Friday, November 12, 2010

Chao Anouvong - Laos' last king

Chao Anouvong or by most Lao people called Chao Anou (1767-1829) was the last king of the former Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. Chao Anouvong was ruling from 1805 to 1828 in Vientiane. He came to power after his brother's death.

Chao Anouvong had long been an ally of the Thai monarchs against the Burmese invaders. Unfortunately his accomplishments and support of the Thai kingdom was not well recognized by them. From 1826 to 1828 Chao Anouvong rebelled against Siam in an attempt to become once again independent from Siam.

Chao Anouvong initially captured the Thai stronghold of Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) with his army. He assumed, that the local Lao people will follow and support him in his attempt to liberate the mostly of Lao people inhabited Isaan provinces of Thailand. The support however was not as expected and Chao Anouvong had to withdraw his forces. Lady Mo, the deputy governor’s wife, is known for harassing the Lao invaders while they were withdrawing.
Finally Chao Anouvong's army was defeated in a three-day fight near Vientiane. The Siamese King Rama III ordered his troops to sack and occupy Vientiane.

Chao Anouvong managed to escape and tried to return with Vietnamese help. Chao Anouvong was again defeated by the Siamese troops and also captured. The Siamese King Rama III ordered Vientiane destroyed. Only one temple, Wat Sisaket, survived. The precious Buddha statues “Phra Bang” and “Phra Keo” were taken to Bangkok. Chao Anouvong died as prisoner in Bangkok.

Vientiane these days opened a new park and monument on the Mekong River to celebrate the 450 years anniversary of being Laos’ capital and to honor Chao Anouvong. Interesting to be mentioned, that the statue of Chao Anouvong turns its back towards Laos and eyes once again over the Mekong River into Thailand, where more than 20 million former Lao, nowadays Thais, are living in Thailand’s Northeastern Isaan provinces!

It seems to me that King Chao Anouvong better would have a closer look at Laos and its people once in a while…

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