Nanmadaw Me Nu နန္းမေတာ္ မယ္ႏု, Sagaing Min စစ္ကိုင္းမင္း / ဘၾကီးေတာ္ Bagyitaw, and the First Anglo Burmese War

I began this blog as about Nanmadaw Me Nu နန္းမေတာ္ မယ္ႏု alone, a queen who was not of royal birth but became chief queen of the Bagyitaw / Sagaing king စစ္ကိုင္းမင္း. She and her brother Lord of Salin Maung O စလင္းစားေမာင္အို were the true powers in the court of Ava during the later years of the reign of the Sagaing king. However, as the First Anglo Burmese War and the life of the Sagaing Min cannot be left out and just a short mention about them would make it incomplete, I have included more about them and also about the crown prince Tharawaddy သာယာ၀တီမင္းသား who later revolted and dethroned his elder brother the king Sagaing and ascended the throne himself_ in order that readers will not have to refer elsewhere to understand the complex situation in Myanmar at the time.

I wish to thank Maung Kyaw Shin ေမာင္ေက်ာ္ရွင္း (the late U Kyaw Shin), who’s book Withayta NaeMyae ၀ိေသသနယ္ေျမ inspired me to begin this blog and from which I obtained much data to begin with, and also to various sources on the internet, especially the Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica which I enriched my blog. However, I find differences between Maung Kyawt Shin (who had researched extensively from Myanmar sources and the others on the internet_ the year an episode occured and whether Prince Tharawaddy was or not a crown prince, for example_ I put my faith on Maung Kyawt Shin as he quoted from the original Myanmar sources whereas, in my view, the internet versions are written by non-Burmese, from second hand sources_ translated or verbal data of modern Burmese historians.

Nanmadaw Me Nu  နန္းမေတာ္ မယ္ႏု; 18 June 1783 (၁၁၄၆ 1784/85) – 12 May 1840 (၁၂၀၂ 1840/41)  was one of the few strong Queens in Myanmar history and she was the main character in Myanmar government of the time and the First Anglo Burmese War. She was born a commoner but rose to fame or notoriety. Nanmataw Me Nu was mother of Queen (Hsinbyumashin ဆင္ျဖဴမရွင္ မိဖုရား) of King Mindon မင္းတုန္းမင္း who herself was mother of Burma’s last queen Supayalat စုဖုရားလတ္. The female lineage of Nanmataw Me Nu, Hsinphyumashin and Supayalat in the male dominnated Burmese monarchy is a very intersting one regarding the end of Independence and the monarchy.

She was the chief queen of King Bagyidaw ဘၾကီးေတာ္မင္း / Sagaing Min စစ္ကိုင္းမင္း of Konbaung dynasty of Burma from 1819 to 1837. Married to Prince of Sagaing (as king Bagyidaw / Sagaing Min was then) in 1801, Me Nu became Chief queen (when Bagyidaw ascended the throne on 5 June 1819), with the title Namadaw Mibaya Khaunggyi (Chief Queen of the Royal Palace) and also known as Taung Nann San Miphayargyi ေတာင္နန္းစံမိဖုရားၾကီး (Queen of the South palace_south palace is the palace of chief queens).

Born (သကၠရာဖ္ ၁၁၄၆ 1784/85) at Phalankhone village ဖလံခံုရြာ 5 miles northwest of present day town of Khin Oo ခင္ဦး, she was named Shin Min Nu ရွင္မင္းႏု and she was great grand daughter of the hero Bala Thaman ဗလသမန္း who was posted to the Phalankhone village fort ဖလံခံုရြာ တပ္စခန္း during the reign of king Maharajadipadi မဟာရာဇာဓိပတိမင္း of Nyaungyan dynasty ေညာင္ရမ္းေခာတ္ to guard against the danger of Manipuris မဏိပူရ ကသည္း

The third daughter of Bala Thaman was Thakhin Mun သခင္မြန္. Her son was Htaung Thinn Hmu Thiha Kyawswar ေထာင္သင္းမွူး သီဟေက်ာ္စြာ.  (name U Hlote ဦးလႈပ္). Shin Min Nu was born of Thiha Kyawswar U Hlote and his wife Daw Nge ေဒၚငယ္

King Bodawpaya ဘိုးေတာ္ ဘုရား / Badon Min  ပဒံုမင္း also known as Bodaw U Waing ဘိုးေတာ္ ဦး၀ိုင္း made his eldest son Thado Minsaw crown prince on သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၄၅ ခု၊ ဒုတိယ၀ါဆို လဆန္း ၁၂ ရက္ေန႔ 1783 Jun / Jul with the title of Thiri Maha Dhammar Bizaya Thiha Thura သီရိမဟာဓမၼာဘိဇယသီဟသူရ  and gave him the Depeyin  cavalry ဒီပဲရင္းျမင္းစု.

The Phalankhone village squire ywar sarr Thway Thauk MyinSi ရြာစားေသြးေသာက္ျမင္းစီး (cavalry  trooper) Thiha Kyawswar U Hlote of the Depeyin cavalry was transferred from Phalankhone village to serve at the Amarapura Naypyitaw အမရပူရ ေနျပည္ေတာ္ capital. He went there with his wife, son, daughter, uncle, aunt etc. Before the two months is up after reaching the Amarapura Naypyitaw, on the day of သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၄၆ ခု၊ ၀ါဆို လျပည့္ေက်ာ္ ၅ ရက္၊ အဂၤါေန႔ နံနက္ပိုင္း 1784 Jun / Jul, Shin Min Nu was born of U Hlote’s wife Daw Nge.

When Shin Min Nu was about 7 – 8 years age, she learned the basic teachings of သင္ပုန္းၾကီး၊ မဂၤလသုတ္၊ အတြင္းေအာင္ျခင္း၊ အျပင္ေအာင္ျခင္း၊ ရတနာေရႊခ်ိဳင့္၊ နမကၠာရ၊ ေလာကနီတိ၊ ပရိတ္ၾကီး၊ ဆုမၼစာ၊ ဇာတ္ေတာ္ၾကီး ဆယ္ဘြဲ႔ စေသာ အေျခခံ စာမ်ား  from her younger brother Maung O ေမာင္အို as girls were not allowed to attend the monastery schools which were the only schools at the time.

