The Birth of Siam and Laos


We’re almost finished looking at Southeast Asia in the Middle Ages.  The newest episode tells how Siam (modern Thailand) and Lan Xang (Laos) got started.  And you will get to hear me mangle more names that were never meant to be pronounced by English speakers!

(Transcript, added 12/16/2019)

Episode 10: The Birth of Siam and Laos

Greetings, dear listeners! I will begin with a quick recap from the early episodes of this podcast, about the migrations. Back then, I pointed out that 5,000 years ago, the ancestors of most of today’s Southeast Asians were not living in Southeast Asia. They lived in lands that are now part of China, including Taiwan, and they moved out in several waves of migrations. The Malays moved first, and centuries later, they were followed by the Mon-Khmers, then the Viets, then the Tibeto-Burmans, and finally the Thais. What got the Malays moving was opportunity; when they invented the outrigger canoe and learned how to sail across the sea, they had the ability to discover new lands and perform the activities that simulation gaming calls the 4 Xs: Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate! We don’t know what motivated the Mon-Khmers to leave China, but they spread across a large part of the Southeast Asian mainland, settling in Laos, Thailand, southern Burma, and Cambodia. The Viet and Tibeto-Burman migrations happened a little over two thousand years ago, just recently enough for us to know why they moved; if they had stayed, they would have been absorbed into the growing Chinese empire. You will remember we covered the Viet migration in Episode 4, the Tibeto-Burman migration in Episode 5, and came back to look at the nations they created in Episodes 8 and 9.


The final great migration in Southeast Asian history was the migration of the Thai peoples. I have hinted at this event several times in the past; now it is time to hear some details, and learn how the two present-day nations in the middle of the Southeast Asian mainland, Thailand and Laos, got started.


We first hear about the ancestors of the Thais in the first millennium A.D., when they lived in south China, near the upper Yangtze River, in the modern provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan, and Yunnan. If they ever lived anywhere else, like on the North China plain, they left before anybody in the region could read or write. Anthropologists have noted that in skin tones and facial features, the Thais look enough like the Khmers and Burmese to suggest they are distantly related; perhaps in prehistoric times, the Thais, Mon-Khmers, Tibeto-Burmans and Viets all had a common ancestor.


At this point I need to clear up one item that might be confusing. Scientists and historians tracing the origin of the Thai peoples will spell the name T-H-A-I when they are in Thailand, and T-A-I when they are anywhere else, like south China. Aside from their location, we are talking about basically the same people, just as how we don’t call the Viets “Vietnamese” until they settle in present-day Vietnam. Later on we will see that the name “Thai” spelled with an “H” also means “free man” in the Thai language, so in that sense, Thailand’s name really means “Land of the Free.” How about that? I bet you thought only US citizens called their country the Land of the Free!


From the time they first appeared, the Thais were a heterogeneous bunch, divided into several tribes or ethnic groups. In present-day Thailand itself, there are no less than thirty distinct Tai groups, making up 85 percent of the country’s population; the rest are mostly Mons and Malays, descendants of the peoples who moved into Thailand before the Thais did. The reason for Thai diversity is the basic nature of early Tai society. Often a group of Tai villages would band together under one prince to form an alliance called a muang. Most muang were temporary, lasting just long enough to win a war or solve a specific problem, but a really successful alliance would stay together for years. Also, it did not take much to get the Thais to migrate, and whenever they were dissatisfied a prince would take his muang and move somewhere else. Finally, population pressure could cause migrations. For example, a prince would want his sons to have as much land as he did, so he would make his youngest son heir to the original territory and take the other sons with him as he went forth to conquer new lands for them to have. This process tended to fragment Thai society into many smaller ethnic groups, because transportation and communication are difficult in a land largely made up of mountains and jungles.


One more factor was the way the Thais treated the previous inhabitants of the lands they moved into; they enslaved them, rather than killing them or driving them away. Because the Thais were spread out over a large area, sharing their land with non-Thais, they were usually an ethnic minority in their own country, even as late as the year 1350.


In Episode 5 we looked at Nanzhao, a kingdom in China’s Yunnan province. To refresh the listeners’ memory, we used to think the rulers of Nanzhao were Thais, but now it appears more likely they were Tibeto-Burmans. Even so, from the Thai point of view, Nanzhao played a valuable service. As long as it stood as an independent state, Nanzhao kept the Chinese from becoming too strong, below the upper Yangtze River, and thus the Thais were saved from being conquered by the Chinese at this early date. If China had conquered Yunnan sooner, the Thais might have lost their identity, and become just another Chinese-speaking group.


