"In 1787, Monsignor Pierre Joseph Georges Pigneaux de Béhaine, bishop of Adran, returned to France after two decades of extraordinary adventures in a remote Asian land, Vietnam, then known to Europe as Cochinchina. A handsome priest in his forties, a large pectoral cross adorning his black silk cassock, he dazzled the courtiers at Versailles, the baroque palace of Louis XVI. His pious demeanor, flavored by a touch of oriental mystery, intrigued the ladies, and his infallible politeness even disarmed potential rivals for royal favors. But he was upstaged by a child whom he had brought with him, Nguyen Canh, the seven-year-old son of a pretender to the throne of Vietnam.
Dressed in red and gold brocade, an incongruous Hindu turban atop his head, the little prince exuded exotic charm. Queen Marie Antoinette bestowed her patronage on the boy by permitting him to play with the Dauphin—the heir apparent—and a court musician composed a hymn to honor the "illustrious infant." Her personal hairdresser celebrated the visitors with a chic new coiffure, le chignon à la cochinchinoise, and a court poet acclaimed Pigneau as successor to the legendary missionary Saint Francis Xavier.
Though he welcomed the lavish indulgence, Pigneaux had a deeper purpose. He had come to France to lobby for an ambitious scheme— the creation, under French auspices, of a Christian empire in Asia. He died before the dream reached fulfillment, but, through the sheer drive of his personality, he propelled France toward the conquest of Vietnam a hundred years later." (Excerpt from Chapter 2 - Piety and Power of Stanley Karnow's book "Vietnam a History", Penguin Books, 1983)
Ref. The Journal of Hoang Tu Canh (Dông Cung Nhut Trinh) at chimviet.free.fr
Portrait of Monsignor Pigneau de Béhaine, Bishop of Adran
Portrait of Prince Cảnh (Nguyễn Ánh's son) in 1787 realized by Maupérin under Queen Marie-Antoinette's order
Dictionnary Annamite-Latin of Pigneaux de Béhaine as published in 1838 by Jean Louis Taberd, the missionary of Society of Foreign Missions of Paris and Bishop of Isauropolis :
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Description of Jean-Louis Taberd: