Chao FaNgum was the
grandson of Phraya Khamphong, the ruler of Meuang Sua (Luangprabang). Because it
was reputed that he was born with 33 teeth, an ominous sign for the throne, he
was exiled from the land. By the way, onesource said that his father, Phi Fa,
committed adultery with his grandfather'sconcubine, both the father and Chao
FaNgum fell from the ruler's favours and had to leave the country.
Another source even said Chao FaNgum wasn't exiled but was sent tostudy at the
Angkor Wat Court. Whatever it may be, one thing was obvious: by growing up in
the Foreign land came the wider perspective uninhibited by the constraints of
one's own Land. More importantly, he got the military support from the Khmer
court hoping to Check the steady advance of the Tai of Adhutthaya who, at that
time, was eroding The Khmer power in Isan region. To strengthen the tie with the
future Meuang Sua Ruler, the
Khmer king gave Chao FaNgum his daughter, Nang KeoKengYa. Luckily, For
Chao FaNgum's cause, the Sukhothai kingdom was fast in decline leaving a Vacuum
in the heartland of Indochina. More over, the new lord of China, the Mongols
Preferred to have many contending powers in the region checking on the expansion
Of one another. That was one of the reasons Chao FaNgum's force might consist of
Not only Khmer but the descendants of Shan and Yunnanese troops recruited by the
Mongols to garrison the Middle Mekong until around 1330. Also, he might also
have The support of the LaoTheung as well as the Tai of the Middle Mekong.
On his way to Meuang Sua, he struck Meuang
Sikhottabong (Nakhone Phanom/Thakek)
And then Meuang Phouane. At that time, Chao KhamHiao ? his uncle was the ruler
Of Meuang Sua who unable to withstand the invading army of Chao FaNgum had
Committed suicide. The aristocrats of Meuang Sua then invited Chao FaNgum to Assume the throne. Given
the easiness his force overwhelm the enemy, Chao FaNgum Then struck PhaiNam (Vientiane) who offered the stiff
resistance. Only through ruse Did Chao FaNgum succumb this key Meuang. After
that, he struck Isan, the Outlying Lao Meuang along the Vietnamese border,
Sipsongchuthai, Sipsongphanna, Shan states, Lanna and then Adhutthaya. Though not conquered the
last two since they Agreed to sign a favorable agreement with the new power,
LanXang under Chao FaNgum
Became a strong and powerful kingdom in the region. The king of Adhutthaya then sent His daughter,
Nang KeoNghotFa, to Chao FaNgum. This queen later gave birth to Chao SameSenthai
whom I will write in the later episode. By the way, in Chao FaNgum's reign,
Buddhism was introduced to the land and, therefore, giving legitimacy to the new
dynasty which was to last until 1975.
Here, I would like to mention that the
kingdom Chao FaNgum newly established was Called LanXang HomKhao , literally a
Million Elephants and a White Parasol. According to Martin Stuart-Fox, LanXang
symbolized both military power and royal kingship. It was the choice of the
military conqueror: it named his means of projecting military power, warned of
retribution for reluctant tributaries, and challenging neighboring Mandalas.
It was interesting to note that Chao FaNgum
was the prototype of the Tai ? free, brave, And full of vitality. Though
proclaimed a Buddhist, he wasn't restrained by its mores. He would even
put the rulers of the Isan Meuang to death if not by the timely interference Of
his Khmer teacher. Also, though supported by the Khmer court in his quest for
the Throne, Chao FaNgum wasn't a Khmer puppet. Instead, his kingdom covered the
territory Once under the Khmer rule. That was Isan, the Middle Mekong and
possibly the Lower Mekong as well. Only with the passing away of his devout
Khmer wife did Chao FaNgum Lost any interest in expanding and ruling his
kingdom. It was recorded that he succumbed To adultery and so was exiled to the
principality of Nan. Likely, he was deposed because The old aristocracy shunned
the favour he heaved on his Khmer followers and therefore Challenged the status
quo long established in the seat of power: Meuang Sua. Whatever the excuse Chao FaNgum, a warrior king of heroic
proportion, was to die in the foreign Land a distance away from the powerful
kingdom he single-handedly helped created.
