The Kingdom of Syam
Project: The Kingdom of Siam
Author: Lem Chuck Moth
Started date: April/01/2010
Last updated: December/30/2017
All right reserved.
Since this paper is still drafted, the readers would be advised to ignore any context errors. The content is not final and subjected to be reviewed.
The Siam Identity dated back since the ancient times and was in reference to the color red of the country. Derived from the Pali word "Syam", meaning red, the Siam identity had been extended to the people of the Red Country as well. In interaction with Chinese courts, records of the Red-earth country (Chi-tu in Chinese) appeared in Chinese records the first time during the formation of Nokor Khmer in early fifth century. Their population were mentioned as Syam in the early reference of Khmerization of the Menam Valley to come from the north, notably Xiang-mai (Nokor Khmer: The Siam countries: The Syam Kuti and Lawaratha). During the formation of Angkor, Lavo was formed in close connection to the court of Lawasangharatha or Xian-mai as one of its cardinal state. Evidences show that until the formation of Sokhodya, Lavo had a high concentration of Khmer-mon and Lawa people living in communities under the Khmer culture. After the Mongol incursion, the Chinese source referred Sokhodaya as Sien-la and some Siamese literature used "Si-Jam" as a reference to the new country. The adoption of the Tai Identity on the other hand was officially started in the court of Ramakamheang. Sokhodaya (Sokho-daya), meaning the happy Thai, was given to the newly formed country founded by the Ruang Dynasty. Through the interference of the Mongols, the Tai pact was formed to consolidate northern Siam countries under the Great Khan (Notes: The Tai' s misconception). During the reign of King Sri Dharamaraja, evidences show that the Tai pact was broken and the Tai identity was also tripped away. Chinese source started referring Sokhodaya in connection with Lavo as Sien-lo-Lohak that scholars readily accepted as a Chinese transcription of Syam-Lavo Kingdom (Notes: Sokhodaya as the Siam Country). The next Syam' s history started with the absorption of Sokhodaya by the Ayudhyan King U-tong of which the mixed dynasty of the new Siam court was formed.
The Siamese Nation
The contact with the West made Siam as one of the most known to the western world Southeast Asian countries. In the early maps of Southeast Asia, Siam appeared as the official name of Ayudhya. Published by European publishing houses, the maps showed the Siam Kingdom taking a big chunk of the mainland Indochina. It was not by far an accurate representation of geographical data of the Siam country and its people, but rather a political representation of the dependency to the court of Siam as known to the western world. From one version to another, deviation shows the dynamic of a disturbing Ayudhyan court facing with international and its own national crisis. At its early phase, Ayudhya was formed on the ground of Sri Dhamaraja and was still the country of the Khmer-mon people. By absorbing Sokhodaya into its dependency, Ayudhya inherited the Siam identity but was still referred in many ancient records as Ayudhya. Only after the absorption of Xiang-mai and its dependencies, that the Siam identity took its complete meaning of representing the union of Siam countries. Along the way, the Siam identity became indigenous to the court of Ayudhya. Of Tai background, the Ayudhyan court extended the Tai legacies, made available through its subordinated Siam courts. Even though the legacies of Ramakamheang and Mangrai were already driven to extinction, the Tai legacies, in term of language and scripture stayed on to become the next cultural identity of the Siam kingdom. Through its own development, the Ayudhyan court set the Tai culture to diverge itself from the Khmer-mon counterpart. The divergence was going to get worst through new developments of the modern time. During its last phase, the Ayudhyan history is primary connected with the international sea-trade of South China Sea. The venture set Ayudhya to make extensive contact with the South Chinese Yueh communities and to welcome them as partners in their sea-trade business. Settling along the seacoast pf mainland Indochina, these Chinese migrants of Yueh background would play important part in the modern politic of the Siamese ourt of post-Ayudhian era.
THE LAST OF THE AYUDHYAN COURT
The last time that Hamsavati had made its move against Ayudhya, the legacy of king U-tong down to King Cakrapath was wiped out to make room for the Sokhodaya court of King Sri Dharmaraja. While the Khmer-mon movement was seen emerging to recover back the mainland Indochina under the court of Hamsavati, a setback was seen again induced by the court of Ayudhya. The challenger, who was no other than the son of King Dharmaraja, drove down the Khmer-mon alliance back to the ground zero. In a strong personal resentment, Narasuan decided to end once for all Hamsavati' s interference by waging war deep into its territory. In the fight, he found that the Khmer Court of Lawek did not share his animosity against Pegu and decided to punish Lawek for it. For that, he launched a series of costly battles in two fronts against both the Khmer and the Mon countries.
The Reign of King Narasuan (1590-1605)
After repelling the Burmese' s attack on 1580, Narusuan took on an audacity that concerned his father (Nokor Caktomukh: The fall of Lawek: The reign of king Mahendraraja). In contrast to the Tai history book that portrayed the late King Dharmaraja as a traitor, the Khmer chronicle portrayed him as a wise king and his son as a stone-head monarch. During the last of Nandabayin' attack against Ayudhya that was repulsed by Narasuan, a deep resentment broke out between him and the Khmer Obraja Prah Suryapur. The Khmer Obraja was sent by the court of Lawek to help Ayudhya fighting against Burmese troops in the honor to an accord signed by both courts (Notes: The victory over Hamsavati). The Khmer chronicle made it clear that to win over Hamsavati, Narasuan had TO break the accord that set Ayudhya out off the three western Khmer provinces. Upon learning of Narasuan' s way of conducting the war, King Dharmaraja was not pleased. From the start, Narasuan broke all accords that might set the three countries working in sync to form a new alliance that safeguard Indochina from outside interference. After the Mongolian withdrawal, there were evidences that Sokhodaya under Sri Dharmaraja, Ava under the Three Shan brothers and Angkor under the Lampang line of kings had formed a pact to restore back the Angkorian past legacy. There were evidences (from the Khmer sources) that despite of his odd situation, the Ayudhyan king Dharmaraja still honored the pact wholeheartly. The stubbornness of king Narasuan to launch Ayadhya for supremacy over old timer alliance, on the other hand, destroyed all hope for the restoration of the Meru Culture. By now, the conflict with Hamsavati went beyond repairable and of the way that his son handled the new alliance with Cambodia, he saw that Ayudhya would stand alone against more attacks from Hamsavati. Of his old age, his worries aggravated and as his long time illness took the upper hand of him; he died in 150. After his death, Narasuan ascended immediately the throne of Ayudhya and showing no concerns of his father' s worries, started his campaign against both Hamsavati and Cambodia. In a series of relentless preparation and attacks, he managed to subdue Lawek and after leaving the Khmer capital in shamble, went head-on attacking Pegu. After Lawek was destroyed, Cambodia became dysfunctional and helpless. Without strong central government, provincial authorities took on the warlord style of governing. At the same time, the Khmer king Prah Suryaupur and his two sons were held as prisoner of war at Ayudhya. Even though they were treated well (according to the Khmer source), they were not happy and to make the matter worst, revengeful. Narasuan should remember what he had been through while he himself was held in the court of Hamsavati against his will. When Prah Suryapur was allowed to go back to Cambodia and to establish order in the country, he still maintained a good relationship with Siam. He even organized his court following the tradition of the court of Ayudhya just to show of his subordination. However, when his eldest son King Jaya Chetha was released and returned to form the new Khmer court of Udong, he approached Hue for an alliance. He died perhaps believing that the Udong court was off Ayudhya' s dominance and was secured with the support of the Nguyen' s court. It turned out to be another big mistake that set the Meru Culture into a tall spin of its final destruction. After marrying the princess of Hue, the inexperienced King Jaya Chetha turned against Siam and revived back the past rivalry between the two courts. Needless to say, the next kings of Ayudhya saw the alliance between the court of Udong with Hue as a betrayal and a threat to Ayudhya. We shall see that the rivalry of the two courts ended up destroying each other and in long run both of their countries were also destroyed. By depending on Hue, the court of Udong incurred deeper and deeper into Hue' s dependency while the Nguyen court was waiting for any slight opportunity to benefit from the Khmer court' s internal crisis. That was just the beginning of the Khmer bad omen. We shall see that more Hue' s interference in the internal court of Udong almost cost the latter the whole of Cochinchina. On the other side, Ayudhya also suffered a new era of decline. While succeeding in crushing the Khmer capital of Lawek to ruin, Ayudhya would face with crisis of its own. Unlike he had done to Lawek, Narasuan failed to destroy altogether the Mon audacity. Both Hamsavati and Ava recovered fast from their loss and immediately sprung into action. In no times, they regrouped themselves back and the next assault on Ayudhya was the best prepared of all the Burmese campaigns. Already cripple in the financial arena and still having to fight with Cambodia, Ayudhya lost its war with Hamsavati. Even though it took more than a century to realize, the last attack of Pegu reduced Ayudhya to ruin.
