of governance. Leopold Cadiere, "Le changement de costume sous Vo-Vuong, ou une crise religieuse a Hue au XVIIIe siecle", BAVH II, 4 (1915): 423-24.
123 Volume One, queens; Volume Two, royal offspring; Volume Three, meritorious subjects under Nguyen Hoang; Volume Four, meritorious seventeenth-century military families; Volume Five, meritorious civil officials, either century; and Volume Six, southern vassals, monks, or rebels from the royal family or maternal kin. That Nguyen Huu Dat and lineage appear in Volume Three probably reflects his father's office under Nguyen Hoang.
124 Marriage links must be assumed only for Nguyen Huu Dat's ho, who were in any case fellow villagers from Gia Mieu ngoai trang. Not all princesses' spouses are clearly identified in DNLT and such data was not given for princes.
125 For the two queens, see DNLT, pp. 25-26. Of the titled queens of Nguyen Hoang's successors, four came from Tong Son families, two from Thuan-Quang, one from Hai Duong, and the origins of two are unknown.
126 DNLT, pp. 78, 82-83, 87-88.
127 In addition to those mentioned in the text, DNLT, pp. 40-45, lists a further 10 kings' sons or grandsons who reached senior military positions as commanders of camps or regiments in the seventeenth-century.
128 DNLT, pp. 38-39. Several must have commanded lesser military units.
129 DNLT, pp. 39-40. Following his father, Phuc Nguyen, who had been Quang Nam tran thu from 1601 to his accession.
130 Bui Hung Luong, who helped suppress Anh's revolt, but about whom nothing is known. TB, p. 69.
131 DNLT, pp. 34-35.
132 DNLT, pp. 36-37, TB, p. 74.
133 The lineage entries of Nguyen Huu Dat, Nguyen Cuu Kieu, Truong Phuc Phan and, from the sixteenth-century, Tong Phuc Tri, all record 5 or more generations. Nguyen Duc Bao records 4, and Tong Huu Dai 3. DNLT, pp. 95-111, 113-23, 123-27, 78, 128-29 and 127-28 respectively.
134 A protege of Dao Duy Tu, the main court strategist from 1627 to 1634 who built the defensive wall at Dong Hoi. Significantly, their families both derived from Ngoc Son district, Thanh Hoa, though Tien's family had settled long before in Qui Nhon. DNLT, pp. 83-87 and 89-95 respectively.
135 Some exceptions did exist. In the military a certain Hung Loc, of unknown origin, fought the Chams in 1653 and became tran thu of the newly conquered area. On the civil side Quang Tri born Tran Dinh An became a trusted advisor in the 1690s. DNLT, pp. 130 and 152-56 respectively.
136 PB, pp. 153-54.
137 Nguyen Ngoc Huy and Ta Van Tai, The Le Code, I (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1987), pp. 110-11. They mitigated offences committed, among others, by royal relatives, long serving officials, men with meritorious service, and men in the 3 highest grades.
138 He married An's daughter. All details G. Riviere, "Une lignee de loyaux serviteurs. Les Nguyen-Khoa", BAVH II, 3 (1915): 287-95. This article rests largely on the Nguyen Khoa family register.
139 TB, p. 190 notes the death without comment, but DNLT, pp. 116, 150, gives the details.
140 DNLT, pp. 111, 156 respectively.
141 Koffler, "Description historique", RI 16 (1911): 282.
142 PB, pp. 154, 198.
143 All details from Cadiere, "Mur de Dong Hoi": 93, fn 2, citing his own research and an early history, Viet Nam Khai Quoc Chi [History of the Founding of the Kingdom of Viet Nam].
144 PB, 184.
145 Cited in Yang, Principaute des Nguyen, p. 112.
146 For a military map of the area c. 1690, see Map 6 in "Maps of Southern Vietnam", translated and interpreted by David Bulbeck and Li Tana in Southern Vietnam Under the Nguyen, ed. Li Tana and Anthony Reid (Singapore: ISEAS, ECHOSEA Data Paper No. 3, 1993), p. 48.
