The Lao Kingdom of Lang-xang
Project: The Lao Kingdom of Lang-xang
Author: Lem Chuck Moth
Started date: June/01/2003
Last updated: March/31/2018
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 of the austroasiatic family. Their dwelling built on stilts was one of many aspects that proved to be part of a common Southeast Asian flood tradition. Nevertheless, they were subjected to new civilizations that changed over time through contact with the west. The Meru (Khmer), Kambojan (Tai) and the Cham (Yueh) leadership was seen consecutively taking control of Laos as part of the overall global cultural development. Diversion occurred when new aristocratic communities, moving out either from Yunnan or from China, attempted to mix in with the native tribesmen of southern territories. The interference of Tai and Yueh leadership in particular, imposed their foreign cultures on the locals giving them the impression of race and ethnicity difference from their Khmer-mon counterpart (Notes: The Lao Race). Nevertheless, they still maintained their share of the ancient past legacy of the Hiong-Wang Kingdom that was strengthened even more by the process of Indianization. The Lao tradition appears to have the recollection of the same Indian prince named Prah Thong making his way to form the Khmer Kingdom of Prey Nokor at the expense of the Cham royalty of Champasaka (LF: Chapter III: Le Laos Historique). The story line is consistent with the Khmer version about the fight between Prah Tong and the Cham King that ended up driving the latter out of Champa (Notes: Khmer vs Lao's account about Prah Thong). The formation of the Khmer Empire then started on its own odyssey to cut off Chinese incursion from the north. The Buddhist culture that was brought by him connected Laos' ancient history so close with that of the hmer kingdom and Champapura, so much so that it was often eclipsed by the latter (Notes: The Misconception of Lin-yi as a Cham Country).
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 country appears 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 real ancestor of both the Tai and Lao spoken people.
Just as the identity of Khun Borom had a close connection to king Rudravarman of Prey-Nokor (Notes: The Preceptor of Khun Borom and Khun Lo), we had argued that what is called Laos of today was actually a part of the Khmer Empire that along with Champapura constituted the Northeastern cardinal state of Angkor. To recall back, the formation of Angkor had put the final stop to more Chinese interference that allowed Southeast Asian countries to form a close Buddhist consortium to withstand the western world. Nevertheless, the presence of both the Cham and Yueh leadership and the return of the Chola back in this remote site of Laos created a political diversion from the Angkorean 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 Champapura. 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-Ngum 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 new campaign to form another Buddhist consortium between the Indochinese courts during the early medieval era.
THE PAST LEGACIES
Reading through Laos' s modern history, many questions popped up to challenge the Lao tradition of claiming that Khun Borom was actually the ancestor of the Lao people. As we had seen, the misconception had led to the wrong postulation by modern scholars of the Lao people to be the same as Tai people. Instead we had argued that the Tai Culture had been brought to the Lua people by the Tai leadership coming from Day Desa (The Sakadvipa: The Tai Incursion: King Suvanna Kahamdeng and the Formation of Nararatha). To resolve the misconception, we had recoursed to different sources to identify 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. Our finding show that both Khun Borom and Khun Lo were actually two dynasties that had their origin from the displaced Khmer King Rudravarman of Prey Nokor. At the same time, we shall argue that the establishment of modern Lan-Xang was done as a joint venture of Fa-Ngum with his father-in-law, king Suryavang of the new Angkorean court.
The Xiang-Mai's Connection
Connecting to the formation of Lan-Xang, the Lao history started with a Khmer monarch named Khun Chuong-Fah-Thammaraj to make his way out to conquer Muong Prakan of Yunnan (HLao: 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.
The Lao story of Khmer monarch by the name of Khun Chuong-Fah-Thammaraj going his own way to invade Muong Prakan is very much the same as an account of the Xiang-Mai chronicle that had been discussed as the extention of the Xinag-Mai 's court over Yunnan (The Sri Vijaya Connection:The Yunnan Leadership: The Progenator of the Ruang Family).
