History of Thailand until 1500 CE

This history chart is by no means complete, but it is written to provide an easy entrance to Thailands history and understanding why things are like they are until today.

The History Tree Part I

ARRIVING OF THE TAI

AND THE OLD POWERS

The earliest inhabitants of what is now Thailand were hunter-gatherers.There is evidence of settlement in Northern Thailand 500,000 to 100,000 years ago by these hunters and gathers. 

The Inhabitant of the area now knows as Thailand began farming. The first farmers used stone tools and grew rice. Exept from China (5000 BC old rice farming culture), it was one of the earliest rice farming reagions that is known of.

Bronze was discovered. From about 500 BC the people started using iron.

Before the arrival of the Tai, the region hosted a number of indigenous Austroasiatic-speaking and Malayo-Sumbawan-speaking civilisations. so far, only little is known of them, except in some chinese records.

“Both formerly and now, it is only suffering that I describe, and the cessation of suffering.”

The Buddha - ( from the Sutta Nipata ) Tweet

King Asoka in Patalilbutta City sends out monks throughout the country to follow and learn about Buddha’s teachings.

At the beginning there were mostly no big kingdoms except the very few exceptions through out the timeline. the next 1000 Years the area of what we now know as Thailand was mostly devided into small states called Meuang.

Each muang had a chao (lord) as leader who had to relay  on his virtune and of his network of patron-client relationship to rule.

In times of danger the villages of a muang band togather to defend them against more powerful neighbors. At that time Chinese, Vietnamese or Indian forces were excremly powerful.

There are different Theories about the actual time when the first Tai moved into the region.

The main theory is that the Tai people came originally from the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. That means they are related to other people that either live there now or originated there such as the Dai and the Lao. Its belived  that the Tai began migrating southward in successive waves.

The Library of Congress points out that the forfathers of the modern Thai were Tai-speaking people living south of the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) on the mountain plateu of the Chinese province now known as Yunnan.

In the region of Thailand itself there were first mentioned at a inscription on a Khmer temple around the twelfth century CE at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. There it mentioned syam, or “dark brown” people as vassals of the Khmer monarch.

The recently most favoured thery is the one that the origin of the Tai people is the region of Guangxi in China. As indiz is seen, that a large number of Tai people known as Zhuang still lives in Guangxi. 

The Khun Borom legend states that the Tai people who did not become vassals of Chinese monarchs settled in a reagion known today as Dien Bien Phu in modern Vietnam.

Pittayawat Pittayaporn (2014) proposed the the immigration took place between the 8th and the 10th century. From there the Tais began to radiate into northern highlands and founded the cities of Luang Prabang and Chiang Saen.

万事开头难 wàn shì kāi tóu nán - All things are difficult before they are easy

At the time around 1000 EC a mighty earthquake destroyed the city of Chiang Sean and killed many of it inhabitants.

Afterwards a council got established to lead the Kingdom and when a local Wa man (Lavachakkaraj) got elected as king,  Chiang Saen  or now Ngoenyang was truly reborn.

That new Lavachakkaraj dynasty became successful and ruled for 500 years over the region.

By 1100 CE, the Tai had established themselves as Po Khuns (ruling fathers) at Nan, Phrae, Songkwae, Sawankhalok, and Chakangrao on the upper Chao Phraya River.

Tragic events, overpopulation, or an expansionist endevour spirit might have encouraged the Tais to seek their fortune further southwards.

These southern Tai princes faced Khmer influence from the Lavo Kingdom. Some of them became subordinates to Khmers

In the early 13th century several smal states in Thailand around the Mekong River vally united and formed the kindom of Sukhothai. Its very likely the first Thai kindom that emerged.
Beginning from 1238 to 1448 the Sukhothai kindom expands further into the south, starting to dominate much of the modern day Thailand. But falling short later to its rival Thai kindom in the south named Ayutthaya.
Side notes:
Sukhotai means “Dawn of Happiness.” Its sayed that the Thai alphabet was develept during this time. 

Further in time, around the 14th century it got annexed by the kingdom of Ayuthaya.

You may  also want  to read the Legend of Sukhothai further down.

Meanwhile, during the 14th century another kingdom arose in the shadow of the Sukhotai kingdom. This kingdom was the kingdom of Ayuthaya.

From 1350 until 1767 the Ayuthaya kingdom gradually bings Thailand under its control and becomes a major power in whole Southeast Asia. 

By 1350 CE a unified Thai kingdom got established by King Ramathibodi. This regian was called therefore Siam.

