| Born in 1868, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Kien Phuc was the nephew turned adopted son of Emperor Tu Duc. Along with Emperors Duc Duc and Dong Khanh, he had been taken in by Tu Duc who was unable to have children of his own. After the regicide of Emperor Hiep Hoa the court regents acted quickly to install the fifteen-year-old prince as the new Emperor. Kien Phuc was quickly enthroned on December 1, 1883 at five o'clock in the morning. His predecessor, Emperor Hiep Hoa, had been arrested and murdered while the French Superior Resident, Champeaux had left Hue. When he returned he angrily protested the hurried coronation of the new monarch and the fact that France had not been consulted.
Resident Champeaux used the Harmond Treaty signed by Emperor Hiep Hoa to justify his fury that the regents had not consulted Vietnam's new colonial masters before placing a new emperor on the throne. This was plain and simple bully-tactics since the treaty in no way gave France any legal influence over the Imperial succession. However, the regents ignored this fact and stated the poor excuse that since Emperor Hiep Hoa was dead the document was no longer valid. The French were not moved by this and further angered by Hiep Hoa's death. Also, remember that the regents had killed Hiep Hoa supposedly for not standing up to the French. However, when military plans began to take effect the two remaining regents quickly bent to the strength of France as well and made a formal request for the recognition of Kien Phuc as the new Emperor.
Throughout his short reign, Emperor Kien Phuc managed to show that in him was a vast potential for an effective and moral Son of Heaven. His upstanding character would have made him legendary had he not been hampered by poor health and the corrupt regents Tuong and Thuyet. It was the Emperor's adopted mother, Hoc Phi, who held most of the authority along with her secret liason, regent Nguyen Van Tuong. When the morally upright Emperor caught these two he was enraged and declared, "When I get well, I will chop off your heads down to the third generation." Naturally, the regents were not going to take the chance of giving the Emperor such an opportunity. Hoc Phi put poison in the Emperor's medicine and Kien Phuc died on August 1, 1884. Early the following year the leader of the Imperial family council, Prince Gia Hung, began a secret investigation into the death of Emperor Kien Phuc. When the murderous Thuyet found out the prince was exiled and dissappeared. However, even in death Emperor Kien Phuc was of some service to his country, for the events of his reign persuaded the French that the corrupt regents had to go. Their removal was one of the bright points of the French occupation, the shame was that they took over their positions themselves rather than give the Emperor any greater freedom.