Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Nam Phuong

Nam Phuong

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Nam Phuong'
Start a new discussion about 'Nam Phuong'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Empress Nam Phương born Marie-Thérèse Nguyễn Hữu Thị Lan, later Imperial Princess Nam Phương, was the first and primary wife of Bảo Đại
Bao Dai
Bảo Đại , born Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy , was the 13th and last ruler of the Nguyễn dynasty. From 1926 to 1945, he was king of Annam under French ‘protection’. During this period, Annam was a protectorate within French Indochina, covering the central two-thirds of the present-day Vietnam...

, the last king of Annam
Annam (French Colony)
Annam was a French protectorate encompassing the central region of Vietnam. Vietnamese were subsequently referred to as "Annamites." Nationalist writers adopted the word "Vietnam" in the late 1920s. The general public embraced the word "Vietnam" during the revolution of August 1945...

 and last emperor
Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

 of Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, from 1934 until her death. She also was the first and only empress consort (hoàng hậu) of the Nguyễn Dynasty.

Background


Marie-Thérèse Nguyễn Hữu Thị Lan was born in Gò Công
Gò Công
Gò Công is a town district of Tien Giang province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. The town of Gò Công is not to be confused with East Gò Công and West Gò Công Districts which also belong to Tiền Giang Province....

, a Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of . The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.The...

 town in what was then the French colony of Cochinchina
Cochinchina
Cochinchina is a region encompassing the southern third of Vietnam whose principal city is Saigon. It was a French colony from 1862 to 1954. The later state of South Vietnam was created in 1954 by combining Cochinchina with southern Annam. In Vietnamese, the region is called Nam Bộ...

, one of the three areas (the others being the protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

s of Annam
Annam (French Colony)
Annam was a French protectorate encompassing the central region of Vietnam. Vietnamese were subsequently referred to as "Annamites." Nationalist writers adopted the word "Vietnam" in the late 1920s. The general public embraced the word "Vietnam" during the revolution of August 1945...

 and Tonkin
Tonkin
Tonkin , also spelled Tongkin, Tonquin or Tongking, is the northernmost part of Vietnam, south of China's Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces, east of northern Laos, and west of the Gulf of Tonkin. Locally, it is known as Bắc Kỳ, meaning "Northern Region"...

) that composed the Union of French Indochina.

Her father, Pierre Nguyễn Hữu-Hào, described as a wealthy merchant, had been born into a poor Roman Catholic family in Gò Công
Gò Công
Gò Công is a town district of Tien Giang province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. The town of Gò Công is not to be confused with East Gò Công and West Gò Công Districts which also belong to Tiền Giang Province....

. Through an introduction from the Archbishop of Saigon, he became secretary to the billionaire Lê Phát Đạt, Duke of Long-My, and eventually married his employer's daughter, Marie Lê Thị Binh, and inherited his title.

A naturalized French citizen, Nguyễn Hữu Thị Lan, who was known as Mariette, studied at the Couvent des Oiseaux, a fashionable Catholic school located in Neuilly-sur-Seine
Neuilly-sur-Seine
Neuilly-sur-Seine is a commune in the western suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris.Although Neuilly is technically a suburb of Paris, it is immediately adjacent to the city and directly extends it. The area is composed of mostly wealthy, select residential...

, France, where she was sent at the age of 12.http://e-cadao.com/Nhanvatnu/NamPhuong2.jpg

She was a distant cousin of her future husband, the emperor.

Marriage


On 9 March 1934, the public announcement of the engagement of Nguyễn Hữu Thị Lan and Bảo Đại, King of Annam, was released. (In the 19th century, the occupying French forces had diminished the rank of the country's emperor to king, a situation that was not reversed until 1945.) In it, Bảo Đại stated, "The future Queen, reared like us in France, combines in her person the graces of the West and the charms of the East. We who have had the occasion to meet her believe that she is worthy to be our companion and our equal. We are certain by her conduct and example that she fully merits the title of First Woman of the Empire."

