The Lao Kingdom of Lang-xang

Project: The Lao Kingdom of Lang-xang
Author: Lem Chuck Moth

Started date: June/01/2003
Last updated: December/30/2014
All right reserved.
Since this paper is still drafted, the readers would be advised to ignore any context errors. The content is not final and subjected to be reviewed.

As many tribesmen of the mainland Indochina, the original people of Laos were the survivors of the Great Flood. Their dwelling built on stilts were one of many aspects that were proved to be part of a common tradition of Southeast Asia. After the flood, they were subjected to new civilizations that changed over time. Evidence show that during the formation of Varadhana (Hiong-Wang in Chinese source) the ancient leadership spectrum was shared among the Khmer-mon and the Lawa tribesmen of which the Lao's identity of the medieval era was derived from. We had argued that starting from the Christian era, northern Indochinese had been subjected to the Meru (Khmer), Kambojan (Tai) and the Cham (Yueh) leaderships as part of the overall global cultural development. This heritage was due in most part to foreign incursion, particularly from Central Asia and China during the Han era. Complication arose when new aristocratic communities, moving out either from Yunnan or from China, attempted to mix in with the Lawa tribesmen of southern territories. Diversion occured when they enforced their foreign cultures on the locals, giving them the impression of race and ethnicity differences (Notes: The Lao Race). Despite of that, Laos and northern Siam countries still maintain their share of the same ancient past legacy with the Khmer Empire that was strenghtened even more by the process of Indianization. The next era of Laos' s history had a deep root with the Khmer legacy, before and after the formation of Nokor Khmer. The Lao tradition appears to have the recollection of the same Indian prince making his way to form the Khmer Kingdom at Prey Nokor (LAOS: Chapter III: Le Laos Historique). The story line is consistent with the Khmer version about the fight between the Cham King and Prah Tong that ended up driving the former out of Champapura (Notes: Khmer vs Lao's account about Prah Thong). After the fighting, the formation of the Khmer Empire by Prah Tong at Prey Nokor started on its own odysay to cut off Chinese incursion from the north. The Buddhist culture that was brought by Kaundinya connected the history of ancient Laos, Champapura so close with the Khmer Kingdom of Prey-Nokor, presented in Chinese sources as Lin-yi (Notes: The Misconception of Lin-yi as a Cham Country). The formation of Angkor had furthermore put the final stop to more Chinese interference until Agkor itself was rundown by the Mongols. In the early phase of the Mongols interference, the Tai pact allowed Ramakamheang to extend his control over the Yunnan country. By then, the Angkorian court already lost control over the northeastern part of its territory. Taking that opportunity, Mang-rai invaded Haripangjaya and formed Lanna on the ground of the ancient state of Lawasangharatha. Haripangjaya was then taken and integrated into the new country and received a new name as Muang Nakhon. The falling court of Haripangjaya took refuge at Pisnulok and after the new Angkorian court was wiped out by the flood, moved to take control of the throne. At the same time, we had seen the re-emergence of Sri Dharamaraja under the last falling court of Angkor (Sri Dharmaraja: The reestablishment of Sri Dharmaraja: The court from Indrapathpuri). Taking refuge at Sri Ayudhya during the Mongol's incursion, this last of the Angkorian legacy rebuilt Sri Dharmaraja and revived back the Sri Vijayan legacy. It was under these circumstances that Lan-xang was formed by a Lao prince named Fa-Ngum with the support of new Angkorian court.
The modern History of Laos
When compiling modern history of Laos, western scholars were facing with the lack of source of Laos' s deep past history. It is because until the formation of Lan-xang by King Fa-Ngum, Laos had never been formed as a stand alone country. Nevertheless, the legacy of Khun Borom that was shared among northern Siam countries apprears to indicate a common origin with the Tai tribesmen of Yunnan. Coupling with the scientific finding of a common Tai Language spoken by northern Siamese tribesmen, scholars were led to believe that Khun Borom was actually the ancestor of the Tai spoken people. We had argued instead that the advent of Khun Borom was closely connected to the formation of the Angkorian Empire (Xiang-Mai: The Nan-Tchao Connection: Khun Borom of Nan-chao). Furthermore, the shared tradition of Prah Thong conveys that what is called Laos of today was actually a part of the Khmer Empire that constituted along with Champapura the Northeatern cardinal state of Angkor. Just like in Champapura, the return of the Chola back in this remote site of Laos created a political diversion from the Angkorian empire. The secession of the Cham court from the Khmer consortium that started from the reign of King Suryavaramn II and became final after the Mongol's incursion, had subsequently serious effect on the relationship between Angkor and the Lao countries. While other Lao communities were grouped under the control of Rajapati as a strategic northern cardinal state of Angkor, the far remote locality of Lan-xang and its eastern part were instead more politically connected with Prey Nokor. During the Mongol occupation of Champapura, indications show that Lan-xang was under the Mongol's control and through the dependency of Sokhodaya was part of Yunnan. The situation was going to change after Fa-Ngum brought a Khmer army to capture his father kingdom and made it as the capital of the Medieval Laos. With the assistance of his father-in-law who was reigning at Angkor, Fa-Gnum brought Buddhism and the Khmer Culture to his new kingdom. By a large, we shall argue that the establishment of Lan-xang was not an isolated event and was part of a big campaing to form another Buddhist consortion between the Indochinese courts during the early medieval era.
Reading through Laos' s modern history, many questions popped up to challenge the Lao tradition of claiming that Khun Borom was the anscestor of the Lao people. As we had seen, the misconception had led to the wrong postulation by modern scholars that the Lao people was originated from the Tai tribesmen of Yunnan. To resolve the misconception, we had recoursed to different sources to find out the true nature of Khun Borom as well as of Fa-Ngum who were considered by the Lao people as the progenator of their race. We had argued that both Khun Borom and Khun Lo were actually two dynasties that had their origin from the Khmer courts of Prey Nokor. The establishment of modern Lan-xang as we shall see, was done as a joint venture of Fa-Ngum with his father-in-law, king Suryavang of the Angkorian court.
The Xiang-mai' s Connection *
The Lao tradition (LAO:The reign of Chao Fa-Gnum) maintains its claim that, since it was formed, Lan-Xang was always ruled by the descendant of Khun Lo who was the eldest son of Khun Borom. The claim induces another question that we have in mind on how the court of Xiang-Tong managed to survive both the Mongols and Dai-viet' s aggression in the past (Notes: The Southern Expansion). We shall argue that the court of Lan-xang had been under turbulant changes since it was formed by Khun Lo through the interference first of Dai- Viet and later of the Mongols. The Xiang-mai chronicle confirms that before the Mongols' incursion, Lan-Xang was under the Ho court of Yunnan until it was wrested by King Cuang and delegated to his eldest son named Yi-Khan-Hao who founded the Ruong Dynasty at Yunnan (The Sri Vijaya Connection: The Angkorian Empire under the Mahidhara Court: The Skirmish with the Ho Ruler of Yunnan). Connecting to the same account, the Lao history started with a Khmer monarch named Khun Chuong-Fah-Thammaraj had made his way out to conquer Muong Prakan of Yunnan (LAO: Chapter V: The Lan-Xang Kingdom: Khun-Lo The first king of Lan-Xang Kingdom: P. 25).
During this particular period there was a Khmer monarch by the name of Khun Chuong-Fah-Thammaraj or otherwise known as Khun Hung whom the Khmer called Phra-Huang who ruled over the city of Ngeun-Yang, now muong Xieng-Saen. Khun Chuong had victoriously fought a war against the Vietnamese and succeeded in occupying the Vietnamese City of Muong Prakan (now Xieng-Khuang). King Aeng-Ka, then the ruler of Muong Prakan was killed in this battle. Having occupied Muong Prakan, Khun Chuong celebrated his victory there for seven long months. When the victory celebration was over, Khun Chuong appointed Khun Khuang to run the city and returned thereafter to Xiang-Saen.
