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Ages of Conquest: a Kings and Generals Podcast

Mar 27, 2023

Last time we spoke about the Gapsin Coup. Li Hongzhang snipped the bud of war before it could bloom after the Imo uprising and the Daewongun stole back power in Korea. The Daewongun was spanked and sent into exile yet again, but now Korea had become greatly factionalized. The progressives and conservatives were fighting bitterly to set Korea on a Japanese or Chinese path to modernization. This led radicals like Kim Ok-kyun to perform the Gapsin coup which was terribly planned and failed spectacularly. Japan and China were yet again tossed into a conflict in Korea, but China firmly won the day for she had more forces to bear. Japan licked her wounds and went home, learning a bitter lesson. That lesson was: next time bring more friends to the party. But today we are going to be taking a side quest, for many events were occurring in China, and one that brought yet again another foreign war.


#41 How France Ended up in Indochina


Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War.

As I said a while back, I wanted to try and hit some events that don’t necessarily fit the, something like 4-5 episodes its taking to explain how the First Sino-Japanese war came about. And even as I am writing this, on my personal channel someone commented “hey please don’t forget to do a podcast on the Panthay Rebellion”, sigh. I chose to keep the Panthay Rebellion out of the Dungan Revolt episode, though many like to bundle these events up. I will try my best to hit that one, but if it somehow falls through my fingers, perhaps I will cheekily put it on my patreon, A bit scumbag perhaps, but honestly its taking forever to get to the first sino-japanese war. Now this one, the Sino-French War is actually something a lot of my Vietnamese audience from my youtube channel have begged me to do an episode on for a long time now. Where to begin.

This series focuses on the history of China and as such it fails to mention the experiences of China’s neighbors quite often. For example while western nations like Britain were courting the Qing dynasty trying to open up further trade outside the Canton system, nations like France were likewise exploring and trying to exploit places like modern day Vietnam. During the early 17th century, France began to establish relations with Vietnam by sending the Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes. Alexandre de Rhodes was the first to write a catechism in the Vietnamese alphabet and upon returning to france in 1650 he advised the Catholic church they needed to dispatch bishops over to Vietnam to help development her roman catholic population, estimated to be around 100,000 converts by that point. He also warned that they must not allow what occurred in Japan to happen in Vietnam, referencing the Shimabara rebellion

"We have all reason to fear that what happened to the Church of Japan could also happen to the Church of Annam, because these kings, in Tonkin as well as in Cochinchina, are very powerful and accustomed to war... It is necessary that the Holy See, by its own mouvement, give soldierss to these Oriental regions where Christians multiply in a marvelous way, lest, without bishops, these men die without sacrament and manifestly risk damnation."

Alexandre de Rhodes efforts helped create the Paris Foreign missions society and soon the French East India company began operating in southeast asia. Throughout the 18th century the Jesuits missionary work and trade were very successful in Vietnam and this even led to military assistance. The French aided Nguyen Anh to retake his lands that had been taken from his family during a rebellion. The French were able to protect Nguyen Anh who became Emperor Gia Long and relations were fairly good with France, until his death whereupon relations fell considerably. The Nguyen dynasty increasingly viewed the catholic missionaries as a threat to their control. The french missionaries were soon being persecuted and then a revolt occurred in Cochinchina known as the Le Van Khoi revolt of 1833-1835. French catholic missionaries, Vietnamese catholics and Chinese settlers revolted against the current Emperor Minh Mang. Minh Mang quelled the revolt in 3 years while simultaneously fighting off a Siamese offensive. The revolt caused a dramatic increase in the persecution of catholics, leading to the execution of many missionaries. France tried to send diplomats to work out a peace deal with Minh Mang, but he would have none of it. In 1825 he made an edict 

“"The Westerner's perverse religion confuses the hearts of men. For a long time, many Western ships have come to trade with us and to introduce Catholic missionaries into our country. These missionaries make the people's hearts crooked, thus destroying our beautiful customs. Truly this is a great disaster for our land. Our purpose being to prevent our people from abandoning our orthodox way, we must accordingly completely eliminate these abuses."


Minh Mang unlike his predecessor had no illusions about catholics, missionaries nor the west in general he sought isolationism. He was a very conservative leader and abided by confucianism. During his 21 years of rule he expanded his empire to acquire territory from parts of modern day Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.

