Wednesday, December 30, 2009

King Ramathibodi I, Thailand


Uthong (Thai: สมเด็จพระเจ้าอู่ทอง) or Ramathibodi I (Thai: สมเด็จพระรามาธิบดีที่ 1) (1314 – 1369) was the first king of the kingdom Ayutthaya (1350-1767, now part of Thailand), reigning from 1350 to 1369. He was known as Prince U Thong before he ascended to the throne on March 4, 1351. A native of Chiang Saen (now in Chiang Rai Province) he claimed descent from Khun Borom and propagated Theravada Buddhism as the state religion.

In 1350 Ayudhya kingdom was founded by King Ramadhibodi-I, which merged Lavo with the kingdom ruled from Subharnaburi called Subharnabhumi or Pan Pum, which according to the common Thai history to be identical with the Suvarnabhumi kingdom. King Ramathibodi's position was likely secured by political marriage and family ties. He was married to a daughter of the ruling family of Suphanburi, and may have also married into an alliance with the rulers of Lopburi - it was likely the king of Lopburi that he was initially chosen to succeed. He appointed both his brother-in-law and son to positions of leadership in Suphanburi and Lopburi, respectively, and established his own capital in the new city of Ayutthaya. King Ramathabodi's reign bound together the Khmer rulers of Lopburi, the Tai in the west, and the Chinese, Javanese, Bugis and Acehnese merchants who inhabited the coastal areas.

(i)Suphan Buri is a town (thesaban mueang) in central Thailand, capital of the Suphan Buri Province. It covers the whole tambon Tha Philiang and parts of the tambon Rua Yai and Tha Rahat, all within the Mueang Suphan Buri district.

(ii)Lopburi is the capital city of Lopburi Province in Thailand. It is located about 150 km north-east of Bangkok. As of 2006 it has a population of 26,500. The town (thesaban mueang) covers the whole tambon Tha Hin and parts of Thale Chup Son of Mueang Lopburi district, a total area of 6.85 km. Known as Lavo during most of its history, Lopburi province is one of the most important cities in Thai history. After the foundation of Ayutthaya Kingdom in the fifteenth century, Lavo decreased in importance to become only a border town to the north of Ayudhaya. However it became a new royal capital during the reign of King Narai the Great(สมเด็จพระนารายณ์มหาราช) of the Ayutthaya kingdom in the middle of the 17th century, The king stayed here for about eight months a year.

(iii)Khun Borom
According to the myth of Khun Borom, commonly related among the Lao, people in ancient times were wicked and crude. A great deity destroyed them with a flood, leaving only three worthy chiefs who were preserved in heaven to be the founders and guides for a new race of people. The deity sent the three chiefs back to the earth with a buffalo to help them till the land. The chiefs and the buffalo arrived in the land of Muang Then (believed to be present-day Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam). Once the land had been prepared for rice cultivation, the buffalo died and a gourd vine grew from his nostril. From the gourds on the vine, the new human race emerged—relatively dark-skinned aboriginal peoples emerging from gourds cut open with a hot poker, and the lighter skinned Lao emerging from cuts made with a chisel.

The gods then taught the Tai people how to build houses and cultivate rice. They were instructed in proper rituals and behaviour, and grew prosperous. As their population grew, they needed aid in governing their relations and resolving disputes. The chief god sent his son, Khun Borom, to be the ruler of the Tai people. Khun Borom ruled the Tai people for 25 years, teaching them to use new tools and other arts. After this quarter-century span, Khun Borom divided the Tai kingdom among his seven sons, giving each one of them a portion of the kingdom to rule. The eldest son, Khun Lo, was given the kingdom of Muang Sua- modern-day Luang Prabang. Other sons were given the kingdoms of Siang Khwang, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Sipsong Pan Na (Southern Yunnan, China), Hamsavati (a Mon state in modern-day Myanmar), and an unknown area apparently in north-central Vietnam, sometimes identified with Nghe-an province.

