|Reign||April 1364 – September 1367|
|Coronation||September 1364 at Pinya
26 February 1365 at Ava
|Mother||Soe Min Kodawgyi|
|Born||7 December 1345
Wednesday, 13th waxing of Pyatho 707 ME
|Died||before 5 September 1367 (aged 21)
Thadominbya (Burmese: သတိုးမင်းဖျား, pronounced: [ðədó mɪ́ɴpʰjá]; 1345 – 1367) was the founder of the Kingdom of Ava who reunified central Burma in 1364 under a single kingdom. In his short reign of three plus years, the ethnically Shan king achieved accomplishments that would have a long lasting impact in Burmese history. In addition to politically reunifying central Burma, which had been split into Sagaing and Pinya kingdoms since 1315, he founded a new capital city of Ava (Inwa) at a strategic locale by the Irrawaddy river that remained the country's capital for another five centuries; reintroduced law and order; and tried to stamp out corrupt Buddhist clergy.
Thadominbya died of small pox while on a southern military expedition in September 1367. He was only 21, and had no children.
Thadominbya was born on 7 December 1345 to the Sagaing royalty.[note 1] At the time, central Burma was split into the Sagaing Kingdom to the west of the Irrawaddy and the Pinya Kingdom to the east. But both kingdoms traced their origins to King Thihathu of Myinsaing. Thadominbya belonged to the Sagaing branch of the Myinsaing dynasty, and was related to the royal family of Pinya. He was a great grandson of Thihathu, who reunified central Burma after the collapse of Pagan Kingdom in 1297, and a grandson of Sawyun who split the Myinsaing Kingdom by founding the Sagaing Kingdom in 1315. His mother was Soe Min Kodawgyi, the only daughter of Sawyun, and his father was of uncertain descent, reputedly of ancient kings of Tagaung. He was named Rahula. He had two sisters. He was of mixed Shan and Burman heritage but mostly on the Shan side. His father died, and his mother remarried to a Shan chief, Minbyauk Thihapate, who later would become king of Sagaing in 1352.
Governor of Tagaung
By his teens in 1350s, both Sagaing and Pinya kingdoms were under constant attacks by the Shan raiders from the north. The raids accelerated in frequency and intensity beginning in 1359. In the early 1360s, Minbyauk appointed his stepson as governor of Tagaung at the very north of Sagaing Kingdom and at the border of Shan realm. Prince Rahula was given the title Thadominbya, the name by which he would be known onwards.
In early 1364, Mogaung in alliance with Sagaing's cross-river rival Pinya Kingdom attacked Sagaing's territories. Mogaung's raiders overran Tagaung and Thadominbya barely escaped. At Sagaing, Minbyauk sent Thadominbya to prison for the latter's failure to defend Tagaung. But Minbyauk himself fled Sagaing when the city was overrun by Mogaung forces in April of that year (Kason 726 ME). After Mogaung raiders left Sagaing, the people of Sagaing rallied around Thadominbya, who put Minbyauk to death. He became king of Sagaing at 21.
Reunification of central Burma
Having sacked Sagaing in the west, the Mogaung forces turned on their nominal allies Pinya because Pinya did not help Mogaung in its attack on Sagaing as agreed upon. The Mogaung forces crossed the Irrawaddy and sacked Pinya in May 1364, and took King Narathu of Pinya prisoner, leaving the entire central Irrawaddy valley in chaos. Thadominbya seized the opportunity to fill the power gap. In September 1364 (Tawthalin 726 ME), he quickly defeated Narathu's successor Uzana II of Pinya and reunified much of central Burma. He spent the rest of his reign consolidating his rule in all of central Burma. When Toungoo, which was a nominal tributary of Pinya, did not submit to him after Pinya's fall, Thadominbya repeatedly attacked the city until its rulers had to submit. He was still on another expedition in the south when he caught small pox and died. Nor was all clear in the north. The Shan raids still continued during his reign.
Founding of City of Ava
Thadominbya abandoned both Sagaing and Pinya, and founded a new capital by the name of Ava on the very site where his great grandfather Thihathu wanted to build his new capital but was discouraged to by dowager queen Shin Saw of Pagan in 1312. (Thihathu ended up choosing Pinya for his new capital.) The capital site was strategically located at the mouth of Myitnge river and the Irrawaddy, and was right by the important Kyaukse granary. Swamps were drained, the city wall marked out, pagodas were built. The palace was at the center, and was the citadel of defenses. So strategic was the location that Ava would be the capital of successive Burmese kingdoms for the most of next five centuries. The exact date of foundation of Ava was 26 February 1365 (6th waxing of Tabaung 726 ME).
