Thai people originated in Southeastern China where, in 650 AD they founded the
independent kingdom of Nanchao which thrived for 600 years. However, invasions
and an unwillingness to be incorporated into mainstream Chinese society led to
waves of migrations southward into what is now Thailand. Eventually several groups
of Thai migrants united and established Sukhothai as their capital in the mid
Although other civilizations had existed on Thai soil much
earlier,Sukhothai was the first sovereign kingdom of Thailand. It flourished for
over 100 years during which time the distinctive forms of Thai art, architecture
and culture were firmly implanted.
approximately the same time, King Mengrai, an ally of Sukhothai, was establishing
the northern Lannathai Kingdom, centered on Chiang Mai which was founded in 1296.
the mid 14th century a new and more powerful dynasty arose at Ayutthaya, an island
city in the Chao Phraya River 85 kilometers north of present day Bangkok.
gaining in wealth, military might and prestige, Ayutthaya absorbed the former
kingdom of Sukhothai and remained Thailand's capital for 417 years,holding sway
over most of the country except the North.
prospered steadily, reaching the height of its power in the 17th century when
diplomatic relations with the West were established and trade agreements made
with the leading European powers of the day. Weakened by internal conflicts, Ayutthaya
fell to the Burmese in 1767.
After fleeing south the survivors of Ayutthaya
were rallied under king Taksin who founded a new capital at Thonburi and eventually
succeeded in expelling the Burmese from Thai soil.
On the death of Taksin in 1782 Chao Phraya Chakri was proclaimed king and as Rama
I was founder of the present Chakri dynasty. For strategic purposes he moved his
capital across the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok. Under the Chakri Kings the borders
of Thailand were consolidated and other parts of the country were gradually brought
under the full control of the central government. Rama VI (King Mongkut, 18511868),
secured ties with the West, especially with France and Britain, while at the same
time, assuring his country's independence and avoiding the colonial fate of all
Thailand's neighbours. King Mongkut's successor, Rama V (King Chulalongkorn, 1868-1910),
brought about many social and political reforms that firmly guided Thailand into
the 20th century. The absolute monarchy was to continue through the reign of Rama
IV (1910-1925) and into that of Rama VII (1925-1934). But in 1932 a coup d'etat
succeeded in bringing about a change to a constitutional monarchy. Rama VII accepted
the situation although he abdicated two year after the coup. The throne passed
to the young King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) who was succeeded by his brother
King Bhumipol (Rama IX), the present monarch.