However after the first opium war saw the Qing dynasty humiliated by Britain, Minh Mang attempted to build an alliance with European powers by sending a delegation out in 1840 led by Ton That Tuong. They were received in Paris by Prime Minister Marshal Soult, but King Louis Philippe shunned the delegation and the Vatican urged a rebuke for “the enemy of the religion”. The delegates tried to offer France a trade monopoly in exchange for military support in the case of being attacked by a western power, but it was all in vain. After this the delegation tried a similar treaty with America, but it also failed. Minh Mang died and was succeeded by his eldest son Thieu Tri, who upheld the anti-catholic stance of the Nguyen dynasty, but did make some efforts to thwart conflicts and handed over to France 5 imprisoned missionaries in 1840. Thieu Tri would be dealt a hard hand of cards, as during in 1840’s his empire was hit by a global cholera pandemic that killed roughly 8% of his nations population. Meanwhile his fathers isolationist policies meant the empires economy was hurting.

Back over in France, in 1843 the French foreign minister, Francois Guizot sent a fleet to east asia led by Admiral Jean-Baptiste-Thomas Medee Cecille, lol wow to that name, all first names literally imagine someone in English called John, Jacob, Ryan, Jack, Kyle. The reason for the expedition was to respond to the new situation in China, as Britain had just defeated her in 1842 and thus the door was busted wide open so to say. The French thinking was while Britain began exploiting China in the north, perhaps France could counterbalance this by trying to puncture China in the south. Of course France was not openly stating this, officially she sent the mission “to support British efforts with the Qing dynasty and to fight against the persecution of French missionaries within Vietnam”. Admiral Jean-Baptist went to Vietnam in 1845 to try and get the release of one Bishop Dominique Lefebvre who had been condemned to death. Lefebvre had gone to Vietnam in 1835 and it was then illegal to work as a missionary. He was caught performing missionary actions and received the death penalty. A US captain named John Percivil of the USS Constitution attempted to gain his release but failed so he turned to Admiral Jean-Baptiste. Jean Baptiste managed to smooth things over and obtained Lefebvre’s release and Lefebvre simply snuck right back into Vietnam and got himself caught yet again and was in the same situation by 1847. 

Thus in 1847 Admiral Jean-Baptiste dispatched to Vietnam two warships the 54 gun frigate Gloire and 24 gun corvette Victorieuse under captain Lapierre and Charles Rigault de Genouilly. They went to Touran to try and free Bishop Lefebvre, Bishop Duclos and to try and get the Vietnamese to allow for Catholics to worship again in Vietnam, perhaps they were getting tired of showing up everytime a priest was imprisoned. Negotiations began, but it seems Lefebvre’s being a second offender made the Vietnamese believe the French were pulling a fast one thus it fell apart. The negotiations dragged on until april 15th of 1847 while 6 Vietnamese corvettes snuck up and attacked the french warships anchored in the Bay of Tourane. The French retaliated and sank 4 of the Vietnamese corvettes, disabled the 5th and inflicted roughly 1200 casualties, quite a one sided brawl. The French assert, the Vietnamese had deceived them by prolonging negotiations in order to surprise attack them. Colonel Alfred Thomazi a historian who covered this period had this to say about the event; 

Thiệu Trị, indignant with this interference, decided to end the affair with a surprise attack. His plan was to invite the French officers to a banquet, kill them, and then burn and sink the ships. But Commandant Lapierre was on his guard, and declined the invitation. The mandarins, seeing the first part of their programme go astray, passed on to the second. They attacked.


Thomazi gave the following description of the battle in Tourane Bay:

‘Gradually the Annamese war fleet, consisting of five corvettes with covered batteries, several bricks and a large number of junks, gathered in the bay, and one morning, without prior warning, attacked the French vessels. These, as their armament was far superior, had little difficulty in destroying the entire enemy fleet, but they had to get underway thereafter, abandoning the Christians to the vengeance of their persecutors”.

In the end Lefebvre and Duclos were released. The Vietnamese were stunned by the dramatic disparity in firepower between their warships and the French. It showcased to many, the Vietnam’s isolationist policies had left them extremely vulnerable to western powers and they began demanding modernization efforts. Things gradually began to get worse for the catholic community in Vietnam. In 1856 the French diplomat Louis Charles de Montigny was sent to asia to secure trade agreements. He first went to the kingdom of Siam where a treaty was signed on August 15th to facilitate trade, religious freedoms in order for Siam to gain access to French warship technology. Then Montigny turned to Vietnam arriving the next year where he demanded they establish a consulate in Hue, allow for free trade and to end their persecution of the catholic community. The Vietnamese court rejected all of these outright. 

