Nguyễn – The last dynasty of Vietnam


Trinh – Nguyễn conflict caused a large ruins and torn the country into peaces. Although Nguyễn lord implemented many economic reformed programs and opened door to the world with Hoi An and Danang habours. Nguyễn Ánh received large support from French military and quickly controlled after death of Nguyễn Huệ.

The Nguyễn dynasty began in 1802 when Emperor Gia Long ascended the throne after defeating the Tay Son Dynasty and ended in 1945 when Bao Dai abdicated the throne and transferred power to the Democrated Republic of Vietnam. The dynasty lasted total 143 years and impacted on several aspects from culture, religion, law, literacy, construction. In many decades, territory of Vietnam was largely expanding to Siam gulf, set a border line with China in the north and Cambodia in the south. A large number of Vietnamese migrated to Mekong delta and developed a fertile region until today.


During the reign of Emperor Gia Long, the nation officially became known as Vit Nam, but from the reign of emperor Ming Mang on, the nation was renamed Đi Nam (literally “Great South”). Their rule was marked by the increasing influence of French colonialism; the nation was eventually partitioned into three, Cochin-China became a French colony while Annam and Ton-kin became protectorates which were independent in name only.

This era had two stages: the independent stage (1802 – 1858) and the stage when the French Colonialism invaded and dominated Vietnam (1858 – 1945).

Within 143 years, there were 13 Emperors.

Year 1820, King Minh Mang: King Minh Mang took well care of the country affairs and carried out many reforms. He put down many rising rebellions. He also suppressed Catholism and killed many priests and Catholics.

Year 1841, King Thieu Tri: King Thieu Tri was a benevolent king but he did not reform our country much. In 1847, two French warships anchored at Da Nang port to negotiate with the imperial court to have religious suppression lifted. They misunderstood that our army was going to attack them, so they started the fire sinking many of our boats then ran away.

Year 1847, king Tu Duc: King Tu Duc was not only a knowledgeable and understanding king, but also a good and thankful son. Even though he worked hard, many of his imperial officials were conservative and narrow-minded. Many proposals to reform our country from Mr. Nguyen Truong To and others were rejected. Since our country applied a closed-door policy, we lost many opportunities to learn good things from other countries and to do business with them. If King Tu Duc took proper movements, he could have led our country to wealth and success.

French seized the South: In 1859, the French used their warships to attack Da Nang and then seized Gia Dinh city. Mr. Nguyen Tri Phuong built Ky Hoa fort to fight back, but later defeated. French then attacked and seized My Tho, Bien Hoa and Vinh Long.

Rebellion in Tu Duc reign: Even though Tu Duc was a hard-working king, many rebellions raised up, since people still remembered the Le time. There were Tam Ðuong rebellion, Chau Chau rebellion, Phung rebellion, capital rebellion, and Chinese rebellion…

Year 1873, French occupied the North the first time: Taking the advantage of the matter that Jan Dupuis was prevented to do business in the North, captain Garnier sent warships from Saigon out to the North to attack Thang Long capital. Mr. Nguyen Tri Phuong bravely fought back, but he got wounded and was arrested by the enemy. He didn’t accept the medical treatment from the enemy and starved himself till died. Later, captain Garnier was killed at Ô Giay bridge.

After Emperor Tự Đức died, according to his testament, Emperor Dục Đức ascended the throne on July 20th, 1883. Dục Đức is one of three nephews who were brought up by Emperor Tự Đức. However, Nguyễn Văn Tường and Tôn Thất Thuyết accused him of deleting one paragraph from Tự Đức’s will and he was dethroned and imprisoned three days later. Because he only ruled within 3 days, he had no time to choose Era name for himself. Dục Đức is the name of his palace.

After deposing Dục Đức, Nguyễn Văn Tường and Tôn Thất Thuyết elevated Emperor Hiệp Hòa to the king. And he ascended the throne on July 30th, 1883. Hiệp Hòa is Tự Đức’s younger brother. He wanted to eliminate Nguyễn Văn Tường and Tôn Thất because they abused their power so much. However, they knew that and they found a way to kill him. Therefore, Hiệp Hòa became the king only in more than 4 months.

After killing Hiệp Hòa, they decided Kiến Phúc to ascending the throne on December 2nd, 1883. Kiến Phúc is the third nephew who was brought up by Emperor Tự Đức. Nevertheless, he felt ill and died eight months later.

Hàm Nghi, Thành Thái and Duy Tân is the Emperors who had the ardent patriotism. Hàm Nghi led Royalist Movement to be against French Colonialism.Hàm Nghi was exiled in Algeria (North Africa). And Thành Thái was exiled on Reunion Island (a small Island in India Ocean).

Duy Tân is Emperors Thành Thái’s son. He ascended the throne when he was eight years old. Although he was young, he paid attention to be against French colonialism. Therefore, he was also exiled on Renuion Island.

Last Emperor of Nguyen reign was Bao Dai. He ruled from 1926-1945. He was a prominent example of how French set political arrangement for their protectorate policy. He was chosen among Princes who smart, healthy and talented and sent to France to be educated at the age of nine. Became following King when his father died at age of 13 and continued his study until 19 years old. He had been neglected real situation of Vietnam and very far reach to Vietnamese people. Married to Vietnamese strong catholic family. Nam Phuong Queen. Bao Dai spent most time for leisure and entertainment than helping people. As the matter of fact. He had to abdicate to Viet Minh in 1945 after August revolution to avoid blood-shed and became supreme advisor of Ho Chi Minh government. In 1949, French persuaded him to return and served as “head of the state”. 1955. Bao Dai was dismissed by his pointed prime minister Ngo Dinh Diem at the referendum (trung cau dan y). it ended his political life and he lived exile in Paris – France.

Bao Dai died in military hospital in France in 1982.

The achievements of the Nguyễn dynasty are a lot of heritages. The most famous ones are Court Music and historic monuments in Huế.

Court Music in Huế is commonly known as genres of music and songs included dance and dramatics music. It was used in many occasions of worshipping rituals, court affairs, national festivals of the court and entertainment of the King and the royal family. It was recognized in 2005 by UNESCO as a Masterpieces of oral and intangible of the world heritages.

Huế’s historic monuments are well known and have earned a place in UNESCO and World heritage sites. They are preserved in Center of Huế Historical Monuments Conservation.


The mistakes of imperial officials and generals of the Nguyen dynasty: While industrial great powers wanted to do business with out country, our kings and imperial officials didn’t take that opportunity to learn and trade for our success. We closed all ports and prohibited foreigners from doing everything, creating chances for other countries to invade ours. The world was making fast progresses but our country was not. While Japan, and Thailand opened for learning and doing business, we considered ourselves as civilized, and other countries as behind the times, and savage.


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Local guide manager-Vietnam
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