Rama III

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
King Rama III
Portrait at the Grand Palace, Bangkok
King of Siam
Reign21 July 1824 – 2 April 1851
Coronation1 August 1824
PredecessorPhutthaloetla Naphalai (Rama II)
SuccessorMongkut (Rama IV)
ViceroyMaha Sakdi Polsep
Born(1788-03-31)31 March 1788
Thonburi Palace, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok, Siam
Died2 April 1851(1851-04-02) (aged 63)
Grand Palace, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Siam
Issue51 sons and daughters with various consorts
HouseChakri dynasty
FatherPhutthaloetla Naphalai (Rama II)
MotherSri Sulalai
ReligionTheravada Buddhism

Phra Bat Somdet Phra Nangklao Chaoyuhua (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระนั่งเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว, RTGSPhra Bat Somdet Phra Nangklao Chao Yu Hua; 31 March 1788 – 2 April 1851), personal name Thap (Thai: ทับ), also styled Rama III, was the third king of Siam under the House of Chakri, ruling from 21 July 1824 to 2 April 1851.

Nangklao was the eldest surviving son of King Rama II. His mother Sri Sulalai was one of Rama II's secondary wives. Nangklao was likely designated as heir by his father. His accession was uncontested and smoothly confirmed by the grand council. Foreign observers, however, falsely perceived him as having usurped the prior claim of his younger half-brother Prince Mongkut, who was born to Queen Sri Suriyendra and thus "legitimate" according to Western customs.[1] Under the old concept of Thai monarchy, however, a proper king must emulate Maha Sammata in that he must be "elected by the people."[2] Ironically, Mongkut may have later contributed to this misconception, when he feared that his own accession might be perceived by foreign observers as a usurpation.[3]

During Nangklao's reign, the military hegemony of Siam was established by putting down the Laotian Rebellion (1826–1828, in what would come to be called Isan), the Siamese–Vietnamese War (1831–34), and the Siamese-Vietnamese War fought in Cambodia (1841–45).

Early life[edit]

King Nangklao was born as Prince Thap in 1788 to Prince Isarasundhorn and one of his royal wives Chao Chom Manda Riam, who came from a Muslim noble family from the south. Following Isarasundhorn's coronation (posthumously known as Phutthaloetla Naphalai, or Rama II) in 1809, Prince Kshatriyanuchit (Mom Men), the surviving son of Taksin, revolted as pretender to the throne. Prince Thap was assigned to suppress the rebellion, which he did. Praised by his father for his competence, Prince Thap was given the Sanskrit-derived title Chetsadabodin, raised to the bureaucratic rank of Kromma Muen, and served his father as Kromma Tha (minister of trade and foreign affairs.) As Kromma Tha, he developed proficiency in foreign trade, and developed an affection for Chinese goods and culture. Temples he later had constructed were characterized by Chinese influence. After a private audience in 1822, Crawfurd wrote of the Prince Krom-chiat that, "he seemed certainly to maintain the character assigned to him in public estimation, of being the most intelligent of all the princes and chiefs of the Siamese Court." The Portuguese Consul stated that the Prince had offered him a large sum of money, if he would translate from the French into the Portuguese language a history of the wars of Napoleon, for the purpose of being rendered into Siamese through the Christian interpreters.[4]


As the prince administered trade affairs, his half-brother Prince Mongkut pursued the way of religion, becoming a monk in 1824. In that year, Phutthaloetla Naphalai died suddenly without having named a successor to viceroy Maha Senanurak, who had died 16 July 1817. According to the traditions of royal succession, the viceroy or uparaja was heir presumptive. If there were none, then an ad hoc senabodi consisting of senior officials present at the death of a king, would elect a successor.[5] Foreign observers accustomed to the concept of an heir apparent expected Prince Mongkut, as a son of the queen, to ascend to the throne. However, the assembled Senabodi considered Prince Chetsadabodin a more competent choice as he had served the king in Kromma Tha for years. Support came strongly from high-ranking nobility, including Chao Phraya Abhay Pudhorn, the Samuha Nayok, and Dis Bunnag then Minister of Kromma Tha, and other Bunnag family members.

