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Myinsaing Kingdom

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Title: Myinsaing Kingdom  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: History of Myanmar, Pinya Kingdom, Athinkhaya, Thihathu, Yazathingyan
Collection: 1310 Disestablishments, Burmese Monarchy, History of Myanmar, States and Territories Established in 1297
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Myinsaing Kingdom

Kingdom of Myinsaing

Myinsaing Kingdom in 1310
Capital Myinsaing, Mekkara, Pinle
Languages Burmese, Shan
Religion Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, animism
Government Monarchy
 -  1297–1302 Athinhkaya, Yazathingyan, Thihathu
 -  1302–1310 Athinhkaya, Thihathu
 -  Founding of Kingdom 17 December 1297
 -  Mongol invasion January–April 1301
 -  Mongols evacuate northern Burma 4 April 1303
 -  Thihathu becomes sole ruler 13 April 1310

The Myinsaing Kingdom (Burmese: မြင်စိုင်းခေတ် ) was a kingdom that ruled central Burma (Myanmar) from 1297 to 1310. Founded by three brothers of Shan and Burman descent, it was one of many petty kingdoms that emerged following the collapse of Pagan Empire in 1287.

The three brothers, Athinhkaya, Yazathingyan and Thihathu, former Pagan military commanders, gained control of the important Kyaukse granary in the early 1290s. In December 1297, the brothers formalized their rule of central Burma by forcing the nominal king of Pagan Kyawswa, who had become a Mongol vassal, to abdicate the throne, and ruled as co-regents from their respective palaces in Myinsaing, Mekkara and Pinle.[1]

In 1301, the brothers successfully fought off another (and last) invasion by the Mongols who sought to restore Kyawswa. After the Mongols also vacated their Upper Burma base of Tagaung in 1303, all of central Burma came under their rule.[1] Nonetheless Myinsaing, along with Hanthawaddy and Toungoo kingdoms and various minor Shan States, was still one of many petty kingdoms that sprouted across Burma, after the collapse of Pagan Empire.

The period is commonly referred to in Burmese history as the Age of Three Shan Brothers (ရှမ်းညီနောင်သုံးဦးခေတ် ), marking the ascent of Shan power in Burmese history. Thihathu became the sole ruler of the kingdom in 1310, and moved the capital to Pinya in 1313. The new kingdom at Pinya devolved into the Pinya Kingdom and the Sagaing Kingdom in 1315.


  • Origins 1
  • Post-Pagan (1287–1297) 2
  • Mongol invasion (1301) 3
  • Geographical extent 4
  • End of Myinsaing 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7


The founders of the kingdom were commanders in King Narathihapate's service in the waning days of Pagan. Their father, Theinkhabo, was a younger brother of Shan saopha from the Shan Hills who had taken shelter in Kyaukse as a political refugee in 1260.[2]

Their mother was a daughter of a Burman banker from Myinsaing. The brothers had entered the royal service when they became young men. After a few years of service, they received minor titles of nobility and were appointed joint commanders of the garrison at Myinsaing, their hometown. Their only sister was even married to a son of the king, Prince Thihathu, later governor of Prome (Pyay).[1]

Post-Pagan (1287–1297)

In 1287, Narathihapate fled Pagan, which subsequently was sacked by the invading Mongol forces. Already experienced commanders, the brothers strengthened their garrison at Myinsaing. After the Mongols left, Kyawswa succeeded his father Narathihapate. But he was just a nominal king of Pagan for he controlled no more than a few miles outside Pagan. Indeed, the Pagan Empire had ceased to exist.[1]

Instead, the real power in central Burma rested with the brothers who through their small but well-disciplined army controlled the Kyaukse district, the most important granary of Pagan. Kyawswa had no choice but to recognize them as lords of Kyaukse. On 19 February 1293 (12th waxing of Tabaung 654 ME), the king appointed the eldest brother as viceroy of Myinsaing, the second brother as viceroy of Mekkara, and the third brother as viceroy of Pinle.[1]

The brothers already behaved like sovereign kings nonetheless. When King Wareru of Hanthawaddy received recognition as a tributary of the Sukhothai Kingdom in 1294, it was the brothers, not Kyawswa, who sent a force to reclaim the former Pagan territory of Hanthawaddy (Lower Burma). While their attempt to reconquer Hanthawaddy was unsuccessful, it left no doubt as to who held the real power in central Burma.[1]

