Burmese–Siamese War (1548)

Burmese–Siamese War (1548)
Siamese defensive victory
First Siege of Ayutthaya
Siam defeats first Burmese invasion

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabinshwehti
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese%E2%80%93Siamese_War_%281548%29

The Burmese–Siamese War (1548) (Burmese: ယိုးဒယား-မြန်မာစစ် (၁၅၄၈); Thai: สงครามพม่า-สยาม พ.ศ. 2091 or สงครามพระเจ้าตะเบ็งชเวตี้, lit. “Tabinshwehti’s war”) was the first war fought between the Toungoo Dynasty of Burma and the Ayutthaya Kingdom of Siam, and the first of the Burmese–Siamese wars that would continue until the middle of the 19th century. The war is notable for the introduction of early modern warfare to the region. It is also notable in Thai history for the death in battle of Siamese Queen Suriyothai on her war elephant; the conflict is often referred to in Thailand as the War that Led to the Loss of Queen Suriyothai (สงครามคราวเสียสมเด็จพระสุริโยไท).
While Tabinshwehti was campaigning in Arakan, Ayutthaya had sent raiding parties against Tavoy in Tenasserim. Tabinshwehti ordered the lord of Martaban to regain Tenasserim.
According to Burmese chronicles a small Siamese force first attacked the Tavoy frontier. Tabinshwehti demanded reparations for this incursion, when the Siamese refused, the war between the Siam and the Burma began. Tabinshwehti soon took personal command and gathered his forces at Martaban.
Upon Maha Chakkrapat’s ascension, Tabinshweti marched to Ayutthaya taking the opportunity of the upheavals in Ayutthayan politics to capture the Siamese kingdom.
and in 1548 Tabinshwehti himself (and his deputy Bayinnaung) led a large invasion force over the Three Pagodas Pass Route to attack Ayutthaya.
The invasion force would have been equipped with the conventional weapons of the day: swords, bow and arrows and spears. The more elite members would also carry matchlocks or muskets. These early modern weapons having been introduced to the two kingdoms by the Portuguese sometime earlier. Also, Diogo Soares de Mello, a Portuguese commanding a force of five captains and 180 professional mercenaries, was in Tabinshwehti’s service. On top of this, the king also had a corps of Portuguese guards, numbering 400, whose morions and arquebuses were inlaid with gold. For the king they provided personal protection as well as expertise on artillery.
The invasion army was organized into three main armies: the vanguard led by Bayinnaung, the main army led by Tabinshwehti and the rear guard led by Thado Dhammayaza of Prome, each with a strength of 4000 men, 800 horses and 20 elephants.
In January, Tabinshwehti with his army began their invasion of Siam. Tabinshwehti invaded through a southern route, from Martaban along the Ataran river, over high ground toward the Three Pagodas Pass, and onto Siamese territory. The army then marched along the Khwae Noi River to the town of Sai Yok, then overland towards the Khwae Yai River; from there the army travelled by boat toward the town of Kanchanaburi. Tabinshwehti travelled in great state with a massive retinue of elephants and servants. Many of these elephants carried jingals and bronze cannon; these were kept close to the king. Royal elephants were rafted across rivers, while the ordinary war elephants marched upstream to a ford. The Burmese king was accompanied by his crown prince Bayinnaung, Bayinnaung’s thirteen-year-old son Nanda, and many richly attired lords. Hundreds of workmen marched ahead of the king’s retinue, to pitch a richly decorated wooden camp, painted and gilded for the King’s use, only to pack it up and pitch it at a new location every day.
The invasion initially met little resistance, as the Burmese force was too large for the small guard posts around the border. Upon hearing of the Burmese invasion, Maha Chakkraphat mobilized his kingdom, then gathered his forces at Suphanburi, a town just west of Ayutthaya. When Tabinshwehti and his army arrived at the walled town of Kanchanaburi, they found it completely deserted. The King of Burma then continued his march eastward, capturing the villages of Ban Thuan, Kaphan Tru and Chorakhe Sam Phan. Tabinshwehti divided his army into three columns, the first commanded by Bayinnaung, the second by the Viceroy of Prome and the third by Yong, the Governor of Bassein. The Burmese continued their advance and captured the ancient town of Uthong as well as the villages of Don Rakhang and Nong Sarai and closing in on Suphanburi. When the Burmese attacked the town, Siamese defenders could not withstand the onslaught and retreated towards Ayutthaya. Tabinshwehti ordered his army southeast along two canals, and crossed the Chao Phraya river near Phong Phaeng. From here he encamped his army directly north of the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya on a field called the Lumpli plain.
In February, Maha Chakkraphat decided to leave the capital with his forces, to engage Tabinshwehti and test the Burmese strength. On this occasion, he mounted his chief war elephant. Accompanying him were his Chief Queen, Sri Suriyothai, and one of their young daughters, Princess Boromdhilok, the two riding together on a smaller war elephant. Both royal ladies were dressed in male military attire (helmet and armour), with the queen wearing the uniform of an Uparaja. Also accompanying their father on elephant mounts were two sons, the Uparaja and heir apparent, Prince Ramesuan, and his brother Prince Mahin.
The Siamese army under Maha Chakkraphat soon met the advance column commanded by the Viceroy of Prome, and the two armies engaged in battle at Pukaothong field. The commanders of the two forces engaged in single elephant-combat (Yuttahadhi), as was the custom of the time. But Maha Chakkraphat’s elephant panicked and gave flight, charging away from the enemy; the Viceroy swiftly give chase. Fearing for the life her husband, Queen Sri Suriyothai charged ahead to put her elephant between the King and the Viceroy, thereby blocking his pursuit. The Viceroy then engaged the Queen in single combat, fatally cleaving her from shoulder to heart with his spear, also wounding her daughter—both mother and child met their deaths on the back of the same elephant. It was said that the Viceroy did not know he was fighting a woman until his blow struck—as she fell dying her helmet came off, exposing her long hair.
Prince Ramesuan and Prince Mahin then urged their elephants forward to fight the Viceroy, drove him and his remaining forces from the field, then carried the bodies of their mother and sister back to Ayutthaya. The Siamese king meanwhile rallied his army, and retreated in good order back towards the capital.
Attack on Ayutthaya
Tabinshwehti readied his army for a siege of the Siamese capital at the beginning of March. Tabinshwehti made his camp north of the city, with his headquarters at Klum Dong, and had his commanders encamp in strategic places surrounding the city walls, Bayinnaung at Phaniat, the Viceroy at Ban Mai Makham, and the Governor of Bassein at the plain of Prachet. The Burmese would not, however, take the Siamese capital so easily.
Ayutthaya sat on an island surrounded by three rivers—the Lopburi River to the north, the Chao Phraya River to the west and south, and the Pa Sak River to the east, forming a formidable natural moat. The Chao Phraya basin where Ayutthaya is situated was low and prone to flooding—especially intense during the rainy season when torrential waters flowed in great quantity from the north along the Lopburi River. This flood would begin approximately in July and end somewhere between October and November, giving Tabinshwehti only five months to capture Ayutthaya—otherwise his camp grounds and supply routes would be flooded. There was also the possibility that the flood could trap his forces. The low, swampy area around the city was laced with numerous canals thronging with gun boats armed with cannon to repulse any attempt at an attack on the city. Also, the Burmese had only small cannon that they had brought with them, while the Siamese had large cannon mounted along the city walls. The Burmese had the city surrounded, but without the ability to cross the rivers or breach the city walls with cannonfire, were left to camp around it instead, while the interconnected waterways to the north and south made it fairly easy to resupply the defenders in the city. Fifty Portuguese mercenaries, who had elected Galeote Pereira as their captain, defended the weakest part of the city wall for Maha Chakkraphat. Unable to take the city conventionally, Tabinshwehti offered bribes to these defenders. The Portuguese reacted with derision, and refused. When a Siamese commander heard of this, he swung open the gates of the city and dared the Burmese King to bring the money—a dare that was ignored.
The Siamese then put Narai Sangharn – a culverin on a barge and sailed along the Chao Phraya to fire the Burmese armies.
Maha Chakkraphat, being unable to repel the Burmese, sent a message to his son-in-law Maha Thammaracha at Phitsanulok, ordering his vassal to come to his aid by bringing an army southwards towards Ayutthaya and if possible to engage the enemy in battle. Thammaracha quickly mobilized his forces and with the help of the Governor of Sawankhalok, marched southward with a large army to attack the Burmese rear. Upon hearing of this and on the advice of Bayinnaung; Tabinshwehti decided to withdraw, abandoning the mission altogether. His decision was compounded by news from Burma that the Mons, who had never been entirely subjugated by the Taungoo dynasty, rebelled in the absence of the king. Other factors included the scarcity of supplies and sickness in his army, which was not prepared for a long siege. Only one month into the siege (around April), Tabinshwehti withdrew his forces towards the border.

