Naresuan / BhyaNarit

King Naresuan / BhyaNarit passed his early years in Hantharwaddy as a hostage prince. He was allowed to attend the martial arts classes together with Myanmar princes. He was allowed to return to Thailand when his sister was presented to the Hantharwaddy king Bayint Naung / Bawa Shin Min Tayarr Gyi as a consort. He later became Ayutthia King and is the most accalaimed Thai king, especially as the one who won over Myanmar armies and freed Thailand from the Myanmar rule. His life is being portrayed in movies which now have reached the 3rd episode and another one is on the way. I have seen the first movie which was available in DVD in Myanmar and it began with his life as a young prince in Thailand and included his life in Hantharwaddy.

cock statutes at Thai rural homes

While I was working in Thailand, I walked around the Camp during the mornings along the rural roads and became friends with local Thai farmers. I noticed rooster / cock statutes about 1 foot high in front of several Thai homes but did not realize their significance until I toured Thailand after my duty at Asia Drilling rig was finished. I reached Phitsanulok during my travels and there, I got to the monument of king Naresuan. Naresuan / Bhya Narit / Phara-Nare-SuArr was born in Phitsanulok / Peik ThaLauk and became governor / minn of Phitsanulok before he became king of Ayutthia. At the monument of king Naresuan in Phitsanulok, there were many statutes of the rooster / cock of various sizes up to those of 5 – 6 feet height. I asked the tuk tuk man about their significance and he replied that king Naresuan was a master in cock fighting and that his fighting cocks were Burmese fighting cocks. Later, I also saw many statutes of the rooster / cock in other Naresuan monuments at Ayutthia and elsewhere.

the cock statutes at the king Naresuan monument, Ayutthia

king Naresuan monument, Ayutthia

Prince Naresuan / BhyaNarit / Phara-Nare-SuArr repeatedly won over Myanmar armies and even marched on to Hantharwaddy during the time of king Nanda.

Prince Naresuan’s army was among those sent to quell the Shan SaoPha rebellion in the Myanmar year 944 / AD 1582 during the early reign of king Nanda. Later, when king Nanda marched on to Ava / Innwa, king Naresuan was again called on to join with his army. When he reached MuAn – KhaYinn, he declared independence and marched on to Hantharwaddy. When he got news of the return of king Nanda from Ava after overcoming it, Naresuan returned to Martaban / Mottama, took those living in the east and returned to Ayutthia. War between Thai and Myanmar resumed. Myanmar armies marched to Ayutthia 4 times in AD 1583, 1585, 1586 and 1590 (the Myanmar years 945, 947, 948 and 952). Myanmar crown prince Maha U PaRarzar fell during the elephant duel with king Naresuan in AD 1590 and the Myanmar army returned. There were no more Myanmar excursions to Ayutthia afterwards. Only the repeated Thai forays into Myanmar.

Phitsanulok was also the birthplace of King Naresuan the Great (R. 1590-1605) the legendary King who declared Ayutthaya’s independence from Burma in 1584. King Naresuan is known for his victorious and honorable single-hand combat atop an elephant-back against a Burmese Crown Prince.

Phitsanulok has played a major role in blocking the invasion of Burmese troops. King Naresuan the Great, who ruled the town in a capacity as Crown Prince, mobilized troops from Phitsanulok to fight against the Burmese who then ruled over the Siamese Kingdom, and reclaimed independence in 1584.

In the year of ME 959 / AD 1597, Mawlamyaing governer revolted against Hantharwaddy and the Hantharwaddy army was defeated when they went to crush the rebellion. In that year, Ayutthia king Naresuan / BhyaNarit allied with the Mawlamyaing Mons and marched on to Hantharwaddy. Zinn Mae / Chiang Mai, Pyay and Taungoo came to the aid of Hantharwaddy and Naresuan retreated when he heard of the size of the combined forces. When he reached Mottama / Martaban, he collected all Mons in the east and returned to Ayutthia.

In the same year of ME 959 / AD 1597, son of the king Nanda, the Pyay minn / governer revolted against his father. King Nanda ordered the governers of Taungoo, Nyaung Yann and Zinn Mae / Chiang Mai to send their children, elephants and horses as he did not believe of their allegiance. Taungoo, Nyaung Yann and Zinn Mae / Chiang Mai governers revolted against Hantharwaddy too. During king Nanda’s reign, there was famine as rats destroyed the crops and the people escaped to Taungoo and Zinn Mae / Chiang Mai.