What a tragedy! At the same time, it showed
that the Tai always put Dhamma above Anything else.
This Dhamma assertion did occur one more time at the time of Chao Souriyavongsa
that would plunge the kingdom into a severely dynastic dispute.
See more picture at http://www.laowaves.com/KingFaNgum/
Symposium on Lao history
Scope of discussion: LanXang history from 1353 to 1893, the year
of the establishment of LanXang kingdom by Chao FaNgum to its dissolution when
France and Siam divided it into 2 separate entities.
Special Emphasis: Chao Anou’s reign from 1804-1828.
Key players: Chao FaNgum, Chao Xaysettha, Chao
Souriyavongsa and Chao Anou
Minor playors: Pha Wo/Pha Ta, Chao Siribounyasane and Chao
Key regions: Vientiane, Luangprabang, Champassak, Meuang Phouane
and Nakhon Phanom
External factors: Siam, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia and, to a
lesser extent, China. France and England were key factors at the very end of
Expected date: Spring 2003 or Summer 2003
Expected place: Berkeley or Oakland, California
1. To restore to the Lao people a part of their roots and a
piece of their lost history.
2. To present Lao history from the perspective of Lao people.
3. To generate a comprehensive understanding of Lao history from
various sources which, at times, contradictory ones.
4. To make Lao people see what tasks are entrusted to them.
5. To derive lessons from the 600 years of LanXang kingdom
6. To patch up wounds left by centuries of suspicion, antagonism
and even hatred among the Lao descendants everywhere
7. To establish a common good among the educated Lao and a
framework for KhuamPenhLao (Lao identity) necessary for the revival of the once
8. To extract the core of Lao spirit that has sustained Lao
people throughout their hard times
9. To hand down the deepest wishes and dreams of the Lao
10. To keep the Lao spirit of independence and of dignity alive
in the present generation of Lao and in the future generations of Lao to come
The symposium will attempt to extract on both the superficial
and deeper level:
1. the strength and weakness of LanXang kingdom
2. Lao-Thai love/hate relationship. What are the cause and the
remedy, if any? Most importantly, the role of Siam (present day Thailand) in the
breaking up of Lao consciousness. Is this act intentional or a mere by-product
3. The role of Vietnam in the making and/or breaking of LanXang
kingdom: myth and facts
4. Was Isan Lao? How strong was the evidence?
5. Was LanXang a strong kingdom? Or a mere conglomeration of
6. Are the Lao the dying race unable to generate its own
momentum? If not, what are the signs that constantly elude even the forward
7. What if France didn’t snatch the present day Laos from Siam,
would LanXang ever revive? What was destroyed with the dismantling of LanXang
kingdom into 2 separate entities: Laos of Indochinese France and Isan of
Most importantly, this symposium will force Lao people to take a
good look at their history in its most defying moment, though tragic it may be:
Chao Anou’s defying act against Siam. After all said and done, Chao Anou’s reign
is the key to Lao history in its microscopic form.
Simply said, the Lao heart lies here in its cowardice and in its
valor. What they need to do is to open their hearts and ask themselves: ‘what
kind of Lao are we?’
Lastly, Lao people need to come to terms with their own history
and then to iron out their constructed difference or they will be just a
pretentious heir to LanXang kingdom.
What this symposium aims to accomplish is to make the Lao people
give a serious thought to who they are, where they come from and where they are
going as a people. Not the least, this symposium wants them to not taking any
piece of history for granted but put it through the test of arguments, logic and
evidences. If this goal is actualized, it will be worth the effort of the
organizers and those who participate in this event.
