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The Treaty of Yandabo (Burmese: ရန္တပိုစာချုပ် [jàɰ̃dəbò sàdʑoʊʔ]) was the peace treaty that ended the First Anglo-Burmese War. The treaty was signed on 24 February 1826, nearly two years after the war formally broke out on 5 March 1824, by General Sir Archibald Campbell on the British side, and the Governor of Legaing Maha Min Hla Kyaw Htin from the Burmese side, without any due permission and consent of the Ahom kingdom, Kachari kingdom or the other territories covered in the treaty. With the British army at Yandabo village, only 80 km (50 mi) from the capital Ava, the Burmese were forced to accept the British terms without discussion.
According to the treaty, the Burmese agreed to:
- Cede to the British- Assam, Manipur, Rakhine (Arakan), and the Taninthayi (Tenasserim) coast south of the Salween River.
- Cease all interference in Cachar region of Assam and the Jaintia Hills district.
- Pay an indemnity of one million pounds sterling in four installments.
- Allow an exchange of diplomatic representatives between Ava and Calcutta.
- Sign a commercial treaty in due course.
The treaty ended the longest and most expensive war in British Indian history. Fifteen thousand European and Indian soldiers died, together with an unknown (but almost certainly higher) number of Burmese. The campaign cost the British five million pounds sterling (roughly 18.5 billion in 2006 dollars) to 13 million pounds sterling; this expenditure led to a severe economic crisis in British India in 1833.
For the Burmese, it was to be the beginning of the end of their independence. The Third Burmese Empire, briefly the terror of British India, was effectively undone, crippled and no longer a threat to the eastern frontier of British India. The Burmese would be crushed for years to come by repaying the huge indemnity of one million pounds (then US$5 million), a large sum even in Europe at that time. The British would wage two more wars against the much weaker Burmese, and swallow up the entire country by 1885.
The British were already in a commanding position when initial peace negotiations were commenced in September 1825 in Ngagyaungbinzeik, 20 miles north of Pyay (Prome). After their victory at the Battle of Danubyu in April 1825 that killed Burmese commander-in-chief Gen. Maha Bandula, the British consolidated their gains in Lower Burma, Rakhine and Taninthayi coasts as well as in Assam and Manipur. The British demanded that the Burmese recognize independence and “desist from interference with Assam, Manipur and Cachar”, “cede Rakhine and its dependencies”, receive a British Resident at the Court of Ava, and pay an indemnity of two million pounds sterling. Yangon, and Taninthayi would be held until the indemnity was paid.
The Court of Ava had not expected, and were unwilling to accept, the full dismemberment of their western empire and the crushing penalty demanded. But with the army severely depleted, the Burmese envoy, the lord of Kawlin, replied that his government:
- Would give up any claim to Assam and Manipur
- Objected to the British choice for the future Manipuri raja
- Would cede the Taninthayi coast but not Rakhine.
The British were unimpressed: “The question is not how much you will cede to us but how much we shall return to you”.
Breakdown of negotiations
The negotiations broke down, and the Burmese decided to fight on. In November 1825, the Burmese forces under Maha Ne Myo, mainly consisting of several Shan regiments led by their own Shan sawbwas, made a daring push to recapture Pyay and nearly succeeded. But by early December, the superior firepower of the British had won out and defeated the last-ditch effort by the Burmese.
By the beginning of 1826, the British were making steady advances towards Ava. They captured the ancient city of Pagan on 8 February, and on 16 February, the village of Yandabo, less than 50 miles or four days march away from Ava.
Left with little choice, the Burmese sued for peace. The Burmese king Bagyidaw sent a delegation, consisting of one American, one English and two Burmese ministers, to meet the commander of British forces, General Sir Archibald Campbell. Final negotiations were not negotiations at all. The Burmese had to agree to all British demands.
The British demanded and the Burmese agreed to:
- Cede to the British Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Rakhine (Arakan), and Taninthayi (Tenasserim) coast south of Salween river,
- Cease all interference in Cachar and Jaintia,
- Pay an indemnity of one million pounds sterling in four installments,
- Allow for an exchange of diplomatic representatives between Ava and Calcutta,
- Sign a commercial treaty in due course.
