Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
Teaser Image

Bao Dai (1913–1997)

Title: Bao Dai
Button: Click to display an enlarged version of the image.
Last of the Vietnamese emperors; collaborated with French efforts from 1947 to 1954 to retain colonial rule over Indochina. Born in Hue on 22 October 1913, Prince Nguyen Phuoc Vinh Thuy was educated in France, where he was immersed in French language, history, music, and art. He did not return to Vietnam until the death of his father in 1925. On 8 January 1926, he was crowned emperor, taking the imperial name Bao Dai ("Preserver of Greatness") before returning to France. The French government did not again permit him to return to Vietnam until 10 September 1932, but as emperor in French-ruled Vietnam he exercised little authority.

Bao Dai cooperated with Japan during World War II, especially after Tokyo proclaimed Vietnamese independence under his rule in March 1945. During the Vietnamese Revolution later that year, however, he abdicated and became an advisor to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV, North Vietnam). Disillusioned with Viet Minh rule, he left the country in 1946.

In 1947, the French government pressed Bao Dai to return to Vietnam as head of a new state within a French imperial federation. Paris hoped that the new regime, formally established in 1949 as the State of Vietnam, would satisfy nationalist demands for autonomy and coax partisans of Ho Chi Minh to abandon the Viet Minh cause. French leaders also hoped that a veneer of Vietnamese independence would entice the United States into backing the floundering French war effort against the Viet Minh. Critics charged that Bao Dai was nothing more than a French puppet, but Washington, eager to resist communism in Asia after the outbreak of the Korean War, recognized his government in 1950 and provided it with increasing amounts of aid.

The so-called Bao Dai Solution failed to win popular support. Following the end of the Indochina War, Bao Dai named Ngo Dinh Diem as his premier. Later regretting this move, Bao Dai tried to regain control, finally authorizing one of his generals to lead a coup against Diem. The coup failed, and Diem then called an election in October 1955 to determine whether the nation should be a monarchy or a republic. Diem won the rigged referendum by an overwhelming vote and became president of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, South Vietnam). Bao Dai spent much of the remainder of his life at his chateau near Cannes, France. He died in Paris on 30 July 1997.

Mark Atwood Lawrence


Further Reading
Currey, Cecil B. "Bao Dai: The Last Emperor." Viet Nam Generation 6(1–2) (1994): 199–206.; Duiker, William. Sacred War: Nationalism and Revolution in a Divided Vietnam. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  Y
  Z
  Z
  Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer