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The Franco-Siamese War of 1893 was a conflict between the
French Third Republic The French Third Republic (french: La Troisième République, sometimes written as ) was the system of government adopted in France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed during the Franco-Prussian War, until 10 July 1940 after Fra ...
and the Kingdom of Siam.
Auguste Pavie Auguste Jean-Marie Pavie (31 May 1847 – 7 June 1925) was a French colonial civil servant, explorer and diplomat who was instrumental in establishing French control over Laos in the last two decades of the 19th century. After a long career in ...
, French vice consul in
Luang Prabang Luang Phabang, (Lao: ຫລວງພະບາງ/ຫຼວງພະບາງ) or ''Louangphabang'' (pronounced ), commonly transliterated into Western languages from the pre-1975 Lao spelling ຫຼວງພຣະບາງ (ຣ = silent r) as '' ...
in 1886, was the chief agent in furthering French interests in
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao , recognised_languages = French , languages_type = Spoken languages , languages = ...
. His intrigues, which took advantage of Siamese weakness in the region and periodic invasions by
Vietnam , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Hanoi , coordinates = , largest_city = Ho Chi Minh City , languages_type = National language , languages ...
ese rebels from
Tonkin Tonkin, also spelled ''Tongkin'', ''Tonquin'' or ''Tongking'', is an exonym referring to the northern region of Vietnam. During the 17th and 18th centuries, this term referred to the domain ''Đàng Ngoài'' under Trịnh lords' control, includin ...
, increased tensions between
Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies in the Chao Phraya River delta in central Thailand and has an estimated population of 10.539 mi ...
and
Paris Paris () is the capital and most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents as of 2018, in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, co ...
. Following the conflict, the Siamese agreed to cede
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao , recognised_languages = French , languages_type = Spoken languages , languages = ...
to France, an act that led to the significant expansion of
French Indochina French Indochina (previously spelled as French Indo-China) (French: ''Indochine française''; Vietnamese: ''Đông Dương thuộc Pháp'', lit. 'East Ocean under French Control'), officially known as the Indochinese Union (French: ''Union indo ...
. This conflict succeeded the
Haw wars The Haw Wars ( th, สงครามปราบฮ่อ) were fought against Chinese quasi-military forces invading parts of Tonkin and the Siam from 1865–1890. Forces invading Lao domains were ill-disciplined and freely plundered Buddhist tem ...
(1865–1890), in which the Siamese attempted to pacify northern Siam and Tonkin.


Context

The conflict started when French Indochina's Governor-General
Jean de LanessanJEAN was a dialect of the JOSS programming language developed for and used on ICT 1900 series computers in the late 1960s and early 1970s; it was implemented under the MINIMOP operating system. It was used at the University of Southampton. JEAN wa ...
sent Auguste Pavie as consul to Bangkok to bring Laos under French rule. The government in Bangkok, mistakenly believing that they would be supported by the
British government The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
, refused to concede territory east of the
Mekong The Mekong, or Mekong River, is a trans-boundary river in East Asia and Southeast Asia. It is the world's tenth longest river and the sixth longest in Asia. Its estimated length is , and it drains an area of , discharging of water annually. ...