In the story line, King Chuong (Cuang in the Xiang-mai chronicle) of Xiang-saen was mentioned as a Khmer Monarch. His attack on the Vietnamese of mount Prakan was exactly the same attack of King Cuang to the Kaeo Kingdom in the Xiang-mai chronicle. Agreeing with the fact that King Cuang was lined from king Lawasangharatha of Xiang-mai and ruled Xiang-saen at the same time, Khun Chuong was actually a Khmer king of the Sri Vijayan house, which supports our argument that king Borom, the predecessor of king Cuang, was a Khmer King. The Kaeo King on the other hand was mentioned as Vietnamese implicating that both Dai-Viet and the Kaeo Country of Yuannan was actually the same country under the Ho leadership. After winning the battle, Khunn Chuong annointed Khun-Khuang to rule moung Prakan, but the Viets regrouped themselves and fought back.
At the same time, a Vietnamese general known as Hun Bang launched an attack against the city of Prakan. Khun Chuong came to the rescue of Khun-Khuang and drove back Hun Bang's army. Hun Bang fled with his army but went to ask Thao Fah-Huan of Muong Tum-Wang for help. Khun Chuong went after him to Muong Tum-Wang. Chao-fah-Huan of Tum-Wang, unable to defend his city sent an ambassador to ask Khun-Lo in muong Ka-Long for help.
This is the first time that Khun Lo was introduced in the Lao tradition, not as a ruler of Lan-xang, but as a ruler of muong Ka-long. Requested for help by the Vietnamese, Khun Lo went out to kill king Chuong.
Khun-Lo who was no longer worried about the Chinese threat of invasion of the time, and having also the desire to make his influence felt in the south, headed his army to the rescue of Chao Fah-Huan in muong Tum-Wang. Khun-Lo met Khun Chuong in person and finally slew him. Then the Khmer army of Khun Chuong retreated. Khun Lo sent his army after it down to Muong Swa (Luang Prabang of today in Laos) occupied muong Swa then under Khun Hang. Khun-Lo later made Muong Swa the capital of the Siam Kingdom of Lan-xang in the year 757 AD and later changed its name to Muong Xieng Thong.
The Lao's account agrees with the Xiang-mai chronicle about how Khun Chuong lost the fight, but differs from the latter that it was actually Khun Lo who killed the Khmer King Khun Chuong. The Siam tradition mentioned instead that Khun Cuang was brought-down and killed by the coalition of the Kaeo and the Tai of Maen-ta-tok clans. It is obvious that Khun Lo in the story line was not the same as the eldest son of King Borom since at least two centuries had been elapsed since the latter was mentioned to form the Lao Kingdom of Lan-xang in 757 AD. On the other hand, the chronology in the Siam tradition (the Xiang-mai chronicle) dates the reign of King Cuang and the invasion of the Kaeo country around 1053 AD (Sri Vijaya: The Yunnan Affair: The Tai-yuan Leadership). This confusion between two separated events happening in more than two centurie apart is an example of the Lao source' s discrepency concerning the early formation of Lan-xang and the origin of the Lao people as a whole. The misconception was due to the claim that Khun-Borom and Khun-lo were of Tai or Lao stock. The Lao source must to confuse between the line of Khun Borom's descendants and the Tai aristocrats Maen-ta-tok who had been controlling the Tai tribesmen of the Yuannan country on-and-off since the Han Dynasty.
The Angkorian Connection *
We had argued that during the formation of Angkor, Laos was part of the Northeastern cardinal state of Angkor. The inclusion was made possible due to the inheritance of the same deep past legacies in both the Cham and Tai ancestry. The Lao tradition of Khun Borom was the same the Khmer God King Paramesvara, during the development of the Angkorian Empire. His brother, Khun Lo or Khun Lo Dharni, who founded Xiang-Tong was on the other hand a Sailendra king, Dharnindravarman who also built the city of Indrapura at Dong-doung. Other Khmer and Laos chronicles also witness the close connection of Lan-xang and the rest of Laos with the two Angkorian lineages. After the Dynastic crises, Suryavarman I was seen consolidating the northern Siam countries under his control and inscriptions of Prah Vihea started to mention about Rajapati becoming the northern commanding post of Angkor. During the conflict between the Ho court of Mount Phah Khan, King Cuang of Xiang-Mai annointed his middle son, Yi Khan Hao, to be king of Lan-xang under the family name Ruang (The Sri Vijaya Connection: The Angkorian Empire under the Mahidhara Court: The Skirmish with the Ho Ruler of Yunnan). Under the reign of King Suryavarman II, the Khmer court had achieved a task that had never been done before. The unification of both the Sri Vijaya and the Chola Empire under the same roof required an elaborate arrangement to resolve conflicts between the two rivals. While the Sri Vijaya went back to take control of the Malay Peninsular, Champapura and Laos had been delegated to the Cholan court. The reunion was a mix blessing since the Chola, by incorporating South Indian Cham legacy of the Sangum era, invigorated a new devotion of Vishnuism. The orthodoxy upset the moderation of the last Angkorian court and gave way to religious rivalry. As the two clans revived theirs old feud, Champapura seceeded itself and started to challenge the authority of Angkor. During the conflict, Suryavarman II exerted a strong military pressure that ended in further disintegrating the internal consortium of the Cakravatin establishment of Angkor. During the next reigns, Angkor was noticeable in shamble. The effort of Jayavarman VII to bring back order to the middle Kingdom continued until the reign of his son Indravarman III whose effort to maintain the stability of a vast empire would met with another setback. With the Mongol's incursion, the effort was left undone and Champapura was later taken and made as a southern command post of the Great Khan. As indicated by the Lao Tradition itself, Laos was subject to leadership change under Kublai Khan 's iron grip control.
After the death of Khun Ruang, the kings took the title of Thiao, abandoning the title of Khun. (LAOS: The Royaume of Luang Prah Bang: Period legendary: P.165).
The changes of titles reflect a political instability of the Lan-Xang court (Notes: Titles and the crowning Procedure). The changes from Khun Ruang to Thiao Wang reflect the transition from the original ruling line of the Lao King Yi-Khan-Hao to a Cham lineage of kings. The change is consistent with the fact that Kublai Khan had replaced the old Yunnan's Ruang royal house with rulers of his own court or of other close allies of his. The title Thiao-wang indicates that the new ruler of Lan-Xang was more likely from the new Cham court of Champapura. It is also important to note that Lan-Xang was also known as muang Chawa, a legacy that might brought up earlier during the settlement of the Sailendra King from Java or by later development of Champapura fighting against Dai-Viet (Nokor Champa: The formation of Nokor Kanta: The spread of Muslim). The title Pya of the next king is on the other hand Burmese that might reflects the restoring by the Mongols of King Ngam Muang from the fallen Pagan's court to take care of Rajapati.
At the end of Thiao Wang's reign, the title of Thiao was replaced by that of Phyas. He had a successor a son Phya Kampong, of whom succeeded Pi-fat. (LAOS: The Royaume of Luang Prah Bang: Period legendary: P.165).
After the Mongols' withdrawal, the king of Sajjanalaya who became later king Sri Dharmaraja of Sokhodaya subdued Phya Kampong of Ngam-Muang's descend and restored back the Ruang lineage of which Fa-Ngum' s father, Chao Fah-Ngiao or Chao Pi-fat descended.
It was under the reign of Phya Kampong that Luan-Prabang, designated under the name of Chudamana Raja Maha Nagara, was destroyed by Prah Pad kamratin An Cri Dharmika Rajadhiraja, king of Sajjanalaya. (LAOS: The Royaume of Luang Prah Bang: Period legendary: P.165). At this moment, we shall see that the Sokhodaya court also helped the displaced court of Lampang to settle at Angkor that would play important role in the restablishment of Lan-Xang by king Fa-Ngum.
