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Hanthawaddy Kingdom


Hanthawaddy Kingdom

Kingdom of Hanthawaddy Pegu
ဟံသာဝတီ ပဲခူး တိုင်းပြည်
Vassal state of Sukhothai Kingdom (1293–1330), under Toungoo Dynasty rule (1539–1550)

Hanthawaddy Kingdom c. 1450
Capital Martaban (1287–1363)
Donwun (1363–1369)
Pegu (1369–1539, 1550–1552)
Languages Mon
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Government Monarchy
 -  1287–1307 Wareru
 -  1384–1421 Razadarit
 -  1454–1471 Shin Sawbu
 -  1471–1492 Dhammazedi
 -  1526–1539 Takayutpi
 -  Founding of Kingdom 4 April 1287
 -  Vassal of Sukhothai 1293 – 1330
 -  Forty Years' War 1385 – 1424
 -  Golden Age 1426 – 1534
 -  1st Fall of Pegu 1534 – 1539
 -  2nd Fall of Pegu 12 March 1552

The Hanthawaddy Kingdom (Burmese: ဟံသာဝတီ ပဲခူး နေပြည်တော်; Mon: ဟံသာဝတဳ, [hɔŋsawətɔe]; also Hanthawaddy Pegu or simply Pegu) was the dominant kingdom that ruled lower Burma (Myanmar) from 1287 to 1539 and from 1550 to 1552. The Mon-speaking kingdom was founded as Ramannadesa (or Ramanya in Burmese (ရာမညဒေသ) and Mon ရးမည) by King Wareru following the collapse of the Pagan Empire in 1287 as a nominal vassal state of Sukhothai Kingdom, and of the Mongol Yuan dynasty.[1] The kingdom became formally independent of Sukhothai in 1330 but remained a loose federation of three major regional power centers: the Irrawaddy delta, Pegu, and Martaban. Its kings had little or no authority over the vassals. Martaban was in open rebellion from 1363 to 1388.

The energetic reign of King Razadarit (r. 1384–1421) cemented the kingdom's existence. Razadarit firmly unified the three Mon-speaking regions together, and successfully fended off the northern Burmese-speaking Kingdom of Ava in the Forty Years' War (1385–1424), making the western kingdom of Arakan a tributary from 1413 to 1421 in the process. The war ended in a stalemate but it was a victory for Hanthawaddy as Ava finally gave up its dream of restoring the Pagan Empire. In the years following the war, Pegu occasionally aided Ava's southern vassal states of Prome and Toungoo in their rebellions but carefully avoided getting plunged into a full-scale war.

After the war, Hanthawaddy entered its golden age whereas its rival Ava gradually went into decline. From the 1420s to the 1530s, Hanthawaddy was the most powerful and prosperous kingdom of all post-Pagan kingdoms. Under a string of especially gifted monarchs — Binnya Ran I, Shin Sawbu, Dhammazedi and Binnya Ran II — the kingdom enjoyed a long golden age, profiting from foreign commerce. Its merchants traded with traders from across the Indian Ocean, filling the king's treasury with gold and silver, silk and spices, and all the other stuff of early modern trade. The kingdom also became a famous center of Theravada Buddhism. It established strong ties with Ceylon, and encouraged reforms that later spread throughout the country.[2]

The powerful kingdom's end came abruptly. From 1534 onwards, it came under constant raids by the kingdom of Toungoo. King Takayutpi could not marshal the kingdom's much greater resources and manpower against much smaller Toungoo, led by King Tabinshwehti and his deputy Gen. Bayinnaung. Toungoo captured Pegu and the Irrawaddy delta in 1538–1539, and Martaban in 1541.[3] The kingdom was briefly revived in 1550 after Tabinshwehti was assassinated. But the "kingdom" did not extend much outside the city of Pegu. Bayinnaung quickly defeated the rebellion in March 1552.

Though Toungoo kings would rule all of Lower Burma well into the mid-18th century, the golden age of Hanthawaddy was fondly remembered by the Mon people of Lower Burma. In 1740, they rose up against a weak Toungoo Dynasty on its last legs, and founded the Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom.


  1. ^ Htin Aung 1967: 78–80
  2. ^ Myint-U 2006: 64–65
  3. ^ Harvey 1925: 153–157


  • Harvey, G. E. (1925). History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. 
  • Pan Hla, Nai (1968). Razadarit Ayedawbon (in Burmese) (8th printing, 2004 ed.). Yangon: Armanthit Sarpay. 

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