Interesting findings about King Gia Long and his wise diplomacy strategies

The book named "Nguyen Van Tuong and the war against the French colonialism of the Nguyen Dynasty" written by Professor Nguyen Quoc Tri, which has just received the 10th Good Book award in the category of Book of Discovery, reveals interesting discoveries about King Gia Long and his wise and flexible diplomacy strategies.


interesting findings about king gia long and his wise diplomacy strategies
Painting of King Gia Long. (Photo: Thanh Nien)

According to the research of Professor Nguyen Quoc Tri, in the period of the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam’s situation is described as follow: “From the time of the Nguyen Lords until after Gia Long‘s getting the throne in the early 1780s, Siam was a Chinese vassal country, just like Vietnam. Siam often contested with Vietnam. After losing to Tay Son and retreating to Hau Giang, Nguyen king sent Nguyen Huu Thuy to ask for Siam aid through the Chan Lap road, but the delegation was killed by Chan Lap’s army under the Tay Son’s administration. In the autumn of 1782, Chau Van Tiep brought troops from the Central of Vietnam to regain Gia Dinh and brought the King back there”.

The situation at that time was extremely difficult, therefore, it would be better if the Nguyen side had good relations with Siam. The book said: “The King got worried as he saw the Tay Son’s power. He said to his generals that, even though the enemy is loosing, it is possible that they will come back to attack in the spring. The best policy at that moment was keeping good relations with Siam to ask for help when hard time comes. Then he asked to “make gold and silver flowers” and sent officer Le Phuc Dien and Le Phuc Binh to Siam.

interesting findings about king gia long and his wise diplomacy strategies
The cover of the historical novel of “Gia Long regained the throne” by Tan Dan Tu. (Photo: Thanh Nien)

Get Ha Tien, Ba Thac back without losing any bullet

The book “Nguyen Van Tuong and the war against the French colonialism of the Nguyen Dynasty” stated: “According to the Siam’s history, in the summer of 1793, the Canh Thinh reign of Tay Son sent a delegation bringing good gifts to ask Vong Cac (present-day Bangkok) to arrest Nguyen Anh if he fleed to the country but Vong Cac skillfully used humanitarian reasons to turn down the order.

In the late spring of 1792, the King of Siam sent a letter asking Nguyen King to send his troops against Tay Son, give Long Xuyen and Kien Giang to Mac Cong Binh, and give Chan Lap the region of Bassac (Ba Thac). But Nguyen king sent a clever letter to refuse, asking Siam not to send troops to Laos and suggested that he would beat Quy Nhon, and Siam fought Nghe An.

Because he felt that his position and power were not strong enough, in September 1972, Nguyen king sent an envoy to Siam to announce the victory in Quy Nhon and”escort the pirate group of Te Ngoi”, at the same time “presented the Buddha statue and the sugar”. In order to win the hearts of the Siamese king, King Gia Long has repeatedly assisted the King of Siam against the invasions of other countries.

The good relations are described as: “Nguyen King sent a messenger to bring gold and silver to the king of Siam, but never confirmed his intention to become a vassal country”. With the repeated dedication, the land of Ha Tien turned into a self-governing area, admiring both Siamese and Vietnamese kings, but gradually belonged permanently to Vietnam.

“Nguyen King removed Chieu Chien Bien as an enemy and brought back the old king, Nac An, which he once supported, to return to the throne of Chan Lap, which helped him turned a hostile country into an ally in the large system of Siamese mandala”, stated the book.

Thus, it is clear that in the situation of “being hang by a single hair”, having to face with enemies both inside and outside the country, King Gia Long regained Ha Tien, Ba Thac, re-establish influence in Chan Lap and Ai Lao (Laos) without losing any bullet, as well as gaining strong Siamese help against the Tay Son in urgent situations.

From much evidence and extensive documents obtained, Professor Nguyen Quoc Tri affirmed: “Gaining victory by humbling himself to turn the enemies into an ally contributes significance to the victory of the Nguyen founding King. His wise strategy to exploit the India & Persia influenced characteristics relations in South Asia to survive and thrive was far more sophisticated and effective than the “setting the fox to keep the geese” that former colonial history ‘crucified’ for King Gia Long.