147 PB, pp. 183-92.
148 PB, p. 136 for the taxpayers, and pp. 185-92 for the military by units. I calculated on the basis of 42,500 soldiery. TB, p. 235, gives 126,850 for the taxpayers. There is no way to verify either figure.
149 TB, p. 62.
150 LTHCLC, Quoc Dung Chi, II, p. 222.
151 TB, p. 47.
152 TB, pp. 62-63.
153 For Hong Duc period details, LTHCLC, Quoc Dung Chi, II, p. 221. The Trinh replaced the 1470 system with a stabilised system in 1664. Problems managing the census field caused the Nguyen to drop that element in 1713. TB, pp. 175-76.
154 TB, pp. 63, 129.
155 As happened in the mid-eighteenth century. PB, p. 183.
156 Hien Chu'ong, Binh Che Chi, III, p. 13.
157 DNLT, p. 86.
158 "A Chinese Buddhist Report", translated by Li Tana, in Li and Reid, Southern Vietnam, p. 56. Both Vachet in the 1670s and Poivre in 1749-50 described recruits locked in cangues to stop them escaping en route to the camps. Cited in Yang, Principaute des Nguyen, p. 104.
159 TB, pp. 147, 150, 153.
160 TB, p. 63, gives the 1470 rates: dan paid 8 tien, compared to 20 from trang and 15 from quan. This is still only a quarter of the 83 tien reported by Vachet for the 1670s, but much closer to the 45-54 tien reported by Choisy in 1687, after the wars had ended. Figures from Li, Nguyen Cochinchina, ch. 2.
161 For the campaign, see TB, pp. 75-79, or Cadiere, "Mur de Dong Hoi", pp. 159-66.
162 TB, p. 78.
163 PB, pp. 198-99.
164 My calculations from PB, p. 198. Although the figures are internally consistent, they correlate poorly with figures for the same area in 1769 given at pp. 178-83. Generally speaking, therefore, both sets of figures should only be used indicatively.
165 I assume ban refers to the original roots of the Nguyen. Phu can mean, among other things, "to lower one's head, to glance at one's inferiors", "to care for", or "to govern (through encouragement"), depending on the character. Eugene Gouin, Dictionnaire Vietnamien Chinois Francais (Saigon: IDEO, 1957), p. 1053. All could describe Chua Thuong's action. As this section is missing from the Saigon edition, the Chinese character used is unknown.
166 TB, pp. 153-54.
167 Nguyen Dinh Dau, Che Do Cong Dien Cong Tho Trong Lich Su Khan Hoang Lap Ap 0 Nam Ky Luc Tinh [The Communal Land System in the History of Land Clearing and Village Establishment in the Six Southern Provinces] (Hanoi: Hoi Su Hoc VN, 1992), pp. 30-47 argues that wandering peasants had settled the Mekong delta for at least a century before. but none of his evidence supports such a large figure for this area alone.
168 (Gia-Dinh-Thung-Chi) Histoire et description de la Basse Cochinchine, trans. G. Aubaret (Paris: Imprimerie imperiale, 1863), p. 9.
169 TB, p. 154. DNLT, p. 109 has an almost identical sentence in its entry on the military officer charged with setting it up, Nguyen Huu Dat's son, Huu Chinh.
170 Alternatively, as no administration existed before 1698, they realized there was no census mechanism to justify the figure, making it highly conjectural.at best. PB, pp. 140-41 gives rounded 1796 figures totalling over 18,000, and p. 182 specific figures totalling 19,470, or nearly 12 per cent of Quang Nam taxpayers, given there as 165,069.
171 PB, p. 196.
172 PB, pp. 196-98.
173 John Crawfurd, Journal of an Embassy to the Courts of Siam and Cochin China (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 213. George Finlayson, The Mission to Siam and Hue, 1821-1822 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 302.
