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His Imperial Majesty
His Imperial Majesty
Monsignor Pigneau de Béhaine
H.I.M Emperor Gia Long
Founder of Vietnam
(H.I.H. Princess Thi-Nga’s Paternal Great-Great-Great Grandfather)
The Nguyen Dynasty
Throughout five thousand years of History, the Land of the Ascending Dragon, where Heaven met Earth, saw its fate passing through many dynasties…
Although divided into separate kingdoms, it was a society dominated by power struggles between various Kings or Warlords, feuding among themselves for centuries…
In the Fifteenth Century, the Nguyen Family rose to power with Lord (King) Nguyen Kim. The torch was eventually passed on to his son Prince Nguyen Hoang who selected Hue as the site for the future Imperial City…
Legend perpetuated the tale that Prince Nguyen Hoang had a vision of a fairy that came to him in a dream and indicated the site for the future Imperial City where his Dynasty would rule for Ten Thousand Springs…
In her honor, Prince Hoang built a Temple “Thien Mu Pagoda”, which became centuries later, the famous Center for Buddhism in Vietnam.
The Nguyen Family ruled for many centuries in The South while the Trinh Family ruled in the North. The two families feuded for many centuries.
In 1776, a Revolution led by the “Western Mountaineers” (Tay Son) saw to the total annihilation of the Nguyen King and his family… only one Prince survived the massacre.
Prince Nguyen Anh, then fourteen years old (future H.I.M.Emperor Gia Long), was whisked into hiding by the Family’s Generals and sought refuge for a short time with the King of Siam (Thailand)… This endeavor was made possible by his most trusted French preceptor, Monsignor de Béhaine, Bishop of Adran…
Crown Prince Canh & Bishop de Béhaine:
While rebuilding his army to recapture the country, Prince Nguyen Anh sent his eldest son, Crown Prince Canh, aged seven, to the Court Versailles as his Ambassador.
Crown Prince Canh was accompanied by the trusted Bishop de Béhaine and a retinue of Princes, Mandarins and soldiers as his advisors and their mission was to secure King Louis XVI’s assistance, while negotiating a trade alliance.
The young Prince was celebrated at Versailles, where he captured Queen Marie Antoinette’s attention and played with her son, le Dauphin, the Crown Prince of France. New fashion was designed in his honor, in celebration of his exotic style.
The result of the trip was the unfulfilled “1787 Treaty of Versailles” due to King Louis XVI’s and France’s own predicament with the French Revolution in 1789.
Undaunted, during their voyage, Bishop de Béhaine and Prince Canh gathered help from French consultants in Pondichéry, with their help in modern technologies; they trained the troops and engaged in battles by the side of the future Emperor, Prince Nguyen Anh.
Unfortunately, due to illness, neither Crown Prince Canh nor Bishop de Béhaine lived to see the ultimate Victory of Prince Nguyen Anh in 1802 as he reclaimed the land taken from the Western Mountaineers while defeating the Trinh King from the North and thus, for the first time, the Northern and Southern parts of the Nation were unified as one.
H.I.M. Emperor Gia Long (H.I.H. Princess Thi-Nga’s Paternal Great-great-great Grandfather):
In the process, Prince Nguyen Anh also vanquished warring Laos and Cambodia, which ultimately became vassal states to the all-encompassing Empire that Prince Nguyen Anh named “Viet Nam” (the Viet of the South) as a tribute to his people and eventually, crowned himself “Emperor Gia Long” in 1802.
Upon his coronation, Emperor Gia Long established the Imperial City of Hue at the site chosen by his ancestor Prince Nguyen Hoang, centuries earlier. The endeavor required the labor from 10,000 men as the Perfume River was deviated to enable the site. The Imperial City was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Monument in 1993.
A proponent of “Meritocracy”, Emperor Gia Long abolished “Primogeniture” where the eldest son became “de Facto” the heir to the throne in favor of the most “deserving” one…
In the process he also favored the “Mandarinat” where civilians competed and could eventually become “Mandarins” or Officials with the Imperial Court, a position mostly reserved for the Aristocracy in the past…
H.I.M. Emperor Minh Mang (H.I.H. Princess Thi-Nga ‘s Paternal Great-great Grandfather)
Ultimately, Emperor Gia Long’s fourth son, Prince Dom (Nguyen Phuoc Dom) was chosen as the next Crown Prince, upon his brother’s death, and became then Emperor Minh Mang; whose ruling name meant “Brilliant Fate” and whose administration led Vietnam to its “Golden Era”.
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