The Sokhodaya' s Connection *
After freeing Sokhodaya from the Mongolian scion of King Sucharat, the next Sokhodaya King Sri Dharmaraja broke himself free from the Tai pact and sided himself with the new grass-root consortium formed on the ground of previous cardinal states of Angkor. Through the interference of the Buddhist community of Ceylon, king Dharmaraja of Sokhodaya aligned himself with a new Buddhist consortium of the mainland Indochina. Thai scholars blamed him of not being effective enough in bringing Sokhodaya and subsequently the Tai World into the expansion policy as in Ramakamheang' s time. Our evidences show instead that Sri Dharmaraja was no less active than his grand father but unlike the latter who received strong rewards from the Khan by playing the subordination rule, king Dharmaraja was acting as a post-running Cakravatin monarch. With a change of policy, he brought Sokhodaya into a dangerous situation as he was no longer acclaimed by the Tai pact (Notes: The Tai Pact after the Mongols). The changes started before he wrested the throne of Sokhodaya from the Mongolian scion of previous court and tried to stop Lanna's aggression over Lampang (Lanna: The Mongolian Connection: The Conquest of Haripunjaya). We had seen that when he was still reigning over Sajjanalaya, Ladayraja invaded Lan-xang and restored the Ruang lineage back to the throne of Xieng-tong. The restoration of this last dynasty of Khumn Borom is understandably high in his agenda since Ladayaraja was descended also from this lineage through his great grand father Phrah Ruang. The adoption of the title "Rajadhiraja" that was a legacy of the Angkorian court, during his coronation, reveals clearly of his high ambition of restoring back the Khmer Cakravatin Empire (Sokhodaya: The decline of Sokhodaya: The reign of King Ladayaraja). The next development that started with the formation of the new Angkorian court along with the re-establishment of Sri Dharmaraja by King Lampangraja might have been part of the drive to build up a new Indochinese Buddhist consortium. It is important to note that during the Mongol's incursion, Angkor and Laos were targeted by the Tai pact and were left in disarray after the Mongols pull out. After restoring Angkor, the campaign to recover Laos started. Led by the refugee court of Lampang, the new Angkorian court took the lead to consolidate back the Lao countries. As recounted in the Lao chronicle, Lan-Xang was still isolated from the rest of its Lao compatriots after the Mongol occupation of Yunnan. With the help of his Khmer consort, Fa-Ngum brought the Khmer Culture the first time into this far remote region. Done with the support of the new Angkorian court, the Lao kingdom of Lang-xang retained the Khmer Culture until modern days. The campaign was in parallel to the restoration of Champapura by a displaced court from Sri Dharmaraja and was perhaps made possible, in part due to Sokhodaya' suzerainty over most of the Lao' s country of the time. According to the Khmer Tradition, the new Khmer court at Angkor had full control of the Khorat Plateau and other western provinces of northern Siam until the first raid of Ayudhya in 1350. The settlement was perhaps due in part to the ancient pact between Prah Ruang and Indravarman III, prior to the Mongol's incursion, to set clear frontier between Angkor and the new independent Sokhodaya. Evidences show that Sri Dharmaraja had relinquished wrested territory of the Khorat Plateau back to the new Angkorian court. The new formation of Lan-xang, as we shall see, was in a close conjunction with the settlement at Angkor by the fleeing Lampang court. With the support of Sokhodaya, the khmer King Lampangraja brought the Mon legacy into the mainstream of the Khmer falling empire. Circumstances had helped the new Angkorian court to look forward resuscitating back the Angkorian past, first at Sri Dharmaraja and next in the nothern Siam countries. The campaign at the Lao countries was facilitated by the presence of the Lao exile prince, Fa-Ngum. Being raised at Angkor, Fa-Gnum brought a Khmer army to wrest Lan-xang for himself and to build the medieval Laos according to the Khmer blueprint. Unfortunately, the rise of the Ayudhyan court by king U-tong forced Sri Dharmaraja to change focus as evidences show that he would concentrate more at the Menam Valley where the aggression of Ayudhya became more of a threat to the suzerainty of his own court. His campaign against Lanna that warded off the latter's aggression against both Lampang and Sokhodaya in the past also set a bad mood between the two courts. It drove the Lanna's ruler, Cao Saen Muang Ma, to join Ayudhya in the latter's aggression against the new Khmer consortium.
The formation of Lan-xang, as we shall see, was not by coincidence. Initiated by the court of the King Lampangraja, it was actually the last attempt by the southern courts to regroup themselves against northern incursion. During the start of their join campaigns, both the Khmer and Laos courts had to face with turbulent setback. Immediately after the formation of Lan-xang, the new Angkorian court was itself attacked by Ayudhya. Just as Dai-viet was always on the lookout for a territory gain, Lanna detached itself from the southern allies and joined itself with the Ho clan to take advantage of the bad situation set by the Mongol's incursion. In a hostile environment, the coalition of the Lao court and Angkor was crucial in driving down their aggressive common enemies.
The Origin of King Fa-Gnum *
Unlike his ancestors, the life and the rule of the Lao King Fa-Gnum was well documented. His biography could be found in the Lao chronicle "The Nitean (recital story or legend) of Khun Borom". The chronicle associates his past reference to the legendary Khun Borom that traces him to the early Paramesvara lineage of the Ankorian Empire. The chronicle then started the story of King Fa-Ngum' s birth in the court of Xieng-tong .
Chao Fa-Gnum was born in the year of the Naga in 1316. He was the son of Chao Fah-Ngiao or Khun Phi-Fah. At birth, he had a complete set of 33 teeth.
Fa-Gnum was born with a complete set of 33 teeth, a characteristic that worried the Lao court. This unusual and unprecedented feature of the newly born prince led the mandarin advisors of the king to the conclusion that it was sign of a bad omen. When grown up, concluded the mandarin, Fa-Ngum would do harms to the kingdom.
So, they suggested that the prince should be destitute by floating him on a raft along the stream.
In a twist of destiny, the young Fa-Ngum was picked up, raised and trained by a high ranking monk named Maha Pasaman at Angkor.
The raft of prince Fa-Gnum floated along the Mekong River for one year before it arrived at one spot known as Li-phi. At this time a Khmer monk known as Phra Maha Pa-sman who was there saw the raft and when he knew that the Lao prince was aboard, he picked him up, raised him and brought him up with all the necessary education.
The next section explains why the young Fa-Gnum ended up in the capital of Cambodia. His association to the new Angkorian court was however due to a new development of the establishment of King Lampangraja at the Augkorian court.
When Prince Fa-Gnum reached the age of six or seven, the monk brought the prince to the Khmer King who then ruled over the city of Nakhon Luang.
When he was sixteen years old, continues the Lao chronicle, the King of Cambodia gave him in marriage his daughter named Princess Keo-ken-ya. Later he was given an army so he would conquer back and made himself king of the kingdom of his father. Leading a Khmer army, Fa-gnum went north to claim Xiang-Tong for himself and later founded the Lao country of Lan-Xang. Taking the opportunity of Angkor's defenseless situation, Ayudhya invaded and captured the Angkorian throne (Nokor Catomukh: The last Angkorian kings: Prah Lampangraja). We shall identify that the king of Cambodia, mentioned in the chronicle, was not the contemporary king Lampangraja who died during the Ayudhyan attack on Angkor in 1351. It was instead his brother, Suryavang, who was then obraja and became king after Angkor was freed from Ayudhya. Fa-Gnum's next campaigns were more about helping the Khmer king Prah Suryavang to liberate Angkor from Ayudhya rather than his own campaign to extend the Lao country. The alliance between Lan-Xang, Champapura and the new Angkorian court was set to launch a new consortium to regain the control the eastern region of the mainland. Not only that Angkor was freed from Ayudhya but also was in the process of regaining its past supremacy. The next development at Sri Dharmaraja, was actually the first step of Angkor to be once again in control of the sea route. On the other front, Fa-Ngum went on conquering many provinces hold by the new court of Ayudhya, including the Khorat Plateau, and handed them back to his father-in-law. After a series of bloody battles, Fa-Gnum had set his reputation known as a victorious Lao king from the line of the famous Lao ancestor kings Khun Borom and Khun-Lo. In the account of all his next conquests, the Lao tradition seams to attribute most successes to this past connection. The statement of brothership was used to break the resistance of the antagonist Lao rulers who, in turn, used it for a graceful surrender to avoid the raid of Fa-Gnum.
