THE ALAUNGPAYA DYNASTY 1752 TO 1888
Alaungpaya (1752 - 1760)
The Rise of the Fourth Burmese Kingdom
1. His Ascendancy
Alaungpaya was born in 1714 at Moksobo village which consisted of three hundred houses. His father was a myothugyi. In his veins ran the blood of the XVTH century Ava chiefs. Generations after generations the head of the family were respected for miles around. The family had saved the Burmese rulers faithfully.
In 1752 the Talaings invaded Ava successfully and carried away the Burmese Ruler and his family. He was Mahadammayaza Depati, the last ruler of the Toungoo Dynasty. The Talaings having captured the Burmese ruler sent detachments to the surrounding districts to conduct the “Thisse-Ye” or the Holy water of Allegiance Alaungpaya’s father was prepared to accept the allegiance. But Alaungpaya the young leader disliked this idea and he gathered troops to fight the Talaings. The attack was so sudden that the Talaings were disastrously defeated. They did not wait to fight the Burmese. Within a short time they fled from Ava and took shelter in the Delta. The news of this victory spread far and wide. Alaungpaya was hailed as the Saviour. Many more came forward to join him to fight the Talaings. In 1753 Ava was stormed again and again, and in the same year the city fell into the hands of Alaungpaya. After this, the young Burmese leader marched north to suppress the Shans. He was again successful and the Sawbwas now paid homage to him. Alaungpaya was then proclaimed as the ruler of Ava.
2. His Wars
Alaungpaya became very ambitious. He wanted to establish his rule throughout Burma like Bayinnaung. It was this ambition which led him to undertake many aggressive wars.
(a) Prome: 1754: He marched down to Prome in 1754 and successfully annexed it. Prome again became a part of the Burmese Kingdom. Alaungpaya found many capable followers at Prome. His army rapidly increased, and with this reinforced army he marched ahead into the Delta Region.
(b) Delta Region 1755: Here he was successful in capturing Toungoo, Henzada, Myaungmya, Bassein and even Sandoway in Arakan. In 1755 the Talaings were pushed out of Rangoon. Alaungpaya gave his respects to the temples at Rangoon, especially at the Shwedagon Pagoda.
(c) Syriam: 1755: He then began to besiege Syriam. The French at Syriam were allies of the Talaings. Alaungpaya fortunately received the friendship of the English at Negrais. The Talaings tried to take help from the English East Company. Jackson, one of the English Agents fought for the Talaings, and at this the Directors of the Company immediately sent a letter to Alaungpaya repudiating Jackson’s conduct. Alaungpaya was pleased and he accepted to remain friendly with the English.
But he was bent on crushing the Talaings at Syriam. He waited outside the town for a year and the Talaings grew weaker day by day from starvation. Alaungpaya then selected ninety three of his best officers and princes and he named them the Golden Party. One night he held a great Pwe, and the Talaings presumed that the Burmese were enjoying themselves, and so they did not keep a good watch. The Golden Company then stole quietly into the city and they opened the gates. The Burmese forces rushed into the town and ransacked the whole place for hidden treasures. All the silver was removed to the capital. The two French ships at Syriam were also captured together with the thirty-five cannons. The crew of the ships were put to death. Alaungpaya then burnt the entire town of Syriam. Before he returned to Ava, he made Rangoon the port of Burma. He then appointed a Senior Governor to look after the necessary administration.
(d) Pegu: 1756: Alaungpaya then advanced against Pegu. The Talaings were making their last attempt to fight the Burmese. They gathered all their war resources and were now determined to keep their Independence. But Alaungpaya’s war canoes succeeded in starving the Talaings. The people of Pegu then sent their monks to Alaungpaya to ask for mercy. Alaungpaya promised to grant their request. But before the Burmese could occupy Pegu, many of the Talaing families fled to Ayuthia. Pegu was almost empty as soon as Alaungpaya entered the city. It was also annexed.
(e) Negrais: 1757: Before he could move towards his capital, Alaungpaya visited the Isle of Negrais. Here he made a trade alliance with the English, by which the latter agreed to give cannon and gun powder for providing them a safe settlement at this island. The English were also granted the permission to fortify their depot.
(f). Manipur: 1757: Alaungpaya invaded Manipur in 1757. He treated the Manipuris very cruelly and massacred them. He had to suppress a rebellion in Manipur in the following year. The Manipuris were again badly crushed. Many of them were sent to the capital. These two invasions were called the “First Devastation of Manipur.”
(g). Ayuthia Ivth Siege: 1760: Meanwhile the Delta had almost become a desert. It was hardly populated. Alaungpaya decided to invade Ayuthia in order to capture the Talaing families to return to their old homes in the Delta. In 1760 he marched to Martaban and Tavoy and then occupied the Tenasserim as well. From here he marched ahead to Ayuthia. He besieged the capital for a long period but the Ayuthians did not surrender. Alaungpaya was forced to retreat because the rains were fast approaching and his army was in need of food and clothes. He then decided to return. On his retreat he kept his able general called MINKHAUNGNAWRAHTA to the rear guard. But the Siamese attacked the retreating army and Alaungpaya lost many of his soldiers. While returning he fell ill and died on the way. The commanders did not allow the news to leak out. At Rangoon his death was made public, and his body was taken to his village home in Shwebo District. There he was buried in state.
