Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

King Thibaw

Irish monk of Myanmar

There is a the long and colourful history of relations between Myanmar and Ireland and the many Irish men and women that have played a role in Burmese affairs. Perhaps one of the most unusual was U Dhammaloka (original name unknown), who was born to a poor family in Dublin in the 1856, he migrated to the United States, made his way on the first trains across America, then traveled by steamship to Japan before winding up in Rangoon just...

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King Thibaw's birthday

1 January 1859 is the birthday of King Thibaw who is the 41st son of King Mindon and the Laungshe Queen, 11th and last king of the Konbaung dynasty, regnal title Thiri Pawara Ditya Lanka Wizara Nanda Yatha Tilawkadhipati Pandita Maha Dhamma Razadhiraza, assumed the throne October 1878, deposed by the British November 1885, died in exile 19 December 1916 age 57.A controversial choice and a controversial king, he nevertheless presided over a reformist government that tried desperately to modernize...

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HM Queen Supayalat, the Last Queen of Burma (Myanmar)

HM Queen Supayalat, the Last Queen of Burma (Myanmar) was born 13 December 1859 she became the "Middle Palace Queen" of King Thibaw at the age of 19. During her seven years on the throne she fought attempts by reformist ministers to curtail royal authority (especially royal spending). She also fought to limit the number of queens and royal concubines. British propaganda portrayed her as a decadent tyrant, dominating her husband and opposed to all change. Negative images of the...

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“Thangyet Wun” U Myu

A rare portrait of the "Thangyet Wun" U Myu (later styled Mingyi Minhla Maha Sithu Kyaw). U Myu was a scion of an old family of Ava nobility and was one of the first Burmese to be educated in Paris, obtaining a degree in engineering at the the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in 1868 and returning for further study in France in the 1870s. He held different posts in Mandalay, leading King Mindon's efforts to build the country's...

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The man who would be king – Prince of Pyinmana

HRH the Prince of Pyinmana who had been a candidate for the throne in 1878 and whom the Japanese considered as a possible new "king of Burma" in 1942. He was born in 1872 and was the son of then King Mindon and a half-brother of King Thibaw. Educated at St Marks School, Mandalay and at Dehra Doon, he was last suriving child of King Mindon and lived until 1963, the year NASA launched its first television satellite and the...

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The vision of King Thibaw’s government

The government of King Thibaw came to power in November 1878. Contrary to popular views, it was a highly reformist government at first, led by men such as the Kinwun Mingyi and the Yaw Atwinwun, as well as several who had returned from studies in Europe. They were eager to modernize, reach out to the West, and preserve Burma's independence, but their ambitious plans for political and economic reforms were foiled within a year by conservatives from within the palace...

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The Prince of Limbin and family, at Limbin House in Allahabad c. 1910.

The Limbin Prince was a minor son of King Mindon's half brother the Kanaung Prince and a cousin of King Thibaw. He escaped the arrest and execution of many other royal princes in 1879 and from 1885-7 led a widespread resistance together with several Shan Sawbwas against the British occupation. He was exiled in 1887 first to Calcutta and then Allahabad, returning to Rangoon in 1911. He died in 1933 and was survived by four sons and six daughters. The...

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The ultimatum that led to war

On 22 October 1885 Lord Dufferin the Viceroy of India issued an ultimatum calling on the government of King Thibaw to place its foreign relations under the permanent control of the British Indian Empire. Resolution of a dispute with the Bombay-Burmah Trading Company was the formal aim of the ultimatum but the real intent was to permanently end Burmese sovereignty. The British were increasingly worried about prospect of closer Franco-Burmese relations and attracted to the idea of Burma as a...

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After Burmese Kingdom fell into the British Hands

From 1883-85, the reformists around the king, led by the Kinwun Mingyi, the Yaw Atwinwun, and the Wetmasut Wundauk, were unable to implement the sweeping changes they felt necessary to save the kingdom. Conservatives, supported by factions within the army and the royal establishment, had pushed back and halted many of the constitutional and fiscal reforms originally set in motion. Fast mounting external and domestic challenges, compounded by worsening economic conditions, fighting in the Kachin Hills, two successive years of...

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The last known photograph of King Thibaw

The last known photograph of King Thibaw of Burma, taken on 5 March 1914 during the "natwin-mingala" of his daughters, the four princesses, at Ratnagiri. Several dozen entertainers as well as ponna, court officials and ex-ministers including the Wetmasuk Wundauk were allowed to travel from Mandalay to attend the ceremony. The former king was already in poor health and died less than two years later, aged 57. If he had been alive at independence in 1948 he would have been...

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