After a formal betrothal ceremony in the imperial summer palace in Da Lat, the king married Nguyễn Hữu Thị Lan on 20 March 1934, in Huế
Hue
Hue is one of the main properties of a color, defined technically , as "the degree to which a stimulus can be describedas similar to or different from stimuli that are described as red, green, blue, and yellow,"...

. The ceremony was Buddhist, though the ruler's Catholic fiancée caused some controversy; the country's population was not entirely in favor of the bride's religious affiliation. Others suspected that the marriage "smelled high of French chicanery." The New York Times reported that "discontent was general" in the country, given that Nguyễn Hữu Thị Lan had declined to renounce Catholicism and was appealing to Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI , born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was Pope from 6 February 1922, and sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929 until his death on 10 February 1939...

 for a dispensation. Another article noted that there was much discussion over a report that the pope might allow the bride to "remain a Catholic if she gave the Church her girl children". Further complicating the wedding plans was the apparent disapproval of the young monarch's mother, Doan Huy, and his late father's secondary wives, all of whom had other bridal candidates that Bảo Đại apparently did not consider.

At the state ceremony that marked the end of the four-day wedding festivities, Nguyễn Hữu Thị Lan was given the title Imperial Princess and renamed Nam Phương, which can be roughly translated as The South, in acknowledgment of her place of birth.

The Times, published on 2 April 1934 closely followed the traditional royal nuptials:

"Little Mariette Nguyen Huu Hao was beautifully married. It took four days. On her way up Annam's great mandarin road along the coast she stopped off to climb a mountain and drink of the "frozen spring." Outside Huê, a cavalcade of palace mandarins on short native Phu-Yen horses met her in the Valley of Clouds and escorted her through the three walls of the Red City into the Palace of Passengers. Next day, dressed in a great brocaded Annamite gown, she stepped into an automobile and was driven to the Emperor's Palace, followed by the Imperial princesses and the blue-turbaned wives of the mandarins. Two scrolls, on which were written a prayer to Bảo Đại's ancestors and the name and age (18) of Nguyen Huu Hao, were burnt on the altars. Finally the two young people were brought face to face and married. It took three more days of Buddhist rites behind the locked gates of the Red City to complete the ceremony. On the fourth day a battalion of mandarins led in musicians and the bearers of the royal insignia. The new Queen, her hair elaborately wound about a tiara encrusted with precious stones, received the Imperial seal and the golden book. Finally she arose and bowed her forehead to the floor three times, in the traditional Chinese kowtow of thanks."

At the time of her marriage, a song was written in her honor:
"In the firmament of the Son of Heaven a brilliant new star has risen!/Supple as the neck of the swan is the charm of her graceful form./Her black and sparkling eyes, in hours of ease, envelop and thrill that happy mortal allowed to see./O, Nguyễn Hữu-Hào! Beautiful are all thy ways."

Children


The emperor and empress had five children, most of whom were educated at the French boarding school their mother had attended, Convent des Oiseaux:http://4dw.net/royalark/Vietnam/annam10.htm
  • Crown Prince Bảo Long (4 January 1936 – 28 July 2007)
  • Princess Phương Mai born on 1 August 1937 (married Don Pietro Badoglio, 2nd Duke of Addis Abeba
    Pietro Badoglio, 2nd Duke of Addis Abeba
    The Noble Signor Don Pietro Badoglio, 2nd Duke of Addis Abeba was the son of The Noble Signor Don Mario Fernando Antonio Luigi Badoglio dei duchi di Addis Abeba and his wife, the former Donna Giuliana Rota of the counts of San Vito of the Tagliamento...

     and Marquis of Sabotino)
  • Princess Phương Liên
    Phuong Lien
    Her Imperial Highness Princess Phương Liên of Vietnam is a daughter of Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam, and his first wife, Empress Nam Phuong.In 1962, Phuong Lien married banker Bernard Soulain, in Chabrignac, France....

     born on 3 November 1938 (married Bernard Maurice Soulain)
  • Princess Phương Dung born on 5 February 1942
  • Prince Bảo Thắng born on 30 September 1943.

