Kingdom of Ayutthaya
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya ( Thai : อาณาจักร อยุธยา ) was a kingdom of the Thai that existed from 1351 to 1767. Its center was in the central Thai basin of the Chao Phraya River . It became known in Europe as Juthia , Judia, or Siam .
King Ramathibodi I (also: U Thong) founded Ayutthaya on March 4, 1351 as the capital of his new kingdom. In the following four centuries it expanded its sphere of influence. It had no clearly defined boundaries, but rather an area of influence that became more and more relaxed from the capital to the outside world, which expanded and contracted several times over the course of time. The transition to neighboring kingdoms was fluid, peripheral areas sometimes only sent irregular tributes , were temporarily dependent on several kingdoms at the same time or made themselves temporarily independent ( mandala model ).
Ayutthaya traded with nations like China , Vietnam ( Annam ), India , Japan and Persia , and later with Portugal , Spain , Holland and France . The latter were allowed to open their trading offices at the gates of the city. The court of King Narai (1656–1688) had ties to that of King Louis XIV , whose diplomats compared the city to Paris in terms of size and prosperity . The capital Ayutthaya is said to have had a million inhabitants around 1700.
At the time of its greatest expansion - during the reign of King Naresuan around 1600 - its area of influence extended from the Shan states in the northwest down to the mouth of the Irrawaddy in what is now Myanmar , from Lan Na via Yunnan (southern China), Lan Xang ( Laos ) and Cambodia to the North Malay Sultanates. In April 1767, Ayutthaya was completely destroyed by the forces of the Burmese King of Ava .
Geography of the capital Ayutthaya
The area of the Southeast Asian Peninsula is dominated by several mountain ranges that run in a north-south direction. The great rivers therefore run parallel to them to the south and formed the alluvial lowlands, in which many kingdoms emerged and declined over the course of history. In the mountainous north of today's Thailand, the rivers Mae Nam Ping , Mae Nam Wang , Mae Nam Yom and Mae Nam Nan flow almost parallel to each other until they merge in the lowlands to form the Mae Nam Chao Phraya ( Chao Phraya River ).
Ayutthaya is located in the center of the lowlands at the confluence of the Chao Phraya and two other rivers, the Mae Nam Lop Buri and the Mae Nam Pa Sak , which together form a large loop. The Lop Buri first flowed into the Chao Phraya in the northwest, the last stretch north of the island is now called Khlong Khu Mueang (moat). In the course of the 14th century a canal was dug in the northeast that connected the old Lop Buri River with the wider Pa Sak, so that Ayutthaya was now surrounded on all sides by navigable waters like an island.
Canals ( khlong ) and streets ran across the island in a checkerboard pattern. There was a wide, tree-lined avenue called Thanon Pa Thong (Golden Forest Road) that began in front of the King's Palace ( Wang Luang ) and ran in a straight line from north to south to the south city wall. Here the king paraded with his land troops. Another street began southwest of the palace and led in an easterly direction past Wat Mahathat to the market district, where charcoal was sold (Pa Than - ป่า ถ่าน ) and blacksmiths had their businesses (Pa Lek - ป่า เหล็ก ). Small shops lined the numerous side streets.
There were ferry docks around the island at regular intervals. There were a total of 20 “water gates” (Pratu-Nam - ประตูน้ำ ) through which suppliers could drive their boats through tunnels under the city wall into the city. The tunnels could be closed in case of danger. The canal system within the city walls was used for irrigation and was the main route of transport. Most of the city's residential areas were along the canals, not the streets. The king's boat lay in a canal in the gardens behind the palace. It was the largest and longest north-south canal, called Khlong Tho ( คลอง ท่อ ). In the largest barque procession every November, the king went to the Kathin ceremony with his golden barque and numerous golden escort boats . This event is still held today under the name of the Royal Barge Procession on special occasions.
The length of all canals within the city was about 56 km, there were five canals in north-south direction and 15 main canals in east-west direction. Of the 28 bridges that crossed the canals, most were arch bridges made of brick, one was probably a Dutch-style drawbridge .
Initially, Ayutthaya was surrounded by an earth wall that ran almost parallel to the surrounding waterway. When cannons emerged during the first Burma wars , the earthworks were removed and a new city wall was built closer to the shore. It was about twelve kilometers long and made of bricks that could withstand the Burmese cannons. 17 watchtowers were built at regular intervals along the wall, the royal palace had seven towers. There were also about 75 guarded city gates.
When an enemy army approached, the locks in the city wall were closed. The capital was only just above the high water level . If the water level of the rivers rose after the monsoon rains, the entire area was flooded and Ayutthaya lay like an island in a lake. No siege army could defy these conditions for a long time.
Political situation around 1350
In the middle of the 14th century, what is now Thailand was divided into several kingdoms, principalities and city-states. The 13th century was a "century of Tai been" This probably immigrated from northern people whose presence is occupied in what is now central Thailand at the latest in the 12th century, a variety first small-scale principalities or city-states had at this time ( Müang ) established and older Mon states (like Dvaravati in today's central and Hariphunchai in northern Thailand) were replaced, and in many places the supremacy of the declining Khmer empire of Angkor was shaken off. 1238 is the founding year of the kingdom of Sukhothai , located between northern and central Thailand, and 1292 that of Chiang Mai , the new capital of the northern Thai kingdom of Lan Na .
In the central Thai basin of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya ( Chao Phraya River ), around 50 kilometers north of the later Ayutthaya, was Lavo (today's Lop Buri ), an ancient foundation of the Mon, which was one of the most important centers in the 11th century Served Khmer Empire, but also maintained a certain independence. In the middle of the 13th century it finally renounced Angkor and soon afterwards it approached the Thai empire of Sukhothai. About the same distance to the west was Suphannaphum (today's Suphan Buri ), which had a primacy among the Thai Müang of the western Chao-Phraya plain. Other local principalities of the Thai, some of which were interdependent, were also located in the east and south as far as Nakhon Si Thammarat on the Malay Peninsula .
