The Nguyễn lords (Vietnamese: Chúa Nguyễn, 主阮; 1558–1777, 1780–1802),[a] also known as the Nguyễn clan (阮氏, Nguyễn thị), were the rulers of southern Đại Việt during the Revival Lê dynasty and ancestors of Nguyễn dynasty's emperors. The territory they ruled was known contemporarily as Đàng Trong (Inner Realm) and by Europeans as Cochinchina, in opposition to the Trịnh lords ruling northern Đại Việt, known then as Đàng Ngoài (Outer Realm).[2] Both Nguyễn and Trịnh lords were de jure subordinates of the Lê dynasty.

Nguyễn lords
Chúa Nguyễn
Heirloom seal Đại Việt quốc Nguyễn chủ vĩnh trấn chi bảo" (大越國阮𪐴永鎮之寶, "Seal of the eternal government of the Nguyễn Lords of the state of Great(er) Viêt") (from 1709) of Nguyễn
Heirloom seal
Đại Việt quốc Nguyễn chủ vĩnh trấn chi bảo" (大越國阮𪐴永鎮之寶, "Seal of the eternal government of the Nguyễn Lords of the state of Great(er) Viêt")
(from 1709)
Map shows the division of Vietnam territory among Nguyễn lords (yellow), Lê – Trịnh lords (purple), Mạc dynasty domain (pink), Bầu lords (orange), and Champa (green) in the Lê–Mạc War.
Map shows the division of Vietnam territory among Nguyễn lords (yellow), Trịnh lords (purple), Mạc dynasty domain (pink), Bầu lords (orange), and Champa (green) in the Lê–Mạc War.
StatusSubordinates of Trịnh lords (1558–1627) and lordship within Lê dynasty of Đại Việt (1558–1777, 1780–1789)
De facto independent state (1789–1802)
CapitalÁi Tử (1558–1570)
Trà Bát (1570-1600)
Dinh Cát (1600-1626)
Phước Yên (1626-1636)
Kim Long [vi] (1636-1687)
Phú Xuân (1687–1712),(1738-1775)
Bác Vọng (1712-1738)
Hội An (1775–1777)
Gia Định (1777, 1780–1783, 1788–1802)
Capital-in-exileBangkok (1783–1788)
Common languagesVietnamese
Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Vietnamese folk religion, Catholicism
GovernmentFeudal dynastic hereditary military dictatorship (1558–1777)
Rump state (1777-1783)
Government in exile (1783–1788)
Absolute Monarchy (1788–1802)
• 1558–1613
Nguyễn Hoàng (first)
• 1765–1777
Nguyễn Phúc Thuần
• 1780–1802
Nguyễn Phúc Ánh (last)
• Established
• Disestablished
• 1800
CurrencyCopper-alloy and zinc cash coins
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Revival Lê dynasty
Nguyễn dynasty

The Nguyễn lords were members of the House of Nguyễn Phúc. While they recognized the authority of and claimed to be loyal subjects of the revival Lê dynasty, they were de facto rulers of southern Đại Việt. Meanwhile, the Trịnh lords ruled northern Đại Việt in the name of the Lê emperor, who was in reality a puppet ruler.[3][4] They fought a series of long and bitter wars that pitted the two halves of Vietnam against each other. The Nguyễn were finally overthrown in the Tây Sơn wars, but one of their descendants would eventually come to unite all of Vietnam. Their rule consolidated earlier southward expansion into Champa and pushed southwest into Cambodia.[5]

Origin edit

The Nguyễn lords traced their descent from a powerful clan originally based in Thanh Hóa Province. The clan supported Lê Lợi in his successful war of independence against the Ming dynasty. From that point on, the Nguyễn were one of the major noble families in Vietnam. Perhaps the most famous Nguyễn of this time was Nguyễn Thị Anh, the queen-consort for nearly 20 years (1442–1459).

History edit

Nguyễn Kim restores the Lê dynasty edit

In 1527, Mạc Đăng Dung overthrew the emperor Lê Cung Hoàng and established a new dynasty- the Mạc dynasty. The Trịnh and Nguyễn lords fled to Thanh Hóa province and refused to accept the rule of the Mạc. All of the region south of the Red River was under their control, but they were unable to dislodge the Mạc from Thăng Long for many years. During this time, the Nguyễn–Trịnh alliance was led by Nguyễn Kim; his daughter Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Bảo was married to the Trịnh clan leader, Trịnh Kiểm.

