An Nam Unification Records


This work consists of eyewitness accounts of events that took place in Vietnam between 1767 and 1804. Evidence points to a high-ranking court official, Ngo Thoi Nham (also called Ngo Thi Nham, 1746–1803) as the author of the first seven chapters. Another contributing author is thought to be Ngo Thoi Chi, a court official who accompanied the last Lê king, Lê Chiêu Thó̂ng, into exile in Beijing where the king died in 1793. The original title of the work was Hoàng Lê Nhất Thống Chí (The royal Lê unification records), and through this title the author expressed his wish to see the country reunited under the Lê dynasty. After the original author’s passing, other scholars of the Ngo family updated the work, adding another ten chapters. With the demise of the Lê dynasty, the later authors changed the title to reflect the reunification of Vietnam (then known as Annam) by the Nguyen dynasty of Emperor Gia Long. Ngo Thoi Du, also a court official, was another contributing author. Written in the style of a historical novel, the work was mistakenly perceived as fiction for many years. In more recent times, it has been analyzed and verified by Vietnamese scholars as a highly accurate historical document. This manuscript contains the first seven chapters. The narrative starts with the rise to power of the concubine Đặng Thị Huệ and ends two years after Gia Long has reunited Viet Nam. It covers the end of the rule of Lê Trịnh, when, with the court and politics in chaos, in 1782 kiêu binh (arrogant troops) dethroned the infant lord Trịnh Cán, installing Trịnh Tông in his place. The uprising by the Nguyễn Huệ brothers in 1770 started from the hamlet of Tây Sơn and then marched on Thăng Long to defeat the invading Qing army. This resulted in King Lê Chiêu Thống’s exile and subsequent death in Beijing. The Tây Sơn gained popular support and unrest subsided, but King Quang Trung (reigned circa 1788−92) died young. The court of his successor Cảnh Thịnh lost the support of the people and collapsed under the attack of the revived army of the Nguyễn lord Nguyễn Phúc Ánh in 1802. He became known as Emperor Gia Long, founder of the Nguyễn dynasty, the last dynasty of Vietnam.

Last updated: April 3, 2015