Thành Thái

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Thành Thái
Emperor of Đại Nam under French protectorate of Annam and Tonkin
Emperor Thanh Thai.jpg
Emperor Thành Thái
Emperor of Đại Nam
Reign2 February 18893 September 1907
Predecessor Đồng Khánh
Successor Duy Tân
Emperor of Nguyễn Dynasty
Reign2 February 18893 September 1907
Predecessor Đồng Khánh
Successor Duy Tân
Born(1879-03-14)March 14, 1879
Imperial City, Huế, Đại Nam
DiedMarch 20, 1954(1954-03-20) (aged 75)
Saigon, State of Vietnam
Spouse12 concubines
Issue50 including 22 princes and 28 princesses
prince Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh San
Full name
Nguyễn Phúc Bửu Lân ( )
Nguyễn Phúc Chiêu ( )
Era name and dates
Thành Thái ( ): 18851889
Posthumous name
Hoài Trạch Công (懷澤公)
Temple name
House Nguyễn
Father Dục Đức
MotherEmpress Dowager Từ Minh
Religion Ruism, Buddhism

Thành Thái (Hanoi:  [tʰajŋ̟˨˩ tʰaːj˧˦] , Hán tự : ; 14 March 1879 – 20 March 1954) born Nguyễn Phúc Bửu Lân (阮福寶嶙), was the son of Emperor Dục Đức and Empress Dowager Từ Minh. [1] [2] He reigned as emperor for 18 years, from 1889 to 1907. [3]



While the emperor Tự Đức was alive, Prince Quang Thái was placed under house arrest with his family for having connections with those who opposed him. When the emperor Đồng Khánh died however, the French colonial authorities and the high-ranking mandarins decided that Quang Thái was the ideal successor and enthroned him as the new Vietnamese emperor, Emperor Thành Thái.

Even at the age of 10, Thành Thái was recognized as being very intelligent and was already realizing that the French were keeping watch over him through palace spies. Whereas Đồng Khánh had tried to be friendly with the French, Emperor Thành Thái took a course of passive-resistance. Although he refrained from outright rebellion (which would have been political suicide), he made his feelings clear in other ways, symbolic gestures and biting remarks. He was also a man of the people, and a monarch who cared deeply for his country. The emperor would often slip out of the Forbidden City dressed in the clothes of a commoner to talk with his people directly and see how they were being affected by government policies.

To show that he was friendly with western civilization, Thành Thái was the first Vietnamese monarch to cut his hair in the French style and learn to drive a car. He encouraged French-style education, but maintained bitter feelings over their control of his country. [4] He also supported numerous building projects and took an interest in the everyday lives of his subjects. When traveling among his people, he would hold impromptu "town hall meetings" where the Emperor sat on a mat with his subjects in a circle around him, discussing the issues of the day and hearing their point of view.

Slowly, as the emperor began to realize how thoroughly his palace had been infiltrated with French spies, he had to feign insanity to escape their constant scrutiny. With his enemies believing he was a harmless lunatic, Thành Thái was able to work more forcefully for Vietnamese autonomy while waiting for the right time to throw off colonial rule. He was on his way to join a resistance movement in China when he was arrested by French forces who declared him insane and forced the Emperor to abdicate.

Actually, all of the above is disputed. According to other reliable sources such as Tim Doling's book "Exploring Hue." According to his research, the stories about Thanh Thai pretending to be crazy were generated by his advisors due to the stigma associated with actual mental illness. In fact he shot and killed one of his own advisors and physically abused and even tortured and killed his own concubines when they failed to please him. There is no evidence to support any other stories that explain his madness.

In 1907, his son was installed as Emperor Duy Tân. Thành Thái was exiled first to Vũng Tàu in South Vietnam and when Duy Tân rebelled against the French they were both exiled to Réunion Island in 1916.

Unlike Hàm Nghi, the life of Thành Thái and Duy Tân were tough. they even had no money to pay for rent. In 1925, Emperor Khải Định knew his situation, sent 1,000 piastres to him. Later, Khải Định gave money to him occasionally.

He never gave up hope for the liberation of his country. In 1945, just after the death of Duy Tân, he was allowed to return home, but was kept under house arrest in Vũng Tàu. He died in Saigon on 24 March 1954.



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  3. Vietnamese Royal Exile in Japan Page 97 "The young, rebellious Duy Tân vas exiled to Reunion, to join his deposed father, ex-Emperor Thành Thái, or the “mad king” ..."
  4. Van Dan Nong, Churchill, Eden and Indo-China, 1951-1955 2011 Page xiii "Thành Thái founded the 'Hué national school' and the traditional mandarinate examinations were allowed by the French to ...
Thành Thái
Born: 14 March 1869 Died: 24 March 1969
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Đồng Khánh
Emperor of Vietnam
Succeeded by
Duy Tân