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The Chakri Dynasty

Thonburi und Bangkok

The Renaissance of Ayutthaya's Culture

The reigns of King Rama I (1782-1809) and his son Rama II (1809-1824) were characterized by a renaissance of the arts and culture of Ayutthaya, especially in literature. Law codes, religious works and literary texts were rewritten and new temples and palaces were built using the patterns, and even the very bricks, of old Ayutthaya. During the rule of Rama I, among others the Royal Palace and Wat Phra Keo were built.

His son King Rama II is especially remembered as a patron of the arts and of Thai literature. He composed a Thai version of the Indian Ramayana, the “Ramakhien”.

For more Information: Wikipedia

Rama I (1782 - 1809)

Both kings were able to renew and maintain the traditions within a hierarchically structured and socially established limit, while their successors were confronted with more problems. Thailand was forced to end its self-imposed policy of isolation.

The trade policy, especially the British trade with China, was expanding in the early 19th century and many western traders and diplomats rediscovered Siam as a trading partner.

During the reign of Rama III (1824-1851) the first contracts were concluded with the British (1826) and with the Americans (1833). The extensive colonial policy of  European nations led to a further opening of the foreign trade policy in the middle of the 19th century.

Rama IV (1851 - 1868)

King Chulalongkorn

His son King Chulalongkorn, Rama V (1868-1910), continued the political course of his father.

In the late 9th century, Thailand was in an extremely difficult position regarding foreign policy. The British conquered the north of Burma in 1884, after absorbing central Burma, which already had become a part of their empire in 1826. Furthermore, their flag was flapping over Malaya (Malaysia) as well. The Dutch ruled Indonesia and Vietnam. Laos and Cambodia were French territories.

King Chulalongkorn engaged in a great deal of personal negotiating and using his diplomatic skills and ceded some territory east of the Mekhong to France. Thus, he succeeded in Siam not being swallowed up and became another colony like the other Asian nations - Siam remained independent.

In 1896, England and France signed a treaty in which Siam was established as a neutral buffer kingdom among the rivaling colonial powers.

Rama V (1868 - 1910)
King Chulalongkorn

Regarding domestic politics, King Chulalongkorn was certainly one of the most revolutionary monarchs in Thai history. He realized that only by a progressive modernization of the state itself, Siam would be able to ensure its independence in the end. During this process, the king was supported by his half brother Prince Damrong, who belonged to his circle of advisers, called “New Siam”.

The administration of the state was reorganized and further centralized, the financial system was tightened, slavery was abolished and various provinces were granted a controlled autonomous administration. Telegraph cables and railroad tracks were built and the first public schools were established.

Prince Damrong

Chulalongkorn's son, Vajiravudh, Rama VI, reigned from 1910 until 1925. He was educated in Oxford and continued the Thai politics according to his father‘s interests. In 1917, he opened the first Thai university, which was named after his father, and he implemented compulsory education. However, a further opening up to the west was opposed by his  written thoughts in his voluminous literary works, where he promoted national ideas and encouraged the strengthening of a Thai national identity.

Rama VI (1910 - 1925)
King Vajiravudh

Chakri Dynasty of Siam and Thailand  6 Min. - 30. Sept. 2010

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