We noted in the last episode that Nanzhao fell to a Mongol invasion in 1253, which captured Nanzhao’s capital, Dali, but long before that date the Thais began moving out of the area, in search of greener rice fields. We also saw previously that one of the Thai tribes, the Shans, headed south as early as the tenth century, and settled in what is now eastern Burma. The Thais did not document their migration because it came as a trickle, not as a flood. Instead of a whole lot of people moving at once, like when the Americans loaded their covered wagons and went west in the nineteenth century, the Thai migration was a few people moving at a time, going from China to the lands south of it. Moreover, when they settled in an area already claimed by an existing nation, like the Bagan and Khmer Empires, the process was so gradual that the ruling god-kings did not even notice, and thus they did not report the migration, either.


Besides the Shans, the Thai tribes included the following:


1. The Zhuang. These are the Thais who stayed in south China after Nan Zhao fell. Today they are concentrated in the province of Guangxi, in fact, Guangxi’s full name is the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. You may have seen pictures of the amazing limestone mountains around the city of Guilin, which take on strange shapes and look like they are made of melting wax. That’s where the Zhuang live. Currently there are about 18 million Zhuang, so while they are never in the news, they are the largest ethnic minority in modern China, outnumbering more visible minorities like the Tibetans, Mongolians, and Uighurs.


2. The Ahom or Assamese, who have been the dominant group in northeast India since 1228.


3. The White Thai, the Red Thai, and the Black Thai, who stayed in the highlands and derived their names from the main color of their clothing.


4. The Lao, who settled the Khorat Plateau and the upper Mekong valley. Of course, these are today’s Laotians, but in fact, today there are more Lao living west of the Mekong River, in present-day Thailand, than there are living in Laos. This arrangment works because the Lao are in fact a Thai tribe; even now there are few differences between the Lao and the Thais. Sometimes I hear the Lao in Thailand referred to by another name, Isaan. For example, there used to be a restaurant in my home town called Isaan Baan, that specialized in northeastern Thai cuisine.


5. Last but not least, a tribe called the Small Thai settled in the heart of modern Thailand, the Menam or Chao Phraya valley. Don’t be fooled by the name; for this narrative, they would become the most important tribe of all, because as we saw in past episodes, river valleys are prime farmland in Southeast Asia. The Vietnamese succeeded because they had a river valley, the Khmers succeeded because they had a river valley, the Burmese succeeded because they had another river valley, and now the Thais would have a river valley to call their own. Actually they had two river valleys, if you count the part of the Mekong claimed by the Lao.


Wherever they went the Thais became mercenaries as well as settlers. In their new homes they discarded whatever culture they had learned from the Chinese up to this point, since it was now a symbol of oppression. In its place they learned Theravada Buddhism from the Mons, the arts from the Khmers, and developed an alphabet based on the scripts of both. Veteran listeners will also remember how we described Southeast Asian states as Mandalas, a situation where each kingdom was really a patchwork of self-governing principalities and tributary provinces owing allegiance to a great king. Well, the Thai muang system was a lot like the Mandalas, so the Thais had no problem learning it. In the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Thais would set up the most complicated Mandalas of all, with four power centers — Chiangmai, Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Luang Prabang — existing at the same time, so it isn’t always clear how many kingdoms the Thais actually had. Indeed, the last remnant of the old Dvaravati kingdom, from Episode 3, was now called Lavo or Lopburi, and it held the mouth of the Menam River until 1388, as a vassal state of the Thais.


Lan Na and Sukhothai


As long as the Khmers and Burmese maintained strong empires, the Thai newcomers were no threat. But when those empires weakened after 1200, the Thais found a vacuum they could fill. In several places along the Menam River, Thai mercenaries revolted, and set up independent muang or city-states in place of Khmer rule.


It is at this point that we begin to see the word Siam, Thailand’s official name before 1939. We think it comes from the Sanskrit word Syama, meaning “dark” or “brown.” The names of two Thai tribes, Shan and Ahom, appear to be variations of the same word. Thus, when the Thais established their own country, neighbors like Vietnam would call it “Syam,” spelling the name either with an “I” or a “Y,” and the Chinese would call it “Xian.”