In the Lao story line, King Chuong (Cuang in the Xiang-Mai chronicle) was mentioned as a Khmer Monarch (of Mang Dynasty) of Xiang-saen. His attack on the Vietnamese of mount Prakan was exactly the same attack of King Cuang to the Kaeo court 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. The finding supports our argument that king Borom who was the ancestor of king Cuang, was actually a Khmer King. On the other hand, the Kaeo King was mentioned (in the Lao source) as Vietnamese implicating that both Annam and the Kaeo Country of Yuannan was actually under the same Ho leadership. After winning the battle, Khun Chuong anointed Khun-Khuang to rule Muong Prakan, but the Viets regrouped themselves and fought back to remove him from the Ho Court.
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) 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 Xiang-Mai Chronicle mentioned instead that Khun Cuang was brought-down and killed by the coalition of the Kaeo and the Tai of Maen-ta-tok clans. In this story line, the Lao tradition maintains its claim that, since it was formed in 757 AD, Lan-Xang was always ruled by the descendant of Khun Lo. The Xiang-Mai chronicle dates the invasion of the Kaeo country around 1053 AD (Sri Vijaya: The Yunnan Affair: The Tai-yuan Leadership) and that King Cuang anointed his middle son, Yi Khan Hao, to be king of Lan-xang. This confusion between two separated events happening in more than two centuries apart is an example of the Lao source' s discrepancy concerning the early formation of Lan-Xang and the origin of the Lao people as a whole. The Lao claim induces another question on how the court of Xiang-Tong managed to survive both the Mongols and Annam' s aggression while other northern Siam countries (including Xiang-Mai) already fell under the Great Khan. Evidences show instead that the court of Lan-Xang had been under turbulent commotion since it was formed by Khun Lo due to the interference of Annam and later of the Mongols.
The Angkorean 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 as the Khmer God King Paramesvara of the Angkorean Empire. His brother, Khun Lo or Khun Lo Dharni, who founded Xiang-Tong was on the other hand a Sailendra king, Dharnindravarman who 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 Angkorean 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. Taking control of the Ho court, King Cuang of Xiang-Mai anointed his middle son Yi Khan Hao, to be king of Lan-Xang under the family name Ruang (The Sri Vijaya Connection: The Angkorean 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 Angkorean court and gave way to religious rivalry. As the two clans revived theirs old feud, Champapura seceded 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 subjected 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. (LF: The Royaume of Luang Prah Bang: Period legendary: p. 165).
The changes of titles reflect a political instability of the Lan-Xang court (Notes: Title and 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 Annam (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. (LF: 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. (LF: 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 re-establishment 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 Khmer Legacy of the Angkorean Empire. Through the interference 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 through subordination, king Dharmaraja was acting as a post-running Cakravatin monarch on his own term. With a change of policy, he brought Sokhodaya into a dangerous situation, as he was no longer acclaimed by the Tai pact. 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 Khun 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 Angkorean court 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 Angkorean 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 from Yunnan. After restoring Angkor, the campaign to recover the Lao Country started. Led by the refugee court of Lampang, the new Angkorean 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 Angkorean 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 Angkorean 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 Angkorean court to look forward resuscitating back the Angkorean past, first at Sri Dharmaraja and next in the northern 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-Ngum 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 ESTABLISHMENT OF LAN-XANG
The formation of Lan-Xang, as we shall see, was not by coincidence. Initiated by the court of the King Lampangraja, Lan-Xang' s formation was actually the last attempt by the southern courts to regroup themselves against northern Tai incursion. During the start of their join campaigns, both the Khmer and Laos courts had to face with strong Tai' s resistance. Immediately after the formation of Lan-Xang, the new Angkorean court was itself attacked by Ayudhya. Just as Annam 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-Ngum
Unlike his ancestors, the life and the rule of the Lao King Fa-Ngum 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 Ankorean Empire. The chronicle then started the story of King Fa-Ngum' s birth in the court of Xieng-tong.
