Kingdom of Chiang Mai

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Kingdom of Chiang Mai

Capital Chiang Mai
Languages Lanna language
Religion Theravada Buddhism
Government Monarchy
 -  1802 - 1813 Kawila
 -  1873 - 1884 Inthawichayanon
Historical era Modern history
 -  Installation of Kawila 1802
 -  Became part of Northwestern Province 1884
Today part of  Thailand

Kingdom of Rattanatingsa or Kingdom of Chiang Mai (Thai: นครเชียงใหม่; full name: รัตนติงสาอภินวปุรีสรีคุรุรัฎฐพระนครเชียงใหม่; rtgsRattana Tingsa Aphi Nawa Puri Si Khuru Rattha Phra Nakhon Chiang Mai) was the vassal state of the Siamese Rattanakosin Kingdom in the 18th and 19th century before being annexed according to the centralization policies of Chulalongkorn in 1884. The kingdom was a successor of the medieval Lanna kingdom, which had been under Burmese rule for two centuries until it was captured by Siamese forces under Taksin of Thonburi in 1774. It was ruled by the Tipchak dynasty and came under Thonburi and was later a Bangkokian tributary.

Liberation from Burmese Rule[edit]

Prince Kawila of the Tipchak dynasty, son of Saopha Chaikaew of Nakhon Lampang, and Phraya Chabaan, a Lanna noble, plotted the liberation of Lanna cities from Burmese authorities and decided to request support from King Taksin of Thonburi in 1774. Taksin sent Phraya Chakri (later Phutthayotfa Chulalok) and Phraya Surasi (later Maha Sura Singhanat) to capture Chiang Mai. The joint forces took Chiangmai and Lampang. Phraya Chaban was installed as Phraya Luang Vachiraprakarn the Lord of Chiang Mai; King Chaikaew died the same year, to be succeeded by his son Kawila as the King of Lampang. Kawila’s sister, Sri Anocha, was married to Phraya Surasi.

The Burmese tried their best to recover their lost territories. The attacks were so immense that Vachiraprakarn decided to evacuate the city, and moved his people to Lampang in 1776.

In 1782, Phraya Chakri, now Somdet Chao Phraya Maha Kasatseuk, suppressed a rebellion at Thonburi and crowned himself Phutthayotfa Chulalok the King of Siam at Rattanakosin Island (commonly called Bangkok). As his brother-in-law, Phutthayotfa Chulalok made Kawila the Lord Min Vachiraprakarn of Chiang Mai in 1782 as a Siamese tributary.

Lord Min Vachiraprakarn evacuated the people of Lampang to stay at Vieng Paxang until sufficient resources had been gathered to move to Chiang Mai in 1796. Lord Min Vachiraprakarn pursued the policies of manpower recovery[1] as he invaded the neighboring states to gather the people into Chiang Mai and Lampang, including the Shan States, Kengtung, and Chiang Hung. In 1799, the court of Chiang Mai renamed the city Rattana-ingsa. Min Vachiraprakarn constructed auspicious animal monuments around the cities.

A vassal to Bangkok[edit]

In 1802, Phutthayotfa Chulalok elevated Min Vachiraprakarn as King of Chiang Mai presiding over Lanna states (Principalities of Lampang, Lamphun, Nan, and Phrae) but as a Siamese vassal. In 1804, King Kawila retook Chiang Saen from the Konbaung dynasty. Also, Kawila went on various campaigns against Burma and sent the captives to Bangkok.

The Chiang Mai succession was strictly regulated by Bangkok. After the death of a king, the Uparaja retained the status as a prince until he visited the King of Bangkok that he would be elevated to the king. As the result, the reign of Chiang Mai kings were not continuous as the Uparaja usually spent at least a year going to Bangkok.

Chiang Mai sent tributes to Bangkok triennially. The tributes included worthy forest products like the teak. Chaingmai had also provided troops and manpower to Bangkok on her military campaigns, including that of Rebellion of Anouvong in 1824. Also, Chiang Mai was the main base for the Siamese efforts to expand into Shan states.