3. His Administration
Within the space of eight years. Alaungpaya had successfully established the fourth Burmese kingdom, stretching from Mogaung in the north till Tavoy in the Tenasserim in the South. Had he lived longer, he might have proved to be not only a great warrior, but also a great statesman. The Burmese kingdom would have surely received a Centralized system of government.
Alaungpaya introduced certain improvements in the “Dam” across the river Mu for irrigation and made the Mahanada lake to supply water to Shwebo. At his court there were many literary gems. In 1715 the MANU RING DHAMMATHAT was compiled by Sonta Sayadaw of Hsnibyugyun in Minbu district. These laws were based on the Hindu principles given by the Hindu Sage Manu. Alaungpaya also introduced another Law book called MANU-KYE-DHAMMATHAT. This was compiled by Alaungpaya’s martial minister called Mahasiri Uttamajaya. In this book all the existing laws and customs were rearranged. It became a very popular book as it was written in simple Burmese, and moreover it gave much information to the people. Alaungapaya was very fond of poetry. He encouraged the poets at his court to write poems on various subjects. One of the leading poets was Letwetthendara. The latter had served as a secretary to the Hluttaw Council under Mahadammayaza Dipati’s time.
NAUNGDAWGYI (1760 TO 1763)
He was the son of Alaungpaya. He feared his father’s officers especially those who were regarded as heroes by the people. Naungdawgyi felt insecure and so he drove many of the brave warriors, out of his kingdom. Even Minkaungnawrahta was forced to rebel against these steps of Naungdawgyi. But he was defeated. Naungdawgyi invited the hatred of many of his subjects and soon became unpopular. He misruled his kingdom.
The only important event was that of Negrais Captain Alves was sent by the English East India Company to ask for compensation for the Negrais Massacre which tookp1ace earlier. But the king refused to hear any appeals, and neither did he give the company the necessary rights to fortify the town, as had been promised by his father. The English were however allowed to start a factory at Rangoon.
The Talaings placed another rebellion, but were unsuccessful.
Naungdawgyi died in 1763, and was succeeded by his brother called Hsinbyushin.
HSINBYUSHIN (1763 TO 1776)
1. His Ascendancy
Hsinbyushin was the son of Alaungpaya, and brother to Naungdawgyi. He ascended the throne after his brothers’ death. He had a peaceful accession in 1763. He had a son called Singu. The latter was proclaimed as the heir apparent.
2. His Wars
Hsinbyushin was a very ambitious ruler. He had a desire to have a vast Kingdom similar to that of Bayinnaung. Soon after his accession he recalled all the brave warriors who had been sent out of the capital, by his brother. He was prepared to make aggressive wars.
(a) Manipur: 1763: He first invaded Manipur. He defeated the Manipuris and brought many of them as prisoners to his capital. The Manipuris acknowledged him as their overlord, and promised to send tributes to him every year.
(b) Ayuthia Vth Siege: 1764 — 1767: Hsinbyushin next invaded Ayuthia, for the past differences, so he wanted to plunder this prosperous capital of the Siamese. He sent his forces through the Shan States via Chiengmai in order to keep these places under suppression while he was away from his capital. Hsinbyushin received the services of a very great warrior called THIH XPETE He was allowed to remain in the Shan States in order to suppress any likely rebellion which might be put by the Shans. The rest of the forces were sent under Mahanawrahta’s leadership to Tavoy. From Tavoy the Burmese forces marched ahead to Pechaburi. The Burmese forces tried to attack Ayuthia from here. But the Siamese were very careful. They placed a very strong fortification around their city. Soon the rains began. The Burmese forces made their camps outside Ayuthia. As soon as the rain floods were over, the Burmese resumed the war, and this time they were successful in defeating the Ayuthians. In the month of March in 1767 Ayuthia again fell in the hands of the Burmese. Most of’ the Siamese were put to death, while the royal family was taken as prisoners to the capital at Ava. Hsinbyushin was hailed as a great warrior. He had also succeeded in defeating the Ayuthians like Bayinnaung of the Toungoo Dynasty. The Burmese ruler returned to Ava with much valuable goods from Ayuthia. He left the Siamese under a Burmese governor. The Ayuthians now became vassal subjects of the Burmese again.
(c) Sino-Chinese War: (1767 — 1769) Causes: The trade relations between China and Burma led gradually to certain misunderstandings, between the Chinese government and the Burmese Governors located at the eastern frontiers. Many trivial incidents took place and the Chinese Government was not prepared to end matters peacefully. China at that time was under an aggressive emperor. The Chinese repeatedly attacked the Burmese frontier on the east. Hsinbyushin therefore decided to fight the Chinese.
