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Vientiane, capital of the realm

The Capital Vientiane

It was in 1520 that Photithisarat decided to transfer the political and administrative centres of the realm to Wieng Chan (Vientiane), because he was worried about the possibility of an invasion from Burma. 25 years later, in 1545, the Pha Bang was transported to Vientiane, to the biggest temple of Laos, the That Luang, which had been specially built to house this Sainted statue. In 1563, the administrative capital of Laos was transferred to Vientiane and the town of Xieng Dont-Xieng Tong finally became Luang Prabang.

40 years later the town withdrew from the union and became the capital of the independant realm of Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang was only the capital of Laos for 170 years but historically kept ascendancy in the political life of the country (several Kings co-existed for a long time in Laos : the kings of Wieng Chan, Champassak and Luang Prabang; sometimes friends, sometimes enemies !). Luang Prabang still kept the position of capital, being as the Kings that succeeded each other had a power that nobody could question.

The small menaced realm

In spite of its glorious past, the town couldn’t escape from oppression during the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries, from the Burmese, Siamese and Vietnamese who, one after the other, assumed the protection of the realm against high payments. The town was continuously menaced, sometimes invaded, and often damaged :

  • in 1479, by the Black Thais …
  • in 1525 by the Vietnamese…
  • in 1764, by the Burmese of Alaungra when Luang Prabang was partially reduced to ashes…
  • in 1887 by the attack of the « Black Flag Army» from China …

In 1893, it was time for the realm of Luang Prabang to accept French Protectorate (Vientiane and Champassak were thought as colonies), putting an end to a period of extreme insecurity, and the military presence from Siam that had been sent following the dreadful Chinese attack.