|Reign||1820 – 1839|
|Died||20/01/1841 (aged 49)|
|Full name||Nguyễn Phúc Đảm|
Vietnam under Emperor Minh Mang’s reign
In February 1820, Emperor Gia Long passed away. According to the primogeniture rule of succession, Prince Nguyen Phuc Canh would be the heir. However, in 1801, Prince Canh died because of smallpox. As a result, his fourth son, Nguyen Phuc Dam, later succeeded him and crowned as Emperor Minh Mang.
Under the reign of Emperor Minh Mang, Dai Nam (Great South) did become one of the most powerful countries in Southeast Asia at that time. Following the Confucian beliefs, his policies were strict and sometimes conservative. He ruled the whole country with a firm but fair grip, however, he rejected all the connection with foreign countries, especially Western ones.
Reforms in every aspects
Succeeding his father, Emperor Minh Mang resolved to modernize the central government bureaucracy and imposed a strong and centralized civil administration throughout his realm. Besides, he also conducted many educational reforms.
About education, Emperor Minh Mang continued to develop the triennial national and provincial examination system, with a view to identifying new recruits for the civil service. In 1820, he ordered to enlarge the Doc Hoc Duong and then renamed Quoc Tu Giam. In 1829, the triennial examinations were opened to the best and brightest. At that time, this was considered as a giant development in the education for a feudal country. Everyone, regardless of background, as long as they have qualification, can become the mandarins to build the country. Under his reign, illiteracy was the lowest in Vietnamese history.
The Emperor also concerned that the recruitment of new military mandarins should be given the same importance as the recruitment of civil one, and with this in mind, he founded a royal martial arts school in 1835. By this, he was able to inject fresh blood into the royal mandarinates, which had previously been dominated by his father’s former comrades in arms from the South.
Emperor Minh Mang cared very much about expanding the borders of his empire. Under his ruling, he reduced the last Cham kingdom of Panduranga to a Vietnamese province and briefly brought Cambodia and even parts of modern Laos under his control. As a result, people saw his reign as the most prosperous time in Nguyen Dynasty history.
No one could deny the talent of Emperor Minh Mang. He has gift not only in literature, poetry and military but also in administrative reforms. In Hue, the four great mandarins of state were collectively described as a Privy Council. Later in 1834, a larger Council of Ministers was set up, bringing together all six government ministers. In 1833, he renamed the ancient capital of Thang long as Ha Noi (City in the River Heart) and then reorganized the entire country into 32 provinces.
Attitude to foreign countries
To make the society more disciplined, Emperor Minh Mang issued an order to unite the unit of measure as well as traditional clothing of Vietnam. Described as a gentle man, almost feminine in his delicate grace and manners, however, indeed Emperor Minh Mang was a strong ruler. In 1832, he attempted to place tight restrictions on the export of rice to China and other countries of Southeast Asia. In 1835, the Emperor increasingly inhibited commerce with the West by releasing a royal edict which prohibited European vessels from making landfall or pursuing trade at any port except for Da Nang.
He refused all French trade agreements, rejected the first American visit to Vietnam. Also, the firm Majesty would not allow anyone to do business with his empire. The Westerners, whom he considered as savages, were to be shunned.
His policies were mainly anti – Christian. He believed in Confucianism and ancestor worship. With a thought of religious diversity could only be a weakness. Therefore, he ordered to kill all the Western priests who carried on missionary work.
In fact, it was this action that created a reason for French and Spanish to invade Vietnam in 1858 under Tu Duc Rule.
De He Thi – Imperial Succession Poem
According to the history documents, Minh Mang had many wives and children. He had fathered at least 142 children, including 74 sons and 68 daughters. In order to avoid confusion, an imperial succession poem was assigned, providing all male offspring with an additional middle name. This one would change each generation of the Nguyen Phuc royal family.
|Đế Hệ Thi|
Miên Hường Ưng Bửu Vĩnh
Bảo Quý Định Long Trường
Hiền Năng Kham Kế Thuật
Thế Thoại Quốc Gia Xương.
Similarly, girls also received a different name on each generation.
For example: Công – chúa, Công – nữ, Công – tằng Tôn – nữ, Công – huyền Tôn – nữ, Lai – huyền Tôn – nữ, or shorten to Tôn – nữ for all generations afterward.
To conclude, during the life of Emperor Minh Mang, he did try his best to take Vietnam to the highest point of Southeast Asian in the 19th century. He greatly laid a firm foundation for the development of our country.
When visiting Hue, you can come and pay tribute to him at Hieu Lang to learn about the brilliant architecture he had built as well as all the contribution of Emperor Minh Mang for his beloved country.