Leading Events: The Chinese entered Burma via Kenhaung along the Mekong river. Many successive expeditions were sent and these forces crossed to Mogaung. They wanted to advance towards Ava via Bhamo and Lashio. They succeeded in crossing the Myitgne and the Shweli Rivers. Here they were accompanied by their emperor’s son-in-law called Minggyin. The latter approached the villagers of Bayingyi, and took war ammunitions like cannons and gun powder. He also succeeded in getting the services of hired gunners of these Bayingyi villages. Inspite of these arrangements, the Chinese forces were advised to retreat as they were now beginning to face an acute shortage of food supply. Minggyin tried to retreat. The Burmese general called MAHATHIHATHURA agreed to make peace with the people of china, because he was afraid that the Chinese Emperor might try to make a second invasion which might prove to be too aggressive. But Hsinbyushin did not understand the wise policy of his general. He was furious and was much displeased. He exiled all his generals and ill treated their families. After sometime he accepted the peace, and an exchange of embassies was made. The trade between Burma and China was restored.
(d) Ayuthia 1776 Vi Siege: Meanwhile the Siamese began to place repeated rebellions against the Burmese administrators under a new leader called Paya Tak. The Burmese forces were now losing their hold over the country. Many began to withdraw from Ayuthia. Within a short time the entire body of the Burmese forces was thrown out of Siam, and the Siamese became independent. The Burmese forces received no help from the Capital, as the ruler Hsinbyushin died suddenly.
3. His Administration
Hsinbyushin was a great warrior but not a great statesman. He lacked administrative abilities. Like his father he continued the Feudal Policy. He accepted annual tributes from the conquered states. He made no attempt to link his kingdom together. The integrity of his kingdom remained safe, because of his many able warriors. In 1775 he made a royal tour of the delta states. He was accompanied by his queens, countries and princes. He offered prayers at many of the temples. At Rangoon he raised the height of the spire of the Shwedagon to 1327 feet. He also erected a new golden spire with numerous gems on it. He regilded the pagoda with gold.
The reign of Hsinbyushin brought many changes in the literature as well. In 1765 the king invited Brahmins from Benares to help him with matters of state. With the help of these Brahmins and Maungdaung Sayadaw many Sanskrit books were translated on subjects like grammar astrology, and medicine. In 1771 Mann Wannana Kyawhtin collected facts from the old law books and compiled in the MANUSARASHWEMIN DRAMNATHAT. The Manu Vannava law book was written by Taungdwin Sayadaw. LE PWETHINDRA and MA HTWAY were great writers of poems. They earned much fame for their poetical articles.
Hsinbyushin died in 1776. He was succeeded by his son Singu.
SINGU (1776 TO 1782)
Singu succeeded his father Hsinbyushin in 1776. He was a peace loving ruler. Immediately after his accession, he recalled his forces from Ayuthia and Chiengmai, and kept his kingdom safe from rebellions. He was a pleasure-loving ruler, and was often on pleasure trips to other places. He was quite often absent from his capital. He thus neglected his royal duties. There was much discontent throughout his kingdom. Towards 1782 many of his courtiers began to hate him, for he had ill treated his men and even his queens, whenever he was in an angry mood.
His cousin Maung Maung, the son of Naungdawgyi tried to plot against him. He successfully disguised himself as Singu, while the latter was away from the palace. Maung Maung then made himself the king; Singu returned and challenged him at this palace. He was killed, and Maung Maung became the king, in 1782. But the latter remained on the throne only for seven days, because his uncle Bodawpaya murdered him and ascended the throne.
BOWDAWPAYA (1756 TO 1819)
1. His Ascendancy
Bodawpaya was the son of Alaungpaya. He succeeded his nephew Singu, after having murdered Maung Maung. He soon took steps to strengthen his position on the throne, because many rivals claimed the crown. He captured all his opponents, including their families and executed them.
A few months later he discovered that his younger brother and some of his ministers including MAHATHIHATHURA, were plotting against his life. The plotters were discovered and executed. He received a rude shock, and since this plot, Bodawpaya began to suspect everyone. He was so frightened of being caught unawares that he never slept in the same room twice.
In 1783 there was another attempt made on his life A Shan Minlaung with his flowers rushed into the place.
But they failed to get the king. The guards saved the situation, and the attackers were put to death. Bodawpaya then burnt the village where the plan was made.
After having made himself secure on the throne, Bodawpaya then shifted the capital to AMARAPURA in 1782. The astrologers had predicted that the site of Ava was not suitable for the capital. This brought many hardships for the people because the people were forced to give free labour in the construction of the palace. The subjects were dissatisfied.