The Reign of King Ekathotsarath (1605-1620)
After Narasuan' s death in 1605, the Ayudhyan throne went to his brother and long times military Oparaja, Ekathotsarat. Having jointly ruled Siam for a long time, it is expected that the new king carried on his brother' s strong policy and in the process, maintained the glory of Ayudhya. In contrast, his short reign was troublesome and fell short of the expectation. Some scholars attributed the changes as mostly due to Ekathotsarat' s lack of the leadership quality of his brother. It was then known that Narasuan possessed all the aggressiveness that made him famous of bringing Ayudhya from a depressed state to a powerhouse of the region in a short time. Others see it different way and the blame should be attributed back to its root cause. Due to the many years of costly wartime, Narasuan spent more than what he collected from the war. Even before his brother' s death, Ekathotsarat must have been painstakingly aware of the huge deficit that he would inherit from his brother' s policy. Having to fill back Ayudhya' s deplete treasury, he spent the last of his reign courting for foreign investment. An iconic event, happening during Ekathotsarat' s reign was the execution of his own son and heir apparent just a few years before his own death. It is said that he ordered the execution not to resolve his court' s crisis but to appease the demand of a Japanese clique. This personal ordeal, among other adverse events of his reign, indicates that Ekathotsarat was the victim of his brother' s past mistakes. It was common to all falling stars as have been repeated itself through out history. Foreign investment was then seen as the only hope and his short reign was particularly tailored to foreign help. His changed policy however did not save Ayudhya and as the glory soon faded away, what were left in the next court of Ayudhya were only internal crises. Following Ekathotsarat' s death evidences show that the Sokhodaya legacy in the Ayudhyan court was disintegrating. After a few more generations of short reigns, the famous Sokhodayan lineage was about to go into extinction. The next king who ascended the throne of Ayudhya under the name of Prasat Thon (the Golden Palace) apparently had little background connected with the last Sokhodaya lineage. Judging from the fact that the title " Somdet Prah Chao Yu Hua" was back in use again in the court of Ayudhya, the legacy of king U-tong must to come back again into prosperity. The same as the Chinese presence in the court of Ayudhya was seen increasing, the next kings of Ayudhya lost all sense of its ancient Siam' s legacy. In return for needed revenue, the Ayudhyan court' s affair focused on the international sea business and was dictated by foreign intervention. King' s personal advisors and bodyguards alike included foreign suitors that changed depending upon their connection to the control of the South China Sea. As we shall see, foreign interference made the Ayudhyan court volatile and the usurpation was the norm of many reigns to come. Under these circumstances, evidences show that the ancient members of king U-tong' s lineage came back to capitalize on the new dynamic of international trades in South China Sea. Under the Confucian influence, foreign competition would mean good business to Ayudhya. The court of King Narai (1656-1688), in particular, was wide open to foreign influence. To facilitate western alliances, he promoted a Greek adventurer named Constantine Faulkon to be his own foreign minister who became a powerful figure of his court and was responsible for the many changes to come. Besides the local Malay and the Persian whose strong Muslim' s establishment of South China sea had enjoyed the security of a big piece of pie in the international trade business, other world trading houses also joined in the competition. The Japanese, the Dutch, the French and the English channels in Southeast Asia took turn to interfere in the court of Siam. They come and go following the dynamic of the political up and down of their mother countries. In contrast, the Chinese aristocrats, by blending themselves in the high societies, made their regular presence in the court of Ayudhya. As in the Nguyen' s court, their Confucian background was very much effective in handling foreign affairs during the colonial period. They were first-class hosts to welcome foreign investors in time of need and were the first to capitalize in any time of surprise crisis. Acting as intermediary, they accommodated foreign powers in doing business with Siam and in the process rose prominently into important high position. The comeback of the U-tong' s legacy in the Ayudhyan court was due to the backing of Chinese aristocrats who became now the policy maker of the court. Their close network with other Chinese communities of the South China Sea became since the backbone of an economic empire that some scholars readily called it as a network of secret societies. To protect their ventures, they backed local government that suited their business. To their credit, they built them into a proven economic and military leadership with their abundant financial support.
The Fall of Ayudhya
The advent of king Narasuan' s against Hamsavati changed the politic of the northern Siam region. As uprising against the Burmese occupation rose up, Burma was more constraint in their fight against Ayudhya. The rebellion however failed to uproot the Burmese control altogether. After an elapse time of recovering and regrouping themselves, both Ava and the Mon courts recovered back their past vigor. In the late 1740, the Mon court of Pegu took advantage of Ava' s conflict with Manipura and the Shan countries to launch a campaign to subdue Ava. They managed to crush its ruling house, the Toungoo dynasty, but Ava would soon recover itself. Almost immediately, Alaungpaya who emerged from a nearby locality managed to drive the Mon out from Ava and continued on to take control of Pegu in 1757. His success became another bad omen for the Ayudhyan court of which bad circumstances had already inflicted serious internal crisis.
After the reign of King Trilokarath (1442-1486), the prosperity of the late King Mangrai' s lineage declined. Along with the fading of the Chinese support, the original court of Lanna lost its strength and became prey for its two aggressive neighbors. Through past experiences, the Burmese court knew that Ayudhya counted on northern Siam countries for human and backup supplies during the war. Preparing for his next campaign, Alaungpaya spent most of his time to secure his control over both Lanna and the eastern side of the Lao Kingdom. Early in 1760, he then led the final expeditions against the Southern Siam countries and besieged Ayudhya in the same year. Unfortunately, an accident of guns burst injured him and forced the Burmese troops to retreat back home. Alaungpaya died during the way back to Burma and his next successor, Naungdawgyi continued his work. After stabilizing his country, he launched a new campaign against Ayudhya. As his predecessors had done before, he started by securing himself the full control of the northern Siam countries. In 1762, a Burmese general named Abhayagamani brought his troops from Ava to besiege Xiang-mai and managed to capture it in less than one year. In order to build Lanna' s support for his military missions, the Burmese general Abhayagamani created a new court of Lanna to help him administer its civil affair. He installed a local ruler named Chao Chai kaeo to take control of Lampang court as well as installing other Burmese suitors to administer other Lao courts. In 1765, a rebellion broke out at Lampang forcing the general Abhayagamani and his Lao assistant Chao kaeo to escape to Ava but soon returned to take the control of Lanna. After all skirmishes were put down, they launched their final assault on Ayudhya. In coalition with Burmese troops, Burmese vassals of northern Siam had to take part, one way or another, in the campaign. In 1766, the Burmese nine contingents under nine generals marched toward Ayudhya. The Siam King Suryamarin tried in vain to stop the march as most of his expeditions sent to interface with the Burmese troops were crushed. Nevertheless, he managed to slow down the Burmese assault, enough for the rainy season to play its role in creating obstacle to the assailant. Trapped, the Burmese troops had to station themselves into the high grounds and survived through looting. Many Siam records recalled vividly what the Siam people had to endure War' s atrocity during the Burmese occupation. To the misfortune of Ayudhya, the setback would not deter Naungdawgyi who managed to keep his troops lasting through the rainy season. After regrouping themselves, they besieged Ayudhya for the final assault. The Siam King Suryamarin is said to escape by boat but died soon later out of hardship. As recounted in the modern Siam history, it was the end of the Royal court of Ayudhya. Blamed on Burmese atrocity, Ayudhya had been completely destroyed and the new Siam country had to build itself up from the ground zero. The Ayudhyan legacy would soon become history and to make the matter worst, all its historical records were also destroyed. There are however many questions unanswered regarding the involvement of the southern Chinese communities on both the abandonment of Ayudhya and the new settlement at Thonpuri by the new Siam king Tak-sin. As had been done in the past, it is clear that the court of Pegu had no intention to destroy or to absorb Ayudhya into its territory. It was the wealth of Ayudhya that they came after and their targets was the height court. With all the war trophies collected after the raiding, the majority of the Burmese troops left Ayudhya and headed home leaving just a small army behind to secure their exit. A Siamese source confirms that Burmese court left a few Siamese authorities to take care of the broken Ayudhya during their exit (Notes: Ayudhya after Burmese exit). At least four major political districts that were more or less connected with the central court of Ayudhya were left to recover themselves. With no central government, they ruled in warlord style but they could regroup themselves as well to restore back Ayudhya. Evidences also show that the family members of the late king Suryamarin were not totally eliminated. According to the Khmer source, one of his sons named Chol Phya Si Sang escaped to Cambodia and took refuge at the court of Prah Narayraja.
