Medieval Bhutan was a country ruled by various chieftains, each claiming their own territorial rights. This changed after 1616 with the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who not only unified the country but also built several Dzongs (Fortresses) and codified a comprehensive system of laws. He established the dual system of Governance, the temporal and theocratic – with Je Khenpo (chief abbot) as the religious head and the temporal leader known as the Desi. However, civil wars continued and the country remained fragmented until the emergence of the Trongsa Penlop (Governor), Ugyen Wangchuck.
At the end of the 19th century, Penlop Ugyen Wangchuck, who then controlled the central and eastern regions, overcame all his rivals and united the nation. Another important chapter in Bhutanese history was penned in 1907. In a historic Assembly of the clergy, the official administration, and the people, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously elected as the first hereditary King of Bhutan. This brought an end to the internal civil turmoil and marked the beginning of a new era in Bhutan.