The name got mentioned in a 12th-century inscription at the Khmer temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

It refers to syam, or “dark brown”, people. 

The term “Siam” may have originated from the Sanskritśyāma “dark”, referring to the relative skin colour of its native people.

Xiānluó was the name for the northern kingdom centred on Sukhothai and Sawankhalok, but to the Thai themselves, the name of the country has always been Mueang Thai.

King Ramesuan unified Ayuttaya and the north central Thailand”s Sukhothai kingdom in personal union.

The time of might started.

Thailand gradually came under control of the Ayutthaya Kingdom und became a major power in southeast Asia, including parts of CambodiaLaosBurma

4000 BC

3000 BC

1000 BC

300 BC CE

100-1100 CE

700 CE

1000 CE

1100 CE

1200 -1448 CE

1350 CE

1448 CE

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2100 BC

1200 BC

800 BC

500 BC

100 BC

800-1500 CE

900 CE

1100 CE

1250 CE

330px-Museum_für_Indische_Kunst_Dahlem_Berlin_Mai_2006_056
Ban Chiang pottery
In Ban Chiang, bronze artefacts have been discovered dating to 2100 BC. The found bronze objects include ornaments, spearheads, axes and adzes, hooks, blades, and little bells.

(Charles Higham (archaeologist)|Higham, Charles, Prehistoric ThailandISBN 974-8225-30-5, pp.84-88.)

Tourist Note:

The location is east of Udon Thani (1 hour drive).

Similar to most regions in Southeast Asia, the area of todays Thailand became heavily influenced by the culture and religions of India.
Starting with the Kingdom of Funan around the first century until the Khmer Empire
Indian influence on Siamese culture was partly the result of direct contact with Indian settlers, but mainly it was brought about indirectly via the Indianised Kingdoms.
Ecyclopedia Britannica
 
New founded  settlements bringing the Hindu religion and starting to influence the local tribes further.
 

Borobudur in Java

Buddhism, particularly arrived and slowly made his way throuth the Tribes.

Yes, there was trade before, but now it exceeded.

By chance the Southeast Asian archipelago occupied a central position at the crossroads of the Indian Oceanand the South China Sea trading routes which immensely stimulated the economy.

Hand in hand with the trade new ideas were introduces and the society as whole started to change.

Most local trading polities selectively adopted Indian Hindu elements of statecraft, religion, culture and administration during the early centuries of the common era. That led to the beginning of recorded history and the continuation of a characteristic cultural development. Chinese culture diffused more indirectly and sporadic as trade was based on land routes like the Silk Road. Long periods of Chinese isolationism and political relations that were confined to ritualistic tribute procedures prevented deep acculturation.

Wikkipedia

 
The Tai arrived as the fourth Tribe (Power) and had in the beginning not an easy time. But finally it became a journey to ruleship and unification.
The 4 Powers at that time were:
1. The Tai
Various tribes came in intervalls into the region and formed the Kingdoms of Nan, Phayao, Lan Na (the later Lavachakkaraj Dynasty) and the Lan Xang (wich was the historical basis for modern Loas)
2. The Mon.
They formed the Kingdom of Lop (Hariphunchai). The Mon merged later an into the Thai ethnics.
3. The Khmer.
This powerfull tribe ( now knowns as Cambodians) formed the Buri, Dvaravati (please note: the Hindu and the Buddhist Dvaravati culture thought to be of the Mon ethnic before absobed), Haripunchi and the Kingdoms of Chenia and the Angkor Empire.
4. The Indonesian
They lived in the southern region of Thailand. They ruled the Srivajaya Empire. Origionally they came from the Indonesians of Sumatra and Java.  
Around 900, major wars were fought between Chiang Saen and Hariphunchai. 
Chiang Saen was ruled as a Meuang and belonged to the Lan Na Kingdom. That Kingdom was a Tai Kingdom and those Tai of that Kingdom were originally immigrated from the Chinese province of Yuannan in 545 CE. 
 
The Hariphunchai (Tribe of the Mon) forces captured Chiang Saen and its king fled. 
In 937, Prince Prom the Great took Chiang Saen back from the Mon and inflicted severe defeats on Hariphunchai Kingdom (Mon).

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Around the 10th century, the city-states of Dvaravati merged into two mandalas, the Lavo (modern Lopburi) and the Suvarnabhumi (modern Suphan Buri).

