Songtham

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Somdet Phra Chao Songtham
สมเด็จพระเจ้าทรงธรรม
King of Ayutthaya kingdom
King of Siam
Reign 1611–1628
Predecessor Somdet Phra Si Saowaphak
Successor Somdet Phra Chettha
Issue Chetthathirat
Athittayawong
Phra Panpe Si Sin
Full name
Somdet Phra Chao Songtham
Somdet Phra Borommaracha I
House Sukhothai Dynasty
Father Somdet Phra Ekatotsarot
Mother Phra Wisutkasat
Died 1628

Somdet Phra Chao Songtham (full Thai title: สมเด็จพระเจ้าทรงธรรม; RTGS: Somdet Phra Chao Songtham) was the King of Ayutthaya from 1611 to 1628 of the House of Sukhōday. His reign was marked as prosperity of Ayutthaya kingdom after regains independence from Toungoo Dynasty and saw the commencement of trade with foreign nations especially the Dutch and the Japanese. Songtham filled his guards with foreign mercenaries most notably the Japanese – Yamada Nagamasa.

Origin[edit]

Sources varied in Songtham’s origin. The Royal Secretariat’s Chronicles (1912) named him Prince Si Sin but other chronicles named him Prince Inthraracha. The prince was a minor prince born to Ekatotsarot with one of his concubines. As a minor prince, Inthraracha pursed religious ordination and became a respectful monk with the name Pimol Anantapreecha.

Rebellion[edit]

Ekatotsarot died in 1610, to be succeeded by incapable and one-eyed Si Saowaphak.[citation needed] Si Saowaphak’s weak rule gave opportunities for the nobility to usurp the throne. Here the Royal Chronicles told that Songtham’s adoptive son Chameun Sri Sorarak conspired a rebellion and marched to the palace in 1611 and held a ceremony for Sri Saowapak’s execution at Wat Kok Phraya. Nevertheless, as a popular religious prince, Songtham was given the Ayutthayan throne. Songtham appointed Chameun Sri Sorarak the Uparaja but he died only a week after.

Japanese[edit]

Not long after the coronation, in 1612 the Ayutthaya Palace was sacked by Japanese samurai who took the king away as a captive. Certain Siamese noblemen had cheated the Japanese merchants in trade agreements and their master Ok Krom Nai Wai (a title for Japanese mercenary commander) had been executed by the king in 1610. King Songtham was attending a Buddhist audience when the Japanese stormed the palace. They called for the life of Siamese mandarins responsible for their vengeance. Songtham managed to calm the attackers down and sent them off the Menam valley but the Japanese rebels captured Phetchaburi[1] so Songtham sent an army to pursue and suppress them.

Religious viewpoints[edit]

Songtham was said to be very religious - both by the Siamese and van Vliet - as for his religious youth. His name Songtham was a posthumous reverence that means "maintaining the virtues". His reign was the glamorous time for Siamese peasants who were free from wars and suppression. The most prominent achievement in his reign was the discovery of Buddha's Footprint at Saraburi. Songtham ordered the construction of a temple over the footprint - the footprint itself can still be seen today. From Songtham onwards, Ayutthayan kings paid annual respect to the Buddha's Footprint in a grand river procession.

Martial affairs[edit]

On martial affairs, however, King Songhtam was less successful. In 1621 himself led Siamese armies into Cambodia to bring the kingdom under control but was repelled by King Sri Suriyopor of Oudong. Songtham sent his brother Uparaja Si Sin to invade again in 1622 and failed. Also in 1622 King Anaukpetlun of Pegu took Tavoy away from the Siamese.

Siam[edit]

Songtham's reign was marked by the foreign activities in Siam. The Dutch and the Japanese (with their Red seal ships) were the most frequent visitors who received the royal supports. Songtham sent four embassies (about 20 people each) to the Japanese Shogun in 1621, 1623, 1626, 1629, to Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada and Iemitsu.

Dutch ship[edit]

In 1624, Fernando de Silva led a Spanish fleet to sack a Dutch ship near the Siamese shoreline. This enraged Songtham who held the Dutch in great preference and ordered the attacks and seizures of all the Spaniards.[2] The Portuguese, however, were treated alike and the Iberians were technically disgraced from Siam after nearly a hundred years of royal support.

References[edit]

  1. ^ François-Henri Turpin (1771). Histoire Civile Et Naturelle Du Royaume De Siam Et Des Révolutions Qui Ont Bouleversé Cet Empire Jusqu'en 1770. ISBN 978-1272336462. 
  2. ^ Tricky Vandenberg. "History of Ayutthaya - Foreign Settlements - Portuguese Settlement". Ayutthaya-history.com. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
Songtham
Born:  ? Died: 1628
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Sri Saowaphak
King of Ayutthaya
1611–1628
Succeeded by
Chettha