BRIEF HISTORY OF THAILAND
The Origins of Thai
The Kingdom of Thailand (earlier known as Siam) has been inhabited since the advent of civilization in Asia. The Thais originated in northwestern Szechuan in China and later migrated down to Thailand along China’s southern part. They split into two main groups. One build their foundation in the North and became the kingdom of “Lan Na” and the other one is in further south, which afterward was defeated by the Khmers and became the kingdom of “Sukhothai”.
However, Archaeological discoveries around the northeast village of Ban Chiang suggest that the world’s oldest Bronze Age civilization was flourishing in Thailand some 5,600 years ago. It now appears that the Thais might have originated here in Thailand and later scattered to various parts of Asia, including China.
The difference of opinion over the origin of the Thais shows no indication of clear assumption as countless theories emerged and some even go further to say that Thais were originally of Austronesian rather than Mongoloid. What the outcomes of the differences, by the 12th century the Thais had already established within the Southeast Asia.
Continues upsurge of immigrants, including Khmers, Mons, and Thais, progressively entered the land mass now known as Thailand, mostly travelling slowly along lush river valleys from southern China. By the 11th and 12th centuries, Khmers ruled much of the area from Angkor.
Sukhothai was the first Thai kingdom. It was founded in 1238 by two Thai chieftains, Khun Bang Klang Thao (Si Inthrathit) and Khun Pha Muang who rebelled against the Khmers; and gave independence to the region. Aided by the massive influx of Thais, the Thai principalities were able to throw off Khmer control and established the first truly independent Thai kingdom in Sukhothai (literally, “Dawn of Happiness”).
Sukhothai saw the Thais’ gradual increase throughout the entire Chao Phraya River basin, the establishment of Theravacla Buddhism as the dominant Thai religion, the creation of the Thai alphabet and the first expression of nascent Thai art forms, including sculpture, painting architecture and literature. Sukhothai period was considered to be a golden age of Thai culture. Sukhothai declined during the 1300s and eventually became a vassal state of Ayutthaya.
The Thai people continued moving southward onto the central plain. This movement brought about the establishment of a new center of Thai power, the kingdom of Ayutthaya, During Ayutthaya’s 417 years as the capital, under the rule of 33 kings, the Thais brought their unique culture in full culmination pursued an expansionist policy, extending his power into the Malay Peninsula and Cambodia., totally rid their lands of Khmer presence and cultivate friendship with Japanese, Chinese, Arabian, Indian, and European powers.
During the next 400 years, the kingdom was frequently at war, battling the Cambodians and the Burmese. The entire kingdom fell into Burmese hands in 1767 following the destruction of the capital city of Ayutthaya by the Burmese army after a 14-month siege. However, a Thai revival occurred within a few months and the Burmese were expelled by King Taksin who later made Thon Buri his capital in 1782. King Taksin’s erratic and increasingly tyrannical behavior toward the end of his reign sparked a revolt in 1782. The government was overthrown and the king put to death.
The Chakris were inaugurated on April 6, 1782 together with the coronation of Rama I or King Buddha Yot Fa Chulalok. He moved the capital across the Chao Phaya River from Thonburi to a small village known as “Bangkok” and raised up new laws to rule the country. Under his reign, Thailand covered all areas of present day Laos and parts of Burma, Cambodia and Kedah province in Malaysia. The Thai kingdom was known as Siam in the Western world.
In 1809, Rama II or King Buddha Loet Lad, son of Rama I took the throne until 1824. He committed himself to uphold the Thai literature that had prevail from Ayutthaya period
Rama III or King Nang Klao that reigned from 1824-1851, was effective in re-establishing relation and making trades with China which was important to meet the increasing domestic agricultural production.
In 1851 King Mongkut or Rama IV an intelligent and progressive ruler, succeeded to the throne from 1851-1868. He began a program of modernization. Thailand developed relations with European nations and the USA.
King Chulalongkorn or Rama V who reigned from 1868–1910, son of King Mongkut modernized the laws, abolished slavery, restructured the educational system, and put forward a civil service system. In 1886, Siam lost some territory to French, Laos and British Burma accorded the foreign powers intercedes. After that King Chulalongkorn declared Thailand as an independent kingdom on the 23rd of October, making this day as a national holiday.
In the 20th century, during the reign of Rama VII or King Prachadhipok from 1925-1935. Western machinery and Western philosophies persisted to have an impact on life in Siam. The traditions of Western democracy were influential in the uproar that produced a rebellion in 1932 that formed a constitutional monarchy. King Prajadhipok was not opposed to constitutional government and continued as sovereign, but with limited powers. He soon disagreed with the revolt leaders and abdicated in favor of his 10-year-old nephew, Ananda Mahidol.
Rama IX or H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej had ruled Thailand since the assassination of King Ananda Mahidol or Rama VIII in 1946 up to the present and the country’s name was officially changed from “Siam” to “Thailand” in the same year.
Today, Thailand is under Constitutional Monarchy as the King being the Head of state, with a democratic system of government in which the prime minister is the head of the government with Bicameral Legislature- House of Representatives and the Senate both are elected by the people.