Laos Under the French

Laos Table of Contents

The Kingdom of Louangphrabang became a protectorate and was initially placed under the governor general of Indochina in Hanoi. Pavie saw to the officialization in Hanoi of the titles of King Oun Kham, his eldest son who assumed the duties of king under the name Zakarine--also known as Kham Souk (r. 1894-1904)-- and the viceroy, Boun Khong.

The French originally divided central Laos into two administrative districts. By April and May 1894, however, the initial organization was already being modified, and a new plan was put into effect a year later. In 1899 Upper Laos was integrated with Lower Laos under one administrator.

In 1904 and 1905, Laos was deprived of southern plateaus that were previously part of its territory. Under the February 13, 1904, Convention Modifying the Treaty Concluded on October 3, 1893, Siam ceded to France control of the right-bank portion of Louangphrabang (present-day Xaignabouri Province) and part of the right-bank territory of Champasak. The French governor general, by a decree of March 28, 1905, fixed the border between Laos and Cambodia at the Tonle Repou River. Under the March 23, 1907, Treaty Between France and Siam, the French retroceded the territory of Dan Sai, southwest of the "elbow" of the Mekong, to Siam.

The French thus reestablished a political entity in the middle Mekong Valley extending from China to the Khong falls on the Cambodian border that owed allegiance to neither Vietnam nor Siam, thereby eluding Vietnamese claims to Laos, whose historical basis they had verified in the archives in Hué. Detachment of the administration of the left-bank territories from Annam was justified on grounds of budgetary necessity in the new French Indochina.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress