3. The Residential Area (Continue)
The feudal government also stipulated measures to prevent fire. The law strictly punished those who caused the fire, “Anyone in the capital who causes a fire to start in his house will be beaten 80 strokes. If the fire spreads to other houses, he will be hit 80 strokes and forced to stand in public for three days and fined 10 strings of coin. (19-III:152) The State ordered households in the capital to keep their kitchen in repair, build walls and plaster them on three sides and on the floor, make their ovens thick and firm, use a lamp at night with a lamp stand and leave out hooks. So it was not necessary to prohibit entirely the making of any household fires.” (20- II:187)
At the end of the 17th century in the capital on the bank of the river, outside the Dai La wall (124:359), near the present entrance to the Long Bien Bridge, a few rows of tiled houses appeared. They were large warehouses of foreigners, particularly of the East India Companies of the Dutch and British, depicted these warehouses in the picture of Ke Cho given in his book. And William Dampier the British merchant described them in 1688: “The small house of the British company has only a few people. It lies in the north of the capital, facing the Red River. That house is low and nice, perhaps that’s the nicest one that I’ve ever seen in the capital. In the middle of the house, there’s a little dining room, in each side there are well-facilitated rooms for merchants, and employees of the company. The house was built parallel to the river, both ends have smaller rooms used for other purposes, kitchen, storage, etc. They lined up from the big house to the riverbank forming a long yard perpendicular to the river. A flagpole was set up in that yard to hang the British flag when necessary. When the British are abroad, they have a tradition of hanging out their flag on Sundays and other holidays.
“The Dutch Factory [factories were storehouses and offices of foreign merchants] joins to the English Factory on the South side. I have heard that their ground is not as large as ours, tho’ they [Dutch] are the longest standers here by many years: For the English are but newly removed from Hean, where they resided altogether before...” [Hean=Pho Hien] (150:39)
We know that large Dutch warehouses obtained permission to set up in Thang Long in 1645 and existed until 1700. British warehouses were set up in Ke Cho in 1683 and remained until 1697.
View of Thang Long from the Red River in the second half of the 17th century. The multi-story building on the left most likely is the Tay Long Palace or Trinh Lord Naval Review Pavilion. The flags on the right indicate the locations of the Dutch and English factories
Some preliminary remarks about the appearance of Thang Long-Ke Cho in the 17th and 18th centuries can be drawn as follows:
- As in previous centuries, during this period, Thang Long had no comprehensive urban planning. Basically, the city consisted of two parts: the administrative area - the Royal citadel and Lord’s palace - and the residential area for ordinary people. However, the shifting of the center of gravity from the Royal citadel to the commercial area by the construction of the lord’s palace forced an integration of those two areas in terms of residence as well as of politics, economics and culture.
- The Royal citadel was reconstructed in the 17th and 18th centuries on the foundations of the old citadel built during the first reigns of the Le-Trinh dynasty. The citadel’s powerful and traditional appearance was based on the system of natural rivers and lakes, such as, West Lake, the To Lich-Kim Nguu River and other small lakes. This system served as a border, as a defensive system and as a recreational center. However, compared with the Royal citadel under the first reign of the Le dynasty, the Royal citadel under the Le-Mac dynasty was probably curtailed in both its east and the west development. Meanwhile the complex of palaces in the north (near West Lake) declined. Political and recreational activities took place mainly in the palaces inside the Forbidden City, having shifted from the Royal citadel to the Trinh lord’s palaces.
- The complex of the Trinh Lord’s palaces was more splendid, and more luxurious than the former Royal citadel. However, as an imperial residential area, the citadel was not as permanent and unchanging as the Royal citadel of the Le Kings. Buildings relating to the military increasingly expanded to the east and southeast of the capital.
- The existence of an administrative area in combination with an area for ordinary people had some ramifications. On the one hand, this arrangement encouraged the older eastern area of the capital to thrive at an unprecedented pace. On the other hand, it urbanized the swampy southern area in which the sparse population was scattered around the ponds and lakes.
- The residential area made up the remainder of the capital excluding the Royal citadel and the lord’s palace. Because of the absence of a surrounding citadel wall for one-and-a-half. Centuries from 1592 to 1749, conditions favored the spread of the city into the neighboring guild areas. Favorable factors included natural borders, such as the Red River in the east, the vast West Lake in the north and the To Lich and Kim Nguu rivers in the south.
- There were no distinct borders between the economic sectors of the residential area. Natural conditions, however, influenced both residential location and the developing economy. West Lake, with its large shore area and an abundant water source used in the production of many traditional crafts, became a center of handicraft development. The Red and To Lich River system providing convenient access to markets and raw materials, made the eastern sector between the Royal citadel and the Red River wealthy and bustling.
- The residential area, previously understood in the narrow definition as a merchant area to the east became increasingly crowded. It played a decisive role in the capital’s economic life. From a component dependent on the royal family’s area, it became an independent area with its own economy. The subdivision of specialized guild areas probably began officially in the first reigns of the Le dynasty. During this period, the process was completed, encouraged by mass emigration of artisan and merchant classes from the surrounding regions to Thang Long-Ke Cho and settling there.
In summary, Thang Long-Ke Cho reached its peak of political and economic development in the 17th and the 18th centuries.
Tags cho bài viết