History of Myanmar

Hanthawaddy Kingdom
The Forty Years' War between the Burmese-speaking Kingdom of Ava and the Mon-speaking Kingdom of Hanthawaddy. ©Anonymous
1287 Jan 1 - 1552

Hanthawaddy Kingdom

Mottama, Myanmar (Burma)

The Hanthawaddy Kingdom was a significant polity in lower Burma (Myanmar) that existed in two distinct periods: from 1287[27] to 1539 and briefly from 1550 to 1552. Founded by King Wareru as a vassal state to the Sukhothai Kingdom and the Mongol Yuan dynasty[28], it eventually gained independence in 1330. However, the kingdom was a loose federation comprising three major regional centers—Bago, the Irrawaddy Delta, and Mottama—with limited centralized authority. The reign of King Razadarit in the late 14th and early 15th centuries was pivotal in unifying these regions and fending off the Ava Kingdom to the north, marking a high point in Hanthawaddy's existence.

The kingdom entered a golden age after the war with Ava, emerging as the most prosperous and powerful state in the region from the 1420s to the 1530s. Under gifted rulers such as Binnya Ran I, Shin Sawbu, and Dhammazedi, Hanthawaddy thrived economically and culturally. It became an important center of Theravada Buddhism and established robust commercial ties across the Indian Ocean, enriching its treasury with foreign goods such as gold, silk, and spices. It established strong ties with Sri Lanka and encouraged reforms that later spread throughout the country.[29]

However, the kingdom met a sudden downfall at the hands of the Taungoo dynasty from Upper Burma in the mid-16th century. Despite its greater resources, Hanthawaddy, under King Takayutpi, failed to fend off the military campaigns led by Tabinshwehti and his deputy general Bayinnaung. Hanthawaddy was ultimately conquered and absorbed into the Taungoo Empire, although it briefly revived in 1550 following Tabinshwehti's assassination. The kingdom's legacy lived on among the Mon people, who would eventually rise again to found the Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom in 1740.

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