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B?o i
Emperor of Vietnam
B?o i
Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty
Reign8 January 1926 - 25 August 1945
PredecessorKh?i nh
SuccessorMonarchy abolished
Chief of State of Vietnam
Reign13 June 1949 - 26 October 1955
PredecessorPosition created
Nguy?n V?n Xuân
(as Head of Provisional government)
SuccessorNgô ?ình Di?m
(as President of the Republic of South Vietnam)
Born(1913-10-22)22 October 1913
Doan-Trang-Vien Palace, Hu?, French Indochina
Died30 July 1997(1997-07-30) (aged 83)
Val-de-Grâce, Paris, France
(m. 1934⁠–⁠1963)

Hoàng Phi Ánh
Bùi M?ng ?i?p
Christiane Bloch-Carcenac
(m. 1972⁠–⁠1997)
IssueB?o Long (1934-2007)
Phng Mai (1937)
Phng Liên (1938)
Phng Dung (1942)
B?o Th?ng (1943-2017)
Phng Th?o (1946)
Phng Minh (1949-2012)
B?o Ân (1953)
B?o Hoàng (1954-1955)
B?o S?n (1957-1987)
Phng T?
Patrick-Edward Bloch
Full name
Nguy?n Phúc V?nh Th?y (?)
Era dates
B?o i (1926-1945)
HouseNguy?n dynasty
FatherKh?i nh
MotherHoàng Th? Cúc
ReligionRoman Catholic
SignatureB?o i's signature

B?o i (Vietnamese: [?a?:w ?â:j?], Hán t?: ??, lit. "keeper of greatness", 22 October 1913 – 30 July 1997), born Nguy?n Phúc V?nh Th?y, was the 13th and final Emperor of the Nguy?n dynasty, the last ruling family of Vietnam.[1] From 1926 to 1945, he was Emperor of Annam, which was then a protectorate in French Indochina, covering the central two thirds of the present-day Vietnam. B?o i ascended the throne in 1932.

The Japanese ousted the Vichy French administration in March 1945 and then ruled through B?o i, who he renamed his country "Vietnam". He abdicated in August 1945 when Japan surrendered. From 1949 to 1955, B?o i was the chief of state of the State of Vietnam (South Vietnam). B?o i was criticized for being too closely associated with France and spending much of his time outside Vietnam. Prime Minister Ngô ?ình Di?m eventually ousted him in a fraudulent referendum vote in 1955.

Early life

B?o i was born on 22 October 1913 and given the name of Prince Nguy?n Phúc V?nh Th?y (?) in the Palace of Doan-Trang-Vien, part of the compound of the Purple Forbidden City in Hu?, the capital of Vietnam. He was later given the name Nguy?n V?nh Th?y. His father was Emperor Kh?i nh of Annam. His mother was the Emperor's second wife, Tu Cung, who was renamed 'Doan Huy' upon her marriage. She held various titles over the years that indicated her advancing rank as a favored consort until she eventually became Empress Dowager in 1933. Vietnam had been ruled from Hu? by the Nguy?n Dynasty since 1802. The French government, which took control of the region in the late 19th century, split Vietnam into three areas: the protectorates of Annam and Tonkin and the colony of Cochinchina. The Nguy?n Dynasty was given nominal rule of Annam.[]

At the age of nine, Prince Nguy?n Phúc V?nh Th?y was sent to France to be educated at the Lycée Condorcet and, later, the Paris Institute of Political Studies. On 8 January 1926, he was made the emperor after his father's death and took the era name B?o i ("Protector of Grandeur" or "Keeper of Greatness").[2][3] He did not yet ascend to the throne and returned to France to continue his studies.[3]


B?o i
Vietnamese name
VietnameseB?o i
Birth name
Vietnamese alphabetNguy?n Phúc V?nh Th?y

On 20 March 1934, age 20, at the imperial city of Hu?, B?o i married Marie-Thérèse Nguy?n H?u Th? Lan (died 15 September 1963, Chabrignac, France), a commoner from a wealthy Vietnamese Roman Catholic family. She was subsequently given the name Nam Phng (Direction of South). The couple had five children: Crown Prince B?o Long (4 January 1936 - 28 July 2007), Princess Phng Mai (born 1 August 1937), Princess Phng Liên (born 3 November 1938), Princess Phuong Dung (born 5 February 1942), and Prince B?o Th?ng (9 December 1943 - 15 March 2017). She was granted the title of Empress in 1945.

