History / Sukhothai
Author: Serge Kreutz
Taking advantage of the weakening of the Khmer empire, two local
Thai princes, Khun Bang Klang and Khun Pa Muang, both of
them actually officials of the Khmer occupation government in
Sayam (later, and until the present, Sukhothai)
start a rebellion against the Khmers. Khan Lampong, a
Cambodian General, tries to subdue the Thais but is defeated.
Sukhothai thereby becomes a truly independent state. Khun Bang
Klang is crowned King of Sukhothai under the title Sri
Inthrathit. Khun Pa Muang is only given a major government
post, far inferior to the reward of Khun Bang Klang. The reason
for this is his marriage with a Khmer princess - a matter
that casts doubt on his trustworthiness in the Thais' eyes.
The Principality or Kingdom of Sukhothai grows rapidly in
the following years - as a result of military conquest as well as
rather diplomatic annexations of other Thai principalities
formerly ruled by Khmers. These diplomatic annexations become
possible because according to today's knowledge, Sukhothai is an
attractive state to join. It is much more liberal
than most states of the time, knowing no slavery nor excessive
taxation by the monarchy. Being a new kingdom, the rulers have
not progressed on the typical path of becoming distant from their
subjects. Kings are not considered god-kings as it had been
under Khmer rule.
Kublai Khan, Mongolian ruler in central China conquers the
Nanchao Kingdom, several hundred kilometers to the north in
today's southern China. Great waves of Thai migrants flood
Sukhothai from Yunnan enhancing Sukhothai's population and power
Prince Mengrai of Nanchao, after having escaped the
wrath of Kublai Khan, establishes the Lannatai Kingdom with
himself as king. To serve as his capital, he founds the town of
Chiang Rai. In the following years, he integrates several
neighboring Thai principalities into his kingdom. Although
relations with Sukhothai are cordial for the first decades
and in spite of the fact that many former Nanchao subjects
become citizens of Sukhothai, the two kingdoms do not
unite. Lannatai will later first become an ally of the
Burmese against the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya (Siam)
and then be a Burmese vassal or integrated into Burma for
several centuries. It is noticeable in present-day Thailand that,
except in Chiang Mai and the utmost north of today's Thailand,
Thais have much less sentiments about the kingdom of
Lannatai than about Sukhothai, even though the independent
history of Lannatai is considerably longer than that of
Sukhothai (a mere 140 years).
Ramkhamhaeng, the third of three sons of Sri Inthrathit
becomes king of Sukhothai. He is however preceded on the throne by
his elder brother Ban Muang (not to be confused with Prince Pa
Muang who had joined Sri Inthrathit in overthrowing the
Khmer rule). But there are no records on when Sri Inthrathit died
or for how long Ban Muang ruled. As there are no records it
was most probably an exceptionally peaceful time. This
changes when Ramkhamhaeng ascends to the throne. In the
following years Ramkhamhaeng's armies conquer an area encompassing
most of what is now Thailand plus the eastern part of what
is today Burma plus almost the whole of the Malayan
Peninsula. Ethnically speaking, he ruled not only over Thais
but also over Burmese, Mons and Shans in the
west, Malays in the south and Khmers and
Laotians (ethnically closely related to the Thais) in the
east. As the relations between King Mengrai of Lannatai and
King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai have remained cordial,
Ramkhamhaeng does not touch his northern neighbor. Impressing as
they may be, Ramkhamhaeng's military exploits are by far
not his only achievement. He also creates the Thai alphabet
that is basically still in use, codifies the law and
conducts a reform of Buddhism practiced in his realm by
establishing stricter rules for the behavior of monks. The Thai
alphabet invented by him draws on Sanskrit and Pali (both
languages of Indian origin) as well as the written languages of
the Burmese and the Khmers, both of which are also
Sanskrit and Pali based. But not only are the letters of
neighboring languages used to provide for a written Thai
language. Terms from Pali, Sanskrit and the immediate
neighboring languages are also integrated into Thai (which
otherwise is quite different from Burmese and the Khmer language).
The development of the Thai language in southeast Asia, in spite
of it's origin in China, explains why a large number of
Royal titles or religious designations are quite
similar to those of the Khmer or Burmese (the Thais adopted
Buddhism only in southeast Asia, not during their
history in what is now south China where Buddhism arrived only at
a time when the Thai majority had already migrated to southeast
1282 - How
Chow Chi, a Chinese Mandarin comes to Sukhothai and negotiates
a treaty of amity between China and Sukhothai.
King Mengrai of Lannatai conquers the Mon Kingdom of
Haripungaya (present-day Lamphun), making it a long lasting
part of his realm. Later kingdoms of the Mons will all be
located at the western side of the mountain range that today
separates the territories of Burma and Thailand.
Death of Ramkhamhaeng; the throne is ascended by his son,
Loetai. Sukhothai begins its decline. In the
following years, most of the non-Thai principalities ruled
by King Ramkhamhaeng and many of the Thai principalities as
well become rather independent from Sukhothai.
The major Thai principality of Phayao east of Chiang Mai is
annexed to the Lannatai Kingdom.
1330-1350 - The principality of Utong (near
today's town of Suphanburi, close to Ayutthaya, becomes a
regional power, largely due to the military skills of its
leading general. A personal name of this general is not
known. (It must be noted here that in Thai or Siamese tradition,
personal names have much less bearing than in the western
culture. Typically, a man changed his name when he assumed
additional power, either by being promoted or by
usurping it. Many of the names under which important Thai
or Siamese personalities are known in history are anyhow rather
titles than names. One important example of later
times is the designations Chao Phaya. Chao Phaya, aside
from being the name of the main Thai river, is a Thai
title, designating the highest government officials; typically
the leading general of a principality was named Chao Phaya
- as for example several hundred years later Chao Phaya
Chakri, the founder of the current Thai dynasty who had first
been the leading general of King Taksin of Thonburi). The
leading general of Utong (who didn't bear the title Chao
Phaya during his life-time but would later be designated as such)
gains for his principality several adjourning areas which
have so far been ruled by the king of Sukhothai. He is the
initiator of the Ayutthaya period of Thai history.
Prince Lutai (Tammaraja I) , a son of King Loetai, becomes
King of Sukhothai. It is not known how long Sukhothai was
ruled by King Loetai. The accepted theory is that after King
Loetai died, there was heavy competition for the throne; most
probably a king with the name Nguanamthom ruled for a
period of time between the reigns of Loetai and Lutai Tammaraja I.
King Lutai concentrates rather on religious than
political matters, a fact further contributing to the loss
of political power of Sukhothai. Tammaraja, a name he
acquires posthumously, is a religious rather than political
King Lutai dies and is succeeded by his son Prince Sai who
becomes King Tammaraja II.
King Boromaraja I of Ayutthaya invades Sukhothai territory,
capturing several towns.
Phitsanulok, the substitute capital of Sukhothai, is taken by
Boromaraja's forces and prisoners are turned into slaves.
King Tammaraja II is forced to become a vassal of the King
of Ayutthaya. This marks the end of the independent
Thai Kingdom of Sukhothai after 140 years of existence.
History / Ayutthaya
The leading general of Utong, upon the death of the
kingdom's ruler, becomes King of Utong himself and assumes
the title Rama Tibodi I. One of his first decisions is to
transfer his capital some 50 kilometers (31mi) to the east, to the
thriving trade town of Ayutthaya. (The similarity to the
beginning of the Bangkok period in Thai history is striking; 432
years later, it is again the leading general of a preceding king
who becomes king; at both instances, one of their first tasks is
to transfer their capitals; contrary to what is often read
in English language guide books, both towns, Ayutthaya and
Bangkok, are not "founded" by the two kings but were
already well established settlements, though with no political
1350-1359 - King Rama Tibodi I introduces coded
Ayutthaya engages Cambodia in war. Cambodia is seized and
its ruler, King Pasat, becomes the vassal of Siam. Even
though its the Khmers (or Cambodians) who are defeated in this
war, it's rather Khmer culture that penetrates Thai society
in the following decades and centuries than Thai culture
penetrating Khmer society. One example is that Siam adopts the
Khmer system of slavery as well as the concept of
Cholera spreads in the kingdom of Siam and claims, among
thousands of others, the lives of two of its princes,
Chaokeo and Chaotai.
King Rama Tibodi I becomes a Buddhist priest.
King Rama Tibodi I dies aged 57, and his son, Prince
Ramesuan, succeeds on the throne. Incompetence displayed
during the Cambodian war makes him unpopular among his people.
Upon public clamor and advice of his ministers, Prince
Ramesuan abdicates his throne in favor of his uncle, Prince
Boromaraja (the brother-in-law of King Rama Tibodi).
King Boromaraja begins invading Sukhothai, capturing
Phitsanulok, the substitute capital of Sukhothai, is taken
by Boromaraja's forces and prisoners are turned into slaves.
King Tammaraja II of Sukhothai is forced to become a vassal
of the King of Ayutthaya. This marks the end of the
independent Thai Kingdom of Sukhothai after 140 years of
King Boromaraja dies and his son Tonglan, 15 years
old, succeeds the throne. 7 days thereafter, the former King of
Ayutthaya, Ramesuan, seizes the young king, most probably
has him killed and assumes the throne.
Senmuangma, the young king of Chiang Mai (Lannatai
Kingdom), attempts to overthrow the Ayutthaya Kingdom and to
regain Sukhothai for its King Tammaraja II but the
Chiang Mai army is defeated by the Ayutthaya forces. King Ramesuan
succeeds in invading Chiang Mai and resettles parts of the
city's population to other areas held by Siam (Ayutthaya), some as
far south as the Malayan Peninsula. Though the people of
Chiang Mai are ethnically Thais, they have at that time a dialect
quite different from the one spoken in Siam, having migrated from
what is now Yunnan in southern China several centuries
later than the Thais settling further south.
War breaks out again with Cambodia provoked by the
Cambodian King Kodombong who captures Chonburi and
Chantaburi taking much of the population of the two towns
back to Cambodia. King Ramesuan, upon learning of the
event, sends his troops to Cambodia, invades Angkor and
takes almost 90,000 Cambodians as prisoners to Siam,
leaving the Khmer kingdom again as vassal of Siam. The year
1393 thereby established a pattern that will be much
adhered to in southeast Asia for centuries to come. Victorious
kings and generals are not content with
ransacking the towns of defeated neighbors and imposing
tributes. As the constant wars between Thais,
Burmese and Khmers take heavy tolls on the
populations of the kingdoms, gaining new subjects to
replace those killed in battle becomes an objective of war. To
judge such a population policy it has to be noted that the
wars between the three nations have often been total wars.
Occasionally, most of the men of a kingdom were
conscripted, from ages today considered as childhood. Furthermore,
women have also regularly fought in battles. The population
policy of capturing subjects has also contributed to the
ethnic mix found now in southeast Asia. Racial
descent is an insufficient criterion to differentiate
Thais, Mons, Khmers, Shans etc. Rather, it's language and
regional culture that make the difference.
Ramesuan dies at 62 and is succeeded by his son
Ramraja for 14 fairly peaceful but also uneventful years.
King Ramraja is deposed from his throne by Prince Nakonin,
governor of Sysan and the son of a younger brother of King
Boromaraja I. Nakonin later proclaims himself King with the
King Intharaja dies and his three sons fight over the
throne; two of them die. The youngest of the three brothers
is the survivor and is proclaimed King of Ayutthaya with the title
After Cambodia has again gained kind of independence, a new war
between Ayutthaya and Cambodia breaks out. It lasts
for seven months during which Thai forces again invade
Angkor. King Tammasok of Cambodia dies during the war and the
King of Siam sets up his son, the Prince Intaburi as King of
Cambodia. Intaburi dies after just a few months in office.
Thereafter, Cambodia regains again its independence.
The Khmers vacate Angkor, considering it too close
to the border with Siam and relocate their capital in Basan on the
eastern side of the Mekong River.
The Khmers move their capital again, this time to Phnom
Penh. In the course of history they will switch several times
between the sites of Phnom Penh and Lawak near Phnom Penh.
Sukhothai is fully incorporated into the Siamese Kingdom of
Ayutthaya. Prince Ramesuan is appointed governor of
Ayutthaya is at war with Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai suffers
defeat but not to the extent that the Lannatai Kingdom of Chiang
Mai is integrated into Siam or becomes a real
vassal. However, the Ayutthaya forces again capture part of
the Lannatai population and resettle the people in their
King Boromaraja II dies and the Prince of Phitsanulok,
Ramesuan, becomes king of Ayutthaya. He assumes the title
King Trailok. During his extraordinarily long rule of 40
years, King Trailok reforms the administrative system of Siam,
giving it a stricter hierarchical structure. The system of
nobility in Siam, too, is founded by King Trailok who
creates seven grades of nobles. The grades of nobility from
the highest to the lowest are: 1. Phaya, 2. Phra, 3.
Luang, 4. Khun, 5. Muen, 6 Pun, 7.
Tanai. An additional grade, topping the one of Phaya, is
created later, the rank of Chao Phaya. In all of the
history of Siam, the above ranks of nobility are not
hereditary. The only hereditary rank is the one of
prince or princess for the offspring of kings and
princes. Ranks of nobility are given by the ruling king who also
can take them back. Also non-hereditary are land
possessions; while there are certain rules, established by
King Trailok, concerning the granting of land to nobles
according to their rank, land allocations are in principle at
the discretion of the king.