2. His Wars
Bodawpaya was a great warrior, and was as ambitious as his father. He was eager to unite the whole of Burma under his rule. He helped to expand the frontiers of his kingdom over Arakan and Manipur. His wars made him a powerful ruler.
(a) Arakan 1782 — 1785: Bodawpaya was invited by a few of the Arakanese lords. There was a civil war in Arakan and the Arakanese wanted Bodawpaya to become their king. Bowdawpaya at first hesitated to enter Arakan as he was afraid of the magical powers of the Maharnuni Temple. Bowdawpaya therefore sent his army to destroy the powers of the Mahamuni Temple. The Burmese forces came to Arakan in a large number, and they succeeded in taking Mrohaung. They then destroyed the Mahamuni Temple. They also carried away the ruler with his royal family and 20,000 Arakanese as captives. The Mahamuni Image was cut into three pieces and was brought over to Amarapura. Arakan was annexed.
(b) Ayuthia: 1785 — 1786: After the conquest of Arakan, Bodawpaya was convinced that he would eventually be the conqueror of Avuthia as well In 1785—86 he invaded Siam. He entered Ayuthia via Three Pagodas. The Siamese gave enough resistance, which made the Burmese ruler withdraw his attack. The Siamese succeeded in attacking the Burmese frontiers, and even annexed Chiengmai and its territories in the south. Bodawpaya tried to save the Tenassarim. He sent an army to protect Tenassarim, and sent repeated expeditions to Avuthia to defeat the power of the Ayuthians. But unfortunately the Burmese forces were always at a loss.
(c) Arakan: Meantime the Arakanese were not satisfied with the Burmese administration. The Burmese governors ruled with a heavy hand. The Arakanese were forced to pay extra taxes. They were often forced to give free labour. There was much discontent throughout Arakan. The Arakanese found an able leader in Nga Chin Pyaw, and a rebellion was lodged against the Burmese garrisons, It was easily suppressed, and many of the Arakanese fled to the British territories across Chittagong. The Burmese governor demanded these Arakanese refugees from the British. The latter ceded to the demands, and they allowed the Burmese forces to search for Nga Chin Pyan and his followers. This made the Burmese and the British exchange embassies. Symes, Cox, and Canning came at different times during the period 1795-1811. But all the three embassies failed to establish any agreement with Bodawpaya, as the latter disliked to binding himself to any such treaty. In 1011 there arose certain misunderstandings between the Burmese and the British. As a result, Canning was thrown into prison. But Canning escaped and the Viceroy then stopped the ec1iange of embassies. Meantime Nga Chin Pvan died and the Arakanese accepted the Burmese rule.
(d) Manipur: 1812: From 1812 Bodawpaya began to interfere with the internal affairs of Manipur. The Burmese forces invaded Manipur in alliance with a Manipuri prince called Marjit Singh. The Burmese forces were successful and Marjit Singh was placed on the throne. The latter then gave the Kallow Valley to Bodawpaya in gratitude for the help given to him.
(e) Assam: The Ahom Shan Kingdom of Assarn stretched from Gualpara to Sadiya along the Brahmaputra river. It had been a powerful state, but was now fast decaying. It was now ruled by Chandrakarit Singh. This raja did injustice to one of the governors under him. The Assamese governor then fled to Bodawpaya for help against Chandrakant. The Burmese forces marched against Chandrakant, and the latter was forced to reinstate the exiled governor. The Burmese ruler then received fifty elephants as a gift from the Assamese governor.
Meantime the relations between the Burmese and the English were fast becoming acute. In 1819 Bodawpaya claimed all the territories from Chittagong will Decca and Murchidabad. But before the British could show ally displeasure, the Burmese ruler died suddenly in 1819. This action of Bodawpaya later served as the major cause for the first Burmese War.
3. His Administration
Bodawpaya proved to be successful ruler inspite of his fruitless expeditions to Ayuthia. Like the ar1y rulers of this dynasty he kept his days busy with unnecessary wars. With the exception of Bayinnaung. Bodawpaya is remembered as one of most powerful rulers of Burma. Ii 1782 he shifted his capital from Ava to Amarapura. He took forced labour from the surrounding areas. Immediately after the capital had been shifted to Amarapura, irrigational projects were introduced. He also repaired the banks of Nanda, Aungbinle and Maungmagan lakes in Mandalay district, and also the Meikhtila Lake.
In 1787 and 1803 he took the REVENUE INQUEST of the average land cultivated, the amount of crops raised and the amount of taxes raised. This enquiry was similar to that of Thalun’s. Relics of these inquests have been found, and have been stored.
Bodawpaya also established peaceful trade with China, India and Ceylon. He began to exchange embassies for the benefit of trade. The Chinese governor sent gifts to Bodawpaya at tokens of friendship. The Chinese ambassadors wrote many glowing descriptions of the kingdom of Bodawpaya.