According to a legend in the Northern Chronicles, in 903, a king of Tambralinga invaded and took Lavo and installed a Malay prince on the Lavo throne. The Malay prince was married to a Khmer princess who had fled an Angkorian dynastic bloodbath. The son of the couple contested the Khmer throne and became Suryavarman I, thus bringing Lavo under Khmer domination through marital union. Suryavarman I also expanded into the Khorat Plateau (later styled “Isan”), constructing many temples.

Suryavarman, however, had no male heirs and again Lavo was independent. After the death of King Narai of Lavo, however, Lavo was plunged into bloody civil war and the Khmer under Suryavarman II took advantage by invading Lavo and installing his son as the King of Lavo.

The repeated but discontinued Khmer domination eventually Khmerized Lavo. Lavo was transformed from a Theravadin Mon Dvaravati city into a Hindu Khmer one. Lavo became the entrepôt of Khmer culture and power of the Chao Phraya river basin. The bas-relief at Angkor Wat shows a Lavo army as one of the subordinates to Angkor. One interesting note is that a Tai army was shown as a part of Lavo army, a century before the establishment of the “Sukhothai Kingdom”.

Have a look at the Legend of Sukhotai

7th – 11th CE the Lop Buri area was the home of the Mon (tribe) people. They called that area the Kingdom of Lavoh.

The Khmer conquered the region to incorporate it in to the Khmer Empire around 1100 and it was called Lavapura.

For 300 year it was an important military garrison for the Khmers, a cultural centre for art and religion.

Southern Thailand is ruled by the mainly Mon Lavo Kingdom (former Buddhist Dvaravati culture Mon Tribe (one of the 4 Powers) , but with growing influence from the Khmer neighbouring Empire. Khmer Powerplay (modern-day Cambodia) send many of the original Mon on the move.

The muslim society emerged. Starting in the very southern provinces it became part of the culture after adopting these provinces into the other kingdoms.

“Forgiveness is the crown of greatness.”

Legendary People of Thailands early History

Here you will find three short tales of important persons of the first period.

The Simhanavati Legend 

                                         tells us that a Tai chief named Simhanavati drove out the native Wa people and founded the city of Chiang Saen around 800 CE. For the first time, the Tai people made contact with the Indianized civilisations of Southeast Asia.

Simhanavati

800 CE

     The Legend of Sukhothai

 

as vassals of the Khmer monarch. In 1238 a Tai chieftain declared his independence from the Khmer and established a kingdom at Sukhothai in the broad valley of the Mae Nam (river)Chao Phraya, at the center of modern Thailand

The Great Tai Chieftain

1238 CE

The Legend of King Ramatibodi

The Renowned Legend stated that Ramatibodi was an ethnic Chinese, having sailed down from China. After succeeding in trade, he became influential enough to rule the city of Phetchaburi, a coastal town of the Gulf of Thailand, before travelling up to Ayutthaya.

The trader King

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History of Thailand until end of WW2

Again, this history chart is by no means complete, but it is written to provide an easy entrance to Thailands history and understanding why things are like they are until today.

The History Tree Part II

THE RULE OF THE THAI

AND THE NEW POWERS

This famous warrior king was the ruler of Ayuttaya. Under his reign the Burmese overlordship was ended.

Who was King Naresuan?

King Naresuan grew up as a Siamese price in the Royal Burmese court at Pegu. He was a hostage held by the Burmese King, Bayinnaung of the Toungoo Dynasty. This was in order to prevent the prince’s fathet, King Maha Thammatachathirat, from launching a rebellion against Burmese political influence of Ayudhya.

While living in captivity, the prince, along with other royal hostages from the Burmese empire, was trained in the art war by Portuguese mercenaries and the Burmese.

A fellow student and childhood friend was the grandson of King Bayinnaung, Prince Minchit Sra. The prince”s paths would fatally cross later at the battle of Nong Sarai. (near Suphan Buri)

King Naresuan was seen as Ayuttaya”s greatest king. He ended the period of the Burmese overlordship and briefly conquers Cambodia and parts of southern Burma. 

ที่ที่ควรค่าแก่การไปนั้นไม่มีทางลัด thîi thîi khuuan khâa gàae gaan bpai nán mâi mii thaang lát There are no short cuts to any place worth going.

In 1767, King Hsinbyushin of the Burmese Kingdom of Ava besieged the capital Ayudhya. Later on, Ayudhya fell and the Kingdom of Ayudhya saw its final end.

After the fall of Ayudhya, the once Siamese Kingdom fell to division.