Like you, we are direct descendants of Khun Borom and Khun Lo. From this claim, modern historians mistook the connection of Khbun Borom and Khun Lo as a proof of of kinship between the Lao people, and to the most extend the Tai people. As we had argued, Khun Borom and Khun Lo was just a leadership figure of the Lao people and being of Sri Vijayan ancestry was not the progenator of the ethnic Lao people as thought.
The Reign of King Fa-Ngum (1353-1373) *
During the exploit of Fa-Gnum over the Lao country, the court of Xiang-Tong was already aware of the latter' s intention in regard to his native country. By the time, the throne of Xiang-tong was occupied by Fa-Gnum' uncle, Fah-Kham-Hiao. Soon after the latter died, the Xiang-Tong's court invited Fa-Gnum to ascend the throne that was rightfully his according to his birthright (LAO: Chapter V: The Lan-Xang Kingdom: The Advent of Prince Fa-Ngum: P. 30).
After the death of King Chao Fah-Kham-Hiao, the same mandarins and ministers that had previously abandoned Prince Fa-Gnum lost no time in inviting the Prince to the throne of Nokorn Xiang-Tong. Prince Fa-Gnum was enthroned at the court of Lan-xang in the year 1353. When he reached the age of 37 he was given the name of "Phragna Fah-La-Thorani Sisatanakanahud".
The passage indicates that Fa-Ngum 's first campaign over the Lao country did not free Xiang-ton for himself. Nevertheless, his exploit was successful enought to convince the Lao court of what they needed to do after the death the reigning king. According to the Lao court, he received the title of "Phragna Fah-La-Thorani Sisatanakanahud" after ascending the Lan-xang's throne. It is interesting to note that the title is a Lao transcription of the Sanskrit title "Pongna Prah Dharnindra Sri Santan Naga Nahud" which connects him to Champa' s king Dharnindravarman of the Khmer inscription. We shall see that both legacies of the Malay court "Sri Santan Naga" and "Mauli of the Malan people" were also present in the title of king Sethathirath, another Lao of Lan-Xang who was a descendant of Fa-Gnum. It confirms our assumption that the legendary Khun lo was actually a member of Sailendra dyasty and that his ancestor Khun Borum was a member of the Sri Vjayan court of Kedah. The finding explains the next close relatioship between Fa-Gnum with the contemporary Champa king Simha Jayavarman who, as we shall see, was originated from Sri Dharmaraja. While Simha Jayavarman reestablished Champapura by discarding Dai-viet' s control of the region, Fa-Gnum descended on Xiang-tong (Luang Prah Bang) and established it as the capital of the new Lan-Xang Kingdom. The chronicle Nithan of Khun Borom tells with great details the story of victorious advance of Fa-Gnum's expedition along the Mekong Valley. His campaign against Dai-Viet from Bassac, Khammuan, Tran-ninh, to the Hua Phan where Fa-Gnum negotiated with Dai-viet at the watershed separating the red River and the Mekong and Sip-son-pana. When informed of the rapid advance of the Lao troops, the Vietnamese king, fearful of the loss of his kingdom, hurried to send a delegation to meet Fa-Gnum with precious gifts. Proposals were made and concessions were set to his request, in defining the natural frontier between the two countries. Distintion between the Lao and the Vietnamese communities could be done through a key difference of the two communities' s tadition.
The people dwelling in houses on stilts shall be recognized as those of the Lao Kingdom.
The proposition seams to be in favor for Fa-Gnum since it allows him to have the opportunity to build-up Lan-Xang, right at the doorstep of Tonkin. On the other hand it also served Dai-viet as they were more concerned about the plains than the mountainous regions. As long as the Laos settled on the mountainous region, the Viets would not have any objection for the time being. Another concession was set to make sure that the Laos would not leave the mountainous regions and went down to the fertile valley.
The limitation procedure shall take into account the flow of the rainwater from the mountains. That is to say that when its rains, the part of lands covered by the rain water running in the direction of Lao territory shall be recognized as part of the Lao territory. The part of lands on which rainwater flows in the direction of the Vietnamese territory shall be recognized as part of the Vietnamese kingdom.
Since the Vietnam was at the valley, the rainwater from the slope of the mountainous regions always flows in the direction of the Vietnamese territory. The settlement appears to work for both Tonkin and Lan-Xang, since there were no more frontiers' dispute between the two for the time being that Dai-Viet was attacked by both fa-Ngum and the Champa's king Jaya Simhavarman. During the campaign, Dai-Viet had no position to resist the coalition's force and was severely beaten in both fronts. Fa-Ngum's return to Xieng-Tong marked a new introduction of the Khmer culture into the upper Mekong the first time since Xiang-tong was detached from the rest of the Khmer Empire by the Mongols.
The Liberation of Angkor *
The only mentioning of Fa-Gnum in epigraphy is in the inscription of Sokhodaya. Dating after 1359, the inscription says that Sokhodaya had for a neighbor to the east, on the Mekong, Chao Phaya Fa Gnum. It recognizes Fa-gnum's suzerainty over the eastern Lao Kingdom and decrees a settlement between Sokhodaya and the new Lao Kingdom of theirs frontier. Except for the Lan-xang tradition, no other Lao sources had mentioned about Fa-Gnum or any other rulers of Luang Prah Bang to make the next camapign against other Lao countries. This is because Fa-Ngum' s next exploit, as we shall see, was not of his own but was actually a joint force with his father-in-law to free Angkor from Ayudhya. After the attack of Angkor by the newly formed Ayudhya in 1351, the last Angkorian king died during the attack. By then, Fa Gnum along with his Khmer consort, already headed a Khmer army in destination to Xiang-tong to exert his own right as the heir of the Lan-xang's throne. It is not clear that his consort, the princess Keo-kenya, was a daughter of either the King Lampangraja who was the reigning king at the time or his younger brother, the prince Suryavang. From the fact that the latter had a strong presence in the court of Lan-xang and had personally involved in the restructuring the Lao Kingdom, we believe that king Suryavang was actually the father-in-law of Fa-Ngum. By the time that the latter left Angkor, Prah Suryavang was the army general (Obraja) of his brother Lampangraja who was then reigning the Khmer court. Angkor's depletion of its own army to support Fa Gnum's campaign might have caused its own downfall as Ayudhya took the opportunity to launch its attack on the defenseless Angkorian court three years after. During the raid, king Lampangraja commissioned his brother, Prah Suryavang, to leave the palace and to mobilize troops from the countryside for the rescue. The new recruited troops came late and were not strong enough to break through the Siam blockade. They were forced instead to retreat in disarray leaving Angkor to stay under the control of the Siam army. While king Lampangraja lost his life during the ordeal, Prah Suryavang escaped into the Lao country and stayed there to mobilize Lao troops for the rescue of angkor. In 1359, the Khmer source commemorates his reign at the Angkorian throne after he succeeded to wrest it back from the control of Ayudhya. Connecting to the Lao tradition, it is most likely that Prah Suryavang had all the help from Fa-Gnum who during the time had already established at Xiang Tong and made himself ready to make a move onto the Siam Countries. That was when the Lao source brags about his exploit and the use of Khun Borom's legacy to win over neighboring Siam countries. After securing order of Lan-Xang, Fa-Ngum left the country to his consort, the Khmer queen Keo Kenya and proceeded to the next phase of his missions (LAO: Chapter V: The Lan-Xang Kingdom: The Invasion of Muang Xiang-Sen: P. 30).
One year after his enthronement in 1354, King Fa-Gnum left the Kingdom's affairs to the charge of his wife Nang Keo Kenya, who at the time was three months pregnant, while he sailed off to invade Muong Xiang-Saen.