Conflict with the Lannatai Kingdom of Chiang Mai is
Sukhothai, temporarily occupied by forces of Chiang Mai, is
regained by Ayutthaya.
As the only external conflict of his reign is with the Lannatai
Kingdom, King Trailok of Ayutthaya transfers his capital to
Phitsanulok in the north of his realm, leaving his son,
Prince Boromaraja, in charge of Ayutthaya.
King Trailok enters a Buddhist seminary as a monk.
The first white elephant is captured in Siam. By future
definition, white elephants in the realm are all owned by the
Open war between Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya breaks out
once again. The ruler of Chiang Mai, Maharaja Tilok, has
his army massacre all the members of the Siamese embassy. As the
war again doesn't produce a clear victor, Trailok of
Ayutthaya and Tilok of Chiang Mai both agree to a peace
settlement. In spite of the fact that the threat from the north is
no longer eminent, King Trailok does not move his capital
back to Ayutthaya and remains in Phitsanulok, leaving
Ayutthaya under the control of his son, Prince Boromaraja.
Maharaja Tilok dies.
King Trailok dies in Phitsanulok and is succeeded by his
son, Boromaraja III, who had been his deputy in Ayutthaya
for 25 years. As Boromaraja III has his personal base in
Ayutthaya, the city's traditional function as
capital is restored. Boromaraja's younger brother,
Prince Jutta, becomes governor of Phitsanulok.
Boromaraja III dies and is succeeded by Prince Jutta who
takes the title Rama Tibodi II.
A civil war breaks out in Chiang Mai and the local ruler,
Maharaja Yai, is deposed and succeeded by his son
Maharaja Ratna. The following years, until 1515, there are
a number of clashes between Siam (Ayutthaya) and
Lannatai (Chiang Mai) armies which however don't change the
power balance between the two kingdoms.
Duarte Fernandez, a Portuguese, lands in Siam and
negotiates a treaty with King Rama Tibodi II to permit Portuguese
to reside and carry on trade in Ayutthaya.
Sukhothai is invaded by the ruler of Laos, then a
principality covering roughly the area of present-day Laos.
King Rama Tibodi II dies after a reign of 38 years. His
son, Prince Atityawong, succeeds the throne as King
King Boromaraja IV dies early of smallpox, leaving as
successor to the throne his 4 year old son, Prince
Ratsadatiratkumar. After a reign of just five months in which
his ministers rule in his behalf, Prince Prajai (a
half-brother of the former King Boromaraja IV, sizes the
throne in 1534 after having the child king murdered. After the 15
year old King Tonglan in 1388, Prince
Ratsadatiratkumar is the second child king to ascend to the
throne, and like the former he is disposed and killed by an older
relative. In the next decades and the next centuries, a similar
fate will befall practically all underage ascendents to
the throne. Furthermore, palace revolts and
usurpations of the throne become a fairly normal
feature for the remaining centuries of the Ayutthaya
period in Thai history. While the Ratsadatiratkumar/Prajai
case doesn't interrupt the initial dynasty of Ayutthaya
(Prajai like Ratsadatiratkumar being a close relative of the
former king) palace revolts of the following centuries do
interrupt dynastic lines and none of the subsequent
three dynasties makes it to 80 years in power.
King Prajai intervenes in the affairs of Chiang Mai
leading to a short war between Burma and Ayutthaya.
The Siamese ultimately retreat after destroying Lamphun, then in
Burmese territory. The Lannatai Kingdom of Chiang Mai
elects to ally itself with Burma and will be on the side of
the Burmese more often than the side of Siam for most of the time
in the next decades and centuries.
King Prajai returns to Ayutthaya and dies there. The King
is said to have been poisoned by his wife, Tao Sri
Sudachan. King Prajai is first succeeded by his 11-year old
son Kaeofa. While Prince Tienraja acts as the Regent in behalf of
King Kaeofa, the dowager queen Tao Sri Sudachan wields
considerable influence and is able to widen her power base. After
she succeeds in pushing Prince Tienraja to become a monk, she
rules pretty unchallenged. In her private life she chooses a minor
palace official as her lover.
The 13-year old King Kaeofa, who is actually pretty
powerless, plots to do away with the lover of his mother. However,
his mother's lover discovers the plot and does away with the young
king. In consequence, King Kaeofa's younger brother, the 7-year
old Prince Srisin ascends the throne. The lover of his mother who
meanwhile was elevated to the minor noble rank of Khun, becomes
Regent in behalf of the young child king - in spite of the fact
that he murdered the preceding king. It takes just a few weeks,
and the dowager queen Tao Sri Sudachan and her lover,
Khun Waraniongsu, dispose Tao Sri Sudachan's son from the
11 - Khun Waraniongsu proclaims himself King of
Dec - Khun Waraniongsu, his wife Tao Sri
Sudachan and their newly born daughter are killed in a palace
revolt led by a certain Khun Pirentoratep. The palace
conflicts of that time find their continuation even in modern Thai
politics, marred by probably more coup d'etats than the modern
history of any other country. Khun Pirentoratep could be
seen as the first of a line of exceptionally skillful coup
plotters of which Thailand will have a considerable number as late
as the second half of the 20th century.
19 - Khun Pirentoratep and his followers install the
former regent in behalf of the underage King Kaeofa, Prince
Tienraja, the brother of King Prajai, to the throne of
Ayutthaya. Tienraja takes under the royal name Chakrapat.
For himself, Khun Pirentoratep gets the position of
Governor of Phitsanulok, traditionally the second most powerful
position in Siam as the Governor of Phitsanulok basically controls
the northern part of the realm. Not enough with this, Prince
Tienraja bestows on Khun Pirentoratep (who made him
King Chakrapat) the old and prestigious title Prince
Maha Tammaraja and gives him his daughter, Princess
Wisutkasatri as wife. Beyond any doubt, king maker Khun
Pirentoratep (Prince Maha Tammaraja) is the second most
powerful man in the realm.
Aug - A 4-month war breaks out with the Burmese,
who invade the territory of Siam and besiege Ayutthaya. It
is the first of several Burmese invasions and Thai-Burmese
wars, stretching over about 50 years. It is believed that the
first Burmese invasion was triggered by the palace
conflicts in Ayutthaya as the Burmese might have thought that
Siam, weakened by dynastic conflicts, would be easy prey.
Unfortunately for Siam, the period of dynastic conflicts in
Ayutthaya coincides with a period in which the neighboring
Burma is ruled by a sequence of very able warrior
kings. First it is the Burmese King Tabengshweti who
rules from 1531 to 1550 and achieves the unification of a
territory that roughly resembles present-day Burma by subduing a
number of Burmese, Mon (in the south) and Shan
principalities (in the north). After King Tabengshweti is
poisoned in 1550, he is succeeded by his general and
brother-in-law who becomes King Bhueng Noreng (also
recorded under the name King Hanthawadi) and is no less
warrior than Tabengshweti.
Because of the previous Burmese invasion, King Chakrapat
orders the fortification of Ayutthaya by constructing high
walls enclosing the capital.
Rebellion in Siam is induced by Prince Srisin, the
youngest son of King Prajai who had been deposed by his mother
Tao Sri Sudachan and passed over when Prince
Tienraja was made King Chakrapat by Khun
Pirentoratep (Prince Maha Tammaraja) and his cohorts.
After the palace revolt of 1548 brought about by his natural
mother, Prince Srisin was adopted by King Chakrapat. Having been
accused of plotting against the King's life already three
years earlier (1558) at age 16, he was kept under strict
surveillance. At the age of 19, when about to be ordained
as a Buddhist monk (1561), he makes his escape, groups his
followers and attacks the palace. He is killed in the same
incident by the men of Prince Mahin, the natural son of
In the second Burmese invasion, the King of Burma, Bhueng
Noreng, with an army supported by the forces of several vassal
states reaching as far east as the principality of Laos
marches into Siamese territory. Historical sources put the
strength of the Burmese army at up to 200,000 soldiers. At
first, the towns of Sawankalok and Pijai are seized
and many hostages are taken.
Feb - As the Thais miscalculate the Burmese strategy,
the Burmese army makes a surprise attack on Ayutthaya. For
lack of preparation on the part of the Siamese, King
Chakrapat is pressed to agree to onerous peace terms dictated
by Bhueng Noreng.
Dec - The Burmese occupy Chiang Mai.
In an effort to strengthen Siam, King Chakrapat intends to marry
his younger daughter, Princess Tepkasatri, to King Jaijetta of
Laos. King maker Khun Pirentoratep (Prince Maha
Tammaraja) and his wife Princess Wisutkasatri who is the elder
sister of Princess Tepkasatri disapprove of the impending marriage
and kidnap Princess Tepkasatri with Burmese help when she is about
to be delivered to King Jaijetta of Laos. King Chakrapat thereupon
loses the pleasure in being king and appoints his son, Prince
Mahin, as the Regent of Ayutthaya in preparation to retire to
private life. However, this is oil on the fire smouldering on the
side of Khun Pirentoratep (Prince Maha Tammaraja)
who not only is angry over not being consulted in family affairs
but also feels he has been passed over in the succession to the
throne. The result is that a split occurs in Siam in which each
side is willing to bring in outside forces to subdue the other;
King Chakrapat and his son Prince Mahin entertain a close
relationship with the King of Laos while Khun Pirentoratep
(Prince Maha Tammaraja) has a friendly relationship with
the Burmese King Bhueng Noreng.
Due to the obvious unpreparedness of Prince Mahin to
perform the kingly functions, King Chakrapat returns to his
Dec - Burmese King Bhueng Noreng invades Siam with an
army which is recorded to have been even bigger than the previous
one of up to 200,000 troops. Bhueng Noreng this time
doesn't choose classical Burmese entry point to Siam, the Three
Pagodas Pass, but moves in from the north. The Siamese
Governor of Phitsanulok, Khun Pirentoratep (Prince Maha
Tammaraja), joins his army with the Burmese force, thereby
putting Thai soldiers against Thai soldiers. The combined army
marches towards Ayutthaya.
Jan - At the most untimely moment, just when the combined
armies of Bhueng Noreng and Khun Pirentoratep
(Prince Maha Tammaraja) march towards Ayutthaya, King
Chakrapat dies and Prince Mahin succeeds on the Siamese
Throne. There are no historic indications that King Chakrapat was
murdered, even though an according assassination would have fit
very well into the strategy of the Burmese King Bhueng
Noreng and more so of Khun Pirentoratep (Prince Maha
30 - After a siege of 7 months, Ayutthaya falls for the first
time. But the victory of Bhueng Noreng and Khun
Pirentoratep (Prince Maha Tammaraja) is not credited to
brute force but treason, to a trap, probably devised by Prince
Maha Tammaraja. Bhueng Noreng and Prince Maha
Tammaraja achieved to smuggle into the besieged city the
traitor Pijai Chakri. Pijai Chakri had been taken hostage
by the Burmese in 1563 and since been completely
brainwashed. He made his entry to Ayutthaya by appearing
before the city's gate, dressed up as prisoner and claiming
to have escaped from the Burmese in order to help defend
Ayutthaya. He succeeds in winning King Mahin's trust and is
put in charge of vital defence installations. But instead of doing
his best to help in the defence of Ayutthaya, he gives out
information to the Burmese and deliberately weakens
Ayutthaya's defence at points through which the forces of
Bhueng Noreng and Prince Maha Tammaraja finally gain
1569, Dec -
21 years after having led a palace revolt, after having installed
one king and having disposed of two, Prince Maha Tammaraja
himself ascends the throne of Ayutthaya and assumes the title
Phra Srisanpet. Bhueng Noreng who feels that his
mission is accomplished returns to Burma, taking with him King
Mahin and a substantial part of the population of Ayutthaya as
well as a big booty but refrains from finishing off the
Kingdom of Siam as he probably feels quite secure having installed
his ally Prince Maha Tammaraja (now Phra Srisanpet)
on the Siamese throne. However, Bhueng Noreng obviously
underestimated Maha Tammaraja who immediately starts to
rebuild the kingdom - with the obvious aim to make it an
independent power again. He appoints his son Prince
Naresuan who had grown up in Burmese custody after the
second Burmese invasion of 1563 and as Prince and Governor of
Phitsanulok, the position occupied by Maha Tammaraja
himself for more than 20 years. Both, king and prince, immediately
begin re-arming Siam as well as building new fortifications for
Ayutthaya and towns in the north.
The former Siamese ruler, King Mahin, dies as prisoner on the way
1575-1578 - Cambodia makes a series of
attacks on Ayutthaya, but none succeeds because of the strength of
the newly organized forces of the Siamese.
King Bhueng Noreng of Burma is peacefully succeeded by his
son Nanda Bhueng who isn't a military genius like his
3 - 15 years after the fall of Ayutthaya, Prince
Naresuan openly denounces, with the consent of his father King
Maha Tammaraja, Siam's allegiance to Burma.
Dec - A Burmese army composed of about 300,000 men
attacks Siam but fails. In his defence of Siamese territory,
Prince Naresuan applies a strategy of scorched earth,
retreating but leaving Siamese towns and outposts burned down to
avoid that the Burmese can use them.
Prince Naresuan attacks Chiang Mai, then under Burmese
rule, and regains the kingdom as vassal of Siam.
Nov - Nanda Bhueng forms an army of 250,000 men,
preparing a new attack on Ayutthaya.
Jan - The Burmese army attacks Siam but the resistance
from the latter is so strong that heavy losses inflicted on the
Burmese ultimately force them to retreat.
Cambodia invades Siamese territory, again trying to take
advantage of a Burmese-Siamese war. Due to lack of supplies
on the side of the Siamese, conquest could have been possible for
the Cambodians but the strategies of Prince Naresuan save
Jul - King Maha Tammaraja dies and Prince Naresuan is
crowned King of Ayutthaya.
Nov - A Burmese army of about 200,000 men attacks
Ayutthaya but is repelled.
Dec - With the attack of a 250,000 men army, Burma
makes its final effort to re-conquer Ayutthaya. During a skirmish,
Burmese Crown Prince Min Chit Sra is killed. Thereafter, Burmese
forces retreat. Thai troops refrain from chasing the
Burmese as another Burmese army in the north of the kingdom is at
the point of attacking Chiang Mai. However, the attack on
Chiang Mai is recalled when the Burmese King is informed of the
death of his son.
The turn has come for the Siamese to try their luck in foreign
conquest. At first, two Siamese armies attack southern
Burmese territories. The two armies are under the leadership
of Generals Chao Phaya Chakri and Phaya Praklong.
The former invades and occupies Tenasserim after 15 days
while the latter conquers Tavoy after 20 days (both now
southern Burmese cities). Because of their achievements, the
danger for Ayutthaya of being conquered by Burma becomes nil.
May - King Naresuan sends a 100,000-men expedition to
Cambodia. Knowing the strength of the invaders, many Cambodian
provinces surrender without resistance. The King of Cambodia and
his two sons flee. Cambodia is placed under a Siamese military
Because of King Nanda Bhueng's mental instability, Burma's
peace and order condition worsens. Many Burmese seek refuge in
Dec - Ayutthaya invades Burma again. with the intention of
reducing her to a state of irrelevance. The invasion is no
particular success as some of Siam's allies fail to deliver
Trade between Spain and Ayutthaya begins when a
Spanish envoy comes to Ayutthaya to conclude the Treaty of
Amity and Commerce between the two nations.
May - King Naresuan invades the Burmese principality of
Taungu. As the invasion is made when the Siamese forces are
under unfavorable conditions due to sickness and
starvation suffered in lower Burma, Taungu is able to repel
16 - King Naresuan dies at Muang Hang, a Siamese
territory, during a military campaign, leaving behind neither wife
nor children. His brother Prince Ekatotsarot ascends the
King Ekatotsarot imposes the first money tax levied in
Ayutthaya. For this, he gains the reputation of being a covetous
man. Dutch merchants begin visiting Ayutthaya.
Siam (Ayutthaya) sends ambassadors to the Netherlands to
establish friendly relations.
The first Portuguese Jesuit missionary, Baltazar de
Seguerra, arrives in Ayutthaya.
King Ekatotsarot's reign ends and Prince Intharaja succeeds under
the royal title of King Songtam.
The first English trade factory is established in
Ayutthaya. At about the same time, the Dutch establish
their first trade outpost in Siam.
23 - The first English ship, Globe, arrives in Pattani
harbor in the extreme south of the Thai territory on the Malayan
peninsula, activating trade in Siam.
War breaks out between the Netherlands and England
and hostilities among the citizens of the two countries are
carried on even in Siam.
17 - 800 Dutchmen attack two British ships in Pattani
Peace is restored between the Dutch and the English
1628-1630 - Questions on the succession to the
Siamese throne are resolved in what one may consider typical
Siamese manner. First, King Songtam, when seriously ill
and upon feeling that death is approaching at the age of 38, makes
preparations to secure that his eldest son, Prince Jetta,
will be his successor. Prince Jetta is at that time a boy of just
14. After the death of his father, Prince Jetta is indeed
installed as king by a group of high palace officials around a
certain Phaya Sriworawong. Immediately thereafter, a large
group of other palace officials who were thought to have favored
the late king's brother, Prince Srisin, as new king, are
summarily beheaded. Again, the one who "made" the new king,
Phaya Sriworawong, is promoted, receiving the new title of
Chao Phaya Kalahom. As King Jetta is still a boy, actual
power rests with king maker Chao Phaya Kalahom. The next
step Chao Phaya Kalahom takes in order to clear the way for
himself to seize the throne openly, is to set up a trap for
Prince Srisin who later could otherwise turn out to be a
contender. However, Prince Srisin at that time is a Buddhist monk,
and it is customary not to murder monks. Therefore, Chao Phaya
Kalahom plots with the commander of the Japanese palace
guard (brought in by King Songtam) to lure Prince Srisin into
discarding the saffron robe by promising him that he will
be installed as the new king. But as soon as Prince Srisin has
taken off the robe, information is given to the young King Jetta
that his uncle has left the monastery to rebel against him.
Prince Srisin is tried and sentenced to death. First being
pardoned, then involved in another rebellion, Prince Srisin is
executed a few month later in what is described as "royal
manner" - tying him in a velvet sack and beating him to death
with a sandalwood club. King Jetta, disturbed by the dominance of
Chao Phaya Kalahom makes some preparations to get rid of
his chief minister but the latter is informed and acts faster than
the young king. Chao Phaya Kalahom and his cohorts storm
the king's palace and kill the young monarch. Having strong
backing at the court, Chao Phaya Kalahom is offered to
succeed King Jetta. But as the late king's younger brother,
Prince Atityawong, a boy of ten, is still around and could
later be regarded as King Jetta's rightful successor, Chao
Phaya Kalahom declines. On Chao Phaya Kalahom advice,
Atityawong is crowned King of Siam; Chao Phaya
Kalahom secures for himself the appointment as regent. Then,
while acting as the young king's regent, Chao Phaya Kalahom
undertakes to discredit King Atityawong for childish, un-kingly
behavior - until the assembly of ministers decides to depose him.
(He will be murdered only 7 years later.) Chao Phaya
Kalahom believes the time has come for him to ascend the
throne himself. He assumes the title King Prasattong and
will rule for 25 years, until 1655.
Apr - Chiang Mai, after having declared independence,
is again seized by the Burmese.
1631-1632 - Several Dutchvessels arrive in
Ayutthaya to help the King in his fight against the
Portuguese and Cambodians.
Ayutthaya forces attack Pattani for its refusal to send
tribute. The Siamese army is repelled by Pattani's
Siam again attacks Pattani but fails due to mismanagement.
Ayutthaya makes extensive preparations to subdue Pattani. The
Dutch interfere, advising Pattani to ask for forgiveness
from King Prasattong for her rebellious acts. The ruler of
Pattani follows the Dutch advice and Siamese authority over
Pattani is re-established.
1655-1656 - Again, transition of poweris a
bloody affair. King Prasattong dies in 1655 and is
first succeeded by his elder son, Prince or King Chao Fa
Yai. However, the new king's uncle, Prince
Srisutammaraja, and his own brother, Prince Narai,
conspire against King Chao Fa Yai, kidnap him and put him to
death in the royal manner (see entry on 1628-1630). Prince
Srisutammaraja is next to be crowned king, with Prince
Narai becoming his deputy. Just a few months later, Prince
Narai who has earlier not shown any scruples about participating
in the murder of his elder brother, starts a palace revolt
that lasts for several days and ends with King
Srisutammaraja being done away with in the royal manner.
History records the reason for Prince Narai's rebellion were the
alleged advances his uncle, the king, made towards
Narai's younger sister. Be that as it may, King Narai
ascended the throne of Siam and reigned for 32 years, until 1688.
During his reign, Siam opens all it's doors to trade with European
powers, bringing about a considerable modernization of the
King Narai conquers Chiang Mai.
The Burmese retake Chiang Mai.
10 - After the Dutch apply some gun boat diplomacy,
blockading the mouth of the Chao Phaya River, a treaty between the
Dutch and Ayutthaya is signed granting the Dutch the
monopoly of trade in hides in Siam.
Roman Catholic missionaries arrive in Siam. While King
Narai is not very interested in their religion, he uses the
abilities of a number of French missionaries in European
style constructions, especially fortifications. The Siamese king
is exceptionally interested in developing relations with other
European nations in order to avail of a counter force
against the Dutch.
Islamic missionaries arrive in Siam.
The Phoenix, the English ship of Captain George White,
arrives in Ayutthaya. It brings Constantine Phaulkon as one
of its trading staff. Phaulkon actually is Greek and his
original name is Gerakis which means Falcon in English. For
him, the arrival in Ayutthaya is the start of a remarkable though
not very long career. While not possessing any education worth
mentioning, he has an exceptional talent for languages and
becomes fluent in Thai in a matter of a few years. At the
time when he arrives in Siam, he is already knowledgeable and can
communicate in English, French, Portuguese and his native Greek.
Constantine Phaulkon enters the Thai government service as
interpreter. In the course of a few years he climbs from one Thai
nobility rank to the next, starting as Luang Wijayen and
becoming Phra Wijayen, Phaya Wijayen and finally Chao Phaya
Wijayen. Enjoying King Narai's trust he is put in charge of
the foreign trade of Siam, virtually becoming the kingdom's
Animosity develops between the English East India Company
and Phaulkon, mainly because Phaulkon encourages English traders
to transact business independently from the English East India
Company which would like to establish a monopoly on the
English Siam trade. Phaulkon himself conducts trade independently
from the company which has substantial backing in the English
government. Phaulkon and other private traders are defamed
as so-called interlopers. The dispute with the English East
India Company prompts Phaulkon to shift the emphasis of the
Siamese foreign policy to establishing trade and political
relations between with France.
25 - The first Siamese embassy to Europe leaves Ayutthaya to
offer the ceding of Singora (today's city of
Songkhla in southern Thailand) to France. But the
vessel on which the embassy travels never reaches Europe as it
sinks while on the way carrying everything and everybody on board
to the bottom of the sea.
Jan - A second Siamese embassy embarks for Europe.
Sep - A French embassy arrives in Ayutthaya. One of its
aims is to convert King Narai to Catholicism. The Siamese
king declines to become a Christian but is interested in
developing trade with France.
19 - In a convention between the French embassy and
King Narai, the French receive religious and commercial
concessions. The French East India Company is given complete
liberty of commerce, with extra-territorial
jurisdiction given over their staff. The French are also
granted a monopoly on the tin trade on
Phuket. Singora (present-day Songkhla) is ceded to
the French with full power to fortify it.
22 - A third embassy to France leaves Ayutthaya. It carries a
request of King Narai for French experts in various
fields, including architecture and defence. It is a
matter of historical dispute to what extent Siam wanted French
soldiers to man some of its garrisons. As King Narai is interested
in developing the relations to France in order to have a
counter force against the Dutch, an according request would
have made sense.
- Armed conflict develops between Siam and the
English East India Company. The English East India Company
doesn't recognize English traders in Thai service and sailing
under the Thai flag as it views according activities only
as the utilization of loopholes to get by the trade
monopoly of the English East India Company. Feeling that
verbal protest alone isn't effective the English East India
Company sinks a ship of Captain White who has, on
recommendation of Constantine Phaulkon, joined the Thai
government service and sails under the Thai flag. The English East
India also dispatches two frigates from its possession at
the Indian Coromandel Coast to take the port town of Mergui
(located on the southern Burmese coast and then a Thai possession)
and to put a stop to any trade activities of Englishmen who are
not part of the English East India Company. Such free traders are
to be captured and court martialed on board of English
vessels on sea, the orders say.
28 - The English East India Company forwards a claim
against Siam in the amount of 65,000 ｣ for damage suffered during
the conflict between ships under Thai flag and Golconda,
the possessions of the company along the Indian Coromandel
Coast. Because of this the King of Ayutthaya orders all
Englishmen connected to the company to leave the territory at
4 - Siamese defence troops open fire on the English vessel
James, one of the two frigates of the English East
India Company trying to capture the port of Mergui and succeed in
sinking the ship.
11 - King Narai, upon advice of Phaulkon, issues a
declaration of war against the English East India Company,
though not the English government.
Because of Phaulkon's service and allegiance to France, he
is granted by King Louis a patent of nobility. He becomes a
Count and a Knight of the order of St. Michael and
27 - An embassy from France lands in Ayutthaya bringing with
it roughly 600 French soldiers and about 300 skilled
1 - Siam enters into another treaty with France giving
more privileges to the French East India Company.
Jan - The French soldiers become increasingly unpopular
with the Thais due to their display of racist and
insolent attitudes. Anti-foreign organizations are born and
the religious prejudices of the people are likewise aroused. It
should be noted that the term used by Thais until today for
western foreigners is farang, an abbreviation of the
original farangse - the Thai word for the French (Francais
in French). The term farang had a negative connotation
until after World War II.
