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Early Yunnan History

221-210 B.C. - The Qin Dynasty of China (221-207 B.C.), in its drive to establish a single rule over all Chinese societies, invades and subdues some Thai principalities or kingdoms located in what are now Sichuan and Yunnan areas, like those of the Pa and the Ngio. These kingdoms are annexed placing a part of those groups considered ancestors of present-day Thais under central Chinese rule.

Around 200 B.C. - Forces of the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.) invade Yunnan in order to have an unrestricted land communication with India.

122 B.C. - The small Kingdom of Aliao is formed by proto-Thai inhabitants in Yunnan and proto-Thai migrants from territories earlier settled by proto-Thais but then conquered by Chinese armies.

Already at this stage, a tendency is established for those ethnic groups seen as ancestors of present-day Thais to move southwards to evade Chinese pressure. This trend continues throughout the centuries. However, the Thais at that early time did not seem to flee from Chinese rule as a complete group or as an expelled nation. Parts of the Thai populations remained in Chinese-ruled areas, intermarried with Chinese, assimilated and finally became Chinese.

100 B.C. - Armed conflict between China and Aliao Kingdom breaks out when the latter denies passage to the emissary of Emperor Wu Ti of China; the emissary is on his way to India to inquire about the teachings of Buddha.

87 B.C. - The Aliao Kingdom disappears as it is subdued by the Chinese.

Last decades B.C. - Thais who want to preserve their independence migrate from their settlement areas in present-day southern China towards the Indo-Chinese peninsula and settle in an area that is now northern Thailand. The whole ethnic Thai group somehow splits, with each of the two groups developing independently in the following centuries. Those in the north (the areas of present-day Yunnan and neighboring Chinese provinces) develop their culture and language with Chinese and Annamese (Vietnamese) influences and more and more are assimilated into Chinese and Vietnamese societies. Only the Thais in the south (an area roughly identical with the one of present-day Thailand) are the direct ancestors of the present-day Thais - but also of the LaotiansShans and several smaller groups now considered ethnic minorities in Thailand.

9 - The Aliao Kingdom resurrects, rising again against Chinese rule.

50 - The Aliao Kingdom falls again to Chinese supremacy. However, the kingdom remains widely independent as a Chinese vassal until 225.

69 - Together with 77 minor Thai chiefs and 51,890 families of 553,711 persons (exact Chinese records), a Thai Prince named Miulao submits to the Chinese Emperor Ming Ti of the Han Dynasty. This is the first time a Thai prince officially becomes a dependent of a Chinese dynasty. In the same year, the Chinese Emperor sends a delegation to India to secure a copy of the Sacred Books of Buddha.

78 - Another Thai group, led by a Prince with the name Leilao, rebels against the Chinese. The group is subdued. Fearing Chinese revenge, many Thais again move south to seek new homes in the region just north of what are present-day Thailand's northern boundaries.

First century A.D. - The groups regarded as early Thais organize themselves in the form of the Muang, a basic political organization for mutual defense. Enemies are usually the Chinese or Vietnamese who are constantly extending their administrative control into territories inhabited by Thais. The term Muang is still in heavy use in present-day Thailand. It can be translated as "town proper" but also describes a provincial capital as opposed to the province as a whole - both have usually the same name and only the prefix Muang indicates that the town or city is meant, and not the province.

225 - During the Era of Three Kingdoms in China (220-589), southern Chinese troops attack Thai settled areas, beat the Thais in battle and submit them to the rule of the King of Sichuan. In the Era of the Three Kingdoms, there wasn't much of a central government in China. The north was ruled by Turkish invaders, the south split into several regional kingdoms.

650 - Thais in their former areas of settlement, today's Chinese Yunnan and southern Sichuan provinces, rebel against the Chinese and succeed in winning back their sovereignty. Out of this victory grows the kingdom Nanchao, first ruled by King Sinulo. Instead of trying to subdue this new kingdom through military force, the Chinese Emperor Kao Tsung of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) rather accepts its existence and binds it to China through a treaty of friendship. For several centuries, Nanchao will, for most of the time, remain an ally of China and in the course of history become more and more Chinese in its character.

