Binnya U

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Binnya U
ဗညားဦး
King of Hanthawaddy
Reign 1348 – 2 January 1384
Predecessor Binnya E Law
Successor Razadarit
Consort Mwe Thin
Mwe Magu Tauk
Issue Razadarit
Talamidaw
Talamithiri
Bawnganmon
House Wareru
Father Saw Zein
Born 1323
685 ME
Martaban (Mottama)
Died 2 January 1384 (aged 60)
Saturday, 10th waxing of Tabodwe 745 ME
Pegu (Bago)
Religion Theravada Buddhism

Binnya U (Burmese: ဗညားဦး, pronounced: [bəɲá ʔú]; 1323–1384) was the eighth king of Hanthawaddy Pegu, who ruled from 1348 to 1383. Over his 35-year reign, the king faced several internal rebellions and external invasions. He tried to reestablish the kingdom's power out of its traditional capital Martaban (Mottama) but was forced back to Pegu (Bago), which ultimately proved to be a more strategic location to hold Mon-speaking lands of Lower Burma. His last years were filled with palace intrigues over succession. He died in 1384 while facing a rebellion by his eldest son Razadarit.

Binnya U was known as Hsinbyushin (Lord of White Elephant) because he possessed a white elephant, considered a great hallmark of a Buddhist king. When the white elephant died, he spent many years looking for another one. In 1362, Binnya U repaired the Shwedagon Pagoda, raising its height to 20 meters (66 feet).[1]

Early life[edit]

A son of King Saw Zein and grandnephew of the kingdom's founder, King Wareru, Binnya U grew up at the court of his uncle Binnya E Law. In his youth, he and his cousin, Binnya E Law's son were always quarreling as they were both considered rivals to the throne. His cousin died of natural causes so he became the heir apparent.[2]

Reign[edit]

Martaban years[edit]

When Binnya U came to power, he moved the capital back to Martaban (Mottama), the dynasty's founding capital. (His father had moved the capital to Pegu in 1324.) This was not a wise move. Whereas Pegu was strategically located in the center between the Irrawaddy delta and the upper Tenasserim coast, Martaban at the tip of Tenasserim coast was right at the edge of Siamese power and away from two other important Mon centers.

While the king might have been trying to replicate his uncle Saw O's success in conquering the Tenasserim coastline in the 1310s, he had no such opportunity. First, Tenasserim coast was firmly under the newly founded Ayutthaya Kingdom. At Martaban, he faced several internal rebellions and external attacks that ultimately forced him out of Martaban.

In 1356, Lan Na's armies numbering 80,000 men invaded Martaban's districts, Sittaung, Taikkla, Dunwun and Lagun Pyi. (The Lan Na Chronicles have no record of this invasion, so the actual invaders could have been from another northern Tai State).[3] He beat back the attacks. In the mid-1360s he faced another rebellion, this time by his brother Min Linka. He suppressed the rebellion, ordered the execution of Min Linka, and raised Min Linka's wife, Mwe Thin, as queen. In January 1368, Mwe Thin gave birth to Binnya Nwe (later Razadarit).

Out of Martaban[edit]

In 1369, he faced yet another rebellion by another cousin Byattaba, and was forced out of Martaban. After a brief stint at Dunwun, his dynasty's ancestral home, north of Martaban, Binnya U went farther north to Pegu to regroup. Pegu had not been an important Mon capital since 1057 when it passed under Pagan dynasty’s control and in 1369 it was only the size of a large village.[3] He was able consolidate his rule from Pegu but could not reconquer Martaban.[2] He sent one of his daughters Talamithiri to the king of Lan Na to get his assistance. (The Mon princess was brought back a few years later because she was not treated well by the Lan Na king.)[1]

Rebellion of Binnya Nwe[edit]

At Pegu, Binnya U faced more quarreling in the family. His eldest son Prince Binnya Nwe famously did not get along with his chief queen, whose son Binnya U had anointed heir apparent. Binnya U's sister Mahadevi and brother Laukpya, lord of Myaungmya both eyed the throne, and viewed Binnya Nwe with suspicion.[4] In 1383, the 16-year-old Binnya Nwe eloped with his half-sister Talamidaw, fled to Dagon (now Yangon), and raised a rebellion. The king was too ill and on his deathbed. In May 1383, his chief queen sent an army to Dagon. Binnya Nwe defeated the force at Dagon and marched to Pegu. The king died during the fighting, and Binnya Nwe became king, styled as Razadarit, or king of kings.[1][2]

Lord of White Elephant[edit]

Binnya U was known as Hsinbyushin (Lord of White Elephant) because he possessed a white elephant, considered a great hallmark of a Buddhist king. When the white elephant died, he spent many years looking for another one. In 1362, Binnya U repaired the Shwedagon Pagoda, raising its height to 20 meters (66 feet).[1]

Binnya U sent a mission to Ceylon, and obtained a holy relic for which a pagoda was built near his "victory" over the Lan Na forces.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Harvey 1925: 111–112
  2. ^ a b c d Phayre 1967: 67
  3. ^ a b Fernquest 2006: 4–5
  4. ^ Htin Aung 1967: 80

Bibliography[edit]

  • Jon Fernquest (Spring 2006). "Rajadhirat’s Mask of Command: Military Leadership in Burma (c. 1384–1421)". SBBR 4 (1). 
  • Harvey, G. E. (1925). History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. 
  • Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Pan Hla, Nai (1968). Razadarit Ayedawbon (in Burmese) (8th printing, 2005 ed.). Yangon: Armanthit Sarpay. 
  • Phayre, Major Gen. Sir Arthur P. (1873). "The History of Pegu". Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal (Oxford University) 42. 
  • Phayre, Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. (1883). History of Burma (1967 ed.). London: Susil Gupta. 
  • Royal Historical Commission of Burma (1832). Hmannan Yazawin (in Burmese) 1–3 (2003 ed.). Yangon: Ministry of Information, Myanmar. 
  • Shorto, H.L. (1963). "The 32 "Myos" in the Medieval Mon Kingdom". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (Cambridge University Press) 26 (3). JSTOR 611567. 
Binnya U
Born: 1323 Died: 2 January 1384
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Binnya E Law
King of Hanthawaddy
1348 – 2 January 1384
Succeeded by
Razadarit
Royal titles
Preceded by
Saw Zein
Heir to the Hanthawaddy Throne
13?? – 1348
Succeeded by
Bawnganmon