Chao Fa-Ngum 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-Ngum 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-Ngum 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-Ngum ended up in the capital of Cambodia. His association to the new Angkorean court was however due to a new development of the establishment of King Lampangraja at the Augkorian court.
When Prince Fa-Ngum 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-Ngum 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 Angkorean throne (Nokor Catomukh: The last Angkorean 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-Ngum'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 Angkorean 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-Ngum 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 brotherhood 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-Ngum.
Like you, we are direct descendants of Khun Borom and Khun Lo.
From this claim, modern historians mistook the connection of Khun 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-Ngum 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-Ngum' uncle, Fah-Kham-Hiao. Soon after the latter died, the Xiang-Tong's court invited Fa-Ngum to ascend the throne that was rightfully his according to his birthright (HLao: 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-Ngum lost no time in inviting the Prince to the throne of Nokorn Xiang-Tong. Prince Fa-Ngum 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 King of Lan-Xang who was a descendant of Fa-Ngum. 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 Vijayan court of Kedah. The finding explains the next close relationship between Fa-Ngum with the contemporary Champa king Simha Jayavarman who, as we shall see, was originated from Sri Dharmaraja. While Simha Jayavarman reestablished Champapura by discarding Annam' s control of the region, Fa-Ngum 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-Ngum's expedition along the Mekong Valley. His campaign against Annam from Bassac, Khammuan, Tran-ninh, to the Hua Phan where Fa-Ngum negotiated with Annam 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-Ngum with precious gifts. Proposals were made and concessions were set to his request, in defining the natural frontier between the two countries. Distinction between the Lao and the Vietnamese communities could be done through a key difference of the two communities' s tradition.
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-Ngum since it allows him to have the opportunity to build-up Lan-Xang, right at the doorstep of Annam. On the other hand it also served Annam 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 Annam and Lan-Xang, since there were no more frontiers' dispute between the two for the time being that Annam was attacked by both Fa-Ngum and the Champa's king Jaya Simhavarman. During the campaign, Annam 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-Ngum in epigraph 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-Ngum. It recognizes Fa-Ngum'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-Ngum or any other rulers of Luang Prah Bang to make the next campaign 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, the last Angkorean king Lampangraja died during the attack. By then, Fa-Ngum 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-Ngum's campaign might have caused its own downfall as Ayudhya took the opportunity to launch its attack on the defenseless Angkorean 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 Angkorean 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-Ngum 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 (HLao: Chapter V: The Lan-Xang Kingdom: The Invasion of Muang Xiang-Sen: p. 30).
One year after his enthronement in 1354, King Fa-Ngum 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-Ngum's army.
The attack was a must since Lanna sided with Ayudhya against both Sokhodaya and new Angkorean 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-Ngum 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 had done the same in regard to the Khmer-mon prisoners of war being inducted into the mainstream of Lao societies by speaking 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.
THE LAST OF RAJAPATI
Among places that received Buddhism of Hinayana canon through the control of the Angkorean Empire, Xiang-Tong was not one of them. Evidences show that Mahayana Buddhism had been introduced into the region by Khun Lo, but through time and space it siappeared algother from the region. During the formation of Rajapati, Xiang-Tong was politically connected with Champapura. Being close to Tonkin, it was out of Angkor's reach and for most the time, had been subjected to Chinese influence. As noted in the Lao tradition, trace of Buddhism could not be founded when king Fa-Ngum took over Lan-Xang.
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 a request to the Khmer Court or a cultural mission to bring Buddhism into his newly founded Kingdom. The Lao tradition credited to his Khmer Queen Keo Kenya for the initiation.
