Bangkok, Thailand




The Rattanakosin Kingdom was the fourth the Siamese Kingdoms after the Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Thonburi Kingdoms. When the powerful Ayutthaya Kingdom was burnt and destroyed and by the Burmese armies in 1767, a small period of Burmese occupation and chaos ensued the lands of Siam. Resistance led by General Taksin, eventually defeated the Burmese within one year and established the new Siamese capital in Thonburi (right across the Chao Phraya River from Rattanakosin). He also extend his hold to include Western Cambodia, Laos, Lanna (Northern Thailand) and northern part of Malay Peninsula.

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Grand Palace by Deror Avi

In 1779, King Taksin proclaimed himself as a "sotapanna" or divine figure, striking against the powerful Buddhist monkhood. Furthermore, the state was in economic turmoil with rampant corruption and famine. Many Chinese factions were discontent with the leadership of King Taksin and tried to restore order by harsh punishments and purges. A popular general under King Taksin was General Phraya Chakri, who successfully managed the invasion of Cambodia. A rebellion controlled Thonburi, which forced King Taksin to step down and was secretly executed. When Phraya Chakri returned from Cambodia, he was offered the Siamese throne. He became King Rama I and was the first King of the Chakri dynasty, which started the Rattanakosin Period.

Wat Phra Kaew by Masgatotkaca
One of the first actions of King Rama I was to move the capital across the river, from Thonburi to Rattanakosin. He considered Rattanakosin to be a more strategic location, turning it into an artificial island with the the Chao Phraya River in the west and man-made canals in the east. Chinese merchants initially occupied Rattanakosin but had to relocate to an area known as Yaowarat to make way for the new capital. King Rama I restored the social and political system of the Ayutthaya Period, even imitating that city's layout and architecture in Rattanakosin including the Grand Palace, which closely resembled the Grand Palace in Ayutthaya. Even the bricks from the ruins in Ayutthaya were moved downstream to be incorporated into the new capital's grand scheme.
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