THE CONNECTION WITH THE COURT OF UDONG
In conflict with the Trinh, the Nguyen court started to exert agression on the court of Udong. Through the Vietnamese consort of King Chey-Chetyha II, Hue manipulated Udong to give up more and more control on Prey-Nokor' s territory (Nokor Champa: The connection with the court of udong: The Fall of Prey Nokor). The fall of Ayudhya marked the end of Siamese court' s interference in the politic of Cambodia. Nevertheless, it was not a relief for Udong since it already fell under Hue' s maneuvering scheme. At the contrary, it gave Hue more opportunity to achieve its goal. With no competition to stand on its way, Hue proceeded to take Prey-Nokor under its control.
The Occupation of Hue over Prey-Nokor
During the Vietnamization of Champapura, the Khmer control over Prey-Nokor was never been military challenged by the court of Hue. As we had argued, the self-sufficiency in both economic and military resources, down to small communities, was basically the base of the Angkorean governmental system in regard to its dependency (The break down of the Cakravatin Empire: The Break down of the Angkorean Empire: The impact of the repopulation). Long after the fall of Angkor, the same social organization sustained itself and still played its role in preserving local control in all Khmer communities. During the fall of Lawek, even though some low-level governors turned themselves into warlord kings, others stayed faithful to the Khmer legacy. With some coordination, their coalition could stand at least in the early phase of the external occupation. It was due to this self-governmental system that both Champapura and the rest of Prey-Nokor could stand against the military control of Hue for that long. The Nguyen family knew quite well of this organization' s strength and its weakness. With no Viet population to support their next move, they proceeded with the same tact that they have used successfully in the past. Done through clever court manipulation, the Nguyen court exerted all their political skill to induce the court of Udong into falling in their political trap. In return to the favor that Nguyen Phuc Tan sent his own daughter to the Khmer King Jaya Chetha II to be his consort, the Khmer King allowed the Nguyen court to use Prey-Nokor as their southern escape and training ground during their fight with the Trinh. After the fading of the Le' s authority in Annam, the fight between the Thrinh and the Nguyen came out to the open (Notes: The Fight between the Thrinh and the Nguyen). The arrangement allowed the Nguyen court to administer the settlement of Vietnamese migrants first time, in the Khmer territory of Prey-Nokor. Through agreement with the court of Udong, Prey-Nokor was loaned and was supposed to be returned to the Khmer control after five years time frame. When the contract expired, the Udong' s court however failed to recover the loan' s territory back and the He' s court conveniently becoming forgetful about the old contract. Due to the Vietnamese consort of king Chey Chetha' s interference, any attempts to recall the contract were defused. The setback aggravated as Chinese migrants were moving in to provide the Nguyen' s court with new population supports. Around 1671, a Chinese associate named Mac Cau while working for Udong' s southern ruler Prah Sothat, had developed a new seaport at the location called Banteay Mas (Sai mat in Vietnamese). Located at the southernmost tip of Prey-Nokor at the location of the ancient seaport of Oc-ev, the new seaport became known as Ha-tien. It was formed primary on the grounds of mix seacoast population composed of Khmer, Cham, Malay, and new Chinese migrants. From the start, the venture was particularly profitable and was expanding deep into Cambodia' s seacoast. Attracted by lucrative business, more Chinese migrants were soon joining in that made the southern region of Cambodia particularly condensed with ethnic Chinese until today. Dated back since the Ming era, the settlement of Chinese merchants in the Southern China sea continued (The break down of the Cakravatin Empire: The Cinization: The aspect of the Cinicization). They were among the first migrants to settle at the south of Prey-Nokor and to build bigger and stronger communities by catering to the southern sea trade. It is important to note that after the later Ming built the Great Wall to close down the Silk Road, the Yueh satraps along the route were deserted as more yueh were migrating down south to take part of the booming sea venture. Seeing the new seaport as a potential threat to their tribute system of Sri Dharmaraja, Ayudhya launched an attack against Ha-tien in 1717. During this time, the Hue' s court already had control over Prey-Nokor, but the rest of Cochin china was still under the Khmer suzerainty. The Khmer ruler Prah Sothat sent troops to support Mac Cau in defending Ha-tieng, but were defeated by the Siam troops. The Khmer King Prah Keo Pha Im who was reigning at Udong sent Khmer troupes for reinforcement and managed to fight off the Siam attack. Unable to resist, the Siam army then pulled itself out of Ha-tien and never came back again. Nevertheless, Mac Cau did not acknowledge the Khmer assistance and taking the opportunity of Siamese withdrawal decided to shake himself off the Khmer control. On the pretext that the Khmer court did not provide adequate protection against Siam, he sent messengers to Hue requesting that Ha-tien be put under Hue' s protection. Needless to say, Hue took the opportunity to make itself ruler of Ha Tien and rewarded the Chinese businessman Mac Cau, the title of Ha-tien' s governor in return. The betrayal of Mac Cau to the court of Oudong gave Hue the needed political support to take ON full control of Prey Nokor. With the economy already under the control of the Chinese aristocrats, Prey Nokor became less and less dependent of Udong.
The Uprising of Po Vamsa
As we have argued, the fall of Prey-Nokor under the control of Hue could not be possible without the emancipation of Chinese (of Yueh background) aristocrats who after setting up their business, established their own power base on top of fellow Chinese migrants communities at the city of Prey-Nokor. The last time that the Khmer ruler Prah Sothat made a deal with the Mac Cau, the Hue' s court took the opportunity of the Siam' s attack to annex Ha-tien under its control. With the cooperation of Mac-cau, Ha-tien became a lucrative venture for the Nguyen court and a stable ground for future maritime expansion. The Khmer ruler of Ha-tien, Prah Sothat, must to realize by now about Udong' s past mistakes of dealing with Hue and tried to undo the damage that had already been done. It is important to note that during this late stage of the Nguyen' s control over Prey-Nokor, the Vietnamization of Prey-Nokor had already been started. It started with the campaign to erase of all past Khmer and Cham legacies from local communities and towns, by assigning Vietnamese names at the same that natives and immigrants alike were pressured to blend themselves into Vietnamese communities. The first measure was to assign the permanent last name to the native Khmers to be more consistent with the Vietnamese or tradition of preserving their ancestry.
