Bảo Đại

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Bảo Đại ( 保 大 )
Bao Dai 1953.jpg
Prince name Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy
( 阮福永 瑞 )
Personal name Nguyễn Phúc Thiển ( 阮 福 晪 )
Born October 22, 1913
Died July 30, 1997
Term of office January 8, 1926 to August 25, 1945 (abdication)
2. Term of office 13./14. June 1949 to April 30, 1955 (putsch)
Ara designation Bảo Đại ( 保 大 )
Temple name -
Posthumous name -
Resting place Cimetière de Passy , Paris
Era period February 13, 1926 to August 30, 1945

Emperor Bảo Đại ( Hán tự : 保 大 ; born October 22, 1913 in Huế ; † July 30, 1997 in Paris ) was the thirteenth and last emperor of the Vietnamese Nguyễn dynasty . On January 8, 1926, he was enthroned as emperor and held this office until his abdication on August 25, 1945. From 1949 to 1955 he was again head of state and until 1950 head of government of the autonomous state of Vietnam . His real name was Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy, also Nguyễn Phúc Thiển, as an acronym he chose “Bảo Äri”, which means roughly “to preserve size”. His era under this motto began on February 13, 1926 and ended on August 30, 1945.


Prince Vĩnh Thụy was the only son of Emperor Khải Định . In the plans of the French colonial administration under the leadership of Albert Sarraut , Vĩnh Thụy should be established as a monarch loyal to the colonial power and successor to his father. This happened against the background of the disloyalty of the monarch Duy Tân , who had participated in an attempted insurrection in 1916 during the First World War . Likewise, the monarchy was seen as a counterbalance to anti-colonial communist aspirations that emerged in the eyes of the French colonial administration after the October Revolution . Due to the serious illness of his father, he was appointed Crown Prince in 1922 under the aegis of Albert Sarraut and Pierre Pasquier . From this year his training in France began according to a curriculum decreed by the Governor General Pasquier and thus removed from the environment of the royal family. The main part of this education took place in France on the European aristocratic model. Bảo Đại also acted as a figurehead for French colonial policy at home and abroad. After his father's death in 1925, he was crowned Emperor of Annam in January 1926 under the ruler's name Bảo Đại . He did not return permanently to his home country until 1932. After his return, Bảo Đại gathered Vietnamese nationalists, including the later head of state Ngo Dinh Diem , around him. In 1934 Bảo Đại married the Vietnamese Catholic Marie-Thérèse Nguyen Huu Thi Lan, who rose to become Empress Nam Phương . As the formal ruler of Annam, he withdrew more and more into private life at the end of the 1930s due to his powerlessness and disillusionment with the French side.

During the Second World War , Bảo Đại continued to function as emperor under the control of the Vichy-loyal colonial authorities from 1940 . He evaded attempts to make propaganda for the Vichy government in the colony in the spirit of the new head of state Marshal Pétain . In March 1945, the Japanese army instantly disempowered the French in Indochina. Bảo Đại became head of state of a Japanese satellite state, the Empire of Vietnam . Prime Minister Trần Trọng Kim took over government leadership in the state that only existed for three months . His government tried to alleviate a severe famine and build state institutions in administration and education, but suffered from a lack of power in the country. In August 1945 the guerrillas and activists of the Viet Minh , led by the Communist Party of Indochina , took power in north and central Vietnam, including the city of Hanoi , where they proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam as an independent Vietnamese nation state. As part of the August Revolution, the emperor abdicated on August 30 after talks with the Viet Minh, adopted a real name and assumed a position as an advisor to Ho Chi Minh .

Before his abdication, he sent a letter to Charles de Gaulle , British Prime Minister Clement Attlee and US President Harry S. Truman , stating that the Vietnamese people would not accept renewed colonial rule. The interests and the heritage of France and Indochina can only be preserved by recognizing the country's independence. The French government strove to maintain the colonial monarchy and saw in Bảo Đại the appropriate political figure to achieve an unification of the non-communist nationalists and their moderation. During the Indochina War , the French government looked for a way to create an anti-communist Vietnamese client state. However, the French leadership did not prefer Bảo ,i for this, but rather Duy Tân, which was popular in the country because of his rebellion in 1916 . However, due to his death in a plane crash in 1945, this option was canceled. Due to a leftward shift in French politics in the motherland, a re-establishment of the colonial monarchy was no longer pursued. In 1949, at the urging of the USA and UK, the state of Vietnam, associated with France, was formed. Bảo Đại took on the role of head of state, albeit without a monarchical title. During his rule, Bảo Đại tried to build a non-communist counter-state to the Viet Minh with its own military. This attempt was unsuccessful, among other things because of the refusal of full independence by France. Even during the war, voices in the Western press questioned Bảo Đại's legitimacy with his subjects. Likewise, his lifestyle as a playboy was often the target of criticism.

