Village rebellion and social violence in early nineteenth-century Vietnam
in A global history of early modern violence

The historiography of Vietnamese warfare is conventionally shaped by the view from the Grand Palace or dynastic chronicles: kings and empires dominate military and political narratives, positioning themselves at the centre of historical developments, with little room for local approaches. By contrast, this chapter gives voice to local understandings of war by considering local militia and their role in shaping early modern Vietnamese politics and society. It focuses on the densely populated Red River Delta and its process of militarization and increased social violence to argue that militarization was a significant social and political phenomenon in early nineteenth-century Vietnam. Although in the words of Charles Tilly ‘war made the state, and the state made war’, early modern Vietnam is a compelling case where warfare instead eroded the power of the central state.

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