When King Anouvong raised an unsuccessful rebellion, it was obliterated by Siamese armies in 1827. It eventually passed to French rule in 1893. It became the capital of the French protectorate of Laos in 1899.
The name of the city is derived from Pali, the literary language of Theravada Buddhism, and its original meaning was "The king's grove of sandalwood", the latter species of tree being prized for its fragrance in classical India. It is also believed that the original name of Vientiane (Viangchan) means "City of the Moon" in the native Lao language. Modern Lao pronunciation and orthography do not clearly reflect the Pali etymology. The romanized spelling "Vientiane" is of French origin, and reflects the difficulty the French had in pronouncing the hard "ch" syllable of the Lao word; a common English-based spelling is "Viangchan", or occasionally "Wiangchan".