History Files
 

 

Far East Kingdoms

South East Asia

 

 

 

Burma

First Burmese Empire
AD 1044 - 1287

Capital: Pagan.

1187

The Tibeto-Burmese Chutiya kings emerge on the north bank of the River Brahmaputra in north-eastern Assam and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.

1277 - 1278

Burma is invaded by the Mongols, and a puppet government is installed. While it is a victory, it is far from the total conquest and domination that previous Mongol great khans would have expected.

1297

Prince Tribhuvanaditya requests help from the Yuan emperor to repel the Shan. Emperor Temur dispatches a force which successfully achieves this.

Second Burmese Empire
AD 1531/46 - 1752

1529 - 1584

The Thai kingdom of Ayutthya is conquered by the Burmese. The Thais are eventually able to regain their capital.

1554

Shah Shamsuddin Muhammed Shah of Bengal conquers Arakan in Burma.

1558 - 1613

The Burmese conquer the Thai Lan Na capital of Chiang Mai.

1662

The last Ming Chinese emperor is captured while fleeing the Manchu. He is handed back and executed.

? - 1675

Ingsemang

Also ruled Thai kingdom of Lan Na.

1672 - 1727

The Burmese regain control of the Thai kingdom of Lan Na.

1675 - 1707

Chephutarai

Also ruled Thai kingdom of Lan Na.

1707 - ?

Mangraenara

Also ruled Thai kingdom of Lan Na.

1750s/1760s

During his reign, the Ahom King Surempha sends an army to aid the ruler of Manipur, who has been deposed by the Burmese.

1765 - 1767

The Burmese invade Ayutthaya again and, this time, succeed, only to be thrown out two years later.

? - 1771

Abhayagamani

Also ruled Thai kingdom of Lan Na.

1763

The Burmese conquer the Thai Lan Na capital of Chiang Mai.

1768 - ?

Moyagamani

Also ruled Thai kingdom of Lan Na.

Bodawpaya

1809

The reign of Phra Phutthaloetla Naphalai of Siam, who accedes as King Loetlanaphalai, is recognised as a glorious one for art and literature. However, soon after he succeeds his father, King Bodawpaya marches an army into Chumporn and conquers Thalang (Phuket), taking it in the same year. Loetlanaphalai sends his brother, Maha Senanurak, to recapture Thalang, which had been razed to the ground. This 'Thalang Campaign' is the last invasion by the Burmese into Siamese territory.

1819 - 1824

The Ahom King Purandar Singha defeats the Burmese during their invasion of Assam, but the capital at Jorhat falls to them. Soon afterwards, the Bagyidaw Burmese, led by Milingmaha Tilwa, force the next Ahom king to flee his capital. The Ahoms are ruled by the Burmese until 1824, when the start of the First Anglo-Burmese War forces them to concentrate on their own lands.

1824 - 1826

The First Anglo-Burmese War ends with the Treaty of Yandabo, according to which Burma cedes the Arakan coastal strip, between Chittagong and Cape Negrais, to the British East India Company. The British victory gives the subjugated King Anouvong of Laos ideas of independence from his other oppressor, Siam. He advances to Korat, the main border city between Laos and Siam, but the non-Laos citizens there rebel against him and the Siamese army catches up with him at Vientiane. After three days of fighting Anouvong is defeated but remains free to recapture his own capital from Siamese troops. The Siamese have to defeat him again, and the captured monarch is placed in a cage for the remaining year of his life.

1852 - 1853

Britain annexes lower Burma, including Rangoon, following the Second Anglo-Burmese War.

1853 - 1878

Mindon Min

1878 - ?

Thibaw

Son.

1885 - 1886

During the reign of Thibaw there is much violence in the country. Britain captures Mandalay after a brief battle, and Burma becomes a province of British India.

Modern Burma
AD 1886 - Present Day

Under the last of the Burmese kings the country was unstable, and in a campaign which began in 1885 Britain captured the capital of Mandalay after a brief battle. Burma became a province of British India, with territory which was captured by Siam in the 1780s being returned.

In 1989, the governing military leadership changed Burma's name to 'Myanmar'. The name change was opposed by pro-democracy campaigners and by Aung San Suu Kyi's 'National League for Democracy'. They argued that the name was changed by a military junta that had no legitimacy, even more so because the NLD won elections in the country a year later, but the junta refused to recognise the result. In fact, 'Myanmar' has essentially the same meaning as 'Burma', but in Burmese, they are used in separate and fairly different contexts. Burma is known as either 'Myanma' or 'Bama'; Myanma is the written, literary name of the country, while Bama is its spoken name. In the 1920s, some favoured using Myanma, which had also been applied to the Second Burmese empire. In the 1930s, the left-wing independence parties favoured using Bama, as they thought this name was more inclusive of minorities than was Myanma. Today, most major nations refuse to recognise the use of Myanmar, either avoiding the use of the name altogether or continuing to use Burma to refer to the country. Some have folded, however, as have many news organisations that seemingly pander to the hardline military leadership.

1937

Britain separates the lieutenant-governorship of Burma from India and makes it a crown colony. It is now administered by the Burma Office under the Secretary of State for India and Burma.

1948

Burma is granted independence from British rule.

1962

There is a military coup led by Gen Ne Win, who abolishes the federal system and inaugurates 'the Burmese Way to Socialism'. The country is ruled by a mostly faceless military dictatorship.

1962 - 1981

Ne Win

Army general and 'president'.

1981

Ne Win relinquishes the presidency to San Yu, a retired general, but continues as chairman of the ruling Socialist Programme Party.

1981 - ?

San Yu

Army general and 'president'.

1987 - 1989

Currency devaluation wipes out many people's savings and triggers anti-government riots. In 1988, thousands of Burmese are killed in the riots. The following year the dictatorship changes the country's official name from Burma to Myanmar, although the two versions of the name mean the same thing. 'Burmah', as it was spelt in the nineteenth century, is a local corruption of the word Myanmar. The change is recognised by the United Nations, and by countries such as France and Japan, but not by the United States and the United Kingdom, or by the country's own pro-democracy supporters.

? - Present

Thein Sein

Army general and 'president'.

2011

The military's State Peace and Development Council is handed over to the new government, brought to power in controversial elections in 2010, on the last day of the first parliamentary sitting at the end of March. Another big milestone is the release of at least 220 and possibly as many as 270 political prisoners as part of the 6,000-plus amnesty in September. Burma continues towards apparent reform, although some old guard supporters from outside the country suggest it is merely window dressing.

2012

After a weekend of counting the results of by-elections, it is clear that the party of long-term military junta opponent, Aung San Suu Kyi, has won the forty-four available seats by a land-slide. As of 2 April 2012, that result leaves the ruling USDP, the modern political face of the junta, still with eighty per cent of seats in the country's parliament.