Mar - In Lopburi, King Narai becomes seriously
ill; one of his generals, Phra Petraja, becomes the
most powerful man in the realm, acting in the following weeks from
Lopburi where he virtually keeps the ailing king a
prisoner. Clearly following two objectives, to put himself
on the throne and to expel the foreigners, he lures into a trap
King Narai's adopted minor son, Phra Piya, and has him
5- Phaulkon is executed for treason, allegedly having
conspired to put Phra Piya on the throne and having aimed
at the regency. In the following days, Phra Petraja lures
to Lopburi two brothers of King Narai, Prince Chao Fa
Apaitot and Prince Chao Fa Noi, having them both killed
two days after their arrival. To expel the French, Phra
Petraja orders a siege on the French fortification
at Bangkok, then only a minor settlement aside from having
a French fort. Note: all of this still happens during the
lifetime of King Narai.
11 - King Narai dies, leaving behind no close relatives.
Phra Petraja crowns himself King of Ayutthaya.
30 - All French troops leave Siam after negotiations
with the new Siamese king. Phra Petraja takes European
missionaries as hostages, pending the safe return of a
Siamese embassy still in Europe.
Dec - The Siamese embassy to Europe returns. In response,
King Phra Petraja releases all his European hostages and
restores religious freedom but implements a policy of
eliminating foreign political influence in the kingdom.
Jun - A rebellion breaks out in Nakhon Nayok, a
territory of Ayutthaya. The rebellion is headed by Tam
Tien, an impostor claiming to be a prince. The
rebellion is quelled when Tam Tien is captured and later
executed. However, the territory becomes largely unpopulated
because the people flee for fear of being implicated and
Dec - Khorat and Nakhon rise in rebellion but
are quickly brought back under the central rule of Ayutthaya.
Siam's sovereignty over Cambodia is acknowledged by
Cambodia when its King Sadit sends a white elephant to King
Oct - A French envoy is sent to Ayutthaya with the
offer of a new treaty, but the offer is declined by King
Phra Petraja. France gives up her political interest in
Another rebellion breaks out in Khorat, headed by Bun
Kuan, a fanatic that had won the favor of the local governor
who provides some 4,000 men to support the rebellion.
Khorat surrenders after a short while; a large number of
participants in the rebellion are executed.
King Phra Petraja interferes with the affairs of the united
Laotian principality of Luang Prabang and Wieng Chan
(present-day Vientiane), dividing the country again into two
separate principalities under Siamese overrule.
King Phra Petraja falls ill and experiences himself the
sorrow he caused the sick King Narai. Luang Sorasak,
his son from a marriage before he became king, lures into a trap
the 14-year old Prince Chao Phra Kwan, one of the later
sons of Phra Petraja who had married after his ascend to the
throne King Narai's sister as well as King Narai's
daughter. Needless to say, that the trap served to kill Prince
Chao Phra Kwan. Enraged, Phra Petraja proclaims a distant nephew,
Chao Phra Pijaisurindr, as his heir. But upon the king's
death, Prince Chao Phra Pijaisurindr hurries to offer the
throne to Luang Sorasak. The second youngest son of King
Phra Petraja, Prince Tras Noi, escapes certain death by
becoming a monk. Luasang Sorasak crowns himself king and assumes
the official name Sanpet VIII. However, to the Thai people
he becomes Phrachao Sua, meaning King Tiger, because of his
King Phrachao Sua dies and for a change, accession to the
throne by his son, King Taisra, is not marred by any
killing of rivals.
Sri Timmaraja succeeds to the Cambodian throne by
ousting the ruling King Keong Fa with the help of a
Cochin Chinese army (Cochin China is the old designation
for an area which is now the southernmost part of Vietnam). When
himself dethroned, King Sri Timmaraja flees to Ayutthaya
for support. This incident gives rise to an armed conflict between
Siam and Cambodia, with Siam re-establishing its
sovereignty over Cambodia.
Jan - King Taisra dies and his brother succeeds him on
the throne under the title King Boromakot. Hardly
surprising, he first had to defeat two of King Taisra's
sons who also contended for the throne. This time it happened
in a short civil war within the city of Ayutthaya. A third
son of King Taisra escapes into the saffron rob.
Some 300 Chinese settlers attack the palace of Ayutthaya.
They are pacified and thereafter executed.
A Ceylonese embassy is sent to Ayutthaya with the objective to
borrow some Siamese Buddhist priests in order to
purify and reform Buddhism in Ceylon.
May - Prince Utumpon succeeds King Boromakot on the
throne. He is only the second born royal son of Boromakot.
However, his older brother, Prince Ekatat, was considered
as lacking intelligence by their father and therefore
ordered to become a monk. During his first weeks on the throne,
King Utumpon has three half-brothers arrested and
executed. However, when his elder brother, Prince Ekatat,
shows ambitions to become king, he refrains from drastic action
and chooses monkshood instead.
Aug - King Utumpon abdicates the throne and retires at
Wat Pradu. He is succeeded by Prince Ekatat who assumes the
title Boromaraja V.
1758-1760 - It is Siam's bad luck that while
it is ruled by one of its weakest kings, a new powerful
dynasty rises in neighboring Burma. After Burma had
disintegrated in the preceding decades, a determined former
headman of the Burmese village Moksobo (later Shwebo)
becomes King Alaungsaya and achieves to reunite the Burmese
principalities under his rule after a breathtaking series
of battle victories.
King Alaungsaya invades Siamese territory and regains for
Burma the cities of Tavoy, Mergui and
Tenesserim (on today's south Burmese territory).
Apr - King Alaungsaya lays siege on Ayutthaya. Siamese
King Ekatat who senses that he is not up to the task of
leading the defense of the city invites his younger brother, the
former King Utumpon to rule temporarily in his behalf.
However, it is not Utumpon's leadership but an accident on
the side of the Burmese that saves Ayutthaya for the time being.
When the Burmese King Alaungsaya is badly wounded after
handling himself a cannon in the bombardment of Ayutthaya,
the Burmese call off their siege and retreat to Burma. King
Alaungsaya dies on the way.
May - Alaungsaya's son Manglok succeeds the throne of
With the Burmese danger contained, Utumpon retires again
and returns to his monastery, leaving the fate of Siam in the
hands of his older brother, King Ekatat.
Nov - The Burmese King Manglok dies and his brother,
Mongra, succeeds on the throne.
The Burmese invade Chiang Mai and the principality of
Luang Prabang (now part of Laos) is captured.
A rebellion against the Burmese breaks out in Chiang
Mai but is subdued after a while.
Jun - The Burmese begin a new campaign against Siam,
with one army moving south from Chiang Mai and
another heading east from Burma. The destination is
Oct - The Burmese army occupies much of the southern,
western and northern territories of Siam.
Dec - The Burmese army attacks Thonburi (Bangkok).
Captain Ponney, an Englishman who supports the Siamese,
inflicts heavy losses on the Burmese army. However, because
King Ekatat envies Ponney's popularity, the captain
is not given much support by the King which leads to the Burmese
conquest of many territories south of Ayutthaya.
Feb - The Burmese begin their siege of Ayutthaya. King
Ekatat again offers his brother Utumpon to lead the defence
of the city but this time Utumpon declines. Several months
later, one of Ekatat's leading generals, Chao Phaya Taksin,
accompanied by 500 troops, is able to break through the
Burmese lines and flees from Ayutthaya. Taksin is the son
of a Chinese father and a Siamese mother. His
original name is Hai Hong. However, he was given the name
Taksin because he had been the governor of the Siamese
Tak province for a while.
7 - After 14 months of siege, Ayutthaya falls
and King Ekatat flees. The Burmese know no mercy with the
city and its inhabitants. Unlike 198 years before, they are
not contented with making Siam a vassal state; much rather
it is the Burmese King Mongra's objective to destroy
completely the Siamese capital. Ayutthaya is burned to the ground.
May - Believing that he as achieved his aim of annihilating
Ayutthaya, King Mongra retreats with his armies to Burma, just
leaving a minimal force behind. In the meantime, Chao
Phaya Taksin with his 500 Siamese troops remains in eastern
Siamese territories which have not been directly influenced by
the Burmese conquest and still have a functioning
Siamese administration. The governor of Chantaburi,
a province along the sea coast close to Cambodia befriends
Taksin's small army but upon seeing Taksin as a competitor for
power, he plans against Taksin's life. Being informed of this,
Taksin attacks and captures the governor. Thus Taksin
effectively becomes the ruler over the eastern
Oct - Siamese from other parts of the former kingdom join
Taksin. In the same month, Taksin attacks the Burmese
force at Ayutthaya, killing its general and liberating
the former capital from Burmese rule.
Dec - Taksin transfers his capital to Thonburi, where
he is crowned as new King of Siam. However, as he does not
have a large military force to hold the kingdom together and to
enforce central rule, Siam splits into 5 areas which are
for a while quite independent from each other. These are:
Central Siam under King Taksin (Bangkok,
Ratchaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Jaksi, Prachin, Chantaburi and Nakhon
2) Peninsular provinces up to Chumphon under
3) Eastern provinces including
Khorat under Prince Tep Pipit
and part of Nakhon Sawan under Governor Buang
Extreme northern part of Phitsanulok province under King
Kuan, the Priest King of Fang
May - King Taksin tries to subdue Phitsanulok
but fails. The governor is formally crowned as the King of
Phitsanulok. After a week he dies and his son who is supposed
to succeed him does not.
Jul - The Priest King of Fang puts Phitsanulok
under siege and becomes the ruler of all of northern Siam.
Because of his failure at Phitsanulok, King Taksin
focuses his attention on the Khorat district and invades
King Rama Tibodi of Cambodia flees to Thonburi to seek
refuge after being dethroned by his brother, who thereafter
assumes the title King Narai Raja.
Mar - King Taksin returns to Thonburi after a series of
successful invasion into the eastern provinces.
Nov - King Taksin moves north.
16 - King Taksin re-conquers Chiang Mai.
Feb - The Burmese, encouraged by their previous
conquest of the kingdom, try to subdue Siam again but fail.
History / Bangkok / Absolute Monarchy
20 - Chao Phaya Chakri is crowned under the royal title of
King Rama I, marking the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty
which still exists today. One of Rama I's first major decisions
concerned the layout of his capital. In short form, it is
often said that Rama I founded Bangkok as his capital while before
the capital has been Thonburi. However, in this abbreviated
form, history is summarized not very accurately. First of all,
Bangkok was not really founded by Rama I. It had been a settled
area for several hundred years already and it had even been
well-known to European merchants who commonly stopped over
at Bangkok on their way to Ayutthaya. Second, the sharp
demarcation between Thonburi and Bangkok is not justified.
While European merchants stuck to the name of Bangkok for their
place of stopover, the community left and right of the Chao
Phaya river was known to the Siamese as the town of Thonburi,
having been elevated from the village status of Bangkok. Thonburi
was chosen by King Taksin as his capital. And while it is
true that King Taksin had erected his palace and all major
buildings on the right bank of the Chao Phaya river, the city of
Thonburi encompassed settled areas on both banks. King
Taksin's rationale had been to have the river flowing
through the capital as he feared another Burmese attack and in
that case wanted to have an easy escape option. This option
was maintained by having the river flowing through not just
alongside the capital. His idea was that he could embark his
people and troops rather unnoticed and then make a get-away on the
Chao Phaya. His destination would have been his old stronghold of
Chantaburi on the east coast, close to what is now
Cambodia. On the other hand, when Chao Phaya Chakri became
King of Siam, the Burmese threat was by far not as eminent any
more; Siam was again a strong power, on equal footing with
the Burmese. Rama I didn't think in terms of easy escape routes
anymore, but in terms of strong defense. He had no
intention of vacating his capital, should the Burmese march on it
- he wanted to defend it by all means. For this purpose, however,
a river flowing through the capital was a disadvantage as
it could have served as an hard to secure entry point. Therefore,
he decided to neglect the western, larger side of what had been
Thonburi, instead concentrating everything important on the
eastern side. This included, of course, first of all his
own palace. To make space for his palace where it is still
located, a large settlement on the eastern side of Thonburi had to
be razed. The present palace area had largely been occupied
by Chinese inhabitants at the end of the 18th century. Chao
Phaya Chakri had the whole Chinese community transferred some
three kilometers downstream, to an area then known as
Sampheng. The Chinese even now live in that area, and
Sampheng Lane now is a famous Chinese shopping area (after
it had been a red-light district for many decades).
Work is by and large completed on the Grand Palace and the
Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The new capital, now more or
less just covering the area on the eastern side of the Chao Phaya
is inaugurated under the new name "Khrung Thep Maha Nakhon
Amorn Rattanakosindra Mahindrayutthaya Mahadilokpop Noparattana
Radchhani Burirom Udom Rachnivet Mahastan Amorn Pimarn Avatarn
Satit Sakatuttiya Vishnukarm Prasit." In English: "City of
Angels, Great City and Residence of the Emerald Buddha,
Impregnable City of God Indra, Grand Capital of the World, Endowed
with Nine Precious Gems, Abounding in Enormous Royal Palaces which
Resemble the Heavenly Abode where Reigns the Reincarnated God, a
City given by Indra and Built by Vishnukarm". For convenience, it
is the custom to abbreviate the name. And for their further
convenience, Western merchants continued to call the place just
Renewed attacks by the Burmese are repelled.
The Burmese attack the north of the Siamese Kingdom and are
Rama I invades Burmese provinces extending into the
Malay peninsula but fails to annex the area.
