Monarchy in Thailand
Before 1932 Thailand was an absolute monarchy ruled by a succession of kings. A bloodless coup ended almost 1000 years of absolute rule when HM Phrapokklao was replaced in favor of a constitutional form of parliamentary government.
HM Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Great is the only king to sit on the throne since HM Phrapokklao abdicated in 1935. But HM Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty is far from powerless.
The Thai people admire and respect the King, and a mere public suggestion from the monarch makes powerful waves. His Majesty's leadership became evident during the last military coup where he intervened to end bloodshed.
Thailand and the Monarchy by Period
Sukothai Period 1249 - 1438
Ramkamhaeng the Great 1279 - 1298 is the most revered of the nine monarchs of the Sukothai Period. King Ramkamhaeng was a son of the first Thai King, Sri-inthrathit.
HM Ramkamhaeng the Great is described as a valiant warrior, a wise statesman, a far-sighted scholar and a brilliant diplomat. The great Sukothai King ruled an extensive kingdom, bordering in the north on the Lanna Kingdom at Lamphang.
In the Northeast, Sukothai included Phrae, Nan and Luang Prabang and in the east Wiengchan (Vientiane). Sukhothai's southern border reached down the Malay Peninsula and west to Tenesserim up to the Bay of Bengal.
Ayuttaya Period 1350 - 1767
The Ayuttaya Period is often called Thailand's Golden Era. For during the period The Kingdom not only prospered but for a time extend their borders to include the Malay Peninsula, all of present day Laos, present day Cambodia, much of what we call Vietnam, and a significant portion of Eastern Burma.
Naresuan the Great ruled from 1590 - 1605
HM displayed a unique blend of personal talents. As a powerful military leader and fierce warrior, he personally led his armies by example and wrested control of Thailand from the Burmese that included fighting a duel and killing the Burmese Crown Prince. Yet Naresuan the Great was much more than a warrior. HM had the vision to understand Thailand's international position.
As a statesman he made treaties with European nations.
HM Narai the Great
Ruled Ayuttaya from 1656 - 1688. Under his reign, the kingdom made treaties and expanded trade with European nations.
Relations with France began to sour when an attempt was made to convert HM to Christianity. The King became concerned with the number of Thai children influenced by European culture and ordered the first Thai textbook to be written. Chindamani became a popular textbook and was used until the reign of HM Rama V.
The Thonburi Period 1767 - 1782
The Thonburi Period 1767 - 1782 The Thonburi Period was brief, spanning the reign of only one king. HM Tak Sin the Great was one of Thailand's great heroes and great tragedies. Born of a Chinese father and Thai mother.
Sin of Tak was the cavalry commander just before the last fall and sacking of Ayuttaya. When the fall of Ayuttaya seemed eminent, Tak Sin formed his cavalry, broke through Burmese lines, and escaped to an area currently called Chantaburi.
Tak Sin reorganized his army, absorbed the forces of the local strongman and set out to reclaim Thailand from the victorious Burmese. After months of warfare, Tak Sin's army succeeded in driving the Burmese from Thailand.
Tragedy soon followed for this great hero ... or did it? Two versions raise intriguing questions. For more, go to ... Story of Taksin
Rattanakosin Period 1767 - Present
The Rattanakosin period began when King Rama I moved the Thai capital across the Chao Phaya River to Bangkok
Rama I - 1782 - 1809
HM Phraphutthayotfa Chulalok the Great played a major role in defeating the Burmese after the fall of Ayuttaya. He fought alongside Taksin and became one of the era's most effective generals.
After deposing HM Taksin, the Great, Rama I started the Chakri Dynasty by moving the Capitol to Bangkok. HM involved himself in all phases of Thai life, from education to the arts. He built the Grand Palace and set Thailand on course to the modern era.
Rama II 1809 - 1824
Rama III 1824 - 1851
Rama IV 1851 - 1868
At age 14 Prince Mongut was ordained as a Buddhist monk and served in that capacity until the age of 47. Traveling around The Kingdom as a monk gave the young prince a unique opportunity to meet people from all walks of life as well as foreigners. Prince Mongut learned to speak English and from conversations with foreigners gained knowledge of the outside world.
When notified that the ascension council had elected his to become Thailand's next king, Prince Mongut left the monkhood. HM immediately began a reform movement that would adapt Thailand to western ways. One of those was the teaching of English to members of the court.
Among his many talents King Mongut was a skilled mathematician and had a keen interest in astronomy. He predicted a total solar eclipse on August 18, 1868 and further, determined the best location for viewing the eclipse. There in Prachuap Khirikhan an international party of guests watched the even occur exactly as HM predicted. But HM fell ill with malaria at that event and died shortly after.
Rama V 1868 - 1910
Probably the most revered of the Chakri Kings, the young Chulalongkorn, Son of King Mongut, ruled the first few years under a regency and went on to reign for more than 42 years.
HM adopted a policy of modernization that included the abolition of slavery. He had Europeans in his service to oversee projects such as Thailand's first railway. In 1897 and again in 1907 he visited Europe and became acquainted with most of the rulers of Europe and later sent his sons to study in England, Denmark, Germany and Romania.
The vision of HM allowed Thailand to succeed in becoming a buffer state between the colonial possessions of the European powers in Southeast Asia. Certain border territories were given up in the process but Thailand managed to avoid European colonization .. a fate that befell the rest of Southeast Asia.
Rama VI 1910 - 1925
Rama VII 1925 - 1935
The last absolute monarch to rule Thailand. A bloodless coup transferred power to a series of prime ministers.
Rama VIII 1935 - 1946
The young crown prince never actually ascended the throne due to his untimely and tragic death.
Rama IX 1946 ... present
Prince Bumipol Adulyadej was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts while his father, Prince Mahidol, was there studying medicine. HM's early years were spent in Switzerland pursuing his education.
At the age of 19, HM succeeded his older brother and was crowned May 5, 1950. Although his reign has been without the absolute power of his ancestors, it has been illustrious. HM has involved himself in the welfare of the Thai people, sponsoring projects and wielding indirect influence that has stabilized the government on more than one occasion.