Chetsadabodin accepted the throne and was crowned in 1824. He raised his mother, Riam, to Princess Mother Sri Suralai. He appointed his uncle, Sakdiphonlasep, viceroy on 21 July 1824 – who predeceased the king 1 May 1832, leading to yet another succession crisis. He did not name his reign, but was posthumously awarded the name Nangklao by Mongkut, who had in the interim remained in ecclesiastic status to avoid the intrigues of royal politics.[6]: 300 

Western contacts[edit]

During the First Anglo-Burmese War, Nangklao initially assisted the British during the war

The reign of Nangklao (as he was posthumously known) saw the renewal of Western contacts. In 1822, British East India Company agent John Crawfurd's mission to Siam[4] laid the groundwork for a British request for Siamese support in the First Anglo-Burmese War, which broke out in 1824. Nangklao provided fleets and elephants and sent Siamese armies to participate in the invasion of Burma since the British promised Siam the conquered lands. Phraya Chumporn ordered the forced migration of Mergui (a common practice in Southeast Asia regarding the newly-conquered lands),[7] which had been conquered by the British. The British were frustrated at Phraya Chumporn's actions, and hostilities were heightened. Nangklao ordered the Siamese armies to leave to avoid further conflict.[citation needed]

In 1825, Henry Burney arrived to negotiate peace agreements. The Burney Treaty was the first treaty with the West in the Rattanakosin period. Its purpose was to established free trade in Siam and to greatly reduce taxation on foreign trading ships. That it accomplished the objectives is disputed.[8]

In 1833, US President Andrew Jackson's "special agent" and envoy Edmund Roberts, referring often to Crawfurd's account,[6]: pp198ff  concluded the Siamese–American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, signed at the Royal City of Sia-Yut'hia (Bangkok) on 20 March, the last of the fourth month of the year 1194 CS (Chula Sakarat). This treaty, with later modifications, is still in force.[9][10] Dan Beach Bradley, an American physician and prominent Western personality of the time, introduced printing and vaccination.

Anouvong insurgency[edit]

Monarchs of
the Chakri dynasty
Phutthayotfa Chulalok
(King Rama I)
Phutthaloetla Naphalai
(King Rama II)
(King Rama III)
(King Rama IV)
(King Rama V)
(King Rama VI)
(King Rama VII)
Ananda Mahidol
(King Rama VIII)
Bhumibol Adulyadej
(King Rama IX)
(King Rama X)

The three Laotian kingdoms (Lan Xang in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Champasak) became Siamese tributary states after Chao Phraya Maha Kshatriyaseuk (King Rama I, Nangklao's grandfather) had conquered them in 1778. Anouvong, the son of the king of Vientiene, was taken to Bangkok as a captive. He spent nearly thirty years in Siam and joined the Siamese forces in wars with Burma. In 1805, Anouvong returned to Vientiane to be crowned as the king.

In 1824, Phutthaloetla Naphalai died and, in the following year, Siam was dragged into conflicts with the British Empire.[11] Anouvong saw this as an opportunity to wield his power. In 1825, returning from the funeral of Phutthaloetla Naphalai in Bangkok, Anouvong assembled a large force and went on the offensive. After defeating Bangkok-vassal principalities along the way, Anouvong captured Korat, the main defensive stronghold of Siam in the northeast. He forced the city to be evacuated while marching to Saraburi, on approach to the capital, Bangkok. However, the Korat captives rebelled—said to have been at the instigation of Lady Mo, wife of a ruling noble of Korat—although this claim is countered by many historians who say Mo had no heroic role in the events at Tung Samrit, though a contemporary account did mention her action. As Bangkok gathered counterattacking troops, Anouvong withdrew to return to Vientiane.

Nangklao sent his uncle Maha Sakdi Polsep the Front Palace and Sing Singhaseni (at the time styled Phraya Ratchasuphawadi) to defeat the armies of Anouvong in Isan. Anouvong was defeated and fled to Vietnam. The Siamese captured Vientiane and ordered the evacuation of the city.