Retreat
Tabinshwehti wanted to retreat back through the Three Pagodas Pass, along the same route he has taken for the invasion. This proved difficult as food and supplies in the land were scarce, so he went north by the way of the Mae Lamao pass (in modern day Mae Sot, Tak). As they withdrew, the Burmese tried to plunder the ancient and wealthy town of Kamphaeng Phet, but the town was too well fortified. With the help of more Portuguese mercenaries, the Governor repelled the Burmese with flaming projectiles that forced the Burmese to cease using their cannons and protect them with coverings of damp hides.
Maha Chakkraphat saw the Burmese army’s retreat as an opportunity take advantage of their weakness, so he ordered Princes Ramesuan and Thammaracha to follow and harass the enemy out of Siamese territory. For three days, the Siamese chased Tabinshwehti and his forces, inflicting great losses upon them. Once the forces of Ramesuan and Thammaracha closed in, Tabinshwehti elected to stand ground and ambush them near Kamphaeng Phet, dividing his forces on both sides of the road. The Siamese in their eagerness fell into the trap. The Burmese captured both Prince Ramesuan and Maha Thammaracha as prisoners of war.
The capture of his heir and his son-in-law forced Maha Chakkraphat to negotiate with Tabinshwehti. The Siamese at once sent emissaries bearing gifts, offering a peaceful retreat in return for the two princes. In exchange Maha Chakkraphat was forced to hand over to Tabinshwehti two prized male war elephants called Sri Mongkol (ศรีมงคล) and Mongkol Thawip (มงคลทวีป). Once the elephants were handed over, the Burmese army retreated in peace. In addition to the two princes, Tabinshwehti also released many other prisoners he had captured during the campaign. All in all, the campaign from beginning to end lasted five months.
The war of 1548 was the first Burmese invasion into Siamese territory, the first of many that would last well into the early 19th century. It was also the first time the city of Ayutthaya was actually attacked by a foreign enemy.
The war led to the strengthening of Ayutthaya’s defences, such as stronger walls and forts. A census of all able-bodied men was taken, as well as a massive hunt for wild elephants for use in future wars. The size of the navy was also increased.
The Siamese success at repelling the Burmese would not be repeated. This first ever invasion gave the Burmese an important experience on fighting with Siamese. The next invasion would be conducted by Bayinnaung, a man accustomed to fighting against Siamese soldiers and familiar with marching through Siamese terrain. The unrest in Burma delayed that next invasion for fifteen years, until the War of 1563 or the War of the White Elephants.

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