The Capt Hans Jensen Memorial


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Spotted a few months ago on R1 south of Phayao a sign for the Captain Hans Jensen Shrine.

I thought this was a bit unusual -a shrine to a farang in Thailand?


A quick google search turned these up ... ture2.html

Another colourful story is that of Captain Hans Markward Jensen, a Danish soldier seconded into the Thai Provincial Military Police to try to maintain peace in the northern provinces. The Shans, Burmese immigrants working as mining labourers in Northern Thailand, had rebelled against Government oppression in 1902. They had already sacked the township of Phrae, beheading the governor in the process, and then marched upon Lampang. With Captain Jensen in command, the Shans were beaten off, but he then decided to pursue them, and was killed in action at Phayao. For his deeds he was promoted to Major by King Chulalongkorn and given a reward of 10,000 baht, (no doubt a fortune in those days), although he never lived to receive either commendation. However, his widowed mother was given a lifetime grant of 3,000 baht per year until she died in 1938. An obelisk, also given by the King, marks his grave and there is also a memorial to him at Phayao where he died.

By 1900 there were many thousands of Shans working in the north of Thailand, mostly in the teak forests, some in the ruby mines at Long near Phrae. They were harassed by the Siamese officials and taxed to excess - on
tobacco, pack animals, boats, even on their own pigs. The last straw was a four rupee poll tax that was meant to replace corvee or forced labour, but didn't.
All the Shans originated from Burma and were therefore British citizens. This meant that they could be tried in extra-territorial or Consular Courts - hence the establishment of British Consulates in Chiang Rai, Nan and Lampang in addition to Chiang Mai. When the rebellion broke out, the British were consequently deeply involved.
A gang of Shan decoits had taken refuge in the ruby mines and the Gendamerie were sent in to arrest them. They were ambushed and many were killed. The Shans, realising that they had burned their boats, next attacked Phrae, murdering all the Siamese they could catch and forcing the unfortunate hereditary ruler to join them. Dr Thomas, a Presbyterian missionary, sent his womenfolk and children to safety, raised the American flag and gave shelter to several frightened people, Christian and non-Christian alike.
Jubilant after their success, the Shans planned - and there were only some two or three hundred of them - to drive the Siamese from the north and set up an independent state based on the Lanna kingdom of old. They next decided to attack Lampang.
L.T. Leonowens, son of Anna, was the preeminent farang in the city. A personal friend of the chao, he was, at this time managing his own teak business. He took it upon himself to organise the resistance. He evacuated the women and children, mustered the levies and built barricades across the main roads of access.
Just in time, H. Markvard Jensen, a Danish Captain of the Gendamerie, arrived with a few men from Chiang Mai. They easily routed the rebels. The battle of Lampang was over.
T.H. Lyle, British Vice-Consul at Nan had by now arrived in Lampang and he set about contacting the various Shan groups urging them to disarm and go back to Burma. He fully sympathised with their grievances but feared, with every justification, the vengeance of the Siamese who were now marching north with a large army under the command of Field Marshal Surasak.
These were the three foreign heroes of the Shan Rebellion. Shortly afterwards Captain Jensen was killed by a chance shot when pursuing the rebels near Phayao - a memorial was erected near where he died and another one in the Chiang Mai Foreign Cemetery.

And another one ... ensen.html

Could be an excuse for a group ride, after the rainy season.
Anyone interested?
Chiang Mai R11- Lampang R1- Phayao.
Over night in Phayao. Return to Chiang Mai
Phayao R1 - Wang Nua R120 - Chiang Mai R118.
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Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
A little update on the Shan rebellion with some info (2013) from Andrew Walker on New Mandala

In recent months I have been working on the Shan rebellion which erupted in Phrae in July 1902. One of the principal victims of the rebellion was the royal chief (jao muang) of Phrae, not because he was overthrown by the rebels but because he was accused by the Siamese of collaborating with them.

According to Tej Bunnag’s account, a band of Shan bandits attacked Phrae on July 25 1902. They destroyed the police station and the post office, cutting the telegraph connection with the outside world. Joined by several hundred Shan residents of Phrae, they destroyed the residence of the Siamese commissioner, eventually capturing him and executing him along with twenty other Siamese officials.

The rebels then tried to march on Lampang, but they were repelled by a combined force of provincial police and local militia. The leader of the Shan was killed, sapping the nascent rebellion of much of its energy.

