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Ayutthaya part 1

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Ayutthaya (full name Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thai: พระนครศรีอยุธยา, IPA: [aˡjutʰajaː]; also spelled "Ayudhya") city is the capital of Ayutthaya province in Thailand. The city was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong, who came here to escape a smallpox outbreak in Lop Buri, and proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom, often referred to as the Ayutthaya kingdom or Siam. Ayutthaya was named after the city of Ayodhya in India, the birthplace of Rama in the Ramayana (Thai, Ramakien). In 1767 the city was destroyed by the Burmese army, and the ruins of the old city now form the Ayutthaya historical park, which is recognized internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was refounded a few kilometers to the east.

It is estimated that Ayutthaya around ca. 1600 had a population of ca. 300,000, and even 1,000,000 around 1700, making it one of the world's largest cities

Ayutthaya Kingdom
The kingdom of Ayutthaya (Thai: อาณาจักรอยุธยา, RTGS: Anachak Ayutthaya) was a Thai kingdom that existed from 1351 to 1767. Ayutthaya was friendly towards foreign traders, including the Chinese, Vietnamese (Annam), Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French, permitting them to set up villages outside the city walls. In the sixteenth century, it was described by foreign traders as one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East. The court of King Narai (1656-1688) had strong links with that of King Louis XIV of France, whose ambassadors compared the city in size and wealth to Paris. Before Ayutthaya fell to Burmese attack in 1767, its vassals included the Northern Shan states of present- day Myanmar, Lanna (Chiang Mai, Yunnan & Shan Sri (China), Lan Xang (Laos), Cambodian Kingdom, and some city- states in the Malay Peninsula
The Siamese state based at Ayutthaya in the valley of the Chao Phraya River grew from the earlier kingdom of Lavo, which it absorbed, and its rise continued the steady shift southwards of the centre of gravity of the Tai-speaking peoples as other kingdoms in this area such as the kingdom of Supannaphum (Dvaravati) or, the kingdom of Sukhothai. In 1351, to escape the threat of an epidemic, King U Thong moved his court south into the rich floodplain of the Chao Phraya. On an island in the river which is the seaport city of Ayothaya was settled before, and he founded a new capital, which he called Ayutthaya, after the Hindu holy city Ayodhya in northern India, the birth city of the Hindu god Rama who is the hero in the Hindu epic Ramayana. He named the city Ayutthaya also because he considered himself to be a descendant of the god Rama. Consequently thai kings name themselves Rama I, Rama II and so on. U Thong assumed the royal name of Ramathibodi in 1351.

Ramathibodi tried to unify his kingdom. In 1360 he declared Theravada Buddhism the official religion of Ayutthaya and brought members of a sangha, a Buddhist monastic community, from Ceylon to establish new religious orders and spread the faith among his subjects. He also compiled a legal code, based on the Indian Dharmashastra (a Hindu legal text) and Thai custom, which became the basis of royal legislation. Composed in Pali -- an Indo-Aryan language closely related to Sanskrit and the language of the Theravada Buddhist scriptures -- it had the force of divine injunction. Supplemented by royal decrees, Ramathibodi's legal code remained generally in force until the late nineteenth century


By the end of the fourteenth century, Ayutthaya was regarded as the strongest power in Indochina, but it lacked the manpower to dominate the region. In the last year of his reign, Ramathibodi had seized Angkor during what was to be the first of many successful Thai assaults on the Khmer capital. The policy was aimed at securing Ayutthaya's eastern frontier by preempting Vietnamese designs on Khmer territory. The weakened Khmer periodically submitted to Ayutthaya's suzerainty, but efforts to maintain control over Angkor were repeatedly frustrated. However Angkor eventually fell. Thai troops were frequently diverted to suppress rebellions in Sukhothai or to campaign against Chiang Mai, where Ayutthaya's expansion was tenaciously resisted. Eventually Ayutthaya subdued the territory that had belonged to Sukhothai, and the year after Ramathibodi died, his kingdom was recognized by the emperor of China's newly established Ming Dynasty as Sukhothai's rightful successor.

The Thai kingdom was not a single, unified state but rather a patchwork of self-governing principalities and tributary provinces owing allegiance to the king of Ayutthaya under the mandala system. These countries were ruled by members of the royal family of Ayutthaya who had their own armies and warred among themselves, as well as self governing but subservient Malay states in the south. The king had to be vigilant to prevent royal princes from combining against him or allying with Ayutthaya's enemies. Due to the lack of succession law and strong concept of merit, whenever the succession was in dispute, princely governors or powerful dignitaries gathered their forces and moved on the capital to press their claims.

During much of the fifteenth century Ayutthaya's energies were directed toward the Malay Peninsula, where the great trading port of Malacca contested its claims to sovereignty. Ayutthaya's conquests were unsuccessful, however, due to the military support of Ming China, who backed the Sultanate diplomatically and economically. The Ming Admiral Zheng He had established one of his bases of operation in the port city, so the Chinese could not afford to lose such a strategic position to the Siamese. Under this umbrella of protection, Malacca flourished into one of Ayutthaya's great rivals, until its conquest in 1511 by the Portuguese.

Malacca and other Malay states south of Tambralinga had become Muslim early in the century, and thereafter Islam served as a symbol of Malay solidarity against the Thais. As it failed to make a vassal state of Malacca, Ayutthayan control of the strait was gradually displaced by Malay and Chinese.

However in the mid sixteenth century, Burmese Kingdom of Tounggoo became stronger, it then began the 'imperial expansion'. Its kings Tabinshwehti and Bayinnaung attacked Ayutthaya. In 1569 Ayutthaya eventually fell and became Toungoo's vassal. The royal princes and high officials were taken back to Tounggoo. One of those princes was Prince Naret or widely known later as King Naresuan.

Ayutthaya became great power again after Prince Naret or Naresuan returned to Ayutthaya. He started gathering troops to resist the Burmese . King Naresuan finally defeated Burmese force in famous elephant battle with Toungoo's heir apparent, who was killed in the battle. Since then Ayutthaya became one of the most powerful kingdom in the region. It began expand towards the northern region, Sukhothai and Lanna area, the maritime, southern peninsula and Cambodia due to interest in foreign contact. Foreign trade brought her not only luxury items but also new arms and weapons. In the mid- seventeenth century, in the King Narai's reign, Ayutthaya became very prosperous.

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