In 1827, Nangklao ordered the total destruction of Vientiane. Anouvong returned to Laos with Vietnamese forces. Ratchasuphawadi led the Siamese to fight and the engagements occurred at Nong Khai. Anouvong was defeated again and, after an attempt to flee, was captured. Vientiane was razed, extinguishing her 200 year reign, and ceased to be a kingdom. Anouvong was imprisoned in an iron cage in front of the Suthaisawan Hall and died in 1829.[12]

Vietnam and Cambodia[edit]

In 1810, internal conflicts between Cambodian princes forced Ang Im and Ang Duong to flee to Bangkok. Otteyraja of Cambodia turned to Gia Long of Vietnam for support against the opposing princes. However, this was perceived by Siam as treacherous as the two countries had fought for centuries for control of Cambodia.

In 1833, the Lê Văn Khôi revolt against Minh Mạng broke out in Vietnam. Lê Văn Khôi, the rebel leader, sought Siamese aid. Nangklao intended to take this opportunity to install a pro-Siamese monarch on the Cambodian throne.

Phraya Ratchasuphawadi, who had been promoted to Chao Phraya Bodindecha, was ordered to capture Saigon. Dis Bunnag, the Minister of Kromma Tha, commanded a fleet to rendezvous with ground forces at Saigon. The two Cambodian princes, Ang Im and Ang Duong, also joined the expedition. Bodindecha took Udongk and the fleet took Bantey Mas. The fleet proceeded to Saigon but was repelled.

Bodindecha then took Phnom Penh and again invaded Vietnam by land in 1842. In 1845, the Vietnamese recaptured Phnom Penh, but Bodindecha was able to defend Udongk. In 1847, prompted by Emperor Thiệu Trị's treatment of Christian missionaries, French forces invaded Vietnam. A cessation of hostilities with Siam was negotiated. Ang Duong was installed as the Cambodian monarch under the equal patronage of both Siam and Vietnam, thus ending the war.

Revolt of Kedah[edit]

In 1837, Krom Somdet Phra Sri Suralai, mother of Nangklao, died. All officials throughout the kingdom went to Bangkok to attend the funeral. At Syburi (Kedah of Malaysia now), without the presence of Siamese governors, a nephew of the Sultan of Kedah then staged a revolt. Nangklao then sent Tat Bunnag down south to subjugate the rebellion quickly in 1838. Tat then suggested an autonomous government for Kedah Sultanate. In 1839, Kedah was divided into four autonomous parts.

Religious devotion and educational reforms[edit]

Nangklao was famous for his Buddhist faith. He fed the poor each day after becoming prince, and released animals every monastery day. More than 50 temples were built and repaired in his reign, including the first Chinese style temple at Rajorasa, the highest stupa at Wat Arun, the Golden Mountain at Wat Saket, the metal temple at Wat Ratchanadda, and Chetupol Temple or Wat Pho. Wat Pho is the site of the first university in Thailand. Under his reign, King Rama III was also responsible for the writing of the Chindamanee textbook and also the revision of the Buddhist textbook the Tripitaka which was to be distributed throughout the kingdom. In addition to that Rama III also allowed monks to use castles as classrooms for the teaching of Buddhism.

Death and legacy[edit]

Rama III statue at Wat Ratchanatdaram, Bangkok
Wat Yannawa was patronised by Nangklao, who ordered the temple enlarged and constructed many new structures within. The temple is shaped like a Chinese junk to commemorate the significance of Chinese commerce and influence in Siam during Nangklao's reign

Nangklao died on 2 April 1851 without having named a successor. He had 51 children including sons,[13] but had raised none of his consorts to the queen. The throne passed to his half-brother, Prince Mongkut.

Nangklao stated on his deathbed that "Our wars with Burma and Vietnam were over, only the threats of the Westerners was left to us. We should study their innovations for our own benefits but not to the degree of obsession or worship." This vision coincided with Western intervention in Siam in the reign of Mongkut. He was able to predict, but not live to see the neighboring kingdoms of Burma and Vietnam fall to European colonial rule.