Trịnh seizes power over the Lê dynasty edit

In 1533 the Lê dynasty was restored and the Mạc driven into exile in the far north. However, the emperor Lê Trang Tông was a powerless figurehead- true authority lay in the hands of Nguyễn Kim. In 1543, Nguyễn Kim captured Thanh Hóa from Mạc loyalists. Dương Chấp Nhất, commander of Mạc forces in the region, decided to surrender his troops to the advancing Nguyễn forces. When Kim seized Tây Đô citadel and was on route to attack Ninh Bình, in 20 May 1545, Dương Chấp Nhất invited Kim to visit his military camp. In the hot temperature of summer, Dương Chấp Nhất treated Kim with a watermelon. After the party, Kim felt ill after returning home and died the same day. Dương Chấp Nhất later returned to the Mạc dynasty. The records of the Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư and Đại Nam thực lục both suggest that Dương Chấp Nhất tried to assassinate the emperor Lê Trang Tông by pretending to surrender. However, the plot was unsuccessful, and then he changed his target to Nguyễn Kim, who was in charge of power and the military.

After the death of Kim, the imperial government was plunged into chaos. Kim's eldest son Nguyễn Uông initially took power, but he was soon secretly assassinated by his brother-in-law Trịnh Kiểm who assumed control of the government.

Nguyễn Hoàng as governor of Thuận Hóa and Quảng Nam province edit

Kim's second son Nguyễn Hoàng feared that he would suffer his brother's fate; hence, he attempted to flee the capital to avoid assassination. Later, he asked his sister Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Bảo (wife of Trịnh Kiểm) to ask Kiểm to appoint him to be the governor of Đại Việt's southern frontier Thuận Hóa in what is modern-day Quảng Bình to Quảng Nam provinces, land that once belonged to the Cham. Thuận Hóa was still regarded as uncivilised land, and simultaneously, Trịnh Kiểm also sought to remove the power and influence of Nguyễn Hoàng in the capital city; so, he agreed to appoint Nguyễn Hoàng as governor of these distant lands.

In 1558, Nguyễn Hoàng and family and his loyal generals moved to Thuận Hóa to take his position. Arriving at Triệu Phong District, he made the place his new capital and constructed a new palace.

In March 1568, Emperor Lê Anh Tông summoned Hoàng for a meeting at Tây Đô and met Trịnh Kiểm at his personal mansion. Kiểm trusted Nguyễn Hoàng, so he arranged for the emperor to additionally appoint Hoàng governor of Quảng Nam as well.

In 1636, Nguyễn Hoàng moved his base to Phú Xuân (modern Huế). Nguyễn Hoàng slowly expanded his territory further south, while the Trịnh lords continued their war with the Mạc dynasty for control over northern Vietnam.

Trịnh–Nguyễn alliance defeat of the Mạc dynasty edit

In 1592, Đông Đô (Hanoi) was recaptured by the Trịnh–Nguyễn army by lord Trịnh Tùng and the Mạc emperor Mạc Kinh Chi was executed. The remnant Mạc clan fled to Cao Bằng and would survive there until finally conquered in 1677 by the Trịnh lords (though they had surrendered the imperial dignities in 1627 to the Trịnh-controlled imperial court). The next year, Nguyễn Hoàng came north with an army and money to help defeat the remainder of the Mạc clan.

Rising tensions edit

In 1600, Lê Kính Tông ascended the throne. Just like the previous Lê emperors, the new emperor was a powerless figurehead under the control of Trịnh Tùng. Apart from this, a revolt broke out in Ninh Bình province, possibly instigated by the Trịnh. As a consequence of these events, Nguyễn Hoàng formally broke off relations with the court in the north, rightly arguing that it was the Trịnh who ruled, not the Lê emperor. This uneasy state of affairs continued for the next 13 years until Nguyễn Hoàng died in 1613. He had ruled the southern provinces for 55 years.

Japanese merchants pay tribute to chief mandarin at Governor house of Quang Nam in Hoi An, late 17th century
Japanese merchants pay tribute to Nguyễn lords at private mansion in Phú Xuân, late 17th century
Hội An port in the 18th century

His successor, Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên, continued Nguyễn Hoàng's policy of essential independence from the court in Hanoi. He initiated friendly relations with the Europeans who were now sailing into the area. A Portuguese trading post was set up in Hội An. By 1615, the Nguyễn were producing their own bronze cannons with the aid of Portuguese engineers. In 1620, the emperor was removed from power and executed by Trịnh Tùng. Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên formally announced that he would not be sending any tax to the central government nor did he acknowledge the new emperor as the emperor of the country. Tensions rose over the next seven years until open warfare broke out in 1627 with the next successor of the Trịnh, Trịnh Tráng.