In 1802 many Cingalese migrated into Burma. The Cingalese rules did not allow the agricultural people to ender the monasteries. But Bodawpaya allowed these Cingalese cultivators to settle at his capital. They were allowed to study the Holy books and were later ordained as monks. Later Boedawpaya sent religious missions to Ceylon where the monks established the Amarapura School of Buddhism. He also sent missions to India as far west as the Punjab. The pilgrims were asked to collect both religious and cultural knowledge.
Bodawpaya loved his religion. He paid no less attention to it. But unlike his early rulers, he became jealous of the power of the monks. He therefore decided to decrease the number of monks and so be ordered that the qualifications of the Sayadaw’s should be strictly examined before they held posts as heads of the monasteries. He made an inquiry into the average of land held by the monks. The heads of the monasteries had to give proofs regarding the details of the properties they possessed.
Bodawpaya also built many pagodas. The most important was the MINGUN PAGODA in the Sagaing district. He wanted to make this on a very unique style, especially in raising the spire to over 500 feet high. He was very proud of this originality, but unfortunately there arose a prophecy that the country would be ruined as soon as the Pagoda was completed. The spire had reached only one-third of its height, when the Burmese ruler put a stop to his further construction. The Pagoda was left uncompleted.
The reign of Bodawpaya is remembered for the MONOPOLY SYSTEM which he introduced in order to make his kingdom prosperous. He believed that trade would benefit by giving trade rights to individuals, But this brought discontent amongst the poor class. The ruler no doubt benefited by the sale of these monopolies but the poor class had to suffer as the Monopoly owners often raised the price immeasurably. This system was later withdrawn by Bagyidaw.
In 1813 Dr. Judson and his wife came to Burma. They established the American Baptist mission. At first Bodawpaya opposed the preaching of the Christian religion, but later he granted them the right to do so.
Bodawpaya also helped the literature of his country. He was interested in enriching the Burmese literature. He made the first BURMESE DICTIONARY. He also had the Bible translated into Burmese. Two literary gems adorned the Court of Bodawpaya. One was TWINTHINTAIKWUN the king’s boyhood tutor. He collected the necessary data from all monasteries and made out inscriptions for the rulers Bodawpaya placed these inscriptions at many of the pagodas. He compiled them into a book which was later called YAZAWINTHIT. UAWBATHA, wrote a prose version of the ten great “JATAKAS.” He wrote this at Minbu in his monastery. LET WETHONDARA lived to the end of the reign and was one of the judges in the king’s court.
Bodawpaya made wise arrangements for the succession to the throne. In 1808 his son died, and he therefore announced his grandson as his successor.
Bodawpaya died in 1816. His grandson Bagyidaw then ascended the throne without any difficulty.
BAGYIDAW (1819 TO 1837)
1. His Ascendancy
Bagyidaw was the grandson of Bodawpaya. He came to the throne without any difficulty. It was a peaceful ascendancy for he had no rivals. Bagyidaw was thirty five when he ascended the throne. He celebrated his peaceful coronation by remitting taxation for three years, and by rewarding many offices.
2. His Wars
In 1819 Bagyidaw was forced MANPUR 1819 : to invade Manipur, because Marjet Singh whom Bodawpaya had placed on the throne, failed to appear at Bagyidaw’s coronation. The Manipuns fled to the jungles and made their homes there. The deposed raja then fled to Cachar and took shelter under the Chief of Cachar. The Burmese than annexed Manipur.
(a) Assam: 1819: In the same year the Burmese had a run into war against the chief of ASSAM. The Raja of Assam called Chandrakant was unhappy with his subjects, Within a short time Chandrakant was forced to leave his throne. The Burmese then interfered and reinstated Chandrakant on the throne of Assam, with a Burmese resident at his court The Assamese ruler did not like the frequent interferences made by the Burmese Resident, and so he fled to the British territories. The Assamese were then left at the mercy of Bagyidaw’s force. Many were carried away to the capital to work. Assam was also annexed.
Bagyidaw then approached the English. He demanded his rival Chandrakant from the English but the latter refused, The Burmese forces then violated the English Territory which extended up the Brahmaputra river as far as Goalpara. This action of the l3urmese served as one of the underlying causes of the first Anglo-Burmese War.
(b) The First Anglo-Burmese War: 1824—1826 Causes: The Causes of the first Anglo-Burmese War can be classified into two groups, namely the underlying and the immediate causes. The Underlying Causes began from Bodawpaya’s reign During his reign the Burmese forces invaded Arakan and the country was annexed. The Burmese governors began to misrule the country. They gave ill-treatment to the Arakanese. Gradually the Arakanese left their homes, and migrated into the English Territories in Bengal across Chittagong. After sometime the Arakanese found a leader in Nga Chin Pyan, and they began repeated attacks on the Burmese garrisons located at Arakan. These rebellions made Bodawpaya ask the Viceroy to hand over the ringleaders especially Nga Chin Pyan. The English desired to remain friendly with the Burmese. The allowed the Burmese forces to search for the Arakanese defaulters in their territories.
