Mindon Min

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King Mindon.jpg
King of Burma
Prince of Mindon
Tenure18 February 1853 – 1 October 1878[1]
Coronation6 July 1854
BornMaung Lwin
(1808-07-08)8 July 1808
Died1 October 1878(1878-10-01) (aged 70)
Consort62 queens in total, including Setkya Dewi
110 children including: Thibaw and Supayalat
Regnal name
Siri Pavaravijaya Nantayasapaṇḍita Tribhavanāditya Mahādhammarājadhirāja
(သီရိပဝရဝိဇယာနန္တယသပဏ္ဍိတ တြိဘဝနအာဒိတျာ မဟာမမ္မရာဇာဓိရာဇာ)
MotherChandra Mata Mahay, Queen of the south Royal Chamber
ReligionTheravada Buddhism

Mindon Min (Burmese: မင်းတုန်းမင်း, pronounced [mɪ́ɰ̃dóʊɰ̃ mɪ́ɰ̃]; 8 July 1808 – 1 October 1878) was the penultimate king of Burma (Myanmar) from 1853 to 1878.[1] He was one of the most popular and revered kings of Burma. Under his half brother King Pagan, the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 ended with the annexation of Lower Burma by the British Empire. Mindon and his younger brother Kanaung overthrew their half brother King Pagan. He spent most of his reign trying to defend the upper part of his country from British encroachments, and to modernize his kingdom.


King Mindon founded the last royal capital of Burma, Mandalay, in 1857. His younger brother Kanaung proved to be a great administrator and modernizer. During Mindon's reign, scholars were sent to France, Italy, the United States, and Great Britain, in order to learn about the tremendous progress achieved by the Industrial Revolution.

Statue of King Mindon at Mandalay

During Mindon's reign, the following reforms were undertaken: centralization of the kingdom's internal administration, introduction of a salary system for the bureaucracy (to dampen the authority and income of bureaucrats), fixed judicial fees, comprehensive penal laws, reorganization of the financial system, removal of trade barriers including custom duties, reform of the thathameda taxes (to increase direct taxation), and modernization of the kingdom's army and introduction of new police forces.[2]

A Burmese manuscript (Or 13681) held by the British Library depicts "seven scenes of King Mindon’s donations at various places during the first four years of his reign (1853-57)," including a monastery, rest houses, and gifts for monks.[3]

Mindon introduced the first machine-struck coins to Burma, and in 1871 also held the Fifth Buddhist council in Mandalay. He had already created the world's largest book in 1868, the Tipitaka, 729 pages of the Buddhist Pali Canon inscribed in marble and each stone slab housed in a small stupa at the Kuthodaw Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill.

In 1871 Mindon also donated a new hti ('umbrella' or crown gilded and encrusted with precious diamonds and other gems) to the 105-metre-tall (344 ft) Shwedagon Pagoda, which is located in then British held Yangon, although he was not allowed to visit this most famous and venerated pagoda in the country.

On 15 August 1873, Mindon also enacted the Seventeen Articles, one of Southeast Asia's first indigenous press freedom laws.[4]

In 1875, during a royal consecration ceremony, Mindon took on the title Siripavaravijayanantayasa Paṇḍita Tribhavanadityadhipati Mahadhammarajadhiraja.[5]

With the opening of the Suez Canal, Mindon assembled a flotilla of steamers to facilitate trade with the British.

His brother Kanaung is still remembered by the Burmese as an avid modernizer, who would go to the factories early on cold winter mornings with a blanket wrapped around, just to talk to the mechanics about how the machines ran. He was in charge of the Royal Army, as was customarily required of Burmese crown princes, and he imported and manufactured guns, cannons and shells.

Palace rebellion[edit]

In 1866 two of Mindon's sons, Prince Myingun and Prince Myingundaing attempted a palace coup. Myingun claimed that the Crown Prince Kanaung was oppressive, and Kanaung was murdered during the revolt. Mindon escaped alive and the coup was crushed when Myingun fled in a steamer to British Burma. Rumours of British involvement are unsubstantiated, and no evidence exists showing their support for the revolt.[6]

While Mindon was escaping the palace, he ran into a would-be assassin, Maung Paik Gyi, who lost his nerve and grovelled in front of the king. Mindon commanded him to carry him from the palace, which he promptly did.[7]

Succession crisis[edit]

King Mindon's tomb in Mandalay in 1903.

The rebellion caused Mindon great reluctance in naming a successor to Kanaung for fear of civil war.

One of his queens, Hsinbyumashin, dominated the last days of King Mindon. It was an edict by Hsinbyumashin that ordered almost all possible heirs to the throne be killed, so that her daughter Supayalat and son-in-law Thibaw would become queen and king. Close royals of all ages and both genders were mercilessly executed, after being tricked that the dying king wanted to bid them farewell.

Thibaw, Mindon's son from a lesser queen, succeeded him after his death in 1878. King Thibaw was defeated by the British in the Third Anglo-Burmese War in November 1885 resulting in total annexation of Burma.


Mindon Min had 45 consorts, from which he had 70 children of royal birth.[8] A number of children were also borne by maids of honour and other casual ladies.[8]


  1. ^ a b Christopher Buyers. "The Konbaung Dynasty Genealogy: King Mindon". royalark.net. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
  2. ^ Candier, Aurore (December 2011). "Conjuncture and Reform in the Late Konbaung Period". Journal of Burma Studies. 15 (2).
  3. ^ Depictions of King Mindon’s Donations at Various Places from 1853 to 1857. 1850s. British Library, via World Digital Library.
  4. ^ "Chronology of Burma's Laws Restricting Freedom of Opinion, Expression and the Press". The Irrawaddy. 1 May 2004. Archived from the original on 18 December 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  5. ^ Hpo Hlaing (2004). Rajadhammasangaha (PDF). L.E. Bagshawe (translator).
  6. ^ Pollak, Oliver (1979). Empires in Collision : Anglo-Burmese Relations in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. London: Greenwood.
  7. ^ Thaung, Blackmore (1969). "Dilemma of the British Representative to the Burmese Court after the Outbreak of a Palace Revolution in 1866". Journal of Southeast Asian History. 10 (2): 241.
  8. ^ a b Scott, J. George (1900). Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States. 1 (in Burmese). 2. Burma: Superintendent, Government Printing. pp. 90–91.


  • Buyers, Christopher. "The Konbaung Dynasty Genealogy: King Mindon". royalark.net. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
  • Candier, Aurore (December 2011). "Conjuncture and Reform in the Late Konbaung Period". Journal of Burma Studies 15 (2).
  • Charney, Michael W. (2006). Powerful Learning: Buddhist Literati and the Throne in Burma's Last Dynasty, 1752–1885. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.
  • Hall, D.G.E. (1960). Burma (3rd ed.). Hutchinson University Library. ISBN 978-1406735031.
  • Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press.
  • Maung Maung Tin, U (1905). Konbaung Hset Maha Yazawin (in Burmese). 1–3 (2004 ed.). Yangon: Department of Universities History Research, University of Yangon.
  • Myint-U, Thant (2006). The River of Lost Footsteps—Histories of Burma. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-16342-6.
  • Phayre, Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. (1883). History of Burma (1967 ed.). London: Susil Gupta.

External links[edit]

Media related to Mindon Min at Wikimedia Commons

Mindon Min
Born: 8 July 1808 Died: 1 October 1878
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Burma
18 February 1853 – 1 October 1878
Succeeded by
Royal titles
Preceded by
Prince of Mindon Succeeded by