Speaker on Lao history from 1353 to 1694 – the end of Chao
Q&A Panelists on the above topic
Q&A Afternoon session: Speaker on Chao Anou’s reign
Q&A Panelists on the above topic
p.s. any comments or suggestions are wholeheartedly welcome and
greatly appreciated here. After all, this is just an initial conception of the
symposium on my part. I am sure that, with many heads together either through
you or the to-be-appointed committees, the best symposium on Lao history will be
THE FIRST KING
FA GHOUM (1316 - 1374 ), founder of and the first king of
Lane Xang who created the first unified state of the Lao people.
Fa Ngum was the grandson of Souvanna Khamphong, the last
in a long line of loyal rulers of the principality of Muang Swa, later called
Luang Prabang. According to the legend, Souvanna Khamphong banished Fa Ngum’s
father for having seduced one of Khamphong’s concubines. The family fled to
Cambodian capital at Angkor, where he married a Khmer princess.
In about 1350 Fa Ngum and his father raised an army in
Cambodia and fought their way through the numerous Lao principalities of the
southern and central Mekong River valley, in the course of which his father
died. He continued on to the conquest of Xieng Khouanh then, in 1353, took Muang
Swa, forced the abdication of Souvanna Khamphong, and proclaimed himself king of
expanded kingdom of Lane Xang. Small Lao principalities to the north recognised
his suzerainty, but he had to fight to gain the allegiance of the south. His
major conquest was of the kingdom of Vientiane. Before his death, his empire
extended through virtually the entire area of what was to become Laos, plus the
Black River valley of present northern Vietnam and northern and eastern edges of
the Khorat Plateau of present Thailand.
During his rule, he introduced Buddhism of the Sinhalese
school to Laos. Prabang, Buddha Image which served as the kingdom’s palladium
and gave Luang Prabang its new name, was brought from Sri Lanka.
By the last year of his reign, he had become insensitive
to growing public dissatisfaction with constant warfare. His ministers finally
deposed him in 1373 and exiled him to the principality of Nan in present
Thailand. He was succeeded by his son Un Heuan, who ruled as Sam Saen Thai.
DID YOU KNOW
What is the capital city of Champassak province?
The capital city of Champassak province is Pakse. After
1975, Champassak province formed by merging three separate provinces together;
Champassak, Sedon, and Sithandon.
Here are some of influential figures in our modern time who
come from the south: Kaysone Phomvihane,
Khamtay Siphandone and
Prince Savang Vatthana was born on November 13th 1907 at
the Royal Palace of Luang Prabang. King Sri Savangvong showed that his son will
succeed him on the Throne. He was the older of the five. Princess Sammathi,
Prince Sayasack, Prince Souphantharangsri and princess Khampheng. King
Srisavangvong surprised by the death of his father while he was abroad studying
At the age of 10, Prince Savang was sent to study in
France. His Majesty SriSavang Vatthana ascended to the throne on the evening of
October the 29th 1956, when his father King SriSavangvong died in the Royal
Palace. Under his kingdom he had united provinces: Houanphan, 1931, Houakhong,
Xiengkhouang and Vientiane, 1942, Champassak and Sayboury, 1946.
Laos had become a constitutional monarchy after 1947.
Forced to abdicate on November 29, 1975 by Pathet Lao. He refused to leave the
country. In March 1977, His Majesty Srivang Vantthana was arrested with her
Majesty the Queen, HRH the Crown Prince Vongsavang, HRH the Prince Sisavang, his
second son, Princes Souphantharangsri and Thongsouk, his brothers.
Eventually on December the 14th 1989, Laos PDR Prime
Minister declared in Paris that King SriSavang Vatthana had died.
Did you know?
Fa Ngum was the first King of Laos(14th century), known as
Kingdom of Lane Xang. Sri Savang Vatthana is
the Last King of Laos (1975), Kingdom of Laos.
Prince Souryavong Savang visited Sydney
during May. Lao Communities' leaders in Sydney, Canberra, Albury, and Melbourne
held receptions to welcome the Prince. After Sydney the Prince and his
entourage travelled to Canberra, capital city of Australia. Then they went to
Albury, a city border Victoria and New South Wales where there are quite a large
number of Lao-Australian. Then off they went to Melbourne.