Dynasties of the past are

  • The Mon
  • The Pyu
  • The Bagan Kingdom
  • Inwa and Bago
  • Taungoo Dynasty
  • Konbaung Dynasty
  • War with Britain
  • During the British Ruling

The Mon

Humans lived in the region that is now Myanmar as early as 11.000 years ago. The first identifiable civilization is that of the Mon. The Mon probably began migrating into the area in about 3000 BC. and their first kingdom Suwarnabhumi. was founded around the port of Thaton in about 300 BC. Spoken tradition suggests that they had contact with Buddhism via seafaring as early as the 3rd century BC. though definitely by the 2nd century BC when they received an envoy of monks from Ashoka. Much of the Mon’s written records have been destroyed through wars. The Mons blended Indian and Mon culture together in a hybird of the two civilizations. By the mid-9th century. they had come to dominate all of southern Myanmar.

The Pyu

The Pyu arrived in Myanmar in the 7th century and established city kingdoms at Binnaka. Mongamo. Sri Ksetra. and Halingyi. During this period. Myanmar was part of an overland trade route from China to India. Chinese sources state that the Pyu controlled 18 kingdoms and describe them as a humane and peaceful people. The Pyu capital of Halingyi fell to the kingdom of Nanchao in the mid-9th century. ending their period of dominance.

The Bagan Kingdom

To the north another group of people. the Burmans began infiltrating the area as well. By 849. they had founded a powerful kingdom centered on the city of Pagan and filled the void left by the Pyu. The kingdom grew in relative isolation until the reign of Anawrahta (1044 – 77) who successfully unified all of Myanmar by defeating the Mon city of Thaton in 1057. Consolidation was accomplised under his successors Kyanzittha (1084-1112) and Alaungsithu (1112-1167). so that by the mid-12th century. most of Southeast Asia was under the control of either the Bagan Kingdom or the Khmer empire. The Bagan kingdom went into decline as more land and resources fell into the hands of the powerful sangha (monkhood) and the Mongols threatened from the north. The last true ruler of Bagan. Narathihapate (reigned 1254-87) felt confident in his ability to resist the Mongols and advanced into Yunnan in 1277 to make war upon them. He was thouroughly crushed at the Battle of Ngasaunggyan. and Bagan resistance virtually collapsed. The king was assassinated by his own son. but the dynasty was soon brought to an end in 1289. when the mongols installed a puppet ruler in Myanmar.

Inwa and Bago

After the collapse of Bagan authority. Myanmar was divided once again. The Burmans had restablished themselves at the city of Inwa by 1364. where Bagan culture was revived and a great age of Burmese literature ensued. The kingdom lacked easily defendable borders. however. and was overrun by the Shan in 1527. To the south. the Mons reestablished themselves at Bago. and under their king. Dhammazedi (reigned 1472-92). entered a golden age as well. becoming a great center of commerce and Therinwada Buddhism.

The Taungoo Dynasty

Surviors of the destruction of Inwa eventually established a new kingdom centered on Taungoo in 1531 led by Tabinshwehti (reigned 1531-50). who once again unified most of Myanmar. By this time. the geopolitical situation in Southeast Asia had changed drastically. The Shan gained power in a new kingdom in the North. Ayutthaya (Siam). while the Portugese had arrived in the south and conquered Malacca. With the coming of European traders. Myanmar was once again an important trading center. and Tabinshwehti moved his capital to Bago due to its commercial value. Tabinshwehti’s brother-in-law. Bayinnaung (ruled 1551-81) succeeded to the throne and proceeded on a campaign of conquest conquering several states. including Manipur (1560) and even Ayutthaya (1569). His wars stretched Myanmar to the limits of its resources. however. and both Manipur and Ayutthaya were soon independant once again. Faced with rebellion by several cities and renewed Portugese incursions. the Tourngoo rulers withdrew from southern Myanmmar and founded a second dynasty at Inwa. Bayinnaung’s grandson. Anaukpetlun. once again reunited Myanmar in 1613 and decisively defeated Portuguese attempts to take over Myanmar. His successor Thalun reestablished the priciples of the old Bagan kingdom. but spent too heavily on religious expenditure and paid to little attention to the southern part of his kingdom. Encouraged by the French in India. Bago finally rebelled against Inwa. further weakening the state. which fell in 1752.

The Konbaung Dynasty

It did not take long for a new dynasty to arise and bring Myanmar to its greates power yet. A popular Burmese leader named Alaungpaya drove the Bago forces out of northern Myanmar by 1753. and by 1759 he had once again conquered Bago and southern Myanmar while also regaining control of Manipur. He established his capital at Rangoon. In 1760. he briefly conquered Tenasserim and marched on Ayutthaya. but his invasion failed and he was killed. His son Hsinbyushin (ruled 1763-76) returned to Ayutthaya in 1766 and had conquered it before the end of the next year. Even China took notice of Myanmar now. but Hsinbyushin sucessfully repulsed four Chinese invasions between 1766 and 1769. Another of Alaungpaya’s sons. Bodawpaya (ruled 1781-1819). lost Ayutthaya. but added Arakan (1784) and Tenasserim (1793) to the kingdom as well. In Jaunary 1824. during the reign of King Bagyidaw (ruled 1819-37). a general named Maha Bandula succeeded in conquering Assam. bringing Myanmar face to face with British interests in India.