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Ayutthaya: Capital of a Kingdom, Part 3

Queen Suriyothai is dead, killed in battle as she defended her husband and fought for her nation. At the place of her cremation, a temple is raised and given the name Wat Sobsawan. Her husband, King Chakrapat, is anguished as are their two sons Prince Ramesuan and Prince Mahindra. The two Princes pursue the retreating Burmese army, under the Burmese King Tabinshweti's command, but they are lured into an ambush, captured and brought before the presence of the Burmese king. King Chakrapat, with his Queen dead and two sons now held hostage, in exchange for his sons now has to sue for peace which permits the Burmese forces to return to Pegu (Lower Burma) without further action.

Having been unsuccessful in taking Ayutthaya, the Burmese King Tabinsweti faces a rebellion upon his return to Pegu and is killed in the uprising. His successor, King Bayinnuang, takes control of the situation, crushes all opposition and sets about colonizing all neighboring states. Chiangmai (which was not part of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya) and all of northern Thailand fall to the colonizing Burmese forces and King Bayinnuang soon becomes known as "The Conqueror of Ten Directions"

In Ayutthaya, King Chakrapat organizes further defense of his Kingdom because he is sure the Burmese will come again. An additional supply of wild elephants are captured so that they may be trained for war; in the roundup, seven white elephants are taken and this is regarded as most auspicious. Instead, they bring nothing but tragedy and grief. The Burmese King Bayinnuang learns of the seven "lucky" white elephants and demands two for himself. King Chakrapat declines and this is the excuse the Burmese are seeking they march again on Ayutthaya!

King Bayinnuang, who knew Siam from his campaigns with Tabinshweti, leads a vast army through Three Pagodas Pass . A further army comes through Mae Lamow Pass (Tak Province). It is reported that the armies number 120,000 men (including 2,000 Portuguese mercenaries), 18,000 cavalry and 8,500 war elephants. On the way, the town of Pitsanuloke has to be taken but the Governor, Phra Mahathamraja , proved a "turncoat" and, after signing a treaty of friendship with King Bayinnuang, joins forces with the Burmese King.

The Capital of Ayutthaya is attacked, and defended, with ferocity. Although tremendous numbers of Burmese are cut down, King Chakrapat sees his soldiers and citizens slaughtered by the thousand as they defended their city. The Burmese have laid siege to Ayutthaya, but can't occupy it, so they demand that the Siamese King come out, under flag of truce, and talk terms. King Chakrapat, not wishing further terrible war on his people, agrees to talk but the price is high. The conditions for King Bayinnuang to pull back to Burma are that he takes with him, as hostage, Prince Ramesuan (King Chakrapat's son), Phya Chakri (General of Siamese Army), Phra Naresuan (eldest son of Phra Mahathamraja) and four Royal White Elephants! Phra Mahathamraja is to remain as ruler of Pitsanuloke and Viceroy of Siam. King Chakrapat accedes to the demands but, eventually, it is of no avail.

In 1568 after Phra Mahathamraja advised King Bayinnuang of Ayutthaya's weaknesses the Burmese come yet again. Through Mae Lamow Pass, they take the town of Kampangpetch en route, and besiege Ayutthaya on all sides. Again the resistance is stout and King Chakrapat personally controls his army and General Phya Ram efficiently follows his Monarch's orders. Many Burmese fall to the fighting Siamese but, unexpectedly, King Chakrapat dies during the siege and the Throne of Ayutthaya passes to his son Prince Mahindra. As King Mahindrathira, the new Monarch struggles to stiffen the Ayutthaya defenses, and successfully halts the Burmese onslaught, but treachery is at hand.

