Parents: Nguyễn Phúc Luân and Nguyễn Thị Hoàn
Date of Birth: 8 February 1762
Royal House: Nguyễn
Spouse: Tống Thị Lan, Trần Thị Đang, and Lê Thị Ngọc Bình
Reign: 1802 – 1820
Predecessor: Quang Toan
Summary: Gia Long began his life as a refugee, the last of a line of prominent south Vietnamese nobles. In 1777, at the age of fifteen, Gia returned to Vietnam and took command of an army that was created for him through the negotiations of a French priest, Pigneau de Behaine. After some marginal victories, Gia Long proclaimed himself king of south Vietnam in 1781 and sent support to his Cambodian allies who were fighting the Siamese of Thailand. This redirection of his efforts undermined his mission in Vietnam and he was forced to flee once again. A counterattack led by his brother brought Gia Long back to Vietnam but he was forced to flee yet again when his brother was killed. Gia then took the most damaging step, though none knew it then, by enlisting the aide of the French to reclaim Vietnam. Pigneau traveled to France and petitioned the king, and the king acquiesced. He sent soldiers and a fleet and Pigneau discovered that Gia Long had already reclaimed Saigon and was attempting to fortify his hold over south Vietnam. The French forces solidified his rule of the region but he was not emperor yet. Gia Long consolidated his rule and then started north.
The tactics used by Gia Long to conquer Vietnam were modern in design, with much provided by the French. In 1802, Gia Long proclaimed himself emperor of Vietnam at his ancestral capital at Hue, which his forces had just reclaimed. He then sent his forces north, supported by ships and guns, to capture Hanoi in July, thereby ending the rule of his rivals. Gia Long became the first emperor to rule all of Vietnam from China to the Gulf of Siam. Gia Long sought recognition from the Chinese government and was granted it, while meanwhile the French failed to uphold their own treaty, due in part to the French Revolutionary Wars, and thus Vietnam did not have to cede territory to the French. Gia Long's reign was marked with conservative values mixed with modernization. Cambodia was released from its Siamese bondage only to become a vassal state of Vietnam. Diplomacy with Europe was limited and reserved. The major cities of Vietnam were rebuilt and repaired. Gia Long is the predecessor of the current state of Vietnam and he left the throne to his son, Minh Mang, who maintained the state.
Date of Death: 3 February 1820
Successor: Minh Mạng
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