Ayutthaya, Capital of a Kingdom, Part 24
The life-long outstanding monk, known as Khrua-In-Khong, was the great mural-painter in the reign of King Rama4. The king asked him to paint on the walls of the newly-built or renovated temples in Bangkok and provinces. He was regarded as the first Thai painter who adopted a western-style of painting.
Cambodia, at the time, was a vassal state of Siam with King Narodom Promborirak at its head. French Admiral de la Grandiere steamed up the Maekong River as far as Udon Meejai and, on 11st August 1863, obliged King Narodom Promborirak to sign a treaty which placed Cambodia under French "protection". When the news reached King Mongkut in Bangkok, the King was furious and sent letters of protest to the French Government in Paris.
To their acute embarrassment, the French Government knew nothing of the affair as Admiral de la Grandiere had acted on his own behalf and without his government's authority. Regrettably and despite its embarrassment, France held on to Cambodia and Siam had to ratify the treaty signed by King Narodom Promborirak. So King Mongkut lost Cambodia! However, French incursions into Laos were staved off when King Mongkut sent a personal Siamese envoy to confer with Emperor Napoleon III and further French expansionism was dropped!
As an astronomy expert, King Mongkut made the calculation and sharply perdicted both the time and the location of the total eclipse of the sun. Wah Gor Village on the southern sea cast of Gulf of Siam's western side was selected by the king as the observation place for the Solar Eclipse Party.
Governor Cavenaugh, an impatient man, did not wait for full replies from Bangkok but sent a British warship to bombard the town and fortress of Trengganu. King Mongkut, upon learning of the bombardment, summoned the British Ambassador to Bangkok, Sir Robert Schomburg, to the Grand Palace. Sir Robert was deeply embarrassed that the Governor of Singapore had acted without first consulting with the British Embassy in Bangkok. And his displeasure Sir Robert conveyed to his Government in London. The British Government agreed that the Governor of Singapore had exceeded his authority and instructed that he was not to place any British warships on a war footing without permission from the British Government. So King Mongkut won a little moral victory and, sometime later, Governor Cavenaugh was replaced by Governor Butterworth and eventually by Sir Harry Orde who became the new Governor of Singapore.
In 1853 King 4 as a young monkfound the ruin of Siam;s largest pagoda in the area of Nakorn pathon province and built the new Chedi to cover the ruins. The famous artist, Khrua In-Khong drew and painted a picture of the Chedi celebration event on the wall of Maha Somnaram temple in Petchaburi.
Living, traveling, and marketing in canals or klongs were regarded as people's daily life-style during the reign of King Rama4
After the Wah Gortrip, King Rama 4 contracted malaria and became ill in Bangkok since 1st october 1868. He did not recover and passed away on 1st October 1868. With full consciousness, he dictated his secretary to write down his last words of Farewell in Pali language given to all abbots at various temples.
Tragically, the King and his teenage son, Prince Chulalongkorn, had both contracted a fever when in Wah Gor (blackwater fever- related to malaria). Upon returning to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the young Prince slowly recovered but King Mongkut's health did not respond to treatment and gradually declined. The King was not afraid of death and thought again and again of the teachings of Buddha, which he had learned during his 27 years as a monk, and Abbot. So death claimed a Siamese Sovereign, very much at peace with himself, when it took him on 1st October 1868 The King was 64 years of age and had reigned for only 17 years. Thus ended the life of King Mongkut, Rama IV, of Siam-one of Thailand's most educated, forward thinking and enlightened Monarchs.
|Bangkok used to have many canals which provided transportation to the citizens. The city was known as "Venice of the East". King Mongkut decided to build modern roads. The two new roads were Bumrungmuang (1863) and Fuengnakoem (1864)||Knowing the importance of the English language as will as the difficulties in learning it, King Mongkut hired an English teacher from Singagpore, Miss Anna Leonowens, to teach English to his children including Prince Chulalongkorn and members of royal families in the royal court.||King rama 4 liked to travel up country and made close contacts with his subjects. He renovated the old Narai Palace in Lopburi province and built Pra Nakorn Kiree Palace on the top of the hill in Petchaburi province during his visits.|
|More transportation projects were needed. Canals were the main traffic ways for people. The king assigned his engineers to dig more canals both inside and outside the capital.||King Rana 4 summoned british Ambassador to Siam after learning of the attached on one of Siam's vassal Malay States, Trengganu, by the British warship. The Governor of Singapore, Cavenaugh, ordered the bombardmetn without permission from London.|
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