Siamese forces were quickly mobilised and they arrived to re-occupy Phrae in late August 1902. The rebels had scattered.

Among the key findings of the commission of enquiry established by the occupying general was that the jao muang of Phrae had actively encouraged the rebellion. The evidence for this was circumstantial: the jao muang had made no attempt to mobilise local forces against the Shan; there were reports that he told villagers to supply the Shan with rice; and one of the local nobles told the Siamese forces that the jao muang had been aware of the rebellion several days before it actually took place. There were also compromising communications with the jao muang of Lampang, seemingly encouraging him to join the anti-Siamese movement.

Tej Bunnag argues that the jao muang of Phrae was threatened by expansion of Siamese power in northern Siam. The establishment of a Siamese administrative presence, underlined by the presence of a Siamese commissioner in Phrae itself, greatly reduced his financial power and his control over manpower. Being somewhat remote from the northern centre of Siamese administration in Chiang Mai, the jao muang decided to chance his arm at rebellion. He allied himself with Shan bandits operating between Phrae and Lampang and, according to Tej’s account, tempted them with the prospect of 40,000 baht being held in Phrae to cover the costs of Siamese administration.

The jao muang of Phrae was found guilty of rebellion, sentenced to death and all his property was confiscated. Somehow he managed to flee to Luang Phrabang. Phrae was totally incorporated into Siamese administration. The jao muang died seven years later.

One less royal for Chulalongkorn to deal with!

Against the odds, there are some who seek to defend the reputation of the unfortunate ruler of Phrae. A 2003 article in the Bangkok Post quoted Ratana Wangsai, “whose grandfather served Jao Luang (King) Priyatepawong, the last king of this northern town.”

The Jao Luang’s role in the 1902 rebellion, he said, was actually designed by King Chulalongkorn himself. The King orchestrated it so Bangkok could use the revolt as a reason to eradicate the Ngiaws or Tai Yai, the power base of the British in Phrae, and derail British plans to take over the northern kingdoms. Only a few people knew of this plan to save Siam from being carved up by colonial powers, Ratana said. All of them had taken a sacred oath of silence or risk being doomed to a painful death at the wrath of the spirits.

One such person was Jao Wangsai, Ratana’s grandfather who served the Jao Luang. Wangsai later enlisted his son, Jao Noi Mok (Ratana’s father) to help out with the logistics. But Jao Noi Mok told Ratana’s mother, Jao Sanggaew, the secret because he needed her to be in charge of the food supply during the operation.

Although Jao Noi Mok spilled the secret out of necessity to carry out the royal plan, and even though his mother later took the sacred oath of silence, Ratana said his father still suffered a terrible death. He was crushed by an elephant during a ceremony to subdue it. Ratana was only eight months old at the time.

“When I was a little boy, I often asked my mother whether it was true that the Jao Luang committed treason. She always said no and insisted that the Jao Luang made deep personal sacrifices for a great cause. But she never elaborated,” Ratana said.

Until she was 78 years old, that is. “At that age, I guess the death threat from the sacred oath no longer bothered her. She decided to tell me what really happened because she didn’t want the truth to go with her to her grave,” Ratana said…

Ratana broke his silence recently at a civic forum on how to revive local pride and culture to instil a sense of identity among Phrae youngsters.

According to Ratana, the late Jao Luang Piriyatepawong believed that modern administration was necessary for Phrae to develop. Therefore, he did not oppose King Chulalongkorn’s policy to introduce a new administrative system even though it meant his own loss of power.

When the Jao Luang was contacted by the Ngiaws who were under British protection about working together to rebel against Bangkok, he actually reported it to King Chulalongkorn, said Ratana.

The royal advice was that he should go along with the plan. For had Bangkok arrested or killed the Ngiaws or Tai Yai without firm justification, the British colonial power would have had a reason to strike at the Bangkok court and force it to give up some northern territories for British occupation.

Ratana said his grandfather’s house actually served as a hiding place for some Thai officials and their families when the Ngiaws struck.

The gun that Phrae policeman and historical hero Taad used to fight the Ngiaws to his death also belonged to his grandfather who gave it to Taad to defend himself, knowing that the courageous officer would not run away to safety. The gun was later returned to the Wangsai family, who recently donated it to the provincial museum for public display.
For some history on Phrae check this GTR thread out
The Free Thai / Seri Thai Museum & Phrae.
The Khum Chao Luang Muang Phrae museum, the ex residence of the Phrae governor is an interesting place to go.


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