His conquest was met at first with strong resistance. However, through cleaver maneuverings he was able to convince the Siam countries to accept his sovereignty without much loss of lives.
On his arrival, King Sam-Phaya, the ruler of Lanna who established his headquarters in Muong Xiang-Saen, sent out an army totaling 400,000 men under the command of Phragna Sen-Muong, to fight king Fa-Gnum's army.
The attack was a must since Lanna was known to side with Ayudhya against both Sokhodaya and new Angkorian court. After the victory, he took the opportunity to mobilize Khmer people living in northern Siam countries and settled them down at Xiang-Tong. His motive was perhaps in correlation to the mass conversion of the Lao country to Hinayana Buddhism.
Thereafter King Fa-Gnum ordered the transfer of 100,000 Khmers, then living in Hua Nantha, Muong La and Muong Koh up to the territory of the Lu, to Muong Xieng Thong.
These Khmers of the northern Siam Country were obviously speaking either Khmer or Mon Language and were about to be absorbed as part of the new Lao population. It was proved also that Ayudhya did it the same in regard to the Khmer-mon prisoners of war being inducted to speak Lao or Tai language (Ayudhya: Ayudhya as a Kingdom: The Peopling of Ayudhya). From this findings we conclude that the formation of the new Siam and Lao Kingdoms was actually one of the real contributors of spreading the Tai or Lao language in both Siam and Laos today. At the same time, the Khmer-,mon communities were dismantled through the process of wars into becoming part of the new countries.
Among places that, in connection to Khun Borom, received Buddhism of Hinayana canon through the control of the Angkorian Empire, Xiang-tong was not one of them. Evidences show that Mahayana Buddhism had been introduced into the region by Khun Lo, but as noted in the Lao tradition, trace of Buddhism could not be founded after Lan-xang was restablished by king Fa-Ngum. During the formation of Rajapati, Xiang-tong was moreover politically connected with Champapura. Close to Tongkin, it was most the time out of Angkor's reach and had been subjected to Chinese influence more than other places. Lan-xang was clearly lagged behind Nan and Vientian in term of preserving the Buddhist heritage.
The Introduction of Buddhism *
As part of the development of Lan-xang, Buddhism was the first on the priority list of Fa-Ngum. Shortly after his ascension, he sent to Cambodia a cultural mission to bring the Hinayana Buddhism into his newly founded Kingdom. The Lao tradition credited the initiative of this cultural transition to his Khmer Queen Keo Kenya.
With the advent of King Fa-Gnum, his wife, Queen Nang Keo Kenya noticed to her dislike that her people, mandarins as well as common citizens, practiced the cult of spirits, killing now and then, elephants and buffaloes for sacrifice to the spirits. (LAO: The introduction of Buddhism of the Hinayana Sect as practiced in Ceylon from the Khmer kingdom to the Lao kingdom)
She made a request to introduce Buddhism into the Lao Kingdom in which king Fa-Gnum agreed whole-heartily. The queen' s request was actually what Lan-xang new dependency had in mind. During the conquest of Fah-Gnum over the Siam countries, Nan and Viang-chan were conquered and absorbed into the Lao kingdom of Lan-Xang along with many other Lao communitie. They remained since ally to Fa-Gnum and consequently to the new Angkorian court. To make it the capital of the new Lao Country, it is imperative that Fa-Ngum developped Lan-Xang into becoming a strong Buddhist center. He then dispatched a mission to Angkor requesting the Khmer King to send a Buddhist school to Xiang-tong.
The request was gracefully heeded by the king of the Khmer Kingdom who invited Phrah Maha Pasman, king Fa-Gnum's own tutor (guru) and Prah Maha Thep-Langka, together with 20 Buddhist monks and three other experts named Norasing, Noradeth and Norasad to preach Buddhism in the Lao kingdom.
The fact that the Khmer King of Angkor at the time was Sri Suryavang makes us to believe that he was actually Fa Gnum's father-in-law. A golden Buddha image known as Phabang (Prah Bang) was dispatched along with a complete set of Buddhist Tripidaka, in the the expedition to Lan-xang. The Buddha's image was settled instead at Viang-Khom, after a series of obstacle that prevented the expedition to reach its destination. Nevertheless, Xiang-tong still received its name as Luang Prah Bang because it was actually intended to be the home of the Buddha's image. With Buddhism well established in his kingdom, Fa-Ngum built Lang-xang into becoming a regional power house. In the same expedition, the king of Cambodia sent engineers, craftsmen and ordinary Khmer people to help building up the new country. After all that establishment, Fa-Ngum took no time to bring the new Lao country into prosperity. According to the Lao Source, he menaged to consolidate all the Lao country under the suzerainty of Lan-xang. Sandwiched between Siam and Laos of today, Rajapati was a dependency of the Angkorian Empire. According to the Nan chronicle, the Pukha (Puga) Dynasty took hold of Nan in the preparation of the Shan country to be part of Burma. Nan was then split to accommodate two dynasties that were descended from the Pukha dynasty. During the Mongols incursion, Nan was wrested by Xiang-mai while Vieng-tian was annexed to Piao. The conquest of Fa-Gnum brought the two sister cities back together under the suzerainty of Lan-xang. Trough distinctif affinity of local courts, they were still separated and became target of annexation by powerful neighboring states turning into contenders. After commanding neighboring Siam countries, large and small, and to pay tribute to him, Fa-ngum gave them protection against the aggression of Lanna and Ayudhya. In a close relationship with Angkor, Fa-Ngum brought Lan-Xang into properity. Nevertheless, after the death of his queen Keo Kenya in 1368, it appears that Fa-Ngum lost all the control of his court. According to the Lao Tradition, Fa-Gnum went under psychological stress and lost all the ability to conduct state affair. Forced to abdicate, he was deported to Nan where he died later in 1371. His eldest son replaced him and took the throne in 1371 under the name of Sam-Sen-Thai. He soon reversed his father's policy by receiving from each of the kings of Lanna and Ayudhya the hand of their daughter. His policy have then change its focus and by leaning toward the Thai consortium, the Lao king distanced himself from the Khmer consortium. Challenged by his sister named Neang Keo-Ketkesei, Sam-Sen-Thai lost the control of his court. He also lost control of Lan-Xang's dependency in regard to the Nan country.
The Last of Nan' s Alliance with Angkor
According to the Nan chronicle, a series of crises took hold of the court of Nan after the reign of King Chao Si Chanta. Due to the weakening of the Lao King during the internal crisis, Nan became prey to both the aggression of Lannan and t6he manipulation of Ayudhya again. During the crises, the chronicle still mentions about the support of Angkor when displaced Nan rulers were in need of support (NC: Section 2: The founding of Muang Nan).
When Chao Si Chanta had ruled Nan for a year, the King of Muang Phrae, Praya Thera, and his brother, Phraya Un Muang, invaded Muang Nan and Chao Si Chanta was put to death. He was the eight king of the dynasty. Chao Hung, his brother, escaped to the south country, and took refuge with Phraya Khaleyang of the south.
The passage' s reference to Phraya Khaleyang of the south country was meant to be an Angkorian king since at this time Lampang was already under Lanna and changed it name to Moung Nakhon. The next event happened during the reign of Prah Chao Ponhea Yat (1382-1429) presumably still reigning at Angkor.
In 1397 Chao Hung came up to Nan with an army from Muang Khaleyang and invaded and captured Nan. Chao Un Muang was captured and sent to Muang Khaleyang where he was kept for ten years. He died in Muang Khaleyang.
With the army provided by the Angkorian King, Chao Hung came back to free Nan from the usurper. Angkor was then sacked again by Ayudhya and forced Ponhea Yat to leave Angkor. The next involvement of Muang Khaleyang, mentioned in the Nan Chronicle, happened during the reign of king Intakaen. He was the 16th king of Nan and during his reign, he had to cope with the usurpation conducted by his two brothers.