With the advent of King Fa-Ngum, 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. (HLao: The introduction of Buddhism of the Hinayana Sect as practiced in Ceylon from the Khmer kingdom to the Lao kingdom)
She then made a request to her husband to bring Buddhism into the Lao Kingdom in which king Fa-Ngum agreed whole-heartily. 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 communities. As part of the Mon countries, they were known already to be fervent Buddhist. The queen' s request was actually what Lan-Xang new suzerainty needed to bind these dependencies as a country. To make it the capital of the new Lao Country, it is imperative that Fa-Ngum developed Lan-Xang into becoming a strong Buddhist Center. He then dispatched a mission to Angkor requesting the Khmer King to send help in developing Buddhist schools to Xiang-Tong.
The request was gracefully heeded by the king of the Khmer Kingdom who invited Phrah Maha Pasman, king Fa-Ngum'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 leads us to believe that he was actually Fa-Ngum'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 powerhouse. In the same expedition, the king of Cambodia sent engineers, craftsmen and ordinary Khmer people to help building up the new country. With all his establishment, Fa-Ngum took no time to bring the new Lao country into prosperity. According to the Lao Source, he menaged to consolidate petty Lao countries to bind under the suzerainty of Lan-Xang. Among them was the Nan country that was used to be part of Rajapati. During the Angkorean era, Rajapati was part of the Khmer Empire to become one of its important northern states. According to the Nan chronicle, the Pukha (Puga) Dynasty took hold of Nan in the preparation of the Shan country to be annexed to Burma. Nan was then split to accommodate two dynasties that were descended from the Botomsurya dynasty of Angkor. During the Mongols incursion, Nan was wrested by Xiang-Mai while Vieng-tian was annexed to Piao. Trough distinctive affinity of local courts, they were separated and the withdrawal of the Mongols, became target of annexation by powerful neighboring states. In a close relationship with Angkor, Fa-Ngum brought Lan-Xang into becoming the top contender of them all. The conquest of Fa-Ngum brought the two sister cities back together under his suzerainty. After subduing neighboring Siam countries, large and small, to pay tribute to him, Fa-ngum protected them against the aggression of Lanna and Ayudhya. Nevertheless, Fa-Ngum lost his mind and also the control of his court during his late reign after the death of his queen Keo Kenya in 1368. According to the Lao Tradition, Fa-Ngum 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. After receiving from each of the kings of Lanna and Ayudhya the hand of their daughters, he soon reversed his father's policy. By leaning toward the Thai consortium, the Lao king distanced himself from the Khmer consortium. His change of policy was challenged by his sister named Neang Keo-Ketkesei and caused Sam-Sen-Thai to lose the control of his court. The Lao source blamed the princess for the internal intrigue that brings the Lan-Xang' s court to crises. The Nan chronicle however had a different view of the crises and attribute the lost control of Lan-Xang's suzerainty over Nan to the aggressiveness of the new Tai Pact.
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 Lan-Xang court during the internal crises, Nan became prey to both the aggression of Lannan and the manipulation of Ayudhya acting as the new powerhouses of the bloc. 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 Angkorean 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 Angkorean 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 an independent 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. 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 (NC: The Foundation of Muang Pua by the Phukha Dynasty: pp1-6). At the same time, the chronicle stopped mentioning altogether about Muang Phukha which through adverse circumstances, became more and more isolated and became prey to the new Tai Pact. This was because the Ming Emperor Hongwu, by rebuilding Yunnan to be a province of China induced the Miens to rebel against the imperial court. According to the Nan-Tchao chronicle, an obscure figure by the name of SSeu-Louen led the rebellion.
