Mandarins and Martyrs: The Church and the Nguyen Dynasty in Early Nineteenth-Century Vietnam

Mandarins and Martyrs: The Church and the Nguyen Dynasty in Early Nineteenth-Century Vietnam

Mandarins and Martyrs: The Church and the Nguyen Dynasty in Early Nineteenth-Century Vietnam

Mandarins and Martyrs: The Church and the Nguyen Dynasty in Early Nineteenth-Century Vietnam

Synopsis

This book examines the rise of anti-Catholic hostility in early nineteenth-century Vietnam under the Nguyen dynasty. French missionaries have long been blamed for the destabilization of dynastic Vietnam and the anti-Catholic violence that preceded the French invasion in 1858. But the focus on the political conflict leading to the Nguyen court's antipathy to the church overlooks the significance of Catholicism as a popular religion. Focusing on, but not limited to, the Cochinchina region, this study explores grassroots experiences of the religion and the conflict between the Nguyen court and missionaries of the Missions Étrangères de Paris (MEP). To do so, it draws on the correspondence of French missionaries and Vietnamese priests from the MEP archive, and on vernacular Vietnamese translations of the Nguyen dynastic record, to provide a new perspective on Nguyen Vietnam from the 1820s to the 1860s.

Excerpt

This book is about the rise of anti-Catholic violence in early nineteenth-century Vietnam and the profound social and political changes it created in the decades preceding French colonial rule. From the first years of the century, sweeping political reforms under the Nguyễn dynasty led to profound shifts in Vietnamese society. One organization that experienced the full force of these changes and in turn played a catalytic role in the unfolding political turmoil preceding the French invasion in 1858 was the Missions Étrangères de Paris (MEP), a French mission society. Offering only a very narrow view of these overlapping developments and their repercussions, scholarship on mid-nineteenth-century Vietnam has generally concentrated on mission Catholicism, both its doctrine and organization, as a destabilizing force within Vietnamese culture and politics. Indeed, most studies focus narrowly on the years of upheaval bridging the FrancoSpanish invasion of 1858 to 1862, analyzing local tensions according to the imperial conquest and mid-century East Asian geopolitics. As a consequence, analyses have overlooked the complex local situation that first gave rise to ten-

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