In our previous article on Vietnam’s southern citadels, we covered a mix of ancient structures and those constructed just before the dawn of French colonization of Indochina. In particular, we focused on Gia Dinh Citadel, a hulking structure that once stood in what would become Saigon’s city center.
Undertaking a similar exercise for Vietnam’s central and northern regions is less practical, given the sheer quantity and variety of citadels in those regions. So, for the second part of our citadel series, we instead will focus on a unifying feature across such fortifications — Vauban architecture
The style is the brainchild of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, a Frenchman described as one of the most prominent and influential military strategists during the reign of Louis XIV. His designs, strategies, and principles remained in use until the early 20th century. The development of Vauban architecture emerged against the backdrop of the turbulent geo-political and religious strife which engulfed Europe in the 17th century, which involved major siege warfare. At this point in military history, it was accepted that even the strongest fortifications would eventually fall, so their ultimate function was to absorb the attacker's energy to take the wind out of the larger offensive at hand.
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