According to the French historian George Cœdès, quote, “The Thai first enter history of Farther India in the eleventh century with the mention of Syam slaves or prisoners of war” in Champa epigraphy, and “in the twelfth century, the bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat” where “a group of warriors” are described as Syam. Additionally, “the Mongols, after the seizure of Dali on January 7, 1253 and the pacification of Yunnan in 1257, did not look with disfavor on the creation of a series of Thai principalities at the expense of the old Indianized kingdoms.” End quote.


Two Thai states were more important than the rest. One was called Sukhothai, from the Sanskrit Sukha Udaya, meaning “Dawn of Happiness,” and it was founded around 1238 on the upper Menam. The name of the other state, Lan Na, means “One Million Rice Fields”, and it was farther north on the same river. Lan Na’s first ruler, Mangrai, enjoyed a long reign, from 1259 to 1318, and was an excellent monarch; he defeated and conquered several rival muang around him and made his kingdom both civilized and powerful. The nearest rival was Haripunjaya, the Mon state that had dominated northern Thailand previously; he conquered its capital, Lamphun, in 1292. He even defeated the Mongols when they invaded Lan Na, in 1296 and 1301; now that wasn’t easy! After making a few counter-raids of his own into China, Mangrai sent elephants and other gifts to the court of the Great Khan, and Mongol-Thai relations were fine after that. In 1296 he founded an impressive new capital, Chiangmai, and the kingdom of Lan Na is usually referred to as Chiangmai after this.


After Mangrai’s reign ended, his successors quarreled over the Chiangmai throne for eleven years, from 1318 to 1329. By the time stability returned, the southern kingdom of Sukhothai had clearly become the leader among the Thai states, so Sukhothai is the state we will call Siam from now on.


The first two kings of Sukhothai are obscure, all we know about them are their names. However, the third king was a multi-talented monarch named Ramkhamhaeng, also called Rama Khamheng, or Rama the Brave). He began his reign in 1279, and under him Sukhothai grew from just another muang into a “super-muang”; most of Malaya, Laos, eastern and central Thailand came under his rule, and he also made vassals of the Mons in Burma. Ramkhamhaeng was a fearless warrior, but most of the time he did not have to fight; his reputation went ahead of him and caused most enemies to submit without a battle. On the other hand, he showed his diplomatic skills in 1294 and 1300, when he went in person to Beijing, and paid tribute at the court of the Great Khan. This move allowed Siam to escape the Mongol raids that fell upon the rest of Southeast Asia, and since that time, the Thais have been masters of diplomacy.


Besides being first in war and first in peace, Ramkhamhaeng also claimed to be the inventor of the Thai alphabet. Whether or not this is true, the oldest known inscription in the Thai language was written by him. Dated 1292, it portrays Sukhothai as a rich and happy state, active in trade, and governed by a paternal monarch; taxes were modest, all citizens (both Thai and non-Thai) were treated with equal justice, and everyone followed Buddhism. Allowing for some exaggeration of the country’s virtues, the picture presented still shows how remarkably different Siam was from Cambodia, where the Khmer god-kings demanded much in labor and taxes to support themselves and a religion that had little relevance to the ordinary person’s life. One of the universities in present-day Thailand is named Ramkhamhaeng University, in honor of the king’s intellectual achievements.


On the page where this episode is posted, I shared a picture of the so-called Ramkhamhaeng stela, the stone containing this inscription, and a link to a webpage where the whole inscription has been translated into English. Check it out if you want to read for yourself what the king said.


King Ramkhamhaeng was able to be a good ruler, warrior, diplomat and patron of Buddhism and the arts–all at the same time. Unfortunately it’s not clear how long he ruled; my sources disagreed on whether his reign lasted until 1298 or 1317. The kings after him were not so gifted, showing that talent is not hereditary. His son, Lo Thai, devoted his energy to Buddhism and neglected everything else. Under him it became difficult to rule the kingdom from a capital that was far removed from the centers of agriculture and population. As you might expect, the lands with most of the farms and most of the people were far downstream, where the Menam River runs into the Gulf of Thailand. Many muang on the kingdom’s periphery seceded, claiming that their submission to Ramkhamhaeng was now null and void. One of these local princes, Rama T’ibodi I, revolted and founded a new capital, Ayutthaya (also called Ayuthia or Ayudhya), on the lower Menam. Ayutthaya’s name comes from Ayodhya, the birthplace of the hero Rama in Hindu mythology.


