|Queen of Lan Xang|
Executed at Pha Dieo, Muang Sua
|Spouse||King Fa Ngum |
Chief Minister Xieng Lo
Nang Keo Phimpha (Lao : ນາງແກ້ວພິມພາ) (1343–1438), an epithet meaning literally "The Cruel", was Queen of Lan Xang in 1438, taking the regnal name Samdach Brhat-Anya Sadu Chao Nying Kaeva Bhima Fa Mahadevi(Lao : ສົມເດັຈ ພຣະຍາ ສາທຸເຈົ້າຍິງ ແກ້ວພິມພາມະຫາເທວີ).[ citation needed ] She is also known by her title Maha Devi, and may have been the only reigning female sovereign of the kingdom of Lan Xang. According to some chronicles, she briefly occupied the throne for a few months, before she was deposed and killed at ninety-five years old. Her brief reign was the culmination of a ten-year period of regicide, which she orchestrated through a series of puppet kings.
The true identity of the Maha Devi is a matter of dispute both in the chronicles of later periods, and among current scholars.She has variously been described as the eldest daughter, younger sister, principal wife, or step-mother of Samsenthai. Of the few solid clues to her identity, her title as Maha Devi or "Great Goddess," was reserved for only the senior queen of a ruling monarch. Scholars including Martin Stuart-Fox and Amphay Dore, point out that both her age at the time of execution and title as Maha Devi indicate her true identity to be Keo Lot Fa the Queen Consort of Fa Ngum from Ayutthaya who would have assumed the title of Maha Devi after the death of Queen Keo Kang Nya in 1368, shortly before Fa Ngum was deposed in 1371. Although her identity remains a mystery, the consensus among the royal chronicles remains that she was the de facto ruler during a brutal succession dispute between court factions from the death of Lan Kham Deng to the accession of Chakkaphat Phaen Phaeo.
Beginning with the premature death of Lan Kham Deng, the period from 1428 to 1438 in Lan Xang was marked by a prolonged succession crisis created by rival court factions.Court chronicles disagree on the exact sequence of events, or even the exact reigns of the kings. It was during this period of confusion, allegedly orchestrated by the Maha Devi, which witnessed the deaths of seven successive monarchs:
It is unclear exactly how many factions existed at court during this period.One faction included the old nobility of Muang Sua who had opposed Fa Ngum when he consolidated his rule in 1354 and founded the kingdom of Lan Xang through military conquest. Another faction included the Lao and Khmer supporters of Fa Ngum during his conquests and subsequently rose to key administrative positions within the kingdom. Yet another faction included outside influencers from Ayutthaya and Lan Na, rival kingdoms which stood to gain from political weakness within Lan Xang.
Le Boulanger in his Histoire du Laos Français identified the Maha Devi as the eldest daughter of King Samsenthai.The Lao historian Sila Viravong believed she was Samesenthai's younger sister. Michel Oger argued she was the principal wife of Samsenthai, mother of his son and successor Lan Kham Deng. Amphay Dore and Martin Stuart-Fox have argued she was in fact Fa Ngum's queen Keo Lot Fa, daughter of Ramathibodi I. Each based his identification on different versions and analyses from the Lao chronicles of later periods.
Each plausible theory for the identity of Maha Devi raises additional questions about the factional dispute at court. Le Boulanger and Manich Jumsai identify the Maha Devi as Nang Keo Phimpha, daughter of Queen Bua Then Fa whose father may have been Chao Fa Kham Hiao the uncle who Fa Ngum deposed when he conquered Muang Sua.If so, Maha Devi would have been a scion of the old nobility of Muang Sua. Sila Viravong identified her as Keo Ketkesy, the sister of Samsenthai, daughter of Fa Ngum's Khmer Queen Keo Kang Ya who had been given in marriage by Jayavarman Paramesvara. If she was Keo Ketkesy, she would have likely led the Khmer faction at court. The theory put forward by Amphay Dore and Martin Stuart-Fox asserts that Maha Devi was in fact Keo Lot Fa the Ayutthayan Queen promised to Fa Ngum by Ramathibodi I. The theory suggests that Keo Lot Fa would have arrived at court either too late to marry Fa Ngum, or that she was his widow, and implicates that Samsenthai may have married instead to maintain a political balance. If Samsenthai married his own stepmother, it is possible that Queen Keo Lot Fa and Queen Keo Yot Fa are in fact the same person, and either through confusion or intentional misrepresentation were given separate identities in later chronicles. The various theories bear important consequences for describing the politics of the succession dispute which followed each of the so-called "ill-fated" kings, and the entire period from Fa Ngum's removal to the accession of Chakkaphat Phaen Phaeo.