The few Vietnamese last-names, the Nguyen in particular, were forced upon the new population to adopt regardless of their ancestry as the last names gave the bearer the wrong impression of the Vietnamese identity. For a particular reason, the three Tay-son brothers who were of Cham royalty of Binh-dinh had chose the popular last name "Nguyen" as their false ancestry. As we shall see, their adopted last name would suit them well in the fight against the Nguyen court. By pretending to be one of the Nguyen families, the three brothers tricked the Trinh of thinking that they are Vietnamese and entrusted them with the task of destroying the Nguyen court for good. The Vietnamization however worked for the Nguyen court, as they convinced the French colonists and other imperialists of the modern era to think that Prey Nokor was part of South Vietnam from the get-go of humanity. At the mean time, the Nguyen court continued to convert Prey-Nokor into becoming the next Vietnamese province. Their tough measure however started to raise suspicion among the natives of their intention and to rise up in the attempt to stop the Nam-Tien campaign from carrying on further. On their own initiative, evidences show that the fallen court of Champapura also joined into the uprising and already worked out a plan with the Khmer court of Udong to infiltrate themselves into the Nguyen court to fight from within the Nguyen court. According to the Khmer source, the Cham leader Po Wamsa then started his campaign at the heart of Prey-Nokor to conduct a massive uprising against the Nguyen court.
Started since 1730, the campaign was conducted in a close tie with the Khmer court of Udong, under the leadership of Prah Keo Pha Im. Through the involvement, it is expected that the Khmer Court would suffer next the consequence of the uprising. Already at odd with Ayudhya, Udong put itself in jeopardy with the Hue Court. Sure enough, the retaliation of Hue started after crushing the uprising to a stop. To escape the attack, the Khmer King had to move his court from Udong to Lawek, but was forced the Khmer king to move his court to Phnom Penh. The Siam took the opportunity to launch its own campaign against the Khmer Court forcing the fleeing king to abandon Phnom Penh and went into hiding. In the process of launching another campaign against Ha-tien, Ayudhya installed two of their own suitors, Prah Srey Thamma and Prah Ang Thong in control of Phnom Penh. When they launched theirs own attack on Ha-tien, the Chinese governor Mac Cau who was working for Hue quickly defeated their campaign. It was the last time that the Ayudhyan court made its intervention in Cambodia before being itself succumbed to Burmese attack. Without any more competition from Siam, the Nguyen made a free pass on Cambodia through the intermediary of Mac Cau (Notes: The Hue' s control of Cambodia). In recognition for his subordination, Hue gave him the title of a general and became an influential member of the Hue court. More crises that were carried through by the Nguyen with the help of Mac Cau cost Cambodia more southern lands of Prey-Nokor. We don't know much about the fate of the Khmer ruler Prah Sothat and his father Prah Keo Pha who went into hiding after losing the battle to Siam. According to the Khmer chronicle, he escape back to Prey Nokor where he still can find safe refuge against both Siam and Hue' s attack. Our assumption is that he joined the underground Cham court of Po Wamsa as they were their only ally left in the fight against Hue.
The Recovery of Udong
The decline and fall of Ayudhya, coupled with the uprising of the Tay-son brothers in Prey-Nokor gave the Khmer court relief from the incursion of both fronts. In conjunction to the rise of the Tay-son brothers, the Khmer chronicle confirms the return of the Khmer ruler Prah Sothat to take back the control of Ha-tien from the falling Nguyen court. The fall of Ayudhya moreover provided him with opportunity to exert back the Khmer control over the southern provinces. Long time under the control of Ayudhya, these seacoast communities were becoming strategic locations of the Southern Sea trade. Nevertheless, the campaigns would face with serious setback due to the formation of Thonpuri. After rising to power, king Taksin immediately sent a request to the Khmer court for a diplomatic relationship with the Khmer court. The Khmer King Prah Narayraja however turned it down. His denial was based on the only reason that Pogna Tak was not of royal blood and was low in status as being just a son of a Hai-hon Chinese (Notes: The reply of the court of Udong). Upon receiving the answer from the Khmer court, King Taksin was very upset but his retaliation was immediately defeated. By establishing Thonpuri, Taksin kew that he had to face Hamsavati' s disapproval. At the time, he saw the Burmese campaign to control of the northern Siam provinces as a real threat and reserved all his army to fight against it. Taking the opportunity, the Khmer southern provincial ruler Prah Sothat also launched his own campaign in the attempt to recover the southern territories previously lost to Siam. In his 1770' s campaign, he extended his control deep into Chandapuri that was one of the three ancient provinces, longtime in dispute with Ayudhya. Upon learning about the Khmer' s attack, Taksin returned back to free the Siam' s controlled territories from the Khmer troops. To further retaliate against the Khmer attack, he decided to extend his campaign deep into Cambodia. In the attack, he commissioned Praya Chakri and his brother Surasi to lead Siamese troops toward Udong directly from the north while he himself led a counter-attack against the Khmer ruler Sothat by the sea. Surprised by the offense of both fronts, Prah Sothat and the Khmer king Prah Narayraja lost the fight. According to the Khmer chronicle, they had to escape to Tuk Khmau of Kampuchea Krom and requested help from the reigning Annamete court (Notes: The escape to Prey-Nokor). Judging from their past connection, we believe that the Annamete ruler who provided assistance to the refugee Khmer court was not Nguyen Phuc Thuan of the old Nguyen family but Nguyen Nhac of the Tay-son brothers. At this late stage of the uprising, the Tay-son brothers already took controls most of Prey-Nokor and was preparing for a final assault against the Nguyen court of Hue. Back in Udong, king Taksin installed a Khmer ruler named Ramadhipti Non to take control of the Southern Cambodia in 1774. He then ordered to pull out all his troops back to Thonpuri, leaving just a small army to protect his Khmer suitor. In 1775, Prah Narayraja came back to take control of Udong with the help of the Annamete king. To the surprise of his court, he issued a resolution that stunned the closest of his best statement. He stepped down to become a vice-king (Obyauraja) and delegated the throne to the deposed King Ramadhipti Non. The Khmer source did not elaborate on the rationale of the Khmer king' s sudden decision despite the court' s strong objection. However, the decision might have been due to his own attempt of consolidating the Udong court in facing the rise of Thonpuri. In just a few years, Taksin had built his troops into a powerful and modern army. The recent endeavor with the new Siam' s attack forced Prah Narayraja to rethink about the future relationship with the new Siam court. . The act of unselfishness that was rare among Khmer king at this time might have been due to the attempt to win King Ramadhipti Non to his side in the effort of consolidating the Udong court in facing the threat of Thonpuri. After all, they were brothers. On the flip side, the decision could also be that for some specific reasons, Prah Narayraja had no more trust in the Tay-son brothers. After ascending the throne of Hue in 1775, the eldest of three brothers Nguyen Nhac prepared for a final assault against Tonkin. This bold move perhaps scared the Khmer King Prah Narayraja who saw the extended aggression of the Tay-son brothers became now too risky to rely upon. He then decided to make peace with Siam and invited the new installed Khmer King Ramadhipti Non to take control of the Udong court. Whatever the real reason behind his decision, we shall see later that Prah Narayraja had made a grave error of judgment. Instead of siding with the three Tay-son brothers, King Ramadhipti Non went ahead to forge his alliance with Siam even stronger. As we shall see next, the court of Udong was going to experience a great turmoil under the sway of Thonpuri.
THE FORMATION OF THONPURI
Just as the Tay-son brothers started to take the upper hand on the old Nguyen court, another event occurred to change the whole situation. Instead of reforming Ayudhya, king Taksin went ahead to transform a small Chinese community into a coastal powerhouse that surpassed Ayudhya in aggressiveness. The formation of Thonpuri was entirely based on the dynamic of the sea trade the was fueled by more Chinese migrants to take part of it. Taksin took the opportunity to build Thonpuri on the sole purpose of cashing in from the sea trade. As we shall see, it was very much in tune with the rise of colonial activity in the west that was going to extend its course into Southeast Asia.
