Prasat Thong

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Prasatthong
ปราสาททอง
King of Ayutthaya
King of Siam
Reign1629–1656
PredecessorAthittayawong
SuccessorChao Fa Chai
Born1600
Died1656 (1657) (aged 56)
SpousePrincess Sirithida[1]
IssueChao Fa Chai
Narai
Full name
Prasatthong
Sanphet V
HousePrasat Thong Dynasty
FatherOkya Sithammathirat

Prasatthong[2] (Thai: ปราสาททอง, pronounced [prāː.sàːt.tʰɔ̄ːŋ]; c.1600–1656; reigned 1629–1656) was the first king of the Prasat Thong dynasty, the 4th dynasty of the Siamese Ayutthaya kingdom.

Accounts vary on the origin of Prasatthong. While traditional Thai historians hold that he was an illegitimate son of King Ekathotsarot, Jeremias van Vliet's account states that he was the maternal cousin of King Songtham – his father was Okya Sithammathirat (Thai: ออกญาศรีธรรมาธิราช), elder brother of the mother of King Songtham. He was born during the reign of King Naresuan around 1600 and was known to cause mischief in the royal court. He ruined the palace Agricultural Initiation Ceremony, royal ceremony of ploughing, and was threatened with imprisonment; only pleas from the queen of King Naresuan, Chao Khruamanichan, won a reduction of the punishment to five months imprisonment. He was later pardoned and given the title of Okya Siworawong (Thai: ออกญาศรีวรวงศ์), or Phraya Siworawong – a high-ranking title of royal page.[3]:209–210

Rise to power[edit]

The rise of Prasatthong to power was documented in van Vliet’s The Historical Account of the war of Succession following the death of King Pra Interajatsia (1650). As the king's maternal cousin, he held great influence. It is said that he was a very ambitious prince and wanted to become a king. King Songtham had had his brother Phra Phanpi Sisin or Phra Sisin (The Siamese chronicles say that Phra Sisin was one of the King Songtham's three sons.[3]) as the Front Palace, technically his successor, but a palace faction including Prasatthong persuaded the king to give the throne instead to his son Prince Chetthathirat. When King Songtham died in 1628, Chetthathirat ascended the throne and a great purge of the mandarins who had supported Phra Sisin was instigated, including the Samuha Kalahom or Defence Minister. Prasatthong then replaced him as the Defence Minister with the new title of Okya Suriyawong (Thai: ออกญากลาโหมสุริยวงศ์).

The King Maker[edit]

During the King Chetthathirat’s reign, Prasatthong had Yamada Nagamasa, the head of Japanese mercenaries then known as Okya Senaphimok (Thai: ออกญาเสนาภิมุข), as a supporter. After Chetthathirat accession to the throne, Phra Sisin escaped into monkhood to save his life. However, he was lured into the palace with his monastic robes off and with princely attire. He was arrested and then exiled to Phetchaburi where he was thrown into a well to be starved to death. The prince was narrowly saved by the local monks who had thrown a body into the well as substitute. Phra Sisin then organized a rebellion in Petchaburi. Prasatthong sent Okya Kamhaeng and Yamada Nagamasa to lead the Japanese troops to crush the rebels. Phra Sisin was captured and executed in Ayutthaya.

With the Phra Sisin gone, Prasatthong was in full power. In 1629, his father died. The funeral was held in grandeur and his father’s ashes were cremated twice – a practice reserved for royalty. On that day King Chetthathirat called for an audience with all the nobles but all of them had gone to the funeral – much to the king’s great anger. The king threatened to punish Prasatthong but Okya Phraklang (the Minister of Trade who was Prasatthong's ally) managed to calm the king and convince him of Prasatthong's innocence. The king was unprepared when Prasatthong hurled armies into the palace. The king fled but was captured and executed. Prasatthong installed the king’s brother – the eleven-year-old Prince Athittayawong – as the new puppet king with Prasatthong as the regent who crowned himself as the second king.

The Coup and rebellion[edit]

Prasatthong strived to eliminate his allies-turned-rivals – the Okya Kamhaeng who contested him for the throne and Yamada Nagamasa who objected to the takeover of the throne by Prasatthong. He quickly condemned Okya Kamhaeng for treason and execution followed. And he sent Yamada Nagamasa to the south as the governor of Ligor, away from Ayutthaya. As soon as the Japanese mandarin left the city, only about a month after his ascension, the child-king was deposed and subsequently executed. Suriyawong or Okya Suriyawong crowned himself as the full-fledged King of Siam.

Prasatthong had acted as "king-maker" before assuming the throne, by performing the double regicide of King Songtham's sons. Yamada, Okya Seniphimok, heard of the coup at Ayutthaya and rebelled. Prasatthong had him poisoned and then expelled the remaining Japanese.[4]:55

Reign[edit]

As a powerful and decisive leader, he promulgated many criminal laws and sometimes, according to Van Vliet, he even executed prisoners by himself.

Siam was a major trading center attracting Europeans merchants. Prasatthong was interested in controlling the towns in the southern peninsula, perhaps because of profits from overseas trade. Ayutthaya lost northern subjugated principalities such as Chiangmai.

Under Prasatthong, Cambodia became subject to Siam again. He then built the capital city using Nakhon Thom as a model and built "places of temporary rest on the way to the footprint of the Buddha."[3]:216

Succession[edit]

Upon King Prasatthong’s death in 1656, Chao Fa Chai, his eldest son, succeeded his father as King Sanpet VI.

Legacy[edit]

Prasatthong built the monastery Chumphon Nikayaram where his mother resided and a rest palace, Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, at Bang Pa-In.[3]:211

References[edit]

  1. ^ M.L. Manich Jumsai (เขียน) ธิติมา พิทักษ์ไพรวัน (แปล). สมเด็จพระนารายณ์ และโกษาปาน. กรุงเทพฯ:คุรุสภาลาดพร้าว, 2531, หน้า 17 (in Thai)
  2. ^ The Royal Institute. List of monarchs Ayutthaya Archived 2013-12-03 at the Wayback Machine. (in Thai)
  3. ^ a b c d Rajanubhab, D., 2001, Our Wars With the Burmese, Bangkok: White Lotus Co. Ltd., ISBN 9747534584
  4. ^ Chakrabongse, C., 1960, Lords of Life, London: Alvin Redman Limited
Prasat Thong
Born: 1600 Died: 1656
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Athittayawong
King of Ayutthaya
1629–1656
Succeeded by
Chao Fa Chai