The Nguyen Dynasty Hue Vietnam

Nguyen dynasty in Vietnam-Culture-Pham-Travel


The Nguyen Dynasty (In Nôm language: 家 阮, Chinese characters: 阮 朝; Sino-Vietnamese: Nguyễn dynasty) was the last monarchy in Vietnamese history.

The Nguyen Dynasty was established after Nguyen Anh (Emperor Gia Long ) ascended the throne in 1802 and wholly ended when Emperor Bao Dai abdicated in 1945. For a total of 143 years, the Nguyen Dynasty was a dynasty that marked many ups and downs in history, especially the French invasion in the mid-19th century.

Nguyen dynasty in Hue city
Nguyen dynasty in Hue city

The Main Periods Of The Nguyen Dynasty History

The first period (1802 – 1858)

It was an independent period. The Nguyen Emperors took complete control of the country, undergoing four emperors: Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri, and Tu Duc. Gia Long and later Minh Mang tried to build Vietnam on the Confucian foundation and abolish the progressive reforms of the Tây Sơn.

The last dynasty in Hue, Viet Nam
The last dynasty in Hue, Viet Nam

During the Minh Mang period, there were many wars to seize territory in Cambodia, which made the treasury thoroughly used up. By Tu Duc, all aspects of the country were deteriorating. In the 1850s, a group of Vietnamese intellectuals, typically Nguyen Truong To, recognized the country’s stagnation and demanded Western learning to develop industry – trade,  military – foreign reform.

However, most of the Nguyen dynasty officials and scholars were unaware of the need for reform and opening up the country, so Tu Duc did not determine to implement these proposals. Dai Nam gradually became stagnant, backward and in danger of invasion by European colonists.

The second period (1858 – 1945)

Forbidden city Hue
Forbidden City Hue

It was the period of the French invasion and domination since the French attacked Danang and ended after the abdication of the Bao Dai Emperor. 

In August 1858, the French Navy amphibious attacked the port of Da Nang and then moved to invade Gia Dinh. In June 1862, Tu Duc Emperor signed a treaty to cede the three eastern provinces to the French. 

In 1867, the French occupied the following three western provinces forming a colonial territory of Cochinchine. After consolidating a firm position in Cochinchina. From 1873 to 1886, the French conquered the rest of Vietnam through the wars in Tonkin. In the end, in 1884, the Nguyen Dynasty officially recognized the right of French rule over Vietnam.

The French got the right to rule the country, while the Nguyen emperors retained the throne but were only like puppets. The French army could arbitrarily set up the Nguyen emperors. This period ended when Bao Dai announced his abdication in 1945.

The Nguyen dynasty’s Culture Heritages and Symbols

The Nguyen Dynasty left a lot of cultural heritage for the Vietnamese people. Some of these have been recognized by UNESCO as world heritage, such as Hue Imperial Court Music, Hue Monuments Complex, and the Nguyen dynasty’s Woodblocks.

Mandarins in Nguyen dynasty
Mandarins in the Nguyen dynasty

Vietnamese history professor Phan Huy Le remarked that: “There has never been a period of history that left the Vietnamese people with three cultural heritages recognized and honored by the world with values ​​of global significance so.

The Nguyen Dynasty also left a vast system of bibliographies in the Nguyễn Dynasty; an educational system, thousands of communal houses, temples, and churches … stretching from the South to the North of Vietnam… Many of these legacies have long been forgotten and regarded as a “remnant of the rotten dynasty”. UNESCO recognized Hue royal court music as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2003.

The Complex Hue Monuments Of The Nguyen Dynasty.

The noon gate Nguyen dynasty
The Noon Gate Nguyen Dynasty

UNESCO recognized the Complex of Hue Monuments as a World Cultural Heritage on December 11, 1993. Most of these relics are now under the management of the Hue Monuments Conservation Center.

In the history of Vietnam in modern times, the construction of Hue Citadel is probably the largest, enormous scale, with thousands of people participating. Millions of cubic meters of rock and soil, with a giant’s workloads such as dug trenches; river filling; emigration; relocation of tombs, and embankment. It lasted from the time of surveying the Gia Long emperor in 1803 until the completion of the Minh Mang emperor’s reign in 1832.

The Nguyen Dynasty

The style of architecture and the layout make Hue Imperial City a massive and most fortified fortress ever in Vietnam. A French captain, Le Rey, when coming to Hue in 1819, had to say: ” Hue imperial citadel is indeed the most beautiful, symmetric fortress in Indochina; even compared to Fort William in Calcutta and Saint Georges in Madras by the British.

