Siam (Thailand) History Part I

By | December 17, 2021

The news about the most ancient period in the history of Siam is scarce and fragmentary. Already in the century. Street. C. Mon-Khmer and Burmese populations had formed numerous small states, always at war with each other, reduced towards the century. VII d. C. to only four kingdoms.

These political organisms perpetuate themselves and arrive, through little known events, up to the first centuries of our era; the only important news, and of which we have been preserved the memory are the sending of two Buddhist missionaries by Aśoka in the century. III a. C., the marriage of a brahmin with the queen of Cambodia in the century. I d. C. – which favored the spread of Indian civilization in Indochina and the affirmation of the supremacy of the more civilized Cambodia -, and the penetration of Buddhism starting from 638.

At the end of the century VII in Yünnan the Thais, coming from the high Yang-tze kiang had founded the powerful kingdom of Nan Chao, whose capital was Ta-li; but in the sec. IX it became a vassal of the Chinese, and its residents began their migrations towards the south, in search of new lands for rice cultivation. Pröhm, the first Thai prince whose existence is historically established, founded Muang Fang in 857. At the end of this century the Thai and Lao cities of Chieng-Sen, Lampun, Luang Prabang and Vieng-Chan (Vien-tiane) already exist; while Mon-Khmer princes rule Sukhodaya and Savargalok, Subarn, Dvaraburi, Lavapuri (Lobburi), Nakhom Pathom (Nagor Chatsri) and even the distant Nakhon Sritamarat (Nagor Sridhamaraj) in the Malacca Peninsula. The sec. X is full of wars and peace and marriages between Thai princes and Mon-Khmer princes, with the result of extending the influence of the Khmer civilization and standardizing the habits and customs of the two populations. In the century XI the Thais settle around Prayao, north of Raheng (Tak); the Lao of Lampun win the Mon-Khmer of Lobburi and take their place. The sec. XII marks a new step forward for the Thais: the last mon-Khmer king of Sukhodaya dies and the kingdom falters under the blows of the warlike peoples of the north; a new army from Muang Fang decides its end and creates a Thai kingdom, which establishes a new capital, Pitsanulok (Bisnulok). In 1253 the city of Ta-li was taken and destroyed by Kubilai Khān, during his expedition against Burma, and the kingdom of Nan Chao was annexed to the Mongol empire. This catastrophe swells the migrating ranks of the Thais, who form two currents: the Great Thais headed west (Assam) and southwest (Shan States); the Little Thais, on the other hand, go towards the south-east and are divided into the two branches of the Lao, who occupy the north and the east and of the Thais proper, which go further south. For Thailand 2013, please check

From 1275 to 1317 the Thais have a great king, Ram-Khampheng; he spares the Thai principalities of Prayao and Chiengmai, the latter founded by Mangrai, the conqueror of Lampun, but subjugates the Lao ones of Luang Prabang and Vien-tiane and subdues the Mon from the Gulf of Martaban to the Malacca Peninsula, the Khmer to west of the Tachin River, and the Malaysians. In one of his inscriptions from 1292 he says that his kingdom goes from the Mekong to Pechaburi (Bejraburi) and in the Malacca Peninsula reaches as far as Ligor (Nagor Sridhamarai). He still lives in the memory of the Siamese under the name of Phra Ruang, and he is credited with adapting the Khmer alphabet to the Thai language. Ram-Khampheng’s father, Sri-Inthrathit, had conquered Sukhodaya in 1238, and made it the capital of his kingdom.

His successors remained in power until the middle of the century. XIV; then Sukhodaya fell, and the place was taken by a new kingdom which arose around the Tachin which had Supanburi (Subarnburi) as its capital. A prince of Udorn conquered the city of Dvarapuri, and on its ruins in 1350 founded a new capital, Ayudhya, which was for four centuries the radiating center of Siamese power. The prince of Udorn proclaimed himself king with the name of Ramathibodi I (1350-1369): his domain extended as far as the Bay of Bengal; he conquered Angkor and Chandaburi and made the king of Cambodia his vassal. During this century the fusion of the Thais with the Mon-Khmer in the new Siamese nation is accomplished: a composite civilization arises, to whose formation the Brahmanic uses of the court, Indian laws, Buddhism, Khmer art, the Thai language contribute. Indochina acquires its definitive political organization: the Irawady basin forms the kingdom of Burma, the Menam basin the kingdom of Siam, the eastern coastal plain the empire of Annam. But if the disappearance of Cambodia, divided between Siam and Annam, represented an element of security, a serious danger constituted for Siam the battling Burma: the wars with this state filled the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

In the last century the Europeans make their appearance in Siam: the Portuguese da Gôa impartially help the two kingdoms in struggle and supply them with soldiers, ships, weapons. Conquered Malacca in 1509, they founded farms in Patani and Nagor Sridhamaraj in 1511, with the permission of the king. In 1538 about a hundred Portuguese instructed the Siamese in the use of firearms, already known by the Burmese; and since the campaign against them was successful, King Prayai granted the Portuguese lands along the Menam, south of Ayudhya, for them to settle there, with the power to build a church there. The Portuguese established there united with women of the country; their descendants, while retaining their surname and religion, are no longer distinguished from the natives.

Siam (Thailand) History