When Vietnam was divided at the 1954 Indochina Conference , Bảo Đại initially remained head of state of South Vietnam, but went to Paris. In the following year, South Vietnam became a republic through a military coup and a referendum organized by its Catholic-nationalist Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm , Ngô Đình Diệm became president and Bảo Đại was deposed.

Bảo Đại returned to France in 1955 after being deposed. In 1988 he converted to Catholicism . He died in France in 1997. French veterans of the Indochina War paid their last respects at his funeral. The communist Vietnamese state sent a bouquet of flowers.

The former emperor was buried in the Cimetière de Passy . The current government commemorates his grave with photos in the old imperial villa in ạà Lạt . The imperial villas in Đà Lạt (highlands, Bauhaus style) and the villas in Nha Trang and Vũng Tàu (French Art Nouveau), some of which have been converted into museums and an interesting one, give an insight into the life of this controversial Vietnamese emperor Present evidence of the life of late colonial Vietnam.

1980 Bảo Đại published his memoirs in French exile under the title Le dragon d'Annam, initially in French. A Vietnamese version of his memoir was published in California in 1990 .


On March 20, 1934, Bảo Đại married Jeanne Marie-Thérèse (Mariette) Nguyễn Hữu-Hào Thị Lan (December 4, 1914– September 15, 1963), who was given the name Nam Phương (later title: Nam Phàng Hoàng H ,u), with "Hoàng Hậu" corresponds to the word "queen". He also married during this marriage

  • 1935 in Hue: Phu Anh, a cousin;
  • 1946 in Hong Kong: Jenny Woong [Hoàng Tiểu Lan], a Chinese woman;
  • 1955 in Saigon: Bùi Mộng Điệp (* 1924), a Vietnamese;

later then

  • 1972 in Paris: Monique Baudot (* 1942), under the name Thai Phuong, later Princess Monique Vĩnh Thụy, after Bảo Đại's death she received the title Thái Phương Hoàng Hậu.

Bảo Đại had three, according to other information, five sons (" Hoàng tử " ( 王子 ) corresponds roughly to "Prince", " Thái tử " ( 長子  /  长子 ) roughly to "Crown Prince"):

with Nam Phương:

  • (Thái tử) Bảo Long (born January 4, 1936, † July 28, 2007), he was the subsequent head of the Nguyễn family;
  • (Hoàng tử) Bảo Thắng (born September 30, 1943), head of the Nguyễn family since 2007;

with Bùi Mộng Điệp or with (the concubine) Phi Ánh:

  • (Hoàng tử) Bảo Ân (* 1953);

and possibly two more with Bùi Mộng Điệp:

  • Bảo Hoàng (* 1954);
  • Bảo Sơn (* 1957).

He had five, according to other sources, seven daughters (the title " Công chúa " ( 公主 ) roughly corresponds to "princess"):

  • (Công chúa) Phương Thảo - also Claire Phương Thảo - (with Hoàng Tiểu Lan or Bùi Mộng Điệp);
  • (Công chúa) Phương Mai (born August 1, 1937) (with Nam Phương);
  • (Công chúa) Phương Liên (born November 3, 1938) (with Nam Phương);
  • (Công chúa) Phương Dung (born February 5, 1942) (with Nam Phương);
  • (Công chúa) Phương Minh (* 1949) (with Bùi Mộng Điệp or Phi Ánh).

and possibly two more:

  • Phương An (with Hoàng Tiểu Lan);
  • Phương Từ (with "Vicky", a French woman).

Web links

Commons : Bảo Đại  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Christopher Goscha : Vietnam - A New History. New York, 2016 p. 121f
  2. Christopher E. Goscha: Historical Dictionary of the Indochina War (1945-1954) - An International and Interdisciplinary Approach. Copenhagen, 2011, p. 52f
  3. Christopher Goscha: Vietnam - A New History. New York, 2016 pp. 188–198
  4. Pierre Brocheux: Histoire du Vietnam Contemporain - resilient nation La. Paris, 2011, pp. 142–149
  5. Christopher E. Goscha: Historical Dictionary of the Indochina War (1945-1954) - An International and Interdisciplinary Approach. Copenhagen, 2011, p. 52f
  6. Pierre Brocheux: Histoire du Vietnam Contemporain - resilient nation La. Paris, 2011, p. 169
  7. Christopher E. Goscha: Historical Dictionary of the Indochina War (1945-1954) - An International and Interdisciplinary Approach. Copenhagen, 2011, p. 52f
  8. Stein Tonnesson: The Vietnamese Revolution of 1945 - Roosevelt, Ho Chi Minh and de Gaulle in a World at War. London, 1991, Reprint 1993 p. 390
  9. Bảo Đại: Con rồng Việt Nam: hồi ký chánh trị 1913-1987. Los Alamitos, 1990