Enthronement ceremony of the emperor at the Imperial City, Hu?
Prince V?nh Th?y
Emperor B?o i

B?o i had six other wives and concubines, four of whom he wed during his marriage to Nam Phng:

Name Title Issue Note
Nguy?n H?u Th? Lan Empress Nam Phng Crowned Prince B?o Long

Prince B?o Th?ng

Princess Phng Mai

Princess Phng Dung

Princess Phng Liên

The emperor's first wife
Lê Th? Phi Ánh Consort Ánh Prince B?o Ân

Princess Phng Minh

a distant cousin, whom he married c. 1935
Lý L? Hà Mistress
Hoàng Ti?u Lan/ Jenny Wong Mistress She is a Chinese women from HongKong
Bùi M?ng ?i?p Consort Princess Phng Th?o

Prince B?o Hoàng

Prince B?o S?n

Christiane Bloch-Carcenac Patrick-Edouard Bloch during the period of 1957-1970
Monique Baudot Imperial Princess

Empress Thái Phng

a French citizen whom he married in 1972

Independence and abdication

In 1940, during the second World War, coinciding with their ally Nazi Germany's invasion of France, Imperial Japan took over French Indochina. While they did not eject the French colonial administration, the occupation authorities directed policy from behind the scenes in a parallel of Vichy France.

The Japanese promised not to interfere with the court at Hu?, but in 1945, after ousting the French, coerced B?o i into declaring Vietnamese independence from France as a member of Japan's "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere"; the country then became the Empire of Vietnam. The Japanese had a Vietnamese pretender, Prince Cng , waiting to take power in case the new emperor's "elimination" was required. Japan surrendered to the Allies in August 1945, and the Viet Minh under the leadership of H? Chí Minh aimed to take power in a free Vietnam. Due to his popular political stand against the French and the 1945 famine, H? was able to persuade B?o i to abdicate on 25 August 1945, handing power over to the Vi?t Minh - an event which greatly enhanced H?'s legitimacy in the eyes of the Vietnamese people.[4] B?o i was appointed the "supreme advisor" to H?'s Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi, which asserted its independence on 2 September 1945, but was ousted by the French in November 1946.[5]

Imperial standard

Return to power and Indochina War

As Vietnam descended into armed conflict - rival factions clashed with each other and also with the remaining French - B?o i left Vietnam after nearly a year as Supreme Advisor to Ho Chi Minh's Government, living in both Hong Kong and China. The French persuaded him to return in 1949 to serve as "head of state" (qu?c trng), not as "emperor" (Hoàng ). He soon returned to France, however, and showed little interest in the affairs of his own country when his own personal interests were not directly involved.

The communist victory in China in 1949 led to a revival of the fortunes of the Vi?t Minh. The United States extended diplomatic recognition to B?o i's government in March 1950, soon after communist nations recognized H?'s government. The outbreak of the Korean War in June led to U.S. military aid and active support of the French war effort in Indochina, now seen as anti-communist rather than colonialist.

But the war between the French colonial forces and the Vi?t Minh continued, ending in 1954 shortly after a major victory for the Vi?t Minh at ?i?n Biên Ph?. The 1954 peace deal between the French and the Vi?t Minh, known as the Geneva Accords, involved a partition of the country into northern and southern zones. B?o i moved to Paris, but remained "Head of State" of South Vietnam, appointing Ngô ?ình Di?m as his prime minister.[6]

Second removal from power

In 1955, Di?m called for a referendum to remove B?o i and establish a republic with Di?m as president. The campaign leading up to the referendum was punctuated by personal attacks against the former emperor, whose supporters had no way to refute them since campaigning for B?o i was forbidden.