7 - King Rama I dies at the age of 72 and one of his sons (he
had 17 plus 25 daughters) succeeds under the royal title of
King Rama II. Succession rules in Siam differed from
those common in Europe. The King had a free hand to chose
his successor. The most likely successor to a king was not one of
his sons but one of his brothers. Usually, the successor
was appointed early in the reign of a king. He was given the title
Prince or King of the Front Palace (Maha Uparat),
and the way palaces had been built in Siam since Ayutthaya times,
he indeed occupied a palace that was in front of the one of the
reigning monarch. Aside from the Prince or King of the Front
Palace there usually also was a Prince or King of the
Rear Palace. He was designated the second in line to the
throne, should the Prince or King of the Front Palace die before
the reigning monarch. Normally, the Prince or King of the Rear
Palace was another brother of the reigning monarch. It was
at the discretion of the reigning monarch to appoint or not to
appoint kings or princes of the front or the rear palaces. Often,
reigning monarches appointed the occupants of the two side palaces
only once in their lifetimes. Did these occupants of the
side palaces die before the reigning monarch, the succession
question was often left open. Theoretically in such a case
the Council of Accession convened and chose one among them
to succeed a deceased king. The Council of Accession was typically
made up of several dozens of princes and high government
officials, usually but not necessarily princes; as Siamese
kings have often been industrious procreators, there has normally
never been a shortage of able family members to fill all important
government positions with family members (a situation that
still exists in the states of the Arabian Peninsula). While
succession questions were well ordered in theory, it wasn't
achieved before the Chakri Dynasty that succession matters were in
practice handled as prescribed by the rules. During the Ayutthaya
period, it had often been an ambitious palace official who
ascended the throne instead of a designated heir, especially when
the king to be was underage.
The Burmese invade areas in the Peninsula and for a while
hold Phuket but are easily expelled when some 20,000 Thai
men are sent to fight them.
Portugal sends an envoy, Carlos Manuel Silveira, to Siam
and a commercial agreement between the two nations is concluded.
Kedah (at present a state of Malaysia, bordering Thailand,
then ruled by the Burmese) is invaded by Siam and its Sultan flees
British trade with Siam is developed.
The 1st Anglo-Burmese war (1824-1826) breaks out over
disputes along the border between Burma and India,
then ruled by the British. The British approach Siam to become
their ally. Siam profits from the war as the conflict binds
the Burmese armies to the west, thereby not posing a threat
to the Siamese Kingdom to the east of Burma.
24 - An alliance pact between Siam and Great Britain is
concluded. Despite being an ally of Great Britain, Siam takes no
active participation during the war in Burma. However, Siam grants
Great Britain some of its occupied Burmese territories - the
provinces of Arakan, Martaban, Tavoy and
Tenesserim. The area is by and large identical with those
parts of present-day Burma that reach into the narrow Malay
peninsula. These are the first land concessions by Siam to
the European powers Great Britain and France. More substantial
concessions of Thai soil to the European colonial powers will
follow. In it's widest extend, the Siam of the early
Bangkok period encompassed all of the present Laos and
Cambodia, some parts of what is at present northeastern
Burma, even a tip of the present Chinese Yunnan
province and parts of what is today northern Malaysia. Siam had
it's longest border with the Annamese Kingdom (the present
Vietnam) to the east, a shorter border with China to the north, a
short, fairly horizontal border with Malaya in the south
and to the east a border with Burma, pretty much the same as it is
20 - King Rama II dies at 57, without having appointed a heir
to the throne (in spite of the fact that he had 38 male and 35
female children from 38 different mothers). With the consent of
the Accession Council (comprised mainly of members of the
royal family) Prince Jetta, the eldest son of Rama II but
begotten with a non-royal wife succeeds the throne - instead of
Prince Maha Mongkut, the eldest son of the King by a royal
mother who could have been considered the rightful successor to
the King. But due to Prince Maha Mongkut's exposure and prominent
participation in numerous public affairs, Prince Jetta wins the
support of the Accession Council so that no opposition comes up
during his proclamation as King Rama III. His posthumous
title is Phra Nangklao.
A treaty of friendship and commerce is concluded between
Siam and the British East India Company (against
which the Siamese King Narai had declared war more than 100 years
Siam concludes its first treaty of amity and commerce with the
The former Sultan of Kedah tries to regain control of his
territory. Siam invades Kedah again, affecting the nearby Malay
territories which had already been accepted as belonging to
Great Britain thus straining the relationship between Siam
and Great Britain.
2 - Upon the death of his half brother, King Rama III, Prince
Maha Mongkut is finally crowned King Rama IV, assuming the royal
title Phra Chomklao. After missing out on the throne in
1824, he had become a Buddhist monk for 27 years and lived
a highly disciplined live in northern Siam. He even founded the
monastic sect Thammayut which still exists and whose rules
are stricter than those of the larger Mahanikai sect. During his
monastic life, he studied Western science as well as
Western and Eastern languages. With this background he intends to
open Siam to the west. The opening brought about by Mongkut
probably saves the Thai kingdom from becoming a colony of
either Britain or France. By making concessions and by and
large granting the European powers what they think they
urgently need, he avoids his kingdom becoming a target for
European conquest. One of the main matters, Mongkut has to
grant the European powers are rights on free trade.
The 2nd Anglo-Burmese war breaks out. The rest of the
southern provinces of Burma (with Pegu being the most
important) are annexed to the British Empire. Siam still maintains
18 - By virtue of a treaty between Siam and Great Britain, a
consular jurisdiction is established in Siam; residences of
British subjects become restricted, extraterritorial areas;
import duties are lowered. This agreement follows a pattern
imposed by European powers through force on many east Asian
15 - Through Townsend Harris, the US begins negotiating
with Siam to amend their 1833 treaty (the amendments should be of
advantage for the US).
29 - The new Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Immigration is
concluded between the US and Siam. Stephen Mathon is
sent as the first US consul to Bangkok.
Construction of a more advanced infrastructure system begins; it
concentrates on roads (transportation so far had been
mainly on canals). Most significant is the construction of
Charoen Krung or New Road along the Chao Phaya River in
11 - Cambodia though in the preceding decades a vassal
of Siam becomes a French protectorate by virtue of a treaty
concluded between Cambodian King Norodom and France.
15 - Siam stops collecting taxes and tribute from Cambodia,
recognizes the country as a French protectorate and annuls
all earlier treaties between Siam and Cambodia. However, (for the
time being) the Cambodian provinces of Battambang and
Seemap bordering Thailand are excepted and recognized as
belonging to Siam.
1 - Upon the demise of King Rama IV, his eldest son,
Chulalongkorn (one out of 39 sons and 43 daughters from 39
wives) ascends the throne. Chulalongkorn (King Rama V) had been
given a sound education which included English lessons. These he
received from the English widow Anna Leonowens who wrote
two books on her experiences, An English Governess at the
Siamese Court and Romance of a Harem. Based on Anna
Leonowens' books, the fairly ridiculous film The King and I
was made - ridiculous because it views the 19th century with the
eyes of the 20th and lacks any historic understanding. (The film
was banned in Thailand). Like his father, Chulalongkorn not
only is a very able politician but also a ruler, modern for his
times. He abolishes the practice of prostration in royal
presence and issues a royal decree that every Siamese born during
his regime is a free man, thus eliminating slavery.
However, in order to prevent social upheaval in conservative
quarters, slavery is phased out only gradually.
The first school in Siam is established; it caters only to
the children of the royal families.
15 - King Rama V creates a Privy Council. It is
composed of 49 members (13 princes and 36 high officials).
8 - King Rama V reforms the administrative political
set-up by creating a Council of State composed of 12 members from
the Phaya rank (the highest rank of nobility outside the royal
Siamese resident ministers are appointed to serve in
Western countries and Japan with the aim of
projecting Siam as an independent country, worthy of being a
member of the family of nations.
1 - The administrative structure of Siam is changed to 12
ministries under twelve ministers directly responsible to the
King as the virtual prime minister.
The first state school for non-royal Siamese is opened in
The office of the Maha Uparat (Second King) is abolished.
The Second King has usually been a brother or son of
the King, chosen and appointed by the King at his discretion.
The Department of Education is created to manage schools in
Siam. This department is later elevated to a ministry.
French expansionist politics cause friction with Siam. France
withdraws its whole diplomatic mission from Bangkok.
13 - Because the French insist on the passage of 2 French
merchant vessels through the Mekong River, there is a military
skirmish between French and Siamese troops. (While the
lower part of the Mekong was anyway flowing through the
French-ruled regions of Vietnam and Cambodia, the
upper part was entirely located in Siamese territory, as
Laos at that time was an integral part of Siam.)
20 - The French blockade the Gulf of Siam with warships as
they are dissatisfied with the response to an ultimatum given the
Siamese foreign minister, Prince Dewawangse. The ultimatum
threatens to blockade the Thai coast if the French are denied
access to the Mekong River.
29 - In connection with the ultimatum, the French confront
Siam with a set of conditions; they concern substantial
land concessions as well as trading rights.
3 - Siam accepts the conditions and the blockade is lifted.
3 - Siam, in its desire to maintain its independence, agrees
to a new treaty with France that brings no advantages, just
losses, to Siam. In the treaty, Siam yields all its
territories on the left bank of the Mekong to France
(basically the territory of the present Laos), plus all the
islands in the river; Siam refrains from using the Mekong
for war vessels; on a width of 25 kilometers (16mi) at the right
side of the Mekong, Siam is not allowed to build or maintain any
military installations; Siam is not allowed to build or maintain
any military facilities in the provinces of Battambang and
Seemap (today Cambodian provinces along the Cambodian/Thai
border); the French reserve the right to open consulates in the
towns of Nan and Khorat on Siamese territory. There
are further paragraphs to the agreement, too many to list them all
here. All paragraphs have, however, one thing in common: they
favor France at the expense of Siam.
An Anglo-French agreement is signed promising to maintain the
sovereignty of Siam despite their policies of colonial
1897/1907 - In his desire for international
recognition of Siam as a state, King Chulalongkorn renews
and strengthens his ties to kings and emperors of the world by
two journeys to Europe and personal contacts with
leaders in Europe.
Paper money is introduced replacing the flat silver coin
exclusively used before.
Slavery is completely abolished. The first foreign
loan is obtained from London. It is intended to meet urgent
expenses in railway construction.
Siam cedes the provinces of Battambang and Seemap
(today Cambodian provinces along the Cambodian/Thai border) to
Courts of law are established in Siam.
Siam cedes to Britain its southernmost provinces Perlis, Kedah,
Kelantan and Trengganu which are basically Malay
inhabited (and today are part of Malaysia).
23 - After King Chulalongkorn's death, Prince
Vajiravudh (Jan 1, 1881 - Nov 25, 1925) succeeds him as ruler
of Siam under the title Rama VI. A gifted writer himself,
he substantially sponsors the arts. Among the most important
political achievements of his tenure are the reviews of
many one-sided treaties with western powers.
Nov - Coronation of Prince Vajiravudh as King Rama VI.
It is the first coronation in Siam attended by representatives of
Surnames are created for every Siamese family. Traditional
gambling houses and lotteries are abolished.
Aug - World War I breaks out and Siam's declaration of
neutrality is good only as far as state policy is
concerned. Being an alumnus of a British school and the holder of
an honorary rank of General in the British army, King Rama
VI is conclusively an anglophile. His personal alliance to
the British is manifested by his large donations to the British
war chest and his repeated vocal resentment of German
17 - Chulalongkorn University, the first university in
Siam, is established.
6 - The US declares war on the Central Powers. Simultaneously,
an appeal is issued to all neutral countries to join the
struggle to uphold the rights of freedom for small powers.
22 - Siam joins the allies and participates in Word War I. All
Germans and Belgians in Siam are arrested and jailed
in Bangkok. An expeditionary force of some 1,200 men is
sent to Europe, but as the training and acclimatizing period takes
long, the war ends (Nov 12, 1918) before they experience
combat. The Siamese willingness to participate in the war
nevertheless strengthens the bonds of friendship between
Siam, France and Great Britain.
Vietnamese communist organizer Ho Chi Minh begins
propaganda work among the Vietnamese expatriates in northeastern
17 - Siam adopts the metric system of weights and measures.
Rama VI dies at the age of 44. Having remained a bachelor
until the age of 38, his only son is born a day before his death.
After the death of King Rama VI, his younger brother Prince
Prajadhipok (Nov 8, 1893 - May 30, 1941) succeeds the
throne under the title Rama VII. As he is the 76th
child of King Chulalongkorn and only the fifth son of the one
of Chulalongkorn's wife the King had elected Queen, he was only
fourth in line of succession after King Rama VI. As he
ascends the Siamese throne only because his elder brothers
had, unexpectedly, all died early, he was not well prepared
for the task, from his up-bringing as well as
personally. Furthermore, he was not in the best of health
(and only reaches the age of 48).
30 - The Privy Council meets for the first time after its
creation in 1877 and elects Prince Bidyalangkorn as its
The Siam division of the Communist Party of China is
organized. It is dedicated to furthering the ambitions of the
Chinese communists rather than to a Thai revolution.