Some historians - based on relevant references in the chronicles - argue that there was a city called Ayodhya , which was the second capital of the Kingdom of Lavo, as early as the 12th or 13th century near what later became Ayutthaya . In any case, the Chronicle of the North from Lan Na in northern Thailand already mentions a kingdom of Ayodhya for the period before 1351, which seems to be identical with the kingdom of Lavo; in addition, ruins have been found in the area around Ayutthaya, which date back to before the Ayutthaya period. The commonly assumed founding date of 1351 would not have been a complete re-establishment, but merely a re-establishment (possibly after a temporary abandonment due to an epidemic) or a minor relocation of a previous city. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya would therefore in principle be a continuation of the Kingdom of Lavo.
Ayutthaya was according to the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya "in the year 712 of the Chula calendar , a year of the tiger, on Friday, the 6th day of the waxing moon in the 5th month, at three nalika and nine bat after daybreak", i.e. on the 4th Founded March 1351 AD just after nine in the morning by a charismatic leader named U Thong . He named the capital of his new kingdom "Krung Deva Dvāravatī Śrī Ayudhyā" (or Krung Thep Thawarawadi Si Ayutthaya , 'City of the Devas , which has gates, the invincible'), after the earlier Buddhist state structure Dvaravati and the prince's capital Ayodhya Rama in the Indian epic Ramayana . He then called himself “Ramathibodi”, also a reference to Rama, who according to Hindu ideas is an avatar of the god Vishnu .
In his 19-year rule, Ramathibodi first tried to unite the surrounding Thai principalities ( Müang ) of Suphannaphum (now Suphan Buri ) and Nakhon Pathom in the west and Lavo (now Lop Buri ) in the northeast under his leadership. To this end, he brought administrative and military experts from "West Siam" (from today's provinces of Suphan Buri, Ratchaburi and Petchaburi ) to his court; in addition from the Khmer- speaking elite in “East Siam” (today's provinces Lop Buri and Nakhon Nayok ) chroniclers, astrologers, scribes and legal scholars. Chinese and Indian traders have settled south of its capital for a long time.
U Thong's mother may have been from Lop Buri and his wife was a princess from Suphan Buri. The rivalry between one in Lop Buri (which Ramathibodi I had designated as the seat of the Uparat , ie “viceroy” and designated heir to the throne) and a line of the ruling family based in Suphan Buri played an important role during the first decades of Ayutthaya's existence . From the death of Ramathibodi I until the beginning of the 15th century, kings of the Lop-Buri and Suphannaphum lines took over from the throne several times using armed force.
During Ramathibodi's reign, the new empire was in competition with Angkor and other Tai empires such as Sukhothai , Lan Na or Lan Xang . In the year after Ramathibodi's death, the Ayutthaya Kingdom was recognized by Hongwu , Emperor of China, as the rightful successor to Sukhothai. Sukhothai still occupied areas around Ayutthaya around 1400, and it was not until 1438, after the death of the last king of Sukhothai, that Borommaracha II was able to install his then underage son as viceroy of Sukhothai, which led to his final incorporation in Ayutthaya. Sukhothai was not simply annexed, rather the traditions of the two Thai empires were combined. The martial arts, administrative structure, architecture, religious practice and language of Ayutthaya were significantly influenced by those of the older kingdom in the period that followed. Members of the ancient Sukhothai nobility formed marriage alliances with the Ayutthaya aristocracy and often served in top military positions.
Ayutthaya has been involved in battles with the eastern Khmer empire of Angkor since its foundation. In 1369 the capital Angkor was occupied for the first time. The great military campaign of King Borommaracha II. 1431/32 against Angkor ultimately weakened the competitor decisively and strengthened Ayutthaya's authority. The numerous prisoners of war carried along strengthened the administration of Ayutthaya and as a result the Siamese kingdom continued the legacy of Angkor in many ways. If the king of Sukhothais was a fatherly ruler (pho khun) , that Ayutthaya in the Angkorian tradition was a god-like ruler ( deva -rāja) . The administration of the empire was also based on that of Angkor, which also favored the similar natural conditions with frequent floods and the need to regulate the river water. Brahmanic ceremonies were adopted from Angkor as well as numerous words from the Khmer language that found their way into the court language of Ayutthaya.
King Borommaracha II. (R. 1424–1448) extended his power to the south. A number of self-governing Malay states existed there, which, however, had to pay tribute to Ayutthaya. In the 15th century in particular, a lot of energy was directed towards the Malay Peninsula and a long-lasting rivalry arose with the Sultanate of Malacca for supremacy in the Malacca Strait and the associated control of important sea trade routes. Armed conflicts also broke out here in the middle of the 15th century, but Malacca was able to keep the upper hand. However, Ayutthaya was able to control trade on the Kra isthmus . Malacca and the other Malay states south of Nakhon Si Thammarat have known Islam since the beginning of the 15th century , which from then on served as a symbol of Malay solidarity against the Siamese.
Up until the 15th century, the empire was by no means a fixed entity. Between the individual lines of the country's aristocracy there were repeated rivalries, some of which were bloody. The principalities, which were incorporated into Ayutthaya as provinces, were often self-governing and connected to the Ayutthaya dynasty only through tribute or kinship ( mandala model ). They were able to raise their own armies and sometimes even war with one another. The king always had to be vigilant so that the princes did not ally themselves against him behind his back or even allied with the enemy. Especially when a change of throne was imminent, the warlords marched with their armies before the capital to underline their support for one or the other heir to the throne.