The Reign of King Tak-sin (1767-1782)
The fall of Ayudhya appears to have little impact on the Chinese communities of the southern Siam country. After the setback of a short duration, they regrouped themselves quickly and continued on their business as usual. A new leader soon emerged to take advantage of the fall of Ayudhya for a rare opportunity to build his own court. As we shall see, the new Siam court had little connection with neither the fallen court of Ayudhya nor of its scattered people. At the contrary, it was the rising of Southern Siam' s Chinese communities that play a big role in the formation of the next Siam country. At first, the emerging hero was not a member of the Ayudhyan royal family, but a court member of Chinese background. His father was among the early generation of Chinese migrants who came to look for opportunities created by the new International sea-trade. Some sources say that his name was Hai-hong, other says that Hai-hong was his Chinese ethnicity from a southern province of China (Notes: Taksin' s tomb at South China). Like most Chinese immigrants who seek to integrate themselves into the high society of Southeast Asia, Hai-hong married a native wife who would introduce him into the right channel of the Ayudhyan court. Serving King Boromakot, he managed to secure a job for his son also as a court officer. In the modern Tai history books, Taksin rose into fame and power after he drove off the Burmese army out of Siam and regrouped the Ayudhyan legacies into becoming the new Siam country. Some sources says that he was already a prominent figure in the Ayudhyan army and had played a big part in the fight against Burmese invaders and later drove them out of the country. For other sources, the background of Taksin before the fall of Ayudhya was at the contrary much more flurry. Most agree that he was a governor of the northern province of Kampeng Phet and was not directly involved with the attack of Ayudhya. On the other hand, the Khmer version portrays Taksin' s as a Chinese migrant' s son making his way up in his career path in the Ayudhyan court with personal connection. His role as an army general who led the Siam army against Burma happened only after the fall of Ayudhya.
There was a Chinese man at Muan Tak working for the Siam government and received the title of Khun Suchinda. He had many connections and friends. They called him Ponga Tak, in reference to his birthplace. During the fall of Ayudhya, he assembled all his acquaintances of both Siam and Chinese and proclaimed himself their general and succeeded to chase out the Burmese back to Hamsavati. He then ascended the throne of Ayudhya under the name of Prah Chao Taksin. He left Ayudhya and moved his court to Thonpuri. (CKHIII: The reign of Prah Uday raja Ang Tan)
At first, Taksin managed to ascend the Ayudhyan throne after subduing other contenders that did not submit to him. Before that, he had to eliminate all other contenders from the remaining court of Ayudhya. Many of them were proved to be of Khmer-mon legacies that took the opportunity of the fall of Ayudhya to regroup themselves to reestablish back Sri Dharmaraja. Taksin however, took no time to subdue them back to obscurity with the help of the southern Chinese community. A considerable consideration to his success came from the Teochiu Chinese trading community of the region, on whom Taksin was able to call by virtue of his paternal relations (THAI: Chapter 6: The Early Bangkor Empire, 1767-1851: P.141).
His next concern was regarding the challenge of the Khmer court of Udong. He was first mentioned in the Khmer chronicle when he went after the son of the late king Suryamarin who was taking refuge at the court of Udong. He sent messenger to King Narayraja requesting friendship with the court of Udong and at the same time asked the Khmer court to return the prince to him. Upon receiving a refusal from the Khmer King, he sent his army to retaliate. That was just the start, we shall see that Taksin' s direct involvement in the politic of Cambodia left in the court of Thonpuri a long legacy of aggression over its neightbor. His involvement in the new development of South China Sea, as we shall see, extended his raids down to the Malay Peninsular and the southern Khmer provinces as well. Siam territories that were subdued next into his control included the last of the Khmer provinces in dispute, Bachinpuri, Rayang and Chandapuri. The acquisition that brought him fame and wealth and the strong support of southern Chinese communities constituted the main reason for his choice to stay put at the new capital. In contact with the sea-trade of South China Sea, run mostly by Chinese settlers, Thonpuri offered to Taksin a security that he could not find at Ayudhya. In conjunction with the colonial development of South China Sea, Taksin and the next Siam leadership built the Southern seaport city into becoming the next powerhouse of Southeast Asia and changed the Siam' s history for good. In a closer look, it was a contribution to sustain the overall prosperity of Chinese communities, during the colonization of Southeast Asia that stayed until modern days.
Thonpuri and the Siam Nation
The formation of Thonpuri was wrongly portrayed as the history of the Siam nation. Discrepancy occurred when the court of King Taksin was thought to be the survival of the court of Ayudhya. Many similarities between the two courts gave impression that Taksin founded Thonpury on the legacies of the last fallen Siam country. After it was formed, we shall see that Thonpuri continued mostly the same policy of Ayudhya in foreign affairs. The success story in regional trading could be attributed to the similarity of the two founders, to be of Chinese background (Notes: King U-tong vs King Taksin). Demographically, the similarity does not convey any ethnic relationship with the Siam nationality of the people. It is claimed that Taksin had strong personal relationship with the high court of Ayudhya, but there was no evidence that he had received the same support, politically from the rest of the rural Siam people. Adding to the strain, Ayudhya was virtually deserted after its fall. Most of its population was captured and brought to Pegu as war booty and the rest hid themselves in forest. All the troops that he could mobilized were from the Chinese communities of the southern seacoast. At the contrary, the success story of Thonpuri on laying control over the whole Siam was based entirely on military conquest and courts manipulation. Another inheritance from Ayudhya was the war with Burma and Cambodia. After the attacks of the Udong court failed, the threat of Burmese invasion still hold. To face Burma, Thonburi' s chance to survive started with a military campaign to take control of the northern Siam countries. With not enough troops of his own, Taksin manipulated the ambition of local rulers to fight off Burmese troops on their own will. At first, Taksin had limited success in approaching northern Siam countries to join him in recovering the Siam country, but he was able to excite them to fight off the control of Burma from the region. The conflict soon emerged when Thonpuri tried to replace Burma and exerted full control on its northern dependency. After the Burmese troops were driven out, Taksin immediately brought his own troops to occupy the northern Siam. Well aware of this short fall, Taksin' s next priority was working to strengthen his army. During these early campaigns against Burma and Cambodia, evidences show that Taksin had applied past measures of capturing as much human trophy as he could from the losing side to peopling Thonpuri. He soon stopped altogether the practice, as it did not suit him anymore. To populate the city, he soon found out that all he had to do was to leave his city' s gate wide open. His open policy would attract more Chinese migrants, coming to take advantage of the business boom, into becoming the majority of the new population. In a short time, Thonpuri had transformed itself from a small coastal Chinese community into becoming a strong populated city of the Southern Siam country. Its economic well off and military built up would guarantee its security among foreign competitors. France and Britain alike that needed local supports would find in Thonpuri militarily and politically to be reckoned with. Started with the spice trade, European venturists found in Southeast Asia lucrative business' s opportunity uncommon to any other part of Asia. As rivalry aggravated, many seacoast trade centers became gradually colonized. The success of the British India brought other venturists of similar mind to start on a full-blown colonization of India and of the rest of Southeast Asia. The colonists were mostly military figures, businessmen, or sometime missionary, who came with the same specific agenda of taking the regional economy under their control. Through previous contacts in the past, they were particularly not in good terms with the local power elite. From the start, they were frustrated with the local court' s complex proceedings and all the royal customs that did not suit their motivation. As their real objective was not to make friend with the local kings but to establish their own authority over them, the latter' s tendency of insubordination became more than a nuisance for their colonial work. In contrast, they found in Chinese communities and their business leaders perfect collaboration for their colonization. They saw in Taksin in particular, many qualities that other native royalties did not have. Being of Chinese background, he was practical and most of all had established himself control over the Chinese communities that were themselves already in control of the Southern economy. Like the Nguyen court, Taksin had not much sympathy for the native well being as his endeavor was based completely on foreign benefits. It was the main key factor to attract western colonist' s venture to his side and made Thonpuri the next successful port city of the mainland Indochina after Hue. After King Taksin' s death, the next Siam King PutyotphaCholalok (Rama I, 1782-1809) continued on consolidating the rest of Siamese dependency, but Sri Dharmaraja had always been the top priority of the new Siam court. Due to pressures exerted by the sea-trade competition, the King shifted his focus to Sri Dharmaraja where the sea-trade business was then the main source of his revenue.
