Tay-son Rebellion. 1764-1801.
Annam is certainly the country in which there have been the
greatest number of rebellions, and the most important one is
without doubt that of the Western Mountaineers, who rebelled in
1764 in the province of  Binh-dinh, and soon afterwards
became the masters of the whole Annamese territory.
There exist two different versions of the origin of this
great rebellion. According to the Annamese version, as given by
Mr. PETRUS VINH-KY, there lived in the country of Binh-dinh a
Tunquinese family of prisoners of war who had formerly inhabited
  Nghe-an, and who were taken down to Cochinchina by the
NGUYEN armies during the reign of  Than-tong. One of the
members of this family, called  NGUYEN VAN-NHAC, rose to
the position of Bien-lai or Treasurer of the Customs station at
Van-don. This Nguyen Van-nhac lost heavy sums by gambling, and
to pay these amounts he embezzled Government money under his
charge. Fearing discovery, he fled to the Tay-son mountains, and
there soon collected around him about three thousand criminals,
thiefs and pirates. He appointed his two brothers  VAN-HUE
and  VAN-LU lieutenants of this army, whose first operations
were to attack and plunder the Customs stations on the frontier
and to pillage the rich families in the country. The men of that
army took the name of
Tay-son. and the revolt is known by the name of the Rebellion of
the Western Mountaineers.
The Tay-son rebels successfully resisted the armies sent
against them, emboldened by the victories they obtained, until
they seized the citadel of Binh-dinh, having entered its walls
by a stratagem somewhat similar to that of the famous wooden
horse of the siege of Troy. The rebel chief however soon found
himself hard pressed on the North by the royal troops of the LE
Dynasty, under the command of Trinh-sum, and on the South by
those of the Lords NGUYEN. VAN-NHAC thought it prudent to cast
in his lot with that of the Lords Trinh, by whom he was soon
employed to expel the Nguyen from the country. This end being
obtained, he was created  Trinh-thanh Vuong, in 1775, and
appointed by royal authority Governor of Qnang-nam. In 1776 the
war against the Nguyen was continued and their last King 
DOC-TONG and his son were made prisoners and beheaded in Saigon.
In 1777 Van-nhac took advantage of the royal armies having
returned to Tunquin to proclaim himself king of Cochinchina
under the name of  THAI-DUC.
But at the same time a nephew of King DUC-TONG, the last
representative of the NGUYEN family, raised his standard against
the Tay-son rebels, and after many contests in which success and
reverses were equally divided, he put an end to the rebellion,
and in 1801 occupied the throne of Annam, taking  GIA-LONG
as the name of his reign and founding the present Dynasty of the
The Chinese version of the Tay-son revolt is that the Lords
TRINH, in order to take advantage of every possible way of
destroying the power of the NGUYEN, bribed two of their
officials, VAN-NHAC and VAN-HUE, and commanded them to revolt
and take the capital Hue, and thus annihilate the race of their
rulers. It is easy to perceive that this version is not a
correct one, as it was Lord Trinh himself who took Hue and
subsequently received the submission of the Tay-son.
We have seen that in 1777 VAN-NHAC proclaimed himself king
and appointed his brother HUE commander-in-chief. Rivalry soon
broke out between the two brothers, and a fight ensued between
their two armies, but a common danger brought them together
again. In order to prevent such differences for the future, they
divided, in 1785, the territories already conquered into three
kingdoms, each kingdom to be governed by one of the brothers.
The following table will give an exact idea of this division.
||NAME OF REIGN.
||YEAR OF ADOPTION OF NAME OF REIGN.
| Nguyen Van-nhac
| Nguyen Van-hue
| Nguyen Van-toan
| Nguyen Van-lu
The above notices will be sufficient to give an idea of the
importance of the Tay-son rebellion. These rebels occupied in
fact the whole of Annam, and the Chinese Emperor K'IEN-LUNG,
after having invaded that country and failed to restore the
throne of the Last LE Prince, recognized Van-hue as king, in
1789, and received him in his summer palace at Jehol.
The story of the contest between the armies of the Tay-son
and those of GlA-LONG is a long one, and of no special interest,
as it merely consists of a long list of battles in the Annamese
style, in which appears as victor the very same chief who the
day before had been defeated. Gia-long had the good fortune of
being assisted by the Bishop of Adran who caused the French
Government to interfere for the first time with the affairs of
Annam. In 1801 Quinhon, the last stronghold of the rebels, fell
into his hands, and thus ended the most formidable rebellion
that has ever devastated Annam.