History / Bangkok / Constitutional Monarchy
24 - The secret People's Party, composed of Siamese
educated in Europe, some of them in high positions in the
royal government or the military, topples the absolute monarchy
while King Prajadhipok is at his summer residence in Hua
Hin. Some 40 princes, high government officials and senior
military officers are arrested and held hostage at the
Ananlasanakan Hall in Bangkok. The group send the following
telegram to King Prajadhipok:
People's Party consisting of civil and military officials have
now taken over the administration of the country and have taken
members of the Royal Family such as H.R.H. Prince Nakhon Sawan
as hostages. If members of the People's Party have received any
injuries, the Princes held in pawn will suffer in consequence.
The People's Party have no desire to make a seizure of the Royal
possessions in any way. Their principal aim is to have a
constitutional monarchy. We therefore invite Your Majesty to
return to the Capital to reign again as king under the
constitutional monarchy as established by the People's Party. If
your Majesty refuses to accept the offer or refrains from
replying within one hour after the receipt of this message, the
People's Party will proclaim the constitutional monarchical
government by appointing another Prince whom they consider to be
efficient to act as King."King Prajadhipok
replied with the following telegram:
received the letter in which you invite me to return to Bangkok
as a constitutional monarch. For the sake of peace; and in order
to save useless bloodshed; to avoid confusion and loss to the
country; and, more, because I have already considered making
this change myself, I am willing to cooperate in the
establishment of a constitution under which I am willing to
serve. Furthermore, there is a possibility that, if I decline to
continue in my office as king, the foreign powers will not
recognize the new government. This might entail considerable
difficulty for the government. Physically I am not strong. I
have no children to succeed me. My life expectancy is not long,
at least if I continue in this office. I have no desire for
position or for personal aggrandizement. My ability to advance
the progress of the race alone constrains me. Accept this
sincere expression of my feelings."Several of the members
of the People's Party who topple the absolute monarchy will
play a predominant role in Thai politics for the next 30
Participant Phibul Songkhran will be prime
minister for around 15 years, 1938 to 1944 and 1948 to
1957, sometimes with dictatorial powers, sometimes without;
sometimes reaching the position through a coup d'etat, sometimes
through an election.
Aphaiwong serves four short terms as prime minister at the
end of, and immediately after Word War II. The first two times he
will step down from office after just a few weeks because
of quarrels within the government or with the National Assembly;
the third time his terms lasts just a few weeks until the
next general election; the forth is interrupted after a few
weeks by a military coup d'etat.
The most colorful
figure of the initial group of revolutionaries is, however,
Pridi Panomyong. In the first few governments of the
People's Party, he is in charge of the economy. When he is
suspected to be a communist he has to go into exile for the first
time. He later takes part in a coup that installs Phibul
Songkhran. However, when the Phibul allies himself with the
Japanese during World War II, it's Pridi Panomyong
who organizes the underground resistance movement against the
Japanese and Phibul Songkhran. Pridi, after being a member
of the Council of Regents, ends up for a while as the
sole Regent of Thailand, in behalf of the minor King
Ananda Mahidol. He also serves a short term as prime minister
after World War II. When the military reinstalls Phibul
Songkhran as prime minister in 1948, he attempts to overthrow
him with the help of another military fraction but fails. Pridi
Panomyong dies 1983 at the age of 83 in exile in Paris, but
three years later his ashes are spread into the Gulf of Thailand
in a state ceremony.
25 - King Rama VII returns to Bangkok.
27 - All department heads, ministers and secretaries of the
monarchial system of government are retired. The Executive
Committee of the People's Party is assigned as provisional
government and a National Assembly is created. The
legislative National Assembly is composed of 70 appointed members.
10 - King Rama VII promulgates the constitution,
patterned after Western constitutions. It provides for a
Parliament of which half of the members are elected and the
other half appointed by Royal Command on recommendation of
the cabinet. The prime minister is to be appointed by the King on
recommendation of the National Assembly. Phaya Monapahorn
Nitithada (1884 - 1948) of the People's Party is appointed the
first prime minister. Royal Pardon is granted to the
participants of the revolution.
1 - Minister of Economy, People's Party member Pridi
Panomyong (1900 - 1983) presents a national economic policy
based on a socialist pattern with a touch of liberalism. He
is accused of being a communist.
1 - For alleged communistic leanings of the present
government, Prime Minister Phaya Monapahorn Nitithada
requests the King to grant him dictatorial powers and to
suspend the session of the Assembly and some of the provisions of
the newly implemented constitution. The King, again left with
little choice as actual power rests with the prime minister,
agrees. Adherence to Communism becomes punishable by 10 years
imprisonment. Dissatisfaction arises in some sectors of the
People's Party leading to the resignation of cabinet members
including former Minister of Economy, Pridi Panomyong, who
silently goes into exile.
20 - Disgruntled members of the People's Party topple the
government of Phaya Monapahorn Nitithada, whose turn it
becomes to go into exile (he chooses Penang were he lives until
his death). The National Assembly is reopened; Phaya
Bahol Polpayushasena (1888 - 1947) becomes prime minister.
11 - In protest of the new constitutional government, a revolt
headed by General Prince Bovoradej breaks out and fighting
occurs in Bongkhen, Laksi and Dammuang.
24 - The revolt ends with a victory of the government army,
led by Colonel Phibul Songkhran.
Nov - The first national election in Siam is held for
the 78 elective seats in the assembly. Bahol Polpayushasena
remains prime minister.
1934, Jan -
King Rama VII leaves for Europe as the sentiment of the public for
the royal family cools. Pridi Panomyong is allowed to
return to Bangkok after he is cleared of charges of being a
2 - King Rama VII abdicates, leaving no successor. The
National Assembly proclaims his nephew, Prince Ananda
Mahidol, a boy of 10, as legal heir to the throne. As the
proclaimed monarch (who is given the title of Rama VIII) is
underage and aside of that staying with his family in Switzerland
where he attends school, the National Assembly appoints a
Council of Regency to act on his behalf.
16 - Pridi Panomyong, aided by the army group of
Phibul Songkhran, a key military leader in the suppression
of the attempted coup d'etat of 1933, oust Prime Minister
Bahol from his post. Phibul Songkhran is appointed
prime minister by the Council of Regency. He concurrently takes
the post of Minister of Defense. Pridi Panomyong becomes
Minister of the Interior.
A drift toward military dictatorship begins. The prime
minister's assumption of complete power negates the idea of
constitutional and democratic government.
3 - World War II begins in Europe and Siam declares
neutrality. To be protected from outside aggression, Siam signs a
treaty with Japan making Siam an ally of the Japanese who
in exchange recognize her territorial integrity.
12 - Non-aggression pacts are also concluded by Siam with
Britain and France.
7 - Siam and Japan clash as Japan demands free passage
through Siam to attack the English territories and Thais resist.
8 - Japan starts the war in Asia and the Pacific by bombing
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Philippines and Singapore. While
Winston Churchill advises Siam to defend herself, Siam
allows free passage to Japanese troops. Japan promises to respect
Siam's independence and sovereignty.
21 - Japan and Siam sign an alliance pact which includes the
agreement that Tokyo will help Bangkok get back territories
lost to Britain decades earlier. Siam in return undertakes to
assist Japan in the war against the US and the United Kingdom.
25- British and American planes begin raiding Bangkok and Siam
declares war on the UK and the US.
Phibul Songkhran comes into complete control of the
government without any organized opposition. He concentrates on
foreign affairs and international politics, hoping to bring
power to Siam.
1 - Communist forces that have been operating in Siam since
1927 formally organize the Communist Party of Siam.
Pridi Panomyong organizes an underground resistance
movement against the Japanese in Siam, in cooperation with the
Free Thai Movement in the US, founded by the Siamese
Ambassador to Washington, Seni Pramoj who had earlier
refused to deliver Prime Minister Phibul Songkhran's
declaration of war against the US to the US government. This
action helps Siam gain the sympathy and support of the allies.
Jul - Phibul Songkhran's government is toppled by its
own National Assembly.
Aug - Khuang Aphaiwong (1902 - 1968), still a member of
the original group of the People's Party that staged the
revolution against the absolute monarchy, is appointed the new
prime minister. He returns to titles of nobility as well as
the old system of writing and drawing, all of which had been
abolished by Phibul Songkhran whose main intention, aside
from personal power, had been to turn Thailand into a more modern
country. All political prisoners are released.
15 - Word War II ends.
16 - With approval of the National Assembly, Siam's
declaration of war on the US and Great Britain is repudiated by
Pridi Panomyong, at that time the sole Regent of Siam in
behalf of King Ananda Mahidol who still studies in
1 - Prime Minister Khuang resigns from office and the
disobedient former ambassador to Washington, Seni Pramoj,
becomes new prime minister. Khuang organizes the Democratic
Party, the first political party in Siam composed of
conservative and monarchist groups.
1 - Siam signs a peace pact with Great Britain and
5 - Diplomatic relations with the US and Great Britain
are re-established and treaties concluded prior to the war are
Feb - After general elections, Khuang Aphaiwong again
becomes prime minister but as he doesn't want to accept a bill of
the National Assembly to cut public expenses, steps down
again after just a few weeks.
Apr - Pridi Panomyong becomes prime minister.
10 - A new constitution providing for two chambers in
the National Assembly is proclaimed.
9 - King Ananda Mahidol is found shot dead in his bed
at the Grand Palace. His brother Bhumiphol Adulyadej is
proclaimed King of Siam under the royal title King Rama IX.
Aug - Pridi Panomyong is relieved as prime minister and
Thawal Dhamrongnawaswasti takes over.
Dec - Siam is admitted as the 55th member of the United
8 - A military group including then Colonel Sarit
Thanarat (June 16, 1908 - Dec 8, 1963) stages a bloodless coup
d'etat. The conditions had been favorable as high increases
in the costs of living have caused widespread discontent.
9 - A new provisional constitution providing for a
bicameral system is proclaimed. Upon the invitation of the coup
leaders, Khuang Aphaiwong assumes for the third time the
office of prime minister. The group also reinstalls Phibul
Songkhran, who had ruled Siam for the most time since 1938, as
commander-in-chief of the army
29 - A general election is held which puts the
Democratic Party in the majority in the Assembly. In this
election, Prasert Rapsunthorn, the Communist Party of
Siam's first postwar secretary general is elected to Parliament.
Feb - Khuang, founder and leader of the victorious
Democratic Party, is re-elected by the new National
Assembly as the prime minister of Siam.
6 - Khuang Aphaiwong is forced by the army to resign
for failure to bring down the high costs of living. Phibul
Songkhran becomes prime minister again.
26 - Pridi Panomyong backed by supporters attempts a
coup which is poorly executed despite being well-planned.
29 - The coup, with numerous casualties, is crushed by
Phibul's army forces. Pridi Panomyong flees to
23 - A new permanent constitution is proclaimed as
replacement of the provisional constitution of 1947. Siam changes
its name to Thailand ("Phratet Thai" in Thai).
Thailand sends forces to Korea in response to the UN's
appeal for troops.
29 - In an effort to challenge the political power of the army
and to regain some influence in national affairs, a group of navy
officers kidnap Prime Minister and military strongman Marshall
Phibul Songkhran while he attends the ceremony to receive from
the US a dredger named Manhattan as part of their military
assistance to Thailand. While being held hostage aboard the ship
for several days, negotiation for organizing a new form of
government are conducted. This event, although finally crushed by
government-loyal soldiers, has negative effects on the position of
Phibul Songkhran. Power and influence pass, rather
silently, to General Sarit Thanarat and General Pao
(the two will later become rivals).
Cadres of the Communist Party of Thailand begin to
infiltrate the countryside. There are several groups of
communists in Thailand. The Communist Party of Thailand
seeks to overthrow the government and monarchy. The Communist
Party of Malaya on the border of Thailand and Malaya has
Malaya as its main interest but has included a part of
Thailand in its subversive activities. The third is a minor
communist group with Marxist/Leninist orientations,
operating in the cities as well as the countryside. Of the three,
the Communist Party of Thailand is the most serious threat.
29 - Generals Sarit Thanarat and Pao Sriyanonda
dissolve the National Assembly. The event is known as the
"radio coup" as it is just reported on the radio without
further elaboration. The new military strongmen seek to reinstate
the 1932 constitution and rule rather from the background,
keeping Marshall Phibul Songkhran as prime minister though
with considerably less influence.
The government appoints the "upper" half of the members of the new
unicameral Assembly; most appointees are from the rich
class. On the other hand, the Communist Party of
Thailand, realizing the lack of capable cadres, begins sending
students for Marxist-Leninist education to China and North
Vietnam. Communism becomes banned in Thailand.
Feb - General elections for members of the "lower" half of the
Assembly are held. Military backed candidates win by
1948-1953 - Years of prosperity in Thailand due to
high yields in rice.
1952-1955 - Corruption and political intrigues grow
and suppressive measures are adopted against suspected
Thailand becomes a founding member of the Southeast Asian Treaty
Organization (SEATO) along with the US, Great Britain,
France, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Pakistan. Its
headquarters is in Bangkok.
Feb - A general election is held but marred by massive
cheating as a result of the multiple party system, introduced
two years earlier.
May - King Bhumiphol shows dissatisfaction with Field Marshall
Phibul Songkhran by not attending the ceremonies to
celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of Buddhism. Foreign
educated Communist cadres return to change the image of Communism
in the countryside and front organizations are formed.
