History of Thailand
Thailand, known as Siam until 1939, has a very long history, which begins thousands of years ago, already in prehistoric times. Archaeological sites provide evidence of human settlements in Neolithic Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. Of the most recent historical periods we have many testimonies, ruins, temples and royal palaces, of some others, unfortunately, we have lost most of the historical evidence, due to looting and destruction, what we know today depends only from intuition and assumptions of archaeologists. The origin of the first peoples, who settled in Thailand, and throughout the area of Southeast Asia, is not so certain. Historians have formulated various hypotheses, often in conflict with each other. The earliest forms of writing appeared in the region date back to the 1st millennium A.D., there is no precedent written evidence and, therefore, the assumptions are based only on studies of languages, genetic and ethnic traditions. Over thousands of years there have been many migrations. At first there was the arrival of populations Paleo-Mongoloid; many thousand years later, from the north, began the first migrations of Chinese ethnicity, Mongoloid. There is historical evidence that the first peoples to migrate, settle, and that have evolved into region spoke Mon-Khmer languages, which are part of Austro-Asiatic languages, in particularly peoples belonging to the ethnicities Mon and Khmer, ancestrally related to one another.
The valley of Mê Kông, Mekong River, and the extensive Khorat Plateau, that today are significant parts of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, were already inhabited 10,000 years ago. Remains of human settlements testify that fully-developed peoples had settled in these areas, peoples that could possibly have originated different Asian ethnicities. Testimonies of prehistoric peoples, who lived in caves, were found in the north-eastern regions of Thailand, tribes who belonged, as in most of Indochina, at a Europide ethnicity related with Vedda peoples, an aboriginal population of Sri Lanka with Munda origin. The peninsular part of the country was inhabited by a Negroid people, the Semang, which are still present in southern regions. Some archaeological sites dating back over 5,000 years, in the northeast of the country, show evidence of the oldest rice cultivation and Bronze Age period in Asia. Ban Chiang Prehistoric Park, a World Heritage Site, and Phu Phra Bat Historical Park, both in Udon Thani province, are the most important sites of prehistoric period in Thailand. Ban Chiang is considered one of the most important prehistoric archaeological sites in all South East Asia, one of earliest Bronze Age culture in the world. In Ban Chiang there are ruins of burial sites and remains of a village, inhabited in a period between 2100 BC and 300 AD, with evidence of transition between Neolithic Age, when man was not yet capable of working metals, to Bronze Age and finally to Iron Age. Into caves and on hills in Phu Phra Bat Park there are traces of different civilizations and cultures spanning thousands of years. Some caves contain prehistoric cave paintings, dating back to 6000 years ago, on the hills there are remains of early years of the Dvaravati and Khmer periods.
Migration of the Mon & the Khmer
The Mon, a population that had its origins in western China, during their migration settled in the valleys of southern Burma, where have founded the Kingdom of Thaton, in central Laos, the Kingdom of Gotapura Lanka, and in the valleys of the Chao Phraya River, the central region of Thailand. Later the Mon have extended their influence also to a good part of the Isthmus of Kra, the southern part of the country, and to the north, where have founded the Kingdom of Hariphunchai. The historically period known as Dvaravati, from the 6th to the 13th century A.D., it is attributable to this ethnic group. The Mon Dvaravati culture has featured for many centuries the Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia, was also the first who has adopted the Theravada Buddhism, spreading it throughout the region. The Khmer have migrated into Southeast Asia around the same time as the Mon. Archaeologists and linguists believe they arrived no later than 2000 B.C., settled initially further to the west than the Mon. They settled in the lower Mekong valley, from the valley of the tributary Mun, in the north-eastern region, the Isan of today's Thailand. The Khmer practiced agriculture, in particular the cultivation of rice, and they were also one of the first peoples in the world to use bronze, they developed the first form of writing in all Southeast Asia, from which later it originated the Thai alphabet. They were the builders of powerful Khmer Empire, in 802 A.D., which dominated much part of South-East Asia in the later six centuries, often coming into conflict with the Mon for hegemony in the area. The Khmer practiced Hinduism, which was adopted as the official state religion; the Theravada Buddhism became popular only later. Vishnu and Shiva were the most venerated deities, to they were dedicated the beautiful Hindu temples of Angkor and those along Thai-Cambodia borders, wonderful historical evidences of this period. Over the later centuries the Mon and the Khmer lost their influence on today's Thailand, due immigration of Tai ethnicities, which gradually they took possession of all Thai territories. The Mon have migrated in their domains in Burma, the Khmer withdrew into their territories in Cambodia.
