Historical trivia on Thai & Siamese royalty

Did you know; that King Mengrim a Ngong Yang chief mixed with Thai and Lawa blood embarked on a grand scheme for conquering the whole northern region where he founded Chiang Rai, seized Haripunchai in 1292, annexed Payao and , in 1296 founded his new capital of Chiang Mai? He thus established the powerful Lanna Kingdom which lasted 600 years before being annexed by Siam.

Did you know; that the Burmese invaded Lanna in 1558 because of a quarrel over an image of the Buddha, which led to Lanna becoming a vassal state of the King of Pegu, governed by Burmese appointed rulers , and that it was King Naresuan of Ayutthaya, fighting the Burmese who had invaded Siam, expelled these rulers from Lanna in 1598 and that for the next 17 years Lanna remained under Ayutthaya  control?

Did you know; that in 1615 Burma reestablished control over Lanna, which lasted over a century?

Did you know; that in 1727  a rebellion by Lanna General Thip, who defeated a Burmese army proclaimed himself King of Lampang. And his successors eventually ruled up to the 19th century? But before that, the King of Ava (Burma) sent army after army into Lanna and Siam, and after the fall of Ayutthaya, Kawila of Lampang and King Taksin of Thonburi joined forces against the Burmese.

Did you know; that the independent but impoverished, 19th-century Lanna was governed by the family of Kawila, nominally a vassal of Thailand, but in fact autonomous. Not until 1874 was a Thai High Commissioner sent by Rama V   to the region was slowly incorporated into the Thai kingdom, and that Laos.

Chao Kaew Nawarat

Chao Kaew Nawarat, the last King of Chiang Mai  ( 1911-39)

Did you know; that the strain, accumulated over many hard fought battles, took a toll on Taksin and effected his mental health. He became eccentric and cruel towards his subordinates.

Did you know; that in 1782, an elite group of officials led by Phra San rebelled, forcing Taksin to abdicate. 

Did you know; that On June 6th, 1946 young King Ananda Mahidol the older brother of  present King Bhumibol

Adulyadej, was found shot dead in his room at the Grand Palace during a visit from Switzerland?

Did you know;  when the communists took over mainland China in 1949, their 93rd Army of the Kuomintang operating in Yunnan was cut off from the forces of Chiang Kai-shek, which were then retreating to Taiwan. That the army settled on the Thai border, and to sustain itself became involved in opium cultivation and smuggling.

The Kuomintang forces made Doi Mae Salong their stronghold for more than 20 years. Their presence was tolerated by the Thai government as it was felt they were useful to keep communist infiltration at bay. The Kuomintang forces have since surrendered and the Thai government under King Bhumibol, has now  accepted them as Thai citizens?

Did you know; that the name of the Royal Palace at Hua Hin Klai Klangwan, means ' far from care', it hardly proved to before King Rama VII, as he was in residence there when he received word that in June 1932 of the coup d' état that ended Thailand's absolute monarchy. Though he agreed to grant a constitution, he later abdicated in 1935 and died in England in 1941.

Did you know; that the 'Office of the Second King', who served as vice-ruler, was a peculiarly Thai institution that that began in the Ayutthaya period. The position was abolished in the reign of King Rama V, when the heir apparent became known as the Crown Prince.

The Emerald Buddha.

The Emerald Buddha 'Spirit of Thailand'

Did you know; that the fabled Emerald Buddha which stands only 26 inches tall and 19 inches wide at the lap span,  was discovered when lightening struck an ancient  stupa in northern Thailand. And that over the next 5 centuries, legends accumulated around the image, which is carved out of a semi-precious form of jade, was enshrined in a number of northern cities and also, for more than 250 years in Laos; that King Rama I brought it back to Thailand after having destroyed Vientiane to take possession of it, and later made it the principle Buddha image of his new capital of Bangkok.

Today the image sits high on  an ornate throne of gilded wood in the Wat Phra Keo constructed by King Rama I,  and  refurbished by later Kings with carved gable boards   of the building showing the god Vishnu astride a Garuda.

Copyright © 1999 USMTA Inc.   All rights reserved. Revised: October 16, 2004.