Taking on the corrupt clergy
By the time Thadominbya came to power, a large percentage of the Buddhist clergy had become corrupt, and the new king was determined to stamp it out. When a monk misappropriated some gold that a poor widow had left in his monastery for safekeeping during one of the Shan raids, the king denounced the monk in the audience chamber of the palace, cut off the monk's head with his own hands, made a hole in the floor with his sword, and kicked the corpse down the opening. The barbaric act had the desired effect on the clergy. Nevertheless, he extended full patronage to orthodox monks and encouraged learning among both monks and laymen.
Nga Tetpya episode
The young king was magnanimous even to those who opposed him. For example, when Nga Tetpya, a popular bandit who robbed the rich and shared his loot with the poor, was captured, the king in full audience asked him:
- Scoundrel, your punishment can only be death but because you shared your loot with the poor, I will give you this favor. What do you choose, the sword or trampling by elephants?
The bandit replied:
- I choose your prettiest queen.[note 2]
The king, instead of being insulted by the reply said:
- You're a brave man. I spare your life. You may go free.
Nga Tetpya was so overcome by the king's graciousness that he entered the royal service, and became the king's most distinguished commanders.
His "most beautiful" queen Saw Omma nearly succeeded in seizing the throne with Nga Nu, commander of the Inner Household Guards. The couple executed everyone who opposed them, crossed over to Sagaing, and tried to rule from there. But ministers intervened and gave the throne to Thadominbya's brother-in-law Swasawke, a prince of both Myinsaing and Pagan heritage.
Swasawke drove the couple out of Sagaing. Nga Nu ran away, and Saw Omma was given to the officer who captured her.
- Hmannan Yazawin (Hmannan, Vol. 1 2003: 400–401) suggests he was born on a Wednesday in 1343/1344, which is in contradiction with Zatadawbon Yazawin (Zata 1960: 72) which gives Wednesday, 13th waxing of Pyatho 707 ME (Wednesday, 7 December 1345). But the 1343/1344 date is inconsistent with Hmannan's own reporting elsewhere. (Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 392) says Thado Minbya was six (in his 7th year) when Minbyauk Thihapate came to power. Since Thihapate came to power on 23 February 1352, Thadominbya was born in 1345.
- The prettiest queen was Saw Omma, who was of Pagan and Pinya royal houses, and was also queen to three Pinya kings starting from Kyawswa II of Pinya.
- According to Hmannan Yazawin (Hmannan, Vol. 1 2003: 400–402), he died in late February 1368 (early Tabaung 729 ME). But by inscriptional evidence (Than Tun 1959: 128), he had certainly died by 5 September 1367 (11th waxing of Wagaung 729 ME). Hmannan continues that the first nominee of the court rejected the offer, meaning the selection process most likely took a few days. It means he most probably died a few days prior to 5 September.
- (Zata 1960: 72): 13th waxing of Pyatho 707 ME = 7 December 1345
- Hardiman, Scott 1901: 67
- Phayre 1967: 61–64
- Htin Aung 1967: 78
- Lieberman 2003: 120
- Htin Aung 1967: 84–86
- Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 396
- Fernquest 2006: 38
- Hall 1960: 30
- Harvey 1925: 81
- Fernquest, Jon (Autumn 2006). "Crucible of War: Burma and the Ming in the Tai Frontier Zone (1382–1454)". SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research 4 (2).
- Hall, D.G.E. (1960). Burma (3rd ed.). Hutchinson University Library. ISBN 978-1-4067-3503-1.
- Hardiman, John Percy; Sir James George Scott (1901). Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States Part 2 3. Government Printing, Burma.
- 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.
- Lieberman, Victor B. (2003). Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830, volume 1, Integration on the Mainland. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80496-7.
- Phayre, Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. (1883). History of Burma (1967 ed.). London: Susil Gupta.
- Royal Historians of Burma (c. 1680). U Hla Tin (Hla Thamein), ed. Zatadawbon Yazawin (1960 ed.). Historical Research Directorate of the Union of Burma.
- Royal Historical Commission of Burma (1829–1832). Hmannan Yazawin (in Burmese) 1–3 (2003 ed.). Yangon: Ministry of Information, Myanmar.
- Than Tun (December 1959). "History of Burma: A.D. 1300–1400". Journal of Burma Research Society XLII (II).
ThadominbyaBorn: 7 December 1345 Died: 5 September 1367
|King of Ava
April 1364 – September 1367