Progress towards consolidation was made under Borommaracha II. His son Borommatrailokanat ( Trailok for short ; r. 1448-1488) created a central power that divided the country into four regions and cut the power of the provincial princes in favor of ministers appointed by the king. The laws on the civil, military and provincial hierarchy of 1454 divided the administration into a military and a civil half and subjected it to strict hierarchies. Buddhism as an ideological instrument to consolidate the king's power was promoted and strengthened. More than before, the king appeared as a patron and protector of the Sangha . For the first time, a department was created at his court to deal with religious matters. The Sakdina - (also written: Sakdi Na-) system, which assigned a place and rank to every subject and member of the nobility (Khun-nang) , was created. It allowed the central authority to quickly mobilize its subjects for labor or military service. Ayutthaya had created the most efficient state in Southeast Asia of its time.
The northern Thai empire Lan Na could not be brought under the rule of Ayutthaya. Under King Tilokarat (r. 1442–1487) it experienced a phase of highest prosperity and power and wanted to expand its sphere of influence to the south, into the northern provinces of Ayutthaya ( Phitsanulok , province , Kamphaeng Phet ). King Trailok even moved his capital to Phitsanulok from 1463 to 1488 , possibly to be closer to the dispute with Lan Na. He left the administration of Ayutthaya to his son Borommaracha III. as viceroy. Contemporary Portuguese traders described Ayutthaya and Phitsanulok as "twin states".
Temporary decline and regain
In the first half of the 16th century, the kingdom was weakened by bloody battles for the throne. At the same time, the Taungu dynasty established an empire in neighboring Burma , which grew stronger around the same time. In 1549 the Burmese besieged the capital Ayutthaya without success. In 1557/58 they were able to conquer Lan Na , which meant that Ayutthaya could now be attacked from two sides. In 1563 a great military action by the Burmese began , for which Ayutthaya was not sufficiently prepared. In 1564, the forces of the Burmese King Bayinnaung overran Ayutthaya, taking King Chakkraphat , his queens and sons prisoner. Bayinnaung left only the eldest son, Prince Mahin , in Ayutthaya as his vassal king.
Chakkraphat was allowed to return to Ayutthaya in order to be ordained a monk there, but he immediately took the throne again. In a new campaign in 1568/69, Bayinnaung sent a "huge multi-ethnic force" to conquer Ayutthaya, which was no longer able to defend itself as a result of internal disputes. The capital was besieged for ten months. King Chakkraphat died during the siege and his son Mahin was unable to hold the city. On August 30, 1569, the city fell, largely due to treason in its own ranks. The victors abducted numerous residents to Pegu, including King Mahin, who died on the way. The Burmese set Maha Thammaracha , Prince of Phitsanulok and one of the Burmese allies, as a vassal king. This event is one of the most important moments in the history of Thailand. This is where the early Ayutthaya period ends.
However, the Burmese were unable to maintain their expansion efforts. During his Burmese captivity, the 15-year-old son of Maha Thammaracha, Prince Naresuan , was initially able to win the trust of the Burmese. When his sister was married to King Bayinnaung in 1571 , Naresuan was able to return to Ayutthaya in return. After the death of King Bayinnaung in 1581, Burma ran into domestic political difficulties. In 1590 Naresuan became king in Ayutthaya and gathered a large number of allies around him, with whom he successfully seized control of the capital. In 1593, Naresuan is said to have killed the Burmese crown prince himself in a historic battle near Nong Sarai (today: Don Chedi ). A national monument on the site of the battle still commemorates this act today.
Naresuan managed to quickly restore the empire to its original borders. In addition, he expanded and was able to bring important trading cities in southern Burma under the control of Ayutthaya ( Siamese-Burmese War 1593-1600 ). In 1594 the Cambodian capital Lovek was conquered and prisoners of war were forcibly resettled in the empire. The consolidation of the empire was made possible by the good cooperation between Naresuan and his brother, who later became King Ekathotsarot . Later successions to the throne were usually accompanied by bloody power struggles.
Confrontation with the European colonial powers
In the 17th century, Europeans began to become increasingly active in Southeast Asia. The first Portuguese missions from Goa had visited Ayutthaya as early as 1511 and 1512 . In 1512 Ayutthaya signed the first trade treaty with a European power. The agreement reached with Duarte Coelho allowed the Portuguese to trade in the Malay Peninsula and the capital Ayutthaya. In return, Ayutthaya received weapons and Portuguese mercenaries fight in the armies of the empire from now on. From 1598, the Spaniards, who had meanwhile colonized the Philippines , also established relationships with Ayutthaya.
The rulers of Ayutthaya, however, saw no threat in the Europeans; rather, these came from the direct neighbors. The Dutch East India Company sent its first mission to Ayutthaya in 1604, opened its first trading post in the city as early as 1606 and in 1608 the first Siamese delegation left for The Hague . The Dutch, as well as the British, who established themselves a little later in the country, agreed, however, that the opportunities for profitable business were not very high. An important source for the related events is the Dutchman Jeremias van Vliet (1602–1663), who lived for a long time as an agent of the Dutch East India Company in Ayutthaya.
In addition to the Europeans, representatives of Asian powers also settled in Ayutthaya. Traditionally, numerous Chinese merchants lived in the country, with the Japanese later joining them. These groups exerted a not inconsiderable influence on the fortunes of the kingdom and were able to rise to the highest government positions. Yamada Nagamasa thus became the provincial governor of Ligor (today Nakhon Si Thammarat ) in the south of the empire and the commander of over 300 samurai. Japanese mercenaries who had come to Ayutthaya on Japanese trading junks and settled southeast of the city center on the east bank of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya were most likely fighting the Burmese on the side of the Siamese. They had their own neighborhood, in which between 1000 and 1500 Japanese lived at the height of their influence around 1620. King Ekathotsarot even decided to include the Japanese in his bodyguard. In 1630, however, there was a massacre of the Japanese, whose survivors were driven from Siam.