The Strategy over its Dependency
On its dependency, Siam' s policy followed very much the same model that was set for Sri Dharmaraja. It started by acquiring new dependency anyway possible through the promise of self-autonomy at first and consolidating its control under Siam gradually by any mean possible. In Northern Siam countries where Burmese control had been established since the fall of Ayudhya, the fight for independence was induced by King Taksin to draw the local rulers to his side. They who were revolting against Burmese control got all their vital support from the Siam King. After the Burmese control fell, Taksin then brought his own army to replace the Burmese troops. The local courts who disagreed with his policy were next to face king Taksin' s strong retaliation. King Kawila of Xiang-mai and other northern Siam leaders who rebelled against Thonpuri were quickly subdued and were punished of insubordination. They escaped execution only after swearing allegiance to the Siam King along with the promise to fight off the rest of Burmese troops, at their base at Chiang Saen, After his release, Kawila kept his words. He was able to free the northern and western Shan regions that were still under the control of the Burmese. Victories allowed him to gain more human trophies whom he used to repopulate the Chiang Mai and Lamphun regions. In 1796, he was able to move his court from Lampang to Chiang Mai where he continued to fight against the Burmese occupation. By 1802, he raids Keng Tung and carried off many families of prisoners for resettlement farther south. Finally, he expelled the Burmese troops from Chiang-Saen altogether in 1804-05. Continuing his conquest, Kavila subjugated Muang Yang, Muang Luang Phukha and Chiang Hung as well as other smaller numerous muangs in the upper Mekong highland. At last, the Siam king recognized King Kawila for his dedication and for reward, he allowed Kavila to rule as a Warlord King over the extended Lanna kingdom. After pledging allegiance to stay faithful to the Siam court, Kavily and his family were left to rule Xiang-mai for the time being as vassal of the new Siam Court. In Cambodia where internal crisis was taking hold of the court of Udong for a long while, Taksin needed much more tact in handling the situation. One important aspect of the schemes was to capitalize on local internal unrest and turned it into a political or military advantage for Siam. In the game, the Siam court played on local independent minds who were looking for personal gain to form a tight alliance and used them to generate bigger conflict. Settled at first as a consortium with the Siamese court, the local government was gradually tailored into Siam' s full control. Through elaborate scheme of court conspiration, Chaopha Ben was able to take control of Udong. Nevertheless, he was not in the position to control the whole country by himself. As we shall see, many court members as well as provincial rulers were still faithful to the Khmer legacy and stood against him in any cooperation with Siam (The birth of Vietnam: The fall of the Tay-son Dynasty: The campaign against the new Nguyen court). Still the Siam' s court would find in Chaopha Ben a faithful collaborator that was worth of their association and could benefit from him. In a stunning move, Chaopha Ben brought two important provinces of Cambodia, Battambang and Siemreap the court of Udong delegated to him and placed under the control of Thonpuri. In correlation with the work of King Kawila of Lanna, Chaopha Ben' s work to benefit the Siam court represented Taksin' s typical maneuver of manipulating independent minds in favor of their long-term agenda. It is true that the control stayed at first locally, but the Siam court was well apt to wait patiently for more favorable opportunities on channeling local controls into its own. Under these conditions, it is fair to say that at the start, Thonpuri' s control over its dependency was fragile and varied from one dependency to another. In the exception for Lanna where the submission of King Kawila was unquestionable, other Thonpuri' s dependencies were looking for any opportunities to breakaway. As to Cambodia, the lost of the two provinces to Siam was enough to persuade the son of King Ang Eng, the next Khmer King Ang-Chan to break off tie with Thonpuri. The rivalry of Hue also complicated the situation. At the same time, the far-reached northeastern Lao countries also followed his footstep and started to challenge Thonpuri' s control. The next iconic development was the uprising of king Anu of Vien Tian whose campaign against Thonpuri resulted in the consolidation of the Lao country. With the support of his son who was then ruler of Champasak, he forged an alliance with King Mangthathurat of Luang Pra Bang to consolidate the Lao Country. His achievement resulted in a nationalist movement that constituted the foundation of modern Laos of today.
THE CONNECTION WITH ANNAM
Circumstances had set the formation of Thonpuri conveniently at the time that the Hue' s court was crumbling. Under the attack of the Three Tay-son brothers, the Nguyen court was virtually destroyed as Nguyen Anh was running for his life. The interference of Thonpuri in the Udong court however prevented the latter from making a strong commitment with the Tay-son' s cause of uprooting the Viet occupation of Prey Nokor. The lost of opportunity allowed the recovery of the city of Prey Nokor for Nguyen Anh to come back. After restoring the Hue court, the old Nguyen court resumed interference into Udong' s politic that had never done before. For its part, Thonpuri matched the skill of Hue in engaging Udong into its manipulation schemes.
The Udong' s Uprising
While the Siam court was nurturing Nguyen Ahn and the fallen court of the old Nguyen family, the Tay-son brothers along with a faction of the Khmer rulers at Udong were in a rare opportunity to end the Viet occupation at both Champapura and Prey-nokor. Nevertheless, the Khmer court was too divided to capitalize of the situation. At the meantime, circumstances allowed Thonpuri to take hold once again of the Khmer court to their disposition. After defeating the Annamite (of the new Nguyen court) incursion, King Ramadhipti Non decided to build stronger relationship with the court of Siam. When he approached Thonpuri for a friendlier relationship, the Siam court received him with a warm welcome. The eagerness of the Khmer King to join with the alliance came out to be at the right time that King Taksin had planned for the invasion of Laos. The Siam king took no time to capitalize on the new alliance and requested King Ramadhipti Non to join in with his northern campaign against the scattered Lao countries. In attacking these remote Lao communities, the Siam troops would need constant supplies of foods and troops for the battlefield. As Thonpuri was too far to fulfill the requirement, an accord was made between the two courts to deal with the situation. In the accord, the Khmer King promised to king Taksin that Udong would become the supplier of the operation. While Praya Chakri went ahead leading his troops to the Lao country, his brother Surasi went down to Udong to coordinate the back-up' s supply from the Khmer court. Despite his court' s strong objection, King Ramadhipti Non went on to fulfill the Siam' s demand. His willingness for subordination to the Siam King exasperated his own people who were placed into servicing the Siam campaign. Most men were drafted to join in the fight while the rest of the population took care of all the necessary work on the field to produce food for the army' s supply. Under these helpless conditions, the people were subjected to other manipulation and abuse. Some local officials decided to take the affair into their own hand and carried on their own crimes. They created havoc into the Khmer communities that were under their control. As most men were not home, their defenseless women were raped and their properties were looted. Hearing the bad new, the men defected from the front-line and headed back home to defend their village. To protect themselves from the court of Udong they regrouped themselves to repel any attempt to punish them. The corrupted officials were summoned to Udong to be tried for their failure to quiet down the uprising. They happened to be members of the same family that was closely related to a powerful member of the court of Udong named Chaopha Mo who was one of the old court members of King Narayraja and a close associates of the Tay-son brothers. One of the conspirators named "Su" was tried by King Ramadhipti Non to be executed while two of his nephews were punished but were later released. They then joined the angry people and through elaborate scheme, turned them against the Khmer king. Chaopha Mo who turned out to be the eldest brother of the two conspirators was secretly tipped of the scheme and asked to join in the revolt. When the king ordered him to resolve the uprising, he pretended to comply. Instead of leading his troops to fight off the rebel he led them to join his two brothers to fight against Udong. Before he left the court, he secretly sent request for help to the Annamite authority of Prey-Nokor with whom he had established a long time connection. The Chief of Prey Nokor who was no other than a member of the Tay-son brothers' court, immediately send his troops for support. Upon learning that Chaopha Mo had defected and conspired with his two brothers against him, the Khmer king Ramadhipti Non decided to lead the troops to subdue the uprising himself. He was caught in the battlefield between the enemy lines coming in two fronts. On one side were the Khmer troops led by the three rebellious brothers and the other side were the Annamite troops sent for reinforcement from Prey-Nokor. The Khmer King was captured and executed on the spot. His children were also executed as Chaopha Mo and his brothers took control of the court of Udong. To legalize their power' s holding, they installed in 1779 a young son of the late King Prah Narayraja who was then at the age of 7 years old on the throne of Udong.
