Ayutthaya: Capital of a Kingdom, Part 5
Aniversary of King Naresuan's Greatest Battle
Prince Naresuan had been taken hostage since 9 years old and grew up in Burma. He became well acquainted with Burmese ways including sword fighting practical knowledge. He brought his experience of 7 years in Burma back to Siam and wished that Siam will be free from Burmese soon. His father, King Thammaraja, asked the Burmese that his 16 year old son be returned to Siam. The Burmese King agreed but Prince Naresuan's older sister had to be sent to Burma as an exchange hostage.
The town of Muang Kaeng did not send any representative to the coronation of the new Burmese King Nandabayin who succeed his father, King Bayinnaung Prince Naresuan along with his troop was asked to participate in the attack on Muang Kaeng. Prince Naresua successfully captured the town and made the Burmese look foolish, and frustrated. They became jealous. King Nandabayin had a dispute with Ava kingdom which involved him summoning troops, including Prince Naresuan's help. Prince Naresuan could not arrive in time and he became suspicious to Nandabayin who planned to get rid of the prince. After learning about this planned assassination, he was so angry that he called his army and town folk to swear allegiance against the Burmese and declared independence for Ayutthaya kingdom. The Burmese commander, General Surakamma, was ordered to pursue and cap ture Prince Naresuan who managed to cross the Sittaung River. Prince Naresuan drew his long gun and fired at General Surakamma who fell dead The Burmese troops retreated back to Pegu.
Prince Naresuan slowly built his army and prepared to fight against the Burmese. The Kingdom of Siam was attacked again, however the shortage of foods then forced the Burmese to give up before the corning rainy season. Four years later (1590), the Prince's father, King Thammaraja died and the Prince ascended the Siamese throne as King Naresuan, at the age of 35.
During the fourth and fifth invasions the Burmese troops were again led by the Burmese crown prince. Due to the destruction of the last campaign on Ayutthaya, King Naresuan and his younger brother, Prince Egatosrot, did not wait until the Burmese reached Ayutthaya instead both brothers advanced at, Nohng Sarai in Supanburi and prepared an ambush for the Burmese. The Burmese followed in hot pursuit straight into the ambush where King Naresuan and his army lay waiting. With confusion of the big Burmese troops as well as the Siamese elephants, both brothers were surrounded by the enemy. King Naresuan recognized his enemy from his boyhood days and immediately challenged. The fight was spectacular and brief with the Burmese Crown Prince being killed by a blow from King Naresuan's fighting lance.
A Chedi (Jadee) or pagoda was built during King Naresuan's lifetime to commemorate a most glorious battle earned King Naresuan the victory which deterred the Burmese invasions for years and years. (It lay abandoned until 1913 when it was rediscovered) The fierce battles took place on January 25, 1592. Every year during the week of January 25 there is a week long Don (means "hill" or "slope") Chedi Monument Fair which honors the great king who did so much for Siam. This fair includes a full costume reenactment of an elephant battle that took place four centuries ago. (The date is also regarded as Thailand's National Armed Forces Day
Throughout his life, King Naresuan never gave up trying to conquer Burma. Had he lived longer, he might have brought the whole region (Mon, Lanna, Landhang, Cambodia, etc.) together as United Siam under his stabilized rule. The Burmese aggressors would never have been able to conquer Ayutthaya in 1767.
In 1605 while campaigning against Ava which had annexed two of Ayutthaya's Shan Protectorates the King was taken ill with a boil on his cheek. It turned septic, causing blood poisoning, from which the King died. King Naresuan the Great one of Siam's notable warrior kings died aged 50 years of age having reigned for only 15 years. To the Thai people, King Naresuan the Great is always their hero whom the entire nation holds in high regard. NOTE: January 25 is annual Thailand National Armed Forces day.
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