Regardless of her identity, both historians and the chronicles agree that later in life the queen married a much younger politician, who as the power behind the throne she was able to raise to the station of Sen Luang or the Chief Minister of the court.Together the Chief Minister and Maha Devi would have been capable of manipulating the various factions at court through intimidation and regicide. To what extent the Chief Minister or Maha Devi were individually responsible for each of the ill-fated kings deaths is unknown, however the chronicles clearly implicate the Maha Devi as the primary political force for most if not all of the subsequent assassinations.
From Phommathat to Kham Keut, as many as seven kings fell victim to assassination.It is noted in some chronicles that after the death of Kham Keut the Maha Devi herself came to the throne and reigned for a few months. However, the Court tired of abuses of the queen, ordered her capture along with Chief Minister Xieng Lo. The two were taken to a place called Pha Dieo on a riverbank opposite the Xieng Thong palace, were bound together and abandoned to the elements as an offering to the naga in 1438. With the death of the Maha Devi and the refusal to take the throne of the only descendant of royal blood, the prince Vang Buri, the aristocracy of the court ruled that a council of State chaired by two prelates Phra Maha Satthathiko and Phra Maha Samudhakhote, assisted by four members of the armed forces, who ruled for three years. In 1441 Prince Vang Buri, for many years governor of Vientiane, accepted the offer of the prelates and became the new king of Lan Xang with the royal name Chakkaphat Phaen Phaeo.
The Lao Kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao existed as a unified kingdom from 1353 to 1707.
Luang Phabang, or Louangphabang, commonly transliterated into Western languages from the pre-1975 Lao spelling ຫຼວງພຣະບາງ as Luang Prabang, literally meaning "Royal Buddha Image", is a city in north central Laos, consisting of 58 adjacent villages, of which 33 comprise the UNESCO Town Of Luang Prabang World Heritage Site. It was listed in 1995 for unique and "remarkably" well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, a blend of the rural and urban developments over several centuries, including the French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Setthathirath or Xaysettha is considered one of the great leaders in Lao history. Throughout the 1560s until his death, he successfully defended his kingdom of Lan Xang against military campaigns of Burmese conqueror Bayinnaung, who had already subdued Xieng Mai in 1558 and Ayutthaya in 1564. Setthathirath was a prolific builder and erected many Buddhist monuments including Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang, Haw Phra Kaew, Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan and the Pha That Luang in Vientiane.
Photisarath son of King Visoun of Lanxang, is considered to be the most devout of the Lao kings. He banned spirit worship and built temples upon the sites of spirit shrines. His elephant fell and crushed him while he sought to display his prowess to the diplomatic corps. His son Setthathirath returned from Chiang Mai to succeed him to the throne of Lan Xang.
Somdetch Brhat-Anya Fa Ladhuraniya Sri Sadhana Kanayudha Maharaja Brhat Rajadharana Sri Chudhana Negara ລາວ: ສົມເດັດ ພຣະບາດ ອັນຍາ ຟ້າ ລັດທຸຣັນຍາ ສຣີ ສັດຕະນາ ຄະນະຍຸດທາ ມະຫາຣາຊ໌ ພຣະບາດ ຣາຊະທໍຣະນາ ສຣີ ສັດຕະນະ ນະຄອນ, better known as Fa Ngum, established the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang in 1353.
Samsenethai(Lao: ສາມແສນໄທ) also called Oun Huan(Lao: ອຸ່ນເຮືອນ) was the second king of Lan Xang in Laos. He succeeded his father, Fa Ngum.