When Intakean had ruled for a year and three months, his two brothers, Chao Paeng and Chao Ho Phom, usurped the throne and put Intakaen in prison, where he was left to die.
Intakaen managed to trick his brothers in believing that he was going to die and let him stay outside the prison. He then escaped to Muang Khaleyang where he was granted refuge.
In 1433 Cao Intakaen obtained troops from the ruler of Khaleyang and led them towards Nan, setting up his base at Son Samun, north of Chae Phang.
Chao Intakaen took back the throne of Nan after winning over his brothers in a deadly battle. The event took place during the time that both Ayudhya and Lanna 's aggressiveness appeared to be still subdued after the attack of the Lao King Fa-Ngum. It also coincided with the reign of Sri Raja (1433-1478) who before ascending the Khmer throne of Catomukh, already ruled over Sri Dharmaraja (Nokor Caktomukh: The intervention of Ayudhya: The reign of Sri Raja). Under these circumstances, Nan was left alone and King Intakaen appeared to have a peaceful reign.
Chao Intakaen ruled the second time for sixteen years. He had one son and one daughter. He was the fifteen king of Muang Nan.
His reign was however cut short by another setback, this time by the king Trilokaratha of Lanna. Knowing that Nan had a valuable salt mine, king Trilokaratha decided to conquer and annex Nan under his control.
In 1448 he sent salt from the salt mine at Bo Mang to king Tilok of Chiangmai as present. Soon afterward Tilok decided to annex Nan to Chiangmai. When Phraya Intakaen realized that he could not cope with the enemy, he and his family escaped to Muang Khaleyang. King Tilok appointed Chao Pha Saeng as governor of the city. Chao Pha Saeng was the last ruler of Nan to be descended from Chao Khun Fong.
At the same time, the Khmer court of Sri Raja suffered even greater setback. After the fail campaign against Ayudhya, Sri Raja went back to find Cambodia already split into many smaller factions. Through internal crises, the Catomukh court took its turn to disintegrate (Nokor Caktomukh: The intervention of Ayudhya: The reign of Sri Raja). Never again, Nan could recover itself as a state.
The lost Legacy of Muang Yang
From the time that Chao Kao Kuan left Muang Pua to ascend the throne of Muang Pukha, the Nan chronicle shifted the focus to the southern court of Muang Nan. At the same time, the chronicle stopped mentioning altogether about Muang Phukha which through more unfriendly circumstances, became more and more isolated from Angkor. Soon after King Kao Kuan left, King Ngam Muang of Pyao made his way to wrest Muang Pua and left it to the control of his queen, Lady Ua Sim (The Lanna State: The last legacy of Rajapati: The death of King Pukha). Indication also shows that a faction of his court made its move to take hold of Angkor after the reign of Srindravarman (The break down of the Cakravatin Empire: The legacy of ramandesa: The last of King Ngam Muang).
The end of the Ming Dynasty brought instability in the new politic of Southeast Asia. During the break down of their coalition, Cambodia, Laos and Champa went into decline allowing the Tai pact to resume their aggression again. continuing on its cooperation with the local Ho of Yunnan, Lanna began to start a new eastward campaign. At the same time, Dai-Viet and Ayudhya had already matured enough to look more for their own interests. Both Cambodia and the Lao countries became their targets. After the Phukha Dynasty was disconnected from its western ally by the Chinese occupation of Muang Yang, Burma had to resume its protecting role over the last of the Angkorian legavy against the aggression of the Tai pact.
The Affair with Dai-viet *
The establishment of Luang Prah Bang by Fa-Gnum and the constant fighting between the new Lao Kingdom with the Annamites mentioned in northern Siam Tradition, happened during the same time of the reestablishment of Champapura by a new line of kings from Sri Dharmaraja. Dai-Viet' s records made a reference to an obscure figure named Che Bong Nga to launch his campaign deep inside Tonkin in 1360. He was identified as no other than Jaya Simhavarman, mentioned in the inscription of Bin-Hoa along with his son Indravarman who later suceeded his father's campaign to free both Champapura and Virapura. Their success story was however cut short after Dai-Viet freed itself during the decline of the Ming Dyanasty and started on the next ravaging campaign against the South. Taking advantage of internal crises incurring in both the Khmer and Champa court, they moved to take control of Champapura (Nokor Champa: The failing of the Ming's Dynasty: The fall of Champapura). The victory perhaps aroused Dai-Viet' s ambition to a new high as they soon started to extend their frontier deep into the Lao countries. It is important to note that after the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Dai-viet found new strength with the support of the Song Dynasty. Their campaigns in the Lao country might have been to do with the fall of Champapura. Due to their strong alliance, Lan-Xang became obviously one of the main refugee camps open for the fallen Champapura's court (Nokor Champa: The failing of the Ming's policies: The fall of Champapura). While some Chams stayed put at the south of Cape Varella and formed the last remnants of Nokor Champa, the remaining court of Indravarman escaped into Laos. Obviously, the Le's court of Dai-viet had all the reasons to be concerned about (The Kingdom of Siam: The connection with the court of Udong: The Cham's allianace). Leaving the falling Cham court to regroup themselves and allowed them to return back to Champapura was obviously not what the Le's court had in mind. In the hot pursuit, their next move against Lan-Xang was also victorious. Unlike previous encounters, they seamed to have no intention of withdrawing. Until Lanna managed to induce them out, Dai-viet continued on its campaign deep inside the Nan territory. The attack however failed to accomplish its mission as indication show that the refugee court still survived after the Dai-Viet's attack. We have the reason to believe that the Lao leader of PO Vamsa who, along with grass root people of Prey-nokor, later rose up against the Nguyen's court of Hue, was originated from the falling court of Champapura. They were the survivors of the high court of Indravarman taking refuge at the Lao country after the fall of Champapura. As we shall see, some members of this court went back to settle themselves at Binh-ding and rose up to lead a big scale uprising of the Tay-son brothers (Nokor Champa: The uprisings against Dai-viet: The Tay-son brothers). The Lao tradition appears to have no recollection of the impact of Dai-viet attack on Champapura as a connection to the next Dai-Viet campaign over its own city Lan-xang. Instead the Lao tradition associated the attack of Dai-viet as a retaliation of a slight incident concerning a white elephant captured by the Lao's court.
In the 23rd year of the reign of king Saya-Chakkapat, Phragna Patalibud, the ruler of Muang Ken-Thao, caught a white elephant measuring 3.5 meters high. He felt honored to offer it to king Saya-Chakkaphat.
It as happening during the reign of Saya-Cakaphat (Sri Cakravati) who ascended the Lao throne in 1456. The new of this capturing of the rare white elephant was spreading. King Bua-Luang of the Viet kingdom sent messengers to the court of Lan-Xang requesting the permission to bring the elephant to Vietnam and display for the general population. For unknown reason, the Lao Prime Minister was vexed by this sudden demand and what happened next was quite unthinkable.
Infuriated, he (the Lao Prime Minister) put the elephant's stool in a container, attached a sealed tag to it and sent it with the (Vietnamese) ambassador to his king.
Angered, King Bua-Luang sent an army to raid Lan-Xang. As the attack took place after Tonkin invaded Champapura, we believe that the elephant's dung was just a hideout of a bigger conflict between Dai-viet and Lang-xang. The invasion came as a surprise to the Lao king Saya-Chakkapat who was forced to flee to muang Xieng-Khan while the Vietnamese entered the city of Xiang-thong. According to the Lao source, a son of Saya-Chakkapat named Chao Then-Kham who ruled over muang Dan-Sai, sent his army to attack the tired Vietnamese and almost exterminated them.
The remaining Vietnamese troops fled but were followed and harassed all the way to theirs own territory of Muang Phuan. Very few Vietnamese survived and among their 4000 officers, only 600 survived.