The fifth ruler of Sukhothai, Li Thai, acted more like a monk than a king. He recognized that Rama T’ibodi was a superior leader, and submitted to his authority in 1350. That marked the beginning of Siam’s Ayutthayan era, a time future Thais would regard as a golden age.


Ayutthayan Siam


The first king of Ayutthaya, Rama T’ibodi I, did much to make his kingdom the strongest on the Southeast Asian mainland. From the Mons he took the southernmost part of present-day Myanmar; this area used to be called the Tenasserim coast, now it is called the Tanintharyi Region. He also extended his power into most of Malaya, and began to carve up the Khmer empire. At home the country’s law code was revised. But many problems were left for Rama T’ibodi’s successors to solve. The most persistent of these was the king of Sukhothai, who now wanted the independence that his predecessor had so cheaply surrendered in 1350. From 1371 to 1438 Ayutthaya had to direct a northern campaign against Sukhothai almost every year. Ayutthaya’s chief rival, Chiangmai, supported Sukhothai.


At home there was an almost constant struggle for control of the throne. Without an established formula for succession, any member of the royal family could become king. Many of the early Ayutthayan monarchs were deposed or murdered as a result.


The next important king, Boromoraja II, ruled from 1424 to 1448. He was the third son of the previous king, and never expected to inherit the throne himself, but both of his elder brothers killed each other in a duel fought on elephants. Boromoraja finished the long war with the Khmers that his ancestors had started, by capturing and looting Angkor in 1431. Instead of rebuilding their glorious capital, the Khmers abandoned it to the jungle, and moved their court to the neighborhood of Phnom Penh. A Khmer king continued to rule from there, but tribute was paid to Siam for most of the next four centuries. The Khmer Empire was ruined; never again would Cambodia be more than a third-rate power.


Sukhothai was next on Boromoraja’s list. When he took the city in 1438, he made its submission permanent by making his son, the future king Trailok, governor of the city. But by no means was the northern conflict ended. Now Sukhothai became the object of aggressive attacks by its former ally, Chiangmai. The Siam-Chiangmai conflict persisted, with a few breathing spells, for the rest of the 15th and early 16th centuries. It was a stalemate because Siam had the advantage of numbers while rugged Chiangmai had extremely defensible terrain.


The greatest ruler of 15th-century Siam was Borommatrailokanat, usually called Trailok for short. He ruled for forty years, from 1448 to 1488. The ongoing war with Chiangmai occupied so much of Trailok’s attention that in 1463 he moved the capital of Siam to the northern city of Phitsanulok, so he could personally direct Siamese armies; the capital stayed there for the rest of his reign.


However, Trailok’s main accomplishment was a complete overhaul of the government. This meant dividing the central administration into five departments (interior affairs, the capital city, the royal household, finances, and agriculture), with appointed, not hereditary officers in charge of each. New laws determined the social status of everyone and the amount of land that could be owned, ranging from 4,000 acres for the highest official to 10 acres for the ordinary free man. Since government workers were not paid salaries, this system also designated how much income they could receive. There was plenty of land for everybody at this time, so nobody was in danger of starvation. In the courts, fines and punishments were made proportional to the status of the plaintiff. The purpose of the whole system was to regulate natural human inequality for the sake of the proper functioning of society.


Court ceremonials were greatly expanded, borrowing some ideas from the Khmers. The current version of these ceremonies are described in a 718-page book, The Royal Ceremonies of the Twelve Months, which was written in the late 19th century. To resolve the question of succession, every member of the royal family was ranked by his relation to the current king; if a family member was removed from royal descent by more than five generations, he was declared a commoner and no longer eligible for the throne. King Trailok also appointed a second or vice-king, called an Uparat (heir apparent), so the people would know who their next king would be long before he actually took the throne.


Lan Xang


Before the Lao settled on the Khorat Plateau and the upper Mekong valley, Laos was a remote backwater, not a center of civilization. It is easy to understand why; aside from the Mekong valley and the Plain of Jars, the whole countryside is jungle-covered mountains. In addition, Laos does not have access to the sea; today it is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. In a part of the world where most people love seafood, it sucks if you cannot go to the beach.


