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This article is about the Siamese king. For other uses, see Naresuan (disambiguation).
King of Ayutthaya kingdom
Statue of King Naresuan pouring water on the ground, symbolizing declaration of independence from Taungoo Empire and annex Sukhothai into Ayutthaya cause Personal union status for 145 years, at Naresuan University, Phitsanulok province, Thailand[1]
King of Siam
Reign 29 July 1590 – 25 April 1605
Predecessor Maha Thammaracha
Successor Ekathotsarot
Spouse Chao Khrua Manichan
House Sukhothai Dynasty
Father King Maha Thammaracha
Mother Queen Wisutkasat
Born 1555 Chan Palace, Phitsanulok, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai Protectorate
Died 25 April 1605(1605-04-25) (aged 49)
Wiang Haeng, Chiang Mai, Lanna

King Naresuan (Thai: นเรศวร) or King Sanphet II (Thai: สรรเพชญ์ที่ 2) (1555, 25 April – 1605) was the King of the Ayutthaya kingdom from 1590 until his death in 1605. Naresuan was one of Siam's most revered monarchs as he was known for his campaigns to free Siam from Burmese rule. During his reign numerous wars were fought against Burma.

Early life[edit]

Prince Naret was born in the city of Phitsanulok on the 25 April 1555. He was the son of King Maha Thammarachathirat of Phitsanulok and his Queen Wisutkasat. His mother was a daughter of Maha Chakkrapat and Queen Sri Suriyothai. His father was a Sukhothai noble, who had defeated Vorawongsathirat in 1548 and put Maha Chakkrapat on the throne. He was therefore an influential figure.

Prince Naret was also known as the "Black Prince" (Thai: พระองค์ดำ), and his younger brother Ekathotsarot was known as the "White Prince". It is a common belief that these nicknames were given later due to a "good cop/bad cop" image of Naresuan and his brother. That is to say, while King "Naresuan the Black" ruled with an iron-fist, his brother "Ekathotsarot the White" interceded on behalf of the people. General opinion, however, attributes the virtues of Ekathotsarot to Naresuan. Supporters of this theory claim that as a military king, Naresuan needed to be seen as a strict and severe leader, and therefore commissioned his brother to act out the role play. His elder sister Suphankanlaya was known as the Golden Princess, presumably due to her adherence to chivalric honor.

In the Second Siege of Ayutthaya (1563–64), King Bayinnaung of Pegu led massive Burmese armies to invade Siam and laid siege to Phitsanulok. Maha Thammarachathirat came to believe that the city would not be able to withstand a long siege, so surrendered. King Bayinnuang took Phitsanulok and made the Kingdom of Sukhothai a Burmese tributary state; and required Maha Thammarachathirat to send his sons – the Black and the White Prince – to Pegu as hostages to ensure the king's fidelity.

At Pegu[edit]

Naret, along with other captive princes from other kingdoms, were educated in martial arts and war strategy in the Burmese and Portuguese style of early modern warfare. He was also taught by Bayinnaung about Military strategy and later noted for tactics that enabled him to gain victory over the Burmese. It was then that Naret found himself in competition with Mingyi Swa, grandson of Bayinnaung and son of Nanda Bayin.[citation needed]

In the Third Siege of Ayutthaya (1568–1569), Bayinnaung was able to take the kingdom, and installed Maha Thammarachathirat as a vassal king. After seven years of captivity, Prince Naret and his brother the White Prince were released to Ayutthaya, in exchange for their sister Suphankanlaya becoming Bayinnuang's secondary wife in 1571.


Phitsanulok History

This box contains links to selected
articles with information related
to the history of Phitsanulok Province.

Prehistoric Era

Early Nan River Civilizations · Tai

Khmer Empire

Song Khwae

Singhanavati City-State

Boromma Chayasiri · Nakhon Thai

Sukhothai Period

Wat Chula Manee · Wat Aranyik
Wat Chedi Yod Thong
Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat

Ayutthaya Period

Boromma Trailokanat
Wat Ratchaburana · Wat Nang Phaya
Boromma Racha III · Naresuan
Boromma Kot

Modern Siam / Thailand

19th Century · 20th Century · Recent Events

Maha Thammarachathirat made Naret the Uparaja ("Viceroy") of Phitsanulok as Naresuan in 1569, aged 14. In 1574, Naresuan joined his father in the expedition to conquer Vientiane but he suffered smallpox.