When Montigny returned to France having failed in Vietnam, Napoleon III decided enough was enough and he dispatched a military force of 3000 men to Vietnam led by Charles Rigault de Genouilly. France actually had a few reasons they were dispatching forces, and it was not exclusive to Vietnam. Do remember the 2nd Opium War was kicking off, so these forces were also sent to deal with China. It also did not help that the Nguyen emperor Tu Duc ordered the execution of 2 Spanish catholic missionaries in 1857 as well. Thus Spain likewise sent a punitive expedition force to join the French. Their first target was to be Tourane. The French force was led by Admiral Genouilly’s flagship the 50 gun frigate Nemesis alongside 2 corvettes, 5 steam gunboats and 5 transports carrying 1000 French Marines. The Spanish brought a armed vessel called the El Cano carrying 550 Spanish infantry, 450 Filipino Chasseurs Tagals. 

Now Tourane held 5 major forts on the western side of its peninsula which covered the approach to the town. The French called these the Fort de l’Aiguade, Fort de l’obervatoire, Fort du Nord, Fort de l’est and the Fort de l’ouest. They were accompanied by several shore batteries between them. The Vietnamese had a garrison of 2000 bien binh (provincial soldiers) led by Chuongco Dao Tri and the Governor Nam-Ngai tossed in another 2000 cam binh (centre soldiers) led by Do Thong Le Dinh ly. The Franco-Spanish force arrived to Tourane Bay during the night of august 31st and at dawn Admiral Rigault de Genouilly demanded the 5 forts surrender. He received no response and thus ordered his flotilla to bombard them. The forts response were on par with the Qing’s performance during the opium wars, none of the western ships received damage. Rigault de Genouilly then landed some marines who quickly seized Fort de L’Aiguade. The charged its defenders chanting “vive l’empereur”. The defenders were overrun and soon the Fort l’est and fort l‘ouest were taken likewise with ease. El Cano had anchored off the entrance of the Da Nang river and aided the forces by bombarding the two forts, causing the defenders to flee. Most of hte vietnamese defenders were able to flee the carnage from the offset of bombardment, but those at the Fort L’observatoire were not quick enough. The French stormed into the fort and inflicted heavy casualties upon them before taking the rest prisoner. With this the Franco-Spanish force were able to occupy Tourane and the Tien Sa Peninsula. However upon occupying Tourane, suddenly the westerners found themselves under a siege. 

Admiral Rigault de Genouilly surmised their forces at Tourane could achieve nothing under these circumstances so he pulled them out and decided to try and find a new target. He considered Tonkin first, but ruled it out and instead chose Saigon. Saigon was chosen because of its strategic value, it was one of the main sources of food that fed the Vietnamese army. He left Capitaine de Vaisseau Thoyon at Tourane with two gunboats and a small garrison and took the rest of the force south. The force spent 5 days gathering supplies in Cam Ranh bay and then reached Cape Saint-Jacques on February 10th. They bombarded the forts that defended its harbors into silence before storming them with marines like they had done at Tourane. 

From cape saint-jacques they made a 5 day journey upriver, taking time here and there to bombard and storm some riverside forts. The Vietnamese defenders fought them off tenaciously and managed to land some cannonade hits into ships like the Dragonne and Avalanche inflicting hull damage. The defenders also tried to barricade the riverway behind the invaders, but the europeans made sure to dispatch naval forces behind to thwart these efforts periodically. Everytime the europeans attacked a fort or riverforce they made sure to spike the enemies weapons down or take them, thus reducing the enemies materials. By the 15th the Europeans were approaching some forts that defended Saigon’s southern part. During the night they snuck 2 armed forces to destroy a barrage the Vietnamese had made using boats tied up together utilizing explosives. Dawn the next day the european warships anchored 800 meters from the forts and began their bombardment. They were so close some of the marine snipers in the warship mastheads were able to pick off Vietnamese gunners as well. The Vietnamese responded as best they could, but like the Qing during the opium wars, their outdated cannons were greatly overmatched. Soon landing companies began to assault the forts and by 8am the French and Spanish seized them. A few hours later, Capitaine Bernard Jaureguiberry took the Avalanche and scouted the Citadel of Saigon, before sending a French-Spanish force to assault it. Once the Europeans entered the citadel, the defenders began fleeing, though they did return with 1000 men to counter attack. The Europeans managed to repel the counter attack and by 10am the French and Spanish flag was raised over the citadel. 