Migration of Thai peoples
The origins of Tai peoples, of which the Thai people are a subgroup, are rather mysterious, and subject of much discussion among historians. In the opinion of some historians were populations with origins in southern Mongolia, which have migrated further south over the centuries. Other historians, using linguistic studies, assume that the origin of Tai people lies in southern China, specifically from the today provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan, where, in fact, they still live individuals belonging to the Tai-Dai ethnicity. Any it is the correct theory, with certainty the various Tai ethnicities descend all from one people, united from a common language, belonging to the family of the Tai-Kadai languages. They have migrated, over the centuries, due to conflicts with the other Chinese ethnicities, especially the Han, going to settle the lands between the Assam region, in India, and Hainan Island, in China. The first historical mention, concerning Tai peoples, is in a Han chronologies, dated back to sixth century A.D., which are described as foreign servants, farmers, in southern China, the current Chinese regions of Yunnan, Sichuan and Guangxi. The migrations of Tai peoples on Indochinese territories, particularly Thailand, Laos, Burma and Vietnam, began in the second half of the 1st millennium, due to the continued expansion of the Chinese Han ethnicity, and it increased after the fall of Kingdom of Dali, also called the Great Li, in 1253, by Mongol hordes of Kublai Khan. The Tai peoples, in the course of their millennial migration, they divided into various ethnic groups. Among the various Tai ethnic groups, the Tai-Yuan and Tai-Syam, or Tai-Thai, settled in northern and central Thailand, the Tai-Lao settled in the valleys of the Mekong between Laos and Thailand, the Shan and Tai-Yai migrated mainly in Burma, the Tai-Daeng and Tai-Dam migrated to Vietnam. The first Tai ethnicity to settle on Thai territories were the Tai Yuan that, according to ancient chronicles of Chiang Mai, have founded in 545 d.C. the city of Yonok, the current Chiang Saen. The dating of the migration of Tai peoples in the central areas, the valleys of Chao Phraya River, and north eastern Thailand, Isan, is uncertain. Some historians suppose that the migration from southern China has begun before the end of the first millennium, which was before the city-states Dvaravati became vassal of the Khmer Empire. Other historians assume that the Tai have appeared on Thai territories only during the 11th or 12th century, which was during the domain of the Khmer Empire, forced to migrate further south by the Mongol hordes of Kublai Khan, who had invaded southern China. The first reliable source that speaks of their presence in the Thai territories is an inscription of 12th century, found in a temple in Angkor Wat, which, referring to Tai, cites them as Syam, vassal peoples of the Khmer. The term Syam, dark brown, used by the Khmer was referring to skin color of the new people, a term that was used to identify the Tai for over a century. According to Thai tradition, the Syam people adopted the name Thai, which means free, when their finally managed to get rid of the influence of the Khmer Empire. During the 12th century the Tai-Syam have settled in several small principalities and kingdoms, in the regions of Lamphun, Sawankhalok, Sukhothai and Lopburi, all were city-states Dvaravati vassal of the Khmer Empire. Initially Siamese practiced Hinduism, as the Khmer; later they have converted to the faith of Theravada Buddhism, practiced by the Mon. From the merger of the three cultures Tai-Kadai, Khmer and Mon was originated the today's Thai culture.
