Keith W. Taylor, “Nguyễn Công Trứ at the court of Minh Mạng,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 47.2 (May 2016), 255-280.
Professor Taylor is a Professor in Asian Studies at Cornell University and the faculty advisor for Voices of Vietnam.
Nguyễn Công Trứ, poet and songwriter, was an official at the Vietnamese court in the early nineteenth century who gained acclaim for settling landless peasants on abandoned land. This essay recounts and analyses his family background and the early part of his public career. It contrasts his initiatives in the countryside with criticism of them by officials at the royal court and examines his first major demotion in 1831. This study encompasses the contrasting career of Hoàng Quýnh, the official whose accusation caused Nguyễn Công Trứ’s demotion. From this we gain some understanding of how King Minh Mạng maintained control of the royal court, through a system of promotions and demotions, amidst regional tensions and personality conflicts.