174 Taylor, "Regional conflicts", p. 10.
175 TB, p. 81 says it was only received because of the kin links between the families.
176 The best account is Cadiere, "Mur de Dong Hoi": 166-214 which draws on all published and some unpublished Vietnamese sources. Also see TB, pp. 84-108 and TT, IV, pp. 272-91. Each side claimed the other started the conflict.
177 All of modern Ha Tinh province and part of southern Nghe An.
178 TB, p. 107. TT does not give this exchange.
179 TT, IV, pp. 325-26. TB does not mention the proclamation, upon which this response is predicated.
180 In the last months of the Chinh Tri period (1573) Trinh Tung dethroned Le Anh Tong before having him killed afterwards, and in the 20th year of Hoang Dinh (1619) he had Le Kinh Tong killed. TB, p. 118, note I mistakes the Chinh Tri allusion as referring to Kiem's supposed murder of Nguyen Kim's older son, Uong, who died before the reign period began in 1558.
181 TB, p. 118.
182 J-B Roux, "Les Premiers missionaires francais a la cour de Hien-Vuong. Le petit prince chretien de Dinh-Cat", BAVH II, 4 (1915): 410. The prince was a son of Hiep.
183 TB, p. 128.
184 TB, pp. 171, 173, 186.
185 Li, Nguyen Cochinchina, ch. 2.
186 TB, p. 147.
187 PB, p, 281. Minh Vuong's letter had used the novel term, "Outer Ocean Viet State", to describe the country, possibly a ploy to make it seem more separate to Chinese eyes.
188 TB, p. 170.
189 Li, Nguyen Cochinchina, ch. 2.
190 DNLT, p. 96.
191 TB, p. 120 gives dat khach and DNLT, p. 106 gives dat In. Both mean a foreign land.
192 In contrast to the 1672 officer who asserted the Nguyen loyalist stance: his "proper and worthy words" gained him 20 ounces of gold from prince Hiep. TB, p. 118.
193 Yang, Principaute des Nguyen, pp. 21-24, 32; and Cadiere, "Le changement de costume": 417-24.
194 Le Thanh Khoi, Histoire du Vietnam des origines a1858 (Paris: Sudestasie, 1981), p. 263.
195 See TB, pp. 205-206, for a problematic Vietnamese translation.
196 This should be Hien Tong (Chua Hien).
197 TB records no revolt there so this may refer to the Chain rebellion of 1692-93, just north of Dong Pro (Bien Hoa).
198 Dai Nam Thuc Luc, Tien Bien (Tokyo: Keio Institute of Linguistic Studies, 1961), Vol. 10, pp. 136-37.
199 The I Ching or Book of Changes, the Richard Wilhelm Translation rendered into English by Cary F. Baynes (London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983), p. 3.
200 Ibid., p. 9.
201 TB, p. 225. In 1756 Vo-Vuong nearly wrote to China using the style An Nam Quoc Vuong, the title Beijing had given the Le. While his intervention cost the civil official involved his position, Vo-Vuong took his advice, if rather ironically, and wrote as a modest tran thu. This incident raises the possibility that the well-known Nguyen use of Le reign titles for internal documents may have originally represented a local compromise, as in the above case, designed to avoid scandalizing the growing number of lettered officials by not trespassing on the right of a ritually enthroned emperor (hoang de) to establish calendars and mark the passage of time. For the same reason neither Trinh nor Nguyen vuong carried out the great sacrifice to heaven and earth (nam giao) which was the prerogative alone of the imperial Son of Heaven.
202 TB, p. 206.
203 Koffler, "Description historique", p. 567 n 1. He also reported Vo-Vuong's chief wives had gold dragons embroidered on their clothes, another imperial symbol. RI 16 (1911): 273.
204 For the northern usage, see PB, p. 347.
205 TB, pp. 228-29.
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