When she was 12 years age and her father became Htaung Thinn Hmu she was selected to become a maid at the South Palace. Sagaing prince Maung Shwe Zin (Maung Maung Sein), born 23 July 1784, fell in love with the South Palace maid Mae Nu. However, marriage between them was impossible. Badon Min / King Badon bethroted his grandson Sagaing prince to Hsinphyushinmae princess ဆင္ျဖဴရွင္မယ္ မင္းသမီး

King Bagyidaw (Burmese: ဘၾကီးေတာ္; also known as Sagaing Min စစ္ကိုင္းမင္း ; 23 July 1784 – 15 October 1846) was the seventh king of Konbaung dynasty of Burma from 1819 until his abdication in 1837. He was born 23 July 1784 and his parents were king  Bodawpaya and Min Kye, Princess of Taungdwin. Prince of Sagaing, as he was commonly known in his day, was selected as crown prince by his grandfather King Bodawpaya in 1808, and became king in 1819 after Bodawpaya’s death. Bagyidaw moved the capital from Amarapura back to Ava in 1823.

In 1812, his first wife Princess Hsinbyume died of childbirth in Mingun. He took on five more wives as crown prince (of the eventual number of 23 queens). His third and later chief queen was Nanmadaw Me Nu

 

On 9 February 1803, the 18-year-old prince married 14-year-old Princess Hsinbyume, a granddaughter of Bodawpaya

On သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၇၀ ျပည့္ႏွစ္၊ တန္ခူးလဆန္း ၁၄ ရက္ေန႔  April 1808, the crown prince Thado Minsaw died at age 45. His son and grandson of King Bodawpaya, the Sagaing prince became the crown prince Nine days later. The prince was also allowed to inherit his father’s fiefs of Dabayin / Depeyin and Shwedaung.

His elevation to crown prince also brought his royal servants, including Maung Yit (later Gen. Maha Bandula) of Dabayin and Maung Sa (later Lord of Myawaddy) of Sagaing to prominence. Myawaddy became his longtime adviser and personal secretary (atwinwn) until his abdication in 1837. He promoted Maung Yit to governor of Ahlon-Monywa.

At သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၇၄ ခု၊ သိတင္းကြ်တ္လျပည့္ေက်ာ္ ၇ ရက္ေန႔ 1812 October, Hsinphyushinmae princess died seven days after the birth of her first son who would later be known as Setkyar Min Thar စၾကာမင္းသား / Nyaungyan prince ေညာင္ရမ္းမင္းသား  Before long, Shin Min Nu became the crown princess and for this she faced severe criticism and opposition by the royalty.

Nanmataw Me Nu while being a crown princess had a daughter who died soon after birth and a son, Prince of Palaing, who died young at age of six (some say_ ten).

On 5 June 1819, Sagaing ascended the throne after the death of the king Badon. Shin Min Nu became the Taung Nann San Agga Mahaythi Miphayagaunggyi ေတာင္နန္းစံ အဂၢမေဟသီ မိဖုရားေခါင္ၾကီး (Chief Queen of the south palace) and came to be known as Nanmataw Me Nu နန္းမေတာ္ မယ္ႏု

King Badon had 61 daughters, 106 grand daughters. His son, the first crown prince Thado Minsaw had 26 daughters. There were many daughters of other kings, princes, princesses, Sawbwas / Saophas, Lords, Governors more suitable to become Taung Nann San Agga Mahaythi. Therefore Shin Min Nu was disliked and critized by the court.

However, King Sagaing and Nanmataw Me Nu were inseparable. Nanmataw Me Nu sat beside the king on the throne during ceremonies and the palanquin of the queen went beside that of the king on their outings. Thus they were referred to as the Two Royals / Shin Hna-parr ရွင္ႏွစ္ပါး rather than the King and Queen ရွင္ဘုရင္ႏွင့္ မိဖုရား as was the court etiquette previously.

Prince of Sagaing was fond of shows, theater, elephant catching and boat racing and so was his younger brother Prince Tharrawaddy. When his elder brother Bagyidaw ascended the throne in 1819, Tharrawaddy was appointed crown prince.

On သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၈၃ ခု၊ တန္ေဆာင္မုန္းလျပည့္ေက်ာ္ ၁၃ ရက္ေန႔ 1821 November, Nanmataw Me Nu gave birth to a daughter. She was later well known as Hsinphyumashin Me Thae ဆင္ျဖဴမရွင္ မိသဲ, Queen (Hsinbyumashin ဆင္ျဖဴမရွင္ မိဖုရား) of King Mindon မင္းတုန္းမင္း and mother of Burma’s last queen Supayalat စုဖုရားလတ္. The princess was given Sagaing, Depeyin, Momeik, Pakhangyi, Sint Kuu, Ingapu, Myehte, Padaung and Kyankhin towns in addition to many jewelry.

– bodawpaya’s grandson, king bagyidaw moved the court back to ava in november 1821 (http://www.wordaz.com/bagyidaw.html)

 

Both brothers Sagaing king and prince Tharrawaddy like to live peacefully and Bagyidaw was an ineffectual king. This led to Nanmataw Me Nu and her brother Maung O, Lord of Salin စလင္းစား to take control of governing the country. However, they are not qualified for such a role and they gave their relatives from Depeyin important posts of ေျမာက္ဘက္၀န္ၾကီးခ်ဳပ္ Prime minister of the North, ေျမာက္ဘက္ျမင္း၀န္ Horse retainer of the North and ေတာင္ဘက္္ျမင္း၀န္ Horse retainer of the South. They offered the titles of ရာဇာဓိရာဇဂုရု Razadi Raza Guru and ရာဇဂုရု Raza Guru to the monks of their Phalankhone village and the villages of WaThe ၀သဲ, YwaThitKyee ရြာသစ္ၾကီး and TuMauung တူေမာင္း around it. In this way Nanmataw Me Nu and her brother Lord of Salin’s power grew slowly and the power of Sagaing king and prince Tharrawaddy waned.

