Hue Travel briefing - Timeline

Hue briefing guide

Hue Timeline

27 Aug 2010
Pre 15th century

Hue is part of the sprawling Cham empire that dominates southern Vietnam and parts of Cambodia. The Cham had frequently been at war with both the Khmer empire (battles are depicted in the bas reliefs at several Angkorian temples) and the Vietnamese to the north.

15th century

A decisive victory over the Cham by the Viet people in 1471 marks the hastening of Vietnam’s southward push. As Vietnam's strategic centre moves south, the role of Hue as a regional centre gathers momentum.

17th century

The Nguyen Lords who preside over southern Vietnam begin using Hue as their base resulting in the development of the city.


Emperor Gia Long establishes the Nguyen Dynasty reign over a united Vietnam with Hue as its capital. French missionary activity gathers pace throughout the nineteenth century and is met with hostility from successive Nguyen emperors.


Emperor Tu Duc a staunch traditionalist and Confucian, signs, under duress, a treaty with the French extending their religious, economic and political power in his kingdom.


France establishes a protectorate over Annam (central Vietnam) and Tonkin (northern Vietnam.


At age thirteen, newly installed Emperor Ham Nghi instigates an unsuccessful revolt against the French. He is exiled to Algeria where he dies having married and raised a family there.  


France creates the Indochinese Union of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia reducing the Nguyen emperors to figureheads.


Hue’s National School is inaugurated by Ngo Dinh Kha, father of Ngo Dinh Diem


Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam from 1955 till his assassination in 1963, is born in Hue.


Ho Chi Minh studies at Hue’s National School


Phan Boi Chau, one of Vietnam’s most celebrated early nationalist agitators against French rule is placed under house arrest in Hue.


As Communist forces take control of Hanoi after WWII, Emperor Bao Dai abdicates on August 23 at Hue Citadel.


The partitioning of Vietnam at the 17th parallel under the Geneva Accords makes Hue the northernmost major city in the newly constituted  South Vietnam.


The Buddhist Crisis begins with Hue’s Buddhists claiming discrimination at the hands of the Catholic oriented government of President Ngo Dinh Diem. In May, Diem's security forces attack Buddhist protesters killing 9. In June, the monk Thich Quang Duc travels from Hue to Saigon where he self immolates at a busy intersection. Images of the burning monk in lotus position are beamed across the world drawing international attention to the repressive policies of the US backed Diem regime.

On November 2nd, Diem is executed in a US sanctioned coup that presaged a deepening of the US involvement in Vietnam.


The Tet (New Year) Offensive of 1968 leaves Hue devastated. The Battle of Hue is one of the deadliest and most destructive of the entire war. Huge areas of Hue's historical citadel are levelled by rocket fire and aerial bombing.


24 March, Hue falls to the communist North Vietnamese Army. A little over a month later, the communists complete their rout of South Vietnamese forces and the Vietnam War ends.

post 1975

After nearly two decades in the post war doldrums, the World Heritage listing of Hue’s monuments in 1993 begins a period of tourism based renewal. Tourism moves to the centre of Hue's economic life.
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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