Other unconfirmed sources on King Ramathibodi I
Uthong claimed descent from Khun Borom, there were source claimed that he was a Malay Muslim king named Sultan Mad Zafar Syah III ruler of the Siamese Kedah Pasai Ma, and that the Siamese were malay. Ayutthaya Kingdom was a Malay kingdom, the Tai from Burma destroyed Ayutthaya kingdom, the actual Siamese kingdom, and the current king was from Tai.
There is also some historian who said Uthong was Chinese.
However there is no confirmed or reliable documentary evidence to support the claim. Uthong claimed himself that he was descent from Khun Borom, a Tai link which is more acceptable and link to other historical fact of countries from the same region. He was the first ruler of Ayutthaya kingdom,which included Kedah, he cannot be the ruler of only part of the kingdom. But anyhow, as it is Thailand national history, it is for Thailand's historian to rebut on the claims.

1. Muslim Malay
New information from Kedah, Malaysia clearly state Rama Thibodi I by his Muslim name of Sultan Mad Zafar Syah III ruler of the Siamese Kedah Pasai Ma, probably part of the Ayuthaya Empire or by its Muslim name. Records in Iran state that he has in his royal court a Muslim scholar known as Sheikh Ahmad Qomi. He is the son-in-law of Chinese Siamese Muslim King descendent by the name of Nayuan (Bee Father). A golden coin with his name inscribe on it has been found in the island of Langkawi and is now kept in the Kedah State Museum.

During his reign he built Ton Sun Khlong Tue Mosque in Bangkok which still stand today. Persians architecture can still be seen in the ruins of Ayutthaya. Apart from that France still have records in the form of a map of 21 Mosque built in Ayutthaya during his reign and known as Shari Nao. The Mosques however were destroyed during the invasion by Sukhotai of Myanmar. Meanwhile local villages in Kedah people still speak Siam daily, a language spoken by their former King. The Siam (Muslim) language is different from the Thai language although they are very similar.

Apart from the above information, various tomb of Ayutthaya Kings such as Rama Tibodi II is located in Kubang Pasu Kedah. The tombstone is inlaid with Ayutthayans decorative motives, shape as per alphabet 't'. The tomb of Rama Tibodis II son, Khun Woran Wang Ser is also located in Alor Setar, Kedah. His decsendent lives in Kedah and carries the title Nai Long before their given names.

2. Ethnic Chinese
According to a more famous source, a seventeenth- century Dutch, Jeremias Van Vliet's Account suggested that, according to a 'reknown legend', Ramatibodi was an ethnic Chinese, sailing down from China. After he got success in trade, he became more influential and then could rule the city of Phetchaburi, a coastal town of the Gulf of Thailand, before travelling up to Ayutthaya. Scholar Charnvit Kasetsiri hypothesized that U Thong might have actually been born to a Chinese merchant family operating in the area of Phetburi. At least one royal chronicle identifies U Thong as the son of one Chodüksethi, apparently a leader of the Chinese merchant community.

Early Persian/Iran : Sheikh Ahmad Qomi & family

1. Chaophraya Boworn Rajnayok Sheikh Ahmad Qomi- the early Persian in the court of King(1543-1631)

Sheikh Ahmad Qomi , was the Persian who introduced the Islamic faith of the Jaifari 12 imam Sect (know in Siam as the Chao Sen Sect, and known world wide as the Shi - ite Sect) to Siam in the later years of the reign of King Naresuan the Great(1555-1605), toward the end of the Sixteenth century. He was born in 1543 in the village of Tainnajahar, Qom, Persia. Qom is the holy city of Shi'a Muslim, as it is the site of the shrine of Fatema Mæ'sume, sister of Imam `Ali ibn Musa Rida (Persian Imam Reza, 789–816 A.D.). The city is the largest center for Shi'a scholarship in the world, and is a significant destination of pilgrimage.

Sheikh Ahmad Qomi was a Persian and the title 'Sheikh' used in Persia meant much more than an Arab tribal leader, it meant that the title - holder was a highly learned man of the Qoran and a person deem worthy of the utmost respect and honour.

