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CHAPTER IV.



THE PEGU KINGDOM (1287 TO 1551)


1.The Rise of the Pegu Kingdom: 1287-1296.
2.The Period: 1296-1385.
3.Razadarit: 1385-1423.
4.The Period: 1423-1453.
5.Shinsawbu: 1453-1472.
6.Dammazedi : 1472-1492.
7.Downfall of the kingdom: (1541).



1. The Rise of the Pegu Kingdom (1287 TO 1296)


The Pegu Kingdom was established by WARERU, a Shan peddler born at Donwun in a Siamese Shan family. He received a high post at the court of the chief of Sokhotai and was made the captain of the Guard. Wareru became ambitious and desired to become a chief. It is said that he eloped with the daughter of the chief of Sokhotai, and having thus received a royal connection he declared himself the chief of his native place of Donwun.
He had now become powerful Wareru had a daughter. The child of Martaban wanted to marry her and Wareru accepted the proposal. When the chief came to receive his bride Wareru had him murdered. He then seized Martahan and added it to his small village. He became a. Powerful figure in lower Burma.
After some years the Chief of Pegu approached Wareru for help against the falling Pagan Kingdom. Tarabya the chief of Pegu wanted to regain his independence. Wareru helped Tarabya and the latter became free to rule Pegu. But Tarabya was now afraid of the power of Wareru. He therefore began to prepare a plot for the murder of Wareru. The latter heard of this plan and he therefore invaded Pegu and killed Tarabya. Pegu was also annexed to form a part of Wareru s kingdom. His kingdom now stretched from Donwun till Pegu. Martaban was made the capital and the kingdom was firmly established.
Wareru is not only remembered as the Founder of Pegu Kingdom but also for tie law books which he prepared with the help of his monks. These books were then compiled together and were called WARERU DHAMMATH4T. These books later became the basis for Burmese Law Literature. Wareru died in 1296.


2. The Period (1296 TO 1385)


Wareru’s successors continued to rule the Kingdom. During this period of nearly a century history records show no great events. It is probable that the successors of Wareru were all weak rulers, and as such they brought no significant changes or events in the history of this kingdom. In 1369 the capital was shifted from Martaban to Pegu. Closer to this year the Siamese invaded Tenasserim and annexed Martaban. Thus, at the end of this period the Pegu Kingdom consisted of only Pegu and Donwun. It was only in 1385 that the greatest ruler of Wareru’s line came to power. He was RAZADARIT.


3. The Reign of Razadarit (1385 TO 1423)


a.His Ascendancy.
b.His Wars.
c.His Administration & His Religion.


a. His Ascendancy.
Razadarit was the greatest prince of Wareru’s line. He had to wade through blood in order to get the throne because he had many rivals. He succeeded in getting the throne in 1385, and had to keep it by means of the sword for the greater part of his reign. Soon after his accession he executed all his enemies but spared the life of one of the ministers called DEINMANIYUT. The latter had admitted his fault and he was now prepared to serve Razadarit faithfully. Thereupon Razadarit made him the governor of Syriam.
Razadarit had a son called BAWLAWKYAUTAW. He was a great warrior. He helped his father to overcome many of his opponents. In 1390 he helped Razadarit to recover Myaungmya. But Razadarit became suspicious of his son’s abilities and began to fear that he might try to grab the throne from him. He therefore had his son executed. While the young prince was put to death be spoke revengeful words against his father. Razadarit heard these wrathful words spoken by his son, and he now began to fear for his future. After some years he heard of the brave warrior son of Minkhaung, and Razadarit felt that his own son had come back in the shape of Minrekyawswa.


b. His Wars: 1385 — 1422
Razadarit had to follow an aggressive policy throughout his reign. He had first to fight his uncle Laukpaya, the chief of Myaungmya, and then later also the chief of Ava.