_ Maung O is Shin Min Nu’s half brother, born of Thiha Kyawswar U Hlote’s first marriage. He became Lord of Salin in ၁၁၈၁ ႏွစ္ 1819 A.D. soon after Sagaing ascended the throne. He was awarded the titles of Thadoe Minhla Kyawhtin သတိုးမင္းလွက်ာ္ထင္ first and secondly Thadoe Dhammayarzar သတိုးဓမၼရာဇာ. During the First Anglo Burmese war he defended as Bohmu ဗိုလ္မႈး with over 100 armed men from Salin.

 

 

Bagyidaw inherited the largest Burmese empire, second only to King Bayinnaung‘s, but also one that shared ill-defined borders with British India. The British, disturbed by the Burmese control of Manipur and Assam which threatened their own influence on the eastern borders of British India, supported rebellions in the region

The first to test Bagyidaw’s rule was the Raja of Manipur, who was put on the Manipuri throne only six years earlier by the Burmese. Raja Marjit Singh failed to attend Bagyidaw’s coronation ceremony, or send an embassy bearing tributes, as all vassal kings had an obligation to do. In October 1819, Bagyidaw sent an expeditionary force of 25000 soldiers and 3000 cavalry led by his favorite general Maha Bandula to reclaim Manipur.[12] Bandula reconquered Manipur but the raja escaped to neighboring Cachar, which was ruled by his brother Chourjit Singh.[13] The Singh brothers continued to raid Manipur using their bases from Cachar and Jaintia, which had been declared as British protectorates.

In the years leading to the war, the king had been forced to suppress British supported rebellions in his grandfather’s western acquisitions (Arakan, Manipur and Assam), but unable to stem cross border raids from British territories and protectorates.

His ill-advised decision to allow the Burmese army to pursue the rebels along the vaguely defined borders led to the war.

The instabilities spread to Assam in 1821, when the Ahom king of Assam, Chandrakanta Singha tried to shake off Burmese influence. He hired mercenaries from Bengal and began to strengthen the army. He also began to construct fortification to prevent further Burmese invasion.[14] Bagyidaw again turned to Bandula. It took Bandula’s 20,000 strong army about a year a half, until July 1822, to finish off the Assamese army. Bagyidaw now scrapped the six century old Assamese monarchy and made Assam a province under a military governor-general. This differs with the Assamese versions of history where it is written that Bagyidaw installed Jogeshwar Singha, a brother of Hemo Aideo, the Ahom princess who was married to Bodawpaya as the new Ahom king of Assam and a military governor-general was appointed to look after the administration.[15][16] The defeated Assamese king fled to British territory of Bengal. The British ignored Burmese demands to surrender the fugitive king, and instead sent reinforcement units to frontier forts.[17] Despite their success in the open battlefield, the Burmese continued to have trouble with cross border raids by rebels from British protectorates of Cachar and Jaintia into Manipur and Assam, and those from British Bengal into Arakan.

At Bagyidaw’s court, the war party which included Gen. Bandula, Queen Me Nu and her brother, the lord of Salin made the case to Bagyidaw that a decisive victory could allow Ava to consolidate its gains in its new western empire in Arakan, Manipur, Assam, Cachar and Jaintia, as well as take over eastern Bengal.[18] In January 1824, Bandula allowed one of his top lieutenants Maha Uzana into Cachar and Jaintia to chase away the rebels. The British sent in their own force to meet the Burmese in Cachar, resulting in the first clashes between the two. The war formally broke out on 5 March 1824, following border clashes in Arakan.

During သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၈၅ ခု 1823 Apr – 24 Apr there was dispute between the English and Burmese regarding the possession of the Shinmaphyu island at the mouth of the Nat / Naf river. This leads to the First Anglo Burmese War.

Nanmadaw Me Nu selected Maha Bandoola as Commander in Chief of the Burmese Army. Maha Bandoola is close to the royals and had vowed to die if he cannot win for the country and king. Prince Tharawaddy did was not enthusiastic about the Anglo Burmese war. However, king Sagaing relied on his younger brother.

Bagyidaw’s reign saw the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826), which marked the beginning of the decline of the Konbaung dynasty. It is also the longest and most expensive war in British Indian history ended decisively in British favor, and the Burmese had to accept British terms without discussion. Bagyidaw was forced to cede all of his grandfather’s western acquisitions, and Tenasserim to the British, and pay a large indemnity of one million pounds sterling, leaving the country crippled for years.

First Anglo-Burmese War

In the beginning of the war, battle hardened Burmese forces, who were more familiar with the terrain which represented “a formidable obstacle to the march of a European force”, were able to push back better armed British forces made up of European and Indian soldiers. By May, Uzana’s forces had overrun Cachar and Jaintia, and Lord of Myawaddy‘s forces had defeated the British inside Bengal, causing a great panic in Calcutta.

1824. In May, Burmese forces led by U Sa, Lord Myawaddy (about 4,000) fought their way into Bengal, and defeated British troops at the Battle of Ramu, 10 miles east of Cox’s Bazar on 17 May 1824. Sa’s column then joined Bandula’s column on the march to defeat British forces at Gadawpalin, and went on to capture Cox’s Bazar. The Burmese success caused extreme panic in Chittagong and in Calcutta. Across the eastern Bengal, the European inhabitants formed themselves into militia forces. And a large portion of the crews of East India Company’s ships were landed to assist in the defence of Calcutta.

But Bandula, not wanting to overstretch, stopped U Sa from proceeding to Chittagong. Had Bandula marched on to Chittagong, which unbeknown to him was lightly held, he could have taken it and the way to Calcutta would have been open.(The Burmese, because of the disparity in arms, could not have won the war in any case. But had they been able to threaten Calcutta, the Burmese could have obtained more favourable terms in the peace negotiations later on.)

Instead of fighting in harsh terrain, the British took the fight to the Burmese mainland. On 11 May 1824 သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၈၆ခု၊ ကဆုန္လဆန္း ၁၄ ရက္ေန႔, a British naval force of over 10,000 men, led by Archibald Campbell entered the port city of Yangon, taking the Burmese by surprise.