In 1385 and again in 1387 Sseu-Louen attacked King-Tong. The marquis of Si-Ping Mou-Ying resisted the attack. In 1388, order was given to Fou-Yeou-To , duc of Ying-Koue, to lead a Chinese army to destroy the Man of Yunnan once for all. Sseu-Louen attacked Ta-lang and was resisted by Mou-Ying (HPNT: Recits tires des Annales: p. 224)
The chronicle did not give detail information on who Sseu-Louen was. Indications however suggest that he was no other than King Ngam Muong (Sungampha of the Shan tradition) of Piao who, as we recalled back, was set to rule Tcheng-Mien by the Great Khan. Obviously he was among the Man leaders who rose up against the Ming Emperor Hongwu during the crack down on Yunnan's Mongolian legacy. When he submitted himself in 1390, the Ming Emperor Hongwu apparently allowed him to rule Lou-Tchouen along with the rest of the Mongols stationed at mount Prah Khan. When another Man leader (named Tao-Kan-Yu) rose up against him, Sseu-Louen escaped and went to complain to the Mings. The Mings had him escorted to Kin-Tche perhaps for a temporary stay and after subduing the rebel at Lou-Tchoan gave it back to Sseu-Louen to rule. The connection with Kin-Tche (Nokor Rajasima) confirms to us of his identity as King Ngam Mouang who, as we had seen, had a son ruling over Mounag Pua of the Nan Country (The Lanna State: The Nan's Connection: Muang Pyao and King Ngam Muang). As Rebels and uprisings continued, the Mings found the delegation of Yunnan to the local Ho leadership as the only solution to solve the problems. Annam that was cooperating with the court for some time started to have its own crisis.
After Mou-Ying died, his eldest sun Cheng succeeded him and drove the expedition to Kiao-Tche. In 1439 he attacked Sseu-jen (son of Sseu-Louen), the rebel chief of Lou-Tchoun (HPNT: Recits tires des Annales: p. 225-226)
After submitting it in 1407, the Mings restored back Annam to be a Chinese military commanding post as it was always been. This conciliation between the Ming and Annam however created a new unrest for the Shan Country. A Son of king Ngam Moung apparently stepped to rebel against the Ming.
In 1437 Sseu-Jen who was the son of Sseu-Louen and ruled Lou-Tchouen after his father, revolted against the Ming and invaded Teng-Tchong, Nan-Tien in 1438. (HPNT: Recits tires des Annales: p. 234)
The next interference of the Ming Dynasty tested Ava of its ancestral loyalty.
In 1439, Mou Cheng received the order from the Ming Court to subdue Sseu-Jen who escaped to Ava in 1444. In 1449, Wang Ki submitted at Mong-Yang the brigands of Lou-Tchouan. In 1452, Wang Ki gave Ava the control of Mong-Yang. In return, ava sent Sseu-Jen's wife and Children to the court. They cut Sseu-Jen's head who was Already dead and sent to Wang Ki. (HPNT: Recits tires des Annales: p.236)
The betrayal had triggered a bad sentiment between the two courts and revenge from the part of Rajapati soon followed. To avenge his father, a surviving son of the king Ngam Muang brought up an army to attack Ava. Nevertheless, Ava stayed to become the seat of the next long lasting Taungoo Dynasty of Burma. Receiving back the control of Rajapati, Ava built its strength to win over the Mon Country and at the same time was able to interfere in the new Angkorean politic over the Lao Court of Lan-Xang.
THE LAST OF THE KHMER CONSORTIUM
During the break down of the Khmer Consortium, Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Champa went into decline. A new Tai movement emerged to resume its aggression against the weakening Indianized states. Continuing on its cooperation with the local Ho of Yunnan, Lanna began a new eastward campaign. At the same time, Annam 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 fell into its own crises and lost its protecting role over the last of the Angkorean legacy. To make the matter worst, Annam joined in the new Tai pact in a final campaign against Angkor.