In the middle of the 17th century the Dutch East India Company tried to enforce monopoly claims. The Dutch facilities in Ayutthaya were besieged and, after a blockade of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya estuary, enforced the granting of trade rights across the country, extra-territorial rights and a ban on the employment of Chinese on Siamese merchant ships. From 1664 the French East India Company tried to gain a foothold in Ayutthaya. They were supported by the Chaophraya Vichayen ( Constantine Phaulkon ), who worked his way up from the Greek cabin boy to the Mahatthai under King Narai (r. 1656–1688). The result was lively diplomatic relations between Paris and Ayutthaya, which sent several diplomatic missions to France from 1680, and the withdrawal of the Dutch. The rivalry between the European powers resulted in the presence of numerous foreign soldiers in Ayutthaya.
The missionary attempts and the intention of the French to build fortresses triggered the displeasure of the tradition-conscious nobility. A serious illness of King Narai was used as an opportunity to put the head of the Elephant Ministry on the throne as King Phetracha in a coup . Phaulkon was executed, the French had to give up their facilities, leaving numerous hostages behind, and all missionary activities were banned. This turning point is referred to in Western accounts of Thai history as the 1688 revolution . It ushered in a new phase in the country's foreign policy, in which Ayutthaya focused on neighboring countries. Although a new trade agreement was signed with the Dutch East India Company as early as 1688, both sides initially had no great interest in re-establishing trade relations: there were too few lucrative opportunities for the Europeans and there was no breeding ground for successful proselytizing.
The events of 1688 did not weaken or isolate Siam. The country continued to trade with its neighbors, and as before, foreigners, especially Chinese, Indians and Persians, held high positions at the court of the kings in Ayutthaya. Especially after the start of travel exports to China, Thailand's role as a trading partner was upgraded.
Under King Thai Sa (r. 1709–1733) and his successor Borommakot (r. 1733–1758), after a few years of bloody battles for the throne, the kingdom entered a heyday that lasted about half a century. New channels ( khlongs ) were dug, temples ( wat ) built and many ships were able to leave the shipyards of Ayutthaya. Art and poetry flourished especially under Borommakot. Borommakot's son Chaofa Thammathibet is considered the most important poet in the history of Thailand, his rowing songs and Nirats are still standard reading in Thai schools today. The Lakhon theater poetry also came up during this period. Borommakot was also a patron of the religions, so that historians refer to this period as the "Golden Age".
In terms of foreign policy, the rivalry with Vietnam for supremacy in Indochina began, which lasted until the French colonization of Indochina. In 1707 Laos was effectively partitioned, and Vietnamese and Siamese interests collided in Cambodia. The possibilities of Siam were limited, however, caused by the weakness of the central authority. The leading families in the country succeeded more and more in controlling the subjects in their private interest. This led to a labor shortage on the part of the kings and eroded their power. This is an explanation for the peacefulness of the kings in the epoch of the Golden Age, but also for the fact that foreign policy opportunities - such as the weakness of Burma when a Mon state was founded in 1740 - were not used.
The last few years and fall
The Golden Age of Ayutthaya ended shortly after the death of King Borommakot . The Konbaung dynasty had established itself in Burma , the empire was consolidated internally and was now pursuing an aggressive policy of expansion. After King Uthumphon had been driven out by his brother Ekathat (r. 1758–1767) after a reign of only 3 days , the first attacks by the Burmese under King Alaungpaya began a short time later . In 1759 Martaban , Tavoy , Mergui and Tenasserim were the first Mon city-states to fall to Burma. After conquering Phetchaburi , Ratchaburi and Suphan Buri , they soon stood before Ayutthaya and began a siege. King Ekathat asked his brother Uthumphon to give up monastic life and instead to take over the reign and in particular to organize the defense. King Alaungphaya was seriously injured a short time later by the explosion of his own cannon, whereupon the siege army withdrew. Alaungphaya passed away on the way back. Uthumphon took care of the fortification of Ayutthaya for two years before retiring to the monastery.
In 1765, the Burmese began another major attack on Siam . King Hsinbyushin (also called Mongra) sent two armies to pinch the kingdom of Ayutthaya from the north and the south. In February 1766, the Burmese finally appeared off Ayutthaya and began a year-long siege. Ekathat offered to submit to Ayutthaya, but the Burmese wanted total annihilation. After a devastating fire within the besieged city, which is said to have destroyed 10,000 houses, many fled secretly. Ayutthaya fell on the evening of April 7, 1767, part of the city wall collapsed and the Burmese were able to storm the city.
Temples and palaces were looted and set on fire, art treasures and libraries as well as the archives with historical records were destroyed. Fires were stoked for days in front of the huge Buddha statue of Phra Sri Sanphet to melt the gold from which the figure was made. Larger cannons, of which the Siamese had been so proud, were sunk in the river, the smaller ones transported to Burma. All people, with special attention paid to artists and craftsmen, were rounded up by the winners and also brought on the way to Burma, where only a few arrived. After all, the big city was completely deserted.
The more than four hundred year history of Ayutthaya came to an end. Ayutthaya was stripped of all leadership: the king had perished while fleeing, the heir to the throne had fallen in battle. The country fell into chaos and the situation of the population was catastrophic. Provinces declared independence under renegade military leaders, power-hungry monks or younger members of the royal family. General Phraya Tak (Sin), who later became King Taksin , knew how to prevent the threatened Burmese subjugation by means of skillful diplomacy and the development of a strong army. He founded a new capital in Thonburi , around 80 kilometers downstream from Ayutthaya.
politics and society
Traditional Siamese society was pyramidal with the monarch at the top. Under him, his subjects were organized in a hierarchy, the relative standing of each relative to all others being regulated by a system called Sakdina , which was expressed in units of arable land in Rai . The division into hierarchies of leaders and subjects was seen as normal and a natural part of life. This is still evident today through the language, which has developed a different vocabulary when dealing with different social classes, as well as through social customs. Children have already been taught to place their counterpart in higher or lower positions based on language, clothing or other information. Both the leaders and the subordinates benefit from this system in the eyes of the Thai, and they consider inequality to be essential. For example, it is in the patron's self-interest to fulfill their obligation to protect and support their subordinates, subordinates feel more secure when they can rely on the support of a strong patron.