Nguyen Dynasty Army

The army of the Nguyen Dynasty is the name of the regular armed forces of the Nguyen Dynasty from the time of national establishment until the reign of King Tu Duc.

Peace Treaty of Giap Than (1884), the Nguyen army was incorporated into the colonial guard with the name of trainee soldiers, directly under the command of French officers. This army lasted until March 1945, when the Japanese army couped France into Indochina.

Nguyen Dynasty Soldiers

The Center Army

Guards of the Nguyen Dynasty stationed in the imperial city of Hue had about 40,000 people. The Guard force is again divided into three types.

King Guards (the king’s subordinate who guarded the forbidden citadel), including 1 joint and 4 independent defenders.

The Nguyen Dynasty Army

Prohibition troops perform the task of mobile troops and protect the Citadel. Including 6 barracks and some independent teams as “specialist and technical troops”: statue soldiers, cavalry, and marines.

Finally, there are Gian Binh or Tinh Binh, consisting of many guards and teams belonging to the government district.

Provincial Army

In the army, there are infantry, artillery and elephant infantry teams. There is cavalry, but not in combat, but rituals. Conscripted soldiers are divided into two forces: Linh Ve and Linh Co.

Linh Ve is the regular army, usually on active duty, mainly stationed in the capital and provinces. Linh Co belongs to the type of soldiers stationed locally; when needed, they call, but in peacetime, they return to their hometown to work in the fields. Mainly supplementing the regular force or stationed in the district government.

The Nguyen Dynasty Army

That rotation is called “Biền Binh Định Lệ”. The units are divided into three parts; two parts for returning to the homeland, only keeping one part, and taking turns stationing the army.

The Nguyen Dynasty Flags

The dynaty flag-culture-Pham-Travel
The Nguyen dynasty flag period (1802- 1885)


Nguyen dynasty flag
Nguyen dynasty flag period (1920- 1945)

Source: Wikipedia Nguyễn dynasty

Nguyen Dynasty Dragon

Dragon is a legendary animal, the head of the Four Holy Beasts. Dragon is also a symbol of solid fertility, the East and spring. Under the monarchy, the dragon was revered as a symbol of kingship, associated with the image of the King, the pinnacle of the concept of authority.

Researchers are relatively unified about the image of dragons in the previous eras, such as Ly, Tran, Le, and Mac. However, dragons in the Nguyen Dynasty alone are still controversial.

Some people think that “dragons of the Nguyen Dynasty were heavily influenced by dragons of the Qing Dynasty in China, majestic, fierce and oppressive”. Others have proved that “the Hue dragon, under the massive influence of Minh Thanh’s art, still stands and rises from the traditional dragon”.

The dragon image is the most successful expression in art. Artists then created the dragon image to serve artistic purposes and comply with contemporary social and cultural institutions. The image of dragons under the Nguyen Dynasty was very diverse and rich.

The Dynasty’s Royal Seals

Nguyen royal seals

Nguyen Dynasty Family Tree

All the Nguyen Dynasty Emperors in the past.

Nguyen Dynasty Lineage-Culture-Pham-Travel

Because under the 4th emperor Tu Duc, when he was young, he had smallpox, so he could not give birth. So he adopted three nephews of the brother-to-be sons, and lately, they all became emperors.

Nguyen Dynasty royal crown

Royal Crown

To understand more about the Nguyen dynasty, local culture, and customs in Vietnam, you should book the Hue City Tour – Private Tour Full Day or the Hue City Group Tour at Culture Pham Travel.

Nguyen dynasty clothing (19th century)

In the 19th century, the Ao Dai model was popular. The costume consists of two fabrics sewn together to form the front body in a discreet style. The four outer pieces represent the four fathers and mothers: their parents and their husband’s parents, and the fifth part represents the wearer.

The shirt always has five buttons, representing the morality of being a human being: benevolence, righteousness, politeness, wisdom, and faith.

The Nguyen Dynasty

In society, traditional costumes such as ao dai, camisole, Ao Tu Than, raven beak scarf, and Ba tam… have been the cultural crystallization of the whole nation.

The Nguyen Dynasty Clothes

While the bib went beyond the palace to join the woman working in the fields or with the Ao Tu Than in Lim festivals. Western fashion, modern and innovative dresses are also gradually introduced and favored by young aristocratic women. Queen Nam Phuong, the last empress of Vietnam’s feudal dynasty, was very fond of wearing Western costumes.

That is all you need to know about the Nguyen Dynasty in Hue, Vietnam. Culture Pham Travel Hope all that information will help you know better about Hue.

Read more: Best Things To Do In Hue in 2023

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