The Northern Siam source however recounted this Vietnamese attack differently. According to the Xiang-Mai chronicle, Dai-viet completely subjugated Xiang-tong and went further to threat Nan in 1480. They changed theirs plans only after two Ho retainers from the court of king Trilokarat went to met them. The two retainers managed to scare the Viets with an elaborate lie and persuade them to withdraw theirs troops. King Trilokarat later claimed credit to the court of Chao Lung-fa for himself and received credential from the latter in high regard (Lanna: The skirmish with the Viets). From the backing of Chao Lung-fa, King Trilokaracha went on to take control of the whole northern Siam country. With the alliance of the Chao Lung-fa of Yunnan and the King Trilokarat of Xiang-Mai sealed, Tonkin had no other options than to initiate alliance with Central China.
The Affair with Ayudhya *
After the death of King Fa-gnum, the relationship between the Lao countries and the Cambodian court was disrupted. It was also the beginning of Ayudhyan interference into the Lao court that started after Sam-Sen-Thai was given the hand of an Ayudhyan princess. At the same time that Lan-Xang went under internal crisis, Cambodia became increasingly under attacks from Ayudhya. Under repeatitive assaults from Siam, the Cambodian court could no longer stay at the Angkorian site. Moving his capital down south, the Khmer King Chao Ponha Yat (1382-1429) left Angkor in wilderness. During the disruption, the Lao kingdoms managed at first to retain its suzerainty intact. However, being already surrounded by aggressive neighbors, they were soon facing with foreign invasion. Not long after Lanna invaded Nan, Lan-Xang started to feel the aggression of its western neighbor. After taking hold of Nan, the Lanna King Trilokaracha (1442-1486) extended his exploit to Lan-Xang. He brought his troops all the way to Luang Prah Bang and captured many localities along the way (Lanna: The last Alliance with the Mongols: The Affair with Lan-Xang). To protect the city, the Lao King sent his troops to face the invaders. King Trilokaracha however returned home after sending his troops to fight off with the Chawa army. Lanna's troops managed to inflict heavy casualty and forced Lan-Xang's army to retreat back home. The victory moreover gave Lan-xang more confidence to stand on its own feet as a stand-alone country. Starting from the reign of King Visulraja, circumstances favored Lan-Xang not only to thrive but also to join in the battle for supremacy. This time, the Lao country was fighting on its own account. Its prosperity went beyond its own frontier and went over its ancient rival for the dependency. Not only that it could free itself from Lanna but it also took the dominance over its western neighbor. After taking control of Xiang-Mai, the Lao kingdom rose up into becoming once again a stronger contender, enough to command respect from both Ayudhya and Burma. During all that development, Lan-Xang distanced itself from its old allies Burma and Cambodia and was in the process of requesting alliance with Ayudhya instead. After the death of king Visulraja, his son was enthroned in 1520 under the name of Pothisara-raja. Around 1532, a Siamese prince named Sayaraja fled Ayudhya during his dispute with the Ayudhya's ruler Athityaraja. Taking asylum in the Lao kingdom, he requested king Pothisara-raja to invade the Siam country on his behalf. The Lao King sent his army to Ayudhya and camped in a place called Viang Phrangam awaiting the Ayudhya's army to come out. After ten days waiting, the Lao army was ordered to pull back without fighting. In the year 1540, Ayudhya sent its troops to invade Viang-tchan but was soon driven out by the Lao army. After King Phra muang Kate-Keo of Xiang-Mai died without any heir, his court requested the son of king Pothisara-raja named Sethathirath, to ascend the Xiang-Mai throne. Still at his youth of fourteen years of age, King Sethathirath ascended the Xiang-Mai throne in the year 1548. It is important to recall back that Xiang-Mai had a long history of contact with the Lao court of Lan-Xang. In cooperation with the Ho court of Yunnan, Lanna was exercising its influence over most of the northern Siam Countries. After subduing Nan in 1449, King Trilokracha of Lanna extended his campaign against Lan-Xang (Lanna: The affairs with the Ming Dynasty: War with Luang Prabang). The control over Xiang-Mai was the set point of King Pothisara-raja' s supremacy over Lanna and the Lao country as a whole. In the hight of his fame. many rulers sent theirs ambassadors to seek his alliance. In its plan to invade Ayudhya, Hamsavati also approached king Pothisara-raja for alliance. King Manthaturad of Burma sent many diplomatic missions repeatedly to renew the proposition. Vane as he was, king Pothisara-raja was more preoccupying of his own image than the state affair. To enhance further his fame, he gathered all the foreign ambassadors for an outdoor meeting to show off the Laotian way of catching wild elephants. To further impress his audience, he decided to demonstrate the skill himself. It turned out to be a costly mistake. After rounding off wild elephants into an open field, the Lao King rode his elephant into the herd in the pursuit of a selected elephant. However when he threw the lasso to catch the wild elephant, his elephant that he rode on lost its grip and fell on top of him. He was badly hurt and died seven days later.
The Reign of King Saya Sethathirath (1547-) *
King Sethathirat was the eldest son of king Phothisara. His mother was the daughter of the ruler of Xiang-Mai and through her, he was made king of Xiang-Mai in the year 1547 at the age of 14 years old. After his father's death, he went back to ascend the throne of Xiang-tong in the year 1550. Of his young age, his reign was challenged by a lady of the left-wing palace named Sen-Marong who was also attempting to install her own son named Phra Lan-Xang on the throne of Xiang-tong. A court member named Phragna Sisat-Thammatailoka helped him to bring down the rebellion. In regonition, he appointed him as the ruler of Viang-tchan under the name of Phragna Chanthaburi. In 1551, King Setthathirat made his decision to stay at Xiang-tong permanently and entrusted the Princess Chirapapha to rule Xiang-Mai. It was an opportunity for the ancient members of the Xiang-Mai' s court to stop further interference of lan-xang over their country. They rose up to rebel against the princess and drove her out from power in 1553. They also secretly invited Chao Makuti who was a direct descendant of Prah Chao Mang-rai to become the ruler of Xiang-Mai. Hearing the bad new, king Setthathirat sent his army to stop the procession. After defeating the army sent by the new Xiang-Mai' s king at Pha-dai, he ordered his army to take down Xiang-saen that was where the losing army of Xiang-mai was taking refuge. This campaign drove him in collision course with the King of Hamsavati who, having already planning for Ayudhya's invasion, took the opportunity to interfere into the northern Siam countries. Upon request from the refugee court of Xiang-mai, he immediately sent his army to fight off the attack of the Lao King. The occupation of Lanna fit perfectly into the Burmese king Bayinnaugh's plan of invading Ayudhya. As Lan-Xang was under further threat of Burmese invasion, king Setthathirat moved his court to Vieng-tchan. He was the same king who sent a delegation to Cambodia to request an elephant contest in deciding on the future relationship between the two countrie (Nokor Catumukh: Nokor Langwek: The Fight for Supremacy). The lost of the contest required him to render Lan-xang as a dependency of Lawek, of which he refuged. It was the start of a conflict between the two countries that changed the politic of the Lao court in regard to Ayudhya. Under the threat of Burmese attack, King Cakrapath of Ayudhya was in desperate situation. Taking advantage of the rare opportunity, the Lao king Setthathirat decided to approach Siam for an alliance. In 1562, he sent his messenger to request the hand of the princess Thepkasatri who was another daughter of King Cakrapath with the queen Soriyaudaya. King Cakrapath sent instead one of his daughters named Nang Keo-Yo-Fah in her place with the excuse that she was ill and could not make the trip. King Setthathirat sent Nang Keo-Yo-Fah back home and requested that the princess Thepkasatri was sent to him. As much as he disdained the proposal, king Chakrapath had no other choices than to yield for the Lao king's demand. According to the Siam source, the pricess Thepkasatri was then sent to the Lao King. Tipped by Sri Dharmaraja, the envoy was intercepted by the Burmese army and the princess was brought to Hamsavati. The Lao source however had its own version and claimed that the envoy actually reached its destination at Moang Nong-Han.
