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King Chetthathirat (c. 1613 – 1629, full Thai title: สมเด็จพระเชษฐาธิราช; RTGS: Somdet Phra Chetthathirat) was the eldest son of King Song Tham and older brother of King Athittayawong, all three of the House of Sukhothai. In childhood he was known as Chetthakuman (พระเชษฐากุมาร), meaning 'Chettha the Infant', or simply Chettha. He reigned for a period of eight months from 1628-1629.
Prince Chettha was the son of King Songtham and his principal queen. He had an uncle Prince Si Sin (Thai: พระศรีศิลป์) who was the Uparaja or the successor to the throne. However, in the late reign of King Songtham, the king was persuaded by Okya Si Voravong (Thai: ออกญาศรีวรวงศ์ later Prasat Thong) – an influential royal page to the king. The event was highly detailed in van Vliet’s The Historical Account of the war of Succession following the death of King Pra Interajatsia (1650). The king’s last wish, however, was objected by most military leaders of the kingdom. Si Voravong gained supports from Yamada Nagamasa the Okya Senaphimok (Thai: ออกญาเสนาภิมุข). In 1628, upon king Songtham’s death, the teenage Prince Chettha took the throne as King Chettha and Si Voravong rose to power. Si Voravong launched a great purge on the nobility opposing the coronation of the new king and was made the new Okya Kalahom Suriyavong (Thai: ออกญากลาโหมสุริยวงศ์) by King Chettha – effectively the military head of the kingdom.
Prince Si Sin, however, entered monkhood as the mean to protect himself from political punishments. (It was against the Theravada law to hurt a monk.) The Okya Senaphimok then persuaded the prince to go the palace by pretending to raise him against Si Suriyavong. Si Sin left his monkhood before entering the palace and was seized by the royal guards. The former prince was exiled to Phetchaburi where he was locked up in a well for starvation. However, Prince Si Sin was rescued by the local monks and staged a rebellion at Phetburi. Si Suriyavong sent Nagamasa to counter Prince Si Sin who was defeated and captured.
It was said that before being executed Prince Si Sin warned his nephew King Chettha about the ambitions of Suriyavong. After eliminating the Prince Si Sin, Si Suriyavong took the absolute power and alienated the king by cremating the ashes of his father for the second time (the practice reserved only for royalty). The nobility of the kingdom chose to attend the funeral instead of having the royal audience. This infuriated the monarch but Si Suriyavong sent Okya Kamhaeng to calm him down and convince the king about the loyalty of Si Suriyavong.
So the king was unprepared when Si Suriyavong marched troops into the palace and King Chettha fled to Wat Maheyong (Thai: วัดมเหยงค์) north of Ayutthaya. The king was quickly captured and executed at Wat Kokphraya (Thai: วัดโคกพระยา) along with his mother in 1629. The throne was given to his younger brother Prince Athittayawong.
|Kings of Ayutthaya