The Affair with Annam
The establishment of Luang Prah Bang by Fa-Ngum 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. Annam's records made a reference to an obscure figure named Che Bong Nga to launch his campaign deep inside Annam 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 succeeded his father's campaign to free both Champapura and Virapura. Their success story was however cut short after Annam freed itself during the decline of the Ming Dynasty 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 Reestablishment of Champapura: The fall of Champapura). The victory perhaps aroused Annam' 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, Annam 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 Annam had all the reasons to be concerned about (The Kingdom of Siam: The connection with the court of Udong: The Cham's alliance). 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, Annam 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 Annam'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 Annam: The Tay-son brothers). The Lao tradition appears to have no recollection of the impact of Annamete attack on Champapura as a connection to the next Annamete campaign over its own city Lan-Xang. Instead the Lao tradition associated the attack of Annam 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 Annam invaded Champapura, we believe that the elephant's dung was just a hideout of a bigger conflict between Annam 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 Affair with Ayudhya
After the death of King Fa-Ngum, 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 repetitive assaults from Siam, the Cambodian court could no longer stay at the Angkorean 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 an effective contender and became strong enough to command respect from both Ayudhya and Burma. During the transformation, Lan-Xang distanced itself from its old allies Burma and Cambodia and was in the process of forging a relationship with Ayudhya. 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 contemporary ruler Athityaraja. Taking asylum in the Lao kingdom, he requested king Pothisara-raja to invade the Siam country on his behalf. Sensing that the opportunity has come, the Lao King agreed to help. He 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 on its own term 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 high 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. The Lao King Pothisara was badly hurt during the accident and died seven days later. He died leaving the throne unattended while his eldest son Saya Sethathirath was still very young. His mother was the daughter of Xiang-Mai' s ruler; through her, he was made king of Xiang-Mai in the year 1546 at the age of 14 years old.
The Reign of King Saya Sethathirath (1547-)
After his father's death, King Saya Sethathirath left Xiang-Mai to ascend the throne of Xiang-Tong in the year 1550. Of his young age, he 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. A court member named Phragna Sisat-Thammatailoka helped him to bring down the rebellion. In recognition, Saya Sethathirath 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 countries (Nokor Catumukh: Nokor Lawek: The Fight for Supremacy). The lost of the contest required him to render Lan-Xang as a dependency of Lawek, of which he refused. 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 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 be 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 princess 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. (HLao: 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 the Lao court for help. Once again, the Lao troops that were sent for the rescue of Ayudhya were drawn to defeat, 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 outcome of the game and prepared a real campaign against Cambodia instead. He marched his army toward cambodia but was forced to drop the plan due to the sudden Burmese attack on the Tai alliance (Nokor Catumukh: Nokor Lawek: The fight for supremacy). After Subduing Ayudhya, King Chao Fa Mangkri of Hamsavati (Bayinnaugh) extended his attack to the east against Lang-xang.
THE POST-ANGKOREAN POLITIC OF NORTHERN SIAM
In modern histories of both Thailand and Laos, the conflict between the Sam Countries and the Khmer Court of Angkor were treated as the fighting between Thai communities from the domination of Angkor. What missing in their presentation was that the Tai communities were wrested from Angkor and were originally composed of Khmer-Mon stocks by the Tai leadership who was mostly of Sri Vijayan background. As we had argued, if was the Khmer leadership of Haripangjaya who after losing their countries to the Lao King Mangrai, went to establish themselves at Angkor. Formed by latter, Lan-Xang rose in an imminent position to command respect from Lanna. After the death of Fa-Ngum, the next court of Lan-Xang approached Ayudhya for alliance.
The Dawn of the Kali Epoch
Circumstances played a big role for the wax and wane of northern Siam Country. Increasingly drawn under the spell of foreign intervention of both China and Central Asia, Lanna was no longer self-sustainable. The Xiang-Mai chronicle's account on the Annamete submission appeared to be a little far-fetched considering that it was not long ago that Annam had challenged successfully the Great Khan of leaving its country alone. A closer look reveals that after the fall of Angkor, Dai-Viet fell into decline on its own weight (Notes: Dai-Viet as a failed State). Without China for support, Dai-Viet saw the Hos as its inevitable allie and supporter. To save itself from the hardship of loosing the war, the surrendering might have been voluntary as Dai-Viet found itself depending on China for its own survival. Not long afterward, he sent two Ho officers back to the court of Lanna to request tribute. Taking the last assignment from the Ho ruler as an excuse, King Trilokaracha refused to pay the tribute.