In 1581, Bayinnuang died, to be succeeded by his son Nanda Bayin. In 1583, Nanda Bayin's uncle who was the Lord of Innwa rebelled against his nephew at Pegu. Nanda Bayin then requested for Siamese troops and supports against Innwa. Naresuan marched the Siamese armies to Innwa but slowly to leave the rebellion defeated before he would reach Innwa or else the Lord of Innwa would get Nanda Bayin.

However, this raised Nanda Bayin's suspicions about Naresuan's loyalty. Nanda Bayin then secretly ordered his son Minchit Sra to defeat Naresuan's army and kill him upon reaching Pegu and ordered Kiet and Ram – the two Mons of the city of Kraeng on the Sittoung River – to attack Naresuan on the rear after he had passed Kraeng while Mingyi Swa would attack the front.

Naresuan reached Kraeng in 1584. However, Ram and Kiet were Naresuan's childhood acquintances, so they informed Naresuan about Nanda Bayin's plans. Naresuan, upon realising the intentions of Nanda Bayin, performed a ceremony to denounce Burmese tributary, saying;

“All the holy deities with universal knowledge, the King of Hanthawaddi doesn't embrace the fidelity as the kings should do but is indeed intended to hurt me. From now on, the alliance of Ayutthaya and Hanthawaddi breaks, forever."

Naresuan then levied the Mons to join his campaigns under the leadership of Kiet and Ram and then marched to Pegu. However, Nanda Bayin had already defeated the Lord of Innwa and was marching back to Pegu. Naresuan decided to retreat but Minchit Sra himself led the Peguan army to follow Naresuan. The Burmese caught the Siamese at Sittoung River, culminating the Battle of Sittoung River. The legend says that Naresuan shot a Burmese general with a gun from across the Sittoung River – This is called the Royal Shot Across the Sittoung River (Thai: พระแสงปืนข้ามแม่น้ำสะโตง). After the death of his general, Minchit Sra retreated.

In 1583, Naresuan ordered all northern cities including Phitsanulok to be evacuated as they would became the battleground between Ayutthaya and Pegu. So, Phitsanulok ceased to be the seat of Sukhothai kingdom and Naresuan became, therefore, the last king of Sukhothai.

In the same year Nanda Bayin ordered his uncle the Lord of Pathein and Noratra Mangsosri the Burmese King of Lanna to lead the Burmese armies into Siam but was defeated by the Siamese. In 1586, Nanda Bayin himself led the Burmese armies to Ayutthaya and begin the Fourth Siege of Ayutthaya. Nanda Bayin armies laid siege on the city for 13 months and failed. In 1590, Maha Thammarachathirat died. Naresuan was crowned as the King of Ayutthaya as Sanphet II.

Reign as King of Ayutthaya[edit]

King Naresuan made his brother the White Prince the Uparaja with equal honor as Naresuan himself. In 1590, Minchit Sra marched into Siam through Chedi Sam Ong. Instead of taking defensives at Ayutthaya, Naresuan chose to march to Chedi Sam Ong. Minchit Sra, thinking that the Siamese would stay at Ayutthaya for defensive purposes, marched unprepared. The Burmese were persuaded into a field and ambushed by Naresuan's armies. With his armies scatttered, Minchit Sra retreated back to Pegu.

The Elephant Battle[edit]

The elephant battle between Naresuan (right) and Minchit Sra (left) during the Battle of Nong Sarai, as depicted in the seal of Suphan Buri Province.

In 1592, Nanda Bayin ordered his son to attack Ayutthaya again. Minchit Sra, along with the Lord of Pyay, Natshinnaung the son of the Lord of Toungoo, and Noratra Mangsosri, the Burmese King of Lanna, led the Burmese armies into Siam. Minchit Sra went through Chedi Sam Ong (Three Pagodas Pass) without incident and reached Suphanburi, while army from Lanna came from the north. Naresuan was planning to conquer Cambodia,[citation needed] but then he had to change his intentions. Naresuan encamped his armies at Nong Sarai. Minchit Sra armies then arrived, leading to the Battle of Nong Sarai.

