Phetracha

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Phra Phetracha
พระเพทราชา
King of Ayutthaya
King of Siam
Reign 1688–1703
Predecessor Narai
Successor Sanphet VIII
Spouse Krom Luang Yothathep
Krom Luang Yothathip
Krom Phra Thephamat
Kasuvadi of Chiangmai
Issue King Suriyenthrathibodi
Prince Tras Noi
Prince Phra Kwan
Princess Chim
Princess Chin
Prince Dam
Prince Kaew
Prince Bunnag
House Ban Phlu Luang dynasty
Mother Phra Nom Prem
Born 1632
Died February 1703
Ayutthaya, Ayutthaya Kingdom

Phetracha (alternative spellings: Bedraja, P'etraja, Petraja, Petratcha; also called Phra Phetracha; Thai: สมเด็จพระเพทราชา; 1632–1703) was a king of the Ayutthaya kingdom in Thailand, usurping the throne from his predecessor King Narai and founding the Ban Phlu Luang dynasty, the final one of the Ayutthaya kingdom.[1]:252 Originally a member of king Narai's extended family (two of his relatives were among Narai's wives), he was a trusted councilor of Narai, and leader of the Royal Elephant Corps. However in 1688 he led the Siamese revolution of 1688, had Narai's heirs executed, and by marrying Narai's only daughter, took the throne of Thailand upon Narai's death. He reversed the pro-Western policies of Narai, ejecting foreigners from the kingdom, and launched the Siege of Bangkok, to exile all French troops from Siam. As a result, Siam stayed isolated from Western contact until the 19th century.

Background[edit]

Phetracha was born in 1632 at Baan Plu Luang, Suphanburi. De la Loubère has recorded that he was a cousin of King Narai, and that his mother was also King Narai's milkmaid. It was also recorded that his sister was one of King Narai's queens.

He started his civil service career as master of the royal elephants, which was a high military position. Hence, he was sometime referred to as "the Elephant Prince".

It is interesting to note that while Thai historians recorded that Phetracha was not interested in being King, Jesuit missionaries stated otherwise, that he was an ambitious man. While this matter is ambiguous, it is generally agreed that he is a very influential figure in that period, harboring respect from many officers. It is also said that he strongly believed in Buddhism, thus gaining support from many monks, who feared Thailand was being converted to Christianity. Moreover, Phetracha seemed to gain King Narai's trust as well, as he was one of King Narai's close aides and confidants. When the royal palace at Lopburi was finished, King Narai would stay there for many months in a year, leaving Phetracha as regent to take care of matters in Ayutthaya.

Phetracha's rivalry with counsellor Constantine Phaulkon is understandable. While Phaulkon's ideology was to open Thailand to the international community (and benefit from the expansion of foreign trading), Phetracha was a traditionalist who was allegedly disgusted by international influence in Thailand. King Narai himself favored the opening of his country and created many diplomatic ties with European countries, notably France.

Crisis in the kingdom[edit]

When Narai was seriously ill with no hope of recovery, Phetracha arrested Phaulkon and the French officers. After questioning Mom Pi, he discovered Mom Pi had conspired with Phaulkon to assume the throne, and Mom Pi was executed. Further questioning of Phaulkon revealed a plot to raise a rebellion, and he too was executed. Narai, on his deathbed, was unable to do anything, except curse Phetracha and his son, Luang Sorasak. Luang Sorasak then had Narai's two brothers executed.[2]:271-273

On the death of King Narai, Phetracha proclaimed himself king. Siamese troops attacked the French troops during the Siege of Bangkok. Finally, the French soldiers were allowed to return to France. Only Hollanders were allowed to trade in the capital before the French and English finally ended their dispute with Siam.[2]:273-276

During his reign, "there were troubles for a long time", according the Damrong Rajanubhab. The governors of Nakhon Si Thammarat and Nakhon Ratchasima rebelled and it took many years for them to be suppressed.[2]:276-277

Upon his death in February 1703, Phetracha was succeeded by his eldest son Prince Sua, who took the title of Sanphet VIII.[1]:260

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Reid, Anthony (Editor), Dhiravat na Prombeja, Southeast Asia in the Early Modern Era, Cornell University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8014-8093-0
  2. ^ a b c Rajanubhab, D., 2001, Our Wars With the Burmese, Bangkok: White Lotus Co. Ltd., ISBN9747534584
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Narai
Kings of Ayutthaya
1688–1703
Succeeded by
Sanpet VIII