During ME 960 / AD 1598, Toungoo and Rakhine king Minn Razar Gyi allied and attacked Hantharwaddy. In  ME 961 / AD 1599, Hantharwaddy fell and the deposed king Nanda was taken to Toungoo. When Naresuan heard of the fall of Hantharwaddy, he marched to Hantharwaddy but changed to Toungoo as the Toungoo king had returned there. He attacked Toungoo for a month but failed to take it. The Rakhie king who was in Hantharwaddy cut the Ayutthia supplies and the Ayutthia army retreated from lack of food. The areas east and south of Mottama / Martaban came under Ayutthia rule.

Note: The Glass Palace Chronicle mentioned that king Naresuan / BhyaNarit initially came to aid Hantharwaddy. However, Thai historians mentioned that he marched to Hantharwaddy because he was called by the Toungoo and Rakhine kings, but later attacked Toungoo because he was betrayed by them.

The Rakhine king Minn Razar Gyi burnt the gold palace and all large buildings and took all treasures including the Khmer bronze statutes taken from Ayutthia by king Bayintnaung to Mrauk-U. These Khmer brass statutes were later taken to Amarapura when Mrauk-U was conquered by the Crown prince Mahar U-PaRazar, son of the 5th Konebaung king BoTaw PhaYarr of Amarapura and placed at the Mahamuni pagoda.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Somdet Phra Naresuan Maharat (Thai: สมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช) or Somdet Phra Sanphet II (Thai: สมเด็จพระสรรเพชญ์ที่ 2) (1555, 25 April – 1605) was the King of the Ayutthaya kingdom from 1590 until his death in 1605. Naresuan was one of Siam’s most revered monarchs as he was known for his campaigns to free Siam from Burmese rule. During his reign numerous wars were fought against Burma, and Siam reached its greatest territorial extent and influence.

Early life

Prince Naret was born in the city of Phitsanulok on the 25th of April 1555. He was the son of King Maha Thammarachathirat of Phitsanulok and his queen Wisutkasat. His mother was a daughter of Maha Chakkrapat and Queen Sri Suriyothai.

At Pegu

Naret, along with other captive princes from other kingdoms, were educated in martial arts and war strategy of Burmese and Portuguese style. He was later noted for his new tactics that enabled him to gain victory over the Burmese. Naret then found himself under competition with Bayinnuang’s grandson (Nanda Bayin‘s son) Minchit Sra.

In 1569, Bayinnuang was able to take Ayutthaya and installed Maha Thammarachathirat as the King of Ayutthaya. After seven years of captivity, Prince Naret, along with his brother the White Prince, was released to Ayutthaya in exchange for his sister Supankanlaya as Bayinnuang’s concubine.

King of Sukhothai

Maha Thammarachathirat made Naret the Uparaja and King of Phitsanulok as

Reign as King of Ayutthaya

King Naresuan made his brother the White Prince the Uparaja with equal honor as Naresuan himself. In 1590, Minchit Sra marched into Siam through Chedi Sam Ong. Instead of taking defensives at Ayutthaya, Naresuan chose to march to Chedi Sam Ong. Minchit Sra, thinking that the Siamese would stay at Ayutthaya for defensive, marched unprepared. The Burmese were persuaded into a field and ambushed by Naresuan’s armies. With his armies scatttered, Minchit Sra retreated back to Pegu.

In 1592, Nanda Bayin ordered his son to attack Ayutthaya again. Minchit Sra, along with the Lord of Pyay, Natshinnaung the son of the Lord of Toungoo, and the Burmese King of Lanna, led the Burmese into Siam. Minchit Sra himself went through Chedi Sam Ong peacefully and reached Suphanburi, while other came from the north. Naresuan was planning to conquer Cambodia, but then he had to change his intentions. Naresuan encamped his armies at Nong Sarai. The Burmese then arrived, leading to the Battle of Nong Sarai.

During the battle, the elephants of Naresuan and Ekathotsarot went mad and ran into the midst of the Burmese. Siamese Chronicles stated that there were fake Minchit Sras but Naresuan pointed out the real one from the honorary decorations. Naresuan then urged Minchit Sra to fight with him:

My brother, why do you hide yourself in the canopy shadows? Let us fight the elephant battle for our own honors. No future kings will do what we are going to do.

The personal battle between Naresuan and Minchit Sra was a highly-romanticized historical scene known as Yuttahadhi, the Elephant battle. After narrowly missing Naresuan and cutting his hat (on display in Bangkok) Minchit Sra was slashed to death on the back of his elephant. This was on Monday, the 2nd waning day of the 2nd month of the Buddhist calendar Chulasakarat Era year 954. Calculated to correspond to Monday, 18 January, AD 1593 of the Gregorian calendar, this date is now observed as Royal Thai Armed Forces day. Naresuan then built a pagoda on the site of Yutthahadhi as a victory monument. However, modern historians are still unable to locate the pagoda.