During the battle, the war elephants of Naresuan and Ekathotsarot went mad and ran into the midst of the Burmese. Siamese Chronicles stated that there were fake Minchit Sras but Naresuan pointed out the real one from the honorary decorations. Naresuan then urged Minchit Sra to fight with him:

“My brother, why do you hide yourself in the canopy shadows? Let us fight the elephant battle for our own honors. No future kings will do what we are going to do."[2]

Elephant battle between Naresuan and Minchit Sra as wall murals in Phra Ubosot, Wat Suwan Dararam, Ayutthaya, Thailand.

The personal battle between Naresuan and Minchit Sra was a highly romanticized historical scene known as the "Elephant Battle" (สงครามยุทธหัตถี Songkram Yuddhahatthi.[3]) After narrowly missing Naresuan and cutting his hat (a replica of which is on display in Bangkok.[citation needed]) Minchit Sra was slashed to death on the back of his elephant. This was on Monday, the 2nd waning day of the 2nd month of the Chula Sakarat Era year 954. Calculated to correspond to Monday, 18 January 1593 AD of the Gregorian calendar, this date is now observed as Royal Thai Armed Forces day. Naresuan then built a pagoda on the site of the elephant battle as a victory monument.

Naresuan intended to execute all the soldiers in the battle of Nong Sarai who had provided no support to him and his brother. Somdet Phra Wannarat – a bhikkhu – calmed Naresuan to get him to lift the punishment. Naresuan then instead ordered them to take Tavoy and Tenasserim.

Tavoy and Tenasserim[edit]

In 1593, Naresuan sent Siamese forces to lay siege on Tavoy – a Mon city – by the Minister of Kromma Tha and Tenasserim and Mergui by the Samuha Kalahom, all quickly fell. Nanda Bayin launched Burmese fleets to recapture the cities. The Samuha Kalahom then seized the galleons at Mergui to construct a fleet and sailed and marched his armies on land to counter Burmese attack from Martaban. The Siamese were then able to repel the Burmese.

Capture of Lovek[edit]

See also: Longvek

After Yuttahadhi, Naresuan then launched his campaigns to subjugate Cambodia. He sent four armies to capture Champasak, Banteymas (modern Ha Tien in Vietnam), Siem Reap, and Naresuan himself Battambang – all to be joined at Lovek. In 1594, they all reached Lovek and looted Lovek to the grounds. King Borommaracha V fled to Vientiene. Naresuan took Borommaracha's brother Sri Suriyopor as captive and took his daughter as his concubine.

Naresuan left a Siamese army at Oudong to oversee Cambodia, only to be driven out by Reamea Chungprey (Preah Ram I) in 1595.

Capture of Martaban[edit]

As Burmese control over the tributaries had weakened, the Mons took this opportunity to free themselves. The Mon governor of Moulmein rebelled against Pegu and requested Siamese support. Naresuan sent troops to take the Mon city of Martaban that sided with Pegu. Nanda Bayin sent the Lord of Toungoo to Martaban but was repelled and retreated. Capture of Martaban exerted Siamese control over the Mon state.[4]

Invasion of Pegu[edit]

King Naresuan entered Hanthawadi (now Pegu), near Shwemawdaw Paya.
Main article: Siege of Pegu (1595)

Naresuan eventually marched his troops to Pegu in 1595.He laid siege on the city for three months but was unable to enter. The huge forces of the Lords of Pyay, Toungoo, and Ava then arrived to free Pegu. Naresuan decided to retreat.

The Lord of Pyay staged a rebellion against Nanda Bayin in 1595, followed by Toungoo, Rakhine, Lanna, and Lan Xang. King Nokeo Koumane of Lan Xang prepared to march through Lanna to Pegu to rescue the Laotian captives. Noratra Mangsosri of Lanna (Nanda Bayin's brother) then put his kingdom under Siamese tributary to get Ayutthayan supports. Naresuan sent Siamese forces to prevent Laotian forces from entering Lanna.

