1782, the Chakri dynasty was founded and the nation also received
a new capital. King Rama I crowned himself as the first king
and ordered the relocation of the capital across the river
from Thonburi to Bangkok. The establishment of the Chakri
dynasty marked the beginning of the so-called Rattanakosin
was for strategic reasons that King Rama I decided to move
the capital to the east bank of the Chao Phraya River. He
believed that the site could be more easily defended than
Thonburi should the Burmese ever try to attack again. However,
defense was not his only purpose. He also wanted to wipe out
the memory of defeat and restore national pride with the construction
of a city that would recreate the lost glory of Ayutthaya.
building Bangkok as the capital city, attempts were made to
revive the glory of Ayutthaya as faithfully as possible. The
Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra
Kaew) were replicated from Ayutthaya's grand palace and royal
temple. Modern Thailand is deeply indebted to King Rama I
for his cultural revival programs.
Rama I died in 1809. His son, King Rama II, took the throne
and ruled until 1824. King Rama III (1824-1851) began to develop
trade with China and boosted domestic agricultural production.
During the two succeeding reigns, Bangkok was further expanded
and embellished. It became one of the most magnificent cities
in the Orient, achieving the height of glory formerly enjoyed
by Ayutthaya. The early Rattanakosin period also marked the
beginning of relations between the Thai kingdom and the West
during the Age of Imperialism.
King Mongkut (Rama IV) took the throne in 1851 he quickly
established diplomatic relations with European nations, while
at the same time astutely avoiding colonization. He also began
a period of trade reform and modernization of the Thai education
son, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), continued this tradition.
He ordered extensive reform of the legal and administrative
systems and also revolutionized the communication and transportation
systems. King Chulalongkorn's efforts and contributions helped
the country avoid colonization and made Thailand the only
country in the region to maintain independence from the West.
But of all his achievements, abolition of slavery was the
greatest. This accomplishment earned him the name 'Piya Maharaj',
the 'Beloved Great King'. He became one of the most beloved
and revered kings of modern Thai history.
his father, King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), the successor of King
Chulalongkorn, continued to modernize Siam. During his 15-year
reign from 1910 to 1925, the king introduced compulsory education
and other reforms. He also established the country's first
western-style universities: Chulalongkorn University, perhaps
most famous of all, was named in honor of his father.
1925 the brother of King Vajiravudh, King Prajadhipok (Rama
VII 1925-1935) ascended the throne. Seven years later a group
of Thai students living in Paris mounted a successful bloodless
coup d'etat, which led to the establishment of a constitutional
monarchy similar to the system in Britain.
key military leader in the coup, Phibul Songkhram, took power
and maintained control until after the end of WW II. Rama
VIII, Ananda Mahidol, became king in 1935 but was assassinated
under rather mysterious circumstances in 1946.
younger brother Bhumibol Adulyadej succeeded him and from
then on became the ninth king of the Chakri dynasty. He remains
on the throne to this day, respected and revered in both Thailand
and throughout the rest of the world.
celebrations to commemorate His Majesty the King's 72nd birthday
anniversary were held throughout 1999. He has become the longest-reigning
king in Thai history with more than 50 years on the throne.
The year-long celebrations highlighted the deep respect and
pride of the Thai people for their monarch.
all these years, Thailand has portrayed itself as a country
with amazing history. While the other nine members of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations all fell under the
yoke of European imperialism, Thailand steadfastly defended
its independence, something that the Thai people are very
proud of. As an independent nation, the Thai people have continually
developed a unique and distinctive society and culture. Undoubtedly,
the most outstanding characteristics of 'Thainess' are the
dual forces of Buddhism and the monarchy, the main cohesive
elements of Thai society since ancient times until today.
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