Sagaing Min sent the ministers Thadoe Mingyi Maha Minkhaung သတိုးမင္းၾကီးမဟာမင္းေခါင္ and Thadoe Maha Thaynarpati သတိုးမဟာေသနာပတိ with over 10,000 armed personnel to retake Yangon but failed. Then Sagaing Min sent his brother the crown prince, prince Tharawaddy as commander ဗိုလ္မွဴး with fully armed army from Naypyitaw (Ava) to Danuphyu ဓႏုျဖဴ on ၁၁၈၆ခု၊ ၀ါဆို္လဆန္း ၁၅ ရက္ေန႔ June 1984. He also ordered the Toungoo prince ေတာင္ငူမင္းသား to march to Toungoo with a full army.

Sagaing Min gave his brother prince Tharawaddy the following orders:

To attack and take all English အဂၤလိပ္ ကုလား who have entered and are in Yangon. Ministers Thadoe Mingyi Maha Minkhaung and Thadoe Maha Thaynarpati have been given the posts of commanding officer ဗိုလ္မွဴး and general ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ with the forces along the river to do this but had not done with utmost diligence and it is still undone.

Tharawady prince Maha Thiri Thiha Thura Dhamma Raja  မဟာသီရိသီဟသူရဓမၼရာဇာ was made commanding officer ဗိုလ္မွဴး and general ဗိုလ္ခ်ဳပ္ given an armed force and ordered to march to, take Yangon and present after establishing a command structure. In accordance with the order, Tharawady prince’s army departed Ava ၁၁၈၆ခု၊ ၀ါဆို္လဆန္း ၁၅ ရက္ေန႔ June 1984 for Dhanuphyu and stationed there.

Tharawady prince did not want to march to lower Myanmar ေအာက္ျပည္ေအာက္ရြာ to wage war but had to obey the king’s orders.  Tharawady prince was not in good terms with Nanmataw Me Nu and her brother for some time and was dissatisfied with his elder brother the king.

Tharawady prince at first stationed his army at Dhanuphyu. Later he moved his command to Tharawaddy and commanded from there. He sent Thadoe Mingyi Maha Minkhaung သတိုးမင္းၾကီးမဟာမင္းေခါင္, minister ၀န္ၾကီး Thadoe Maha Thaynarpati သတိုးမဟာေသနာပတိ,  Sarrtaw-wun စားေတာ္္၀န္ Minhla Khaung မင္းလွေခါင္,  Lord of Zwe Thapon ဇြဲသူပုန္ျမိဳ႕စား Maha Zeya မဟာေဇယ် in 3 routes to attack the English in Yangon but failed.

King Sagaing then recalled Maha Bandoola from Dhanyawaddy ဓည၀တီ and on ၁၁၈၆ခု၊ တန္ေဆာင္မုန္းလဆန္း ၅ ရက္ေန႔ November 1824 sent via Hantharwaddy ဟံသာ၀တီေၾကာင္း to take Yangon. Maha Bandoola could not take Yangon and retreated to Dhanuphyu and fell there from cannon fire during heated battle while he was walking on the rampart to encourage his troops while commanding them.

Without Maha Bandoola, Myanmar forces were in disarray. Prince Tharawaddy who was in overall command did not collect the defeated forces nor lead the attacks. He lived playfully, taking / taw kauk ေတာ္ေကာက္ beautiful girls where-ever he got to. He retreated to Minbu giving illness as excuse. He was interested in armstice only.

It has been written in American missionary ေမာ္လကြန္း Mawlakun’s book “2 years in Ava” that _ Tharawaddy prince leads the opposition in the palace. During the war with the English, the commander in chief did not lead his army in battle. This differes with the founder of the dynasty king AlaungMintayar အေလာင္းမင္းတရား who leads the army in battle.

The basic cause is the bad relations between Prince Tharawaddy and Nanmataw Me Nu.

Bagyidaw ordered Bandula and most of the troops back home to meet the enemy at Yangon. In December 1824, Bandula’s 30,000 strong force tried to retake Yangon but was soundly defeated by the much better armed British forces. The British immediately went on an offensive on all fronts. By April 1825, the British had driven out the Burmese forces from Arakan, Assam, Manipur, Tenasserim, and the Irrawaddy delta where Gen. Bandula died in action. After Bandula’s death, the Burmese fought on but their last-ditch effort to retake the delta was repulsed in November 1825. In February 1826, with the British army only 50 miles away from Ava, Bagyidaw agreed to British terms.

As per the Treaty of Yandabo, the British demanded and the Burmese agreed to:

  1. Cede to the British Assam, Manipur, Arakan, and Tenasserim coast south of Salween river,
  2. Cease all interference in Cachar and Jaintia,
  3. Pay an indemnity of one million pounds sterling in four installments,
  4. Allow for an exchange of diplomatic representatives between Ava and Calcutta,
  5. Sign a commercial treaty in due course.

The treaty imposed highly severe financial burden to the Burmese kingdom, and effectively left it crippled. The British terms in the negotiations were strongly influenced by the heavy cost in lives and money which the war had entailed. Some 40,000 British and Indians troops had been involved of whom 15,000 had been killed. The cost to the British India’s finances had been almost ruinous, amounting to approximately 13 million pounds sterling. The cost of war contributed to a severe economic crisis in India, which by 1833 had bankrupted the Bengal agency houses and cost the British East India Company its remaining privileges, including the monopoly of trade to China

According to the Treaty of Yantapo the indemnity was to have been given in four installments but there was not enough in the Treasury even for the first installment. Nanmataw Me Nu gave part of her jewelery and cash to complete it. However, the English recorded that Nanmataw lent 20 Lakhs Rupees 2,000,000 Rupees / Kyats for the indenmity.

