By Charles Keith
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Extra info for Catholic Vietnam: A Church from Empire to Nation
1 There were also small communities in non-kinh regions to the west and north of Nam Định and Thanh Hóa and around Kontum in the central highlands. However, missionaries did not encounter most people in upland areas until the mid- nineteenth century or later, and geography, low population density, and language differences made it difficult to evangelize in these regions. Even by the 1930s, non- kinh peoples were probably no more than thirty thousand of a Catholic population that by then was well over a million.
S ou r ces a n d Te r m i n o l o g y This work rests on three main bodies of sources. The records of the French colonial and protectorate administrations in Vietnam, held in Aix-en-Provence, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City, include documentation that ranges from the Ministry of Colonies to municipal administrations. Despite its well-known limitations, this material sheds light on a wide range of issues: Church-state relations; the economic, legal, and political standing of Catholic missions; Catholic schools, institutions of social welfare, and associations; communitarian relations; surveillance of Catholic individuals, groups, and press organs; and others.
During the first two centuries of evangelization in these regions, fluid social structures and low population density made conversions in Cochinchina fewer and less communally based than they were in Annam or Tonkin. At the time of the Nguyễn defeat of the Tây Sơn in 1802, far fewer Catholics in Cochin china lived in tightly clustered socioreligious units than in Annam or Tonkin. 21 This first meant that many Catholic population centers were further dispersed, not concentrated. However, continued violence in the two decades preceding the French invasion helped concentrate many Catholics around large towns such as Saigon, where many Catholics from southern provinces fled in the 1850s and early 1860s.