During his reign, trade between Siam and China became lucrative. The king kept his profits in red purses beside his bed, subsequently this money was known as "red purse money". Nangklao stipulated that the red purse money that he had earned through his business acumen should be set aside as the state's emergency fund for the future "so that Siam would be able to buy the land back" if it fell into a squabble with a foreign power. In the reign of his nephew Chulalongkorn, Siam indeed had to pay reparations to France for the 1893 Paknam incident during the Franco-Siamese crisis, and funding in part came from Nangklao's red purse money.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ J. B. Terwiel (2005). Thailand's Political History: From the Fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 to Recent Times. River Books. pp. 107–108.
  2. ^ Dhani Nivat, Kromamun Bidyalabh Bluitiyakara [in Thai] (1947). "The Old Siamese conception of the Monarchy" (PDF). Journal of the Siam Society. JSS Vol.36.2b (digital). Siamese Heritage Trust: 94. Retrieved March 7, 2013. The Thammasat describes its ideal of a monarch as a King of Righteousness, elected by the people (the Maha Sammata).
  3. ^ Bradley, William Lee (1969). "The Accession of King Mongkut (Notes)" (PDF free). Journal of the Siam Society. JSS Vol. 57.1f (digital). Siam Heritage Trust: 160. Retrieved March 17, 2013. [Vella] holds this to be 'the view of many western writers' and it dates from the reign of King Mongkut, owing largely to their mistaken belief that because he was the son of a minor wife, Prince Chesda was illegitimate. The indication is that the western writers adopted this view from Mongkut himself, as the subsequent story will show.
  4. ^ a b Crawfurd, John (21 August 2006) [1830]. Journal of an Embassy from the Governor-general of India to the Courts of Siam and Cochin China. Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). London: H. Colburn and R. Bentley. OCLC 03452414. Retrieved February 2, 2012. Alt URL
  5. ^ "Rattanakosin Period (1782 -present)". Thailand Introduction. GlobalSecurity.org. August 18, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2013. If there was no uparaja at the time of the king's death—and this was frequently the case—the choice of a new monarch drawn from the royal family was left to the Senabodi, the council of senior officials, princes, and Buddhist prelates that assembled at the death of a king. It was such a council that chose Nang Klao's successor.
  6. ^ a b Roberts, Edmund (October 12, 2007) [1837]. Embassy to the Eastern courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat: in the U. S. sloop-of-war Peacock ... during the years 1832-3-4. Harper & Brothers. ISBN 9780608404066. Retrieved April 25, 2012. Here they were pointed to Mr. Crawford's [sic] account of his mission to Siam and Cochin-China, page 269....
  7. ^ Van Roy, Edward (2010). "Safe Haven: Mon Refugees at the Capitals of Siam from the 1500s to the 1800s" (PDF). Journal of the Siam Society. 98: 172–73.
  8. ^ Terwiel, B.J. (1991). "The Bowring Treaty: Imperialism and the Indigenous Perspective" (PDF). Journal of the Siam Society. 79 (2). Retrieved 2019-01-03. In this paper the evidence upon which historians have based their statements on the Treaty's economic results is examined. It will be shown that all take their cue from Bowring's own words. Secondly it will be shown that Bowring's remarks are not necessarily a reliable indicator.
  9. ^ William M. Malloy. "Siam. 1833" (PDF). United States, United States, William M. Malloy > Compilation of Treaties in Force. Washington, D.C.: Govt. print. off. Retrieved April 12, 2012. Revised ed. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, by William M. Malloy. (Treaties and Conventions, 1889. p. 992.) (The provisions of this treaty were modified by the Treaty of 1856.)
  10. ^ Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (April 18, 2012). "Thailand". Bureau of Public Affairs: Electronic Information Publications » Background Notes. Bureau of Public Affairs. Retrieved May 20, 2012. The 1966 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, the most recent iteration....
  11. ^ Bruce, Robert (1969). "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch" (PDF). Hong Kong Journals Online. 9.
  12. ^ Tomlin, Jacob (1831). Journal of a nine months' residence in Siam. London: Frederick Westley and A.H. Davis. p. 103.
  13. ^ Baker, Chris; Phongpaichit, Pasuk (2009). A History of Thailand (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 31. ISBN 9780521759151.
  14. ^ "Banknotes, Series 15". Bank of Thailand. February 23, 2012. Retrieved 2019-01-03. Thai: การงานสิ่งไตของเขาที่ดี ควนจะเรียนร่ำเอาไว้ก็เอาอย่างเขา แต่อย่าให้นับถือเลื่อนใสไปทีเดียว
  15. ^ "เสริมสิริมงคลรับปีใหม่กับเส้นทางไหว้กษัตริย์ 9 พระองค์".

External links[edit]

Rama III
Born: 31 March 1788 Died: 2 April 1851
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Rattanakosin
Succeeded by