Kings of Siam & Thailand

The only country in Southeast Asia to remain independent during the colonial period, and until 1939 officially known as “Siam” (now Muang Tai, “Land of the Free,” or Pratet Tai, “Free Kingdom”), Thailand has been strongly influenced by both China and India but is fundamentally a sub-Indian civilization, based on Buddhism and using a version of the Devanagari (Sanskrit) alphabet, adapted from Cambodian. A Buddhist historical Era is still used in Thailand. In fighting with Vietnam for influence over Cambodia and Laos, the Vietnamese were not even regarded as properly Buddhist, because of the more Confucian basis of Vietnamese government.

Nevertheless, Siam was more closely in contact with China than with India, has long been the home of a large Chinese community, and in 1575 even requested a new royal seal from China, to replace the one lost to the Burmese in 1569. So we really have a phenomenon of Indian and Chinese cultural spheres overlapping. It is noteworthy that both Laos and Cambodia were vassals of the original Bangkok kingdom but were lost to the French colonial empire in Vietnam.

The flag of Siam was originally a white elephant on a red background. However, in 1916 King Vajravudh was touring a flooded region and saw the flag flying upside down as a distress signal. Since he didn’t like the idea of the national flag being used in that way, he designed a new flag that was symmetrical and would not look different if turned from top to bottom. The new flag was adopted 28 September 1917.

Siam was an ally of Japan in World War II, with the Japanese building a infamous railway overland into Burma, using mistreated Allied prisoner-of-war labor. No one, however, believed that this “alliance” was at all voluntary on the part of the Thais, and the Kingdom, freed from Japanese occupation, was unmolested by the Allies after the War.

By the 1990’s, Thailand economically was looking rather like one of the Asian Tigers. It stumbled in the Asian recession but now seems back on track. By 2003, according to The Economist, Thailand was the 31st largest economy in the world, but 22nd in “purchasing power parity” (adjusting for local prices, etc.). Thailand’s gross domestic product per capita was $2,010, but this translated into $6,320 in purchasing power parity, 18.5% of the United States, making it the 66th richest economy in the world, about the level of Romania, Columbia, and Tunisia. This is not quite in the league of the Four Tigers (Hong Kong, 12th; Singapore, 16th; Taiwan, 24th; and South Korea, 34th), but the Thais do seem to have the kind of restlessness and enterprise that bodes well. On the other hand, Thailand is infamous for its prostitution and sex trade. This can be disturbing enough, especially where children are concerned, but the problem is now compounded by the spread of AIDS. This not only threatens the sex business, as a large source of foreign tourism, but it also threatens the future of the country as large numbers of people only peripheral to the sex trade become infected. How the Thais cope with this is one of the most important national questions as the new century begins.

Kings of Sukhothai
Sri Indradityac.1240-c.1270
Ban Müangc.1270-c.1279
Ramkhamhaengc.1279-1298
institution of Thai alphabet, by 1283
Lö Thai1298-1346/7
Ngua Nam Thom1346-1347
Mahathammaracha I
Lüthai
1346/7-1368/74?
Mahathammaracha II1368/74?-1398?
Mahathammaracha III
Sai Lüthai
1398-1419
Mahathammaracha IV1419-1438
Conquered by Adudhya, 1438

 