The Citadel of Saigon was enormous and the Europeans could not spare the necessary men to man it, so Admiral Rigault de Genouilly decided to simply blow it up. Using 32 mines on march 8th of 1859 the citadel was brought to ruin. Alongside this the europeans set fire to the rice granaries which would burn for several months. The Europeans turned back to Tourane leaving a small garrison to hold Saigon, which would fight a few battles of its own before being forced to pull out. Taking Saigon proved to be a fruitless victory. Admiral Rigault de Genouilly lost favor back home and was replaced in november of 1859 with Admiral Francois page with orders to obtain a treaty to protect catholics in Vietnam, but not to seek territorial gains. Now at the same time this was all occurring, there was the outbreak of the Austro-Sardinian War and this meant the French would require large numbers of forces to go to Italy, which the Vietnamese leadership quickly found out about. 

When Page began negotiations in november with the vietnamese they refused his moderate terms, believing the French were no longer in a position of strength because of their troubles in Italy. So in the meantime Page reinforced the garrisons at Saigon and Da Nang awaiting the conclusion of the Italian war so more troops would be available to him. But by 1860 the 2nd opium war broke out requiring the French to send troops to China and Page was forced to relinquish much of his forces for the China expedition. In April Page left Vietnam to go to Canton, leaving the defense of Saigon and the neighboring Chinese town of Cholon under Capitaine de Vaisseau Jules D’Aries. D’Aries was left with 600 French marines and 200 Spanish troops who were led by Colonel Palanca y Guttierez. He also had on hand the corvettes Primauguet, Laplace and Norzagaray. With such forces he could not hope to with stand attacks from the Vietnamese so he was forced to hire some Chinese and Vietnamese auxiliaries who he placed in advanced posts and for patrols. 

With his 1000 man augmented force, in March they were attacked by a Vietnamese army roughly around 10,000 men in strength. This led to a long and bitter siege, while simultaneously Tourane faced a similar situation and as I said they were forced to pull out as a result over there. D’aries and his men fought the siege off from March of 1860 to February of 1861. However during this time, the British and French forces had won the battle of Palikao on September 21st of 1860, thus relieving the need for their forces over in China. 70 ships led by Admiral Charner, carrying 3500 soldiers led by General de Vassoigne were quickly dispatched to Saigon. This naval force was then the largest the Vietnamese had ever seen. Admiral Charners forces reached their besieged allies in Saigon to find a Vietnamese army estimated to be around 32,000 men strong led by Nguyen Tri Phuong. The Vietnamese siege forces had their siege lines extending 12 km’s long centered around a village called Ky Hoa.

As Colonel Alfred Thomazi recounted

The first objective was the capture of the entrenched camp of Ky Hoa. This was a rectangle measuring around 3,000 metres by 900 metres, divided into five compartments separated by traverses and enclosed within walls three and a half metres high and two metres thick. The camp was armed with more than 150 cannon of all calibres. Subsidiary defences were piled up in front of its walls: wolf-pits, ditches filled with water, palisades and chevaux de frise. Bamboo was employed in the defences with consummate art, and the walls were crowned with thorn bushes along their entire length. The number of enemy soldiers both in and around the fortified camp had grown steadily during the previous year. After the victory, we discovered from the muster rolls that there were 22,000 regular troops and 10,000 militiamen. There were also 15,000 men manning the forts along the upper course of the Donnai. All these men were under the command of Nguyen Tri Phuong, the most celebrated general in the Vietnamese army”.

The Europeans made their initial assault on February 24th, moving their artillery into firing range of the siege lines. With bombardment support the French and Spanish gradually attacked the fortifications taking heavy casualties in the process. A second assault was made the very next day starting at dawn and again our friend Thomazi has a lengthy account of the days battle

The action resumed at 5 a.m. on 25 February. The artillery advanced, facing east, enclosed by two columns of infantry: to the left, the engineers, the marine infantry and the chasseurs; to the right the Spanish infantry and the sailors. The sun, very low in the sky, was spoiling the aim of the cannons, and Lieutenant-Colonel Crouzat brought them forward by rapid bounds to within 200 metres of the enemy lines and ordered them to fire with case shot at the top of the ramparts. The firing was very heavy and our men, in the open, suffered appreciable casualties. Then the haversacks were laid on the ground, the sailors of the assault force reclaimed their scaling ladders, up to then carried by the coolies, and the admiral ordered the charge to be sounded.

