Burmese Administrative Cycles
Anarchy and Conquest, c. 1580-1760
Publication Year: 2014
This book is the first detailed study of administration and politics in premodern Burma and one of the few works of its kind for mainland Southeast Asia.
Originally published in 1984.
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Published by: Princeton University Press
Series: Princeton Legacy Library
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
I wish to thank those individuals and institutions who assisted me in the preparation of this study. The current work derives ultimately from a doctoral dissertation completed at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London in 1976. My first debt is to Professor C. D. Cowan who, as dissertation adviser, introduced me to the ...
Transcriptions, Dates, Terms, and Notes
As he descended the Irrawaddy at the head of a vast armada in 1755, the Burmese king Alaung-hpaya issued a proclamation inviting the allegiance of headmen throughout the valley. It had been ordained by prophecy, he explained, that the tenth king of the previous dynasty would fail to honor the moral law and thereby would bring the coun-...
1. Decline and Restoration of the Toungoo Empire, C. 1580-1635
The First Toungoo Dynasty, which ruled at Pegu near the Burmese coast from 1539 to 1599, was remarkable in several respects. Unlike subsequent dynasties that quickly reunited the Irrawaddy basin after the collapse of their predecessors, the First Toungoo kings joined Up per and Lower Burma after a period of fragmentation lasting over 260 ...
2. The Structure of Government in the Restored Empire
Given the inverse relation between royal power and elite autonomy, it is hardly surprising that the military success of the early seventeenth century should have been associated with, and to a large measure dependent upon, a reversal of those internal administrative patterns most characteristic of the late sixteenth century. Whereas Nan-da-bayin's reign ...
3. The Decline of Royal Authority in the Nuclear Zone, 1648-1752
After Tha-lun's death the dynasty entered a prolonged period of de cline that culminated in the sack of Ava by invaders from Pegu in 1752. In broad outline, the problems that undermined the Restored Toungoo state resembled those that destroyed Nan-dd-bayin's realm. The throne proved unable to control subordinate elites whose appro ...
4. Ava's Loss of Control over the Outer Zones, 1660-1752
The weakening of Ava's authority over non-Burman peoples in the outer zones of the empire stemmed primarily from administrative dif-ficulties at the core. Tha-lun's administrative and military reforms enabled the monarchy to suppress a series of provincial and tributary revolts in the 1660s. In subsequent decades, however, as the capital became ...
5. Alaùng-Hpayá's Reintegration, 1752-1760
Pegu's leaders confidently expected to establish a long-term dominion over Upper Burma, but in fact their invasion revitalized the dry zone polity. The destruction of the Ava ruling house and the chaos that attended the southern incursions favored a number of local leaders whose authority, in contrast to that of Maha-dama-ya-za-di-pati, de-...
Conclusions and Analogies
As a historiographic category, the administrative cycle has uses and limitations. It allows the historian to integrate a mass of otherwise disparate facts into coherent patterns and to ground kaleidoscopic political events in enduring institutions. It also invites meaningful comparisons between cultures and between different periods of the same ...