In any case, the 23 October referendum was widely condemned as being fraudulent, with the official results showing an implausible result of 98.9% in favor of a republic, while there was also evidence of widespread ballot box stuffing: the number of votes for a republic exceeded the total number of registered voters by 155,025 in Saigon, while the total number of votes exceeded the total number of registered voters by 449,084, and the number of votes for a republic exceeded the total number of registered voters by 386,067.[7]

Life in exile

B?o i's burial place in the Cimetière de Passy, Paris

In 1957, during his visit to Alsace region, he met Christiane Bloch-Carcenac with whom he had an affair for several years. This relationship gave birth to his last child, Patrick Edward Bloch, who still lives in Alsace in France.[8][9]

In 1972, B?o i issued a public statement from exile, appealing to the Vietnamese people for national reconciliation, stating, "The time has come to put an end to the fratricidal war and to recover at last peace and accord". At times, B?o i maintained residence in southern France, and in particular, in Monaco, where he sailed often on his private yacht, one of the largest in Monte Carlo harbor. He still reportedly held great influence among local political figures in the Qu?ng Tr? and Th?a Thiên provinces of Hu?. The Communist government of North Vietnam sent representatives to France hoping that B?o i would become a member of a coalition government which might reunite Vietnam, in the hope of attracting his supporters in the regions wherein he still held influence.[]

As a result of these meetings, B?o i publicly spoke out against the presence of American troops on the territory of South Vietnam, and he criticized President Nguy?n V?n Thi?u's regime in South Vietnam. He called for all political factions to create a free, neutral, peace-loving government which would resolve the tense situation that had taken form in the country.

In 1982, B?o i, his wife Monique, and other members of the former imperial family of Vietnam visited the United States. His agenda was to oversee and bless Buddhist and Caodaiist religious ceremonies, in the Californian and Texan Vietnamese-American communities.

Throughout B?o i's life in both Vietnam and in France, he remained unpopular among the Vietnamese populace as he was considered a political puppet for the French colonialist regime, for lacking any form of political power, and for his cooperation with the French and for his pro-French ideals. The former emperor clarified, however, that his reign was always a constant battle and a balance between preserving the monarchy and the integrity of the nation versus fealty to the French authorities. Ultimately, power devolved away from his person and into ideological camps and in the face of Diem's underestimated influences on factions within the empire.[10]


B?o i died in a military hospital in Paris, France, on 30 July 1997. He was interred in the Cimetière de Passy. After his death, his eldest son, Crown Prince B?o Long, inherited the position of head of the Nguy?n Dynasty. Crown Prince Bao Long died on 28 July 2007 and his younger brother B?o Th?ng succeeded him as head of the Nguyen dynasty, followed in turn by prince B?o Ân in 2017.

In popular culture

  • B?o i was portrayed by actor Hu?nh Anh Tu?n in the 2004 Vietnamese miniseries Ng?n n?n Hoàng cung (A Candle in the Imperial Palace)[].
  • In May 2017, a watch owned by B?o i, a unique Rolex ref. 6062 triple calendar moonphase watch made for him while he was working in Geneva, became one of the most expensive watches ever sold, selling for a then record price of $5,060,427.

B?o i coins

The last cash coin ever produced in the world bears the name of B?o i in Chinese characters. There are three types of this coin. Large cast piece with 10 v?n inscription on the reverse, medium cast piece with no reverse inscription, and small struck piece. All were issued in 1933.


  • In 1945 when the Japanese colonel in charge of the Hue garrison told B?o i that he had (in line with the orders of the Allied commander) taken measures ensuring the security of the Imperial Palace and those within it against a possible Vi?t Minh coup, B?o i dismissed the protection declaring "I do not wish a foreign army to spill the blood of my people."[11]
  • He explained his abdication in 1945 saying "I would prefer to be a citizen of an independent country rather than Emperor of an enslaved one."[11]
  • When, after World War II, France attempted to counter H? Chí Minh's popularity and gain the support of the U.S. by creating a puppet government with him, he said "What they call a B?o i solution turns out to be just a French solution."[12]
  • In a rare public statement from France in 1972, B?o i appealed to the people of Vietnam for national reconciliation, saying "The time has come to put an end to the fratricidal war and to recover at last peace and accord."[13]