The End of King Taksin' s Reign
The uprising and the death of King Ramadhipti Non were brought to Thonpuri by some members of the Khmer King' s personal circle who managed to escape the uprising. Hearing the new, King Taksin sent his associate Chao Ponha Chakri and his brother Surasi to head Siam troops toward Udong. Upon learning of the Siam troops' arrival, Chaopha Mo who now in control of the Khmer court prepared to face the Siam' s attack. The confrontation was postponed from the part of the Siamese troops, due to an unexpected event. While Chao Chakri and his brother Surasi were in Cambodia and approaching Udong, he received news that Thonpuri was on the verge of its own crisis.
In an internal court fighting, King Taksin himself was attacked by his own subjects and was restrained under house arrest. From the Siam source, it is said that his obsession with the self-proclaiming as a pious king turned his insane paranoia into a serious offense against the Buddhist communities of Thonpuri. With no sign of relief, members of the Thonpuri' s court decided to stop the king' s madness. The two Chakri brothers, in the mission inside Cambodia were then notified of the incidence. Chao Ponha Chakri left his younger brother Surasi alone to take care of the mission and headed back to Thonpuri where he would decide on the fate of his old master. Taksin was soon executed and Chao Ponha Chakri took control of Thonpuri with the support of other court members. After eliminating all oppositions, including many of Taksin' s sons, he ascended the throne under the name of PutyotphaCholalok, in 1782.
He later moved his city to the other shore opposite site of Thonpuri that became the actual site of Bangkok today. He named the new city as "Sri Tep Maha Nokor". In regard to the Khmer affair, he decided to pull the Siamese troops back to Bangkok.
He also requested the court of Udong to hand over Chaopha Ben to be brought with the Siam army to Bangkok. Off the Siamese attack and happy to see one of his rivals taken away from his court, Chaopha Mo who was in control of the court of Udong was more than happy to comply. In the court of PutyotphaCholalok, Chaopha Ben was tried for his inability to take action during the uprising that ended the life of King Ramadhipti Non. He was punished and held for some time in captivity in Bangkok (Notes: The punishment of Chaopha Ben). Working on their own scheme, members of the Udong' s court who had political leaning toward Siam, secretly sent messengers to Bangkok to request the release of Chaopha Ben back to Udong. After reviewing their proposition, the Siam King PutyotphaCholalok agreed to their demand. Before the release, he had Chaopha Ben taking an oath of allegiance and promising to fulfill his duty to the Siam court of eliminating Chaopha Mo from the court of Udong. The Siam King then promised to him personally that he would bring him up in favor again if he succeed in the mission. Arriving at Udong, Chaopha Ben quickly convinced Chaopha Mo of taking him back into the court of Udong. Showing the scars that he received from the punishment by the Siam king, Chaopha Ben sworn that he was no longer serving the Siam King. Believing that his rival had really changed his mind toward the court of Siam, Chaopha Mo granted leniency to his former rival who lost no time in working with other conspirators to plan on their next attack.
In a grand gala organized by the court of Udong for the reunion of all high court members, the conspirators found the way to incorporate their people among the guests. The auspicious moment came when the un-suspicious Chaopha Mo and his people were completely drunk and fell asleep. The conspirator then drew their weapons and started to kill them. In the chaos, Chaopha Mo managed to escape and hid himself in a nearby province but was caught and executed by the local governor who decided to align himself with the winning party. All other members of his family, including his youngest brother, Chaopha Peang, were also executed. His younger brother, Chaopha Ten, however escaped the execution. During the ordeal, he was assigned to take control in a rural province far from Udong. The conspirators' plan to go after him was put on hold due to another unexpected event. After the near perfect takeover of the court of Udong, the conspirators turned against themselves. Tipped by close acquaintance, Chaopha Ben managed to act quickly to rid off his rivals in the conspiration' s ring before they turned against him. After the purging was done, he took the court of Udong under his control.
Bangkok at the Eve of Colonialization
During the early colonial era, scholars agreed that Bangkok and subsequently the rest of the Siam country was among the most successful states of Southeast Asia. Not only that it could maintain its own suzerainty, but also sustain a good relationship with the western world. Thai historians credited the success of Bangkok to the provenance of the Siam court in handling International affair. Following King Taksin' s policy, the Siam court continued to cater foreign powers and at the same time took benefits from the colonial rule. Nevertheless, we shall argue that other circumstances had also played important role in the making of Bangkok' s success story. One key factor often ignored was the substantial role of the Chinese migrants from Southern China in working along side the European colonists. Statistics would prove that all Chinese communities of Southeast Asia that were formed after the Ming fared better than native communities, including China itself. In parallel to the formation of Hue by the Nguyen' s family, the formation of Thonpuri by king Taksin was perfectly in tune with the next colonization of Southeast Asia. It came at the right moment that after the renaissance, European societies were rising and were looking to expand theirs enterprises abroad. Thonpuri and later Bangkok was formed among other Chinese migrant communities, on a dynamic development of the Seatrade that was made possible by influx of European traders forcing theirs way into Chinese market. During the reign of the late Ming Dynasty and later under the Quing Dynasty, China adopted close policy in foreign trade. Only selected foreign ships were allowed to coast on Chinese seashore while others used Sri Dharmaraja for trading with local products as well as goods exported from China. Taksin and later Rama I were quick to strengthen Siam control over the region to take advantage of the situation. After the fall of Ayudhya, Taksin took control of Sri Dharmaraja by way of court manipulation and the support od local Chinese communities of the Malay Peninsular. At first, he allowed Chao Phraya Nu who was a local Malay ruler to reign as a warlord king and on the way already made plan to absorb Sri Dharmaraja as a province of Siam. Following on his work, Rama I started to strengthen more control on this important seaport after ascending the throne. Nevertheless, he allowed Phraya Nu' s son, Chao Praya Nakhon Phat to succeed his father as its governor. The policy shifted even more when the King Bodawpaya (1782-1819) of Burma made his claim to the region. In the wake of the Burmese attack in 1785, Rama I detached Songhkla and the Malay tribute systems altogether from Sri Dharmaraja and delegated the control to a Chinese governor of Songhla. The arrangement moreover was to prevent the intervention of the British East India Company to extend their colonial rule over the region while at the same time avoid direct clash with the British Indian Company. The Burmese intervention however changed the company' s plan about taking direct control over the Malay Peninsular and to establish Singapore as a seaport in 1819 instead for the engagement into the sea-trade business. Under Burmese attacks, Kedah fell under the control of Sultan Ahmad who took no time to detach himself from Bangkok. Later in the year, one of the sultan' s rivals went to Bangkok and requested help in dethroning the Sultan. Needless to say, Bangkok was glad to help. Under Siam' s attacks, the sultan Ahmad fled to Penang and invoked his treaty with the British India Company to restore him back to the throne of Sri Dharmaraja.