16 - The Military Party, led by army chief Sarit
Thanarat, seizes power and ousts Marshall Phibul
Songkhran and General Pao Sriyanonda. Phibul flees via
Cambodia to Japan where he dies in 1964 without
staging another comeback on the Thai political scene. Pao
flees to Switzerland where he remains until his death a few years
later. Pote Sarasin serves as caretaker prime minister.
Jan - After another general election, Thanom
Kittikachorn becomes prime minister of Thailand.
20 - Another coup d'etat by army chief Sarit Thanarat
takes place, allegedly because of the government failed to solve
28 - The Revolutionary Party of Sarit Thanarat
(at the previous coup, his party was named Military Party)
proclaims a new constitution and forms a National Assembly
which nominates Sarit Thanarat (June 16, 1908 - Dec 8,
1963) as prime minister.
The Sarit Thanarat government announces its First 6-Year
Plan. Subsequent governments will keep the habit of making
economic development plans in the form of such plans. In the same
year, the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) is organized
by Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Later it will be
enlarged and adopt the name Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN). The Communist Party of Thailand resolves to
launch a "people's war".
1961-1962 - Suspected Communists are arrested and
executed. The Communist Party adopts a Maoist strategic line.
8 - Sarit Thanarat dies of liver malfunction and
Thanom Kittikachorn is appointed prime minister by King
Conditions in Indochina look threatening to both the US and
Thailand. As the US moves in troops, Thailand's involvement
deepens as it becomes the staging ground for US operations
in Laos. At the same time, internal insurgency grows into
1 - The Communist Party of Thailand declares the
formation of the People's Liberation Army, its military
arm. Likewise two front organizations are put up namely the
Thai Independence Movement and the Thai Patriotic
5 - The first Communist Party of Thailand's armed
attack on Thai authorities takes place near Nakhon
Phanom in the northeast where a jeep load of police is
7 - A communist offensive begins at Phupon Range in
northeastern Thailand and spreads in all directions.
Thailand becomes directly involved in the wars in Indochina as it
begins sending combat units to South Vietnam
amounting to 14% of the Royal Thai Army's total strength.
Domestically the government launches a nationwide Communism
Prevention Program which forces hundreds of communist
terrorists to flee into the forests. Encounters between Thai
government forces and the troops of the Communist Party of
Malaysia begin in the southern provinces.
Nov - In the Daendin district of Sakhon Nakhon in
northeastern Thailand, the army holds a Communism Suppression
Campaignduring which tanks, aircraft and artillery fire
vaguely in the direction of communist bases. Later, the army turns
savagely on the inhabitants of Ban Bor Kae Noi district.
A radio broadcast from China called the Voice of the People of
Thailand begins airing to Thailand. At Mt Hin Lat Thap Fa in
Udon Thani province in northeastern Thailand, Suivit
Niemshi a.k.a. Sahai Yudh forms an impregnable camp as a
staging point for a planned communist advance to Bangkok. It is
called Base Asia; a communist government is established
Leaders of the ASEAN countries, including those of new
members like Singapore and Indonesia, sign the Bangkok
Declaration. Member countries bind themselves to help each
other to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural
development through joint endeavors in a spirit of equality
and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a
prosperous and peaceful community of southeast Asian nations.
Nov - The Red Meo War takes place in which tribe people
of the north fight against the central government for trying to
1968-1975 - Effects of the Vietnam War are
felt in Thailand in nearly every aspect of life. Construction of
hotels, bars and massage parlors picks up as there is a lot of
requests for such facilities from US military personnel
engaged in the Vietnam War and in Thailand for R & R
(rest and recreation).
20 - A new constitution is promulgated, creating a
bicameral parliament consisting of a Senate and a House of
26 - A 5-man group of communist guerillas under Sahai
Yudh enters the Royal Thai Air Force Base at Udon Thani and
destroys aircraft used against targets in Vietnam. One Thai
security guard is killed.
10 - A general election is held.
7 - Thanom Kittikachorn is elected by Parliament and
becomes prime minister of Thailand for the 3rd time.
The National Student Center of Thailand, an organization of
student activists, is formed while communists recruit village
Thai communists adopt a program to create combat villages
that will provide protection to "liberated" areas.
Oct - Students first show signs of becoming a politically
active group when they hold their first major demonstrations.
17 - Field Marshall Thanom Kittikachorn stages a
bloodless coup d'etat against his own government. He takes
complete dictatorial control of the kingdom, abrogates the
constitution, dissolves the parliament, disbands the
cabinet and proclaims martial law. Cited reasons are the
alleged non-effectivness of the constitution, non-cooperation of
political parties, and terrorism in the north. The
Revolutionary Party, controlled by Thanom, backs his
dictatorial government. A 5 member National Executive
Council is formed, chaired by Thanom. Among the other
members are former prime minister Pote Sarasin and Field
Marshall Prapass Charusathiara.
The communist insurgency swells in the northern provinces.
Communist guerillas go as far as using helicopters to
attack Thai military positions. Laotian guerrillas are
believed to take part in offensive actions of the Communist Party
of Thailand in Nan Province.
Nov - Throughout the month, the National Student Center of
Thailand (NSCT) conducts a campaign against Japanese goods.
The students demand that Tokyo makes concessions concerning
Thailand's trade deficit with Japan. Anti-Japanese feelings
in the Thai population raise to a level, not reached since the end
of World War II. The anti-Japanese campaign marks the beginning of
the students' recognition as a political force in Thailand.
Dec - The NSCT holds the first protracted rally,
directed against the junta's decision to consolidate its power by
placing the judiciary under direct government control.
1 - At 12:23, the auspicious time given by the royal
astrologer, Prince Vijiravudh, eldest son of King
Bhumiphol, is invested as Crown Prince.
15 - A new legislative Interim Assembly is instituted
and the prime minister is entrusted with forming a new cabinet.
- Student demonstrations widen.
14 - A student rally develops into a colossal protest which
leads to a confrontation of soldiers and students. As the
confrontation becomes violent more than 400 people die, several
thousands are wounded and 4 buildings are burned. The day is
later designated as Wan Maha Wippasok (The most tragic
day). King Bhumiphol persuades Prime Minister Field Marshall
Thanom Kittikachorn and his two closest associates, Deputy
Prime Minister Field Marshall Prapass Charusathiara and
Colonel Narong Kittikachorn (a son of Thanom), to leave the
country. The rector of Thammasat University, Sanya
Dhammasakdi, is appointed prime minister. For several days,
Bangkok remains in a state of chaos as police and military forces
keep off the streets to escape acts of revenge from roaming
bands, mainly composed of students.
10 - The King selects thousands of individuals from all
walks of life to represent the general population in electing
among themselves members for an Interim National Assembly.
1973-1974 - Prices of commodities go up and
social unrest, disorder and anti-government activities increase.
The government of Sanya Dhammasakdi is widely considered
The country becomes politicized along ideological lines.
Leftist and rightist forces oppose and confront each other on
political and non-political issues. The hotel and textile
industries are badly hit by strikes.
7 - The National Assembly begins deliberating a draft
of a new constitution.
Jun - In the leftist scene, links are established among
students, workers, and peasants. Students
provide protest facilities and act as mediators between workers
and peasants on the one hand and the government on the other hand.
Students are getting more sympathetic to the workers and
peasants. However, the student movement splits with
vocational students turning right and parting from the
NSCT to form their own separate group called the Red
Gaur. (The designation "red" in their name is misleading as
they are rather opposed to communist ideology.) This split
of the students' movement, for no clear reason, causes bomb
throwing and violence. In an amazing development of group
identities in the following months, academic students form
a considerable leftist block while vocational students form
an equally considerable rightist block.
3 - A bloody 3-day riot begins in Bangkok's Chinatown
when a Thai policeman issues a ticket for wrong parking to
an ethnic Chinese taxi driver. Because the taxi driver is
unwilling to obey police orders to move his vehicle, the police
want to take him to the precinct. The riot breaks out when the
taxi driver resists arrest and Chinese youth of the
vicinity try to come to his rescue. The riot leaves 30
killed and hundreds injured. As many of the rioting bands had
been youth, among them also some political motivated groups,
student activism in general loses much of its popular
15 - The draft constitution is approved by the National
Assembly with 280 to 6 votes.
Sept - Some 1,200 peasants from the northern and
eastern portion of Thailand join demonstrations in Bangkok,
supported by students, workers and even monks and novices. They
demand land allocations, financial aid and enactment of a
Land Rent Act. It is the biggest peasant demonstration in
7 - The tenth constitution takes effect.
Oct - Demonstrations of leftist students concentrate on tin
mining rights in the Gulf of Thailand because of foreign
participation; alleged corruption behind the deal is
Communist regimes come to power in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
5 - 22 Political parties vie for mandates in a national
parliamentary election. The Democratic Party wins 72 seats.
15 - Diplomat Seni Pramoj, leader of the Democratic
Party, is elected prime minister by a three party coalition.
21 - Peasants' Federation of Thailand leaders are
6 - After only 2 weeks in office, Seni Pramoj is forced
to step down as Parliament refuses to endorse his political
17 - Seni's younger brother, Kukrit Pramoj, forms a new
government in spite of the fact that his Social Action Party has
just 18 representatives in Parliament. Kukrit earns himself
the reputation of an extremely skilled politician.
17 - The Khmer Rouge move into Phnom Penh and
take over Cambodia.
30 - The Vietcong takes Saigon, thereby ending
the Vietnam War with a communist victory. The fall of the two
neighboring countries under communist rule encourages leftist
groups in Thailand to revive their 'anti-imperialist'
May - Thailand is one of the first non-communist countries to
give diplomatic recognition to the Khmer Rouge government.
1975, May -
For the second time, peasants from the northern and eastern parts
of Thailand rally in Bangkok demanding land distribution, a
comprehensive speedy land reform and suspension of all
charges against peasant leaders. The government stands
tough on these issues.
Jun - Thai Prime Minister Kukrit Pramoj begins visiting
countries considered to have unapproachable political
philosophies, such as China. He meets Mao Zedong and
Beijing agrees to have full diplomatic relations and exchange of
- Workers and student activists are hunted by rightist
squads, seeking retaliation.
Aug - Students and farmers stage a strike for the
failure of the police authorities to give justice to the murdered
leaders of the Farmer's Federation.
2 - In Laos, the communist Pathet Lao takes over the
government and declares the Laos People's Democratic
Various rightist organizations are formed to fight communism such
as the New Force Movement and the Village Scout
Rightist groups become more and more violent throughout the
year, time and again attacking left wing academic students'
demonstrations. Several leftist politicians and student leaders
are assassinated throughout the year. Foreign investment
declines due to government instability.
1 - Workers go on a major strike organized by the
Confederation of Labor Unions in Thailand. The reason for
the strike is an increase in prices of basic commodities. Because
of the wide range effects of the strike, the government is forced
to dictate lower prices.
12 - Prime Minister Kukrit Pramoj dissolves Parliament
after being plagued by different kinds of demands from some
2,000 officials gathered at Nawaphon. They are protesting
against the presence of alleged communists disguised as
socialists in Parliament.
4 - A new general election is held with 19 competing
parties. The Democratic Party wins 114 out of 279 seats.
20 - Seni Pramoj is again elected by Parliament to
serve as prime minister.
Aug - Former military strongmen Thanom Kittikachorn
returns as Buddhist monk to Thailand from self-exile in
Singapore, a development which angers leftwing students.
5 - Leftwing students assemble at the Thammasat
University to protest the return of Field Marshall Thanom and
6 - Thousands of rightwing activists concentrate around
Thammasat University. Before noon, they start to attack the
leftwing students and storm Thammasat University. After
this initial attack, the rightwing mob is joined by police
and military forces who start shooting indiscriminately at
the students. Students who try to flee the campus are held
and mutilated by the rightwing mob that has encircled the campus.
The massacre lasts for almost two days. The official body
count is 41 dead students, though unofficial figures are
considerably higher. Almost 3,000 students are arrested and
brought to various detention centers set up in a hurry. On
the evening of October 6, a so-called National Administrative
Reform Council, led by Admiral Sangad Chalawyoo,
topples the government of Prime Minister Seni Pramoj and installs
General Thanin Kraivixien as new prime minister. Leftwing
activists flee in droves into the mountains to join the
Communist Party of Thailand. The National Administrative
Reform Council immediately dissolves the parliament; other
political parties as well as groups with military activities are
banned. The Thanin government becomes one of the most
repressive in modern Thai history. Thanin is heavily guided in
his day-to-day decisions by astrology and palmistry. He is
himself a palmist, holding palm reading sessions with the
fees going to charity projects; he once is also photographed
reading from the palm of visiting Japanese Prime Minister
Fukuda and his wife during their state visit to Thailand.
26 - General Chalard Hiranyasiri attempts a coup
against the Thanin government but fails. He is first demoted and,
on April 21, 1977, executed by firing squad. Several
of his collaborators are sentenced to life imprisonment.
20 - Admiral Sangad Chalawyoo, whose coup on Oct 6,
1977 installed Thanin Kraivixien as prime minister, leads as
Defence Minister of the Thanin government another successful
coup, together with Supreme Commander General Kriangsak
Chomanan. The coup plotters present themselves as the
Revolutionary Party. The post of prime minister falls to
Kriangsak. Though also military-installed, the Kriangsak
government proves to be much less dictatorial than the
Thanin government. While the Thanin government had scheduled a
return to democracy within 12 years, the new military
backed government promises elections within one year.