For the Burmese, the treaty was a total humiliation and a long lasting financial burden. A whole generation of men had been wiped out in battlefield. The world the Burmese knew of conquest and martial pride, built on the back of impressive military success of prior 75 years, had come crashing down. An uninvited British Resident in Ava was a daily reminder of humiliation of defeat. The burden of indemnity would leave the royal treasury bankrupt for years. The indemnity of one million pounds sterling would have been considered a colossal sum even in Europe of that time, and it became frightening when translated to Burmese kyat equivalent of 10 million. The cost of living of the average villager in Upper Burma in 1826 was one kyat per month

During the remaining years of his reign, Bagyidaw attempted to mitigate the harsh terms of the treaty. In 1826 the king negotiated a commercial treaty with the British envoy, John Crawfurd, but refused to establish formal diplomatic relations unless he could deal on an equal basis with the British sovereign, rather than through the East India Company at Calcutta. Bagyidaw failed to persuade the British to give Thanintharyi back to Myanmar, but a deputation that he sent to Calcutta in 1830 successfully reasserted the Myanmar claim to the Kale-Kabaw Valley, which had been occupied by the Manipuris.

Bagyidaw could not come to terms with the loss of the territories, and the British used Tenasserim as bait for the Burmese to pay the installments of indemnity. In 1830, the British agreed to redraw the Manipuri border with Burma, giving back Kabaw Valley to the Burmese. Bagyidaw delivered the balance of the indemnity at great sacrifice in November 1832. But by 1833, it was clear that the British had no intention of returning any of the territories.

After 1831 Bagyidaw became increasingly susceptible to attacks of mental instability.

The king, who used to love theater and boat racing, grew increasingly reclusive, afflicted by bouts of depression. Power devolved to his queen Nanmadaw Me Nu and her brother. Me Nu and her brother became de facto rulers of the country, and they much feared for their tyrannical rule.

In February 1837, Bagyidaw’s crown prince and brother Tharrawaddy rebelled, and two months later in April, Bagyidaw was forced to abdicate. Tharrawaddy executed Me Nu and her brother, and kept his brother under house arrest. Bagyidaw died on 15 October 1846, at age 62. The former king had 23 queens, five sons and five daughters

Tharrawaddy was born Maung Khin to Crown Prince Thado Minsaw (son of King Bodawpaya) and Princess Min Kye on 14 March 1787. When his elder brother Bagyidaw ascended the throne in 1819, Tharrawaddy was appointed Heir Apparent. As crown prince, he fought in the First Anglo-Burmese War. In February 1837, he raised the standard of rebellion after escaping to Shwebo, the ancestral place of the Konbaung kings. Tharrawaddy succeeded in overthrowing Bagyidaw in April and was crowned king. Princess Min Myat Shwe, a granddaughter of Hsinbyushin, whom he married in 1809, was crowned as his chief queen (Nanmadaw Mibaya Hkaungyi).

Prince Tharawady was the third son born of crown prince Thado Minsaw and princess Taungdwin on သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၄၈ ခု၊ တေပါင္းလျပည့္ေက်ာ္ ၁၀ ရက္ေန႔ 14 March 1787 during the reign of his grandfather King Bodawpaya ဘိုးေတာ္ ဘုရား / Badon Min  ပဒံုမင္း / Bodaw U Waing ဘိုးေတာ္ ဦး၀ိုင္း.

During Badon Min’s time, he was given the title of Thadoe Minhla Anuruddha သတိုးမင္းလွအႏုရုဒၶါ and the town of Thayet သရက္ျမိဳ႕ . Badon Min bethroted him to his uncle Bagan prince’s daughter and gave him the town of Tharawaddy.

During his elder brother Sagaing king’s reign, he was given the title of Thiri Maha Thudhamma Razar သီရိမဟာသုဓမၼာရာဇာ. Although Sagaing king did not make him crown prince, he was given previleges similar to that of a crown prince. (Maung Kyawt Shin. Wikipedia mentioned that he was a crown prince).

In spite of what Sagaing king bequeathed on him, Tharawaddy was not satisfied with the growing power of Nanmataw Me Nu and her brother Lord of Salin. From the time their power grew, Tharawaddy did not participate in matters of State and began to consolidate his strength.

After the end of the First Anglo Burmese war, the two sides were totally opposed. Sagaing king became unhappy from the matters of state_ loss of territories, the indemnity and the development of antagonism between the queen and Tharawaddy_ and his health deteriorated. Lord Salin and the ministers took over the powers of State. He had been attending the Hluttaw လႊတ္ေတာ္ (parliament) together with the ministers as a prince for some time.

While Lord of Salin and the ministers were performing the State duties, thefts, robberies and other crimes occured frequently within the Naypyitaw ေနျပည္ေတာ္  / Ava. The Lord of Salin and the ministers believed that the bad men of Tharawaddy are to blame for these crimes.

Although Tharawaddy did not have power, he had people of ability around him. Of his sons, Thiri Maha Thudhamma Razar the Taungtwinchaung prince ေတာင္တြင္းေခ်ာင္မင္းသား သီရိမဟာသုဓမၼာရာဇာ, Minye Thihakyaw မင္းရဲသီဟေက်ာ္,  Minye Kyawhtin မင္းရဲေက်ာ္ထင္,  Minye Zeya မင္းရဲေဇယ် were princes of ability.

There were also good people such as Naymyo Letyar Kyawhtin ေနမ်ိဳးလက္်ာေက်ာ္ထင္, Naymyo Thiha Kyawswar ေနမ်ိဳးသီဟေက်ာ္စြာ, Ahtwinwun Naymyo Thiha Sithu အတြင္း၀န္ ေနမ်ိဳးသီဟစည္သူ, Naymyo Bandu Kyaw ေနမ်ိဳးဗႏဳၶေက်ာ္, Naymyo Nayar ေနမ်ိဳးနရာ , Sayaygyi Thiha Kyawhtin Nawratha စေရးၾကီးသီဟေက်ာ္ထင္ေနာ္ရထာ, Bandarsoe Shwetaung Pyanchi ဘ႑ာစိုးေရႊေတာင္ပ်ံခ်ီ , Hseit-ote NgaTotegyi ဆိတ္အုပ္ငတုတ္ၾကီး , NgaShweNi ငေရႊနီ, NgaNaung ငေနာင္, NgaKywet ငၾကြက္ , NgaShweAte ငေရႊအိပ္, NgaShweya ငေရႊရ , Ponna Wunna Zeya Bhyamma ပုဏၰား၀ဏၰေဇယ်ျဗဟၼာ, NgaYe ငေရး  , NgaSo ငစို, NgaAwzar ငၾသဇာ around prince Tharawaddy at the time. He also collected boxers, wrestlers, rowdies and dacoits around him. Tharawaddy was prepared to take State power by force. It has been prophesied that he would be king and he was ready to use force if necessary.

On သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၉၈ ခု၊ တေပါင္းလျပည့္ေက်ာ္ ၆ ရက္၊ March 1837, Myo Letwun Mingyi Maha Minhla Minkhaungkyaw ျမိဳ႕လက္၀န္မင္းၾကီး မဟာမင္းလွမင္းေခါင္ေက်ာ္, Htantapin Myosarr Ngwekhunwa Myauk Daweibo ထန္းတပင္ ျမိဳ႕စား ေငြခြန္၀ေျမာက္ဒ၀ယ္ဗိုလ္, Minhla Maha Thihathu မင္းလွမဟာသီဟသူ, Byetaik Thanhsint Thiri Kyawhtin Nawratha ျဗဲတိုက္သံဆင့္ သီရိေက်ာ္ထင္ေနာ္ရထာ with 200 armed personnel went to Tharawaddy prince and Bagan princess compounds to search for and capture Ngasintku Myothugyi NgaYay ငစဥ္႔ကူအံုျမိဳ႕သူၾကီး ငေရး who was believed to be in contact with rebels. Prince Tharawaddy also had armed personnel in readiness guarding his compound. While Shwepyi Hmankinn Thwethaukgyi NgaKho who was with Myauk Daweibo was going around to the rear of the compound, he was attacked and killed by Naymyo Bandu Kyawhtin. There was a lot of commotion and Myo Letwun Mingyi Maha Minhla Minkhaungkyaw turned his horse and escaped to the Palace. Myauk Daweibo was captured by Prince Tharawaddy’s forces.

Prince Tharawaddy knew they had met a big incident and with that in mind, on that very day crossed to the north bank of the Ayeyarwaddy by the Shwe Tone boat ေရႊတံုးေလွေတာ္ of Tharawaddy with his children, maids and fully armed 700 men, marched to  Yadana Theinga Myo ရတနာသိဃၤျမိဳ႕  and rebelled against his elder brother. He was able to collect Lords / MyoSarr ျမိဳ႕စား, Squires / YwaSarr ရြာစား  and troops well experienced in warfare. His followers from the Naypyitaw were also well trained. Nanmataw Me Nu and Salin prince had few well experienced people. Most were old lackey ministers. Experienced ones like Maha Bandoola had given their lives during the war with the British. Prince Tharawaddy’s forces won over all the armies sent from Naypyitaw.  Finally on သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၉၉ ခု၊ ကဆုန္လျပည့္ေက်ာ္ ၁၂ ရက္၊ May 1837 Prince Tharawaddy obtained the throne from his brother king Sagaing.

The Lord of Salin , Lord of Pintalae ပင္းတလဲစား , minister Mingyi Maha Thiha Thura ၀န္ၾကီးမင္းၾကီးမဟာသီဟသူရ, HsawMyosarr Ahtwinwun ေဆာျမိဳ႕စားအတြင္း၀န္, WunhtaukMingyi Maha Sithu ၀န္ေထာက္မင္းၾကီး မဟာစည္သူ, Maha Minkhaung Raza မဟာမင္းေခါင္ရာဇာ, MyoLetWun Mingyi ျမိဳ႕လက္၀န္မင္းၾကီး, Maha Minhla Minkhaungkyaw မဟာမင္းလွမင္းေခါင္ေက်ာ္, Kinwun Mingyi Maha Minhla Kyawswa ကင္း၀န္မင္းၾကီး မဟာမင္းလွေက်ာ္စြာ and Kyi Ahtwinwun Mingyi MahaMinhla Thiha Thu က်ီအတြင္း၀န္ မင္းၾကီး မဟာမင္းလွသီဟသူ who were demanded by Prince Tharawaddy were sent to him through Ahnaukphetkyaungchi bohmu son Thadoe Minsaw အေနာက္ဘက္ေၾကာင္းခ်ီဗိုလ္မွဴးသားေတာ္ သတိုးမင္းေစာ and the brothers’ war between Ava and YadanaTheinga ended.

Of the war criminals as Ahnaukphet Kyaungchi Bohmu Minthar အေနာက္ဘက္ေၾကာင္းခ်ီ ဗိုလ္မွဴးမင္းသား presents medicines to uncle Mintayargyi he was allowed to continue his duties. Lord of Hsaw Ahtwinwun Mingyi MahaNandaThingyan ေဆာျမိဳ႕စား အတြင္း၀န္ မင္းၾကီး မဟာနႏၵသၾကၤန္ and WunhtaukMingyi MahaSithu ၀န္ေထာက္မင္းၾကီး မဟာစည္သူ were found not to be in collusion with Lord of Salin and released.

Nanmataw Me Nu’s last voyage

While Prince Tharawaddy was in Yadana TheingaMyo Phalankhone village was burnt down. All who would not obey were killed. NgaKun ငကြန္, Nga Kanpaw ငကံေပၚ, Ngabuu ငဘူး and Tadalabo တဒလဗိုလ္ who were in the service of Lord Salin were executed.

Sagaing king transferred the throne to brother Prince Tharawaddy was let to live at the palace built near the Setkya Thiha pagoda သက္က်သီဟဘုရား.

In သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၂၀၁ ခု၊ တေပါင္းလ၊ May 1840 March during king Tharawaddy’s reign, about 1500 Shan Bamars led by Bo Win Nge ဗိုလ္၀င္းငယ္ called Shwehtar Minthar ေရႊထားမင္းသား BoKhantkyaw ဗိုလ္ခန္႔ေက်ာ္ BoShweMaung ဗိုလ္ေရႊေမာင္ attacked Matayar မတၱရာ and rebelled. After the rebellion was crushed in သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၂၀၂ ခု၊ တန္ခူး April 1840 and the rebels captured they were interrogated Thantawhsint U Shwe Tharr သံေတာ္ဆင့္ဦးေရႊသား testified that the Lord of Salin and the ex-ministers led by the dethroned queen Me Nu advised them secretly. Me Nu admitted to it without hiding anything.

In သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၂၀၂ ခု၊ ကဆုန္လဆန္း ၂ ရက္၊ May 1840 Me Nu was handed over to the executioners to be executed by submerssion. That day Lord of Salin, his wife and two daughters, Ahtwinwun Ngaparyauk အတြင္း၀န္ငပါေရာက္, MyoLatwun Ngayay ျမိဳ႕လတ္၀န္ငေရး, Thantawhsint Ngashwetharr သံေတာ္ဆင့္ငေရႊသား, Pakhan BoNgayantmin ပုခန္းဗိုလ္ ငရန္႔မင္း, Sayaygyi Ngapyo စာေရးၾကီးငပ်ိဳ, Toungoo Myowun Ngabuu ေတာင္ျမိဳ႕၀န္ငဘူး , Ahhsaungmye Ngatunnyo အေဆာင္ျမဲငထြန္ညို were excecuted.

The dethroned queen Me Nu requested for a chance to meet Sayardaw U Bose ဆရာေတာ္ဦးဗုစ္ and got permission. She gave homage to the Sayardaw and informed him that it was her last homage. The Sayardaw looked up from reading and told her “ if you have debt, you will have to repay”_ မိႏု သူေၾကြးရွိလွ်င္ ဆပ္ရေပလိမ့္မည္။.

Me Nu was not afraid of her execution and was not angry against king Tharawaddy who ordered her execution. Me Nu was executed at the northeast corner of the Taung Taman Inn ေတာင္တမန္အင္းMebayetkone bank မယ္ဘယက္ကုန္းကမ္းစ. Me Nu was put in a velvet bag and placed in the water ေရခ်ခံရသည္. (It is Burmese custom not to spill royal blood on the earth. Hence executions of royalties were made by submersion in velvet bags)

 

Good Deeds of Nanmataw Me Nu

 

Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery or popularly known as Mai Nu Oak Kyaung မယ္ႏုအုဌ္ေက်ာင္း or the Brick Monastery  donated by Klng Bagyidaw and his chief Queen  Mai Nu was constructed in 1822 A.D. (http://www.myanmar-image.com/mandalay/innwa/image.html). This graceful and beautiful stucco decorated building was also known as ” Oak Kyaung” because of the masonry construction.

There are no records of the good deeds of Me Nu around the Phalankhone village of Ye U township. It has been handed down that Tharawaddy king’s men burned all records of it. Only the bell inscriptions were left undestroyed. According to the bell inscriptions, there were many monasteries, zayats, stupas, bells, Buddha images donated by the relatives of Me Nu_ စလင္းမင္းသားၾကီးေမာင္အိုမိသားစု Lord of Salin Maung O’s family, ဦးရီးေတာ္ဦးကြန္မိသားစု the uncle U Kun’s family, ေတာင္ဘက္ကိုးသင္းျမင္း၀န္မိသားစု Taungbet KoeThin Myin-wun MinhlaMahaMinTin family, Treasurer YeHla Shwetaung Kyawswa family ဘ႑ာစိုး ရဲလွေရႊေတာင္ေက်ာ္စြာမိသားစု.

The Mahamuni pagoda within the Phalankhone village west monastery အေနာက္တိုက္ (current day Thoepoe  monastery သိုးပိုးဘုန္ေတာ္ၾကီးေက်ာင္းတိုက္ is accepted by historians as Me Nu’s donation.

It has been handed over that Me Nu gave money to uncle U Kun ဦးရီးေတာ္ဦးကြန္, North Prime minister Maha Mingyi Kyawhtin မဟာမင္းၾကီးေက်ာ္ထင္ to build a beautiful monastery in South Phalankhone monastery ဖလံခံုေတာင္ေက်ာင္း

In Nyo Mya’s “Konebaung Sharponetaw ညိဳျမေရး ကုန္းေဘာင္ရွာပံုေတာ္” page 257_

On the day Me Nu donated the Me Nu Oke Kyaung to Abbot / Sayartaw U Bose ဆရာေတာ္ဦးဗုစ္ she mentioned, “I have built this brick monastery at the cost of 3 Lakhs 300,000. I have also built a monastery at Phalankhone village at the cost of 1 Lakh 100,000”

Letlan Tawya Kyaung လက္လံေတာရေက်ာင္း a monastery south east of Phalankhone village was also donated by Nanmadaw Me Nu.

In Ava, Amapura, Mingun and Sagaing areas, Me Nu and Sagaing Min together made the following donations:

  1. Donate for entrance of 49 boys to become novices and 55 men to become monks.
  2. သကၠရာဇ္ ၁၁၈၁ ခု၊ 1819 A.D., just after Sagaing king ascended the throne, donated 777 sets of robes to monks.
  3. Shin Phyu pagoda ရွင္ျဖဴဘုရား and hall with 5 storied tower အာလိန္ငါးဆင့္ခံ လိုဏ္မုခ္တန္ေဆာင္း north of Mingun Pathotawgyi မင္းကြန္းပုထိုးေတာ္ၾကီး
  4. Aungcharzina Shwebontha pagoda ေအာင္ခ်မ္းသာ ေရႊဘံုသာဘုရား and Lawka Chantha pagoda ေလာကခ်မ္းသာဘုရား in Sagaing
  5. Maha Wizayayanthi Sigonetawgyi မဟာ၀ိဇယရံသီစည္းခံုေတာ္ၾကီး and bell ေခါင္းေလာင္းေတာ္ၾကီး at Amarapura
  6. Maha Setkya Thiha Buddha image မဟာသက္က်သီဟရုပ္ပြားေတာ္္ၾကီး (now in Mandalay) Bonkyaung Mahaaungmyay Bonsan Okekyaungtawgyi ဘံုေက်ာင္းမဟာေအာင္ေျမဘံုစံအုတ္ေက်ာင္းေတာ္္ၾကီး and  Mahaaungmyay Bonsan-San Kyaungtawgyi မဟာေအာင္ေျမဘံုစံ ဘံုစံေက်ာင္းေတာ္္ၾကီး at Ava
  7. Maha Way-yan Bontha Tawya Zaytawun Kyaungtawgyi မဟာေ၀ယံဘံုသာ ေတာရေဇတ၀န္ ေက်ာင္းေတာ္္ၾကီး at Mingun.
  8. Maha Setkya Yanthi Kyaukphyu Buddha image  မဟာသက္က်ရံသီ ေက်ာက္ျဖဴ ရုပ္ပြားေတာ္္ၾကီး (now near Taungtaman Inn)
  9. Donor of 4 kinds of materials for Htutkhaung Sayardaw ထြတ္ေခါင္ဆရာေတာ္ and Sayartaw U Bose ဆရာေတာ္ဦးဗုစ္