The third brother, Thihathu, was the most ambitious, and not satisfied with a mere viceroy title. He assumed the royal titles of Lord of the White Elephant, and the Great Lord in 1295 and 1296 respectively. Alarmed by these obvious displays of power by Thihathu, Kyawswa in January 1297 sent his son the crown prince to the Mongols at Tagaung, offering submission and asking for recognition. On 20 March 1297, the Mongol Emperor recognized Kyawswa as King of Burma and conferred Chinese titles on the brothers.[3][1]

The brothers resented the new arrangement as a Mongol vassalage as it directly reduced their power. In December 1297, they invited the king to Myinsaing, their capital to take part in the dedication ceremony of a monastery built by them. The king believing that he was untouchable because of the Mongol backing went to Myinsaing, and led the dedication ceremony. But as soon as the ceremony was over, he was arrested, dethroned, and forced to become a monk at the very monastery he had dedicated.[1][4]

Mongol invasion (1301)

The Mongols learned only in June-July 1298 that Kyawswa had been dethroned. At Pagan, Kyawswa's son Sawhnit was elected king by the dowager Queen Saw but soon became a governor under the authority of Myinsaing. Another of Kyawswa's sons, Kumara Kassapa, escaped to China in September 1299. In January 1300, the Myinsaing forces led by Athinhkaya attacked the Mongol garrisons north of Mandalay named Nga Singu and Male. On 22 June 1300, the Mongol Emperor declared that Kumara Kassapa was the rightful king of Burma, and sent in an army from Yunnan. The Mongol army of 12,000 reached Male on 15 January 1301.[5]

The Mongols suffered heavy losses from Burmese guerrilla attacks and from disease but managed to reach Myinsaing and lay siege to the fort on 25 January 1301. But Myinsaing's defenses held, and on 6 April 1301 the Mongols were persuaded to call off the attack on receipt of a considerable bribe, which the Mongols took as tribute. Kumara Kassapa retreated back to Tagaung with the Mongols. The Yunnan government, which sent in the invasion, dissatisfied with the conduct of the campaign executed all the leaders on their return but sent in no further expeditions.[2] In April 1303, the Mongols abolished the province of Chiang-Mien based in Tagaung in northern Burma, and withdrew entirely from Upper Burma.[1][5]

Geographical extent

After the Mongols' withdrawal from their erstwhile base at Tagaung, Myinsaing became the dominant power in central Burma. By Pagan and later standards, the area Myinsaing controlled was rather small, covering just the central dry zone of Burma. In the south, Hanthawaddy and Toungoo were independent with their own kings. In the west, Arakan was also independent. The entire northwestern-to-eastern arc of the kingdom was surrounded by the Shan States.[4] The Shans, unlike the Mongols, did not leave and would become major players in Burmese (and South-East Asian) history.[6]

End of Myinsaing

Thihathu, the youngest brother, did not want to share power, even with his own brothers. In October 1309, he blatantly crowned himself king. After the middle brother died, Thihathu poisoned the eldest brother on 13 April 1310, and took over as the king of Upper Burma.[7]

In February 1313, following the advice of court astrologers, Thihathu moved his capital to a new city of Pinya by the Irrawaddy river.[4][8] The kingdom devolved into the Pinya and the Sagaing kingdoms in June 1315.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Htin Aung 1967: 71–75
  2. ^ a b Hall 1960: 28
  3. ^ Than Tun 1959: 119–120
  4. ^ a b c Phayre 1883: 58–59
  5. ^ a b Than Tun 1959: 121
  6. ^ Harvey 1925: 73–74
  7. ^ Kala Vol. 1 2006: 254; in footnote by the Dept of Universities History Research, citing an inscription date
  8. ^ Harvey 1925: 78


  • Hall, D.G.E. (1960). Burma (3rd ed.). Hutchinson University Library.  
  • Harvey, G. E. (1925). History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. 
  • Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Kala, U (1720). Maha Yazawin Gyi (in Burmese) 1–3 (2006, 4th printing ed.). Yangon: Ya-Pyei Publishing. 
  • Phayre, Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. (1883). History of Burma (1967 ed.). London: Susil Gupta. 
  • Than Tun (December 1959). "History of Burma: A.D. 1300–1400". Journal of Burma Research Society XLII (II). 

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