THE BUDDHIST
HISTORICAL ERA
543 BC
2000 AD + 543 =
2543 Annô Buddhismi


Kings of Lan Na
Mangrai1259-1317
Chai Songkhram1317-1318
Saen Phu1318-1319,
1324-1328
Khrüa1319-1322
Nam Thuam1322-1324
Kham Fu1328-1337
Pha Yu1337-1355
Kü Na1355-1385
Saen Müang Ma1401-1441
Sam Fang Kaen1401-1441
Tilokaracha1441-1487
Yot Chiang Rai1487-1495
Müang Kaeo1495-1526
Ket Chettharat1526-1538,
1543-1545
Chai1538-1543
Queen Chiraprapha1545-1546
Setthathirat1546-1551
Queen Thao Mae Ku1551
Mekuti1551-1564
Burmese conquer Chiang Mai, 1558
Queen WisutthithewiBurmese control,
1564-1578
Burmese
Tharawaddy Prince
1578-1607
[2 sons of previous?]1607-1613
Thadogyaw1613-1615
Si Song Müang1615-1631
Phraya Thipphanet1631-1659
[ruler of Phrae]1659-1672
Ingsemang, Burmese1672-1675
Chephutarai, Burmese1675-1707
Mangraenara, Burmese1707-1727
Thep Sing, rebel1727
Ong Kham1727-1759
Chan1759-1761
Khi Hut1761-1762
Burmese conquer Chiang Mai, 1763
Abhayagamani,
Burmese
1768-1771
Moyagamani,
Burmese
1768-1771
[revolt]1771-1774
Conquered by Thonburi, 1774, 1776

Kings of Ayudhya
Ramathibodi I1351-1369
Ramesuan1369-1370,
1388-1395
Borommaracha I1370-1388
Thong Chan1388
Ramaracha1395-1409
Intharacha1409-1424
Borommaracha II1424-1448
Borommatrailokanat1448-1463
1463-1488
in Phitsanulok
Borommaracha III1463-1488
Intharacha II1488-1491
Ramathibodi II1491-1529
Portuguese arrive, 1511
Borommaracha IV1529-1533
Ratsada1533-1534
Chairacha1534-1547
Yot Fa1547-1548
Khun Worawongsa1548
Chakkraphat1548-1569
Mahin1569
Burmese capture Ayudhya, 1569
Maha ThammarachaBurmese vassal,
1569-1590
New Royal Seal obtained from China, 1575
Naresuan1590-1605
Burmese Defeated,
Battle of Nong Sarai, 1593
Ekathotsarot1605-1610/11
(Si Saowaphak)1610-1611?
Song Tham, Intharacha1610/11-1628
Chettha1628-1629
Athittayawong1629
Prasat Thong1629-1656
Chai1656
Suthammaracha1656
Narai1656-1688
Phra Phetracha1688-1703
Süa1703-1709
Phumintharacha, Thai Sa1709-1733
Borommakot1733-1758
Buddhist missions to Ceylon, 1751, 1755
Uthumphon1758
Suriyamarin1758-1767
Burmese capture Ayudhya, 1767
King of Thonburi
Taksin1767-1782


Chao of Chiang Mai,
Vassals of Thonburi & Bangkok
Kavila1781-1813
Thammalangka1813-1821
Kham Fan1821-1825
Phutthawong1825-1846
Mahawong1846-1854
Kavilorot1856-1870
Intanon1871-1897
Suriyawong1901-1911
In Kaeo1911-1939

Kings of Bangkok,
Chakri Dynasty
Phra Phutthayotfa, Rama I1782-1809
Penang ceded to Britain
by Sultan of Kedah, 1785;
Burmese Invasion Defeated, 1785
Phra Phutthaloethla, Rama II1809-1824
Phra Nangklao, Rama III1824-1851
Mongkut, Rama IV1851-1868
Cambodia ceded to France, 1867
Chulalongkorn, Rama V1868-1910
Laos east of Mekong ceded to
France, 1893; Laos west of Mekong
ceded to France, 1904; Malay States
ceded to Britain, 1909
Vajravudh, Rama VI1910-1925
Prajadhipok1925-1935,
d.1941
Military takes over, 1932
Ananda Mahidol1935-1946;
in exile, except
1938 & 1946
Siam becomes Thailand, 1939;
Japanese Invasion, reluctant
alliance, 1941-1945
Bhumibol Adulyadej1946-present

 

These lists are from Thailand, A Short History, by David K. Wyatt [Yale University Press, 1984, pp. 309-313]. A descripiton of the Thai language and its alphabet is in The World’s Major Languages, edited by Bernard Comrie [Oxford University Press, 1987, pp.757-775].

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