Note

This part should have been part of my prelude but as I do not want a long prelude and want to introduce my main blog quickly to viewers, I have kept this till the end and present it as a postscript / Note.

I have always been interested in history, but more on ancient history_ the Bagan dynasty, the Pyu and the pre-Pyu stone age, bronze age and early prehistory iron age cultures of Myanmar. I have written much about Pyu and early Rakhine history in my blogs and notes. I also have written about the Bagan era Battle of Ngahsaungchan, other Bagan era Sino Burmese wars and the Myanmar Siamese wars_mainly that of Bayintnaung’s wars, but also a little of the wars of king Alaungphaya and Hsinphyushin (the most militant Burmese king who fought wars on three fronts against China, Siam and the Assam Manipura at the same time). However those wars were fought on more or less equal arms, not against an adversary of much higher grade of weaponary and modern warefare techniques as the British who was already ruling the world. Even then, the early victories of Burmese forces of Maha Bandoola and Myawaddy Mingyi U Sa against the frontline British forces was impressive_” able to push back better armed British forces made up of European and Indian soldiers. By May, Uzana’s forces had overrun Cachar and Jaintia, and Lord of Myawaddy‘s forces had defeated the British inside Bengal at the Battle of Ramu, 10 miles east of Cox’s Bazar on 17 May 1824. Sa’s column then joined Bandula’s column on the march to defeat British forces at Gadawpalin, and went on to capture Cox’s Bazar. The Burmese success caused extreme panic in Chittagong and in Calcutta. But Bandula, not wanting to overstretch, stopped U Sa from proceeding to Chittagong. Had Bandula marched on to Chittagong, which unbeknown to him was lightly held, he could have taken it and the way to Calcutta would have been open.” _ in the words of Western historians.

Myanmar wars have been studied in detail by Myanmar historians and the Myanmar Armed Forces, and much has been written in Burmese for the Myanamar public, but the majority of Myanmars still do not know much about them or about Myanmar history. It is my intention to present Myanmar history to the Myanmar public so that they know more about Myanmar and also to the international community who might care to read my blogs.

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4 Responses to “Nanmadaw Me Nu နန္းမေတာ္ မယ္ႏု, Sagaing Min စစ္ကိုင္းမင္း / ဘၾကီးေတာ္ Bagyitaw, and the First Anglo Burmese War”

  1. Terry Howe Says:

    Hello,
    I have recently returned from a 2 week trip to Myanmar and had an excellent time viewing some wonderful sites and meeting a lot of friendly people. One of the reasons for my trip was to visit Innwa (Ava) where we believe my Great Great Grandfather named Sophar Rangoon was born.
    At the end of the first Burma War 1823-5 Captain Frederick Marryat was very friendly with the Chief of Naptutah but there were many chiefs that he met. Marryat was given some children who were bond slaves but distributed them to new homes before he left for England, we believe he may have kept Sophar because he was a bit more special and possibly he spoke English too.(King Bodawpaya hired someone to teach his children English, and he may have passed this trait on to his grandson Bagyidaw who succeded him as king in 1819!)
    I have seen a story that Me Nu sent 2 of her sons to Rangoon to escape death and they escaped to Europe when the new king was to be selected. Could this have been Sophar?
    If you can offer any additinal information I would be grateful.
    If you go to the website below you can see my travelogue of my visit to Myanmar.
    There are videos/photos of a noviciating and ear piercing procession that we were priveleged to see in Innwa.
    Regards
    Terry

  2. Annette Hughes Says:

    Thank you for this, it is very refreshing to read an account of the 1824-26 war which focuses on the Burmese actions rather than the British.
    I am also a descendant of Sophar Rangoon and I’d like to add the following:
    Sophar’s marriage certificate does not name his father, it simply says ‘A native of the Kingdom of Ava’, his father’s occupation is ‘A chief of the Kingdom’. The story that was passed down my family is that Sophar was shipwrecked as a boy and rescued by an Englishman who brought him back to England, I was also told that he was given the name Rangoon because that is where they sailed from, other descendants were told they were descended from a Prince. We now know that Sophar arrived in England onboard HMS Tees with Captain Marryat in January 1826. I have found a news article from 1825 which says that at the start of the Burmese war, a boat from HMS Liffey came up with a Burmese war boat, everyman on the Burmese boat jumped into the water, when the English boarded the boat they found a Burmese infant only months old which they took on board HMS Liffey and the sailors cared for him, the Captain intended to bring him home and educate him in England. This child would be too young to be Sophar who was born about 1816/17. Captain Marryat also had a boy aged about 3 who he was bringing back to England but he died on the journey. Is it possible that Sophar was also rescued from the war boat but it was not reported? I am curious to know why young children would be on the war boats.

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  4. Anne Crowley Says:

    Sophar Rangoon was my Great Great Grandfather too and thank you for all input regarding the history of Burma which is so enlightening. Sophar named one of his sons Shaboo and wonder whether this would be a Burmese name. After researching the name Shaboo I have, unfortunately found nothing to substantiate Shaboo being a Burmese name. I wonder too if the name Sophar could possibly be an English interpretation of Saopha. If anyone is able to shed some light on this, I am sure that Sophar’s descendants would be so grateful.

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