The war lasted until 1673, when peace was declared. The Nguyễn not only fended off Trịnh attacks but also continued their expansion southwards along the coast, although the northern war slowed this expansion. Around 1620, Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên's daughter married Chey Chettha II, a Khmer king. Three years later, in 1623, the Nguyễn formally gained permission for Vietnamese to settle in Prey Nokor, which would later be known as the city of Saigon.

In 1673, the Nguyễn concluded a peace with the Trịnh lord Trịnh Tạc, beginning a long era of relative peace between north and south.

When the war with the Trịnh ended, the Nguyễn were able to put more resources into suppressing the Champa kingdoms and conquest of lands which used to belong to the Khmer Empire.

The Dutch brought Vietnamese slaves they captured from Nguyễn territories in Quảng Nam Province to their colony in Taiwan.[6]

The main gate of Phu Xuan citadel

The Nguyễn lord Nguyễn Phúc Chu referred to Vietnamese as "Han people" 漢人 (Hán nhân) in 1712 when differentiating between Vietnamese and Chams.[7] The Nguyen Lords established frontier colonies, known as đồn điền after 1790. It was said "Hán di hữu hạn" 漢夷有限 ("the Vietnamese and the barbarians must have clear borders") by Gia Long, unifying emperor of all Vietnam, when differentiating between Khmer and Vietnamese.[8]

Nguyễn Phúc Khoát ordered Chinese-style trousers and tunics in 1774 to replace sarong-type Vietnamese clothing.[9] He also ordered Ming, Tang, and Han-style clothing to be adopted by his military and bureaucracy. [10] Pants were mandated by the Nguyen in 1744 and the Cheongsam Chinese clothing inspired the áo dài.[11] The current áo dài was introduced by the Nguyễn lords.[12][dead link] Cham provinces were seized by the Nguyễn lords.[13] Provinces and districts originally belonging to Cambodia were taken by Võ Vương.[14][15]

Wars over the south edit

Map of Vietnam showing the conquest of the south (Nam tiến), dark green and light blue portions conquered by the Nguyễn lords
The soldiers of Nguyen lord, painting by Japanese

The Nguyễn lords waged multiple wars against Champa in 1611, 1629, 1653, 1692, and by 1693 the Cham leadership had succumbed to the Nguyen domination. The Nguyễn lords established the protectorate of Principality of Thuận Thành to wield power over the Cham court until Minh Mạng Emperor abolished it in 1832. The Nguyễn also invaded Cambodia in 1658, 1690, 1691, 1697 and 1713. Inscription on a Nguyễn cannon manufactured by Portuguese engineer and military advisor Juan de Cruz dating from 1670 reads "for the King and grand Lord of Cochinchina, Champa and of Cambodia."[16]

In 1714, the Nguyễn sent an army into Cambodia to support Ang Em's claim to the throne against Prea Srey Thomea. Siam sided with Prea Srey Thomea against the Vietnamese claimant. At Bantea Meas, the Vietnamese routed the Siamese armies, but by 1717 the Siamese had gained the upper hand. The war ended with a negotiated settlement, whereby Ang Em was allowed to take the Cambodia crown in exchange for pledging allegiance to the Siamese.[17] For their part, the Nguyễn lords wrested more territory from the weakened Cambodian kingdom.

Two decades later, in 1739, the Cambodians attempted to reclaim their lost coastal land. The fighting lasted some ten years, but the Vietnamese fended off the Cambodian raids and secured their hold on the rich Mekong Delta.[18]

With Siam embroiled in war with Burma, the Nguyễn mounted another campaign against Cambodia in 1755 and conquered additional territory from the ineffective Cambodian court. At the end of the war the Nguyễn had secured a port on the Gulf of Siam (Hà Tiên) and were threatening Phnom Penh itself.

Under their new king Taksin, the Siamese reasserted its protection of its eastern neighbor by coming to the aid of the Cambodian court. War was launched against the Nguyễn in 1769. After some early success, the Nguyễn forces by 1773 were facing internal revolts and had to abandon Cambodia to deal with the civil war in Vietnam itself. The turmoil gave rise to the Tây Sơn.

End of the Nguyễn lords edit

In 1771, as a result of heavy taxes and defeats[citation needed] in the war with Cambodia, three brothers from Tây Sơn began a peasant uprising that quickly engulfed much of southern Vietnam. Within two years, the Tây Sơn brothers captured the provincial capital of Qui Nhơn. In 1774, the Trịnh in Hà Nội, seeing their rival gravely weakened, ended the hundred-year truce and launched an attack against the Nguyễn from the north. The Trịnh forces quickly overran the Nguyễn capital in 1774, while the Nguyễn lords fled south to Saigon. The Nguyễn fought against both the Trịnh army and the Tây Sơn, but their effort was in vain. By 1777, Gia Định was captured and nearly the entire Nguyễn family was killed except one nephew, Nguyễn Ánh, who managed to flee to Siam.

