|Reign||1841 – 1847|
|Full name||Nguyễn Phúc Miên Tông|
Emperor Thieu Tri’s real name is Nguyen Phuc Mien Tong. He is the first son of Emperor Minh Mang and Madam Ho Thi Hoa (titled Queen Ta Thien Nhan). He was born on May 11th of the lunar year of Dinh Mao at Xuan Loc village in the east of the Hue Citadel.
The early life
It can be said that the childhood of Emperor Thieu Tri was quite unhappy. After bearing him 13 days, his mother – Madam Ho Thi Hoa passed away. At that time, he kept crying incessantly, which made his father say: “He is just a child but he has already cried because of his mother’s death. In the future, he must be a very filial son”.
Because of the death of his mother, he was raised by his grandmother – Empress Thuan Thien. Although he was the eldest son, at first his father did not choose to become the heir.
Later, Empress Thuan Thien knew the whole story and blew Emperor Minh Mang up for not choosing the eldest son as the successor. Thanks to her, Emperor Minh Mang changed his mind and gave Mien Tong the throne.
Because of this reason, after becoming the king, Emperor Thieu Tri really respected his grandmother. In 1844, he even ordered the construction of Phuoc Duyen Tower at Thien Mu Pagoda to wish her both health and longevity.
Emperor Thieu Tri’s ruling style
As the son and heir of Emperor Minh Mang, Emperor Thieu Tri had a tough act to follow. Under the reign of Emperor Minh Mang, Dai Nam became one of the most powerful countries in Southeast Asia at that time. It is not exaggerated to say that Minh Mang’s period was the most glorious one in the history. Vietnam had achieved its peak in size and political influence. Furthermore, the French were becoming increasingly interested in Vietnam. Only a slightest mistake could break the balance and plunge the country into a struggle.
In 1841, Prince Nguyen Mien Tong came to the throne, taking the era name of Thieu Tri. Although his father’s reign was not completely perfect and still had some shortages, it was still great and glorious. All Emperor Thieu Tri needed to do was to follow in his footsteps and inherit his father’s achievement. As a result, the power and prestige of the Nguyen Dynasty would continue.
In spite of being a king, Emperor Thieu Tri’s lifestyle is quite simple. Besides, he also showed a great interest for Nom script. Under his reign, a lot of documents and poetry were written in Nom script.
The early days of his reign
Emperor Thieu Tri was similar to his father in many aspects. He was highly educated, very intelligent, devoted to traditional Confucian values, a lover of nature, artistic and intellectually curious. He was open to learning from the West, however, just like his father, he tried his best to limit the Western influences out of Vietnam and maintain the close relationship with China.
In the early days of his reign, everything appeared very soothing. There were no major problems and the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty seemed permanent and unassailable. However, gradually, Emperor Thieu Tri realized that he had to face two serious threats which would soon provoke a major crisis. He even might not know that these problems would change the course of his dynasty and the entire Indochina region forever.
The conspiracy of French government
The first problem was to control the appearance of Christianity in the country. Although his predecessors tried to limit the effects of Christianity on people, Catholic missionaries still continued to come to Vietnam and win converts. These actions created a fear that the imperial court would lose their power. As a result, Emperor Thieu Tri issued policies which punished Christians and arrested Catholic missionaries.
The second problem was the conspiracy of French army to turn Southeast Asia countries into their colonies. They took advantage of the Christian inhibition of Emperor Thieu Tri to attack Vietnam. Despite of the fact that Thieu Tri was a good king, he was not as good and decisive as his father. His policies somehow could foreshadow future conflicts with French army.
His final days
On November 4, 1847, Emperor Thieu Tri passed away and left the throne to his son Prince Nguyen Phuc Hong Nham. During his reign, he was considered as a good king who spent a lot of time caring a lot for the life of his people. According to the history documents, before his death, he even ordered people to build his tomb in a high area. He also made careful recommendations before dying that his funeral should not be too luxurious.
During his lifetime, Emperor Thieu Tri did nothing to prepare for his death, partly because he did not want to waste the resources of his subjects. Only after his death, did his son choose a small hill, name it Thuan Dao and build his father’s tomb. If you visit Hue and want to see the Hue complex monuments, don’t forget to come and pay tribute to him at Xuong Lang to learn about the things he had been in his life as well as all the contribution of Emperor Thieu Tri for Vietnam.
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