History

Ramesuan (พระราเมศวร) – a King Who Reigned Twice

Ramesuan was a son of Ramatibodi (พระรามาธิบดี), the first king of Ayutthaya. He was born in 1339. At first he ruled on behalf of his father over Lopburi province.

When Ramatibodi died in 1369 his son Ramesuan (พระราเมศวร) became king of Ayutthaya. But he did not fulfil the expectations of the people, he is described as being extremely cruel, highly ambitious, and incompetent, also he is said to have been a lecher. So he was forced to abdicate and to transfer the kingdom to his uncle or -as other sources report- to his brother-in-law. The van Vliet Chronicle describes Ramesuan as “of little wisdom, bad-natured, cruel and blood-thirsty, choleric, avaricious, greedy, gluttonous and lustful. He did not hesitate to dishonour anyone’s wives and have them brought to him by force.…” The name of his uncle or brother-in-law was Boromaja, later called Boromaja I (บรมราชาที่ 1). He reigned over Ayutthaya from 1370 to 1388. During that time Ramesuan seems to have ruled over the province of Lopburi again. Other sources report that he lived in the wilderness…

In 1388 King Boromaja I died. His 15 or 17 years old son became king of Ayutthaya, but he ruled only for seven days. He was called Thonglan ( ทองลัน) or Thongchan. Ramesuan returned to Ayutthaya, killed the young king (Thonglan was killed in “royal manner” by being clubbed in a velvet sack with a sandalwood stick) and reigned again over the country…

In 1390 Senmungma, a young king of Chiengmai, tried to attack Ayutthaya, but Ramesuan succeeded in conquering Chiengmai. Part of Chiengmai’s population was forced to settle in Nakorn Sri Thammarat, Songkla, and other locations in the far south of Thailand.

Three years later the Cambodians under king Kodombong attacked the “muangs” (เมือง) of Chonburi and Chanthaburi of the Ayutthaya kingdom. 1393 Ramesuan launched a counterattack and he succeeded in seizing Cambodia’s capital Angkor Thom. The Khmer King Kodombong himself was able to flee, but his son, the vice king of Cambodia, was captured. Again Ramesuan forced 90.000 Cambodian prisoners of war to settle in Siam. The kingdom of Cambodia became a vassal state of Ayutthaya.

Ramesuan died in 1395. After Ramesuan’s death his son Ramaraja became king of Ayutthaya

(Two of the many sources for this article: R. Syamananda, A History of Thailand, and Charnvit Kasetsiri, The Rise of Ayutthaya)

The “drum tower” (หอกลอง) of Bangkok

As an imitation of the “drum tower” of the old Ayutthaya Rama I had a new “drum tower” built in Bangkok, Siam’s new capital. The ground floor of this tower consisted of four stone walls. Upon these stone walls there were three more stories. Each store had a drum of its own, each drum  had a specific sound, and each of the three drums  was beaten at different times or at different occasions.

The drum in the second floor was called ย่ำสุริย์ศรี (pronounced “yam su ree see”); it was beaten at 6 a.m. (ย่ำรุ่ง), at 6 p.m. (“ย่ำคำ) and at midnight (เที่ยงคืน).

The drum in the third floor was called อัคคีพินาศ (pronounced “akkee pee nard”). It was beaten when a fire in the city had broken out.

The drum in the fourth floor was called พิฆาฏไพรี (pronounced “pee kud py ree”). It was beaten in order to mobilize soldiers when an enemy was invading the country.

The “drum tower” was situated in front of Wat Po, on a ground called สวนเจ้าเชด (pronounced “suan jao ched”). It was renovated by king Mongkut (Rama IV). King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) regarded the tower as unnecessary and had it demolished.

(Source: Abha Bhamorabutr อาภา ภมรบุต– , History of Bangkok)

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