Nguyễn-Tây Sơn war (1778–1802) and establishment of Nguyễn dynasty edit

Nguyễn Ánh did not give up, and in 1780 he attacked the Tây Sơn army with a new army from Siam, having allied with the Siamese king Taksin. However, Taksin became a religious fanatic and was killed in a coup. The new king of Siam, Rama I had more urgent affairs to look after than helping Nguyễn Ánh retake Vietnam and so this campaign faltered. The Siamese army retreated, and Nguyễn Ánh went into exile, but would later return.

Nguyễn foreign relations edit

Đà Nẵng in painting "Giao Chỉ quốc độ hàng đồ quyển " (交趾国渡航図巻)" of Chaya Shinroku (茶屋新六) in 17th century
18th and 19th-century Vietnamese vessels were built based on French model
Courtesy seal of Nguyễn lord, gift of emperor Lê Hy Tông, dated 1709, inscribed with Chinese characters meaning Đại Việt quốc Nguyễn chúa vĩnh trấn chi bảo (大越國阮𪐴永鎮之寶)

The Nguyễn were significantly more open to foreign trade and communication with Europeans than the Trịnh. According to Dupuy, the Nguyễn were able to defeat initial Trịnh attacks with the aid of advanced weapons they purchased from the Portuguese. The Nguyễn also conducted fairly extensive trade with Japan and China.[19]

The Portuguese set up a trade center at Faifo (present day Hội An), just south of Huế in 1615. However, with the end of the great war between the Trịnh and the Nguyễn, the need for European military equipment declined. The Portuguese trade center never became a major European base unlike Goa or Macau.

In 1640, Alexandre de Rhodes returned to Vietnam, this time to the Nguyễn court at Huế. He began work on converting people to the Catholic faith and building churches. After six years, the Nguyễn Lord, Nguyễn Phúc Lan, came to the same conclusion as Trịnh Tráng had, that de Rhodes and the Catholic Church represented a threat to their rule. De Rhodes was sentenced to death, but was allowed to leave Vietnam with the understanding he was to be executed if he returned.

[20] Quảng Nam Province was the site where fourth rank Chinese brigade vice-commander dushu Liu Sifu was shipwrecked after suffering a storm. He was taken back to Guangzhou, China by a Vietnamese Nguyễn ship in 1669. The Vietnamese sent the Chinese Zhao Wenbin to led the diplomatic delegation on the ship and requested the establishment of trade relations with the Qing court. Although they thanked the Nguyễn for sending their officer safely home, they rejected the Nguyễn's offer.[21] On Champa's coastal waters in a place called Linlangqian by the Chinese a ship ran aground after departing on 25 Jun 1682 from Cambodia carrying Chinese captain Chang Xiaoguan with a Chinese crew. Their cargo was left in the waters while Chen Xiaoguan went to Thailand (Siam). This was recorded in the log of a Chinese trading junk going to Nagasaki on 25 June 1683.[22][23]

List of the Nguyễn lords edit

A painting of lord Nguyễn Phúc Ánh in audience with King Rama I in Phra Thinang Amarin Winitchai, Bangkok, 1782. this event led to the alliance of Siam and Nguyễn clan against Tây Sơn dynasty in Battle of Rạch Gầm-Xoài Mút
Preceded by Rulers of southern Vietnam
1558–1777, 1780–1802
Succeeded by

Family tree edit

Nguyễn lords family tree
Nguyễn Kim
Ngọc Bảo
wife of Trịnh Kiểm
Nguyễn UôngNguyễn Hoàng
Nguyễn Phúc HàNguyễn Phúc HánNguyễn Phúc ThànhNguyễn Phúc DiễnNguyễn Phúc HảiNguyễn Phúc NguyênNguyễn Phúc HợpNguyễn Phúc TrạchNguyễn Phúc Khê
Nguyễn Phúc VệNguyễn Phúc TuyênNguyễn Phúc TuấnNguyễn Phúc KỳNguyễn Phúc LanNguyễn Phúc ÁnhNguyễn Phúc TrungNguyễn Phúc TứNguyễn Phúc Diệu
? (name is unknown)Nguyễn Phúc TầnNguyễn Phúc Thăng
Nguyễn Phúc DiễnNguyễn Phúc TrănNguyễn Phúc Hiệp
Nguyễn Phúc ChuNguyễn Phúc Trinh
Nguyễn Phúc TrúNguyễn Phúc TứNguyễn Phúc ĐiềnNguyễn Phúc Phong
Nguyễn Phúc KhoátNguyễn Phúc Nghiêm
Nguyễn Phúc ChươngNguyễn Phúc LuânNguyễn Phúc VănNguyễn Phúc ChíNguyễn Phúc HiệuNguyễn Phúc Thuần
Nguyễn Phúc CaoNguyễn Phúc ĐồngNguyễn Phúc ÁnhNguyễn Phúc MânNguyễn Phúc ĐiểnNguyễn Phúc Dương


