Burmese Administrative Cycles

Burmese Administrative Cycles: Anarchy and Conquest, c. 1580-1760

Victor B. Lieberman
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 356
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv30n
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  • Book Info
    Burmese Administrative Cycles
    Book Description:

    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.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5585-8
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. TRANSCRIPTIONS, DATES, TERMS, AND NOTES
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  6. Maps
    (pp. xiv-2)
  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-14)

    As he descended the Irrawaddy at the head of a vast armada in 1755, the Burmese king Alaùng-hpayà 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 country to ruin. But now Alaùng-hpayà stood forth as a champion of religious truth who had founded a new capital and would confer renewed spiritual and material benefits on the people of the realm. All were urged to do homage under the Golden...

  8. Chapter One DECLINE AND RESTORATION OF THE TOUNGOO EMPIRE, c. 1580-1635
    (pp. 15-62)

    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 Upper and Lower Burma after a period of fragmentation lasting over 260 years. The empire they erected was the first and last to be centered near the coast rather than in the interior of the Irrawaddy valley. Although the above encomium by the well-traveled Venetian trading prospector Cesare Fedrici tended to obvious hyperbole,² Pegu’s domain was certainly one of...

  9. Chapter Two THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT IN THE RESTORED EMPIRE
    (pp. 63-138)

    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-dá-bayin’s reign had seen a hemorrhage of royal servicemen to private statuses around Pegu, Nyaungyan Mìn and his sons formed a large number of new regiments and restricted entry into debt-slavery and the monkhood. Whereas royal demands on the population had escalated in self-defeating fashion in the 1590s, early seventeenth-century...

  10. Chapter Three THE DECLINE OF ROYAL AUTHORITY IN THE NUCLEAR ZONE, 1648-1752
    (pp. 139-198)

    After Tha-lun’s death the dynasty entered a prolonged period of decline 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-dá-bayin’s realm. The throne proved unable to control subordinate elites whose appropriation of nominally royal resources placed a cumulative, and ultimately fatal, strain on the royal service population.

    In the locus of dissidence and the pace of decline, however, the two periods diverged. During the sixteenth century, the primary threat to royal authority was that of rebellion by Tai tributaries and...

  11. Chapter Four AVA’S LOSS OF CONTROL OVER THE OUTER ZONES, 1660-1752
    (pp. 199-228)

    The weakening of Ava’s authority over non-Burman peoples in the outer zones of the empire stemmed primarily from administrative difficulties 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 absorbed in factional disputes, the system of provincial controls ceased to function efficiently. With the support of ministerial patrons at Ava, governors abused their powers of taxation, thereby antagonizing outlying populations. Moreover, sinceahmù-dànsin Upper Burma had become disorganized and government had come under the sway of factional...

  12. Chapter Five ALAÙNG-HPAYÀ’S REINTEGRATION, 1752-1760
    (pp. 229-270)

    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-damà-ya-za-dí-patí, derived from their charisma and their demonstrated military skill. The most effective of these warriors, Alaùng-hpayà was able to satisfy the popular yearning for a man of greathpòn, to crush opposition by force of arms, and thus to reorganize the population under a more tightly unified patronage structure....

  13. CONCLUSIONS AND ANALOGIES
    (pp. 271-292)

    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 culture. On the other hand, if improperly used, it can obscure linear trends, exaggerate the deterministic quality of events, and exclude heteronomous factors of great significance. It is with these strengths and limitations in mind that I have attempted to explain Toungoo and early Kòn-baung political history in terms of administrative...

  14. Appendix I. LIST OF TOUNGOO AND EARLY KÒN-BAUNG KINGS
    (pp. 293-293)
  15. Appendix II. A NOTE ON MAJOR SOURCES
    (pp. 294-300)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 301-322)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 323-338)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 339-339)