Society can be divided into five groups: 1.) the royal family, 2.) the nobility and officials , 3.) the subjects (in English usage freemen or commoners ), 4.) the clergy with the Buddhist monks and the Brahmins and 5.) the group of slaves. People of Chinese descent were outside this system, they were taxed differently and had their own administrative structure.
If the king in the kingdom of Sukhothai saw himself as a patriarch ( พ่อ เมือง - literally: "father of the land") whose advice was sought and whose judgment was unconditionally recognized, the kings of Ayutthaya adopted the term Devaraja ( Sanskrit : deva : " God ”, rāja :“ King ”) from the Khmer. Although the king ruled as Chakravartin according to the Thammasat ( ธรรมศาสตร์ - Dharmashāstra), an old legal text that was passed on via the Mon in the sub-company of Manusmriti , the “code of Manu”, he was at the same time inaccessible to almost everyone. A king did not inherit his title, but was chosen by the throne council from a number of candidates as the most worthy. Then he was anointed as king, that is, sprinkled with "cleansing water" ( น้ำมนตร์ ). The presentation of a crown and other royal insignia is only a small part of the several-day ceremony called Phra Ratchaphithi Borommaphisek ( พระ ราช พิธี บรม ภิ เษ ก - “Royal Ceremony of the Great Anointing”).
The Royal family
The royal family consisted of princes, princesses, and other members who helped the king rule. The rank of royal descendants was divided into five groups by law in 1458, depending on the status of their mothers. With each subsequent generation, their title was downgraded by one notch, so that after five generations the royal descendants became "Free Citizens" again. The members of the royal family were paid a monthly allowance by the king, the amount of which was dependent on the rank of the person concerned, with no distinction made between women and men. Some princes were entrusted with the management of ministries or departments of the government ( กรม - Krom ), which significantly increased their Sakdi Na.
The nobility and officials
Between the royal family and the mass of subjects were nobles and officials ( ขุนนาง - Khun-Nang) who were responsible for the administration of the country. Their titles were neither designed for life nor inheritable. Sometimes the daughters of the Khun-Nang were offered to the king as wives. Through them, the families obtained a bond with the royal court, but at the same time they became "hostages" with whom the loyalty and obedience of their families could be enforced. The Khun-Nang were an open class insofar as their members could well come from the common people.
The rank of the Khun-Nang depended on the office to which they were called. Title and rank were intertwined via the Sakdina . Incumbents with a Sakdi Na of more than 400 could call themselves Khun-Nang . It is estimated that there were no more than 2,000 khun-nang out of a total population of around 2 million. If someone was dismissed from an office, his title forfeited at the same time, unless the king continued to grant him his title because of his achievements. With the office, the bearer is also responsible for a certain number of “free citizens” ( Phrai , ไพร่ ), for whom he then becomes the Nai ( นาย , lord , roughly comparable to the Roman patron ). The surplus value that was generated by his Phrai was fully available to the Nai - after deduction of taxes.
The Phrai (Thai: ไพร่ ) were the entire workforce of the empire between the ages of 18 and 60 who were required by law to register with a patron.
There were different groups of Phrai: Phrai Luang (Royal Phrai, directly subordinate to the King) and Phrai Som (Private Phrai), prisoners of war or voluntary Phrai, Phrai in military or civil service, Thais , Mon , Malay , Khmer or Laotians . Most of the Phrai, however, were farmers who could be assigned to various tasks by their Nai . In theory, you had a Sakdi Na between 10 and 350.
Each Phrai was required six months of a year for Corvée -work, so compulsory service to be available. This only affected the male subjects, so women often had full responsibility and a large part of the work to run their family farm.
There were several ways for a Phrai to evade compulsory labor. In addition to fleeing, he was also able to sell himself as a slave, which, although it gave him a lower tax burden, tied him more tightly to his nai.
- The relationship between Nai and Phrai
A nai was personally responsible for his phrai. His duties - for example, jurisdiction, taxation, Corvée , welfare - required that he knew his Phrai and knew where to find them.
A nai received his phrai either with his office or by inheritance. However, he could also try to “convince” unregistered Phrai to confide in the system, although “convincing” did not necessarily involve violence. When registering a Phrai, certain data, such as his own name, the name of his Nai and his origin, were tattooed on his forearm. This entitled him to live in towns or villages where he was physically and legally protected from bandits and wild animals, where he had the opportunity to acquire religious merit ( tam bun ) .
If you take into account the slow communication facilities of the time and the thin transport infrastructure , there were enough opportunities for a Phrai to escape the system. Registered Phrai could flee into the wilderness or the mountains, where they were free and on their own, but also enjoyed no protection. The escape, death, or crippling of a Phrai were constant problems for a Nai as he was responsible for paying taxes on his Phrai. As a result, Nai did not report all of their subordinates “up”. While this was against the law, it was partially tolerated.
- Buddhist monks
Members of the Sangha included a few princes and a large number of retired officials. The subjects, however, made up the largest proportion. Slaves could not be ordained as monks. The Buddhist monks were privileged insofar as they were exempt from any form of compulsory labor and military service. It was customary for every Siamese man to put on the orange robe at least once in his life for a period of a few months, rarely staying in the monastery for a lifetime. The Buddhist monasteries were also the only way to get education for the majority of the population. ( See also: Buddhism in Thailand )
Brahmins have settled sporadically in the Siamese capital, especially since the conquest of Angkor Thom. Although they came from South India, they were never accompanied by female Brahmins on their trips to Southeast Asia, but married local women. In the old Khmer Empire, they formed a powerful caste with strong influence over the government. But since few of them came to Siam, they had no real power in the state. However, they were very respected during the entire Ayutthaya period and were able to assert their influence on the reorganization of the administration by King Borommatrailokanat. Some of the court brahmins were hired to perform certain royal ceremonies because of their knowledge of Hindu rituals and their possession of ancient Sanskrit texts. Others were recognized as having a knowledge of Indian and Khmer thought, the “art of governance”, and skillful interpreting of the Dhamma .
