The history of thailand
The history of Thailand goes back thousands of years, but only the last few thousand years have been recorded well.
Thailand was originally populated by people migrating from southeast China over the course of many years. The Thai's were ruled by the Mons and the Khmer for many years, until the 13th century, when Tai Cheftains overthrew the Khmer at Sukhothai.
It was at Sukhothai, in the late 13th century, that the people took the name Thai, which means free. They took this name because they had become free from the Khmer.
The first ruler of the Thai people, that historical records have survived of, was Ramkhamhaeng, also known as Rama the Great, who ruled from 1277-1317. King Rama established diplomatic relations with China, which is one of the reasons he was called a great ruler. After Rama died, the kingdom declined rapidly, because vassals states broke away from the less powerful successors, in 1378, the Sukhothai kingdom was replaced with the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya.
The Ayutthayan kindgom was in control of Thailand from 1378-1767. The first king of the Ayutthaya era was U Thong, who assumed the royal name of Ramathibodi (1350-1360). The Thai kingdom was not a unified state, but was instead composed of many smaller self-governing principalities and tributary provinces that owed their allegiance to the king of Ayutthaya. These states were lead by the members of the Ayutthayan royal family, and each had their own army.
The King of Ayutthaya had to be careful so that the princes of the states would not ally with each other to overthrow him. When the king died, and there was a dispute over who would succeed him, the governors would fight it out.
In 1511, Portugal sent a diplomatic message to Thailand. The Portugese had conquered Malacca earlier that year, and were the first Europeans to visit Thailand. After 5 years, the Ayutthaya and Portugese created a treaty that enabled Portugal to trade in the kingdom.
After a particularly bloody period, Ayutthaya entered what has been called its Golden Age, this took place in the second quater of the 17th century. In this period, art, literature, and learning flourished. Although Ayutthaya continued to struggle with Vietnam for control of Cambodia, the real threat came from Burma.
In 1765, Thai territory was invaded by 3 Burmese armies. After being under seige for a lengthy period of time, the city of Ayutthaya was overthrown, and burned to the ground in 1767, destroying the libraries, and the archives, which held the historical records.
The country went into chaos, with military leaders, royal family memembers, and rogue monks taking control of provinces. Thailand was saved by being subjected to Burma because of a Chinese invasion on the Burmese, as well as the leadership of a Thai military commander, Phraya Taksin.
The Thai began a quick recovery under the leadership of Taksin. Taksin had escaped the seige of Ayutthaya with some followers, and quickly grew them into an army, which opposed the Burmese invasions. Taksin gave himself the royal title, and made the capital in a fortress town called Thon Buri. By 1776, Taksin had reunited the states of Thailand.
When Taksin died, the throne of Thailand fell to Chakkri (Rama I 1782-1809), a general who also played a leading role in gaining the independence of Thailand. Chakkri found the modern ruling house, and moved the capital to Bangkok.
King Monkut (Rama IV 1851-1868) became a revered king in Thailand because he was responsible for helping make the treaties with the Europeans, therefore avoided the Colonization of Thailand.
King Monkut's son, Chulalongkorn (Rama V), made many reforms, including aboloshing slavery, and improving the public welfare, and public administrative systems.
When King Prajadhipok (Rama VI, 1924-1935) was king, Thailand changed from a Absolute Monarchy, to a Constitutional Monarchy.