Sheikh Ahmad came to Siam in 1605, for two specific purposes, one was propagating the Islamic faith of the Ja'Fari 12 Imam Sect or Shi-ite Teachings of Islam (known in Siam as Chao Sen Sect) to the Siamese, and the other one was the setting up a 'Trading Post'.

He was highly educated as well as well versed and qualified in the teachings of the Qoran - the Islamic Holy Scriptures. He had and intellect graced with the highest degree of integrity, loyality and responsibility besides being a shrewd administrator. He served his religion as he pledged to do. He also became Siam's greatest statesman of his time; yet, he always remained in the background, never in the limelight. When he became a member of Chao Phya Phra Klang's staff, (the Minister of the Royal Treasury, Customs and Foreign Affairs), he found that the Royal Coffers were depleted, and the system for the collection of tariffs was completely inefficient and poorly adapted to the expenditures of that time. It should be noted that, owing to the continual fighting which had taken place for decades had ceased in the later part of King Somdej Phra Naresuan the Great, Siamese manpower had been drained. The fighting forces at that time thus consisted mostly of foreign mercenaries, the payment which was the main cause of the Royal Coffers being empty. Thus his appointment to reorganize the complete tariff system on more profitable lines, could not have come at a more timely moment. In fact the system he set up was so efficient that it was continued right up to the time of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). It must be noted that when His Majesty King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) reorganized the Royal Treasury, Customs and Foreign Affairs, it was Chao Phya Bhanuwongse (Tuam), the direct descendant of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi, who supervised the reorganization into the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Having settled in Siam, he enthusiastically embarked upon developing his Islamic mission and his trading post. Within a decade, due to his tireless efforts, the Chao Sen Sect was firmly established and the trading mission prospered. While becoming somewhat prosperous on the way, he gained a reputation of being an honest and trust - worthy merchant. It was during this period that he married a lovely upcountry young lady by the name of Ob Chuay who bore him two sons and a daughter. The eldest son, was named Chuen, the second one died before reaching his teens while his daughter was named Chi.

When Sheikh Ahmad Qomi passed away, he held Siam's highest title, that of Chao Phya Boworn Rajnayok. His tomb, stands on the campus of the Phra Nakorn Sri Ayudhya Teachers College.

Sheikh Ahmad, was the ancestor of many respected Thai families, the Bunnag, Singhaseni, Siphen, Chularat and Bunyaratklalin families

Ayutthaya (อาณาจักรอยุธยา)1350-1767

Ayutthaya (Thai: อาณาจักรอยุธยา, RTGS: Anachak Ayutthaya, also Ayudhya) was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1350 to 1767 until it was invaded by the Burmese. Ayutthaya was friendly towards foreign traders, including the Chinese, Vietnamese (Annam), Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French, permitting them to set up villages outside the city walls. In the sixteenth century, it was described by foreign traders as one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East. The court of King Narai (1656–1688) had strong links with that of King Louis XIV of France, whose ambassadors compared the city in size and wealth to Paris. Before Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese invasion in 1767, its vassals included the Northern Shan states of present-day Myanmar, Lanna (Chiang Mai, Thailand), Yunnan & Shan Sri (China), Lan Xang (Laos), Champa (Vietnam), and some city-states in the Malay Peninsula.

According to foreign accounts, Ayutthaya Kingdom was officially known as Siam but many sources also said Ayutthaya people called themselves as Tai of Krung Tai, or the Kingdom of the Tais.

When Ayutthaya fell to Burmese attack in 1767, its territory included the Northern Shan states of Burma, Lanna (ChiangMai), Yunnan & Shan Sri (China), Lan Xiang (Laos), Cambodia, South Vietnam and all of Malaya.