Mekong
and instead reinforced their military and administrative presence. Events were brought to a head by two separate incidents when Siamese governors in
Khammuan Khammouane Province (''Khammouan'') (Lao: ຄໍາມ່ວນ) is a province in the center of Laos. Its capital lies at Thakhek. Khammouane Province covers an area of and is mostly of forested mountainous terrain. Many streams flow through th ...
and
Nong Khai Nong Khai ( th, เทศบาลเมืองหนองคาย; 'Nong Khai Town' or 'Nong Khai') is a city in northeast Thailand. It is the capital of Nong Khai Province. Nong Khai city is administered as Mueang Nong Khai District. Nong K ...
expelled three French merchants from the middle Mekong in September 1892, two of them, Champenois and Esquilot, on suspicion of opium smuggling. Shortly afterwards, the French consul in
Luang Prabang Luang Phabang, (Lao: ຫລວງພະບາງ/ຫຼວງພະບາງ) or ''Louangphabang'' (pronounced ), commonly transliterated into Western languages from the pre-1975 Lao spelling ຫຼວງພຣະບາງ (ຣ = silent r) as '' ...
, Victor-Alphonse Massie, feverish and discouraged, committed suicide on his way back to
Saigon , population_density_km2 = 4292 , population_density_metro_km2 = 697.2 , population_demonym = Saigonese , demographics_type1 = Ethnic groups , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 ...
. Back in France, these incidents were used by the colonial lobby (''Parti Colonial'') to stir up nationalistic anti-Siamese sentiment, as a pretext for intervention. The death of Massie left
Auguste Pavie Auguste Jean-Marie Pavie (31 May 1847 – 7 June 1925) was a French colonial civil servant, explorer and diplomat who was instrumental in establishing French control over Laos in the last two decades of the 19th century. After a long career in ...
as the new French Consul. In March 1893 Pavie demanded that the Siamese evacuate all military posts on the east side of the Mekong River south of Khammuan, claiming that the land belonged to Vietnam. To back up these demands, the French sent the gunboat ''
Lutin A lutin () is a type of hobgoblin (an amusing goblin) in French folklore and fairy tales. Female lutins are called ''lutines'' (). A lutin (varieties include the ''Nain Rouge'' or "red dwarf") plays a similar role in the folklore of Normandy to hou ...
'' to
Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies in the Chao Phraya River delta in central Thailand and has an estimated population of 10.539 mi ...
, where it was moored on the
Chao Phraya The Chao Phraya ( or ) ( th, แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา , or ) is the major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the centre of the country. It flows through Bangkok and then into the Gulf of Thailand. Etymo ...
next to the French legation.


Conflict

When Siam rejected the French demands, de Lanessan sent three military columns into the disputed region to assert French control in April 1893. Eight small Siamese garrisons west of the Mekong withdrew upon the arrival of the central column, but the advance of the other columns met with resistance. In the north, the French came under siege on the island of Khoung, with the capture of an officer, Thoreaux. In the south the occupation proceeded smoothly until an ambush by the Siamese on the village of Keng Kert resulted in the killing of French police inspector Grosgurin.


Killing of Inspector Grosgurin

Inspector Grosgurin was a French inspector and commander of a Vietnamese militia in
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao , recognised_languages = French , languages_type = Spoken languages , languages = ...
. Like
Auguste Pavie Auguste Jean-Marie Pavie (31 May 1847 – 7 June 1925) was a French colonial civil servant, explorer and diplomat who was instrumental in establishing French control over Laos in the last two decades of the 19th century. After a long career in ...
, he had been engaged in several exploratory expeditions in the region. He was a member of one of the French armed columns dispatched in April 1893 by Lassenan to cross the Annamite Range into the Lao area of Khammouane Province, Khammuan (modern Thakhek) and to occupy the disputed territory. The column was at first successful in evicting the Siamese commissioner at Khammuan by 25 May. Shortly afterwards on 5 June, the Siamese commissioner organized a surprise ambush on the village of Kien Ket, where Grosgurin, confined to his sickbed, had encamped with his militia. The commissioner had apparently been instructed by Siamese government representatives to "compel their [French troops] retirement, by fighting, if necessary, to the utmost of their strength". The ambush resulted in the razing of the village and the killing of Grosgurin and 17 Vietnamese.''The Peoples and Politics of the Far East'' (1895) by Sir Henry Norman, p.480-48

/ref> The incident and the death of Grosgurin became known as the "Affair of Kham Muon (Kien Chek)" and was ultimately used as a pretext for strong French intervention.


Paknam incident

As a result France demanded reparations and tensions with the British over control of Siam came to a peak. The British sent three navy ships to the mouth of the
Chao Phraya The Chao Phraya ( or ) ( th, แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา , or ) is the major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the centre of the country. It flows through Bangkok and then into the Gulf of Thailand. Etymo ...
, in case evacuation of British citizens became necessary. In turn the French went one step further in July 1893 by ordering two of their ships, the sloop ''Inconstant'' and the gunboat ''Comète'', to sail up the Chao Phraya towards Bangkok, without the permission of the Siamese. They came under fire from the fort at Amphoe Mueang Samut Prakan, Paknam on 13 July 1893. The French returned fire and forced their way to Bangkok. With guns trained on the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the French delivered an ultimatum to the Siamese on 20 July to hand over the territory east of the Mekong and withdraw their garrisons there, to pay an indemnity of three million francs in reparation for the fighting at Paknam, and to punish those responsible for the killings in the disputed territory. When Siam did not immediately comply unconditionally to the ultimatum, the French blockaded the Siamese coast. In the end the Siamese submitted fully to the French conditions after finding no support from the British. In addition, the French demanded as guarantees the temporary occupation of Chantaburi and the demilitarization of Battambang, Siem Reap and a -wide zone on the west bank of the Mekong. The conflict led to the signature of the Franco-Siamese Treaty, on 3 October 1893.