The early nations of Funan, Dvaravati, and Zhenla had claimed Laos, but they all administered it from the southernmost part of the territory, usually in Champassak province. Later the Khmers also claimed the territory, and the kingdom of Champa was near enough to dispute that claim. A town in the north, Muang Sua, is reported to have had a local king as early as 698, but we don’t know his nationality before 1271, when a ruler named Panya Lang founded a new dynasty. The kingdom builder that we will soon meet, Fa Ngum, was a member of this dynasty, so we know that the Lao were effectively independent in the late thirteenth century, if not sooner.


Before I go on, I should say a few words about the Plain of Jars; that name must sound strange to those of you not familiar with Laotian geography. The Plain of Jars got its name from thousands of huge, stone urns that dot the landscape. I posted a picture of one of these urns on the page that goes with this episode. No one knows who made the stone jars, or what kind of tools they used to shape them. Archaeologists and historians believe that an iron age culture lived here between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D., and they cremated or buried their dead in the jars, because human bones have been found in some of them, but not everyone is convinced; one local legend asserts that the jars were drinking mugs for giants. The Plain of Jars has strategic value for its tin and iron deposits, and because it is the only significant piece of flat land in northern Laos.


Several battles were fought over the Plain of Jars between 1964 and 1973; I plan to talk about that in a future episode. Because American planes dropped millions of bombs on Laos during the war, and because we know a lot of those bombs landed on the Plain of Jars without exploding, only a few sites on the plain are safe to visit, and at the rate Laotian minesweepers are going, it may take the rest of the twenty-first century to locate and remove all the bombs.


Back to the narrative. Lao legends about the origins of their kingdom begin with the birth of a prince, Fa Ngum, in 1319. His grandfather, Souvanna Khampong, was the king of Muang Sua, and his father, Chao Fa Ngiao, was the crown prince. When Fa Ngum was a boy, he was sent to Cambodia, possibly as a royal hostage to insure his grandfather’s good behavior. He lived in Angkor as the adopted son of King Jayavarman IX, and was given a Khmer princess, Keo Kang Ya, as a wife. This happened to be the time when the old Indian culture was dying out in Cambodia; Jayavarman was the last Khmer king with a Sanskrit name. In fact, Fa Ngum’s wife would be credited with introducing Therevada Buddhism to the Lao people, who had been animists previously. In 1343 Souvanna Khampong died, and a struggle to succeed him began. Six years later, Fa Ngum was given a Khmer army of ten thousand men so he could take the crown of his grandfather. We saw in Episode 7 that the Khmer Empire overextended itself in the early 1200s, so this army would not be reconquering a land that the Khmers had claimed previously; rather, it would be used to establish a friendly state on the north side of Angkor, in an area the Khmers could no longer control by themselves.


First, Fa Ngum conquered Champassak in southern Laos, then working his way up the Mekong River, he conquered Xiengkhouang on the Plain of Jars, and finally, he captured Muang Sua. His uncle, the current king, committed suicide to escape being captured, and Fa Ngum was crowned the new king in 1353. Because war elephants were the strongest weapon available in Southeast Asia before the introduction of gunpowder, Fa Ngum threw a scare into his enemies by naming the new kingdom Lan Xang, meaning “A Million Elephants.” To show that Buddhist clergymen were on his side, he also introduced a statue of the Buddha, made of an alloy of bronze, silver and gold, and named the Phra Bang. This image was probably made in Cambodia, but word went around that it was really cast in Sri Lanka, the homeland of Therevada Buddhism, which made it more impressive. Because of the Phra Bang Buddha, Muang Sua was renamed Luang Prabang, and the Laotian royal capital has gone by that name ever since.


Fa Ngum devoted the rest of his reign to enlarging the state. In 1357 he took Vientiane, a city which had opposed him previously; in that way, the city that is now the capital of Laos was brought into the kingdom. He also took the Khorat Plateau from Siam in the same year, making Lan Xang twice as big as present-day Laos. Now the kingdom was considered an equal by older neighbors like Siam and Vietnam. However, the internal balance of power was delicate, and Fa Ngum himself was deposed by one of his ministers in 1373, because his wars demanded too much from his subjects; they also complained that he took the women of the kingdom for his harem as frequently as he conscripted the men as soldiers. His son, the next king, called himself Samsenthai, a name which meant “King of 300,000 Thai”; this was considered a declaration of independence from the Khmers, because the king was announcing that he only cared for his Lao and Thai subjects, and not for the Khmers who still claimed to be the overlords of Laos.


