Battle of Pagan

The Battle of Pagan was fought in 1287 between Kublai Khan's Yuan dynasty, division of the Mongol Empire, and their neighbors to the south, the Pagan Empire in Burma. The invasion ended the Pagan Empire, which disintegrated into several small kingdoms.

Battle of Pagan
Part of Mongol invasion of Burma
DateDecember 1287
Result Mongol victory
Fall of Pagan Empire
Pagan Empire

Mongol Empire

Commanders and leaders
Thihathu Temür Khan
10,000 - 40,000 troops 7,000 cavalry
Casualties and losses
Heavy Minimal


The battle was initiated by the Mongol Yuan dynasty, which sensed opportunity in the political turmoil caused by their successful 1283 invasion of the Pagan Empire in the Battle of Bhamo. After Bhamo, the Mongol army penetrated the Irrawaddy River valley and established garrisons there. The political turmoil of these events tempted Kublai Khan's grandson Esen-Temür, who was stationed in Yunnan, into action. Temür led a large army down the Irrawaddy river valley and captured the capital city Pagan, also sending military parties across the country to ensure submission.

The Burmese king Narathihapate fled Pagan to Lower Burma prior to the battle, and the Burmese defense collapsed. The king is remembered in Burmese history as Tayokpyemin (lit. "the king who ran away from the Chinese"). In Lower Burma, the king was promptly assassinated by one of his sons, Thihathu of Prome.


The 250-year-old Pagan Empire now disintegrated. The kingdom was fractured into several small power centers as the Mongols did not fill the power vacuum in the searing Irrawaddy valley. The Mongol army instead stayed farther north in Tagaung (present-day northern Mandalay Region).

In central Burma, another son of Narathihapate, Kyawswa, was installed as king by dowager queen Saw. But Kyawswa controlled only the immediate surrounding area of Pagan. Even in central Burma, the real power rested with three Pagan military commanders who through their small but well-disciplined army controlled the Kyaukse district, the most important granary of Pagan. Kyawswa had no choice but to recognize them as lords of Kyaukse. The brothers increasingly acted like sovereigns. Nearly ten years after the fall of Pagan, Kyawswa decided to become a Mongol vassal in January 1297. He received official Mongol recognition as the ruler of Burma in March 1298. Unsatisfied with their reduced status, the brothers dethroned Kyawswa in December 1298, and founded the Myinsaing Kingdom, officially ending the Pagan Kingdom. The Mongol army's effort to install their new nominee, one of Kyawswa's sons, to the Pagan throne in 1301 was unsuccessful. Two years later, in 1303, the Yuan court decided to withdraw completely from Upper Burma, and the Mongol army left Tagaung.[1]


  1. Htin Aung, pp. 65-81


  • Hall, D.G.E. (1960). Burma (3rd ed.). Hutchinson University Library. ISBN 978-1-4067-3503-1.
  • Harvey, G. E. (1925). History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd.
  • Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kyaw Thet (1962). History of Burma (in Burmese). Yangon: Yangon University Press.
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