When the state of Đại Cồ Việt 1 was established in the tenth century, it inherited only the territory (I use the term “territory” in a broad sense, regardless of the nature of rule) of the Chinese protectorate of Annan, which covered present-day northern (Bắc Bộ) and north-central (Bắc Trung Bộ) Vietnam north of Ngang Pass, but which did not include present-day Tây Bắc or the northwest region. The maximum extent of the territory at that time was around 110,000 square kilometres. However, when Nguyễn Vietnam surrendered to France in the late nineteenth century, the territory it claimed to control had more than tripled to over 370,000 square kilometres, similar in extent to the present-day Socialist Republic of Vietnam, stretching from the Chinese border to the Gulf of Thailand. For this reason, the territorial (mainly southward) expansion realised by successive “Vietnamese” dynasties (Đại Cồ Việt, Đại Việt and Việt Nam) forms one of the major themes in conventional Vietnamese historiography. 2 Alongside glorious resistances to foreign (mainly Chinese) invasions, the expansion was regarded as an expression of the vitality of the Vietnamese nation. Vietnam’s Chinese-modelled state system, supported by neo-Confucianist social and family norms, was often argued to be superior to that of its “Indianised” neighbours, while in socio-economic terms, fierce demand for arable land among peasants living in over-populated lowland villages was often thought to have been the key factor in the expansion.