This friendly help extended to the Burmese led to the exchange of embassies. Since 1795 the English began to send envoys to the Burmese court to open trade relations and to clear the misunderstandings which had arisen out of the Arakanese refugee problem, in 1809 Captain Canning arrived as the envoy. He created an unfriendly atmosphere. In 1811 he was thrown into the prison. But he escaped and fled to Calcutta in Bengal.
Closer to 1818 Bodawpaya demanded the piece of land between Dacca and Miirshidabad. This area was once under the rule of the Arakanese. The Burmese ruler wanted if back as he had succeeded as the ruler of the Arakanese. But before the English were able to send their reply, the Burmese ruler died suddenly in 1819. This reign laid the seeds for the forthcoming enmity between the Burmese and the English, then came the reign of Bagyidaw. During his reign his forces overran Manipur. The ruler of Manipur then fled to Cachar and began to make trouble in that country. This made the ruler of Cachar seek help from the Burmese. The help was delayed. Thereupon the ruler of Cachar asked help from the English, and the latter immediately declared the state to be under their protection. This annoyed the Burmese and he awaited an opportunity to take revenge.
This unfriendly atmosphere was made worse soon after 1819. There was civil war in Assam, and the ruler Chandrakant was driven out. The latter was helped by the Burmese to regain his throne. The Burmese Resident began to interfere in the administration of Assam. Chandrakant left his kingdom and took shelter in the English Territories. The Burmese became supreme over Assam as well. They now began to oppose the safety which the English had accorded to Chandrakant, The Burmese demanded Chandrakant from the English. The latter paid no attention, and differences were becoming worse every day.
In 1823 the Burmese attacked the Island of (Shahpuri) Shinmapyugyun near Naaf river below Chittagong. The matter was then reported to the Viceroy, and the latter then sent a letter to Bagyidaw asking him to stop such actions of his army. But Bagyidaw remained quiet and rumors reached the Viceroy that-this was the first step towards the Conquest of Bengal.
The situation reached a crisis in 1824, and war broke out in the month of May.
Leading Events: The Burmese army was placed under the command of general MAHABUNDULA. The forces marched towards the English territories across Chittagong, But soon they had to march back to Rangoon, as the English had landed along the coasts and were threatening the safety of the capital. Mahnbundula reached Rangoon within a short time, and the English were kept in siege for nearly a year. In March 1825 the Burmese lost their cannons and gunpowder, and the forces were forced to retreat to DAMBYU. The English then occupied Prome in 1825, and later PAGAN in 1826. This easy victory was due to the death of Mahabundula. Mahabundula was killed in March 1825 by an English shell. His army then scattered themselves in groups and finally rushed back to their capital. Bagyidaw was there upon forced to sign a treaty with the English. The Treaty of peace was signed at Yandabo on February 6th 1826.
Terms of Yandabo Treaty: (a) The king ceded Arakan and Tenasserim (b) an indemnity of Rs. 10 crores, was also paid to the English (c) Moreover commercial rights were granted to the English Thus ended the first Anglo-Burmese War.
Bagyidaw refrained from war during the remaining years of his reign. He spent his years in the improvement of literature. He appointed a Committee of scholars at his palace and compiled the HMANNAN YAZAWIN the ‘ Glass palace Chronicle,” which gives the history of the country till 1752. It was a great work accomplished.
Bagyidaw became insane closer to 1837. He died in the same year and was succeeded by his brother Tharrawaddy Min .
3. His Administration
He adopted the administrative policy of his grandfather. In 1823 he shifted the capital to Ava for purely astrological reasons. Bagyidaw was unable to devote much time to the introduction of reforms because he was immediately drawn into a series of wars.
THARRAWADDY MIN (1837 TO 1846)
He was the brother of Bagyidaw. During his brother’s reign he had served the army and had fought in the first Anglo-Burmese war. At first he was in favour of keeping friendly terms with the English. But soon after his accession he began to oppose the English. He refused to submit to the terms of the Treaty of Yandabo. He disliked the British Resident at his palace, and refused to recognize him. Colonel Benson arrived as Resident in 1839. He was so badly treated, that he soon left. This served as the underlying cause for the second Anglo-Burmese War. The Burmese ruler shifted his capital back to AMARAPURA. This meant much needless labour. In 1841 this ruler also began to give signs of insanity his son Pagan Min became the king.
PAGAN MIN (1846 TO —1858)
He was the son of Tharrawaddy Min . When his father became insane, he ascended the throne in 1846. Pagan Min brought much discontent and misery for subjects. He had two mahomedan favourites at his court, and under their influence, he began a series of massacres. Nearly 6000 people were put to death. This made the ruler unpopular, and lie lost the support of his people. The governor located at various district also began to misgovern. The Governor at Rangoon took advantage of the misrule in the kingdom. He began to oppress the British Traders for his own benefit. This led on to second Anglo-Burmese war in 1852.
