For five hundred years, Portugal and Vietnam have shared a long history of commercial and cultural exchanges. It deserves to be emphasized that these exchanges have taken place without any kind of war or hostility, or any attempt at colonization.CHAM, the Portuguese Center for Global History (FCSH-New University of Lisbon and University of Azores) has approved a project of celebrations to mark this anniversary. The President of the Portuguese Republic, Prof. Cavaco Silva, has granted his High Patronage to the Commemorations of the 500 Years Friendship Portugal-Vietnam.
Our Portuguese sailors, diplomats, Fathers of the Jesuit Society, and many other of our ancestors played a very important role in the success of this relationship; so it is high time for us to honour their memory, as well as to enhance their important accomplishments in the territories that today constitutes Vietnam.
Tomé Pires wrote his first report about this geographical area in his work Suma Oriental (finished in 1515). In 1516, Fernão Perez de Andrade was compelled by the monsoon to stop sailing in Vietnamese waters and took advantage of his stay to make and deepen contacts with its inhabitants. Francisco de Pina would arrive one hundred years later and he would start a long work of phonetic transcription of the Vietnamese language. These facts led us to commemorate our Portuguese-Vietnamese friendship this year, and in the next one (2015-2016).
After the conquest of Malacca, Champa and Cochinchina coastlines were visited and charted by Portuguese sailors. These lands would later be called Viêt Nam after their reunification in1802 by Gia Long (the emperor and founder of the Nguyên dynasty). In fact «Cochinchina» was not a Vietnamese name, but a misunderstanding based on Chinese words heard and used by the Portuguese sailors in the 16th century; the Vietnamese ancestors called themselves Ðai Viêt (Honourable People) in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it was in this way that they represented themselves in the Ming Court.
In more recent times, “Cochinchina” became, for the Portuguese people, a magical, mysterious and faraway land.
During 2015-2016, several events are planned. We want to give an opportunity to the people to learn more about the history and culture of our two countries.
Isabel Augusta Tavares Mourão (CHAM)
CHAM / NOVA FCSH
Presidente da República
Embaixada do Vietname
Padrão dos Descobrimentos / EGEAC
Academia de Marinha
ANTT / DGLAB