Myaungmya:

The Chief of Myaungmya was Laukpaya. He was the uncle of Razadarit. Soon after his accession Razadarit asked Laukpaya to cede Myaungmya to the kingdom of Pegu. But Laukpaya refused. The latter soon made an alliance with Minkyiswasawke, the chief of Ava. But unfortunately the allied forces had to face a crushing defeat at the hands of Razadarit. Laukpaya was captured and put t death. The district was annexed.
While Razadarit was occupied in suppressing Myaungmya many other rebellions broke out. But these were also suppressed with the help of the commander called BYAT ZA. Even Bassein was captured.

Ava-Pegu War:

The Chief of Myaungmya had taken the help of Minkyiswasawke. Razadarit wanted to avenge this opposition and he therefore marched towards Ava. Thus began the Ava-Pegu Wars which continued till 1422. Within a short time Razadarit stood at the gates of Ava. Minkhaung then sent his monks to make peace and to ask Razadarit to stop the war in the name of religion. Razadarit granted the request made by the monks. Peace was then restored between the two kingdoms. This closed the first phase of the war.
The second phase began within a short period. The ruler of Pegu retreated back to his capital via Prome. On the way he attacked Prome and annexed it. The chief of Prome was a relative of Minkhaung. The latter was then forced to send his forces to help the chief of Prome. The allied forces lost the battle, and Minkhaung had to sue for peace. Razadarit forgave the ruler of Ava and again made Peace.
After some years Minkhaung, the ruler of Ava tried to make a secret alliance with the chief of Chiengmai against Razadarit. One of the governors of Razadarit caught the officers carrying the sealed letter to Chiengmai. When this plot was revealed to Razadarit he immediately made war on Minkhaung. This brought on the third and the last phase of the war. Razadarit marched his forces via Launggyet which was governed by the son- in-law of Minkhaung. Here the royal family was captured and Launggyet was annexed. Minkhaung rushed down to help his daughter but was thrown back. He fled back to Ava, and then his son Minrekyawswa took command of the forces and marched down against Razadarit. For sometime many indecisive battles were fought. But in 1415 Minrekyawswa successfully defeated Razadarit and drove him out of the Delta. Soon he proclaimed himself as the LORD of the Delta and many of the chiefs of the states of the Delta sent him tributes. In 1417 Razadarit made a treacherous plan to capture Minrekyawswa. He was successful in his plan and the young prince of Ava was put to death. After the death of Minrekyawswa the Burmese forces sent by the chief of Ava fled to Ava. Minkhaung now remained quiet. He made no attempt to avenge his son’s murder. This was perhaps due to the exhausted condition of his kingdom brought on by repeated wars. Moreover, he had to keep his capital well guarded as the Sawbwas of the north had then started to take advantage of the weak condition of Ava. Razadarit was also tired of war. He was now satisfied with the death of Minrekyawswa, The war was not renewed. It ended in 1422.

The results of the war:

Both the kingdoms were considerably weakened and exhausted. The rulers had spent their time in futile wars. The Ava kingdom soon fell into the hands of the Sawbwas of the north after the death of Minkhaung in 1422. The Burmese of Ava had no resources to resist the attacks made by the Sawbwas. Razadarit had thus brought the end of the Ava kingdom.


