Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

Medieval and Early Modern Myanmar and its Global Connections (900 - 1824AD)

Historic Events

The Armenian Community of Myanmar

One of the least known but most interesting of Myanmar's minority communities were the Armenians. They had migrated here from Persia as early as the 1610s and the first Armenian tombstones in Myanmar date back to 1725. Hundreds of Armenian-Burmese served at the Court of Ava and worked as businessmen in Amarapura, Mandalay and Rangoon and elsewhere. The Strand Hotel was built by the Armenian Sarkies brothers (who also built the Raffles in Singapore). An Armenian-Burmese (Peter Aratoon) also owed...

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The Jewish community of Myanmar

One of Myanmar's least known minority communities are the Myanmar Jews. There have likely been Jews in Myanmar for many hundreds of years, perhaps since ancient times. The first Jew known to Myanmar history was Solomon Gabirol, who served as an officer in the army of King Alaungpaya (c.1755). Jonas Goldenberg, a Moldavian Jew, made a fortune in logging as a business partner of the Mandalay court under King Mindon.  Many Jews who arrived in the 19th century were Baghdadi...

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Bayinnaung's invasion of Arakan in 1580

On 9 September 1580: Bayinnaung began a massive invasion of Arakan. The Toungoo realm was then at its greatest extent - reaching from Manipur in the west across all the Shan states to Lanxang (Linzin in Burmese or Vientienne) and Ayutthaya in the east. Only Arakan remained.The invasion was led by Prince Thiri Thudhamma Raza of Martaban and was a joint land and naval expedition that included 24,000 foot, 1,200 horses, 120 elephants, and 1,300 vessels (leaving from Cape Negrais)....

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The history of Raja of the Bohmong Circle

By historical accident, a direct male-line descendent of King Bayinnaung still holds hereditary office in neighbouring Bangladesh. A son of King Nanda Bayin (son of Bayinnaung) was placed in charge of an area around Chittagong by the King of Arakan in 1599 (after the successful Arakanese attack on Pegu). He was Maung Saw Pru and reigned until 1631. Ever since, his descendants have ruled over what's become known as the "Bohmong Circle", home to over 200,000 people of Arakanese, Burmese,...

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Alaungpaya’s occupation of Pegu and the defeat of Hanthawaddy kingdom

On 5th May 1757, Pegu fell to the forces of Alaungpaya, ending the war between the upper and lower Irrawaddy valley, extinguishing the Hanthawaddy kingdom, and establishing the Konbaung as the new rulers of all Burma. The war had taken place within the context of the global “Seven Years War” whose battlefields stretched from Quebec to Pomerania to Bengal. In Burma the Konbaung were aided by the British, whereas the Hanthawaddy kingdom under its Mon ruler Bannya Dala was actively...

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The end of Filipe de Brito

In April 1613 the warlord Filipe de Brito e Nicote (known as Nga Zinga in Burma) was impaled on a stake in Syriam. He was the most colourful of Portuguese adventurers: he began his life in poverty in Lisbon, served the king of Arakan as a mercenary, and then rose to become to the lord of Syriam. His friend and ally was the renowned Burmese prince, poet, and polo player Natshinaung of Toungoo. Together with a motley crew of Portuguese,...

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The Bayingyis of Myanmar

One of the smallest but perhaps most interesting Christian community in Myanmar are the Bayingyi of the Mu valley (near Shwebo). "Bayingyi" is a derivation of the Arabic "Feringi" or "Frank", meaning, roughly, a western European. It's the same as the Thai word "Farang" or the Khmer "Barang". The first Bayingyi of the Mu valley were the hundreds of mainly Portuguese followers of the Syriam warlord Filipe de Brito who were exiled there by King Anaukpetlun in the early 1600s....

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The great world explorer from Myanmar-Yunnan Border

One of the greatest explorers in world history was a Panthay Muslim from the Burma-Yunnan border. In 1413, a great fleet of Chinese ships were arriving for the first time along the African coast (they would bring back with them, amongst other things, a giraffe for the Ming Emperor's menagerie). This was the fourth of seven monumental voyages (all in the early 15th century) commanded by the great admiral and imperial eunuch Zheng He. Each voyage involved a fleet of...

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Bayinnaung's birthday

Myanmar's archetypal warrior-king Bayinnaung who was born 16 January 1516. His polyglot empire dominated mainland southeast Asia, integrating the Irrawaddy valley with the Tai-speaking uplands and Chao Phraya valley to the east. His personal name was Ye Htut.

The map shows Bayinnaung's empire at its height c. 1565 after his conquests of Siam, and the Lanna and Lanxang kingdoms. The even more cosmopolitan empire of Arakan was of course then a separate and significant power.

The map is from GE...

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The Treaty of Kaungton

The Treaty of Kaungton was signed on 22 December 1769 and thus, ending the Sino-Burmese War (1765-22 December 1769). Burmese forces had sucessfully resisted four Qing (Manchu) invasions, including a massive 4th invasion of over 60,000, aimed at the annexation of Burma by the Emperor Qianlong. It was the Qing Empire's greatest defeat.The Qing armies included elite Bannermen - Manchus and Mongols as well as Han Chinese - brought down from the Russian border. The Burmese side was led by...

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