The Second Anglo-Burmese War — 1852 Causes: These can be classified into two groups namely the underlying and the immediate causes. The underlying Causes :
(a) Tharrawaddy Min had rejected the Treaty of Yandabo. He had ill treated Colonel Benson, and from 1841 the powers of the British Resident were ignored. The English were discontented with this action of the Burmese ruler.
(b) The reign of Pagan Min brought mis rule for the whole kingdom. This enabled the governors to become almost independent and to act as they desired. The Governor of Rangoon took advantage of the commercial rights given to the British Traders. They were often ill treated. The British Traders then sent the information to the Governor-General of India. Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor-General sent a letter to Pagan asking him to remove the grievances of his traders.
Immediate Causes: Pagan Min received the letter, but he paid no attention. The last ultimatum was also sent, but the Burmese ruler remained quiet. On the other hand the Governor of Rangoon fired on a British merchant ship. This brought the war in 1852.
Leading Events: The British forces landed at Martaban and annexed it within a short time. They then attacked Rangoon, The Burmese Governor was not prepared for war. This enabled the British forces to occupy Rangoon within a few days. Before the end of the year Prome and Pegu was also occupied. Pagan Min was then forced to ask for peace. There was no treaty of peace made. A draft was made by which the English annexed Pegu. Soon after the close this war, Pagan Min also became insane. Mindon Min then ascended the throne. He kept his brother Pagan Min at his palace dignified seclusion till his death.
MINDON MIN (1853 TO 1878)
1. His Ascendancy
He was the brother of Pagan Min , In 1853 Pagan Min became mad and Mindon MIN therefore ascended the throne in 1853. He kept his brother at his palace till his death. Mindon Min possessed a high character. He loved to followed the old traditions and this was revealed by his refusal to modify the ceremonial required of foreign ambassadors at his court. He was a peace loving ruler. Soon after his accession Mindon Min had to see to the official treaty between the English and the Burmese, which closed the Second Anglo-Burmese War. He was unwilling to lose the province of Pegu. He therefore sent an embassy to Calcutta trying to get it back, but the Governor-General refused. Mindon Min was finally forced to give up Pegu. He was much hurt over the existence of these conquered provinces in Lower Burma. Mindon Min was resolved to regain these in time to come, and he therefore placed a centralized system of government. Throughout his reign reforms were introduced for the prosperity of the kingdom.
2. His Religion
Like his predecessors Mindon Min proved to be a religious and a pious ruler. In 1871 he summoned an assembly of 2400 monks to his capital. They came from all parts of the Kingdom. Here at the palace of Mindon Min , the monks received the Buddhist sacred writings and discussed points of doctrine for many months. They finally recorded the proceedings on 729 marble slabs. These were placed at the KUTHODAW PAGODA. Thus Mindon received his proudest title CONVENER OF THE FIFTH GREAT SYNOD “. At the end of the ceremonies Mindon Min sent a new SPIRE to the SHWEDAGON. Its iron frame, 47 feet high, was covered with plates of solid gold, richly jeweled, and its value was six lakhs. The old spire was taken down and the new one was set up amid universal rejoicings.
In the sixty-fourth year of his age Mindon Min fell ill with dysentery. He issued orders to announce his successor. But it was too late. The orders were suppressed, and one of the Junior sons came to the throne. He was Thibaw Min.
3. His Administration
The reign of Mindon Min is remembered for the various reforms he introduced. He helped to give a good and a prosperous time to his subjects. Mindon ruled well. He concentrated power in his own hands.
(a) In 1857 Mindon Min decided to build a new capital at MANDALAY. He shifted it from Amarapura. The Government took nearly three years to complete the entire shifting.
(b) In 1861 he coined the first money in Burma. Prior to this, the trade of the kingdom depended on the barter system. Lumps of copper, silver and lead were often weighted out for the exchange of goods. But in Mindon Min’s reign these lumps of metals were given a definite shape, and COIN-MONEY was introduced for the first time.
(c) The King devoted much of his time in reforming the Revenue system. The old system did not afford a man to know what his assessment was going to be, as it depended on what the Governor wanted rather than on the amounted fixed by the state. In order to introduce a uniform system of Revenue, he passed the THATHAMEDA TAX. It was a tax on group of houses, about Rs. 100 per ten houses. It was loaned at a fixed rate but was graduated according to property. Taxes were no longer to be retained by the district governors. According to the new system, all the revenue now had to be sent to the Palace Treasury at the capital, and officials received a fixed salary from the court.
(d) Trade: Mindon Min revived Bodawpaya’s system of Monopolies. He placed the Monopoly System on the most important articles. The English however succeeded in receiving concessions regarding these monopolies. In return the Burmese ruler was allowed to buy arms from the British Territory In 1872 a mission led by Kinwun Mingyi visited Europe. They made a trade agreement with France but Mindon Min disliked it and the mission ended.