c. His Administration & His Religion.
Razadarit was a man of great courage and strength. He is remembered as the greatest ruler of Wareru’s line. He succeeded in expanding his kingdom by annexing Myaungmya, Bassein and Launggyet. Razadarit tried to introduce a better system of government. He wanted the surrounding areas to be linked with the capital at Pegu. He desired that the capital must remain in close contact with the rest of his kingdom. Razadarit therefore divided his kingdom into thirty-two village circles, and sent officers to manage the administration of each village. It is mentioned that if Razadarit had followed a peaceful policy then perhaps he might have devoted his entire abilities in establishing a centralized system of government. In spite of his long wars he succeeded in keeping his kingdom united and left it intact.
Razadarit was wise in adopting the Talaing customs of his subjects. This made him very popular. His devotion towards the Buddhist religion brought him the love and the admiration of his subjects. He held high religious principles and often these guided his war policy. For example he gave up war against Ava when the monks requested him to do so in the name of religion. Razadarit did not oppose the monks even though he had to sacrifice his ambition of annexing Ava. People remembered his sacrifice and many more came to serve him. Razadarit was also anxious to build temples dedicating them for the spread of this religion. He built many temples and one of these was the DANOK TEMPLE. Razadarit distributed gold and jewellery to these temples and monasteries.
Razadarit died in 1423. For the next thirty year his male descendants continued to quarrel for the throne. His reign had united the Talaings together and had also raised the importance of the kingdom.


4. The Period (1423 TO 1453)


This was the period of intrigues and palace massacres, Razadarit had left a number of male descendants and each tried to overthrow the other in order to become the ruler. After much bloodshed the male descendants were all killed. Meantime Shinsawbu, the daughter of Razadarit, had returned to Pegu. She was married to the Chief of Ava but was unhappy. She escaped back to Pegu with the help of two monks and Was in time to get the crown when the last male successor was killed. She was crowned in 1453. Thus began the reign of Shinsawbu. She was the FIRST and the ONLY QUEEN to rule an important kingdom in Burma. Her reign began the GOLDEN AGE for the Pegu Kingdom.


5. SHINSAWBU (1453 TO 1472)


a.His Ascendancy.
b.Her Administration & Her Religion.
c.Her Choice of a successor.


a. HER ASCENDANCY.


Shinsawbu was the daughter of Razadarit. When she was very young she was given in marriage to the chief of Ava. But she was not happy, and so she fled back to Pegu with the help of two monks. She reached Pegu and found all the male descendants of her father in a fierce battle for the throne. Closer to 1453 all the male successors were killed, and Shinsawbu was then crowned as the QUEEN. Her reign began the Golden Age for the Pegu Kingdom.


b. HER ADMINISTRATION & HER RELIGION.


Shinsawbu was a wise and kind-hearted motherly Queen. She loved her subjects and wanted to give them a peaceful time. Shinsawbu therefore avoided wars. She found a wise adviser in the monk called Dammazedi. With his help Shinsawbu adopted the administrative policy of her father. She continued to have her kingdom divided into thirty-two village circles. She sent capable officers to maintain peace and order. Her peaceful reign brought much economic prosperity for the kingdom. The Talaings are still not tired of telling stories of their great Queen. Historians mention that Shinsawbu was thus able to consolidate the kingdom established by her father.
Similar to Razadarit, she was also a pious worshipper of the Buddhist religion. She also built many shrines and gave gold and jewellery to the temples and the monasteries. She repaired the Shwedagon Pagoda. Religious enthusiasm therefore prevailed throughout her kingdom. Many religious ceremonies were held at the palaces and the people were invited to participate in these.


c. HER CHOICE OF A SUCCESSOR: Towards 1472.


Shinsawbu was a wise and kind-hearted motherly Queen. She loved her subjects and wanted to give them a peaceful time. Shinsawbu therefore avoided wars. She found a wise adviser in the monk called Dammazedi. With his help Shinsawbu adopted the administrative policy of her father. She continued to have her kingdom divided into thirty-two village circles. She sent capable officers to maintain peace and order. Her peaceful reign brought much economic prosperity for the kingdom. The Talaings are still not tired of telling stories of their great Queen. Historians mention that Shinsawbu was thus able to consolidate the kingdom established by her father.
Similar to Razadarit, she was also a pious worshipper of the Buddhist religion. She also built many shrines and gave gold and jewellery to the temples and the monasteries. She repaired the Shwedagon Pagoda. Religious enthusiasm therefore prevailed throughout her kingdom. Many religious ceremonies were held at the palaces and the people were invited to participate in these.



