most historians believe, began migrating from southern China in the early
part of the Christian era. At first they formed a number of city-states
in the northern part of what is present-day Thailand, in places like Chiang
Saen, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, but these were never strong enough to
exert much influence outside the immediate region. Gradually the Thais
migrated further south to the broad and fertile central plains, and expanded
their dominance over nearly the entire Indochina Peninsula. Contradictory
as it may seem, however, recent archaeological discoveries around the
northeast hamlet of Ban Chiang suggest that the world's oldest Bronze
Age civilization was flourishing in Thailand some 5,000 years ago.
Sukhothai was the first Thai kingdom.
It was founded in 1238 by two Thai governors, Khun Bang Klang
Thao (Sri Inthrathit) and Khun Pha Muang who rebelled against
the Khmers; and gave independence to the region. Sukhothai period
was the most flourishing period of Thailand. It gained independence
in 1238 and quickly expanded its boundary of influence. Sukhothai
period was considered to be a golden age of Thai culture.
During that time in the history, everybody could
say that "There are fish in the water and rice in the fields".
The boundary of Sukhothai stretched from Lampang in the north
to Vientiane, in present day Laos and the south to the Malay Peninsula.
During this time Thai had strong friendship with neighboring countries.
It absorbed elements of various civilizations which they came
into contact. Thai maintained and advanced their culture with
China. The potters entered Thai artistry and extensive trade was
established with Cambodia and India.
|After the death of Khun Pha
Muang in 1279, Ramkhamhaeng King, the third son of Si Inthrahit,
ascended to the throne. Under the Ramkhamhaeng King, Sukhothai had
strong friendship with neighboring China. Ramkhamhaeng King organized
a writing system which became the basis for writing and eventually
developed to be the modern Thai alphabet.
the capital of the Thai Kingdom was found by U-Thong King in 1350.
Ayutthaya as an island is formed by the gathering of three rivers,
the Chao Phraya, the Pasak, and the Loburi and surrounded by rice
terraces. It is easy to see why the Ayutthaya area was settled prior
to this date since the site offered a variety of geographical and
economic advantages. The Thai kings of Ayutthaya became powerful in
the 14th and 15th centuries, taking over U-Thong, Lopburi, and Ayutthaya.
U-Thong and his immediate successors expanded Ayutthaya's territory,
especially northward towards Sukhothai and eastward towards the Khmer
capital of Angkor. The greater size of government could not remain
the same as during the days of King Ramkhamhaeng. The society during
the Ayutthaya period was strictly hierarchical. There were, roughly,
three classes of people king at the top of scale. At the bottom of
social scale were commoners and the slaves.
In the early 16th century, the European visited Ayutthaya, and a
Portuguese embassy was established in 1511. Portugal's powerful
neighbor Spain was the next European nation to arrive in Ayutthaya
forward the end of the 16th century. In he early 17th century they
saw the arrival of two northern European, the Dutch and the British,
and France in 1662.
the mid-16th century, Ayutthaya and the independent kingdom in Chiang
Mai was put under the control of the Burmese, but Thais could regain
both of the capitals by the end of the century.
Burmese invaded Ayutthaya again in 1765. This time Burmese caused
much fear to Thais. Burmase soldiers destroyed everything, including
temples, manuscripts, and religious sculpture. After the capital
fell in their hands for two years, the Burmese effectiveness could
not further hold the kingdom. Phaya Taksin, a Thai general, promoted
himself to be the king in 1769. He ruled the new capital of Thonburi
on the bank of Chao Phraya River, opposite Bangkok. Thais regained
control of their country and thus scattered themselves to the provinces
in the north and central part of Thailand. Taksin eventually turn
himself to be the next Buddha and was dismissed and executed by
his ministers who did not approve his religious values.
After the fall of Ayudthaya, General Taksin, a general of Aydthaya, drafted
an army of patriots to take revenge for his country. He successfully chased
away the Burmese troops. After the Burmese were gone, he decided to build
a new capital along the Chaopraya river and named it "Thonburi".
King Taksin has reined a peaceful country for over 15 years and extended
diplomatic relationship with many countries from overseas including China.
Unfortunately, King Taksin, who devoted his life to protect his beloved
country, was over stressed from the wars and eventually became insane.
Thonburi was collapsed because of the coup in 1782 by General Chakri.
King Taksin's achievements have caused prosperity to bestow on him the
epithet "the Great"
After Taksin's death, General Chakri became the first king of the
Chakri dynasty, Rama I, ruling from 1782 to 1809. His first action
as king was to transfer the royal capital across the river from
Thonburi to Bangkok and build the Grand Palace. Rama II (1809-1824)
continued the restoration begun by his predecessor.
King Nang Klao, Rama III (1824-1851) reopened
relations with western nations and developed trade with China.
King Mongkut, Rama IV, (1851-1868) of "The King and I"
concluded treaties with European countries, avoided colonialization
and established modern Thailand. He made many social and economic
reforms during his reign.
King Chulalongkorn, Rama V (1869-1910) continued
his father's tradition of reform, abolishing slavery and improving
the public welfare and administrative system. Compulsory education
and other educational reforms were introduced by King Vajiravudh,
Rama VI (1910-1925). During the reign of King Prajadhipok, (1925-1935),
Thailand changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional
monarchy. The king abdicated in 1933 and was succeeded by his
nephew, King Ananda Mahidol (1935-1946). The country's name was
changed from Siam to Thailand with the advent of democratic government
From absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy
The politics of Thailand took some significant
turn on 24 June 1932 when a group of young intellectuals, educated
abroad and imbued with the concept of Western democracy, staged
a bloodless coup, demanding a change form absolute to a constitutional
monarchy, Determined to avoid any bloodshed, His Majesty King Prajadhipok
(Rama VII) agreed to the abolition of absolute monarchy and the
transfer of power to the constitution-based system of government
To some, this demand was premature, but fortunately
with the far-sightedness of King Prajadhipok and his predecessors
in particular King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V) and King Vajiravudh
(Rama VGI), Thailand was not unprepared for this transition. While
continuing the process launched by the two previous kings, King Prajadhipok
had every intention of accustoming the Thais to the Western system
of constitutional monarchy and had considered the eventuality of altering
such form of government to the people at an appropriate moment. Popular
readiness, the King believed, was an important Ingredient to success
for such transition. It was only a matter of waiting for the right
On 10 December 1932, His Majesty King Prajadhipok
signed Thailand first constitution and thus ended 700 years of Thailand
absolute monarchy. Despite the number of successive constitutions
that followed in the span of just over half a century, the basic concepts
of constitutional government and monarchy laid down in the 1932 constitution
have remained unaltered.