(e) Suez Canal 1869: In 1869 the opening of the Suez Canal did much for the development of Burma. Lower Burma was greatly developed. People began to migrate to the delta. Mindon Min disliked this migration of his kingdom. He therefore placed restrictions on the people.
(f) Foreign Missions: Mindon Min was also much interested in sending missions to foreign countries to collect data for the improvement of education in the country. In 1872 the Burmese Mission led by KINWUN MINGYI visited Europe. It visited England, France, Italy and various other countries. When the mission returned, all the members were eager to send young men to these countries for training.
(g) Literature: His reign brought much, improvement for the literature as well. There were many literary men in his period. The most famous was U PONNYA. He wrote both prose and poetry. Mindon Min gave him a title of nobility with Yuasi in Myingyan district as fief. The best known of his numerous prose and verse books are PADUMA WIZAYA ZAT, Yatananadi and Yodayanaing. Mawgun celebrating the expulsion of a Siamese force which raided Kengtung in 1854.
(h) Christian Mission: Mindon Min was tolerant and liberal to the Christian Missionaries at Mandalay. He helped the Church with money and land in Mandalay, and even sent his sons for a sometime to an Anglican school.
THIBAW MIN (1878 TO 1885)
|3.||His The Third Anglo-Burmese War.|
1. His Ascendancy
Thibaw Min was one of the Junior sons of Mindon Min. The orders which were issued by Mindon Min were suppressed, and Thibaw Min came to the throne. A plot was planned and carried out by Shinbyumayin while Mindon Min lay on his death bed.
Soon after his accession Thibaw Min had to face many rivals. He was then forced to issue an order for the execution of all the claimants to the throne. A large and ruthless massacre was carried out. Thibaw Min was then free of his rivals. But these massacres made Thibaw Min very unpopular. The subjects submitted to him in fear and raised no opposition.
Some of the princes escaped being killed. Two of these princes headed rebellions in Thayetmyo and in the Shan States. But these rebellions were crushed, and a second massacre was carried out. In 1883 Thibaw Min was at last free of all his opponents.
2. His Administration
Thibaw Min was the king only in name. The country was ruled by his mother-in-law and his queens. It resulted in lawlessness. There was misrule throughout his kingdom. Many families migrated to the delta in order to get safety and shelter. There were attacks made on the king’s troops as well. This migration affected the collection of revenue. Money became scarce. Thibaw Min tried to control trade. He replaced the monopoly system. But this was very unsuitable to the lawless conditions of the country. The result was that prices soared high, and trade was almost ruined. In 1885 Thibaw Min concluded a treaty with the French. By this treaty the French were allowed to establish a bank at Mandalay and they agreed to lend money to the Burmese Government at 12 per cent interest, and in return they were to manage the monopolies of ruby mines and tea. Besides they were to have the right of building a railway from Tonking to Mandalay.
3. Third Anglo-Burmese War: (1885 - 1886) Causes
(1) The accession of Thibaw Min brought much discontentment to the country because it resulted in the entire massacre of the royal family. The Shans and the Kachins arose in rebellion. The Government, was not well conducted. Many of the subjects migrated to the English territories to Pegu in the Delta.
(2) King Thibaw found his treasury empty. He then allowed the French to open a bank at Mandalay. The French had to loan money to the Burmese ruler. King Thibaw later gave the right to manage the ruby and the oil-mines. The English were dissatisfied at these settlements.
(3) 1885 Thibaw Min accused the Bombay Burma trade corporation with irregularities in the sale of Teak.
(4) The Directors of the company would not agree to the payment of the fine, and Thibaw Min arrested the officers. The Viceroy asked for peaceful settlement, and Thibaw Min disliked this. It led to war in 1885.
Leading Events : In 14 days the English marched into his palace. The king was captured and was sent to Ratnagiri in Bombay where he died in 1916.
Results: The whole of Burma was annexed and placed under British Rule on 1st January 1886. Thibaw Min was exiled to India.
QUESTIONS ON CHAPTER VII.
|1.||Who was the founder of the Fourth Burmese Kingdom? What do you know of him?|
|2.||Bodawpaya is remembered as the greatest ruler of the Alaungpaya Dynasty. Comment on this briefly.|
|3.||Who was the successor of Alaungpaya? What do you know about him?|
|4.||Give an account of the religious works done by the rulers of this dynasty.|
|5.||What were the causes which led to the First Anglo Burmese War? Give an account of the leading events of this war.|
|6.||Draw a map of Burma to show Bodawpaya’s Kingdom and criticizes his war policy.|
|7.||Write in detail an account of the reign of Mindon Min.|
|8.||The rulers of this dynasty had done much for literature. Give an account of the work done by each ruler towards it.|
|9.||Add notes on the following:—Mahabandula, Second Anglo Burmese War, Sino-Burmese War, Singu Thibaw Min.|
|10.||Give an account of Second and Third Anglo-Burmese Wars.|
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