Different warlords arose with their own states.

In the northeast, Prince Thep Phiphit establish himself as the ruler of Phimai.

At the center, the governor of the province of Phitsanulok called himself King Ruang.

Near Phitsanulok was another powerful chief, the Priest-Prince Chao Phaya Fang.

And lastly, in the south, Chao Nakorn became the apparent ruler of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Out of the ashes

The reign of King Taksin

Born from a marriage of a Chinese and a Siamese, he rose to prominence and position. When Ayudhya met its end, he rode with his army towards creating a new kingdom – Thonburi. 

The raise of the Kingdom of Thonburi (Thai: ธนบุรี)

The Unification.

For the following years, Taksin defeated his rivals for the domination of Siamese lands.

He first defeated Prince Thep Phiphit in Phimai. It was followed by the fall of Nakhon Si Thammarat and Chao Nakorn to Taksin.

Next was Chao Phya Fang and lastly King Ruang vanished by Taksin.

Taksin was ousted by coup led by General Chatao Phraya Chakri

The Kingdom of Thonburi existed from 1767 to 1782

Taksin’s great military glories, however, would not reflect his downfall from power.

During the late 1770’s, he succumb to religious fanaticism. His devotion to Buddhism led to dangerous heights when he began to assert himself as another Buddha. This act of Taksin led to fall out with the Buddhist hierarchy as well as devout Siamese aristocrats. Taksin asserted his claim brutally. He imprisoned, tortured, or killed monks who refused to recognize him as the Buddha. This led to further deterioration of Taksin’s popularity. His obsession of being a Buddha led to extreme paranoia and brutality. So severe his character, he was deemed insane by many.

In 1782, a coup was launched against Taksin. His trusted General, Chakri, saved him from a total collapse.

Only later, General Chakri deposed Taksin and finally executed the deposed king in 1782.

However, some cited that Taksin was not executed, but rather he went to the southernmost part of Siam and lived as a Buddhist monk.

The 1782 coup of General Chakri led to the foundation of the Chakri dynasty with the General became known as King Rama I.

The Chakri Dynasty ruled Siam and later Thailand up to this day.

Rama I, also called Phraphutthayotfa Chulalok

(born March 21, 1737, Ayutthaya, Siam—died Sept. 7, 1809, Bangkok),

Siamese king (1782–1809) and founder of the Chakkri dynasty which reigns in Thailand.

Rama I was the son of a high court official and his part-Chinese wife. At the time of the Burmese invasion of Siam in 1766–67, he was serving as chief judge in Rat Buri province.

After the fall of Ayutthaya (1767), the Thai capital, he joined the service of Taksin, the new Siamese king, and soon became the new military commander of the northern provinces (Chao Phraya Chakkri) and his most effective general.

He spent most of the next decade leading Thai armies in the field that repelled the Burmese and established Siamese suzerainty over Laos, Cambodia, and the northern Malay states.

Early in 1782 a rebellion in the capital against the half-insane Taksin brought him back from campaigns in Cambodia to assume the throne of Siam on April 6.

As king, Rama I moved the capital to Bangkok and undertook a thorough renovation of all the institutions of public life.

In time, Ayuthaya’s control of tribute states in Laos and western Cambodia (including Angkor, ruled by the Siamese from 1432 to 1859) was transferred to Bangkok, and thousands of prisoners of war were brought to the capital to work as coolie labour.

Bangkok also had ample access to free Thai labour via the phrâi lǔang (commoner/noble) system, under which all commoners were required to provide labour to the state in lieu of taxes.

Using this immense pool of labour, Rama I augmented Bangkok’s natural canal-and-river system with hundreds of artificial waterways feeding into Thailand’s hydraulic lifeline, the broad Mae Nam Chao Phraya.

Chakri also ordered the construction of 10km of city walls and khlawng râwp krung (canals around the city), to create a royal ‘island’ – Ko Ratanakosin – between Mae Nam Chao Phraya and the canal loop. Sections of the 4.5m-thick walls still stand in Wat Saket and the Golden Mount, and water still flows, albeit sluggishly, in the canals of the original royal district.

In 1809 Rama I was succeeded by his son Rama II (1809-1824)

A gifted poet and dramatist, Rama II wrote a famous version of Inao, dramatic version of a popular traditional story, as well as episodes of the Ramakien and popular dance dramas such as Sang Thong.

