Mindon Min

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Mindon Min born Maung Lwin 8 July 1808 in Amarapura, died 1 October 1878 in Golden Palace, Ava, was the penultimate king of Myanmar from 1853 until he died at age 70, and was one of the most popular and revered kings of Burma. Under his half brother Pagan Min (1848-1853), the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 ended with the annexation of Lower Burma by Great Britain. Mindon and his younger brother Ka Naung overthrew their half brother King Pagan and sued for peace. He spent most of his reign trying to defend the upper portion of his country from British encroachments, and to modernize his kingdom.

King Mindon founded the last royal capital of Burma, Mandalay, in 1854. His young brother Crown Prince Ka Naung proved to be a great administrator and modernizer. During Mindon's reign, scholars were sent to France, Italy, the United States, and Great Britain, in order to learn about the tremendous progress achieved by the Industrial Revolution. Mindon introduced the first machine-struck coins to Burma, and in 1871 also held the Fifth Buddhist council in Mandalay. He had already created the world's largest book in 1868, the Tipitaka, 729 pages of the Buddhist Pali Canon inscribed in marble and each stone slab housed in a small stupa at the Kuthodaw Pagoda at the foot of Mandalay Hill. In 1871 Mindon also donated a new htee ('umbrella' or crown gilded and encrusted with precious diamonds and other gems) to the 343-foot tall Shwedagon Pagoda, which is located in then British held Rangoon, although he was not allowed to visit this most famous and venerated pagoda in the country. With the opening of the Suez Canal, Mindon assembled a flotilla of steamers to facilitate trade with the British.

His brother Crown Prince Ka Naung is still remembered by the Burmese as an avid modernizer, who would go to the factories early on cold winter mornings with a blanket wrapped around, just to talk to the mechanics about how the machines ran. He was in charge of the Royal Army, as was customarily required of Burmese crown princes, and he imported and manufactured guns, cannons and shells.