At the lower end of the social hierarchy were the slaves ( ทาส - That ). Slavery already existed in the Sukhothai period, but it was not until the Kingdom of Ayutthaya that it became very pronounced. In the middle of the 19th century, the French bishop Jean-Baptiste Pallegoix estimated their number at a quarter of the total population. King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) finally abolished slavery with a law, but it took another 30 years before slavery finally disappeared.
The status of the slaves in Ayutthaya can be compared with that of the clientele - dependents - in ancient Rome. They were generally treated well so that they were not very different from the common people because public opinion prevented oppression. By law, slaves had certain rights, such as the right to property, the right to found a family, and the right to sue in court. Yet they were at the mercy of their master, who could do with him whatever he pleased, except to kill him. All slaves were first the property of the king. Some, called "That Luang", were exchanged between officers or given as compensation for a service. Others, called "That Phra", were used in monasteries to cultivate the monastery's own lands.
The Siamese population of Ayutthaya belonged to Theravada Buddhism. In the middle of the 13th century, Mahayana Buddhism , which had been practiced until then, was replaced by a new form brought from Sri Lanka by Theravada monks of the so-called Langkawong (also Langkawamsa) sect . The Langkawong monasteries can be roughly divided into two groups. In the first lived learned monks who studied the Pali scripts and offered lessons for novices and laypeople in languages and religious literature. In the second group lived monks known as Aranyawasi ("forest dwellers"). Although these monasteries were outside the city limits, they were relatively easy to reach on foot or by boat. Their monks mainly practiced meditation .
Excess profits from the court and from merchants were used to found new monasteries ( wat ) or to renovate existing ones. Some monasteries were supported solely by a single family, while others were built by kings or princes of the kingdom. In the course of time, a large number of religious building complexes have been built in the capital Ayutthaya. Around 530 religious sites can be identified today, but most of them are only ruins.
In addition to Buddhism, Brahmanic rites from the Cambodian tradition were preserved, especially in the life of the court. In the literature of the Ayutthaya epoch there are reports of all kinds of spirits and unearthly phenomena, and it was part of the craft of war that guardian spirits were sacrificed before the battle and astrologers were asked about the best day of the campaign. Amulets, tattoos, yoga-like exercises, and pieces of metal under the skin should impart superhuman powers.
In the middle of the 18th century, King Borommakot was asked by King Ceylon to support Sinhala Buddhism. As a result, the Thai Sangha sent missions to Kandy from 1752 onwards , which consisted of around 700 monks. This became the Syama Nikaya ordinance line of Theravada Buddhism that still exists today .
The Ayutthaya Kingdom was the destination of proselytizing from abroad. While Persian missionaries tried to convince the Ayutthaya kings of Islam , the French in particular stood out in Catholic proselytizing. In 1673 the French bishops Lambert de la Motte and François Pallu arrived in Ayutthaya, delivering letters from Pope Clement XI. and began attempts at conversion at the royal court. Phaulkon , who converted to Catholicism in 1682, also propagated his new faith. Missionaries also excelled in areas that were useful to the rulers of Ayutthaya, such as architecture; under Father Thomas fortresses and palaces were designed and built. From 1676 there was also a Catholic seminary in Ayutthaya. The missionary work was, however, of little success: in 1688 there were about 2000 Christians in Ayutthaya, most of them foreigners. The persecution of Christians in 1688 and 1730 remained an isolated case in the Siamese society, which is characterized by religious tolerance.
The basic structure of the training of the princes, the young nobles and the "free citizens" was taken over by Ayutthaya from the Sukhothai Kingdom and maintained until the 19th century. There were two types of schools: a royal school ( ราชบัณฑิตยสถาน - racha-ban-dit ) for the sons of the royal family and the Buddhist monasteries ( wat ) , where monks taught basic subjects. In the monastery schools , the boys in the village were initially taught mainly religious topics such as Buddhist morals and values . Later, Pali and Sanskrit were perhaps added as foreign languages . Only a few monasteries also taught art, natural sciences, (herbal) medicine and astrology. School attendance was not compulsory, students came to class as long as the free time in addition to field work allowed. Since illiteracy was very widespread, the murals in the temple buildings were used for teaching.
The first Thai textbook, the "Chindamani" ( จินดามณี ), was written by the monk Horathibodi ( พระ โหรา ธิ บ ดี ) during the reign of King Narai (1656–1688) ; it was still in the reign of King Chulalongkorn (1868–1910) ) in use. The vocational training was not given in schools, but passed on orally.
At the beginning of the Ayutthaya period, the king held all the strings of the administration of the empire in his own hands, he was the commander of all the military. When King Borommaracha II had conquered Angkor Thom in 1431 , he was able to kidnap many Khmer specialists as prisoners of war to Ayutthaya. They were mostly trained civil servants who stood by the king's later successor when he developed his new system of centralized and differentiated administration based on the Khmer model.
King Borommatrailokanat (short: King Trailok ) finally reformed the administration from the ground up by first centralizing control over the provinces. He sent out his sons, nephews, and other close relatives to rule the larger cities, while giving the less important provinces to the feudal lords. The previously inheritable office of governor was abolished and controls tightened; from now on the governors were directly subordinate to the king. However, the tributary (city) states continued to be ruled by their hereditary princes, who were nominally vassals of the king.
