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Myanmar - Arakan Kingdom - 976-1404

Arakan Kingdom The Arakanese broke off from the Burmese in the early days of the Christian era, soon after the foundation of the early dynasty of Tagaung, and were not finally absorbed into the Burmese kingdom till towards the close of the eighteenth century. Some sixty years before the reign of Chanda Suriya, who was supposed to have established the third Dhanyawadi dynasty in 588 BC, when the kingdom of Prome came to an end by civil strife, an invasion of Burmese refugees was repelled by the Arakanese, who in their turn invaded Prome and sacked Tharekhettara. But from the time of Chanda Suriya down to the year 976 AD nothing historically certain or important is recorded.

In the tenth century the pressure of the rulers of Prome upon Southern Arakan compelled a change of capital from Dwarawadi (near the existing town of Sandoway) to Myohaung, farther north. After five centuries of civil wars and foreign invasions by the tribes across the Yoma, the kingdom became gradually consolidated.

In the year 976 AD Shan invaders entered Arakan and held the country for eighteen years, during which period they robbed the inhabitants and carried off from the temples everything of value. Anawrahta, who came to the throne of Burma soon after the retirement of the Shans from Arakan, next invaded the country, compelled the Arakanese to acknowledge his supremacy, and exacted tribute. During the reign of Kyansittha, son of Anawrahta, in Pagan, Min Bilu of Arakan was deposed by a usurper, and his son took refuge in Burma This prince's son, Letyaminnan, was restored by Alaungsithu, grandson and successor of Kyansittha, and Arakan was again subordinate to Burma for some years from 1103 onwards.

Arakan became subordinate to the Pagan monarchy in AD 1102-3, from the time when Letyamengnan was placed on the throne of his ancestors. He fixed his capital at Parin. The country enjoyed rest for a long period, and there is nothing in the annals worthy of remark until after the capture of Pagan by the Mongols. In the early part of the fourteenth century mention is made of invasion by the Shans, which apparently refers te attacks by the kings of Myinsaing and Panya.

In the last quarter of the fourteenth century the king of Arakan became involved in the quarrel between Burma and Pegu by the son of the rebel governor of Myaungmya having taken refuge in Sandoway, from whence he was surrendered to the king of Pegu. About the same time communication was made by the king of Arakan to the king of Bengal. The latter country is called Suratan, which may be a corruption of Sunargaon, which had for a time been the capital; or may refer to the title sultan. Presents were interchanged by the two sovereigns, the ruler of Arakan probably hoping to find an ally against attack from Burma. According to the Burmese history, the king of Arakan having died without leaving an heir, the nobles of that country offered the throne to Meng Kyiswi, king of Burma, who appointed his uncle, Soamwungyi, tributary king.

The Arakanese annals at this time narrate how the country was for many years in great confusion, and that usurpers, one after another, became the rulers. At length, the native king, Meng Soamwun [Meng-tsau-mwun], was driven from his kingdom by an army sent by Pyinsing Mengswa, called also Meng Khamaung, king of Burma, which took possession of the capital, then Laungkyet (Laungret). Meng-tsau-mwun fled to Bengal in the year 1406 or 1407 AD. The exiled monarch lived at Sunargong, then the Muslim capital of Bengal, for twenty-four years. The Sultán of Bengal then undertook to restore him, and this was effected in the year AD 1430. He agreed to be subordinate, or tributary, to his benefactor. How this subordinancy was carried out in detail, is not stated in the chronicles of Arakan.

An invasion of Talaings is recorded about the year 1243, which seems to shew that, before the revolt of Pegu in 1273, the governors of the delta districts had taken advantage of the weakness of Tarokpyemin and his difficulties with China, and had made themselves independent. The Shan kings of Panya invaded the country some fifty years later, according to the Arakanese accounts; but in 1333 the king of Arakan, a son of Min Bilu, carried off Min Shin Saw, the governor of Thayetmyo. He released him about ten years later. During this period Arakan was in the utmost disorder, and usurpations were frequent. In 1373 the Arakanese are said to have asked Mingyi Swa Sawkfe, king of Burma, to nominate a king for Arakan, and he selected his uncle, Sawmungyi. The latter was soon driven out, however, and the country again fell into the greatest confusion.

In 1389 Arakan became involved in the war between Burma and Pegu, and took the side of the Talaings. The son of Laukbya, the rebel king of Myaungmya, having taken refuge in Sandoway, was handed over to Razadirit, and king Thinsa shortly afterwards made a raid into Burmese territory. Min Khaung, to punish this raid, invaded Arakan in 1404 and again in 1406, and Min Saw Mun, king of Arakan, fled to Bengal in the latter year. There he remained under the protection of the king of Bengal for over twenty years. In the interval Arakan became a battle-ground for the armies of Pegu and Burma, and each king in turn placed his own nominee on the throne of Arakan, the last ruler of the series being a Talaing.

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Page last modified: 08-10-2011 12:16:37 ZULU