Dvaravati period & Khmer influence
In the early centuries of the 1st millennium, before the arrival of Tai ethnicity, the populations Mon and Khmer lived into fertile valley of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya, and a good part of Kra Isthmus. Unlike the Khmer period, which we have historical evidence, we don't have, unfortunately, documentation sufficient to get scenery certain about the influence and development of the Mon's population into Thailand's territories, and consequently of Dvaravati period. What we today know of the Dvaravati period it was deducted from the few archaeological discoveries and from assumptions made by historians, often conflicting. The Dvaravati period has characterized the history of all Southeast Asia from 6th until 13th century A.D., from 2nd or 3rd century according to others historians. The Dvaravati term is used to define a culture, in addition to the historical period, more than a kingdom in a broad sense. The main language spoken, in the dissemination areas of Dvaravati in Southeast Asia, was an ancient form of the Mon language, so it is assumed that the population was mainly composed of a population belonging to ethnic group of the Mon, therefore, is also used to define the period the term Mon Dvaravati. There are several hypotheses, often conflicting, on the type of political-administrative structure of the Dvaravati period. It is doubtful that there has ever been a real Mon Dvaravati Kingdom, where several small kingdoms and principalities were part of a centralized kingdom, or more simply different city-states had in common only the ethno-cultural background, but they were independent of each other. What is certain is that the Dvaravati culture was the first who adopted the Theravada Buddhism, for later spreading it throughout the region. Some ancient texts report testimony, in fact, that, in the 3rd or 2nd century BC, some monks were sent by the Indian Emperor Ashoka in fertile territory called Suvar?abhumi, translatable in Land of Gold or Golden Land, to spread Theravada Buddhism. The area mentioned in the text seems to match to the alluvial valley of river Mae Nam Chao Phraya or to a city among those of Suphanburi, Nakhon Pathom or more likely U-Thong, each of which, later on, became an important city-state of Dvaravati period. Suphanburi, in fact, can be translated in City of Gold, U-Thong was also called Suphannaphum, translatable in Cradle of Gold, and Nakhon Pathom was certainly one of the first cities in the valley of Mae Nam Chao Phraya. In Nakhon Pathom there is historical evidence, still visible today, of the introduction of Buddhism in Thailand, the Phra Pathom Chedi. The original structure of temple is the oldest Buddhist edifice in the Kingdom, its construction dates back to the 3rd century BC. The largest settlements, kingdoms or principalities, of Dvaravati period were: Nakhon Pathom, Suphanburi, Praak Srigacha, Lopburi, Lamphun, U Thong, Chiang Saen, Khu Bua, Pong Tuk, Muang Phra Rot, Kamphaeng Saen, Dong Lakhorn, U-Taphao, Ban Khu Muang, and Sri Thep. It's assumed that many of these city-states were originally part of the ancient Kingdom of Funan, 1st - 6th century A.D., which began to disintegrate up in 550 A.D., making in fact independent each of cities Dvaravati. Some of them have had a long and interesting history, characterized by independence and vassalage periods. Two typical examples of this period are the Kingdom of Lavo and the Kingdom of Hariphunchai that, throughout their history, have influenced the formation of the Kingdom of Siam.
Kingdom of Lavo
The Kingdom of Lavo was located in the area of current Lopburi province, in Central Thailand. A historical source reports that, the city of Lavo, was founded along the banks of the Lopburi River, at the end of the 6th century A.D.. It’s consisted of a central urban core with a circular plan, surrounded by a wide moat. Lavo was probably originally made part of the Dvaravati federation; in fact the language spoken was the Mon. This is demonstrated by archaeological excavations in Lopburi that have unearthed artefacts in Dvaravati style, wonderful examples of Buddhist art. Over the following centuries Lavo became fully independent from other Dvaravati city, extended its influence on the eastern principalities, those located on Korat plateau, and built, probably, the vassal city of Hariphunchai, at north. The influence of Lavo Kingdom became so extensive as to lead some historians at believed that the legendary Kingdom of To-lo-po-ti, described by the Chinese monk Yijing, perhaps had been Lavo. Over the following centuries Lavo was involved in several wars for hegemony in the area with the emerging Kingdom of Hariphunchai. After the last defeat Lavo was so powerless to become an easy conquest for Suryavarman II, sovereign of the powerful Khmer Empire. Lavo Kingdom become vassal state of the Khmer, which changed its name in Kamboja Pradesa, Kamphut Prathet. It began a period of great splendour for the city, between the 11th and 13th centuries. Probably it was the heyday of Lavo, as evidenced by the beautiful religious buildings in Khmer style of Phra Prang Sam Yot, Phra Kan, Wat Nakhon Kosa and Prang Khaek. Under its jurisdiction were placed Suphanburi, Ratburi and Phetburi. It was also formed a new vassal province to the north, with Sukhothai as capital. Over the following centuries, the 13th and 14th centuries, the Khmer began their slow decline and lost their hegemony over the Lavo Kingdom, especially because of the independence ambitions of Syam principles, ethnicity migrated into these areas during the previous century. In the 14th century a Syam prince, born in Chiang Saen, married first the daughter of U Tong's king, adopting the new name and title of Prince Uthong, and later married, as a second wife, a daughter of Lavo's king. In 1347 A.D. the prince became King of U Thong and, united the two kingdoms, he has formed what it would become the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, four years later.
