Posted on 10/25/2008

Photo taken on March 22, 2003

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Việt Nam
Khải Định
Khải Định mausoleum

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At the Khải Định mausoleom

At the Khải Định mausoleom
After the Emperor Dong Khanh era came the eras of Emperor Thanh Thai and Emperor Duy Tan, both of whom were exiled by the French for their resistance to the colonial regime. After this trouble, the French decided to enthrone Buu Dao as he was the son of the monarch who was the most submissive Nguyen collaborator with the colonial regime, standing with the French colonizers and opposing any independence movements, Emperor Dong Khanh.
Nguyen Buu Dao became the nominal ruler of Annam on May 18, 1916, after the exile of Duy Tan (Nguyen Vinh San) and took the name Khai Dinh for his reign, meaning "auger of peace and stability". He said he wanted to restore the prestige of the empire, but this was not possible with his close collaboration with the French occupiers. Although not satisfied with his position, Khai Dinh enacted a policy of close collaboration with the French government, following all of their instructions to give 'legitimacy' to French policies.
Because of this, Khai Dinh was very unpopular with the Vietnamese people. The nationalist leader Phan Chu Trinh accused him of selling out his country to the French and living in imperial luxury while the people were exploited by France. Nguyen Ai Quoc (later known as Ho Chi Minh) wrote a play about Khai Dinh called "The Bamboo Dragon" that ridiculed him as being all grand appearance and ceremony but a powerless puppet of the French in government. His 1922 visit to France to see the Marseilles Colonial Exhibition was also ridiculed by nationalist leaders, who naturally hated Vietnam's status as a colonial subject of France and saw nothing in the exhibition worth celebrating.
Emperor Khai Dinh's unpopularity reached its peak in 1923 when he authorized the French to raise taxes on the Vietnamese peasants, part of which was to pay for the building of his palatial tomb, and which caused a great deal of hardship. He also signed the orders of arrest against many nationalist leaders, such as Phan Boi Chau, forcing them into exile and having their followers who were captured beheaded.