674 - King Sinulo of Nanchao dies and is succeeded by his son Loshengyen.

712 - King Loshengyen of Nanchao dies and his son, Shenglope, succeeds on the throne of the Sinulo Dynasty.

728 - Pilaoko becomes the next King of Nanchao.

733 - As the Tibetan expansion threatens the Chinese at the southwest frontiers, the Chinese Emperor Ming Li of the Tang Dynasty enters into alliances with local Thai and other principalities at the southern and southwestern border of the Chinese empire. Among the kingdoms with which the Chinese form such an alliance is Nanchao, at that time still ruled by Pilaoko.

735 - King Pilaoko of Nanchao unites his kingdom with China, formally accepting Chinese overrule.

738 - King Pilaoko of Nanchao is recognized by the Chinese court as Prince of Yunnan.

745 - Chinese Emperor Ming Li commissions King (or from Chinese perspective: Prince) Pilaoko to repel all danger at the Chinese southwest border. This gives Pilaoko an excuse to launch a war of conquest against Tibet and to seize a number of Tibetan settlements.

750 - Pilaoko dies and his son, Kolofeng, succeeds him on the throne. Kolofeng makes Talifu in present-day Yunnan the capital of his kingdom. When he visits China, he is insulted by the Governor of Hunan. Thus provoked, Pilaoko invades China and captures 32 towns and villages. In the same year, Kolofeng enters an alliance with the King of Tibet against whom Pilaoko's father had waged war.

752-754 - China invades Nanchao with four armies but fails to subdue the rebellious vassal kingdom.

764 - By this time Nanchao's administration is well organized and fully established. The Kingdom becomes a power to be considered in southeast Asia and south China.

779 - Kolofeng dies and his grandson, Imoshun, succeeds. Imoshun tries to invade China, then ruled by Emperor Tai Tsong of the Tang Dynasty, but fails.

787 - Upon advice of his Chinese tutor Cheing Chui, Imoshun makes a petition to Emperor Tai Tsong of China complaining about his kingdom's "involuntary" alliance with Tibet and the latter's abuses of the Thais. Nanchao and China become allies again. The Chinese court formally recognizes Imoshun as the King of Nanchao.

794 - Imoshun invades Tibet and seizes 16 towns.

808 - Imoshun dies.

829 - Imoshun's successor changes alliances again and invades China, capturing the provinces of Suichu, Yongchu and Kongchu. On his retreat, he takes many captives skilled in arts, literature and weaving. These captives very much contribute to the cultural development of Nanchao.

859 - Tsuiling becomes king of Nanchao and assumes the title of Emperor which offends Chinese Emperor Suen Tong. Because of this, new enmity develops between Nanchao and China. Nanchao invades China and besieges Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. Nanchao armies also moves in a southeastern direction, trying to invade Tongking, today a Vietnamese area that was Chinese ruled at the time of Tsuiling's expedition.

860 - Emperor Ytsong ascends the throne of China. Nanchao becomes totally independent of China.

863 - Nanchao Thais conquer parts of Annam (a predecessor of present-day Vietnam).

866 - Annam is retaken from the Thais by General Kaopien.

870 - Nanchao King Tsuiling invades China and besieges Chengdu again but fails to take the city.

875 - Another unsuccessful attempt to invade Chengdu is undertaken by the Nanchao Thais.

877 - King Taiking, also called Fa by the Chinese, ascends the throne of Nanchao and makes peace with China.

902 - The Sinulo Dynasty ends in Nanchao. Thereafter, for a considerable period of time Nanchao is not mentioned in Chinese annals. Common belief is that the following three-and-one-half centuries of Nanchao's relations with China were more peaceful than the last two-and-one-half centuries. As troublesome neighbor (or what Chinese officials would have considered as such) the Nanchao kingdom would certainly have figured more prominently in Chinese records than it actually did for the next three-and-one-half centuries.

1254 - Kublai Khan, ruler of the Mongols in central China, conquers Nanchao. Waves of Thai migrants move south, especially into the then already existing Thai state Sukhothai, considerably enhancing Sukhothai's population and power base.

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