Phra Mahathamraja has persuaded Phya Chakri (the General who was taken hostage by the Burmese) to feign escape from captivity and under this guise Phya Chakri returns to Ayutthaya. He is immediately trusted by King Mahindrathira but, in fact, Phya Chakri has become "the enemy within". He seeks out and executes the strongest and bravest of Ayutthaya's defenders until the garrison has little officered resistance left. In 1569, the Burmese storm Ayutthaya and, finally, overrun the Kingdom. Along with their King and the Royal Family, tens of thousands of Ayutthaya's citizens are taken to Burma. King Mahindrathira is heartbroken and succumbs to his grief. The Burmese King Bayinnaung orders twelve different doctors to do something to save his chief prize, King Mahindrathira, from melancholy. In turn they fail and, in turn, have their heads removed! The King of Ayutthaya has fallen and his beloved Capital taken by the Burmese.

For the next twenty years, until 1590, Phra Mahathamraja (traitor and one time Governor of Pitsanuloke) rules Ayutthaya as a puppet monarch and vassal to the Burmese. He rules as King Thamaraja but, by a strange quiver in the historic wheel of time, it is his son Phra Naresuan who restores Ayutthaya to the Siamese people.

Phra Naresuan had been taken hostage (insurance) to Burma when the late King Chakrapat had to give up four white elephants. His captor, King Bayinnuang , died in 1581 and is succeeded by his son King Nandabayin. However, no sooner has the new Burmese King been crowned than an uprising breaks out in the Shan States. So two Burmese princes, with their armies, are sent to crush the revolt. They fail! Next, Phra Naresuan is despatched, with a Siamese army (remember, Siam is currently vassal to Burma) to deal with the Shans. It is interesting for King Nandabayin to compare the military strategy of a Thai prince with his own Burmese princes! Phra Naresuan succeeds in quelling the Shan revolt and returns to vassal Thailand in honorable triumph. He also nurtures the desire to take back the independence of Ayutthaya as soon as opportunity allows! But Phra Naresuan's success alerts King Nandabayin to the Thai Prince's abilities so the Burman is watchful and determines to kill Phra Naresuan.

In 1584, Phra Naresuan is ordered to assist in a conflict which had developed between King Nandabayin and the Prince of Ava but, before Phra Naresuan reaches the Burmese frontier, he hears of King Nandabayin's assassination plan. The Thai Prince feels he's no longer under any obligation to the Burmese King so in front of his soldiers and people, he declares independence for Thailand and a return to Ayutthaya!

When he arrives in Ayutthaya, Phra Naresuan tells everything to his father (the puppet monarch) who, sensing the change of wind, gives the Prince full responsibility for the security and defense of the Kingdom. Knowing that war with Burma might happen in the near future, Phra Naresuan strengthens the city fortifications and draws people in from the northern regions. During 1590, King Thamaraja dies and the Prince ascends the throne as King Naresuan. He is 35 years of age and will soon become known as King Naresuan The Great.

In 1592 a Burmese army, 200,000 strong, comes through Three Pagodas Pass. They are led by the Burmese Crown Prince because King Nandabayin is now an old man. He tells his son, "Crush them my son before they crush you". King Naresuan doesn't wait for the Burmese to advance upon Ayutthaya; instead, the King, in company with his younger brother Phra Ekatosrost, leads his army towards the enemy and, at Nongsarai, waits in ambush. The Burmese are lured by what they see as a Thai retreat only to advance into the prepared ambush and the trap is sprung. Fighting from his war elephant, King Naresuan personally engages, and kills, the Burmese Crown Prince and the enemy flees in disarray. At the place of victory, King Naresuan erects a memorial to his army's victorious battle. It is called "The Pagoda of Fighting on Elephant Back" and it still stands today, in Supanburi, as a reminder of that triumphant engagement.

After the battle, peace follows for several years and King Naresuan The Great one of Siam's revered warrior kings reigns until 1605. He dies from blood poisoning, at the age of 50, when a boil on his cheek becomes infected. Thai people, all around the country, grieve at the passing of this great King the King who had restored Thai pride and the Thai people to their Kingdom. Ayutthaya Capital of a Kingdom lives on...

See related articles (History of Ayutthaya):


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