(1820) Cholera pandemic killed around 30,000 in Bangkok

Rama III, also called Phranangklao (born March 31, 1788, Bangkok—died April 2, 1851, Bangkok), king of Siam (1824–51) who made Siam’s first tentative accommodations with the West, and under whom the country’s boundaries reached their maximum extent.

In the 1830s and ’40s Rama III was preoccupied mainly with Laos and Cambodia and intervened in the latter to forestall colonization by the Vietnamese. 

Recognizing the strong claims of Mongkut to the throne, Rama III refrained from naming an heir apparent, and Mongkut (who was to young at the time of the succession of Raa II) succeeded him in 1851, as the kingdom headed for a new confrontation with the West.

 

 On his deathbed Rama III said that in the future the main threat would not be Vietnam and Burma, but he warned that they should not trust the Europeans.

King Mongkut (Rama IV; ruled 1851–68) 

Mongkut was already 46 years old when he came to the throne. He had spent 26 years as a monk, during which time he became a keen scholar of Pali (the language of the Theravadatexts) and an expert in Buddhist doctrine.

Under his reign Brithish wre allowed to live in Siam (Thailand). He also allowed them to trade freely. He also signed treaties with many other western countries and he encouraged the study of Western science.

He appointed several Western advisers and assistants to his court, including the Englishwoman Anna Harriette Leonowens, who tutored his children. She later published a romanticized and inaccurate depiction of Mongkut’s court that became the basis for the musical The King and I (1951).

Rama V (20 September 1853 – 23 October 1910), was the fifth monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri. He was known to the Siamese of his time as Phra Phuttha Chao Luang(พระพุทธเจ้าหลวง, the Royal Buddha).

His reign was characterized by the modernization of Siam, governmental and social reforms, and territorial concessions to the British and French. As Siam was threatened by Western expansionism, Chulalongkorn, through his policies and acts, managed to save Siam from colonisation. 

All his reforms were dedicated to ensuring Siam’s survival in the face of Western colonialism, so that Chulalongkorn earned the epithet Phra Piya Maharat (พระปิยมหาราช, the Great Beloved King).

At a time when the colonising zeal was taking over neighboring nations, Rama V demonstrated to foreign governments that Thailand was not in need of civilising but was already a full-fledged member of the world community. Siam had to develop in all ways modern so that no Western power could claim the lack of civilization as an excuse to colonize the country.

The king Rama V abolished serfdom and the conscription of commoners for slave labor, but implemented these reforms gradually so that society could adjust without having a civil war, as had happened in other places.

Chulalongkorn began ending slavery in 1868 and abolished it completely in 1905.

As a result of the abolishment of these two systems, a lot of independent labor entered the market, and consequently, the economy of Siam expanded enormously at this time. 

Rama VI ascended to the throne in 1910 and continued his father’s zeal for reform to bring the monarchy into the 20th century.

The perceived slow pace of reform resulted in the Palace Revolt of 1912.

In 1914, Vajiravudh determined that the act providing for invoking martial law, first promulgated by his father in 1907, was not consistent with modern laws of war, nor convenient for the preservation of the security of the state, so it was amended to a more modern form that, with minor amendments, continued in force through subsequent changes in government.

Military expenditures went from one million baht in 1898 to thirteen million by 1910 when Siam had an army of 20,000, a navy of 5,000, and 50,000 reserves.

Prajadhipok (Rama VII) succeeded his brother in 1925.

The Eton and Sandhurst educated monarch created a council similar to a cabinet, where the most important government officials could meet to decide state affairs.

This advisory and legislative council, styled the Supreme Council of State of Siam (Thai: อภิรัฐมนตรีสภา) was founded on 28 November 1925 and existed until 1932.

Siam becomes Thailand

1932-1939

 But the anti-Axis powers refused to recognise the new name after Siam allied with the Japanese.

In June 1932, a group of foreign-educated students and military men called “the promoters” carried out a bloodless revolution, seized power and demanded that King Prajadhipok grant the people of Siam a constitution.

The king agreed and in December 1932 the people were granted a constitution, ending 150 years of absolute Chakri rule.

From then on the role of the monarch was relegated to that of a symbolic head of state.

His powers from then on were exercised by a prime minister and the national assembly.

This new goverment was destined to be short-lived. Infighting and intrigues, as well as pressures from the outside world, led to a military take-over.

An authotitarian regime under Luang Phibunsongkram soon dominated the land of Siam.

Propaganda and strict regulations on life, religion and art pushed indigenous cultures to the sidelines and set severe limits on creativity and freedom.