VAN-NHAC took the title of  Dai-hoang-de or Emperor,
and occupied the territories of the  Quang-nam to the South
of  Binh-dinh, his capital being at the port of Quinhon. He
died in 1792 leaving as accessor his son  Tu-trieu, who was
immediately deposed and some time afterwards murdered by his
No. 177. - Obverse:
Reverse: plain. Copper.
No. 178. - Obverse: Same as before.
Reverse: The sun and the moon above and below the square
No. 179. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: The sun and the moon on the right and left of
the hole. Copper.
No. 180. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: The sun above, and the sun and moon together
below the hole. Copper.
No. 181. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: The moon on the left of the hole. Copper.
No. 182. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: The moon below the hole. Copper.
No. 183. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: Four crescents round the hole. Zinc.
No. 184. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: The characters
That-phan, indicating the weight of the cash. Copper.
All the above coins were issued by the rebel chief 
NGUYEN VAN-NHAC (1777-1792). Except the one made of zinc, they
are all of red copper imported into Annam from Japan.
VAN-HUE occupied the whole of Tunquin and a part of
Cochinchina, having his capital at first in Hue and afterwards
in  Trung-do, in the province of  Nghe-an. In December of
1789 he received his investiture and —seal from the Emperor of
China, and being thus recognized as king of Annam, he sent to
Peking the amount of two tributes. He died in 1791, and in the
following year his son and successor  VAN-TOAH incorporated
with his kingdom the territories belonging to the son of
No. 185. - Obverse:
Reverse: plain. Two kinds of metal were employed in the
manufacture of this cash, viz: Copper and tin.
No. 186. - Same as before, but with the
character Bao written as follow:
No. 187. - Same as No. 185, but
without any rim on the reverse. Note: it
seems like pictures of Nos. 186 and 187 were
confused in the book
No. 188. - Obverse:
Reverse: plain. Red copper.
No. 189. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: A dot below the hole. Copper.
No. 190. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: A straight line above the hole. Red copper.
No. 191. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: A line below the hole.
No. 192. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: A line on the left of the hole.
No. 193. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: Four crescents round the hole. Tin mixed with a
small quantity of copper.
No. 194. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: Four crescents round the rim. Same metal as
No. 195. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: Two crescents above and below the hole. Same
metal as above.
No. 196. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: A line round the rim, similar to the one on the
obverse. Tin. This coin is a little smaller than the others.
No. 197. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: The character
Coung, for the Board of Public Works, below the hole. Tin.
No. 198. - Same as before, but with the
Coung of the reverse above the hole. Copper.
No. 199. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: The character
Nhat. one, denoting the vaIue of the cash, above the hole, and
below the character
Chanh, the meaning of which has already been explained. Copper.
No. 200. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: The characters
Son-nam, written in the  Le style. They denote the province in
which the coin was made. Red copper.
No. 201. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: Same inscription as on the obverse, but with the
characters upside down.
The above coins, from No. 185 to 201, were issued by the
rebel chief  Nguyen Van-hue (1786-1791).
No. 202. - Obverse:
Reverse: plain. Tin.
No. 203. - Obverse: Same as before.
Reverse: without rim. Copper.
No. 204. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: A straight line below the hole. Copper.
No. 205. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: with four crescents round the hole. Tin mixed
No. 206. - Obverse: Same as No.
202, with a line round the rim.
Reverse: A line round the rim. Tin.
No. 207. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: The inscription
Quang-trung-thong-bao, referring to the rebel Quang-trung. The
characters are upside down. Tin.
No. 208. - Obverse: Same as No.
Reverse: Same inscription us on the obverse, with the
characters upside down. Tin.
No. 209. - Obverse: Same as No.
202, but with plain rim.
Reverse: Two fish and two flowers. On the rim the same
design as on the obverse. Yellow copper.
No. 210. - Obverse: Same as No.
209, the design on the rim varying a little.
Reverse: A dragon and a fish. Yellow copper.
The coins numbered 202 to 210 were issued by the rebel 
NGUYEN VAN-TOAN (1791-1800). Nos. 209 and 210 were cast for the
purpose of being given away as medals.
No. 211. - Obverse:
Reverse: plain. Copper.
In 1800 Van-toan changed the name of his reign to Bao-hung
and issued this coin, of which a very small quantity only was
cast, as this rebel soon disappeared from Annam.
VAN-LU was a bonze and his reign but a short one. Proclaimed
king of  Binh-thuan and lower Cochinchina in 1785, he
established his capital in Saigon, whence he was soon driven
away by the army of GIA-LONG, which in 1788 conquered the whole
of LU's kingdom.