05/10/2009 | 11:15:19

The Nguyen Dynasty

In 1802, with French assistance, Nguyen Anh pushed back the Tay Son armies, proclaimed himself Emperor of the Kingdom of Vietnam (taking the reigning name of Gia Long). The country received its current name, and the new capital was set up in Phu Xuan.

To dominate the North, in 1805 the Nguyen dynasty rebuilt Thang Long according to western styles. The city was bordered by a moat of 5,142m, being 4.40m deep and 16 metres wide. On each side of the moat there was a gate, but the southern side had two gates. Outside each gate, there was a small building, called Duong Ma for guarding the gate. Within the city there were Kinh Thien Palace, Cot Co (the Flag Tower), Ho Voi (Elephant Lake), Vo Mieu (Temple of the military), Xa Tac Tower to pray to Heaven and Earth, an Earth Level to carry out động thổ (the ground breaking) ceremony, a prison and a trường hình (execution ground).

There were guards at each gate. Dinh Ngang (Ngang local Temple) and Cam Chi were stationed near the south gate. Surrounding the city were military offices and streets in the old quarter (now Hoan Kiem district). The names of the streets indicate the business or trade of the residents. For example silk in Hang Dao, jewels in Hang Bac, for food products onions in Hang Hanh, rice in Hang Gao, fish in Hang Ca, potatoes in Hang Khoai.

The area of the city was 28.77 miles long (about 16 km), and it comprised 16 gates, namely Kim Lien, An Tu, Thanh Leng (in Thanh Nhan), Nhan Hoa, Tay Long (near the Opera House), Đong An, My Loc, Trung Thanh, Dong Ha, Phuc Lam (Hàng Đậu), Thach Khoi, An Tinh (Yen Thanh), An Hoa (Yen Phu), Tay Ho (Buoi street), Van Bao (Kim Ma), Thinh Quang (O Cho Dua). A lot of merchants or artisans from different villages were attracted there, so Thang Long was still a developed economic centre. Many villages such as Phat Loc, Gia Ngu and Nam Ngu were set up.

To respond to the independent spirit of the villagers, the village Đinh (local temple) was erected. Some Dinh are well known even today such as Phu Ung and Luong Ngoc. Handicrafts, as Theu (embroidery) and Kham (sculpture) reached their highest peak in this period. In 1831 the name Thang Long (Soaring Dragon) was replaced by Thinh Vuong (Prosperity), which indicated a town - Hanoi town.

Many cultural structures were changed, these included the Quoc Tu Giam (the University of Literature and Ethics) which was moved to Hue and renamed the National Academy. Some O (City Gates) were rebuilt in 1817 (including O Quan Chuong). After 143 years from the Nguyen dynasty, Thang Long was again the capital of the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam./.

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