Phra Maha Thammarachathirat (Thai: พระมหาธรรมราชาธิราช) or Somdet Phra Sanphet I (Thai: สมเด็จพระสรรเพ็ชญ์ที่ 1) or formerly known as Khun Phiren Thorathep (Thai: ขุนพิเรนทรเทพ) was the first King of Ayutthaya kingdom of the Sukhothai dynasty ruling from 1569 to 1590. As a powerful Sukhothai noble, Phiren Thorathep gradually rose to power. After playing many political turns, he was eventually crowned as the King of Siam.
A Sukhothai noble
Though the Kingdom of Sukhothai had come under personal union with Ayutthaya since 1448, the royal clan of Sukhothai still held power in their base Phitsanulok and constitutes as one of four political clans of 16th century Ayutthaya (Supannabhum, Uthong, Sukhothai, and Sri Thamnakorn). Chairacha, however, tried to reduce the power of Sukhothai nobles. He ceased to appoint the Upparacha the King of Sukhothai and called the Sukhothai nobles to Ayutthaya to dissolve their base of power at Phitsanulok.
Khun Phiren Thorathep was one of the Sukhothai nobles at the court of Ayutthaya. In 1548, the kingdom fell under the governance of Worawongsathirat and Sri Sudachan of the Uthong clan. The Uthong clan rose to power at the expense of other clans. Khun Pirenthorathep then sought alliance with Sri Thamnakorn clan led by Khun Inthrawongse and staged a coup against Worawongsathirat and Sri Sudachan in 1548, restoring the throne to Supannabhum dynasty.
Maha Chakkraphat made Phiren Thorathep (who had staged a coup and put him on the throne) the King of Phitsanulok as Maha Thammarachathirat. The name Maha Thammaracha was the reigning name of Sukhothai kings in the 14th century. Maha Thammarachathirat enjoyed a great power. He married Maha Chakkraphat's daughter, Sawatdirat, as his queen with the name Queen Wisutkasat.
King of Phitsanulok
In 1548, Tabinshweti of Pegu led Burmese forces and invaded Ayutthaya in the Burmese–Siamese War of 1548. The Siamese managed to force the retreat upon the Burmese. However, the Siamese armies under Prince Ramesuan the Uparaja and Maha Thammarachathirat was ambushed and the two was captured. Maha Thammarachathirat was held until Maha Chakkrapat paid the ransom.
In 1563, Tabinshweti's successor, Bayinnaung, led the massive Burmese armies to invade Siam. He laid siege on Phitsanulok. Maha Thammarachathirat, upon seeing the massive Burmese armies, concluded that he should gave up. Maha Thammarachathirat then sued for peace and made Phitsanulok the Burmese tributary. Maha Thammarachathirat had to sent his sons - Naresuan and Ekathotsarot - to Pegu as captives.
With his sons in Burmese captivity, Maha Thammarachathirat was forced to allied himself with Bayinnaung. Mahinthrathirat - son of Maha Chakkraphat - then sought alliance with Setthathirat of Lan Xang to fight Bayinnuang and Maha Thammarachathirat. In 1568, during Maha Thammarachathirat's absence from Phitsanulok to Pegu, Mahinthrathirat made himself King of Phitsanulok and brought Queen Wisutkasat and her daughter Suphankanlaya to Ayutthaya. Maha Thammarachathirat urged Bayinnuang to take actions.
In 1568, Bayinnuang marched large Burmese armies to Ayutthaya with supports from Maha Thammarachathirat. Ayutthaya finally fell in 1569 and Maha Thammarachathirat was installed as King of Ayutthaya. Bayinnuang bestowed him the reigning name Sanpet I.
King of Ayutthaya
Maha Thammarachathirat asked Bayinnuang to return his sons Naresuan and Ekathotsarot to Ayutthaya in exchange for his daughter Suphankanlaya as Bayinnuang's secondary wife in 1571. Maha Thammarachathirat made Naresuan the King of Phitsanulok and Uparaja in 1569. Ayutthaya kingdom under Maha Thammarachathirat was tributary to Burma.
In 1570, the King of Lovek marched Cambodian armies to Ayutthaya and laid siege on the city but failed. In 1574, under the request from Pegu, Maha Thammaracha led the Siamese armies to subjugate Vientiane. The Cambodians took this opportunity to invade Siam but was also repelled.
Break from Pegu
In 1581, Bayinnuang died, succeeded by his son Nanda Bayin. In 1583, the Lord of Ava and the Shans staged a rebellion against Pegu. Nanda Bayin then requested for troops from Ayutthaya. The Siamese armies went slowly to Ava under leadership of Naresuan. Nanda Bayin then suspected of Siamese royalty and secretly ordered his son Minchit Sra the Uparaja to defeat Naresuan's army and kill him upon reaching Pegu. However, Naresuan was forewarned and denounced Burmese tributary in 1583.
In 1584, Nanda Bayin himself led the Peguan armies into Siam but was defeated by Naresuan. For many years the Burmese armies surged into Ayutthaya but was repelled. Maha Thammarachathirat died 1590. He was succeeded by Naresuan.
|Kings of Ayutthaya
|King of Sukhothai