Previously Chao Lum Fa granted permission in a sealed script delivered to me saying that I was supervise the western regions, and that if there were any enemies of Chao Lum Fa arising, I would have my warriors go and suppress them. Therefore, any tribute due to Chao Lum Fa I will render by maintaining my elephantry, cavalry and infantry, who are volunteers for the Chao Lum Fa. (CMC: Tributary Relationship With the Ho: p. 105)
The two Ho officers reported back to the Ho court of the refusal and lucky enough for King Trilokaracha, Chao Lum Fa could not agree more. Still remembering the last incident when his predecessor tried to press King Sam Praya fang Kaen to pay tribute to him, Chao Lum Fa clearly did not want to commit the same mistake.
Over all the earth, none is braver than the king of Lanna. No one must look down on Lanna as a small country. Whatever tribute Lanna sends is up to the king of Lanna who maintains their brave troops for us. (CMC: Tributary Relationship With the Ho: p. 105)
Thinking that it would be wise not to push too far on his good impression that was made through lie to the Chao Lum Fa, King Trilokaracha decided to send tribute to the Ho ruler. With Vietnam under its control, there was no evidences that the Hos wanted to keep their promises to Lanna for long. Pressed by the Ming court to meet the tribute requirement, the Ho ruler of Yunnan would soon forgot his previous accord with their southern ally. The first tribute that was apparently of Lanna's initiative consisted of four different kinds of products of the country:
nine tusks of elephant ivory, nine pieces of Burmese cloth, nine pieces of Thai cloth, and nine rhinoceros horns. (CMC: Tributary Relationship With the Ho: p. 105)
With the tribute, the good relationship between the Ho and Xiang-Mai continued on until the Hos were purged completely out from Yunnan by the Ming court. King Tilokarat died at the age of seventy-eight years old (in 1487/88). Counting from King Mangrai who was founder of Lanna, he was the tenth in the ruling lineage. Since then, the prosperity of this lineage degenerated until king Sethathirath came from Lan-Xang to take the throne in 1547. His reign coincided with the emergence of a new Kali Epoch that according to the Xiang-Mai Chronicle started at 1548 (CMC: The Dawn of Kali Epoch, 1548: p. 119). The chronicle did not mention when the Kali Epoch ended, but judging from what were happening next it was clearly that the epoch continued to plague the Angkorean legacies of both the Khmer-Mon and the Tai-Lao consortium to come. After King Saya Sethathirath ascended over the throne of Lan-Xang, the Khmer-Mon consortium took another blow when he approached Ayudhya for an alliance. Despite the Burmese interference, Sokhodaya fell under the Ayudhya' s control. The Ayudhyan court was itself under internal crises, but recovered back under the reign of King Maha-Chakraphat-Raja-Thiraj (548-1569). The attack of the Burmese King Bayinnaugh however ended the U-tong lineage and allowed the Sokhodayan faction to take control of the Ayudhyan court. As the new King Dharmaraja II (1569-1590) was willing to side himself with the Khmer-Mon consortium that already bound king Bayinnaugh of Burma and king Mahendraraja of Lawek, the hope of reuniting back the Angkorean Empire was very much under way. The hope however dashed as the son of King Dharmaraja II, Narasuan, decided to rebel against the suzerainty of Burma. The fighting between the Khmer-Mon and the Tai-Lao consortiums took a toll of both parties while the next international event would set Southeast Asia into another ream of crises.