The first installment of indemnity was to be paid immediately, the second installment within the first 100 days from signing of the treaty, and the rest within two years. Until the second installment was paid, the British would not leave Yangon.
The Treaty of Yandabo was signed by Gen. Campbell from the British side and Governor of Legaing Maha Min Hla Kyaw Htin from the Burmese side on 24 February 1826. The Burmese paid 250,000 pounds sterling in gold and silver bullion as the first installment of the indemnity, and also released British prisoners of war.
The treaty imposed a severe financial burden to the Burmese kingdom, and effectively left it crippled. The British terms in the negotiations were strongly influenced by the heavy cost in lives and money which the war had entailed. Some 40,000 British and Indians troops had been involved of whom 15,000 had been killed. The cost to British India’s finances had been almost ruinous, amounting to approximately 13 million pounds sterling. The cost of war contributed to a severe economic crisis in India, which by 1833 had bankrupted the Bengal agency houses and cost the British East India Company its remaining privileges, including the monopoly of trade to China.
Territories like Assam became a part of British India. For the Burmese, the treaty was a total humiliation and a long lasting financial burden. A whole generation of men had been wiped out in battle. The world the Burmese knew, of conquest and martial pride, built on the back of impressive military success of the previous 75 years, had come crashing down. The Court of Ava could not come to terms with the loss of the territories, and made unsuccessful attempts to get them back. An invited British Resident in Ava was a daily reminder of humiliation of defeat.
More importantly, the burden of indemnity would leave the royal treasury bankrupt for years. The indemnity of one million pounds sterling would have been considered a colossal sum even in Europe of that time, and it became frightening when translated to Burmese kyat equivalent of 10 million. The cost of living of the average villager in Upper Burma in 1826 was one kyat per month.
The treaty achieved its objective: Leave Burma crippled. Indeed, the British would make two more, much easier, wars against the now much weaker Burmese in 1852 and 1885, eventually annexing the entire country by 1885.
– TEXT –
Treaty of Yandaboo, 24 February 1826
TREATY of PEACE between the HONORABLE EAST INDIA COMPANY on the one part, and HIS MAJESTY the KING of AVA on the other, settled MAJOR-GENERAL SIR ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL, K.C.B., and K.C.T.S., COMMANDING the EXPEDITION, and SENIOR COMMISSIONER in PEGU and AVA; THOMAS CAMPBELL ROBERTSON, ESQ., CIVIL COMMISSIONER in PEGU and AVA; and HENRY DUCIE CHAD, ESQ., CAPTAIN, COMMANDING BRITANNIC MAJESTY’S and the HONORABLE COMPANY’S NAVAL FORCE the IRRAWADDY RIVER, on the part of the Honorable Company; and by MENGYEE-MAHA-MEN-KYAN-TEN WOONGYEE, LORD of LAYKAING, and MENGYEE-MARA-HLAH-THUO-HAH-THOO-ATWEN-WOON, LORD of the REVENUE, on the part of the King of Ava; who have each communicated to the other their full powers, agreed to and executed at Yandaboo in the Kingdom of Ava, on this Twenty-fourth day of February, in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-six, corresponding with the Fourth day of the decrease of the Moon Taboung, in the year One Thousand One Hundred and Eighty-seven Gaudma Era, 1826.
There shall be perpetual peace and friendship between the Honorable Company on the one part, and His Majesty the King of Ava on the other.
His Majesty the King of Ava renounces all claims upon, and will abstain from all future interference with, the principality of Assam and its dependencies, and also with the contiguous petty States of Cachar and Jyntia. With regard to Munnipoor it is stipulated, that should Ghumbheer Sing desire to return to that country, he shall be recognized by the King of Ava as Rajah thereof.
To prevent all future disputes respecting the boundary line between the two great Nations, the British Government will retain the conquered Provinces of Arracan, including the four divisions of Arracan, Ramree, Cheduba, and Sandoway, and His Majesty the King of Ava cedes all right thereto. The Unnoupectoumien or Arakan Mountains (known in Arakan by the name of the Yeomatoung or Pokhingloung Range) will henceforth form the boundary between the two great Nations on that side. Any doubts regarding the said line of demarcation will be settled by Commissioners appointed by the respective governments fur that purpose, such Commissioners from both powers to be of suitable and corresponding rank.
