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Mongol invasion of Burma
Bagan (Pagan), the capital of the Pagan Kingdom
Date 1277, 1283 and 1287
Location Burma, Baoshan
Result Mongol victory
Burma became tributary to the Great Yuan.
Pagan Kingdom fell into anarchy
Yuan Dynasty of the Mongol Empire The Pagan Kingdom
Nasir al-Din
the prince Sangudar
the prince Esen-temur
12,000 and 3,840 in 1277
10,000 in 1283
7,000 in 1287
More than 20,000 troops
less than 200 war elephants
Casualties and losses
Less than the Burmese Unknown but far larger than the Mongols

After the conquest of China, the Great Khan Kublai Khan of the Mongol Empire invaded the Pagan Kingdom of Burma in 1277 and 1283. However, the Yuan armies later again invaded Burma several times in order to assert supremacy over the territory.


Initial conflicts of 1277

After the conquest of Yunnan in 1253, there was an open route to Indo-China. Kublai, the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, dispatched Sayid Ajall as the administrator of Yunnan province in 1273. Then Kublai sent three envoys to demand Burma's submission. According to some sources, Burma's king Narathihapate receied his envoys well at first. But Narathihapate executed Kublai's envoy when the Yuan envoys arrived the second time. The Mien kingdom of Burma sent force into the Thai state of Kaungai, the protecrate of Kublai, harassing the Gold-tooths.

In 1277 the Mien Burmese, with 80-200 war elephants, had advanced over the border along the high valleys in Baoshan. 700 man Mongol garrison under Khudu was sent to blockade their way with Achang and Gold-tooth tribesmen (speak of 12,000 men). The Mongol horses refused to advance when they saw elephants. Khudu ordered his men to dismount, approach on foot and shower the elephants with arrows. Wounded by those arrows, the elephants plunged into wood, destroying everything in their path, including the Burmese infantry. The Burmese fled, though Khudu was wounded during the armed-clash with the Burmese at Nandian. The Great Yuan troops returned to Yunnan, carrying their wounded commander.

An army of 3,840 Mongols, Yi, Mosuo under Sayid's son Nasir al-Din invaded Burma in November, 1277 and he defeated another army of the Mien.[1] Nasir counted households and set up postal stations in the area. But he withdrew because the Mongols avoided heat and malaria.[2]

The Mongol invasion of Burma 1283

The Yuan force of 10,000 under the Mongol prince Sangudar from Sichuan, with the Miao auxiliaries, advanced to induce the king to submit.[3] The Mongols attacked Bhamo and they quickly defeated the Burmese army in 1283. The king of Mien fled to the hills with his subjects. The king begged them to return after the crops have grown. Narathihapate lost his reputation among his subjects with all those defeats.

Fall of Pagan 1287

A view of Pagan city

Narathihapate had been just assassinated by his son Thihathu when Kublai decided to send his troops again in late 1286. The prince Esen-temur led his 7,000 men down the Irrawaddy. When he reached Pagan, the king had already fled to the hills nearby. The Yuan troops stripped Pagan's monasteries of their gold and silver. Esen-temur divided Burma into the Yuan's political divisions and installed the puppet ruler of the Mongols. However, the Pagan Kingdom fell into anarchy.


In 1297 Thihatu's brother Tribuhuvanaditya, the king of Pagan, submitted to the Mongol court.[4] In response to this friendly action, the Great Khan Temur (r.1294-1307) stopped his plan to attack Burma. In 1299 a Burmese official called Asange that killed the king Tribuhuvanaditya as well as over a hundred messengers from the Yuan Dynasty by the order of the former king's younger brother Athinkiya. Thus, Temur Khan decided to send army to punish him. Nevertheless, the Yuan army from Yunnan Xing Zhongshusheng met significant resistance. Burmese nobles reasserted control over some territories in Burma with Mongols and drove out Shan-Thais. But at the another fortified, three-walled town of Myinsaing, Shan forces checked the Mongols, of whom about 500 were killed in battle in 1300. In the next year, Asange decided to bride the Yuan generals, which was successful and the Yuan army retreated to China soon. Later, the Mongol commander was executed by Yunnan's governor for his actions. Asange sent his younger brother to the Yuan court to ask for pardon, and Temur agreed to stop the Burmese campaign. Burma had kept a stable tributary relationship with the Yuan ever since.


  • J.Bor "History of diplomatic relations of Mongol-Eurasia" Vol. II
  • Rene Grousset "The Empire of the Steppes - Attila, Chingis khan and Tamerlane" ISBN 9780813513041


  1. ^ C.P.Atwood-Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p.72
  2. ^ John Man-Kublai Khan, p.300
  3. ^ ^ C.P.Atwood-Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p.72
  4. ^ René Grousset-The empire of the steppes, p.291


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