6. DAMMAZEDI (1472 TO 1492)


1.His Ascendancy.
2.His Administration.
3.His Religion.


1. His Ascendancy.


Dammazedi was a monk before he ascended the throne. He had returned to Pegu with Shinsawbu when she fled from Ava. During Shinsawbu’s reign he served as the chief minister and helped her to manage the administration. Closer to 1472 Shinsawbu made him her heir apparent. She then gave her daughter in marriage to him. At first the nobles were dissatisfied at this arrangement. But soon they settled peacefully to his wise administration.


2. His Administration.


Dammazedi was a wise and a pious ruler. He continued the administrative policy of the Queen and thus brought much prosperity to his subjects. He encouraged the trade of his kingdom. Trade relations were established with China, Chiengmai and Siam.
He also introduced a new collection of laws similar to those made by Alaungsithu. His laws were collected in book form and were named Dhammazedi Pyatton. He had Wareru’s Dhammathat translated into Burmese. It was translated by a Talaing monk called Buddhagosa.


3. His Religion.


The religious revival continued during his reign. Like Shinsawbu, he also constructed many temples. Of these the two most important temples were the SHWEKYI and the KYAIKPON Pagodas. He sent his mission to Ceylon, and to Buddhagaya in Bengal. But the most important mission was sent to Ceylon. In consisted of twenty two monks. Rich offerings were sent for the Lord’s Tooth at Kandy. Many precious presents were also sent to the ruler of Ceylon. The object of the mission was to get valid ordination from the clergy of Mahavira which was a great monastery in Ceylon. The mission returned in 1475, and they proceeded to give out the ordination to the clergy throughout Lower Burma. The ordination was so valid that monks came from all over Burma and even from Siam, and China. Pegu now became a religious centre. The ordination was called KALYANI ORDINATION “because the monks were ordained on the banks of the Kalyani Stream in Ceylon. Dhammazedi recorded these events on stones. These were p1ced at the KALYANI THEIN at Pegu, and were called the KALYANI INSCRIPTIONS. Dhammazedi died in 1492. He was succeeded by his son called BANNYARAN.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS REIGN:

1.The Kingdom was further consolidated.
2.The economic condition was made better because trade relations were established with China Siam and Chiengmai.
3.Religious Revival Kalyani Ordination—Kalyani Them. Pegu a great religious centre.



7. The Period Leading to the Downfall of Pegu Kingdom (1492 TO 1541).


After the death of Dhammazedi in 1492, his son Binnya Ran became the King. He had even a longer reign than his father. He adopted the peaceful policy of his father. The Kingdom was prosperous. In 1519 the Portuguese arrived at Pegu and received trade rights from the ruler. The latter allowed the Foreign traders to build a trading settlement at Martaban. There were no other great events. He left the kingdom prosperous and well contented. Binnya Ran died in 1539 and was succeeded by Takyutpi.

Takyutpi
He distrusted everyone and this led to disunity amongst the Talaings. Towards 1541 Tabinshwehti heard of this condition of the Talaings. He therefore invaded the country and annexed it. Thus ended the Pegu Kingdom. It now became a part of the Toungoo Kingdom. Gradually the Shan influence was slowly erased, and the Talaings were once again under Burmese rule.






QUESTIONS ON CHAPTER IV.


1.Writes short notes on the following:—
Wareru Dhammatuat, Dhammazedi Pyatton, Kalyani Ordinations, and Kalyani Them.
2.Give an account in detail of the reign of Razadarit, or Shinsawbu.
3.Write all you know of the Ava Pegu Wars. Explain the results of these wars on both the kingdom.
4.How did Shinsawbu help to begin the GOLDEN AGE for the Pegu Kingdom? When did the golden age end?
5.Explain the events which led to the formation of the Pegu Kingdom. Draw a map to show the condition of this kingdom before Razadarit ascended the throne.
6.What do you know of the religious works done by Dhammazedi?


 
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