After the series of upheavals in the Burmese Empire, Naresuan decided to invade Pegu again in 1599. Naresuan allied himself with Rakhine. However, the Lord of Toungoo feared that if Naresuan had taken Pegu the Siamese power would have been too large and might engulf Toungoo itself. So, the Lord of Toungoo has plan to help Pegu from Siam invasion.

Invasion of Toungoo and Lanna[edit]

In 1599 Naresuan attacked Burma again. He occupied the city of Pegu but Minye Thihathu II Viceroy of Toungoo took Nanda Bayin and left for Toungoo. When Naresuan reached Pegu, he requested Minye Thihathu to sent Nanda Bayin back to him but Minye Thihathu refused. After that Naresuan laid siege on Toungoo. He then captured the city and Minye Thihathu left for Pyinmana. In 1604 Naresuan had fallen ill and then went back to Ayutthaya. In 1606 Minye Thihathu allied himself with Nyaungyan Min (who had his army based out of Ava in central Burma) to drive out the Siamese from Burmese territory. Naresuan sent his brother Ekathotsarot to deal with the Burmese conflicts.


Anaukpetlun crowned himself as the King of Ava to counter Toungoo and went on his campaigns to subjugate the Shans. However, the Shan King of Hsenwi was Naresuan's childhood friend. So, he marched armies to rescue King of Hsenwi. During his journey, however, Naresuan died on 25 April 1605.

Recent studies of Burmese records by historians of Silpakorn University showed that he returned to Wiang Haeng, where he died of disease, probably smallpox.

His brother King Ekathotsarot became his successor as king.

According to the Shan, King Naresuan helped them win independence for the Shan State in 1600 with his ally, the Prince of Hsenwi. Both had been hostages at the Burmese court, and King Naresuan died while rushing to the aid of a friend of his youth, they say.

Many Shan believe King Naresuan was cremated and his ashes interred in a stupa in Mongton, in the Daen Lao Range, in the southern part of the Shan State.[5]


  • Thai baht banknotes
    • 100-Baht note of series 12, issued with the intention of glorifying Thai monarchs in history who have been revered and honored with the title The Great.[6]
    • 50-Baht note of series 16, issued to glorify Thai kings of different periods from past to present.[1]

In media[edit]

Born: 1555 Died: 25 April 1605
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Maha Thammarachathirat
King of Ayutthaya
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Maha Thammarachathirat
King of Sukhothai
Succeeded by
Kingdom annexed


  1. ^ a b Wararat (January 18, 2012). "50 Baht series 16". History and Series of Banknotes. Bank of Thailand. Retrieved August 24, 2013. Back. The images of the statue of King Naresuan: Pouring water on the ground, symbolizing the declaration of independence, King Naresuan with his sword leading his troops to beat the Burmese camp, the statue of King Naresuan at the Don Chedi Memorial compound, Phra Chedi Chai Mongkol located at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province 
  2. ^ Treepet Metkarunchit. การประกาศอิสรภาพ [Declaration of Independence] (in Thai). Archived from the original on August 24, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ Glenn S., ed. (August 24, 2013). "ยุทธหัตถี" (DICTIONARY). Royal Institute Dictionary - 1982. Retrieved 2013-08-24. a war elephant; combat while mounted on war elephants 
  4. ^ ราชการสงครามในสมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช
  5. ^ The Nation, Warrior king remains a very modern mystery, 30 April 2006
  6. ^ Wararat (April 6, 1978). "Series 12". History and Series of Banknotes. Bank of Thailand. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 100 Baht. Back. The monument of King Naresuan the Great, Don Chedi Memorial, in Suphanburi 
  7. ^ Online Reporters (17 Jun 2014). "Thais cheered up by Naresuan movie". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 25 June 2014. Most people who went to the see the free showing of the film 'The Legend of King Naresuan 5' arranged by the NCPO came away feeling happy, according to a survey by Abac Poll. 

Additional reading[edit]

Reference sources are inadequate to corroborate any information given. Ref no.1 goes nowhere. Ref no.2 is in Thai. Ref no.3 is a newspaper article which in a nutshell says historians are still debating much of King Naresuan's life