Another innovation of King Trailok was the division into civil and military administration, both of which had previously been closely interwoven. The senior officials in the capital were given a higher rank: Senabodi (often translated as "minister"). They were entrusted with the management of the various ministries (Krom) . The civil administration was divided into five main ministries:
- the Ministry of the Interior ( Krasuang Mahatthai ) under the direction of the Samuhanayok ( สมุหนายก ), who carried the title Chaophraya Chakkri Si-ongkharak . At the same time he was given the rank of "main minister" (Akkharamahasenabodi) for civil affairs and thus had priority over the following subordinate ministries:
- the capital city ministry ( กรม เวียง - Kromma-wiang , also กรมเมือง Kromma-mueang or Krom Nakhonban ) under the direction of Phraya Yommarat for the interests of the capital, such as the police, the prison, etc.
- the Ministry of the Treasury ( กรม พระ คลัง - Krom Phrakhlang or Krom Kosathibodi ) with the Phraya Sithammathirat at its head, which simultaneously administered the finances of the empire and the property of the king,
- the Ministry of Agriculture ( กรม นา - Kromma-na or Krom Phra Kasetrathibodi ) with the Phraya Phonlathep ( พระยา พลเทพ ) at the head, which supervised the food production and at the same time the leasing of land, and
- the palace ministry (กรมวัง - Kromma-wang or Krom Thammathikon ) under the direction of the Phraya Thammathibodi ( พระยา ธารมา ธิ บ ดี ), which was responsible for the royal household and jurisdiction.
Other, smaller ministries were the Ministry of Religious Affairs ( กรม พระ ธรรม การ - Krom Phra Thammakan ), the Ministry of Royal Robes ( Krom Busamala ), the archive Ministry ( กรม พระ สุร สวด - Krom Phra Surasuat ), the elephant Ministry ( กรม พระ ค ช บาล - Krom Phra Khotchaban ), the palace guards ( Krom Lom Phra Ratchawang ) or the Krom of the court Brahmins and astrologers.
The military administration ( Krasuang Kalahom ) was under the direction of another "chief minister" (equal to the Samuhanayok), the Samuhaphrakalahom ( สมุหพระกลาโหม ), who carried the title Chaophraya Maha Senabodi . Several officials with the rank of minister who administered the various military departments were subordinate to him.
The local administration of the provinces was designed in the same way as the central government, but the various provinces were divided into four classes, with the fourth class directly bordering the capital.
Excavations seem to confirm that Ayutthaya was a thriving trading post for Chinese and Indian traders at the confluence of the three rivers as early as 1351. This is where the trade routes met from the north along the Chao Phraya and its tributaries, from the border to Lan Xang via Lop Buri and Saraburi along the Pa Sak and Lop Buri rivers, from the west came the land route from Tenasserim via Suphanburi, from the east from today's Nakhon Rachasima and from the southeast from the Khmer Empire.
In the course of its entire history, Ayutthaya carried on a flourishing trade in "forest products" ( ผลิตภัณฑ์ จาก ป่า ), mainly redwood , a wood that was used to produce red paint, agarwood for the production of incense , benzoin , also incense, rubber lacquer , for the production of sealing wax , Black Lake , another tree resin for the production of Chinese and Japanese lacquer ware , and wildlife - especially deer - skins . Deerskin was very popular in Japan because it was used in the manufacture of samurai armor. Tusks of elephants and horns of rhinoceros were also highly valued export products, the ivory was a royal monopoly and rhinos compared to skins quite rare. Ayutthaya also sold foods such as rice and dried fish to other Southeast Asian countries. Minerals were rarely found in the kingdom, with the exception of tin from Phuket (former name: "Junkceylon") and Nakhon Si Thammarat (former name: "Ligor"), which was popular with both Asian and European traders.
In the first one hundred and fifty years, along with Indians, Persians and Japanese, the Chinese were the most important trading partners. They settled in the empire and quickly gained control of the country's economy, which later repeatedly caused social tensions. Because the Chinese did not have to register for Corvée work and they could move freely around the country and do business.
Of the Europeans, it was the Portuguese in 1518 who were the first western nation to sign a trade agreement with Ayutthaya. They were given permission to establish trading bases south of the capital and in other port cities in the empire. In return, they supplied the king with cannons and ammunition. The first Spanish merchant ship reached Ayutthaya towards the end of the 16th century, and the Dutch, British and French joined them in the 17th century. The Dutch East India Company played an important role in Ayutthaya's imports and exports between 1605 and 1765, as they received an exclusive license to trade in tin. The British East India Company brought the Greek adventurer Constantine Phaulkon into the country, who later rose to become King Narais' first minister. French missionaries reached the capital with the intention of converting the king to the Christian faith, as a result, embassies were exchanged between France and Siam in the 1680s. After the death of King Narai during the so-called Siamese Revolution , the missionaries of the Jesuits were expelled from the country. In the years that followed, Siam had little contact with Western countries, while trade with China and India continued to flourish.
- The year is not exactly clarified, but it is certain that it was a year of the Rooster , 1357 or 1345 would also be possible, cf. Karl-Heinz Golzio: History of Cambodia , Munich 2003, p. 91
- So much for the Thai sources. According to Burmese sources, Alaungphaya only became "seriously ill". (BJTerwiel: Thailand's Political History , p. 35)
- A detailed description of the last few days can be found in D. Garnier: Ayutthaya, Venice of the East .
- Phrai: about farmers or Public Domain - there is due to a non-existing Western concept no clear translation, see also the different terms in English literature: freemen , commoners , peasants ...
- The names of the ministries and the titles of the ministers vary in part over time and in different sources. Sometimes the name of the ministry is used instead of the title of minister. This article follows Somsamai Srisudravarna (i.e. Chit Phumisak ): The Real Face of Thai Saktina Today. Translated and reprinted in Craig J. Reynolds: Thai Radical Discourse. The Real Face of Thai Feudalism Today. Cornell Southeast Asia Program, Ithaca NY 1987, pp. 91-92.
