The First Anglo-Burmese War

In March 1824 the East India Company declared war on Burma, the opening salvo in a series of conflicts that would see one empire fall, another expand and leave divisive wounds still felt today.

‘The Conflagration of Dalla on the Rangoon River’, from Eighteen views taken at and near Rangoon, by Joseph Moore, 1825. British Library/Bridgeman Images.

In March 1824 the first in a series of three conflicts between Britain and Burma broke out. At the outset of hostilities Burma was an independent state ruled from Amarapura by the Konbaung dynasty; by 1886, following the conclusion of a brief, three-week war (the ‘Third’) and subsequent ‘pacification campaign’, Burma was subsumed as a province of British India. The British Empire, having ‘inherited’ India from the East India Company in 1858, had also inherited the Company’s problems with the Burmese, which were brought to a conclusion in 1885. King Thibaw Min, the last Konbaung king, travelled into exile in India; British rule in Burma would last until 1948.

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