Beginning in the early 19th century, much of present-day Vietnam was once again unified after being divided by rivaling feudal lords for centuries. The Nguyen dynasty, the last dynasty in the history of Imperial Vietnam, ruled the country for more than one hundred years, a period of time marked by increasingly assertive French colonial might in the region. The palace in Hue witnessed changing tones of successive emperors toward the European power’s influence, from hostility in the early decades of the Nguyen dynasty’s rule to outright subjugation toward its final years. However, regardless of their different stances, all Nguyen emperors made sure their final resting places around the capital were showered in opulence.
In 1820, Minh Mang, the fourth son of the first emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, ascended the throne at the age of 29. His 21…
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