Franco-Siamese trial

Following the killing of Grosgurin, the Commissioner of the Kammuon District, Phra Yot, was acknowledged by his government to have been the responsible official, although he was initially acquitted of wrongdoing in a trial in March 1894. A "Franco-Siamese Mixed Court" was subsequently convened in June 1894. The court determined that Phra Yot had brought extra forces to surround the house in Kien Ket occupied by the ill Grosgurin, outnumbering his small Vietnamese militia; that Grosgurin and those Vietnamese who had not managed to escape had been killed and the house subsequently set on fire on the orders of Phra Yot. In a joint agreement between the Siamese and the French, Phra Yot was condemned to 20 years of penal servitude. The solicitor for the defense was the Ceylonese lawyer Tilleke & Gibbins, William Alfred Tilleke, who was later appointed Attorney General, Attorney General of Siam and granted a peerage by the king. The Royal Thai Army, Royal Thai Army fort Phra Yot Muang Khwan in Nakhon Phanom Province on the border between Thailand and Laos commemorates Phra Yot.


Consequences

The Siamese agreed to cede
Laos , national_anthem = "Pheng Xat Lao") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Vientiane , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Lao , recognised_languages = French , languages_type = Spoken languages , languages = ...
to France, significantly expanding
French Indochina French Indochina (previously spelled as French Indo-China) (French: ''Indochine française''; Vietnamese: ''Đông Dương thuộc Pháp'', lit. 'East Ocean under French Control'), officially known as the Indochinese Union (French: ''Union indo ...
. In 1896, France signed a treaty with Britain defining the border between Laos and British territory in Upper Burma. The Kingdom of Laos became a protectorate, initially placed under the Governor General of Indochina in Hanoi. Pavie, who almost single-handedly brought Laos under French rule, saw to the officialization in Hanoi. The French and British both had strong interests in controlling parts of Indochina. Twice in the 1890s, they were on the verge of war over two different routes leading to Yunnan. But several difficulties discouraged them from war. The geography of the land made troop movements difficult, making warfare more costly and less effective. Both countries were fighting a difficult conflict within their respective colonies. Malaria was common and deadly. Ultimately, the imagined trade routes never really came into use. In 1904, the French and the British put aside their many differences with the Entente Cordiale, ending this dispute in southeastern Asia. France continued to occupy Chanthaburi and Trat up until 1907, when Siam ceded to it the provinces of Battambang, Siem Reap and Sisophon.


Gallery

File:Siamese Army in Laos 1893.jpg, Siamese army in Laos in 1893 File:Siamese Elephant Mounted Artillery in Laos 1893.jpg, Siamese Elephant-mounted artillery in Laos in 1893 File:Canonniere_Comete_(1884-1909)_bf_1923.jpg, The French gunboat ''Comète'' (1884-1909) File:Canonniere Le Lutin (1877-1897).jpg, The gunboat ''Lutin'' (1877-1897) was stationed in central Bangkok in March 1893


References


Further reading

*''Anglo-French Rivalry in Southeast Asia: Its Historical Geography and Diplomatic Climate'' by John L. Christian *Chandran Jeshurun, ''The Contest for Siam 1889-1902: A Study in Diplomatic Rivalry'', Kuala Lumpur: Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 1977. * * *


External links


onwar.com






{{DEFAULTSORT:Franco-Siamese War Franco-Siamese War, French Third Republic Rama V period Wars involving France Wars involving the Rattanakosin Kingdom Wars involving Vietnam Conflicts in 1893 1893 in France 1893 in Vietnam 1893 in Siam France–Thailand military relations