Samsenthai was both a very capable and a long-lived ruler; his reign lasted from 1373 to 1416. However, the next king, Lan Kham Daeng, only ruled for twelve years. His reign happened to take place during the period when China’s Ming dynasty occupied Vietnam, which we covered in Episode 8. In 1421 he sent an army of 30,000 men and a hundred elephants to aid the Vietnamese, but for reasons unclear to us, they fought on the side of the Chinese instead. After the king’s death, a period of interregnum followed. No less than seven kings rose and fell between 1428 and 1438; all of them were puppet monarchs elevated, removed and assassinated by a queen who is only known to us by her titles, Maha Devi or Nang Keo Phimpha “The Cruel.” After the fall of the seventh king, the queen appears to have ruled in her own right until 1442, making her the only female monarch in Laotian history. Her brief reign ended when she was deposed and drowned, but the interregnum continued until 1456, because the man considered the rightful king, a governor of Vientiane named Chakkaphat Phaen Phaeo, refused to be crowned for fourteen years.


After he finally accepted the crown, Chakkaphat managed to rule for a generation, and was then undone by, of all things, a white elephant. At some point in the 1470s, a white elephant was captured and brought to the king, because a white elephant, whether it was albino or just light in color, was considered a powerful divine symbol all over Southeast Asia; whoever owned one was considered a very special person. This made Le Thanh Tong, the emperor of Vietnam, jealous; after all, he had just broken the power of Vietnam’s old enemy, Champa, so didn’t that make him the most special ruler of all? Therefore, Le Thanh Tong requested that some hair from the elephant be sent to him as a gift, and the Lao, offended by this request, sent him a box of elephant dung instead. Very funny, Chakkaphat! The Vietnamese emperor wouldn’t take crap from anybody — literally! — and this became the excuse for him to invade Laos. In 1478 a Vietnamese army captured Luang Prabang, forcing the king to flee. A son of the unfortunate king, Souvanna Banlang, managed to regroup the the scattered Lao forces and liberate the country. Instead of taking his throne back, Chakkaphat abdicated, since he didn’t really want to be king anyway, and Souvanna Banlang became the next king. The Vietnamese were defeated badly enough to follow a policy of good relations with Lan Xang for the next two centuries.


Meanwhile, Lan Xang’s western frontier remained peaceful during the fifteenth century, thanks to some political marriages with the royal families of both Chiangmai and Siam. That period of calm ended in the 1530s, when the Lao king at that time, Phothisarat, got involved in the on-and-off war between Siam and Chiangmai, because his mother was a Chiangmai princess. This prompted an invasion of Laos by Siam, which he beat off in 1540. Then in 1543 the last king of Chiangmai died childless, so Phothisarat, being a relative, promptly claimed the empty throne. So did Siam, and so did a Shan prince named Mekut’i. Lan Xang won the first round, and Phothisarat placed his son, prince Setthathirat, on the Chiangmai throne in 1546. However, the Laotian king died only thirteen months later, and Setthathirat had to hurry back to Luang Prabang to claim his father’s throne before somebody else did. That gave Siam and the Shans a second chance. All three states were fighting over Chiangmai when a revived Burma entered the game, and — spoiler alert! — conquered them all.


Okay, that’s all for this episode. If you think the Thai-Lao squabble is getting out of hand, well, to quote Bachman Turner Overdrive, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” I don’t like leaving you in suspense, but we will have to continue the story of this conflict another time. The 1540s is well past the end of the Middle Ages, and before we continue our narrative into the modern era, I have to tell you about two very important groups of people that showed up while the Middle Ages were transitioning into modern times. The first group is the Moslems, and because several of today’s Southeast Asian nations either have predominantly Moslem populations, or are under pressure from Islamic groups, the time has come to share the story of how Islam came to the region; that will be the main topic for the next episode. The second group is the Europeans, and now that they have found their way to the lands they called “Farther India,” things will really get interesting. And after we are done with all that, then we can return to the conflict on the Southeast Asian mainland, and see what happens after the Burmese get involved.


And now as usual, I will finish with a few reminders. If you like what you heard, consider making a donation to support this podcast, using the Paypal button on this episode’s page. And if you listen to this podcast on iTunes, consider writing a review, so others will be encouraged to listen, too. Thank you for listening, and come back when the monsoon winds are blowing right!

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