Kingdom of Hariphunchai
The Kingdom of Hariphunchai, Haipuñjaya in Pali language, was founded in an uncertain date between the 6th and 7th century A.D. by Mon population in the territory of modern Lamphun, in northern Thailand. According to chronicles of Hariphunchai, Jinakalamali and Camadevivamsa, written in Chiang Mai in the 15th century, the city was founded by Buddhist monks in the 7th century A.D.. The monks wanted to make it a new Kingdom and chose the Princess Jamadevi, daughter of the King of Lavo, as the meritorious person to reign. Jamadevi accepted the throne and, accompanied by religious and some her faithful subjects, he ventured into a long and dangerous journey through raging rivers, Chao Phraya and Ping, and upland valleys covered with dense jungle until reaching Hariphunchai. Jamadevi, once became the first queen of Hariphunchai, contributed to the spread of Theravada Buddhism in the region. The queen had two twins, one succeeded her on the throne Hariphunchai and the other was placed on the throne of the nearby Khelang, today's Lampang. Beyond the Camadevivamsa chronicles, which almost seem legends, it is confirmed by studies of eminent archaeologists that the Kingdom of Hariphunchai was founded by a population of Mon ethnicity. The Kingdom of Hariphunchai was a model for neighboring kingdoms. The capital was protected by several fortified towns connected together, which ensured the military security in case of external attacks. Initially vassal state of Lavo Kingdom, Hariphunchai claimed its independent within the federation of city-states Dvaravati. Hariphunchai was the only one, of the kingdoms of the Mon Dvaravati culture, not to succumb to the Khmer Empire, whose expansion had subdued much of Southeast Asia. The chronicles of Hariphunchai narrate that the armed of Khmer besieged the city several times, after conquering almost all the principalities of Dvaravati federation, but every time the Hariphunchai's warriors drove them back. The Kingdom of Hariphunchai ended around 1290-1292, when it was conquered by the armies of Tai Yuan, one of Tai ethnicities, conducted by King Mengrai, who later founded the Lanna Kingdom
The beginning of the Khmer Empire is conventionally dated to 802 A.D., the year when King Jayavarman II had declared himself Chakravartin, the "king of kings". The Khmer Empire was a powerful kingdom that, for long periods, extended its influence over much of today's territories of Thailand, Laos and southern Vietnam. The centre of his power and splendour was the floodplain north of Tonle Sap Lake, where lies the greatest legacy that he left us, its capital Angkor Thom, in today's province of Siem Reap. To the west the Khmer extended their territories subduing the Mon Kingdom of Lavo, today's Lopburi, to southwest they expanded until the Isthmus of Kra. Once subjected the Kingdom of Lavo, the Khmers made vassal most of the city-state Dvaravati, they also founded new ones, such as Kamphaeng Phet and Chaliang, as city garrisons to defend the boundaries. During their rule, the Khmer import on Thai territories their culture and architectural style. Even today in Thailand there are many temples in Khmer style in testimony of this historical period. The most famous of these is perhaps the temple of Prasat Preah Vihear, a huge mountain temple that lies on the border between Thailand and Cambodia, specifically between the province of Sisaket, Thailand, and the province of Preah Vihear, Cambodia. The Hindu temple built on Dângrêk Mountain is, since 1962, a source of hostilities between the two countries, for the dispute on the ownership. In the north east of the country, Isan, there are two beautiful temple complexes that are still very well preserved, the Phanom Rung Sanctuary, situated on Phanom Rung Massif, in Buriram province, and the Khmer temples in Phimai, in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima.The temples in Phimai are the most important, and best-preserved, Khmer temples across Thailand. The historic site is similar to that of Angkor Wat, although smaller in size, 1020 x 580 m, but still considerable and demonstrates the importance of the ancient city at the time of the Khmer Empire. The site is located at the northern end of a ancient Khmer road, which once connected Phimai to the capital Angkor, this was the most important of the great arteries paved built by the Khmer, about 240 km long. The architectural influence of the Khmer is also evident in Sukhothai to Ayutthaya, with some Khmer-Hindu temples, dedicated to Vishnu or Shiva, and several Prang, tall spire tower richly carved in Angkor style. The end of Khmer hegemony on Thai territory coincides with the rise of the Thai Kingdoms of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, who claimed their independence. Wars between Khmer and Thai followed one another incessantly, until the fall and destruction of their capital Angkor Thom in 1431, causing in fact the end of the Khmer Empire.
Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, the first Thai Kingdoms
The migrations of Tai peoples on the territories of Thailand, from southern China, have began in the second half of the 1st millennium, due to the continued expansion of the Chinese Han ethnicity, and were accentuated during the 11th and 12th century due to the advanced the Mongol hordes. The first Thai ethnicity to settle on Thai territories were the Tai Yuan that, according to ancient chronicles of Chiang Mai, on 545 d.C. , have founded the first mueang, municipalities, Tai in Yonok, in the area of today's Chiang Saen. Yanok was destroyed by an earthquake some years later. The Tai Yuan rebuilt the city at Vieng Prueksa, in today's Mae Sai area. The city fell under the influence of the Kingdom of Lavo, which imposed the ascent to the throne of Lavachakkraj, on 638. Lavachakkraj changed its name in Hiran, founding the Kingdom of Hiran. During the 9th century Laokiang, the seventh king of Hiran, on the ruins of Yanok built Ngoenyang, Wiang Hiran Nakhon Ngoen Yang, and made it the new capital, since that time the Kingdom of Hiran was named Kingdom of Ngoenyang.
Kingdom of Sukhothai
The first settlements of the Tai people in central Thailand took place, probably, in the course of the 12th century. The Syam, a term coined by the Khmer to indicate them, settled in several small principalities and kingdoms in the current regions of Lamphun, Svankalok, Sukhothai and Lopburi, in city-states Dvaravati vassals of the Khmer Empire. The Syam principles took quickly possession of the cities. During the 13th century, the Syam principles began to assert their independence from the Khmer. Among them the first was the Prince Pho Khun Bang Klang of Sukhothai, which, in 1238, declared its independence, took the name Sri Indraditya and founded the Kingdom of Sukhothai, Ratcha Anachak Sukhothai, which means Dawn of Happiness. The Kingdom of Sukhothai is historically considered the first Siamese kingdom, the basis of what will be later called the Kingdom of Siam. The other realms Tai created at that time, as Hiran and Ngoenyang, consisted of ethnic groups who are common roots with the Siamese, but they had, over time, developed distinct cultures, integrating with the people previously allocated in the territories where they had migrated. In the same year, three Syam principles fought against the Khmer. The Tai were the winners and expelled them in what is the current Cambodia. According to tradition, the Syam adopted the name Thai, which means free in the Thai language, when they finally have managed to get rid of the Khmer influence. Among the three principles there was also Mengrai, 25th King of Ngoenyang, which, thanks to the solid alliance with Syam, he was able to extend its territories in northern Thailand. The Kingdom of Sri Indraditya initially was limited to Sukhothai and the nearby town of Si Satchanalai. Was his successor Ram Khamhaeng the Great, the third son of Sri Indraditya, which, between 1279 and 1299, formed a vast empire, stretching from present Vientiane to Nakhon Si Thammarat. Ram Khamhaeng developed a close alliance with the King Mengrai, supporting him to extend the territories at the expense of the Kingdom of Haipuñjaya. Mengrai conquered Hariphuncha i in 1292, annexing all its territories and founded, in 1296, the Lanna Kingdom, which translates into "The Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields". It was during the reign of Ram Khamhaeng that Sukhothai through a period of great prosperity; with cultural and religious development. The greatest innovation made by the king was the creation of a unified writing system in 1283, from the merger of various Khmer alphabets, the first example of Thai written language, the form still used today. The Theravada Buddhism gradually spread among the Siamese people, giving inspiration to the birth of the classic forms of Thai religious architecture. The statues of Buddha carved during the Sukhothai period are the cultural treasures that we find today in many of the Thai temples. During the reigns of the successors of Ram Khanhaeng, Loe Thai and Nguanamthom, Sukhothai began a slow decline, and most of the territories were lost. The vassal kingdoms of Uttaradit, Luang Prabang and Vientiane early became independent, in 1321, the emerging Lanna Kingdom, extended its influence on Tak, until then controlled by Sukhothai. During the reign of Li Thai, from 1347 to 1368, there was a brief revival but, after his death, the kingdom resumed the path of decline.