By the end of the fourteenth century, Ayutthaya was regarded as the strongest power in mainland Southeast Asia. Ayutthaya began its hegemony by the conquests of northern kingdoms and city-states like Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet and Phitsanuloke. Before the end of fifteenth century, Ayutthaya launched attacks on Angkor, the classical great power of the region. Angkor's influence eventually faded from the Chao Phraya River Plain while Ayutthaya became a new great power.

From the fifteenth century Ayutthaya showed its interest toward the Malay Peninsula, where the great trading port of Malacca contested its claims to sovereignty. Ayutthaya launched several abortive conquests on Malacca. Due to the military support of Ming China, Malacca was diplomatically and economically fortified. In the early fifteenth century the Ming Admiral Zheng He had established one of his bases of operation in the port city, so the Chinese could not afford to lose such a strategic position to the Siamese. Under this protection, Malacca flourished into one of Ayutthaya's great foes, until its conquest in 1511 by the Portuguese.

However in the mid-sixteenth century, the Burmese Kingdom of Taungoo, also Toungoo, became stronger, it then began its 'imperial expansion' and kings Tabinshwehti and Bayinnaung attacked Ayutthaya. In 1569 Ayutthaya eventually fell and became Toungoo's vassal. The royal princes and high officials were taken back to Taungoo. One of those princes was Prince Naret or widely known later as King Naresuan.

Ayutthaya became a great power again after Prince Naret or Naresuan returned to Ayutthaya. He started gathering troops to resist the Burmese. King Naresuan finally defeated Burmese forces in a famous elephant battle with Toungoo's heir apparent, who was killed in the battle. Since then Ayutthaya became one of the most powerful kingdoms in the region. Ayutthaya controlled over the northern regions of Sukhothai and Lanna, as well as the maritime, southern peninsula. Foreign trade brought Ayutthaya not only luxury items but also new arms and weapons. In the mid-seventeenth century, during King Narai's reign, Ayutthaya became very prosperous.

Burmese forces invaded Ayutthaya. After months of siege, Ayutthaya was surrendered in April 1767. The city was sacked and totally destroyed. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya was finally annihilated.

The Kings in Ayutthaya Dynasty
Uthong Dynasty ราชวงศ์อู่ทอง(first reign, 1350-1370)

* Ramathibodi I (formerly Prince U Thong) (1350 - 1369)
* Ramesuan (1369 - 1370) (first rule, abdicated)

Suphannaphum Dynasty ราชวงศ์สุพรรณภูมิ (first reign, 1370-1388)

* Borommaracha I (Pha Ngua) (1370 - 1388)
Uthong Dynasty ราชวงศ์อู่ทอง(second reign, 1388-1409)

* Ramesuan สมเด็จพระราเมศวร (1388 - 1395) (second rule)
* Ramracha Thirat สมเด็จพระรามราชาธิราช (1395 - 1409)

Suphannaphum Dynasty ราชวงศ์สุพรรณภูมิ (second reign, 1409-1569)

* Intha Racha (Nakharinthara Thirat) สมเด็จพระอินทราชา (นครินทราธิราช) (1409 - 1424)
* Borommaracha Thirat II (Sam Phraya) สมเด็จพระบรมราชาธิราชที่ 2 (เจ้าสามพระยา) (1424 - 1448)
* Boromma Trailokanat สมเด็จพระบรมไตรโลกนาถ (1448 - 1488)
* Borommaracha Thirat III สมเด็จพระบรมราชาธิราชที่ 3 (1488 - 1491)
* Ramathibodi II (Chettha Thirat) สมเด็จพระรามาธิบดีที่ 2 (พระเชษฐาธิราช) (1491 - 1529)
* Borommaracha Thirat IV (Nor Phutthangkun) สมเด็จพระบรมราชาธิราชที่ 4 (หน่อพุทธางกูร) (1529 - 1533)
* Ratsadathiratcha Kuman พระรัษฎาธิราชกุมาร (1533); child king
* Chaiya Racha Thirat สมเด็จพระไชยราชาธิราช (1534 - 1546)
* Kaeo Fa (Yot Fa) พระแก้วฟ้า (พระยอดฟ้า) (joint regent 1546-1548); child king & Queen Si Sudachan
* Vạravoṇśādhirāj ขุนวรวงศาธิราช (1548)
* Phra Maha Chakkraphat สมเด็จพระมหาจักรพรรดิ (ruled 1548-1568) & Queen Suriyothai สมเด็จพระศรีสุริโยทัย (d.1548)
* Mahinthara Thirat สมเด็จพระมหินทราธิราช (1568 - 1569)

