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Religion and Anti-colonialism

The French sought to reshape social and cultural life of the Vietnamese. While religion played an important role in strengthening colonial control, it also provided ways of resistance.

  • Vietnam’s religious beliefs were a mixture of Buddhism, Confucianism and local practices.

From the eighteenth century, many religious movements were hostile to the Western presence.

  • The Scholars Revolt in 1868 was an early movement against French control and the spread of Christianity.

The officials who led the revolt led a general uprising in Ngu An and Ha Tien provinces. Over a thousand Catholics were killed. This movement served to inspire other patriots to rise up against the French and so they crushed the movement.


Torture and execution of Father Joseph Marchand, in 1835 :-

  • Huynh Phu So started the Hoa Hao movement in 1939 and it gained great popularity in the fertile Mekong delta area. It drew on religious ideas popular in anti-French uprisings of the nineteenth century.

  • Huynh Phu So performed miracles and helped the poor.

  • He tried to put a full stop to all the anti- social activities.

  • The French tried to suppress the movement inspired by Huynh Phu.

  • The French declared him mad, and called him the Mad Bonze, and put him in a mental asylum.

  • But he was proved sane, by the French doctors.

  • The French authorities then exiled him to Laos and sent many of his followers to concentration camps.

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