In 1935 King Pradhipok (Rama VII) abdicated the throne, following disagreements with the government. He lived in exile in the United Kingdom until his death in 1941. 

1939 – Siam changes its name to Thailand (“Land of the Free”).

Thailand is renamed to Siam 

from 1946 to 1948

Siam became Thailand again

On July 20th, 1948, the Siamese constituent assembly voted to change the name of Siam to Thailand, the change to come into effect the following year 

May 11th, 1949

To understand the name Thailand, it must first be broken into its two constituent parts. Whilst “land” is easy to understand, the “Thai” part takes a little more explains.

 Not only does it mean “free”, Tai is also an ethnic group in the country, giving the word Thailand a double meaning of both “Land of the Free” and “Land of the Thai People”. 

Thailand being known as the “Land of the Free” is a huge source of pride for the Thai people; Thailand managed to retain its independence whilst the Western powers were carving up and stealing land in Southeast Asia and all around the world, and it’s referenced on the country’s national anthem.

1590-1605 CE

1767 CE

1768-1782 CE

1782 CE

1809-1824 CE

1824-1851 CE

1851 CE

1851-1868 CE

1853-1910 CE

1905 CE

1910-1925 CE

1925-1935 CE

1932 CE

1935 CE

1949 CE

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1511 CE

1675 CE

1685-1688 CE

1688 CE

1767 CE

1778 CE

1780 CE

CE 1782

1821 CE

1828 CE

1834 CE

1860 CE

1887 CE

1888 CE

1902 CE

1909 CE

1917 CE

1941 CE

1945 CE

The first Europeans to reach Thailand were the Portuguese in 1511. They were followed by the Dutch in 1605, the English in 1612 and the French in 1662.

The Phaulkon-Tachard conspiracy (1685-1688)

This was an unsuccessfull attempt in the Thai history to establish French control over Siam (Thailand).

The two main conspirators in this attempt were Constantine Phaulkon (a high level royal adviser to Siam’s King Narai) and Gui Tachard (a French Jesuit missionary. 

A Greek by birth, Phaulkon had worked with the British East India Companyin Java and then entered the service of the Siamese king, quickly rising to the position of virtual prime minister.

Thachard, who arrived at Ayutthaya, the Siamese capital, in 1685, hoped to convert the Thais to Christianity and to extend French influence.

He enlisted Phaulkon to aid him in these purposes.

A traty was drafted with the support of Narai and the French king, Louis XIV, allowing the French military to station troops in the country and granting France advantageous trading privileges.

However, after Narai fell seriously ill in 1688, Phaulkon’s fortunes changed and the affair ended with his overthrow and execution by an anti-French faction.

Following the episode, Thai kings favoured isolationist policies for more then a century.

After an the failed Greek gamble Siam ousted the French from Bangkok in the Siege of Bangkok.

The Burmese invaded Ayutthaya and in 1767 destroyed the capital, but two national heroes, Taksin and Chakkri, soon expelled the invaders and reunified the country under the Chakkri Dynasty.

Taksin had consolidated the old Siamese kingdom with new base at Thonburi.

However, the Burmese were still ready to wage massive wars to bring the Siamese down again. From their base at Chiang Mai, they invaded Sawankhalok in 1770 but the Siamese were able to repel.

This realised Taksin the importance of Lanna as the base of resources for the Burmese to attack northern territories. If Lanna was brought under Siamese control then the Burmese threats would by annihilated.

At the time Lanna, centred on Chiang Mai, was ruled by a Burmese general Paw Myunguaun. He was the general who led the invasion of Sawankhalok in 1770 but was countered by Chao Phraya Surasi’s armies from Pitsanulok.

In the same year, the Siamese pioneered a little invasion of Chiang Mai and failed to gain any fruitful results.

In 1772, Paw Thupla, another Burmese general who had been in wars in Laos, headed west and attack Pichai and Uttaradit. The armies of Pitsanulok once again repelled the Burmese invasions.

They came again in 1773 and this time Phraya Pichai made his legendary sword break.

In 1774, Taksin ordered Chao Phrya Chakri and Chao Phraya Surasi to invade Chiang Mai. After nearly 200 years of Burmese rule, Lanna passed to the Siamese hands.

Another great chapter in his military campaign was in 1778. With General Chakri in command, Vientiane, in modern day Laos, fell in the hands of the Thonburi Kingdom.

The most prized spoil from the conquest was the return of the sacred Emerald Buddha to Thonburi and later Bangkok.

