Nguyễn Đăng Thịnh’s 1744 Request that Nguyễn Phúc Khoát Become Emperor

According to the official chronicles of the Nguyễn Dynasty, the Đại Nam thực lục (hereafter ĐNTL), in 1744 Nguyễn Đăng Thịnh, an official in Đàng Trong, presented a petition to his ruler, Nguyễn Phúc Khoát, the “Nguyễn lord” of Đàng … Continue reading Nguyễn Đăng Thịnh’s 1744 Request that Nguyễn Phúc Khoát Become Emperor

Emperor Đồng Khánh’s First State Letter (Quốc Thư 國書)

The period from 1883-1885 was a dramatic time in Vietnamese history. The troubles began with the passing of Nguyễn Dynasty Emperor Tự Đức, an emperor who had ruled for over 35 years.

In the two years that followed, four emperors would rise and fall before Emperor Đồng Khánh ascended the throne and ruled or for four years, a comparatively long reign in those troubled times.

Emperor Đồng Khánh thus brought some stability to the Nguyễn Dynasty, but the conditions in which he ruled were different from those of his predecessors.

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Ngô Đình Khả’s Rise to the Top Through the Quốc Học

I have been trying to figure out the chronology of events that led to the establishment in 1896 of the Quốc học, a school in the Nguyễn Dynasty capital of Huế that was dedicated to teaching French to the children of the royal family and Nguyễn Dynasty officials.

From what I have been able to determine so far, it was French governor-general Paul Armand Rousseau’s idea. Rousseau then consulted with the French resident-superior in Huế, Ernest Albert Brière, who in turn discussed the matter with members of the Nguyễn Dynasty Privy Council (Viện Cơ mật 機密院).

In bringing up this matter, Rousseau and Brière indicated that they had someone in mind to serve as the director of the Quôc học, a man by the name of Ngô Đình Khả.

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Emperor Thành Thái’s Edict to Establish the Quốc học in 1896

In 1896, the Nguyễn Dynasty established a school at the royal capital in Huế for teaching French.

Known in Vietnamese as the Quốc học, its original name in classical Chinese was Quốc học trường 國學場, meaning the “national learning school,” and it was referred to in French as the “Collège national.” (And yes, it is significant that “national learning” at this time meant learning French. . .)

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