Razadarit Razadarit
Razadarit Razadarit
Razadarit or Rajadhirat was the ninth king of Hanthawaddy Pegu from 1384 to 1422, and is considered one of the greatest kings in Burmese history. He successfully reunified all three Mon-speaking regions of southern Burma (Myanmar), and fended off major assaults by the Burmese-speaking northern Kingdom of Ava (Innwa) in the Forty Years' War (1385–1424).
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  • 1421
    The king died of injuries received in hunting a wild elephant in 1421 at age 53.
    More Details Hide Details He left a strong, independent kingdom for the Mon people that would prosper for another 118 years. Three of his offspring later became rulers of Hanthawaddy. His daughter Shin Sawbu was the first and only female regent, and one of the most enlightened rulers in Burmese history. The story of Razadarit's reign is recorded in a classic epic that exists in Mon, Burmese and Thai language forms. Razadarit's struggles against Minkhaung I and Minyekyawswa are retold as classic stories of legend in Burmese popular culture.
    The Mon account also says Razadarit died of a hunting accident but he died circa February 1421.
    More Details Hide Details He was buried near Kamathameinpaik, north of Pegu. The war dragged on between the successors of Razadarit and Minhkaung for a few more years but this eventually gave way to a long period of peace in the south. By 1390, Razadarit had reunified all three main provinces (Pegu, Martaban and Bassein/Irrawaddy delta) under his leadership. According to the Mon chronicles, the king reportedly further organized the three provinces into 32 towns/districts ("myos"), though he was not the first to do so. Later research shows no evidence of Razadarit being the first to organize the provinces into 32 divisions. The story of Razadarit's reign is recorded in a classic epic called Razadarit Ayedawbon that exists in both Mon and Burmese language forms. This epic was also translated into Thai by Phra Khlang during the reign of King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (1782–1809), and is well known in Thailand. Nowadays, Minyekyawswa and Razadarit duels are featured in Burmese textbooks. Razadarit's epic struggles against Minkhaung I and Minyekyawswa of Ava are part of classic stories of legend in Burmese popular culture today.
  • 1417
    Fortunately for Razadarit, Minyekyawswa was mortally wounded in battle at Dala, and was captured by Hanthawaddy troops in March 1417. (The Mon chronicles say Minyekyawswa died of his wounds but the Burmese chronicles say he was executed.
    More Details Hide Details The Mon chronicles state that Razadarit ordered Minyekyawswa be buried with royal honors.) Minyekyawswa’s death was the beginning of the end of the war that had dragged on for decades. Without a strong leader, Ava’s forces became disorganized and were forced to withdraw to the north to meet renewed Shan threats. Minhkaung renewed the campaign, marching to Bassein and Myaungmya. Hanthawaddy marched north to Toungoo in 1417 and Ava marched south to Pegu in 1418, but struggle between Ava and Pegu was over for the time being. Minhkaung died in early 1422. According to the Burmese chronicles, when the news reached Razadarit, he reportedly lamented: My brother, my enemy, my rival, my companion, life is empty without you. Still, according to the Burmese chronicles, Razadarit himself was fatally injured in hunting a wild elephant near Pegu Yoma Hills, north of Pegu, soon after, c. February/March 1422. The account given in the Mon records is different.
  • 1414
    The years 1414–1416 proved to be Razadarit's toughest years of his reign.
    More Details Hide Details Having defeated the Shan state of Theinni in the north, Minyekyawswa now invaded the delta in full force in November 1414. By 1416, the fiery prince of Ava had conquered the entire delta in the west, and controlled up to the outskirts of Pegu in the east. In the wake of this onslaught, Razadarit fled to Martaban. The king was supposed to have clasped his knees in despair, saying:
  • 1413
    But he did send a force to Arakan and removed the Ava-installed puppet king in 1413.
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  • 1412
    In December 1412, while Minyekyawswa was fighting against the Shan state of Theinni in the north, Razadarit led his flotilla up the Irrawaddy.
    More Details Hide Details But he immediately withdrew when Martaban came under attack by Siamese forces.
  • 1407
    Incensed, Minkhaung invaded the Hanthawaddy country in May 1407, at the start of the rainy season, against the advice of his ministers.