He not only focussed on his war campaingn, he also continued to have relations with the Dutch.

The Dutch became a close trading partner of Thonburi with the help of Chinese merchants.

The Dutch, along with Chinese middlemen, supplied weapons. 

Bangkok became the capital of Siam (as Thailand was previously known), when General Chao Phraya Chakkri, the founder of the ruling Chakkri dynasty, assumed the throne as Rama I and moved the court from the west to the east bank of the Chao Phraya River.

He banned the sale and consumption of opium in 1811, but after a while this was not enforced.

The Opium was a major Trage good from the English Empire mostly distributed from Hongkong.

Trade with China was encouraged, and Chinese planters introduced sugar production

The Portuguese envoy Silveira arrived in 1818, and he made a commercial agreement with Siam and was popular for trading them muskets

When Siamese troops equipped with modern muskets invaded in 1821, the Kedah sultan fled to Penang and appealed to the English. British envoy John Crawfurd visited Bangkok the next year, but restrictions on English trade were not removed.

(1828) Siamese forces invaded Laos

An envoy from the United States made a treaty with Siam in 1833, but the King would not accept a consul

Siamese and Lao armies invaded Cambodia, but by 1834 they were badly beaten by Vietnamese forces. The Siamese army failed again in 1836 but resettled Phuan villagers. In 1831 rebels in Kedah had expelled the Siamese officials, but Siam invaded Kedah again in 1839 despite British objections. In 1848 the highest ranking prince, Rakronnaret, was convicted of taking bribes and plotting treason, and he was executed. 

In 1850 British and American envoys were unsuccessful in their efforts to get Siam to reduce its monopolies over trade.

In 1855 British envoy John Bowring arrived and negotiated a treaty with Mongkut in one month. Mongkut and his chief minister Suriyawong (Chuang Bunnag) were convinced that lower duties would promote more trade. To make up for the lost revenue from duties, the Government imposed excise taxes on opium, alcohol, gambling, and the lottery. In the treaty duty on imported British goods was limited to three percent with none on opium while new export duties averaged five percent. Siam ended its trade monopolies except on opium. The English were allowed to rent or purchase land near the capital, and an English consul would have civil and criminal jurisdiction over British subjects in Siam. This treaty opened the way for Siam to make similar agreements with France and the United States

1856, Denmark and the Hanseatic cities in 1858, Portugal in 1859, Holland in 1860, and Prussia in 1862. Bowring also made treaties for Siam with Belgium, Italy, Norway, and Sweden in 1868. These became known as the “unequal treaties” because of the advantages they gave Europeans. Siam’s trade went from 5.6 million baht in 1850 to about ten million baht in 1868. The largest export item was rice.

Siam hired British surveyor James McCarthy from India in 1880 and sent troops with him to map the frontiers. 

Siamese and Lao soldiers fought the Ho beyond the Mekong for five years, and in 1887 the army returned with captured Ho leaders and thirty young Laotian nobles as hostages. The map they finally produced showed their border going south from Sipsongpanna into Cambodia

Auguste Pavie wanted to expand French Indochina, and in December 1888 French soldiers forced Siamese forces to withdraw from Sibsong Chao Thai. The French consul in Bangkok asked Siam to recognize the Mekong River as the border, and a joint commission was sent to investigate. 

During Franco-Siamese War, three French ships were fired on by Siamese, France won battle, blocked Bangkok, ended the war.

After the 1893 treaty Siam increased the number of their European advisors to 139 within four years. Chulalongkorn had been ill during and after the Paknam crisis, and Damrong persuaded the King that Siam would be better off avoiding military confrontations with Europeans while pursuing administrative reforms

In 1897 Siam made the secret agreement with the British not to cede territory north of 11 degrees latitude or give anyone else privileges without British approval. In 1904 Chulalongkorn made a treaty with France, and in 1907 Siam gave up the northwestern Khmer provinces of Siem Reap, Battambang, and Sisophon for France’s renouncing the extraterritorial privileges of its protégés in Siam. In 1909 the British gave up the same privileges in exchange for the Malay states of Kedah, Kelantan, Trengganu, and Perlis. The Federated Malay States loaned £4,000,000 to complete the railway system between Siam and Malaya.

Siam annexed three southern provinces that had been part of Kingdom of Pattani

In the 19th century Thailand avoided being colonized by Europeans. However in 1893 Rama V was forced to cede Laos to France. He also ceded Cambodia to France in 1907 and in 1909 he was forced to cede territory in Malaya to Britain.

