Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ava attacks Razadarit for the first time (c. 1385)

After Razadarit took power at Pegu, Laukpya, the ruler of Myaungmya, sent a message to the king of Ava suggesting an alliance. The purpose of the alliance would be to put a end to Razadarit's state-building before it became a greater threat, literally: "...march against him….before he has time to consolidate his kingdom while I lead a maritime assault on him. If we are successful my lord shall take the core of the spoils while I will be satisfied if you will give me the rind."

Harvey in his history depicts Laukpya as a duplicitous family member, an uncle who starts a long series of Mon-Ava wars that lasts for generations. He neglects to mention that Myaungmya was a fief of Ava (San Lwin 60) Ava had given Laukpya this fief of Myaungmya, so that Laukpya was not being cunning or duplicitous here, but rather loyal to the lord he had sworn allegiance to.

Before the invasion of the south at the instigation of Laukpya that followed Razadarit’s coronation, Razadarit had called Than Laik, the ruler of Wun, to his presence to administer the oath of allegiance. When there was no response to his summons, Razadarit marched to Wun to deal with this matter, but was called away almost immediately to meet Ava’s invasion.

The Ava troops advancing against Pegu via Toungoo and the Sittaung river valley quickly overcame Mon resistance at Pankyaw (San Lwin 61). Mingyiswasawke traveled down the Irrawaddy (Hlaing axis, via Prome). The ruler of Hmawbi intercepted some of the forces in a ravine and engaged them in a skirmish. The ruler of Pinle on the Ava side was pierced by a lance while fighting atop his elephant and died, so this ravine was subsequently known as Zayaung Pinle. Minkyiswasawke’s forces joined together at Talein. Many omens were reported regarding the battle that was about to happen (SL61,UKI:441).

Razadarit engaged in battle with Arakanese forces at Pankyaw, but failing to make any progress and withdrew to a siege position. Troops from Myaungmya failed to coordinate with their ally Ava, arriving to reinforce Pankyaw, but missing the main body of Ava’s forces. Razadarit made one more attack against the Arakanese forces but withdrew once again.

Meanwhile, at Talein the Ava and Mon forces were positioned on either side of a stream. Razadarit’s forces were so small that Mingyiswasawke suspected a strategem and ordered his troops not to cross the river and attack. Razadarit took the initiative crossing the stream and attacking and scattering Ava’s forces, putting them to the rout. The ruler of Myaungmya withdrew his forces.

Razadarit sent a submissive message with gifts to Mingyiswasawke, but Mingyiswasawke read it as a delaying tactic to get Ava to withdraw while Razadarit consolidated his hold over Lower Burma (SL 62). This time Myaungmya and Ava made an effort to be better coordinated: "On this occasion I will come up to Pan Alwe while my lord brings up at Panhlaing. We will then join forces and take Hlaing." They planned to take the settlements of Lower Burma new modern-day Yangon in the following order: Hlaing, Hmawbi, Dagon, and Dala (SL 62).

Razadarit gathered together a strong garrison at Hlaing and Ava forces laid siege to the town for more than a month. To put an end to the siege Razadarit led cavalry and elephants out of the town for a skirmish. The main body of Ava troops were stockaded at nearby Hmawbi. The gates of the Ava stockade were supposedly opened as a challenge to Razadarit to enter the stockade and Razadarit led a successful charge into the stockade. It is always hard to draw the line between reality and a realistic simulation of reality, but when heroes are victorious in unlikely maneuvers like this, charging into a stockade after the gate is opened to let them in, reasonable doubts are raised. Myaungmya on hearing of Razadarit’s victory at Hmawbi hastened a retreat and Razadarit pursued the retreating Avan forces all the way to Prome (SL 63).