The Kriangsak government pursues a foreign policy of
fence-mending with the communist neighbors to the east.
Diplomatic relations are restored with Vietnam.
4-8 - Deng Xiaoping of China visits Thailand.
Agreements on trade and scientific cooperation are
Dec - Kriangsak enacts a constitution with temporary
clauses that favor the military. The constitution institutes a
two chamber parliament, with a lower house of elected
representatives and an upper house of appointed
senators. The way they are appointed, it is secured that the
military will be represented with a substantial number of
7 - After almost a year of constantly increasing armed
conflicts between the Chinese-oriented communists of Cambodia
and the Soviet-oriented communists of Vietnam, Vietnamese
troops, together with Cambodian recruits march into
Phnom Penh, topple the Khmer Rouge regime and install a
Vietnamese-backed puppet government. In the following
months, the terror methods of the Khmer Rouge rulers are exposed
to a shocked world public, sort of giving the Vietnamese a
posthumous justification for the invasion of the neighboring
country. However, Thailand feels threatened by the de facto
territorial expansion of Communist Vietnam. In spite of the
worldwide low regard of the Khmer Rouge, Thailand pops up
financially, logistically and morally the
Khmer Rouge remnants that have again turned into a guerilla force,
as the Khmer Rouge are the potentially strongest counter
balance in Cambodia against the Hanoi-installed and controlled
government. Furthermore, Thailand also is instrumental in the
establishment of two more anti-Phnom Penh guerilla forces, the
rather rightist Khmer People's National Liberation Front of
former Cambodian Prime Minister Son San and the forces
loyal to ex-monarch Prince Norodom Sihanouk. The three
guerilla fractions remain in control of areas bordering Thailand;
Thailand even agrees to channel arms shipments from China
to the Khmer Rouge through it's territory. Thai government policy
pursues the worldwide economic isolation of Vietnam because
of the Cambodian invasion, as well as the non-recognition of the
Vietnamese-installed government in Phnom Penh. The Thai positions
are soon adopted by all of ASEAN, making the economic
organization a political broker for developments in Cambodia.
Refugees from Cambodia flood Thailand, a development that
is said to cause an increase in inflation nationwide, affecting
the country's business and labor sector. The European
Community assigns its first ambassador to ASEAN to
reside in Bangkok. The military launches an amnesty program during
which more than 8,000 armed insurgents surrender to the
authorities, most of them coming from the provinces of Chiang Rai,
Phayao, Sakhon Nakhon and Mukdahan. At the same time, the
Communist Party of Thailand weakens because of the rift
between China and Vietnam, mostly over the Vietnamese invasion of
22 - As promised, the forces that came to power in the October
20, 1977 coup hold a general election. It is won by
General Kriangsak, who had in 1977 been installed as prime
minister by the military. That military leaders who take over the
Thai government through a coup d'etat have a high chance of
becoming elected leaders of the country is a peculiarity of
Thai politics. The country's chief executive is not elected
directly by the people as it is the case for example in the
US and France or any country with a presidential form of
government. Rather, in Thailand the chief executive (prime
minister) is chosen by the parliament, and depending on the
constitution in force, he must or must not even be a
Member of Parliament. Therefore, the elected chief executive never
has to have much popular appeal; rather, he has to garner
the support of local political leaders. Representatives are
elected on a strictly local level, as for example in Great
Britain, and representation in Parliament does not depend on what
percentage of votes a party won nationwide; in every
constituency, a number of candidates with the most votes go to
Parliament, and losers stay out. Within the constituencies,
established political structures in most cases secure
certain shares of votes for certain candidates, regardless of the
candidates' party affiliation. Acting military governments
have obviously no difficulties of securing the support of at
least one fraction striving for power in any constituency.
Where opposition cannot be rendered unpopular through
propaganda, opposition candidates can be obstructed
in many ways. As Kriangsak and his supporters had
established a well-based political organization while in power, it
was widely regarded as a foregone conclusion that Kriangsak would
continue to be prime minister after the election. In the
months that follow his election, Kriangsak expands his policy of
political and economic liberalization; he also grants
amnesty to former members of the Communist Party of Thailand.
30 - The US embassy on Wireless Road in Bangkok suffers
a pre-dawn attack by grenade launcher. Though there is some
damage, no one is injured.
29 - Because the Kriangsak government seems to be
unable to handle the crisis brought about by the Cambodian
refugees, Kriangsak resigns.
12 - General Prem Tinsulanonda, formerly Defence
Minister and concurrently Army Chief, becomes prime minister of
Thailand. He adopts a tougher anti-Vietnamese stand and
pursues an economic and financial policy which will become the
base of Thailand's extraordinary economic growth in the
80's. Prem is very close to the country's Royal Family,
and, for his fatherly approach to political problems and conflicts
within his government, earns the nickname Papa Prem - in
spite of being a bachelor.
19 - A Thai Airways Avro aircraft crashes shortly
before landing at Bangkok's Don Muang Airport. 43 passengers
die, among them 4 foreigners; 10 survive. The accident is
caused by a heavy rain storm.
23 - More than 24 hours of fighting takes place in
Aranyaphratet as some 300 Vietnamese soldiers, based and
active in Cambodia, cross the border and occupy 3 Thai villages.
Thai casualties are 60, those of the Vietnamese are 75.
30 - Five Indonesian Muslim fundamentalists hijack a
domestic Garuda flight to Bangkok and demand the release of
political prisoners in Indonesia. An Indonesian commando team,
flown in from Djakarta, storms the plane, killing all five
hijackers. None of the passengers is hurt.
1 - A group of young military officers later to be
known as Young Turks seizes government centers in Bangkok.
They claim to be critical of the failures of past military
governments and to be supporting democracy, but widespread
opinion is that they are just power-hungry. Prem evades the
coup plotters and flees to Khorat. The rebels keep major
government installations in Bangkok occupied for almost 3 days.
The country's Royal Family also moves to Khorat; the Royal
Family supports Prem as it becomes evident through a radio
broadcast message by Queen Sirikit. This support enables
Prem to group behind himself loyal forces and send them into
April 3 - The rebels led by General San Chipatima give
up. Chipatima and other leaders of the failed coup manage to
flee the country. All participants in the coup attempt are
given Royal Clemency a month later.
Jan - The Thai military conducts a major offensive
against the forces of notorious drug lord Khun Sa to drive
him from his stronghold at Baan Hin Taek in Chiang Rai
Province, on Thai soil. After a month of fighting Khun Sa retreats
with his Shan United Army into Burma.
5 - Bangkok holds a big party for its 200th birthday.
The main event is a royal fluvial parade on the Chao Phaya
1982 - The army invents a new anti-insurgency program.
This program gives farming land to armed pioneers willing to
defend the area against communist attacks. As the program
succeeds, the guerilla forces retreat to areas along the Laos
border. The radio station Voice of the People of
Thailand is closed down in China.
16 - Army Sergeant Major Amornsak attempts to
assassinate Prime Minister Prem while on a visit to an
artillery facility in Lopburi by firing an anti-tank
rocket at the prime minister's party. The rocket hits a tree
instead; no one is hurt. The incident is kept secret for
almost a year. On June 2, 1983, Amornsak is sentenced to 25
years in prison.
1 - In northeastern Thailand. more than one thousand
arms-carrying communists surrender en group to the government,
represented by Army Commander General Arthit Kamlangek,
thus practically ending the communist insurgency in this part of
Thailand. As December 1, 1942 was the founding day of the
Communist Party of Thailand, the party ceases to be a threat to
the Thai government after exactly 40 years.
2 - A suitcase bomb placed in the Iraqi embassy
explodes when a bomb specialist tries to defuse it. The two-story
building of the Iraqi embassy is leveled in the explosion,
several other buildings are heavily damaged. The bomb
specialist is the only casualty.
Jan - Cambodian government troops, backed by
Vietnamese units, conduct a major offensive against the
three united resistance fractions. The fighting spills over
onto Thai soil. More than 47,000 Cambodians flee to
3 - The Parliament rebuffs a military bid to retain temporary
16 - In a snap vote, the Parliament rejects again a provision
in the constitution that will preserve the key role of the
military in the Thai government.
18 - A royal decree dissolves the National Assembly.
30 - A Malaysian army unit attacks communist armed
guerillas in the town of Grik forcing a group of guerillas to
flee to Thailand.
31 - Vietnamese groups begins spraying bullets into the
Khmer Rouge headquarters on Thai territory, drawing
Bangkok into a defensive campaign. Intense exchange of artillery
and tank fire kills 30 civilians and injures some 300
persons. Approximately 22,000 Cambodian civilians flee to
Thailand for refuge.
18 - A national parliamentary election is held. In this
election, none of the country's 14 political parties wins a
majority in the 324 seat House of Representatives. Upon
invitation of the 4 largest parties in Parliament, Prem who is not
himself a Member of Parliament forms a new government.
Oct - Bangkok is hit by the worst floods in 40 years.
Mar - A dispute between Thailand and Laos develops over
three villages: Ben Mai, Bang Klang and Van Sabang.
11 - Some 7,000 sticks of dynamite levels the walled compound
and residence of Chinese nationalist General Li Wen Huan in
Chiang Mai. The blast destroys 40 other houses. The assassination
is believed to be the work of the Shan United Army of drug
lord Khun Sa who is suspected to attempt to wipe out the
Kuomintang remnants that have fled from the Chinese
communists to Burma in 1949 and from Burma to Thai territory in
11 - Pope John Paul II arrives in Bangkok for a two-day
visit. He holds an open-air mass and visits refugee camps
along the Cambodian border.
20 - The military raids hide-outs of communists in Bangkok and
arrests 16 communist rebel leaders, found to be in
possession of 131,000 US Dollar, several cars and firearms.
14 - As the Thai economy begins to dwindle Bangkok
depositors and investors rush to banks and
investment houses to retrieve their money. The stock market
takes a nose dive.
23 - The 159 member nations of the United Nations vote to
install Thailand to its 15 member Security Council.
6 - The Baht is devaluated by 14.8%, from around
23 to around 27 Baht for 1 US dollar. Because of this devaluation,
five generals write to Prime Minister Prem demanding a
reshuffle of the cabinet, expressing their belief that the
prime minister could better improve the economy if some people in
the cabinet vacate their seats. On the same day, Vietnamese
troops attack a lightly manned Thai border Patrol Police Outpost
near Surin at the Thai-Cambodian border, 420km (263mi) from
Bangkok. 3 Thais die, 31 are wounded and 5 are missing.
7 - In a radio broadcast, General Arthit Kamlangek, the
powerful army chief and supreme commander of the kingdom's
military forces, airs harsh words on the devaluation of the
Baht. Because of this, the government organizes a pro-devaluation
program; 4 out of 5 generals who were signatories of the above
mentioned letter to Prem reaffirm their loyalty to the
6 - The Thai military forces some 1000 Vietnamese
troops to retreat from one of three hills on Thai
territory which the Vietnamese had captured the preceding
days. Vietnamese troops are regularly intruding into Thai
territory in attempts to outflank units of the Cambodian
resistance groups. As these groups receive support through
Thailand and even have possible escape routes through Thai
territory, their backs are kept free - as long as Vietnamese
troops attacking the resistance fractions respect Thai
territory. The Thai counter attack against the intruding
Vietnamese troops leaves some 60 people dead.
20 - At Trat, some 1,200 Vietnamese troops attack Thai
positions situated 3 to 4 kilometers from the Gulf of Thailand.
9 - The Young Turks fraction of the Thai military again
attempts to topple the government of General Prem but fails
again. Suspected masterminds of the coup attempt are cashiered
Army Colonel Manoon Roopkachorn and his brother, Wing
Commander Manas Roopkachorn; Manas and Manoon who had also
been involved in the aborted coup attempt in April, 1981, flee the
country. Among the supporters of the coup attempt were
several former high ranking officials, among them former Prime
Minister Kriangsak Chomanan, former Supreme Commander
General Sermna Nakhon, former Army chief General Yos Thepasdin,
former Air Force chief Marshall Krasae Satharat and former Air
Force chief Marshall Arum Promthep. Within 10 hours,
government-loyal troop led by General Chavalit Yongchaiyuth
quell the rebellion. There are 5 casualties, 2 of them
17 - The retired military leaders who were involved are
detained. Some 40 active military officers are arrested
during the wave of searches that follows the initial arrests.
12 - Kukrit Pramoj resigns as leader of the Social
Action Party, the largest party in the coalition backing
Prime Minister Prem (who is a member of no party). He is
succeeded by Foreign Minister Siddhi Savetsila.
Apr - Prime Minister Prem does not grant a 1-year extension in
office to General Arthit thereby ending the general's term
on September 1, 1986. This move of the prime minister counters the
traditional assumption that army chief is a stepping stone to
1 - Tension spreads as the country prepares for the July 27
elections for Parliament.
9 - Record rainfall of 25cm (10in) in 24 hours
causes serious flooding in Bangkok.
27 - Prime Minister Prem relieves General Arthit from
his powerful post of Army Commander-in-Chief because of
rumors of assassination plots and a pending coup allegedly
to be led by Arthit. General Arthit is replaced by General