- Richard D. Cushman: The Royal Chronicles Of Ayutthaya . The Siam Society, Bangkok 2000, ISBN 974-8298-48-5 .
- Helmut Fessen and Hans-Dieter Kubitscheck: History of Thailand . Münster and Hamburg 1994, ISBN 3-89473-226-1
- Derick Garnier: Ayutthaya - Venice of the East . River Books, Bangkok 2004, ISBN 974-8225-60-7 .
- Emanuel Sarkisyanz : The Cultures of Continental Southeast Asia. Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaya. Academic Publishing Company Athenaion, Wiesbaden 1979, ISBN 3799701338
- Sven Trakulhun: Siam and Europe, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya in western reports 1500–1670 . (= Series of publications of the German-Thai Society; 24). Wehrhahn Verlag, Hannover 2006, ISBN 3-86525-250-8 .
- HG Quaritch Wales : Ancient Siamese Government and Administration. London 1934. Reprinted from Paragon Book, New York 1965.
- David K. Wyatt : Thailand. A short history . Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai 1984, ISBN 974-7047-44-6 .
- David K. Wyatt, Chris Baker , Dhiravat na Pombejra, Alfon van der Kraan: Van Vliet's Siam . Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai 2005, ISBN 974-9575-81-4 .
- David K. Wyatt: Siam in Mind . Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai 2002, ISBN 974-7551-72-1 .
- A Country Study: Thailand , a study by the Library of Congress
- The History of Thailand's Administration ( Memento of June 26, 2004 on the Internet Archive ) - Internet Archives
- History of Aythhaya - Your resources on old Siam . Very detailed page with a description of all temples in and around Ayutthaya (in English)
- John Anderson: English Intercourse with Siam in the Seventeenth Century. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., London 1890, p. 18.
- Barend Jan Terwiel : Thailand's Political History. From the Fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 to Recent Times. River Books, Bangkok 2005, p. 12.
- Thongchai Winichakul: Siam Mapped - A History of the Geo-body of a Nation . University of Hawaii Press 1994. Reprinted by Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai 1998, ISBN 974-7100-56-8 , Map 17 ("Figure 17")
- Sumet Jumsai: The Reconstruction of the City Plan of Ayudhya . In: Tej Bunnag , Michael Smithies (Ed.): In Memoriam Phya Anuman Rajadhon , The Siam Society , Bangkok 1970 (oh, ISBN)
- David K. Wyatt : Thailand. A short history. 2nd edition, Silkworm Press, Chiang Mai 2004, p. 30 ff.
- Wyatt: Thailand. 2004, pp. 52-53.
- Derick Garnier: Ayutthaya. Venice of the East. River Books, Bangkok 2004, pp. 39-40.
- Nidda Hongvivat, Pornniti Virayasiri, Phaitun Thinphong: Ayutthaya, the former Thai capital. Muang Boran, Bangkok 1980, p. 14.
- Varunyupha Snidvongs: Essays in Thai History. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore 1991, pp. 53-54, 119.
- Cushman: Royal Chronicles , p. 10
- George Cœdès : The Indianized States of South-East Asia. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 1968, p. 76.
- Promsak Jermsawatdi: Thai Art with Indian Influences. 1979, p. 92.
- David K. Wyatt : Ayutthaya and its Neighbors, 1351. In: Siam in Mind. Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai 2002, ISBN 974-7551-72-1
- Wyatt: Thailand. 2004, p. 56.
- Chris Baker , Pasuk Phongpaichit: A History of Thailand. 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne 2009, p. 10.
- Sarkisyanz: The Cultures of Continental Southeast Asia. 1979, p. 76 ff.
- Fessen, Kubitscheck: Thai history. 1994, p. 20ff
- Sunait Chutintaranond: Chakravartin. 1990, p. 148.
- Volker Grabowsky : Brief history of Thailand . Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-60129-3 , p. 49
- Fessen, Kubitscheck: Thai history. 1994, p. 27
- Kenneth Champeon: Thailand Untamed. EW Hutchinson's 1688 Revolution in Siam . In: ThingsAsian.com , May 25, 2001.
- Fessen, Kubitscheck: Thai history. 1994, pp. 24-35
- Fessen, Kubitscheck: Thai history. 1994, p. 36 f.
- Neil A. Englehart: Culture and Power in Traditional Siamese Government . SEA Program Cornell University, Ithaka 2001, ISBN 0-87727-135-6
- HH Price Dhani: The Old Siamese Conception of the Monarchy . In: Selected Articles from The Siam Society Journal, Volume II. 1929–1953 . The Siam Society , Bangkok 1954 (oh, ISBN)
- HG Quaritch Wales: Siamese State Ceremonies. Their History and Function. London 1931. Reprinted by Curzon Press, Richmond 1992, ISBN 0-7007-0269-5
- Tej Bunnag: The Provincial Administration of Siam, 1892-1915 , Oxford University Press, 1977, ISBN 0-19-580343-4
- Englehart: Culture and Power in Traditional Siamese Government
- HG Wales: Siamese State Ceremonies. 1931.
- Sarkisyanz: The Cultures of Continental Southeast Asia. 1979, p. 80
- Fessen, Kubitscheck: Thai history. 1994, p. 38
- Sarkisyanz: The Cultures of Continental Southeast Asia. 1979, p. 84
- Fessen, Kubitscheck: Thai history. 1994, pp. 28-34
- Sarkisyanz: The Cultures of Continental Southeast Asia. 1979, p. 83
- see: th: จินดามณี
- Ministry of Education: History of Education (in English)
- "History Of Thailand" ( Memento of April 21, 2001 in the Internet Archive ) - Internet Archive