In the Year 1563, when Princess Nang Thep-Kasatti and her escort were on their way to the kingdom of Sasattanakhanahud, king Saya-Satthathirath and his dignitaries went to meet her at Moang Nong-Han and a celebration was held there for some time. (LAO: The Lan-Xang Kingdom: The first invasion of Vientiane by the Burmese)
The Lao chronicle moreover acknowledges that Lan-Xang suffered next the Burmese retaliation but the attack was due to another cause. Pursuing two rebels who were set by Hamsavati to rule Xiang-Mai, Burmese troops attacked Lan-Xang-Vieng-tchan but were driven out by the Lao force. There are no mentions however about the fate of the princess Nang Thep-Kasatti becoming the consort of the Lao king, we know however that the relationship between Ayudhya and the Lao court was sealed from then on. Facing with Burmese attack, it appeared that the two courts found a common ground to build their alliance. When king Cakrapath entered into monk-hood, his son Mahinthrathiraj ascended the throne of Ayudhya. Looking for revenge against Sri Dharmaraja, Mahinthrathiraj contacted king Saya-Satthathirath for retaliation. Tipped by an insider, Sri Dharmaraja was able to foil the raid with the help of Burmese troops. During the next attack that resulted in the fall of Ayudhya by Hamsavati, king Mahinthrathiraj also requested help from the Lao court. The Lao troops sent for the rescue of Ayudhya were again drawn to defeat and were inflicted with severe casualties. The involvement moreover made the Lao court the next target of Hamsavati. It was at the same time that the Khmer Tradition recounted the advent of king Sethathirath elephant's contest with the Khmer court. After the lost of the contest, the Lao King ignored the game preset' s accord and prepared to launch a real campaign against Cambodia. He marched his army toward cambodia but was forced to drop the plan due to the suddent Burmese attack (Nokor Catumukh: Nokor Lawek: The fight for supremacy). After Subduing Ayudhya, King Chao Fa Mangkri of Hamsavati (Bayinnaugh) extended his conquest to the east against Lang-xang.

  1. ISSA: The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, by G. Coedes
  2. CKH: The Chonicle of Khmer heroes, by Sot Eng
  3. CRC: JA 1871: Chronique Royale du Cambodge, by Okgna Vang Sarpech Nong, Translated by Doudar Delagree
  4. CMC: The Chiang Mai Chronicle, by David K. Wyatt and Aroonrut Wichienkeeo
  5. CNSD: The Crystal Sands: the chronicles of Nagara Sri Dharmaraja, by David K. Wyatt
  6. NC:The Nan Chronicle, Translated by Prasoet Churatana, Edited by David K. Wyatt
  7. LAO:History of Laos, Maha Sila Viravong, Translated by the U.S. Joint Publications research Service
  8. LAOS:Le Laos Francaise, By Eugene Picanon
  9. SHAN:The Shan State and the British Annexation, by Sao Saimong Mangrai
  10. MALAKA: Malaka, Le Malau et Malayur, by Gabriel Ferrand
  1. Chronology
    1346-1351: The reign of Prah Lampangraja at Angkor; 1349: Fa Gnum left Angkor; 1350: King U-tong built Ayudhya; Angkor fell to Ayudhya; 1353-1371: The reign of King Fa-Ngum; 1359-1369: The reign of Prah Suryavang at Angkor; 1360: The reign of Jayasimhavarman at Champapura; 1368: The Ming drove out the last of the Mongol from Yunnan; 1407: The reign of Indravarman at Champapura; 1437: the fall of Sri Dharmaraja into the hand of Ayudhya; 1442-1486: The reign of king Trilokaracha of Lanna; 1471: Le Loi liberated Tonkin and attacked Champapura; 1480: Dai-viet attacked Lan-xang and Nan; 1520-1547: The reign of King Pothisara-raja; 1547: The reign of King Saya Sethathirath;
  2. The Lao Race
    The Lao source brought up two subgroups of the Lao race that were seamingly originated either from Central Asia and China. The first group called Ai-Lao was actually the Yao people, known in China as the Shan-Chinese. Also Known as the Mien, the Yao speaks sino-tibetan tongue while the Yueh spoke a language related to Chinese due to many centuries of assimiliation. The Lao tradition lists many locations of China, particularly of Yunnan that were supposed to be their origin, Unlike the Tai identity that have its origin from Daya Desa or Kaday (Cathay in Chinese), the Lao identity was on the other hand the result of their assimiliation with the original Lua or Lawa Indochinese tribesmen.
  3. The Misconception of Lin-yi as a Cham Country
    Unaware of the common heritage shared by Southeast Asian tribesmen, modern scholars had made attemps to identify nationality through language classification. In the process, they mistook Lin-yi as a Chinese reference to Champapura. On the same mistake that the Chinese reference to Vieng-chan, Chan-tcheng, was also referring to the same Cham country. While the Khmer kingdom of Prey-Nokor was left in the dark, they presented Champapura as a country of ethinc Cham that along the way became the Khmer Kingdom's main rival.
  4. The Southern Expansion
    Even though the Yuan dynasty was already driven out from China, evidences show that Yunnan was still under the control of the Ho Clan of Muang Prah Khan. The inclusion of Dai-Viet under its direct control reflected even stronger control of the Ho over Yunnan until the Ming 's taking over in. At the south, the consortium of the old Ngam Moung court and Ayudhya make Lanna and the new Tai Pact even stronger than it was under the Great Khan.
  5. The southern Expansion
    During the Ming Dynasty, Dai-viet proceeded to move south. During the move, Dai-viets had no interest whatsoever with the sterile land of the mountainous regions. Evidences also show that unless provoked, they left theirs mountainous neighbors alone. Their objective had always been the narrow strip of the southern seashore where international sea trade was taking off again after the Mongols. The situation changed after the colonial era, as they found out about other potential rich resources of the untapped mountainous regions.
  6. Titles and the crowning Procedure
    In Southest Asian tradition, titles were important in the court's crowning procedure. Due to the consistency of the practices, each royal house maintained its own custom and Royal titles could be an efficient way to identify the King's ancestry.
  7. As Yunnan was back in order under the Chinese control, the top commanders were rewarded of their exploit. The arrangement, as we shall see, would allow the Mongol officers to be back in charge of the region.
    At the 5th moon, the tou-tou Tchang Tsiua, having acquired the merit in combating and pursuing the Mans of Tong-tchouan, received the investiture as marquis of Yong-ning with hereditary right for his descendants and the grade of Tche-houei-che.
    More uprisings would follow but were all put down and Yunnan became part of Chinese province ever since.
  8. Khmer vs Lao's Account about Prah Thong
    Concerning the story of Prah Thong, both the Lao and Khmer versions are identical. The Lao account however dates the event at the early fifth century before Christ that is too early for the Buddhist expansion in a large scale in both Champapura and the rest of Southeast Asia. Archeology and Chinese sources instead dates the major development of Champapura as well as Prey-nokor at the early fifth century after Christ (Prey Nokor: The Thong Dynasty: The conflict with the Cham kings).
  9. The Mings celebrated the conquest of Yunnan
    The Viet' s ambition over Lan-xang continued on until the colonial era and was part of the driving factor that led the French colonists to include Laos into the French Indochina, later in the history of Southeast Asia.
  10. The Last Of Moung Yang
    The last of her sons, the prince Soo-oop-pha ascended the throne in 1363. Anxious to avenge the treachery of the Burmese, he invaded Sagain and the rest of Burmese territory three years afterwards. According to the Yunnan chroncile, the new leadership of Muang Yang continued to resist the Ming's occupation. The chronicle confirms that the rebels were the Mans and one of their leaders named Sseu-louen was specifically mentioned as a Mien. After a series of bloody battles, Sseu-louen surrendered.
    In the 23th year, at the 11th moon, Sseu-louen gave his submission. An order imperial was given to him his title of Siuan-wei-che of submitted Mien.
    After the submission of Sseu-louen, the Ming soon celebrated their victory (Notes: The Mings celebrated the Conquest of Yunnan).