History Of Laos
Laos, a South East Asian State has an ancient culture. History of Laos can be classified in following important eras:
Earlier era prior to Lan Xang:
This period in history is still in confused state. Animism and Shiva worship were common in the era. Slowly and slowly Buddhism entered into this culture. Sanskrit and Pali language scripts support this thinking. There was no influence of Chinese culture during those days. It is believed that the society of this period was agriculture based and domestic water buffaloes were an important part of society’s needs.
Period of Lan Xang—1353A.D. to 1707 A.D.:
This period of Lao kingdom started with Fa Ngum in 1354. He is listed as the first emperor officially and was married to the daughter of a Khmer emperor. This era was known for clashes between different sects of Buddhism which was the main religion of the period. Their capital city was at Luang Phrabang and later at Vientiane. Lao language was spoken amongst masses. Apart from Fa, others who ruled monarchy are Samsenethai, Setthathirath and Sourigns Vongsa. The monarchy split in 1707.
Dark period of Laos—1707A.D. to 1893 A.D.:
Due to rival fights among princess, the monarch got split into three parts; Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak. European interest in the region declined. Burma attacked and conquered all Lao lands. Taskin, a Chinese General, routed the Burmese from Siam. In 1778 Viang Chan was conquered and Siamese dominated over Laos. Once again Lao were defeated in 1825. Chinese and Vietnamese started residing in the region. Rivalry of French and British colonial desires made this period non glorious for locals. This period is also known for following sub era which played a dominant role in history of Laos’s upbringing;
1. Period of Luang Phrabang—1707A.D. to 1949A.D.
2. Vientiane Period—1707A.D. to 1828A.D.
3. Phuan’s Principilality—1707 to 1949 A.D.
4. Period of Champasak—1713 to 1946 A.D.
Luang Phrabang and Champasak were independent to perform internal affairs but in actual sense they were colonies of French Empire.
Colonial Period —-1893 to 1953 A.D.—French Rule and Colonial Administration
British gains in Burma and Malaya were parallel to French gains in Lao lands. British wanted to keep Siam as buffer state between the two colonies so they halted expansions of French forces which resulted in present boundaries of Laos. After initial experiments, Laos was divided by French colonizers for administration purposes into 11 provinces,
each headed by a French resident. In 1898, each province was handed over to Resident Superior based in Vientiane and he was answerable to French Governor General in Hanoi.
Local authorities handled education, health and justice from their own funds received as revenue. Custom, security and communication were controlled from Hanoi. Locals liked French as they protected them from Siamese and Vietnamese but with the fall of French power, they opposed them too. Crisis of World War II, Lao Issara, communist forces of Vietnam and internal resentments resulted in independence of Laos as Independent country.