The right column, led by capitaine de vaisseau de Lapelin, crossed the wolf pits, the ditches and the chevaux de frise which extended for more than 100 metres in front of the enemy work under an intense fire, and was the first to reach the parapet. Most of the scaling ladders, which were very light, had been broken during the advance. Only three were left, which were placed along the wall, and the sailors of the assault force who could not find a place there climbed on the shoulders of their comrades. This time the fighting was bitter indeed. The first men to reach the summit were killed, but others took their place, throwing grenades inside. Then, using grappling hooks, they breached the perimeter fence and entered the fort.

They then found themselves in an enclosed compartment swept by the fire from the neighbouring compartment, to which they could make no reply. It was a critical situation, and they suffered heavy losses. Finally, several resolute men, rallied by lieutenant de vaisseau Jaurès, succeeded in smashing in the gate that gave onto the other compartment with their axes, just as the engineers succeeded in breaking in, while the marine infantry and the chasseurs outflanked the enemy line on the left. The defenders were either killed where they stood or took to flight. The entire complex of the Ky Hoa lines had fallen into our hands.

The casualties for the second day were heavy, 12 dead and 225 wounded and according to the French reports, the Vietnamese lost around 1000 men including commander Nguyen Tri Phuong. By seizing Ky Hoa, the Europeans were able to take the offensive. Their first target was to be the city of My Tho. A smaller expeditionary force led by Capitaine Bourdais aboard the Monge alongside the Alarme, Mitraille and some gunboats took a force of around 230 men to seize My Tho. They ran into two forts defending a creek leading to the city and began to bombard them. After the forts were neutralized they ran continuously into barricades the vietnamese forces made to bar further passage. Then on April the 4th, the Europeans received reinforcements from Saigon in the form of 200 Chasseurs, 200 Sailors, 2 companies of marines and some heavy artillery. Capitaine Bourdais relinquished command to Capitaine Le Couriault du Quilio and he went to work having their expeditionary force fight its way through the barricades which began to become increasingly well defended. By april 8th, the expedition was reinforced a few more times, including more gunboats prompting the Vietnamese to send two fireships against them. The French naval forces were able to hook the two fireships and tow them away. On the 10th a scouting party led by Captain du Chaffault managed to reach the walls of My Tho, exchanging fire with its defenders before returning to report. Quilio decided to press forward his warships to hit more forts defending the passage to My Tho until they finally got in range of My Tho’s walls. As the Europeans prepared their assault of the city, suddenly a flotilla led by Admiral Page showed up taking the Mekong river passage and he bombarded My Tho by sea which surrendered on the 12th. 

After taking My Tho the French offered peace terms to Tu Duc, but this time demanded the cession of Saigon province, an indemnity of 4 million piastres, free trade rights and freedom of religion. Tu Duc was open to conceding on the religion, but rejected the others outright. Thus the French occupied My Tho and looked for new targets. Meanwhile Tu Duc had lost numerous materials and received many casualties for his efforts against the French-Spanish invaders. His forces simply could not meet the enemy on the open battlefield and thus he now sought to shift towards guerilla warfare. He dispatched men to venture into the enemy held territories and organize resistance groups. Soon Saigon and My Tho provinces were finding themselves in a state of siege. The French and Spanish forces began to fan out into the countryside hunting guerrillas, but as you can imagine this led to terrible violence against the common people. 

Admiral Charner was replaced by Admiral Louis Adolphe Bonard in November of 1861. When he arrived he found the forces were being increasingly attacked by guerillas. One band of guerilla forces attacked the French Lorcha Esperance by luring the vessel out and ambushing her. 17 French and Filipino sailors were killed and the ship was burned down. This prompted Bonard to launch a major reprisal campaign against the province of Bien Hoa. Again our dear friend Thomazi has a lengthy passage on the battle and capture of Bien Hoa