Tran Trong Kim (2005). Việt Nam sử lược (in Vietnamese). Ho Chi Minh City: Ho Chi Minh city General Publishing House. p. 328.

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Internally stylised as the Nguyễn kings (Vietnamese: Nguyễn vương, 阮王) from 1744 onwards.[1]

Citations edit

  1. ^ Phạm Cao Phong (Gửi cho BBC từ Paris) (4 September 2015). "Bảo Đại trao kiếm giả cho 'cách mạng'? Mùa thu năm trước Bảo tàng Lịch sử Việt Nam mang chuông sang gióng ở thủ đô Pháp" (in Vietnamese). BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation, Government of the United Kingdom). Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  2. ^ Taylor (1995), p. 170: "The 'Kingdom of Cochinchina' was the polity of the Nguyễn lords (chúa), who had become the more and more independent rivals of the Trịnh lords of the north – if not of the Lê emperors whose affairs the Trịnh lords managed..."
  3. ^ Pelley (2002), p. 216: "This fragmentation became more pronounced in the mid-sixteenth century when a distinctly bifurcated pattern of politics arose, with the Trịnh lords in the North and the Nguyễn lords in the South."
  4. ^ Chapuis (1995), p. 119ff.
  5. ^ Hardy (2009), p. 61: "Vietnam's southward expansion as it took place before the period of the Nguyễn Lords ..."
  6. ^ Mateo (2009), p. 125.
  7. ^ Wong Tze Ken (2004).
  8. ^ Choi Byung Wook (2004), p. 34.
  9. ^ Reid (9 May 1990), p. 90.
  10. ^ Werner (21 August 2012), p. 295.
  11. ^ Ao Dai (2018).
  12. ^ Vietnamese Ao Dai (2019).
  13. ^ Bridgman (1847), p. 584.
  14. ^ Coedes (1966), p. 213.
  15. ^ Coedes (2015), p. 175.
  16. ^ Manguin, Pierre Yves (1972). Les Portugais sur les Cotes du Vietnam et du Champa. EFEO Paris. pp. 206–207.
  17. ^ Kohn (1999), p. 445.
  18. ^ Aung-Thwin (13 May 2011), p. 158.
  19. ^ Khoang (2001), pp. 414–425.
  20. ^ Liu, Shiuh-feng. (2013). "Shipwreck Salvage and Survivors' Repatriation Networks of the East Asian Rim in the Qing Dynasty". In Kayoko, Fujita; Momoki, Shiro; Reid, Anthony (eds.). Offshore Asia: Maritime Interactions in Eastern Asia before Steamships. Vol. 18 of Nalanda-Sriwijaya series (illustrated, reprint ed.). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 211–235. ISBN 978-9814311779. Archived from the original on 4 November 2021.
  21. ^ Wong, Danny Tze-Ken (2018). "The Chinese Factor in the Shaping of the Nguyen Rule over Southern Vietnam during the 17th & 18th Centuries". In Wade, Geoff; Chin, James K. (eds.). China and Southeast Asia: Historical Interaction. Routledge Studies in the Modern History of Asia (illustrated ed.). Singapore: Routledge, Singapore University Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-0429952128.
  22. ^ Ishii, Yoneo, ed. (1998). "25 June 1683". The Junk Trade from Southeast Asia: Translations from the Tôsen Fusetsu-gaki, 1674–1723. Vol. 188 of Book Monograph (illustrated ed.). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 29. ISBN 9812300228.
  23. ^ Benjamin, Geoffrey; Chou, Cynthia, eds. (2002). Tribal Communities in the Malay World: Historical, Cultural, and Social Perspectives. Vol. 106 of Lectures, Workshops, and Proceedings of International Conferences (reprint ed.). Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 29. ISBN 9812301666.

References edit

General references edit

External links edit

16°28′N 107°36′E / 16.467°N 107.600°E / 16.467; 107.600