Lan Kham Deng was the third king of the Lao state of Lan Xang. He was the oldest son of Samsenethai.
Phommathat was the fourth king of Lan Xang (Laos). He was Lan Kham Deng's oldest son. He was king for only 10 months. He was assassinated by Nang Keo Phimpha. He was succeeded by Yukhon.
Kham Tam Sa was a king of Lan Xang who ruled for five months, before he was assassinated by Nang Keo Phimpha. His father was Samsenthai and his mother was Queen Keo Sida of Sip Song Panna. Kham Tam Sa succeeded his brother Khon Kham. Before he was king he was appointed Governor of Pak Houei Luang, where he later fled before his assassination.
Khon Kham was the sixth king of Lan Xang, and reigned for one year and six months. He was the son of King Samsenthai and Queen Noi On Sor of the Kingdom of Lan Na. He was appointed as Governor of Muang Xieng Sa and was granted a ministerial title, when he came of age. He was succeeded by his brother Kham Tam Sa. He was killed at Kokrua, on the orders of Nang Keo Phimpha.
Sang Sinxay, is a Lao epic poem written by Pang Kham. It tells the story of the hero Sinxay (ສິນໄຊ) who goes on a quest to rescue his aunt Soumountha (ສູມຸນທາ) who was abducted by the demon Nyak Koumphan (ຍັກກູມພັນ). The poem is believed to have been written sometime between the mid-16th and the end of the 17th century in the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. Sang Sinxay is considered one of the three masterpieces of Lao literature. The poem is popular in Laos and in the Isan region of Thailand, where its scenes are also depicted on numerous temples.
Chakkaphat Phaen Phaeo (1415–1481) reigned as King of Lan Xang from 1442 to 1480, succeeding the Maha Devi after an interregnum of several years. He was born in 1415 as Prince Vong Buri, the youngest son of King Samsenthai by Queen Nan Keo Yot Fa daughter of King Intharacha of Ayutthaya. When he came of age he was appointed as Governor of Vientiane. He was invited to ascend the throne several times during the succession dispute orchestrated by the Maha Devi, but refused. The Council of Ministers finally persuaded him to become king in 1441, after they had failed to find any other candidate. He still refused to be crowned and avoided the ceremony for many years. Finally bowing to custom in 1456, he was formally coroneted and assumed the reign name and title of Samdach Brhat-Anya Chao Sanaka Chakrapati Raja Phen-Phaeo Bhaya Jayadiya Kabuddha. The regnal name is significant because it translates in Pali to cakkavattin, meaning "Universal Buddhist Monarch." Vong Buri, and the court, were claiming enough political and religious power to unify the kingdom, and warn surrounding kingdoms, despite the upheaval caused by the Maha Devi and interregnum in Lan Xang from 1428-1442.
Souvanna Banlang (1455-1486) was king of Lan Xang from 1479-1486 taking the regnal name Samdach Brhat-Anya Chao Suvarna Panya Lankara Raja Sri Sadhana Kanayudha. His reign was marked as a period of peace and reconstruction, following a massive invasion by the Đại Việt forces of Emperor Lê Thánh Tông. He became king in 1479 after the abdication of his father Chakkaphat Phaen Phaeo, who had fled the capital of Muang Sua ahead of the Đại Việt armies. Prior to his accession he served as Governor of Muang Dansai, according to the Lao chronicles he commanded Lao forces at the Battle of Pakphun where the invading forces were halted and forced to retreat to Vietnam.
