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Coins of Vietnam
Vietnam was the only region to rival China in the production of cash coins, issuing a vast variety over a 1000 year period, from 960 A.D. to the early 20th century. The coins of Vietnam relate to historically relevant people, places, and events, and include coins issued by rebels and competing political factions.
|In 1744 Nguyen Phuc Khoat proclaimed the southern region a kingdom and took the regnal name Vo Vuong. Although he listened to music by western missionaries, Vo Vuong banned both missionaries and Christianity. He expanded his territory, taking parts of Cambodia. The Vietnamese-Cambodian border established by the end of his reign remains the border today. After declining availability of coins became a serious problem, in 1746 he purchased zinc from Dutch merchants to cast coins. He also allowed over 100 private mints. Unfortunately, some of these mints mixed cheaper black lead (lead) with the white lead (zinc). In 1776, Le Quy Don wrote in Phu Bien Tap Luc ('Miscellaneous records in the border area'), "There was one kind of coin called Thien Minh Thong Bao, which had black lead mixed in and became very fragile. People refused to accept it because of its ugliness; therefore the trade did not go smoothly, coins were not circulated well."|
|A nephew of the last Nguyen lord who ruled southern Vietnam, at age 15, Nguyen The To (also known as Nguyen Anh) was forced into hiding when his family was slain in the Tay Son revolt. After several changes of fortune in which his loyalists regained and again lost Saigon, he befriended the French Catholic priest Pigneau de Behaine. Pigneau recruited volunteers to help him take the throne. From 1789, he advanced north, defeating the Tay Son, reaching the Chinese border 1802, and reuniting all Vietnam, from China down to the Gulf of Siam, after centuries of feudal warfare. He took the regnal name Gia Long, moved the capital from Hanoi to Hue, and reinstated Confucian education and civil service. In return for French support, he tolerated Catholic missionaries, which was increasingly restricted under his successors. Using French expertise, he modernized Vietnam's military, gained dominance in Indochina, and made Cambodia into a vassal state.|
|Minh Mang was the second emperor of the Nguyen dynasty of Vietnam, reigning from 14 February 1820 until his death, on 20 January 1841. He was well known for his opposition to French involvement in Vietnam and his rigid Confucian orthodoxy. He banned missionaries from Vietnam and seven missionaries were sentenced to death. |
During the reign of Minh Mang a substantial quantity of zinc coins were issued. They are of the same general style and calligraphy as the copper coins.
|Nguyen Duc Tong, reign name Tu Duc, is regarded as the last Emperor of Vietnam to rule independently. Tu Duc oppressed foreigners in Vietnam, especially Christians. He ordered Vietnamese Catholic converts to renounce their religion, or surrender all rights and be branded on the face. After a Spanish bishop was executed, France responded with a large attack from the south. The Nguyen army fought bravely, but their antiquated weapons and tactics were no match for the French. Tu Duc called upon his Manchu over-lord, the Qing Emperor, for help, resulting in the Sino-French War. France was victorious. China surrendered its position as feudal master of Vietnam. Faced with numerous rebellions and the advancing French, since the rebels would most likely depose or kill him, Tu Duc made a deal with the French. He signed away southernmost Vietnam to be a French colony and accepted the status of a French protectorate. Many Vietnamese refused to recognize the treaty and fought on, denouncing Tu Duc for surrendering part of their homeland. Tu Duc died in 1883, supposedly cursing the French with his dying breath. A case of smallpox left him impotent so he had no children despite a huge harem of wives. His adopted son Duc Duc was deposed by court officials after a reign of three days.|