Created empress


On 18 June 1945, Nam Phương was raised in rank from Her Majesty to Her Imperial Majesty. She also was granted the title of empress, her husband having assumed the title of emperor after proclaiming the country's independence from France, as he had been urged to do as a member of Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was a concept created and promulgated during the Shōwa era by the government and military of the Empire of Japan. It represented the desire to create a self-sufficient "bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers"...

. At this time, Tonkin, Cochinchina, and Annam, which came under the control of Imperial Japan after World War II, were reunited to become the Empire of Vietnam
Empire of Vietnam
The Empire of Vietnam was a short-lived puppet state of Imperial Japan governing the whole of Vietnam between March 11 and August 23, 1945.-History:...

, a puppet
Puppet
A puppet is an inanimate object or representational figure animated or manipulated by an entertainer, who is called a puppeteer. It is used in puppetry, a play or a presentation that is a very ancient form of theatre....

 state. However, the new emperor was soon convinced to abdicate the throne by the revolutionary leader Hồ Chí Minh
Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh , born Nguyễn Sinh Cung and also known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leader who was prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam...

, head of the Việt Minh
Viet Minh
Việt Minh was a national independence coalition formed at Pac Bo on May 19, 1941. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China...

. The former emperor returned to Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 in 1949 at the invitation of the civilian government and was named head of state, but he went into exile again in 1954.

Influence on fashion


Nam Phương's first official visit to Europe, in the summer of 1939, launched a craze for what one reporter described as "trousers and embroidered tunics for evenings; pagoda silhouettes, [and] revers or sleeve forms." To the surprise of fashion observers, when she met with Pope Pius XII during that trip, "the visitor from Indochina did not wear the traditional black, long-sleeved gown and veil. Instead, she appeared in a gold, dragon-embroidered tunic, red scarf, and gold hat. She wore silver trousers."

Later life


Nam Phương served as a member of the Reconstruction Committee for Vietnam after the end of World War II and was the patron of the Vietnamese Red Cross.

In 1947, after the Communist takeover of the country, the empress and her children moved to Château Thorens, outside of Cannes
Cannes
Cannes is one of the best-known cities of the French Riviera, a busy tourist destination and host of the annual Cannes Film Festival. It is a Commune of France in the Alpes-Maritimes department....

, France, which had been in the family since its purchase by her maternal grandfather in the early 20th century. She separated from her husband in 1955. Two years later, when the Vietnamese government announced its confiscation of the imperial family's personal property, the bill specifically excluded any real estate owned by the empress prior to 1949. These properties included her father's villa at Da Lat, which is now Lam Dong Museum.http://www.lamdongt-i.gov.vn/tourDitich01E.asphttp://travel.webshots.com/photo/2505367160041536798TyaoRI

Death


Empress Nam Phương died on 16 September 1963 from a heart attack, at Domaine de La Perche, her home near the small rural village of Chabrignac, Corrèze
Corrèze
Corrèze is a department in south central France, named after the Corrèze River.The inhabitants of the department are called Corréziens or Corréziennes according to gender.-History:...

, France. She was buried in the local cemetery.

Portrayal on film


The empress was portrayed by the actress Yen Chi in the 2004 Vietnamese miniseries
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

 "Ngon Nen Hoang Cung" ("The Imperial Palace's Candlelight").http://vietnamnews.vnanet.vn/2004-08/07/Photos/AT080403.jpg

Titles and styles

  • Marie-Thérèse Nguyễn Hữu Thị Lan (1914–1934)
  • Her Majesty Nam Phương, Imperial Princess of Annam (1934–1945)
  • Her Imperial Majesty Nam Phương, Empress of Vietnam (1945–1963)

External links