The degree of Chiang Mai's control over its subordinate states varied on the course of history. Under Kawila, his fresh installment by Rama I enforced the Chiang Mai control over the principalities. However, the principalities then gained their autonomies as strong symbolic justification from Bangkok was not granted. In the mid-19th century, the Chiang Mai control resumed under Mahotrapratet due to the encouragement of Rama III.

Western arrival[edit]

After the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885, the British Empire had Control of Burma and its influence was penetrating into the Shan states. For the first time, the woodlands of Lanna were revealed to the West, its deep inland position having barred it from the sight of European traders during the Ayutthayan period. The first missionaries arrived in 1868 and established schools that educated the children of Chiang Mai in English and Lanna script. Printing was introduced.

British companies arrived to exploit the valuable teak resources, including British Borneo Company (arrived in 1864), Bombay Burma Company (1889), and Siam Forest Company.[2] The British brought Burmese and Karen workers into Lanna. They also came into conflict with Chiang Mai royalty over profits as the British tried to impose a system of land ownership over the traditional land-grant system. Most of the cases were judged in the courts at Bangkok and, due to inferior legal knowledge, King Inthawichayanon had to pay heavy indemnities to the British.[3]


British indemnities were a burden to Bangkok government, which had to lend money to Chiang Mai for the debt. The Bangkok court considered the Western influences a threat, and didn't want the Chiang Mai court to have independent relations with Western powers. In 1873, Chulalongkorn sent Phra Narinthra Rachaseni as a Royal Deputy to Chiang Mai.

King Inthawichayanon of Chiang Mai, father of Princess Dararasmi

Western relations with Chiang Mai became urgent for Bangkok in 1883 when it was rumored that Queen Victoria was going to make herself the godmother of Princess Dara Rasmi of Chiang Mai, Inthawichayanon's daughter. This was perceived as a British effort to take over Lanna. Chulalongkorn sent his brother Kromma-muen Pinit Prichakorn to Chiang Mai to propose the engagement of Dararasmi as his concubine.

In 1884, Chulalongkorn announced his municipal provincial system (Thai: มณฑลเทศาภิบาล) and provincial status was imposed on the Chiang Mai kingdom (dividing it into the Northwestern Province and Maharashtra Province). The Lanna kings (including Chiang Mai) were reduced to city mayors. Siamese nobility was installed over the northern provinces, combined with native Lanna's old nobility.

Dararasmi was married to Chulalongkorn in 1886 as a symbol of union of two kingdoms. Dararasmi was raised to Princess Consort - a high rank of court ladies only preceded by Chulalongkorn's four queens. Inthawichayanon's son, Prince Inthawarorot, then ruled Chiang Mai under the tight control of Chulalongkorn's royal deputies. Prince Kaew Nawarat was the last Ruler of Chiang Mai, and after his death the title was dissolved (under the government of General Phibun) as well as the political power of Tipchak dynasty.

The modern descendants of the rulers of Chiang Mai bear the surname Na Chiangmai (Thai: ณ เชียงใหม่) as granted by Vajiravudh under his 1912 Surname Act.

List of Chiang Mai rulers[edit]

Lord Rulers of Chiang Mai[edit]

  • Phraya Luang Vachiraprakarn (1774 - 1776); formerly Phraya Chabaan
  • Phraya Min Vachiraprakarn (1782 - 1802); formerly Prince Kawila of Lampang

Royal Rulers of Chiang Mai[edit]

  • King Kawila (1802 - 1813)
  • King Thammalanka (1813 - 1822)
  • King Kamfan (1823 - 1825); formerly Prince of Lampoon
  • King Buddhawongse (1826 - 1846)
  • King Mahotrapratet (1847 - 1854)
  • King Kawilorot (1856 - 1870)
  • King Inthawichayanon (1871 - 1884); Chiang Mai was annexed by Siam
under Bangkok intendency:


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ Barton, Gregory A.; Bennett, Brett M. (2010). "Forestry as Foreign Policy: Anglo-Siamese Relations and the Origins of Britain's Informal Empire in the Teak Forests of Northern Siam, 1883–1925". Itinerario 34 (2): 65–86. 
  3. ^ [2][dead link]