Part 4.                                                 


Autthaya watched apprehensively the military maneuvers of Burma’s king Tabinshewhti of Toungoo, born 1515-1520. The encroachment of his troops on Siamese soil was an excuse for a retaliatory attack on Tavoy in southern Burma, thus unleashing an attempt by Tabinshwehti to conquer Siam. Burmese forces, supported by Portuguese mercenaries, marched east through the Three pagodas Pass to Kanchanaburi and to Ayutthaya, the Siamese capital, which was besieged for four months in 1548. Dressed as men, Siamese Queen Suriyodaya and her daughter perished fighting.

Queen Suriyodaya

 The Siamese kings son Rameshvara who died in 1564, and son-in-law were both captured, but later freed in return for a safe retreat by the Burmese forces, who had run out of war supplies and had failed to take Ayutthaya. Depressed by defeat king Tabinshwehti turned to drinking and was finally assassinated by a Mon prince who proclaimed himself King during a Mon revolt in 1550. King Tabinswhehti’s brother-in-law Bayinnaung suppressed the revolt and ascended the throne.

The Three Pagodas Pass

Siamese-Burmese war of 1584-92   ( King Naresuan )

Burma dominated Siam for 15 years after the war of 1563-69. In 1584, King Naresuan, born in 1555 who at this time was formerly known as Phra Naret, governor of Siam’s northern governor of Siam’s northern province of Phitsanulok and son of vassal king Maha Dhammaraja, renounced his allegiance to Burma’s King Nanda Bayin (died 1599), son and successor of King Bayinnuang. A two pronged Burmese invasion was launched through the three Pagodas Pass and Chiengmai; the invading Burmese armies were defeated and turned back.

In late 1586, three more Burmese armies invaded Siam from different directions and advanced to the capital of Ayutthaya. They invested and attacked the city from January to May of 1587, finally being forced to withdraw because of lack of supplies, disease, and Naresuan’s strategies and refusal to capitulate.

Siamese Cambodian war of 1587

Cambodia’s King Sattha supported King Naresuan and his declaration of independence from Burma. Cambodian troops led by Sattha’s brother, Prince Srisuphanma were provided for Naresuans attack on Burma’s King Bayinnuangs troops who had invaded Chiengmai in April 1586. Naresuan however, in response to a slight by the brother, had Laotian captives impaled. Upset by Naresuans actions, Sattha broke ties with Naresaun and launched an invasion of his own into southern Siam in 1587, seizing Prachin Buri.

Cambodia’s request for aid from Manila proved futile. Instead of pursuing the retreating Burmese who had failed to capture Ayutthaya, Naresuan forced the Cambodians to retreat and retook Prachim Buri. Naresuan then invaded Cambodia where he captured Battambang and Pursat (Pouthisat) and advanced as far as the capital of Lovek, before lack of supplies necessitated his withdrawal. He vowed to punish Sattha for breaking the alliance. In 1590, another Burmese invasion failed; Phra Naret assumed the Siamese throne as King Naresuan upon the death of his father King Maha Dhammaraja.

In 1592, Burmese King Nanda Bayin launched an invasion in a final attempt to crush Naresuan and his independence movement; at the 'battle of Nong Sa Rai', a large Burmese army led by Crown Prince Minkyizwa engaged Naresuan and his forces in a hand to hand combat between the two leaders, who had kwon each other since childhood, who rode on war elephants, Crown Prince Minkyizwa was killed, cut from shoulder to waist by a blow from Naresuan. The Burmese army retreated; Siam had finally been liberated from Burmese rule.

Laos secured its independence from Burma, but it soon lapsed into an anarchic state until Soulina -Vongsa was crowned King. 1593, King Naresuan advanced into Burma’s peninsular area, seizing Tavoy and Tenasserin provinces. His troops marched north to attack successfully Moulmein and Martaban in 1594.

In 1595, Laotian troops overran Chiengmai its ruler secured the aid of Naresuan in driving out the invading Laotian invaders, after which Naresuan took control of Chiengmai making its ruler his vassal.

In 1596, Burma’s King Nanda Bayin he been compelled to retreat to the Burmese capital of Pegu, and safeguard it from Siamese attack.

Siamese-Cambodian war of 1593-94

Naresuan sought revenge on Cambodia’s King Sattha and in May of 1593 launched another offensive into Cambodia. A Siamese invasion force of 100’000 men moved eastward into Cambodia, retaking the towns of Battambang and Pursat. At the head of this force King Naresuan pushed on to Lovek, where two Siamese armies joined forces   with him after capturing Siemreab, Bassac (Champassak, Laos ) and other towns in the north.

Despite his failure to obtain Spanish aid from manila Sattha refused to capitulate; he imprisoned a Siamese diplomat and began counterattacks against the Siamese besiegers.  After savage and bloody fighting the Cambodian capital of Lovek just north of Phnom Penh fell. Sattha escaped and took refuge in Luang Prabang (Louangphrabang), where he died in 1596. Sattha’s brother Prince Srisuphanma was imprisoned in Autthaya and Cambodia was put under the rule of a Siamese military governor.

After arriving in Cambodia in 1596 to finally help King Sattha, who was already dead against Naresuans Siamese forces, Spanish troops from Manila killed an usurper to the Cambodian throne and installed a son of the late King Sattha in 1597.

Later, during the Burmese Civil war of 1599 Naresuan mounted another offensive on Burmese territory against the capital Pegu, seizing and occupying the city until Burmese rebels who had ousted and killed King Nanda Bayin, regrouped and defeated the Siamese forces. Meanwhile in Cambodia, many Cambodians had resented the power wielded by the Spanish forces and in mid 1599, the Spanish troops at Phnom Penh were attacked and massacred.  Afterward three weak and corrupt Prince’s held the throne until Cambodia’s Queen mother asked Naresuan to enthrone Sattha’s brother Prince Srisuphanma.

 In 1603, Srisuphanma returned to Cambodia with a 6’000 man Siamese army; soon over coming the resistance, he became king as a vassal of King Naresuan.


Copyright 1998 USMTA Inc.   All rights reserved. Revised: October 16, 2004.