Annamite ambassadors

Annamite ambassadors

A group portrait of the principals of the Annamite delegation that arrived in Paris towards the end of September 1863.

On 20 August 1863 the Times reported that the embassy soon to arrive in France consisted of ‘a First Ambassador, a Second Ambassador, and an adjunct Ambassador, and their names are given as Phan-Thanh-Giang, Pham-Phu-Thus, and Nguy-Khaedan, appellations of remarkable orthography and difficult pronunciation. The First Secretary of these Cochin-Chinese Phans and Phams is called Van-Chat, which would seem to indicate a combined Dutch and French origin.’

According to a report from their Paris correspondent that appeared in the Times on 17 September 1863: ‘The ambassadors have commenced their rounds of official visits, and are said to be well versed in the laws of etiquette. The first ambassador – described as remarkable for his intelligence and for that reason looked on with suspicion at the court of Hué – is accompanied by two dignitaries, who under the pretence of assisting him are specially charged to keep a watch over him. He is reported to be aware of this, and takes his precautions in consequence. The account which has been given of their mission appears to be true. The Emperor of Annam wishes to recover the three provinces of Lower-Cochin-China occupied by the French troops. The motive for this desire is not so much to recover a few hundred leagues of territory as to plunder and hang the faithless subjects who have submitted to the French. At the same time he would not be sorry to dupe the foreign barbarians, to whom he offers, it is said, 40,000,000 f., without having the remotest intention of giving them a sou.’

The older ambassador seen at the centre of this group, Phan Thanh Giang, committed suicide when the French failed to honour the terms of the treaty he had negotiated.

Photographed by A.A.E. Disdéri of Paris.


Code: 122050
© Paul Frecker 2022