Bảo Đại

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Bảo Đại (Hán tự: , lit. "keeper of greatness", 22 October 1913 – 30 July 1997), born Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy (阮福永瑞), was the 13th and last ruler of the Nguyễn Dynasty. From 1926 to 1945, he served as emperor of Annam under French 'protection'. During this period Annam was a protectorate within French Indochina. Annam today covers the central two-thirds of Vietnam (Contemporary Vietnam being a merger of Annam & the former French Indochina provinces of 'Tonkin' to the north & 'Cochinchina' in the south). Bảo Đại ascended the throne in 1932 at the age of 19. The Japanese ousted the French in March 1941 and then ruled through Bảo Đại. At this time, Bảo Đại renamed his country "Vietnam". He abdicated in August 1945 when Japan surrendered. He was chief of state of the State of Vietnam (South Vietnam) from 1949 until 1955. Bảo Đại was criticized as being closely associated with France and spending much of his time outside of Vietnam. Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm ousted him in a referendum held in 1955.

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Early life

Bảo Đại was born Prince Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy in the Palace of Doan-Trang-Vien, part of the compound of the Purple Forbidden City in Huế, the capital of Annam, as Vietnam was then called. He later was given the name Nguyễn Vĩnh Thụy. His father was King Khải Định of Annam. His mother was the king's second wife, Tu Cung, who was renamed Doan Huy upon her 1913 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, with style of Her Imperial Majesty being added in 1945. [1]

Vietnam had been ruled from Huế by the Nguyễn 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 Nguyễn Dynasty was given nominal rule of Annam.

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