When the Great War broke out in 1914, Siam declared its neutrality. Vajiravudh favored the Allies, but Germans had not offended Siam and were important in the shipping industry. The King used creative ways to raise money for a cruiser, which was not purchased until 1920. 

1917 – Siam becomes ally of Great Britain in World War In the 19th century Thailand avoided being colonized by Europeans. However in 1893 Rama V was forced to cede Laos to France. He also ceded Cambodia to France in 1907 and in 1909 he was forced to cede territory in Malaya to Britain.

A Siamese delegation attended the Versailles Peace Conference and lobbied for autonomy in taxation and an end to extraterritoriality. Foreign Minister Devawongse worked for these goals until his death in 1923, gaining a better treaty with the United States in 1920. Woodrow Wilson’s son-in-law Francis Sayre helped Siam get better terms with France and Britain in 1925, followed by treaties with other powers the next year. Foreigners now had to submit to the jurisdiction of Siam’s laws, but tariffs on some British goods were still limited to five percent for ten years.

A shadow is rising

After the Japanese army killed 5,000 Chinese on Shandong peninsula in May 1928, Chinese leaders in Bangkok organized a boycott that cut Japanese imports in half. The King warned that dangerous ideas were coming in from China, and Communists were arrested

Thailand signed a treaty with France in June 1940, but it was not implemented because of the German invasion.

1941 – Japanese forces land. After negotiations Thailand allows Japanese to advance towards British-controlled Malay Peninsula, Singapore and Burma.

When the Japanese invaded Southeast Asia in 1941, outflanking Allied troops in Malaya and Burma, Thailand allowed Japanese regiments access to the Gulf of Thailand.

Japanese troops bombed and briefly occupied parts of Bangkok on their way to the Thai–Burmese border to fight the British in Burma and, as a result of public insecurity, the Thai economy stagnated.

The Japanese kept and army of at least 50,000 in Thailand throughout the war. They ravaged the Thai economy to supply their army in Burma, and in August 1943 they turned over the four Unfederated Malay States to Thailand.

1942 – Thailand declares war on Britain and US, but Thai ambassador in Washington refuses to deliver declaration to US government.

(1945) World War II ended; Thailand forced to return territories seized from Laos, Cambodia, Malaya

By 1945 Bangkok had suffered more than 4,000 Allied bombing raids, and 60% of the population had evacuated.

Legendary People of Thailands History II

Here you will find three short tales of important persons that period.

The Legend of the Batlle of Elephants.

In the battle against the Burmese army the Thai army was outmatched and about to withdraw.

At that moment, in an almost unbelievable example of valor and leadership, King Naresuan riding on his royal war elephant Khang Kluay sought out Prince Minchit Sra while fighting ferociously through ranks of enemy soldiers.

When their elephants met, combat became face-to-face with both leaders standing on the heads of their elephants lurching at each other with sword and lance. It’s said the fight was so ferocious that soldiers of both armies stopped fighting in order to stare in awe at the spectacle. A final slice of sword cut completely through the Burmese leader’s body from shoulder to hip, and Siam had won the day. Without a leader, the Burmese stopped fighting and retreated to Pegu

Naresuan

1590 CE

     The becoming of a Dynasty

 In 1781, Phraphutthayotfa Chulalok 

 went on the campaigns against Cambodia, only to return prematurely due to the instability of Thonburi. The rebellion of Phraya Sun had broken out and the rebels deposed King Taksin. Some sources report that Taksin was consigned to a monastery. 

After arriving in Thonburi in 1782, Chao Phraya defeated the Phraya Sun with his forces. Later sources widely reported that the general eventually executed the ousted Taksin, contradicting to some earlier sources. 

He then seized power and made himself King, establishing the Chakri Dynasty and had 42 children. His Dynasty  continues to rule Thailand to this day

 

Rama I

1782 CE

King Rama V the Great Beloved King

The Fifth Reign was fraught with extreme difficulties. The greatest threat to the kingdom was the growing demands of Britain and France, which threaten the independence of Thailand.

King Chulalongkorn traveled abroad extensively in Asia and Europe to see at first hand modern government. He was convinced that Thailand needed European technology but not at the expense of Thai tradition and independence. His far-reaching reforms reflected a vision years ahead of his time.

910, Thailand remained uncolonised.

As one of the most revered monarchs in Thai history, his photograph is displayed in many Thai homes, companies and shops to this day.

Rama V
1853 CE

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