- ISSA: The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, by G. Coedes
- CKH: The Chonicle of Khmer heroes, by Sot Eng
- CRC: JA 1871: Chronique Royale du Cambodge, by Okgna Vang Sarpech Nong, Translated by Doudar Delagree
- CMC: The Chiang Mai Chronicle, by David K. Wyatt and Aroonrut Wichienkeeo
- CNSD: The Crystal Sands: the chronicles of Nagara Sri Dharmaraja, by David K. Wyatt
- NC:The Nan Chronicle, Translated by Prasoet Churatana, Edited by David K. Wyatt
- HLao:History of Laos, Maha Sila Viravong, Translated by the U.S. Joint Publications research Service
- LF:Le Laos Francaise, By Eugene Picanon
- SSBA:The Shan State and the British Annexation, by Sao Saimong Mangrai
- MMM: Malaka, Le Malau et Malayur, by Gabriel Ferrand
1346-1351: The reign of Prah Lampangraja at Angkor; 1349: Fa-Ngum 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 Annam and attacked Champapura; 1480: Annam attacked Lan-Xang and Nan; 1520-1547: The reign of King Pothisara-raja; 1547: The reign of King Saya Sethathirath; 1551: The reign of King Mae Ku (Xiang Mai); 1547-?: The Reign of King Saya Sethathirath
- The Preceptor of Khun Borom and Khun Lo
We had argued that the advent of Khun Borom was closely connected to the formation of the Angkorean Empire (Xiang-Mai: The Nan-Tchao Connection: Khun Borom of Nan-chao). Furthermore, the shared tradition of Prah Thong in the early7 history of Laos conveys that
- The Lao Race
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 the Lua tribesmen' s assimilation with Central Asian stocks. The first group called Ai-Lao was actually the result of assimilation with the Yao people, known in China as the Shan-Chinese. The second group that was called the Ngai-Lao was on the other hand the result of assimilation with the Yueh Chinese. Also Known as the Mien, the Yao speaks Sino-Tibetan tongue while the Yueh speak a language related to Chinese. The Miao tribesmen were a version of the Chinese people in mixture with the Yueh stock of central Asia.
- 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 into Prey Nokor and the rest of Southeast Asia as a whole. Archeology and Chinese sources instead dates the major development of Prey-nokor at the early fifth century after Christ (Prey Nokor: The Thong Dynasty: The conflict with the Cham kings).
- The Misconception of Lin-yi as a Cham Country
Unaware of the common heritage shared by Southeast Asian tribesmen, modern scholars had made attempts to differentiate ethnic nationality through language classification. In the process, they mistook Lin-yi as a Chinese reference to Champapura, the country of the Chams. On the same mistake that the Chinese reference to Vieng-chan, Chan-tcheng, was also misidentified as the same Cham country, the history of both the Khmer kingdom and the the Lao Kingdom of Vieng-Chan were left in the dark,
- The Southern Tai Consortium
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 Annam under its direct control reflected even stronger control of the Ho over Yunnan until the Ming' s taking over. The consortium of the Ayudhyan and Lanna made the new Tai Pact even stronger than it was under the Great Khan.
- Title and crowning Procedure
In Southeast 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 tradition. Often enough, a royal title could be an efficient way to identify each of the King's ancestry.
- The Thai migration theory
The presence of the Thai Culture in Southeast Asia was wrongly postulated by some scholars as due to the Tai mass migration either from Central Asia or China (SHL: Chapter II, Some earlier Shans: pp. 17-19). The theory was based on previous theory that the Mon-Khmer peoples were actually driven out from India by the Aryans. We had argued that these theories along with the theory of Aryan Invasion were not only wrong, but were formulated by the colonial view designed to support the colonial drive of European colonists over India (The early civilization: The Indus Valley: The Connection with Mesopotamia). On the same premise, the Tai Migration Theory was postulated to support the British and French drive toward Yunnan. It was thus in the best interest of the colonial rule to detach the Shan politically from Burma and joined all the Tai speaking people through a commun link of Tai-Kaday 's origin (The Westernisation: The Impact on Southeast Asia: The Birth of new Nations).
- Dai-Viet as a failed State
Annam was a victim of its own statehood. Formed by the Hans to be a military commanding post of the centralized China, Annam was not made as a self-sustained state on its own. From then on, Annam survived very much on income received from the wars and depended on cosmic change to ally itself with foreign powers to make the end need. Its overpopulation became its primary burden when there is no war to feed the country. The account conveys a situation that Annam was in it down-turn until the Mings stepped up to save it from disintegrating.