Naresuan intended to execute all the soldiers in the battle of Nong Sarai who had provided no support to him and his brother. Somdet Phra Wannarat – a bhikkhu – calmed Naresuan to get him to lift the punishment. Naresuan then instead ordered them to take Tavoy and Tenasserim.

Tavoy and Tenasserim

In 1593, Naresuan sent Siamese forces to lay siege on Tavoy – a Mon city – by the Minister of Kromma Tha and Tenasserim and Mergui by the Samuha Kalahom , all quickly fell. Nanda Bayin launched Burmese fleets to recapture the cities. The Samuha Kalahom then seized the galleons at Mergui to construct a fleet and sailed and marched his armies on land to counter Burmese attack from Martaban. The Siamese were then able to repel the Burmese.

Capture of Lovek

After Yuttahadhi, Naresuan then launched his campaigns to subjugate Cambodia. He sent four armies to capture Champasak, Banteymas (modern Ha Tien in Vietnam), Siem Reap, and Naresuan himself Battambang – all to be joined at Lovek. In 1594, they all reached Lovek and looted Lovek to the grounds. King Borommaracha V fled to Vientiene. Naresuan took Borommaracha’s brother Sri Suriyopor as captive and took his daughter as his concubine.

Naresuan left a Siamese army at Oudong to oversee Cambodia, only to be driven out by Rama Chungprey in 1595.

Capture of Martaban

As Burmese control over the tributaries had weakened, the Mons took this opportunity to free themselves. The Mon governor of Moulmein rebelled against Pegu and requested Siamese support. Naresuan sent troops to take the Mon city of Martaban that sided with Pegu. Nanda Bayin sent the Lord of Toungoo to Martaban but was repelled and retreated. Capture of Martaban exerted Siamese control over the Mon state.[2]

Invasion of Pegu

King Naresuan entered Hanthawadi (now Pegu), mural painting by Phraya Anusatchitrakon, Wat Suwandararam, Ayutthaya.

Naresuan eventually marched his troops to Pegu in 1595. He laid siege on the city for three months but was unable to enter. The huge forces of the Lords of Pyay, Toungoo, and Ava then arrived to free Pegu. Naresuan decided to retreat.

The Lord of Pyay staged a rebellion against Nanda Bayin in 1595, followed by Toungoo, Rakhine, Lanna, and Lan Xang. King Nokeo of Lan Xang prepared to march through Lanna to Pegu to rescue the Laotian captives. Noratra Mangsosri of Lanna (Nanda Bayin’s brother) then put his kingdom under Siamese tributary to get Ayutthayan supports. Naresuan sent Siamese forces to prevent Laotian forces from entering Lanna.

After the series of upheavals in the Burmese Empire, Naresuan decided to invade Pegu again in 1599. Naresuan allied himself with Rakhine. However, the Lord of Toungoo feared that if Naresuan had taken Pegu the Siamese power would have been too large and might engulf Toungoo itself. So, the Lord of Toungoo encouraged the Mons to rebel against Siam. Naresuan then had to subjugate the Mon rebellions.

Toungoo finally took Pegu the same year with the help of Rakhine. Toungoo took Nanda Bayin and left for Toungoo. When Naresuan reached Pegu, what he found was only the city ruins. He requested Toungoo to sent Nanda Bayin back to him but Toungoo refused.

Invasion of Toungoo and Lanna

Naresuan laid the siege on Toungoo but readily failed. Naresuan then went back. He sent his brother Ekathotsarot to calm Lanna inner conflicts.

As in 1600, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya reached the greatest extend.


Anaukpetlun crowned himself as the King of Ava to counter Toungoo and went on his campaigns to subjugate the Shans. However, the Shan King of Hsenwi was Naresuan’s childhood friend. So, he marched armies to rescue Hsenwi. During his journey, however, Naresuan died in 1605.

Recent studies of Burmese records by historians of Silpakorn University showed that he returned to Wiang Haeng, where he died of disease, probably smallpox.

His brother King Ekathotsarot became his successor as king.

According to the Shan, King Naresuan helped them win independence for the Shan State in 1600 with his ally, the Prince of Hsenwi. Both had been hostages at the Burmese court, and King Naresuan died while rushing to the aid of a friend of his youth, they say.

Many Shan believe King Naresuan was cremated and his ashes interred in a stupa in Mongton, in the southern part of the Shan State.


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One Response to “Naresuan / BhyaNarit”

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