TitleNguyễn Dynasty Emperor Minh Mạng’s (1820–1841) Reform and Operation of Vietnam’s Coastal Defense
AuthorKuei-Min Lee
Affiliation/TitleAdjunct Assistant Professor, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology at Chiayi
AbstractThe Nguyễn dynasty was Vietnam's last feudal. The Nguyễn dynasty, which was ruled for a long time by France starting in the 1860’s, has been harshly criticized, and there have been almost no positive reviews about its successive rulers. Modern Vietnamese believe in communism, and see the uprising of Tây Sơn Nguyễn as a symbol of resistance to the feudal monarchy. The Nguyễn dynasty crushed that uprising, and for that has been criticized.
However, the facts show that the Gia Long to the Tự Đức Emperors made great efforts to build a strong state, especially the second emperor Minh Mạng. In the face of Western forces, Emperor Minh Mạng’s policy seemed to show his emphasis on coastal defense. He believed that to manage foreign trade, it was necessary to have strong coastal defense. This way, Western countries would clearly see the strength of Vietnam’s coastal defense, and would not dare to invade. This policy showed his emphasis on marine defense, without any doubt. Although Emperor Minh Mang’s thought was influenced by Confucianism, he still actively learned Western technology and applied it against the Western forces. This earned him praise. If the later emperors had continued this emphasis on maritime policy, Vietnam’s Nguyễn Dynasty naval forces should have been able to maintain a certain level of strength. However, they did not continue his reforms during the Nguyễn Dynasty.

Key words:     Vietnam, Nguyễn Dynasty, Minh Mạng, Coastal Defense, Navy


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