    More Details Hide Details The Ava forces got bogged down in the swamps of Lower Burma, and were soundly defeated. In 1408, Minkhaung had to defend against Shan invaders from the north and could not invade the south. In 1409, Minkhaung invaded the south again, and advanced to outskirts of Pegu. Minkhaung's army was stockaded near Pankyaw. Razadarit tried to break the siege by sending special forces to assassinate Minkhaung. With the aid of Theiddat, Hanthawaddy units nearly ambushed Minkhaung and his bodyguards. But at a critical moment Theiddat gave a warning to his brother, and Minkhaung and his team escaped. Razadarit executed Theiddat. Razadarit again sent a small force led by his top general Lagun Ein to infiltrate the enemy camp and kill Minkhaung. Lagun Ein got into Minhkaung's tent, but in an act of chivalry he refused to kill the enemy king who was asleep. With the onset of the rainy season, Minkhaung's communication lines and supply lines were cut. Razadarit came out of Pegu and attacked Minkhaung. The two kings took part in a great battle at Kyat Paw Taw near Pegu. Razadarit charged his elephant directly at Minkhaung, which the latter tried to meet but could not withstand so that he had to turn away. About two-thirds of the invading Ava army including elephants and cavalry were captured. Razadarit also captured Minkhaung's chief queen Shin Mi-Nauk. Razadarit now had both the mother and the daughter in his harem.
  • 1406
    However, Razadarit had to lift the siege when, in January 1406, Minkhaung's forces arrived from up-country.
    More Details Hide Details But Razadarit's flotilla continued to control the entire span of Irrawaddy river, and continued using scorched earth tactics along the river, greatly disrupting Minkhaung's supplies and resources. In 1406, Minkhaung sued for peace. The two kings met at the Shwesandaw Pagoda in Prome. Minkhaung gave his sister to Razadarit in marriage, who in return gave custom duties at the port of Bassein. This shows that one of the reasons for the Forty Years War was Ava's need for access to a seaport. The arrangement in practice was doomed to failure as Bassein had to serve two masters. The boundary of their kingdoms was fixed a little to the south of Prome. The second truce did not last even a year as neither king trusted the other. Minkhaung took offense when a Hanthawaddy garrison was left on the frontier near Prome. Soon after the truce with Razadarit, Minkhaung sent in an army to occupy Arakan, which had been raiding his territory. To reduce the probability of an opportunistic attack by Razadarit from the south, Minkhaung also sent a letter of alliance to the king of Lan Na (Chiang Mai) asking the latter to threaten Hanthawaddy from the east. But the letter was intercepted by Razadarit's men. Moreover, Minkhaung appointed his eldest son Minyekyawswa as heir apparent. Minyekyawswa was widely believed by both sides to be the reincarnation of the wrongly executed Mon prince.
  • 1405
    Minkhaung raised Razadarit's daughter to be a queen. Incensed, Razadarit had to wait until the end of the rainy season the following year before he was ready to attack Ava again. In late 1405, he sailed up the Irrawaddy river burning the granaries and boats along the way.
    More Details Hide Details Prome was besieged again.
  • 1404
    Taking advantage of the confusion, Razadarit broke the truce in November 1404 (Natdaw 756 ME), and invaded up country with a massive flotilla (4000 boats of every description, including transports for elephants and horses).
    More Details Hide Details Razadarit left his son-in-law to lay siege to Prome, whilst Razadarit laid siege to Ava. Minkhaung had no flotilla to meet Razadarit, and ordered his troops to defend behind the fortified walls of Ava and Prome. The fortified cities proved impregnable to the Hanthawaddy forces. The governor of Prome, Letya Pyanchi, a son-in-law of Laukpya, broke the siege led by Razadarit's son-in-law, and captured Razadarit's daughter. At Ava too, Razadarit was not prepared for a long siege, and withdrew his forces after hearing a sermon by a Buddhist monk on the wickedness of war. He executed his son-in-law who had failed to prevent his daughter's capture at Prome.
  • 1391
    In 1391, Razadarit and Swa reached a truce that gave Hanthawaddy control of Myanaung.
    More Details Hide Details Hanthawaddy now controlled all of Lower Burma south of Prome. (The entire Tenasserim coast was under Siamese rule. Razadarit's rule did not extend much beyond south of Mawlamyaing). Razadarit used the peace to beautify Pegu and improve its defenses. He entered into friendly communication with Siam. Razadarit grew tired of his first love Talamidaw, and cast her aside, taking away all the jewels bestowed upon her by their father Binnya U. Heartbroken, Talamidaw committed suicide. Hearing that their son Bawlawkyantaw, who must been about 7 years old, was practicing horsemanship and sharpening his elephant's tusks, Razadarit feared his eldest son of treason in the near future because Razadarit himself had rebelled against his father at a young age. The king sent executioners to kill off his young son. According to Mon and Burmese chronicles, the young prince swore a dreadful oath in front of the executioners before taking the poison:
  • 1390
    Having overrun all three regions of Lower Burma, Razadarit looked to extend his rule northwards. In 1390, he attacked and conquered Myanaung, the northernmost town in the delta still under the control of Ava.