National honours

Foreign honours



  1. ^ Nghia M. Vo Saigon: A History 2011 - Page 277 "B?o i was born in 1913, the 13th and last monarch of the Nguy?n dynasty. He ruled from 1926 to 1944 as emperor of Annam and emperor"
  2. ^ Chapman, Jessica M. (September 2006). "Staging democracy: South Vietnam's 1955 referendum to depose Bao Dai". Diplomatic History. 30 (4): 687. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7709.2006.00573.x.
  3. ^ a b Currey, Cecil B. (2011). Tucker, Spencer C. (ed.). The encyclopedia of the Vietnam War : a political, social, and military history (2nd ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. pp. 94-95. ISBN 9781851099610.
  4. ^ Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History p162 "Nothing has reinforced the Vietminh cause more than the mercurial Bao Dai's decision to abdicate. For his gesture conferred the 'mandate of heaven' on Ho, giving him the legitimacy that, in Vietnamese eyes, had traditionally resided in the emperor."
  5. ^ David G. Marr Vietnam: State, War, Revolution, 1945-1946 p20 "The royal mandarinal hierarchies for education, administration, and justice were abolished, while Mr. V?nh Th?y (formerly Emperor B?o i) was appointed advisor to the DRV provisional government."
  6. ^ Interview with Ngô ?ình Luy?n. WGBH Media Library and Archives. 31 January 1979.
  7. ^ Direct Democracy
  8. ^ oral communication (Patrick Edward Bloch) and sections of the "Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace" (D.N.A), n°. 264 of 10 nov.1992 and from 7 August 2007.
  9. ^ "RENAISSANCE DE HUE - Site de maguy tran - pinterville" (in French). Archived from the original on 20 March 2015.
  10. ^ D. Fineman (1997). A Special Relationship: The United States and Military Government in Thailand, 1947-1958. University of Hawaii Press. p. 111. ISBN 9780824818180.
  11. ^ a b D. G. Marr (1997). Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power. London, England: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520212282.
  12. ^ H. R. McMaster (1998). Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam. New York, NY: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060929084.
  13. ^ P. Shenon (2 August 1997). "Bao Dai, 83, of Vietnam; Emperor and Bon Vivant". The New York Times.

Further reading

  • Anh, Nguyên Thê. "The Vietnamese Monarchy under French Colonial Rule 1884-1945." Modern Asian Studies 19.1 (1985): 147-162 online.
  • Chapuis, Oscar. The Last Emperors of Vietnam: From Tu Duc to Bao Dai (Greenwood, 2000).
  • Chapman, Jessica M. "Staging democracy: South Vietnam's 1955 referendum to depose Bao Dai." Diplomatic History 30.4 (2006): 671-703. online
  • Hammer, Ellen J. "The Bao Dai Experiment." Pacific Affairs 23.1 (1950): 46-58. online
  • Hess, Gary R. "The first American commitment in Indochina: The acceptance of the 'Bao Dai solution', 1950." Diplomatic History 2.4 (1978): 331-350. online
  • Lockhart. Bruce McFarland (1993). The End of the Vietnamese Monarchy. Lac Viet Series. 15. New Haven, CT: Yale Center for International and Area Studies. ISBN 9780938692508.
  • Szalontai, Balázs. "The 'Sole Legal Government of Vietnam': The Bao Dai Factor and Soviet Attitudes toward Vietnam, 1947-1950." Journal of Cold War Studies (2018) 20#3 pp 3-56. online

Other languages

  • B?o i's memoirs have been published in French and in Vietnamese; the Vietnamese version appears considerably longer.
  • B?o i (1980). Le dragon d'Annam (in French). Paris: Plon. ISBN 9782259005210.
  • B?o i (1990). Con rong Viet Nam: hoi ky chanh tri 1913-1987 (in Vietnamese). Los Alamitos, CA: Nguyen Phuoc Toc (distributed by Xuan Thu Publishing). OCLC 22628825.

External links

Photos of B?o i's summer palaces

B?o i
Born: 22 October 1913 Died: 30 July 1997
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Kh?i nh
Emperor of Vietnam
8 January 1926 - 25 August 1945
Political offices
Preceded by
Nguy?n V?n Xuân
as president
Head of State
13 June 1949 - 30 April 1955
Succeeded by
Ngô ?ình Di?m
Titles in pretence
Loss of title
Emperor of Vietnam
25 August 1945 - 30 July 1997
Succeeded by
B?o Long

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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