Burma

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History

  • Texts in bold print are PoD's.
  • Around the second century BC the first-known city-states emerged in central Burma. The city-states were founded as part of the southward migration by a Tibeto-Burman-speaking people, the earliest inhabitants of Myanmar of whom records are extant, from China. They were influenced by trade with India, importing Buddhism and other cultural, architectural and political concepts.
  • By the 9th century, several city-states had sprouted across the land: the Pyu in the central dry zone, the Mon along the southern coastline and the Arakan along the western coast. The balance was upset when the Pyu came under repeated attacks from southern China between the 750s and the 830s.
  • In the mid-to-late 9th century the Bamar people founded a small settlement at Pagan. It was one of several competing city-states until the late 10th century when it grew in authority and grandeur.
  • Pagan gradually grew to absorb its surrounding states until the 1050s–1060s when Anawrahta Minsaw founded the Pagan Kingdom, the first ever unification of the Irrawaddy valley and its periphery.
  • In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Pagan Empire and Kambuzá were two main powers in Southeast Asia. The Burmese language and culture gradually became dominant in the upper Irrawaddy valley, eclipsing the others by the late 12th century.
  • Theravada Buddhism slowly began to spread to the village level, although Tantric, Mahayana, Hinduism and folk religion remained heavily entrenched.
  • Repeated Mongol invasions (1277–1301) toppled the four-century-old kingdom in 1287.
  • Pagan's collapse was followed by 250 years of political fragmentation that lasted well into the 16th century. Shan migrants who had arrived with the Mongol invasions stayed behind. Several competing Shan States came to dominate the entire northwestern to eastern arc surrounding the Irrawaddy valley.
  • The valley, too, was beset with petty states until the late 14th century when two sizeable powers, the Ava Kingdom (1364-1555) and the Hanthawaddy Kingdom (Pegu) (1287-1539, 1550-1552), emerged.
  • In the west, a politically fragmented Arakan was under the competing influences of its stronger neighbours until the Kingdom of Mrauk U (1429-1785) unified the Arakan coastline for the first time in 1437. The kingdom was a protectorate of Bangal several times between 1429 and 1531. Its reign continued until the 18th century, when it fell to the invasion of Burma.
  • Ava fought wars of unification (1385–1424) but could never quite reassemble the lost empire. Having held off Ava, Pegu entered its golden age and Arakan went on to become a power in its own right for the next 350 years.
  • In contrast, constant warfare left Ava greatly weakened, and it slowly disintegrated from 1481 onward.
  • In 1527, the Confederation of Shan States conquered Ava and ruled Upper Burma until 1555.
  • Like the Pagan Empire, Ava, Pegu and the Shan states were all multi-ethnic polities. Despite the wars, cultural synchronisation continued. This period is considered a golden age for Burmese culture. Burmese literature grew more confident, popular, and stylistically diverse and the second generation of Burmese law codes as well as the earliest pan-Burma chronicles emerged. The Pegu monarchs introduced religious reforms that later spread to the rest of the country.
  • Burma overran the Mon kingdom of Hamsavati in the mid-18th century and ethnically cleansed the region of Mons. The survivors fled to Siam and Martaban.
  • Burma then repeatedly harassed Martaban, so Martaban and Denmark-Norway's other East Indian possessions waged a privateering war against Burma.
  • In 1784, Arakan was conquered by the Burmese, and Akyab, a Batavian enclave, became a tributary of Burma.
  • After Denmark-Norway and Sweden went into union in 1810, the new Scandinavian Realm decided to deal with Burma. With Siamese and Mon help, Martaban expanded its territory to include the present borders of Monland. The Mon refugees in Soam returned to their new motherland, which was now under the protection of the SR. The SR was also awarded Tenasserim as a vassal state by Siam in return for helping Siam regain some of the Shan states and Chiang Mai, which it had earlier lost to Burma.
  • When Tenasserim was awarded to Monland as a tributary state of Siam, Burma responded by awarding Arakan to the Akyab, the Batavian enclave in Arakan itself. Today, Arakan is still a territory of the Batavian Kingdom paying annual tributes to Burma.

Kings of Burma (1722–)

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