    More Details Hide Details He proceeded to lay siege to Prome (Pyay), farther up the Irrawaddy. But Swa sent a combined land and naval force and thwarted Razadarit's advance.
  • 1388
    Despite this success, Razadarit realized that he needed to reunify all three regions of Lower Burma if he were to fight Ava on equal terms in the long run. In 1388/89, Razadarit and his top general Lagun Ein in a series of military campaigns did just that.
    More Details Hide Details They chose to attack Martaban first, which had been independent since 1363, as it was a weaker foe than Myaungmya in the delta. In 1388, the Peguan forces captured Martaban albeit with much difficulty. Now with his rear base secure, Razadarit quickly moved to subdue the delta. Initially, he failed. His army could not take heavily fortified Myaungmya, and was defeated at Bassein which was defended by Laukpya's son and two sons-in-law. Then Laukpya ventured out of his defenses, and was promptly captured by Razadarit's forces. Myaungmya surrendered. The entire delta followed. Laukpya's son and his two sons-in-law fled to Ava.
  • 1386
    In 1386, Razadarit again stopped another invasion by Swa.
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  • 1385
    In 1385, as Razadarit prepared to march to the delta, Laukpya sought assistance from King Swa Saw Ke of Ava with the promise of submission to Ava.
    More Details Hide Details Swa's acceptance of Laukpya's invitation resulted in the Forty Years' War between Ava and Pegu. In 1385, Swa initiated the hostilities that would last for another 40 years between the northern Ava and southern Hanthawaddy kingdoms. Swa launched a two-pronged invasion of Hanthawaddy down the Irrawaddy and Sittaung rivers, and Laukpya sent in his army from the delta. The young king did not lose nerve, and successfully fended off the invasions.
  • 1384
    He ascended the throne with the reign name of Razadarit (Pali: Rajadhiraj; King of Kings) on 4 January 1384 (Monday, 12th waxing of Tabodwe 745 ME).
    More Details Hide Details At his accession, Razadarit controlled only the Pegu province out of three principal Mon regions in lower Burma. The Martaban region was ruled by Byattaba, and the Irrawaddy delta was under the rule of Laukpya of Myaungmya. Razadarit pardoned his aunt Mahadevi and gave her Dagon in fief but he could not buy his uncle Laukpya's loyalty. Laukpya, who had always ruled his fief like a king under his brother Binnya U, was not prepared to submit to his teenage nephew.
  • 1383
    In early 1383, Binnya Nwe, not yet 16, eloped with his half-sister Talamidaw and fled to Dagon (Yangon).
    More Details Hide Details The king, who was on his deathbed, pardoned both of his children. But the rival claimants to the throne the chief queen, Mahadevi/Smim Maru and Laukpya all wanted to get rid of Binnya Nwe, and sent three armies to Dagon. At Dagon, the young prince, aided by a few loyal forces and Muslim mercenaries, had already fortified the town. Within a few days of siege, two arimes, led by Laukpya and Byattaba (the rebellious governor of Martaban), withdrew, and only the army led by Smim Maru remained. On 11 May 1383 (10th waxing of Nayon 745 ME), Binnya Nwe's forces defeated Smim Maru's. Smim Maru was caught and executed. On 10 December 1383, the young prince now marched to Pegu. Not long after they got to Pegu, Binnya U died, and the young prince was at once proclaimed king by the palace officials on 2 January 1384 (10th waxing of Tabodwe 745 ME).
  • 1369
    By 1369, he had relocated his capital to Pegu.
    More Details Hide Details Binnya Nwe's mother Mwe Thin was a wife of Prince Min Linka, who revolted against his younger brother the king. Binnya U defeated the rebellion, and conquered Mwe Thin who later gave birth to Razadarit.) Binnya Nwe grew up in Binnya U's Pegu court. (Binnya U could not recover Martaban, which was ruled by the rebel chief Byattaba (.) Although Binnya Nwe was the eldest son, Binnya U chose his son by his chief queen Mwe Magu Tauk. Moreover, others like Princess Mahadevi and Laukpya, Governor of Myaungmya, were also interested in succeeding Binnya U. Mahadevi was a powerful figure in her brother Binnya U's court, and was like a mother to Binnya Nwe. Her relationship with her nephew turned sour when her lover, Smim Maru, husband of Princess Talamithiri wanted to be king.
  • 1368
    Razadarit was born Binnya Nwe to King Binnya U and his queen Mwe Daw on 28 January 1368 at Donwun (near Martaban). ("Binnya" was the highest title of royalty in Mon language.) (In the mid-1360s, Binnya U faced multiple rebellions that forced him out of Martaban some time between 1364 and 1369, and was camped out at Donwun, a town north of Martaban for a time.
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