Wikipedia Rebuttal

The IODA was established on March 14, 1886 by the Emperor Dong Khanh. It is true that the Imperial Court followed a policy of appeasement, but scholars have concluded that there was not much choice in the face of the superior French firepower. Another viewpoint viewed the Court’s actions as passive aggression.

It was assumed as an Order of France in 1896, a decade after its creation.

This IODA is no different than several existent Orders, which were awarded during the post colonial period after abandonment by the French e.g., (1) the Order of the Star of Said Ali or Comoro; (2) the Moroccan Order of Ouissam Alaouite; (3) the Royal Order of Cambodia; (4) the Cameroon Order of Merit and (5) the Tunisian Order of Nichan Iftikhar.

Like the IODA, these Orders were instituted by thier respective monarchies and later adopted and subsequently abandoned by the French. All but the Tunisian Order of Nichan Iftikhar continue to be awarded today.

The abandonment of he IODA by the French has no more effect on that Order, originally established by the Nguyen Dynasty, than it did on any other Order abandoned by the French when their colonial holdings fell apart and they became related to a second tier world power.

The decree of December 5, 1896 specifically differentiated awards of the French Presidency from awards of the Nguyen Emperor. It was at this point that the Order was awarded with different ribbons, reflecting the source of the award (France with green ribbon and orange- yellow side stripes - Annam with white ribbon and orange- yellow side stripes. This was subsequently changed by the Court at Hue to a red ribbon with orange-yellow side stripes. The late French commentator, Colonel P. Rullier specifically noted that the IODA could be awarded by the Emperor of Annam at his discretion with the red/orange-yellow ribbon.

Another important French commentator, feels that the Decree of 1896 made the IODA exclusively a French Order, but goes on to state that when the Emperor awards decorations of the IODA to his own subjects, the IODA, although bearing the same name (different ribbon) should not be mistaken for the French Order identically named. The "local" Order (as distinguished by its ribbon combination), which was solely in the province of the Emperor, was not recognized by the French, and could not be worn outside Indochina. Such award (of the local IODA) was to be considered a personal gift from the Emperor. Under no circumstance could the Emperor of Annam ever award the Order to a Frenchman or to a Foreigner.

A Decree in 1917 made an exception to this rule to allow the King of Cambodia and the Emperor of Annam to exchange Grand Crosses of “their” respective Orders. Some years later, a Governor Generals of Indochina suggested that both Sovereigns be allowed to nominate a few of their own subjects for the French Colonial Order of Cambodia or the IODA. This is thoroughly covered in MICHEL de PIERREDON, BaillI Comte "Les Ordres coloniaux de France". Paris 1926. To this day, this remains an exception reference work.

The French simply "annexed" the orders of their Protectorates and made them exclusively French national orders, junior to the Legion of Honor. This was maintained in various forms until the French Empire was formally ended in the late '50s. Thereafter, one may argue that the Dynastic Orders reverted to their creators and rightful owners.

The commentator, John Sylvester, Jr. notes that Bao Dai continued to bestow the IODA sparingly even after the defeat of the French and their dismissal from Indochina. This practice would have mirrored those of Cambodia, Cameroon, Comoros, Morocco and Tunisia.

I further disagree with the conclusion that the State of Vietnam’s National Order created during the summer of 1950 completely supplanted the IODA. In truth the monarchy was no longer ruling, but it was not abolished nor was its Dynastic property. Many of the former colonies, in a similar position, established their own national orders, following the adoption a non-monarchal form of government and to reflect their “republicanism.” It would have been inconsistent to continue to bestow and Imperial award.

Through 1975, the National Order of Vietnam was awarded in five classes (Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, and Knight) to reward persons living or dead, who distinguished themselves by grandiose works, remarkable deeds, bravery, or lofty virtues and outstanding knowledge.

During this time (post-1949) the award of IODA was suspended as the monarchy no longer ruled (Bao Dai served as Head of State and not as the Emperor). The IODA continued to belong to the monarch (independent from the State or subsequent Republic) and Bao Dai may well have awarded it as a personal “gift” to his key retainers as is rumored. Originally the National Order was to be awarded with a yellow ribbon and three thin red stripes in the center, reflective of the country’s flag. (I have a prototype in my personal collection). It was eventually decided to award it with the ribbon of the IODA. I think this was more a decision of convenience influenced by the ready supply of the ribbon in France and Vietnam, initially, the two key manufacturing sources for the National Order. I believe that those who take this as a replacement of the IODA are mistaken.

Burke’s Peerage recognizes the existence of the IODA, while it does not recognize the now defunct National Order of the Republic of South Vietnam. There is a key underlying basis for this. The National Order ceased to exist on April 30, 1975 when the Republic of South Vietnam ceased to exist. The Nguyen Dynasty continues to survive, albeit in exile, and so does the IODA.

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