- CRC: JA: Chronique Royale Du Cambodge, by Ochna Vong Sarpech Nong, French Translation by M. Francis Garnier
- CKHIII: The Chonicle of Khmer heroes Part III, by Sot Eng
- APAA BEFEO XIV: The Recession Palie des Annales d'Ayuthya, Translated by G. Coedes
- ANNAM:Histoire Moderne du Pays D' Annam (1592-1820), M. Maybon
- CMC: The Chiang Mai Chronicle, by David K. Wyatt and Aroonrut Wichienkeeo
- SIAM: Royaume Thai ou Siam, by Mr Pallegoix
- THAI: Thailand: A short History, by David K Wyatt
- TSON: The Tay son Uprising, By George Dutton
- HSEA: A history of Southeast Asia, by D.G.E. Hall
1767-1782: The reign of King Tak-sin (Thonpuri); 1782-1819: The reign of King Bodawpaya; 1824: The first Anglo-Burmese war; 1830: Burmization of the Irrawadi Valley; 1852: The second Anglo-Burmese war; 1885: The third Anglo-Burmese war; 1886: Burma fell under British colony;
1590-1605: The reign of King Narasuan (Ayudhya); 1605-1620: The reign of King Ekasarath (Ayudhya); 1767-1782: The reign of King Tak-sin (Thonburi); 1775-1779: The reign of Prah Ramadhipti Non (Udong); 1778-1802: The reign of Nguyen-nhac(Vijaya); 1782-1809: The reign of Prah PutyotphaCholalok or Rama I (Bangkok); 1809-1824: The reign of Prah Putloethla or Rama II (Bangkok); 1824-1851: The reign of Prah Nangklao or Rama III (Bangkok).
- The Tai' s misconception
During the writing of the modern history of Thailand, misconception emerged around the new Tai Identity. A subsequent of the Tai migration theory, the misconception was primary due to the belief that Sokhodaya was the first Tai state formed on the ground of Tai people (Ayudhya: Ayudhya as a Kingdom: The Tai Identity).
- Sokhodaya as the Siam Country
Perhaps to distinguish itself from Cambodia that became officially known as the Khmer country and from Pegu as the country of the Mon people that Sokhodaya adopted the Siam as its own identity.
- The victory over Hamsavati
In modern Siam history books, Narasuan was presented as a hero to liberate Ayudhya from Hamsavati. His victory was quoted to be of his personal gut and strength. While the statement is partly valid, it does not convey the fact that Ayudhya was left with a small population and that Narasuan need a big army to fight off the Pegu' s army.
- The Austronesian vs the Chinese migrants
The Chinese immigrants, in turn, brought Confucianism into the new Cinicized region of the south.
- Taksin' s tomb at South China
A tomb was built at Chienghai district of Guangdong province of south China in his memory. It is said that it contains not his copse but his clothes.
- Ayudhya after Burmese exit
Just like Narasuen left Lawek dysfunctioning after his invasion, Naungdawgyi left Ayudhya with independent governors fighting for their own account.
The King of Burma left at Ayudhya four or five Siamese rulers, telling each one of them that he could hold the power, who did not wait long to fight each other. (APAA: P. 30)
The rulers claimed themselves kings were of Phitsanulok, Nokor Sri Dharmaraja and Nokor Rajasima. It is important to notes that the three provinces still had strong Khmer-mon heritage.
- The Fight between the Trinh and the Nguyen
For unknown reason, the rivalry between the Trinh and the Nguyen that was rather contained before became aggravated into open battles.
From 1620 to 1674 the campaign of the Trinh against the Nguyen or the Nguyen against the Trinh were conducted more and more often. (ANNAM: Les Signeurs du Nord et les Seigneurs du Sud)
- The Hue' s Control of Cambodia
The court of Hue' s control over Cambodia was by no meant a land or territory control as most historians had portrayed it. It was just an influential control done mostly through manipulation of the Khmer royal court. Even at Prey-Nokor, the complete control of the Nguyen court backed with Vietnamese population was only done at the late stage of the French colonial era.
- The reply of the court of Udong
Prah Bat Prah Narayraja Tanraja, upon learning the petition (from Taksin), decided that he should not agree for the friendship' s proposal with the new Siam King. His decision was based on the only fact that Pogna Tak was not of Royal background and was just a son of a Hai-hon Chinese (CKHIII: The reign of Prah Udayraja Ang In 1757).
- The escape to Prey-Nokor
The Khmer chronicle identifies that the king of Annam at the time was the King Ya-long (CKHIII: The reign of Prah Udayraja Ang Tan). Upon learning that the Khmer King escaped into Vietnam, he set a meeting with his court and decided to help. The chronicle does not make it clear that King Ya-long was a reference to either Nguyen Phuc Thuan or Nguyen Nhac of the Tay-son brothers. At this specific time, the Tay-son brothers already took controls most of Prey-Nokor and was preparing a final assault against the Nguyen court of Hue. Considering that during this late stage, Nguyen Nhac was taking control of most the Annam territory, we believe that he was the one who was referred in the Khmer chronicle as King Ya-long. As to Nguyen Phuc Thuan, his last stand against the Tay-son brothers ended in 1777.
- The Burmese generalissimo
The Generalissimo left the Lao domain and came to Chiang Mai, and said that he would go down to re-take Ayudhya; so he had a great many boats built. (CMC: Chapter 6: The Burmese assault Ayudhya)
- New generation of Lanna' s rulers
A local ruler named Ca Ban Bunma, in his fight against Burmese troops, made alliance with another local ruler Chao Chai Kaeo' s eldest son named Chao Kawila. Along with the latter' s six siblings, they were to become effective Lao leaders in the fight against Burmese' s occupation.
- Punishment on the Lanna' s rulers
The King (Taksin) judged Phraya Ca Ban guilty for killing the Uparaja, his nephew; and Cao Kawila guilty for having killed the Southerners. And for having failed to heed repeated summons to pay attendance; and he ordered a lashing of a hundred strokes for each, and a small earlobe cutting on Cao Kawila. For having failed to come when summoned, he was imprisoned. (CMC: Chapter 8: The revival of Lan Na from 1796/97: A Siamese force oppresses the North)
- King Kawila' s Advice to his brothers
From this our own time, forever for ten generations, though our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren until the very end of our royal lineage, whoever of our descendant might revolt against the Great King of Ayudhya, they will become slaves of the Burmese, Ho, Gulawa, Phasi, and Vietnam, whoever; any such person, whatever they do, however successful they may be, may they be destroyed utterly and die, like the banana tree dies when its fruit are picked or the reeds wilt when cut, and fall into hell for a hundred-thousands eons, never to be reborn or arise again. (CMC: Chapter 8: The revival of Lan Na from 1796/97: King Kawila' s Advice to his brothers)
- King U-tong vs King Taksin
A closer study proved that while king U-Thong was a Shan Chinese, king Taksin was on the other hand Han Chinese. The difference explains the contrast of policy between the two courts. Even though both were aggressive, Ayudhya was more warlike through raw military strength while Thonpuri and later Bangkok used ruse and political maneuver to achieve their goal.
- Punishment of Chaopha Ben
Prah Chao Tak, upon seeing Chaopha Ben was very angry. After blaming him of failing to take actions in preventing the King Ramadhipti Non' s death, he ordered Chaopha Ben to be punished.
A 100 whips, two of his ear-lopes chopped off and put under consignment. ( CKHIII: The reign of Prah Ang Eng)
The punishment reminds us of the punishment, also by Taksin, of the Lanna' s ruler Kawila. And like the latter, Chaopha Ben became one of the most faithful suitors of the Siam court after his released.