His Majesty the King of Ava cedes to the British Government the conquered Provinces of Yeh, Tavoy, and Mergui and Tenasserim, with the islands and dependencies thereunto appertaining, taking the Salween River as the line of demarcation on that frontier ; any doubts regarding their boundaries will be settled as specified in the concluding part of Article third.
In proof of the sincere disposition of the Burmese Government to maintain the relations of peace and amity between the Nations, and as part indemnification to the British Government for the expenses of the War, His Majesty the King of Ava agrees to pay the sum of one crore of Rupees.
No person whatever, whether native or foreign, is hereafter to be molested by either party, on account of the part which he map have taken or have been compelled to take in the present war.
In order to cultivate and improve the relations of amity and peace hereby established between the two governments, it is agreed that accredited ministers, retaining an escort or safeguard of fifty men, from each shall reside at the Durbar of the other, who shall be permitted to purchase, or to build a suitable place of residence, of permanent materials ; and a Commercial Treaty, upon principles of reciprocal advantage, will be entered into by the two high contracting powers.
All public and private debts contracted by either government, or by the subjects of either government, with the others previous to the war, to be recognized and liquidated upon the same principles of honor and good faith as if hostilities had not taken place between the two Nations, and no advantage shall be taken by either party of the period that may have elapsed since the debts were incurred, or in consequence of the war ; and according to the universal law of Nations, it is further stipulated, that the property of all British subjects who may die in the dominions of His Majesty the King of Ava., shall, in the absence of legal heirs, be placed in the hands of the British Resident or Consul in the said dominions, who will dispose of the same according to the tenor of the British law. In like manner the property of Burmese subjects dying under the same circumstances, in and part of the British dominions, shall be made over to the minister or other authority delegated by His Burmese Majesty to the Supreme Government of India.
The Kink of Ava will abolish all exactions upon British ships or vessels in Burman ports, that are not required from Burmah ships or vessels in British port nor shall ships or vessels, the property of British subjects, whether European or Indian, entering the Rangoon River or other Burman ports, be required to land their guns, or unship their rudders, or to do any other act not required of Burmese ships or vessels in British ports.
The good and faithful Ally of the British Government, His Majesty the King of Siam, having taken a part in the present War, will, to the fullest extent, as far as regards His Majesty and his subjects, be included in the above Treaty.
This Treaty to be ratified by the Burmese authorities competent in the like cases, and the Ratification to be accompanied by all British, whether Europe or Native, American, and other prisoners, who will be delivered over to the British Commissioners ; the British Commissioners on their part engaging that the said Treaty shall be ratified by the Right Honorable the Governor-General in Council ,and the Ratification shall be delivered to His Majesty the King of Ava in four months, or sooner if possible, and all the Burmese prisoners shall, in like manner be delivered over to their own Government as soon as they arrive from Bengal.
T. C. ROBERTSON,
SEAL OF THE LOTOO.
HY. D. CHADS,
Captain, Royal Navy.
The British Commissioners being most anxiously desirous to manifest the sincerity of their wish for peace, and to make the immediate execution of the fifth Article of this Treaty as little irksome or inconvenient as possible to His Majesty the King of Ava, consent to the following arrangements, with respect to the division of the sum total, as specified in the Article before referred to, into instalments, viz., upon the payment of twenty-five lacks of Rupees, or one-fourth of the sum total (the other Articles of the Treaty being executed), the Army will retire to Rangoon. Upon the further payment of a similar sum at that place within one hundred days from this date, with the proviso as above, the Army will evacuate the dominions of His Majesty the King of Ava with the least possible delay, leaving the remaining moiety of the sum total to be paid by equal annual instalments in two years, from this Twenty-fourth day of February 1826 A.D., through the Consul or Resident in Ava or Pegu, on the part of the Honorable the East India Company.
T. C. ROBERTSON,
SEAL OF THE LOTOO
HY. D. CHADS,
Captain, Royal Navy.
Ratified by the Governor-General in Council, at Fort William in Bengal, this Eleventh day of April, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-six.
J. H. HARINGTON.
W. B. BAYLEY.
End Notes and External Links
- Treaty of Yandabo | Wikipedia
- Treaty of Yandaboo, 24 February 1826 | web.archive.org
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