Burma in antiquity was very little known, and confused with India, or Indochina. We also know little of its internal history; traditions are very vague. Certainly it seems that it was subject to the Pegu, when in 1750 Alompra (Alaung-Prah), a Burmese peasant, began a revolution, the result of which was the reunion of Pegu, Burma and many neighboring regions under a single monarchy., which for some time (1762-1771) also dominated neighboring Siam. For about half a century the Alompra dynasty ruled the country with iron hands, residing in Rangoon, after the ancient capital Ava was set aside; but there were frequent conflicts with the nearby possessions of the English East India Company, due to the numerous fugitives of the subjugated provinces who, taking refuge in the nearby English possession of Chittagong, ceded to the Company by Mir Capin, nabab of Bengal, they made raids and prey in the new state. In 1818 the Burmese, taking advantage of a moment in which the Company was in a bad way due to the insurrection of other peoples of India, threatened Assam and even advanced claims on Chittagong itself; but a defeat suffered by the Siamese led them to milder advice. When Assam was subjugated in 1822, they resumed hostilities against English possessions; after a long and tiring campaign, General Campbell (1824) occupied the mouth of the Irawady with a flotilla, took possession of Rangoon, but the Burmese leader, who in turn had attacked Bengal, turned back and blocked Campbell. However, he was able to free himself, defeating the enemy and climbing the Irawady with his flotilla, until in February 1826 he forced the king to peace, to cede the flourishing provinces of Tenasserim and Arakan to the English and to accept a resident of the company in Ava. The cession of Tenasserim, along the western coasts of the long peninsula, which ends in Malacca, gave the English a very advantageous position to keep Burma in awe: but the Burmese government showed little willingness to welcome English merchants with sympathy and to favor their trade.
The governor general Dalhouse, to protect his countrymen, in 1851 sent a warship to Rangoon; but the Burmese welcomed it with cannon fire. This provocation led the Company to a new war. One by one Martaban, Rangoon, Baffein, all the principal ports of Burma, fell into the power of the English. Shortly thereafter, the cities of Prome and Pegu fell by Commander General Godwin, but an advance to Ava, planned by the Company to quickly end the war, could not be carried out, given the enormous distance from the English base and the logistical difficulties. However, the annexation of Lower Burma, or Pegu, was proclaimed, which was declared a province of English India (1852). The sultan of Burma had to resign himself to seeing the remnant of his state cut off from the sea;
After the suppression of the Company, Lower Burma became a province of the Anglo-Indian Empire: and the government, with a watchful eye, spied on opportunities to get rid of that neighboring state, always ready to disturb its peaceful possession. Under the viceroyalty of Lord Dufferin, when diplomatic relations had been broken for some years and the English representative recalled from the court of Ava, the king of Burma entered into agreements with France, which had become mistress of a part of Indochina (1884), to open its territories to French trade. Lord Dufferin sent the king an ultimatum, ordering him not to maintain relations with other powers without the consent of the government of India; and as King Thebaw refused, the English troops, led by General Predegast, went up the Irawady with a flotilla to Mandalay and forced the king to surrender. The annexation of northern Burma to the Anglo-Indian Empire was certainly proclaimed (January 1886).
But, if the royal family and the capital surrendered, the residents put up a vigorous resistance. A long campaign was necessary in which numerous English columns suffered significant losses.
As a result of the India Act of 1919 and other resolution of 1924, Burma became a province of the Empire, with a governor, assisted by an executive council and a legislative council, of 103 members, of whom 79 are elected and 24 appointed by the government ex officio.