Sen Soulintha, Saen Surintha or Sen Sourintha (1511–1582) was born Chane Tian and became King of Lan Xang reigning 1571-1575 and again 1580-1582. Sen Soulintha was not of noble birth, rising from royal page to King Setthatirath’s Chief Minister. During the succession disputes in the Kingdom of Lan Na between King Setthatirath and King Mekuti, Sen Soulintha served Setthatirath as a general and successfully took several cities of Lan Na including Chiang Saen for which he was given the honorific name Lusai meaning “victory.” Sen Soulintha supported Setthatirath in leading the guerrilla campaigns during the Burmese invasions of King Bayinnaung. When Setthatirath died near Attapeu under suspicious circumstances in 1572, Sen Soulintha led the armies of Lan Xang back to Vientiane. A succession dispute erupted, which nearly led to civil war and provided a pretext for another Burmese invasion ordered by Bayinnaung and led by the Chief Minister Binnya Dala. Sen Soulintha defeated the Burmese and Lan Na forces led by Binnya Dala, an event which led to the latter’s exile, only to face a more massive invasion led by Bayinnaug the following year. Sen Soulintha again attempted to resort to guerilla tactics, but lacked popular support from his seizure of the throne. He and his son Ong Lo were captured by Bayinnaung and exiled to Pegu. The Burmese placed Setthathirath’s brother, and former Ouphahat or Viceroy, Prince Tha Heua on the throne. According to the Luang Prabang chronicles it was this brother, who had led a rebellion in Luang Prabang and tried to seize the throne from Setthathirath on the death of their father Photisarath. Prince Tha Heua took the regnal name Voravongsa and reigned under Burmese suzerainty from 1575-1579. Voravongsa was never popular, and drowned with his family while attempting to flee Vientiane in the face of popular uprising. In 1579, Bayinnaung dispatched a sizable army to restore order. According to Lao histories Sen Soulintha was then installed as king a second time in 1580. By that time Sen Soulintha was an old man and reigned only for two years before his son ascended the throne as Nakhon Noi and another succession dispute ensued.
Voravongsa I was king of Lan Xang reigning from 1575–1579 with the regnal name Samdach Brhat-Anya Chao Brhatasena Vora Varman Raja Sri Sadhana Kanayudha but he is commonly referred to in both Lao and Burmese chronicles by his title of Maha Oupahat or Viceroy. Voravongsa was taken prisoner by the Burmese in 1565 during the occupation of Vientiane. In 1575 following the third of a series of Burmese invasions of Lan Xang, Voravongsa was appointed by Bayinnaung as a vassal within the Taungoo Empire. Voravongsa had few supporters even within the Burmese court; he reigned for only four years before facing a popular rebellion which would threaten to overtake the capital in Vientiane. Voravongsa attempted to flee back to Burma, but were killed en route. To reestablish order the Burmese dispatched another army, and would install Sen Soulintha as vassal from 1580-1582.
Nakhon Noi briefly occupied the throne of Lan Xang from 1582–1583 on the death of his father Sen Soulintha, who himself had been appointed as a vassal to the Toungoo Empire from 1580-1582. Nakhon Noi took the regnal name Samdach Brhat Chao Samdach Brhat Chao Negara Nawi Raja Sri Sadhana Kanayudha. Little is known about his brief rule, it does not appear in the sources that the Burmese were at the origin of his selection to succeed Sen Soulintha and were instead informed belatedly. If he had supporters in the royal court of Lan Xang they were few and quickly became unhappy with his rule. Within the year the royal court had petitioned King Nanda Bayin for his removal. According to various versions of the chronicles it is cited that Nakhon Noi “did not rule with fairness,” or keep to the religious and behavioral precepts which were traditionally required by a sovereign. Other versions record that he simply had made enemies at court, or was perceived as illegitimate because he was of common origins. Either at the hands of the royal court, or the Burmese, Nakhon Noi was deposed, arrested, and returned to Pegu. After Nakhon Noi was deposed a period of interregnum occurred from 1583-1591 which historian Paul Le Boulanger describes as a period of “absolute confusion,” among the factions at court. The chronicles again agree that it was only after the period of succession crisis that a petition was finally sent in 1591 to Nanda Bayin by the Lao sangha and Lan Xang court asking for Prince No Muang, the son and legitimate heir of Setthathirath, to be appointed as king. Nanda Bayin confirmed the request and Prince No Muang would take the throne as Nokeo Koumane and reign Lan Xang from 1591-1596.
The Vietnamese-Laotian War of 1479–84, also known as the White Elephant War, was a relatively short conflict between the Laotian mandala of Lan Xang and the Vietnamese kingdom of Đại Việt. The war and its aftermath contributed significantly to the formation of Laos.
| Monarch of Lan Xang |
Chakkaphat Phaen Phaeo