Ayutthaya, Capital of a Kingdom, Part 19
Low ranking prince, Mom Jao Tub, was one of the favorite grandchildren of his grandfather, 72 years old King Rama 1 Twenty years later, the 22 year old Prince Tub trapped the rebellion led by a celestial Prince of both Thonburi and Chakri dynasties. His father's new throne was saved and the dynasty maintained.
However, as King Rama II passed away without naming his successor, and as twenty year old Prince Mongkut had been parceled off (out of harm's way) to study at a Buddhist temple, Siamese Ministers and Nobles decided that Prince Tub would be their next monarch. He was of a mature age and widely experienced in Court and Government matters. So Prince Tub was crowned King although, in later years, his half brother, the monk Prince Mongkut, would return to the fore.
As Monarch, King Rama 3 was a steady man and capable administrator. Naturally conservative he was, perhaps, the last Siamese Sovereign who cherished the old ways and was reluctant to move forward too quickly. International events, however, were not on his side so he was rather swept along by a current of change. To the West of Siam, the long-standing threat from invading Burmese had abated but Laos and Cambodia, to the East, were proving troublesome. Burma, having decided to venture west to India (now Bangladesh) came up against the British which resulted in the first of the Anglo-Burmese Wars.
During 5 years of his reign, King Rama 2 appointed his son, Prince Tub, to control all key posts - Harbors, Treasury, Palace Guards, and Justice. The affectionate nickname of "Jao Sua"
This would eventually dismiss the Burmese as players in the territory game and indeed, initially, the British sought Siamese assistance to subdue their ancient Burmese enemies. King Rama 3 played a waiting game as he was anxious regarding British intentions they were already to the south of his Kingdom having established a colony at Penang (Malaysia). King Rama 3 stance was that he would not close his nation to foreign (Western) approaches but he would try to ensure that any foreign merchants, traders or missionaries were not accorded any special rights or privileges.
In Laos and Cambodia, long considered reluctant vassal states of Siam, Vietnam was making overtures to bring those two countries under its sway. King Rama 3 accordingly took action to suppress a revolt in Laos and dispatched a military campaign against Vietnamese influence in Cambodia. The former, led by Prince Anu of Laos, was particularly distressing to Rama 3 as he had long thought of Prince Anu as a personal friend and loyal to the Siamese Crown. Prince Anu's forces advanced as far as Korat (Nakorn Rajsima) and took many Siamese captives. King Rama 3 sent a Siamese army (under the command of his Second King) which eventually defeated the Laotians. Prince Anu fled across the Mekhong River to Vientiane and thence to Vietnam. He was ultimately captured and brought to Bangkok where, after much torture, he died in captivity during 1829.
The Royal Court of Cambodia, at Phnom-Penh, had been a bed of Vietnamese intrigue and interference. So the Siamese King, more than impatient with Vietnamese influence, ordered his army to Cambodia. Under the command of Jao Phraya Bordin Decha, the Thai army marched to Chaudoc but the vassal ruler, Ang-Chan (U-Thai Raja) had already fled to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam. Jao Phraya Bordin's army were obliged to retreat as his supply lines were not good whereupon the Vietnamese returned Ang-Chan to Oudong (Nug Ong Duang) where they established him as their puppet king in 1834.
When King Rama 2 passed away, Senior Prince Grommamuen Jetsada Bordin Was chosen Due to the Government work he had done and the confidence father had placed in him.
On the home front, King Rama 3 enjoyed good commercial relations with China and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) but continued to be wary of Western envoys. The British were already hovering and the Americans had started to send missionaries to Bangkok. A Treaty of Friendship, between Siam and the United States, was signed in 1833 but, later in 1850, The U.S. President wanted to upgrade the treaty and sent his envoy, Joseph Balestier, to King Rama 3. The Siamese King deputed a Senior Minister to see Balestier but the American gentleman refused to talk with anyone except the King.
King Rama 2 appointed Prince Tub to a higher princely rank of Grommamuen Jetsada Bordin. ("Jetsada means the First in Land, "Bordin" Means King.") The prince served his father and his country well.
He was not granted a Royal audience so Mr. Balestier went home to America in an angry mood! Likewise the British had a trading treaty with Siam and they too, in 1850, wanted to review the terms. Sir James Brook was dispatched by Her Britannic Majesty, Queen Victoria, to negotiate improvements with King Rama 3. However, the Siamese Monarch was in failing health so his Phra Klang (Senior Minister) was delegated to receive Sir James. The Phra Klang didn't see any need to review the treaty as it already granted Britain exactly the same trading rights as any other nation. Sir James too returned home breathing fire and brimstone! But for Siam, and the changes that would surely come, the writing was on the wall.
Much trade from and to Siam had been carried aboard Chinese junks but Rama 3 knew that European designed sailing ships would undoubtedly replace their Oriental counterparts. So, perhaps as a fitting memorial to traditional Siamese thoughts, King Rama 3 commissioned the building of a Pagoda. The base of the Pagoda was a Chinese junk and the monument was constructed at Wat Yannawa in the docklands area of Bangkok.
See related articles (History of Ayutthaya):
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