Ascend to power, quash a treacherous rebellion, and restore the Burmese monarchy to its former glory. Assemble the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia through a legion of Battle Elephants that can demolish the most powerful of defenses. The Burmese unique unit is the Arambai, a ranged cavalry unit with a deadly but low accuracy attack.
Monk & Elephant civilization
- Free Lumbercamp upgrades
- Infantry +1 attack per Age
- Monastery techs 50% cheaper
- Arambai (ranged cavalry)
- Howdah: Battle Elephants +1/+2 armor
- Manipur Cavalry: Cavalry and Arambai +6 attack vs buildings
- Relics visible on map
Since prehistoric times, the fertile plains, navigable rivers, and the protection of surrounding mountains have attracted many ethnic groups to settle in the area of present-day Myanmar (Burma). Between the end of the first millennium BC and the ninth century AD, a multitude of city-states emerged as a result of intensified rice cultivation and growing Indo-Chinese trade. Similar to other early Southeast Asian polities, culture became influenced by the interaction with India. Most of the urban civilizations of Myanmar gradually converted to Buddhism and built many temples. These tall cylindrical temples, called stupas, became the prototype for later religious architecture. For example, the famous 11th century Shwezigon Pagoda was based on this design.
During the Middle Ages, two states succeeded in uniting the different polities of Myanmar into one powerful empire. In 1044, Anawrahta Minsaw (1044-1077) ascended the throne of the small Pagan kingdom in Upper Myanmar. After consolidating the state’s economic power through the building of extensive irrigation networks, Anawrahta conquered most of Upper and Lower Myanmar. Around 1200, the Pagan empire (1044-1297) reached its zenith: the Burmese language became the lingua franca, laws were codified, and the territory reached its largest extent.
The Pagan empire had only a limited standing army in their capital, called the brave ones, but additional troops were conscripted during times of war. The main body of the army consisted of infantry. A number of war elephants, the elite unit of the army and a symbol of power, were allotted to each force. The elephants were often equipped with a Howdah, a sort of carriage, from which multiple archers could shoot. In addition, the Burmese deployed a sizable cavalry force. Soldiers fought with a variety of weapons, including swords, spears, bows, and darts. Despite its many victories in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Pagan army was eventually defeated by the Mongols in 1285. Without powerful leadership, the empire soon disintegrated into rivaling states.
By the fourteenth century, four states had filled the void of the Pagan Empire though their rule was highly contested and vassals often rebelled. While these four states waged war among each other, the small kingdom of Toungoo profited by welcoming refugees, expanding its own territory, and raiding neighboring cities. In 1510, King Mingyinyo (1485-1530) declared independence. Under his successors, King Tabinshwehti (1530-1550) and especially King Bayinnaung (1550-1581), Toungoo expanded from a regional kingdom into the largest empire of Southeast Asia, encompassing much of present-day Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. Extensive use of firearms and the recruitment of Portuguese artillery gave the Burmese a technological advantage in battle.
This explosive growth, however, left the Toungoo Empire ungovernable. Shortly after the death of Bayinnaung, different states rebelled. Instead of consolidating the kingdom’s core region, Bayinnaung’s son, King Nanda (1581-1599), desperately tried to hold on to the large empire. The failure of multiple campaigns against the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya weakened Toungoo’s military strength. Failed harvests due to climatic cooling weakened the imperial economy. In 1599, Toungoo’s capital was besieged and burned to the ground, marking the end of the second Burmese Empire.