Kingdom of Ayutthaya
In the usual historical period, parallel to the decline of Sukhothai, developed the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, Anachak Ayutthaya, founded in 1350 by a Siamese prince born in Chiang Saen. In 1331 the prince married first the daughter of U Tong's king, adopting the new name and title of Prince Uthong, and later married, as a second wife, a daughter of Lavo's king. The city-state of U Tong, also known as the Kingdom of Suphannaphum, had expanded, in last years, its territories at the expense of the Kingdom of Sukhothai, in slow decline, annexing most of the area of the Malay Peninsula, from Ratchaburi to Nakhon Si Thammarat. In 1347 the prince became King of U Thong, succeeding his father in law, and united the two kingdoms. After provisionally moved the capital to Wiang Lek, a settlement of Chinese merchants a few kilometers south of present Ayutthaya, he built a new city. The city was built on a small island, at the junction of three rivers: the Lopburi, the Prasak and the Chao Phraya. The city, completed in 1350, was called Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, the name deriving from pre-existing Hindu Khmer settlement of Ayodhya. Uthong had himself crowned king of the new Kingdom in March 4, 1351, with the regal name Ramathibodi, in honor of the deity Rama. Ramathibodi I was a great leader. Under his reign, 1350-1369, Thai armies conquered Angkor Thom in 1353. Later the Khmer army expelled the Siamese from Angkor, but they lose most of the territories in northeast. Ramathibodi became famous for all the laws enacted, he also declared the Theravada Buddhism the state religion, in 1360. In 1378, the third King of Ayutthaya, Borommarachathirat I, conquered Sukhothai, annexing most of its territories. The king of Sukhothai, Lue Thai, moved the capital to Phitsanulok, where it remained until the end of the reign, trying with mixed success to regain its independence. The son of Uthong, King Ramesuan reigned from 1388 to 1395, after having already been king between 1369 and 1370. Towards the end of his reign he rejected an invasion of Khmer; past to counterattack captured the capital Angkor Thom for the second time, making vassals the Khmer. The following king, Ramaracha, son of Ramesuan, lost again the vassalage on Khmer Empire. The wars between Thai and Khmers followed one another incessantly, until the fall and destruction of Angkor Thom, in 1431, causing, in fact, the end of the Khmer Empire. King Borommaracha II, 1424-1448, was unable to maintain control of Khmer. They founded a new capital in Basan, the area of today's Phnom Penh, reconquering a part of the lost territories. In the usual historical period Sukhothai tried several times to get rid of the influence of Ayutthaya, with different rulers until 1438, when the last king of Sukhothai, Borommapan,died without heirs. The throne was awarded to Prince Ramesuan, the son of a sister of Borommapan and Borommaracha II the king of Ayutthaya, with the title of Uparaja, viceroy. Ramesuan in 1448, when his father died, he became King of Ayutthaya and, taking the name of Boromma Trailokanat, united the two kingdoms. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya, with its sovereigns, 34 in total in the course of its history, dominated much of Siam for over 400 years. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya was one of the most important cities of the time, with over a million inhabitants. In its heyday Ayutthaya had more than 1500 temples and 4000 statues. Its location halfway between China, India and Malaysia, and its waterways made it an ideal port for trade. European vessels, Japanese and Chinese used Ayutthaya as a port of trade for teak wood, ivory, leather, and silk. Many of these merchants claimed that Ayutthaya was the most beautiful city they had ever seen, it became known by the nickname of the Venice of the East. The city prospered during the years arousing the greed of neighboring Burmese. The city suffered 23 sieges during its splendor days, before being conquered and almost completely looted and destroyed on. The King Ramathibodi I, convinced that the position between the three rivers offered sufficient protection, he did not bother much about its defenses. The perimeter wall of the city was built using only dried mud. The city's buildings, including the royal palace, were built of wood. The last king of Ayutthaya was Ekkathat, also named Suriyamarin or Borommaracha Thirat V. The King, ambitious and diseased, led Ayutthaya to the ruin, succumbing at final attack of the Burmese. The capital was completely burned and destroyed, April 7, 1767, by the armies Burmese of Konbaung dynasty. All manuscripts and chronologies of Ayutthaya were lost, looted or set on fire. Were set on fire and destroyed the beautiful buildings and all the temples, the images of the Buddha were beheaded for scarring. Many Thai were deported to Ava as slaves, between 30,000 and 200,000 inhabitants, of which at least 2,000 members of the royal family. King Ekkathat died while trying to escape. Ayutthaya was abandoned, slowly invaded by jungle and forgotten soon. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya ended so, 417 years after its founding.