"The Annamese had established defence works on all the routes leading to Biên Hòa. They had built an entrenched camp held by 3,000 men at My Hoa, midway between Biên Hòa and Saigon, and obstructed the course of the Donnai with nine solid barrages and a stockade. The admiral decided to attack simultaneously by land and water. He ordered the detached posts to remain on the defensive and to concentrate all disposable forces before Saigon. All being ready, and an ultimatum issued on 13 December going unanswered, the columns set off at daybreak on 14 December. The first column, commanded by chef de bataillon Comte and consisting of two companies of chasseurs à pied, 100 Spaniards and 50 horsemen with four mortars, made for Gò Công, which it captured at 7.30 a.m. A second column, consisting of 100 Spaniards and a battalion of marine infantry with two cannon, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Domenech Diego, placed itself before the camp of My Hao. At the same time capitaine de vaisseau Lebris, with two companies of sailors, advanced on the Donnai, taking in reverse the batteries on the right bank. Finally, a flotilla of armed launches, having followed the creeks as far as Rach Gò Công, cannonnaded the works which were also bombarding the gunboats anchored in the Donnai under the orders of lieutenant de vaisseau Harel of Avalanche. The forts replied energetically, and the gunboat Alarme was hit by 54 balls and had her main mast nearly destroyed. But once the defenders saw themselves threatened by a land attack, they hastily evacuated the forts, one of which blew up and the others were occupied. The sailors toiled throughout the night to demolish the barrages, while the naval hydrographer Manen sounded the passes. The first obstacles having been destroyed, the two infantry columns joined hands in front of the camp of My Hoa on 15 December. The marine infantry attacked the enemy's centre, while the chasseurs menaced his right and the Spaniards his left, and the cavalry made a turning movement to cut off his retreat. The Annamese panicked and took to flight. Admiral Bonard, aboard the dispatch vessel Ondine, ascended the river and exchanged cannon shots with the citadel. On 16 December the troops crossed the Donnai and occupied Biên Hòa, which the Annamese soldiers had evacuated, but not before burning alive numerous Christian prisoners. We took there 48 cannons and 15 armed junks. The operation cost us only 2 men dead and several wounded."

Even after taking  Bien Hoa, the guerrillas persisted to amp up their attacks.. The guerilla forces around My Tho began to snipe european columns marching along roads and a French gunboat carrying troops was blown up via sabotage. Bonard believed these actions to be the work of Vietnamese forces operating in Vinh Long so he began a campaign to seize it. On March 20th, his naval forces reached the fortress of Vinh Long and he quickly landed 700 French and 300 Spanish troops led by Lt Colonel Reboul to attack. Thomazi tells us 

On 22 March they crossed two arroyos under fire and advanced into view of the enemy batteries, which had been fighting a violent artillery duel with the gunboats. During the night, after a seven-hour struggle, all the batteries were occupied, and on the following day we entered the citadel, where we found 68 cannon and considerable quantities of materiel

The defenders of Vinh Long had fallen back to some earthwork defenses 20 km’s west of My Tho, so Bonard sent forces to attack them while he consolidated Vinh Long. As the forces marched to attack the defenders, the loss of My Tho, Bien Hoa and Vinh Long had severely demoralized the Vietnamese leaders. In April of 1862 Lu Duc announced he sought peace terms.

In May, following some preliminary meetings at Hue, the French corvette Forbin went to Tourane to meet with a Vietnamese delegation. As Thomazi, a very faithful source for this entire episode it seems tells us after the French waited 2 days for the Vietnamese to show up.

On the third day, an old paddlewheel corvette, the Aigle des Mers, was seen slowly leaving the Tourane river. Her beflagged keel was in a state of dilapidation that excited the laughter of our sailors. It was obvious that she had not gone to sea for many years. Her cannons were rusty, her crew in rags, and she was towed by forty oared junks and escorted by a crowd of light barges. She carried the plenipotentiaries of Tự Đức. Forbin took her under tow and brought her to Saigon, where the negotiations were briskly concluded. On 5 June a treaty was signed aboard the vessel Duperré, moored before Saigon.

The result was the Treaty of Saigon which legalized the catholic faith in Vietnam and the secession of Dinh Tuong, Gia Dinh, Bien Hoa and some islands over to France. The ports of Tourange, Ba Lac and Quang Yen were opened and France was given trade rights. On top of all of that the Vietnamese were to pay an indemnity worth one million dollars to France and Spain over a 10 year period. And thus the colony of Cochinchina with its capital of Saigon was acquired by France, which would start a ongoing conflict only to end with the United States of American pulling out in 1975.

I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me.

I honestly thought I would be able to do the Sino-French war of 1884-1885 in a single episode, yet again I was mistaken. Thus next time we will continue the story of France and Southeast asia.