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By Istvan Toperczer, Don Greer, Ernesto Cumpian, David W. Smith

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On June 3, however, Mayréna telegraphed a message to the French governor stating that he had proclaimed himself King Marie I of Sedang, and was quite happy to turn over his kingdom to the French in return for retaining economic control. He added that if he did not hear back from the French, he would contact their deadly enemy, the Germans. The whole affair was greeted with some hilarity by the French population of Indochina, with the new king promulgating his own constitution, issuing several royal edicts, and creating orders of chivalry.

This enraged his adopted son Le Van Khoi, who staged a revolt against Minh Mang, seeking help from Westerners, including missionaries and the Siamese. The rebellion caused great consternation, and throughout Vietnam. Christian missionaries were rounded up with one of them, the unfortunate cartographer François Isidore Gagelin, being taken to Hue where he was slowly strangled by soldiers on October 17, 1833. Le Van Khoi held out in Saigon until the next year and died while his stronghold was being attacked by the imperial army.

He was only 15 when he acceded to the throne, and his coronation took place all in one morning in the hope that the French would accept the succession as a fait accompli. The coronation was also a sign to the French that they did not have the right to advise on matters of dynastic succession. Emperor Kien Phuc was never in good health and he rapidly became a puppet for Ton That Thuyet, who controlled the court and was a vigorous opponent of the French. On June 6, 1884, however, the French managed to get the Vietnamese emperor to agree to the Patenotre Treaty, which confirmed the French protectorates of Annam and Tonkin.

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