Sukhothai Dynasty ราชวงศ์สุโขทัย(1569-1629)

* Maha Thammaracha Thirat (Sanphet I) สมเด็จพระมหาธรรมราชาธิราช (สมเด็จพระเจ้าสรรเพชญ์ที่ 1) (1569 - 1590)
* Naresuan, the Great (Sanphet II) สมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช (สมเด็จพระเจ้าสรรเพชญ์ที่ 2) (1590 - 1605)
* Ekathotsarot (Sanphet III) สมเด็จพระเอกาทศรถ (สมเด็จพระเจ้าสรรเพชญ์ที่ 3) (1605 - 1610)
* Si Saowaphak (Sanphet IV) พระศรีเสาวภาคย์ (สมเด็จพระเจ้าสรรเพชญ์ที่ 4) (1610 - 1611)
* Drongdharm (Intha Racha) สมเด็จพระเจ้าทรงธรรม (พระอินทราชา) (1611 - 1628)
* Chetthathirat สมเด็จพระเชษฐาธิราช (1628 - 1629)
* Athittayawong สมเด็จพระอาทิตยวงศ์ (1629)

Prasat Thong Dynasty ราชวงศ์ปราสาททอง(1630-1688)

* Prasat Thong (Sanphet V) สมเด็จพระเจ้าปราสาททอง (สมเด็จพระเจ้าสรรเพชญ์ที่ 5) (1630 - 1655)
* Chao Fa Chai (Sanphet VI) สมเด็จเจ้าฟ้าไชย (สมเด็จพระเจ้าสรรเพชญ์ที่ 6) (1655)
* Si Suthammaracha (Sanphet VII) สมเด็จพระศรีสุธรรมราชา (สมเด็จพระเจ้าสรรเพชญ์ที่ 7) (1655)
* Narai, the Great สมเด็จพระนารายณ์มหาราช (1656 - 1688)

Ban Phlu Luang Dynasty ราชวงศ์บ้านพลูหลวง(1688-1767)

* Phet Racha สมเด็จพระเพทราชา (1688 - 1703)
* Luang Sorasak or Phrachao Sua ('The Tiger King') (Sanphet VIII) สมเด็จพระเจ้าสรรเพชญ์ที่ 8 (หลวงสรศักดิ์ - พระเจ้าเสือ) (1703 - 1709)
* Tai Sa (Sanphet IX) สมเด็จพระเจ้าสรรเพชญ์ที่ 9 (พระเจ้าท้ายสระ) (1709 - 1733)
* Borommakot (Borommaracha Thirat III) สมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัวบรมโกศ (สมเด็จพระบรมราชาธิราชที่ 3) (1733 - 1758)
* Uthumphon (Borommaracha Thirat IV) สมเด็จพระเจ้าอุทุมพร (1758)
* Suriyamarin or Ekkathat (Borommaracha Thirat V) สมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัวพระที่นั่งสุริยามรินทร์ (พระเจ้าเอกทัศ) (1758 - 1767)

Related articles:

1. Muslim Influences in Seventeenth Century Ayutthaya(2007), by Peter Hourdequin, published in A Graduate Student Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Volume 7 issue 2, Spring 2007.
3. THAILAND-IRAN RELATIONS,by M. Ismail Marcinkowski, Encyclopaedia Iranica Online://
4. Sheikh Ahmad Qomi - ชมรมสายสกุลบุนนาค : The Bunnag Lineage Club,
5. Khun Borom,

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