Kingdom of Siam
After the destruction of Ayutthaya, the kingdom was divided into 6 areas controlled by warlords. The Siamese generals Phraya Chakri and Taksin, Somdet Phray Chao Taksin, former governor of Tak with Thai Chinese origin, began the reunification of country. Phraya Chakri and Taksin gathered armies and began to attack the Burmese. The Burmese were defeated and driven out of Siam. Taksin relocated the capital to Thonburi, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, in 1782, and crowned himself as a King of Ayutthaya, to signify the continuation to ancient glories King Taksin the Great was the only king of the Kingdom of Thonburi, Anachak Thonburi. Within a few years he unified the country and expanded the boundaries, conquering the Lanna Kingdom to the north, in 1775, the three Lao kingdoms in the east and north-east and the south-east of Cambodia. In 1782 a rebellion led by a powerful official deposed the King Taksin. The throne was offered to Chao Phraya Chakri, the commander-in-chief of the army in Cambodia. Taksin was secretly executed shortly after, beaten to death in a lot. It is said that Taksin was allowed to be a monk, by the long-time friend Chao Phraya, in a remote location in the mountains of Nakhon Si Thammarat, where he lived until 1825, and in his place has been beaten to death a substitute. When Chao Phraya Chakri ascended to the throne took the name Ramathibodi, just like the founder of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. It was his grandson, Rama III, who gave him the names after-effects of "Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Chakri Borommanat Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok Rama I" or simply Rama I the Great. Rama I moved his royal seat on the eastern side of Chao Phraya River, in 1782, where it was a pre-existing village called Bang Makok, dug a moat and created the island of Rattanakosin, translatable in “The city of the jewel of Indra”, the core of today's Bangkok. Rama I was the first ruler of Rattanakosin Kingdom, Anachak Rattanakosin, later called the Kingdom of Siam, and the first of Chakri Dynasty, which still rules Thailand in present time. During the first few years of reign Rama I started the works to transform the village into a big and lavish capital. It was built a new royal palace, the current Grand Palace, which it was inaugurated in 1785 on the day of his coronation. The complex was made up of several buildings, including Wat Phra Kaew, the Royal Chapel in which was placed the Emerald Buddha, the palladium of the royal house. With the completion of the new capital, Rama I held an official ceremony for naming the new capital with a log ceremonial name, subsequently slightly modified by King Rama IV, often abbreviated as today's official Thai name of the city: Khrung Thep Maha Nakhon. Rama I encouraged cultural works, built many temples and monuments, and appointed a commission to reform the laws, after a large number of old Ayutthaya texts had been lost. His political and cultural reforms were the foundation that allowed to Siam to expand in the following decades. During the nineteenth century, European expansionism, rather than the traditional enemies of Thailand, was the greatest threat to the survival of the kingdom. The success of Thailand was to preserve the country's independence; it was the only country in Southeast Asia that had remained independent. The merit was, in part, generated by the desire of Great Britain and the France of having a buffer state between their domains in Burma, Malaysia and Indochina. The good relations with the British and French allowed to Siam to avoid colonization by Italy. However, the most important factor was the ability of two King of Siam, Mongkut, Rama IV, 1851-1868, and Chulalongkorn, Rama V, 1868-1910. King Mongkut has approached the Siam to western standards of the time, and has developed numerous trade agreements with European partners. Many young Siamese went abroad to study, and emerged a small elite with less traditionalistic ideas. In 1932 a coup, without bloodshed, organized by military and civilian led to the end of absolute monarchy, and imposed to the King the adoption of a constitution and a parliament. In 1939, the country's name was officially changedfrom Siam, which meant free country, in Thailand, i.e. the land of the Thai, and ushered in the era of constitutional Thailand. However the monarchy in Thailand is still a great power, and is loved by most of the people.