|KING RAMESUAN (สมเด็จพระราเมศวร)
|Text by Tricky Vandenberg - September 2011
|King Ramesuan must have been the oldest son of King Ramathibodhi I (U-Thong). On the accession of the latter as ruler of Ayutthaya, Prince
Ramesuan was given to govern Lopburi. Lopburi was a "Mueang Luk Luang", a princely satellite city of Ayutthaya, which ruling house was
probably a family connection of Ramathibodhi I. Prince Ramesuan must have been a young boy as his father was only 37 when establishing
Ayutthaya in 1351 (1).
Though young, he was not spared. A year later in 1352, his father send him to Cambodia at the head of an invasion army in order to restore
forcibly the vassal ties, as a new monarch named Boromma Lamphongsaraja had succeeded to the Khmer throne. Unfortunately the 5000 men
strong advanced party became separated from the main Siamese army and was attacked and routed by the Khmers. Hearing the news King
Ramathibodhi I hurriedly dispatched his brother-in-law, the ruler of Suphanburi, Prince Pha-ngua in assistance. The Khmers were defeated and
their capital Angkor invested during a year; after the city fell. The Khmer king died during the siege and the Siamese installed the crown prince
Phasat as a vassal of Siam. (2)
Prince Ramesuan accessed the throne in 1369 after the death of King U-Thong. He started the same year the construction of Wat Phra Ram on
the cremation ground of his father. 
Van Vliet wrote that the king “was of little wisdom, was bad-natured, cruel and bloodthirsty, choleric, avaricious, greedy, gluttonous, and
lustful. He did not hesitate to dishonor anyone’s wives and have them brought to him by force. He was careless in everything concerning
the welfare of the kingdom and the peace of the community. No warrior by nature, he did not love his soldiers at all, things spiritual and
religious very little, and the poor even less. That is the reason that after he had reigned for three years he was deposed by his father’s
brother.” He was pursued far and wide so that for a long time no one knew where he had taken refuge.” (3) 
In 1370 King Ramesuan was urged to abdicate in favor of his uncle, the ruler of Suphanburi, following the break out of disturbances in Siam which
he was unable to quell.  Ramesuan took up his function again as governor of Lopburi.  Though amicably arranged, the abdication was likely
enforced. Pha-ngua, Ramesuan’s mother’s (or step-mother’s) elder brother was a war-like man and as Wyatt notes: “Their confrontation may
not have been quite so peaceful as the chronicles suggest”. 
In 1388, when King Borommaracha I died on the way back from Chakangrao (later Kamphaeng Phet), his young son, Prince Thong Lan,
succeeded the throne (5). Dices were turned. The son of the founder of Ayutthaya, awaiting the occasion, descended from Lopburi and stormed
the palace in Ayutthaya. Ramesuan’s nephew, reigning for only seven days was arrested and executed at Wat Khok Phraya. King Ramesuan
assumed again the throne, thereby restoring the Lopburi faction to power.  The political conflict between the Suphanburi and Lopburi houses
will pass forth and back for several generations.
In 1390, two years after his succession to the throne, King Ramesuan attacked Chiang Mai. (6) After a short siege he captured the city and the
King of Chiang Mai fled. A son of the Lao king named Nak Sang, was captured, made the oath of allegiance and was set up as Ruler of Chiang
Mai. King Ramesuan returned with a number of Lao prisoners over Phitsanulok. The prisoners of Chiang Mai were sent to be kept at the cities of
Phatthalung, Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Chantabun. (4) On his return in Ayutthaya he had Wat Maha That built. (5) 
In 1393, the Khmers under King Kodom Bong, attacked the provinces of Chonburi and Chantabun, taking a large amount of prisoners (6-7,000).
King Ramesuan reacted swift, attacked the Khmer forces and advanced to Angkor. The Cambodian king escaped by boat, but the Uparat
(viceroy) was captured. A grandson of King Kodom Bong, named Sri Suriyo Phawong, was set up as a vassal king, under the tutelage of the
Siamese General, Phraya Jai Narong. The latter remained in Cambodia with a garrison of five thousand men. No less than 90,000 Cambodians
were taken away as prisoners to Siam. (7)  
Van Vliet noted the change in character of King Ramesuan: "However, he had entirely abandoned his former character and during his
second reign displayed more outstanding qualities than those evil ones which had blemished his previous reign. He was merciful, full of
pity, modest, punished without haste, but forgave easily. He was wise and prudent, brave in the handling of weapons on elephants and
horseback, as well as on foot. He gave many alms to the ecclesiastics and to the poor, building and repairing many temples and
monasteries. Because of his devotion, he often went to sacrifice to the gods, not so much like a king, but more like a monk. He was much
loved by the mandarins and the common man." 
In 1395 Wat Phukhao Thong was established, north of Ayutthaya. The same year King Ramesuan became ill and died at the age of 56. His son
Prince Ram succeeded him.  Unlike the reign of King Borommaracha I, King Naresuan seemingly refrained from taken any military action
(1) Van Vliet writes in “The short history of the Kings of Siam 1640” that Prince Ramesuan was 30 years on his accession of the throne in 1369
AD. He must as thus have been born in 1339 AD. Van Vliet stated Ramesuan reigned for 3 years (until 1372 AD) and was exiled for 18 years.
Ramesuan regained the throne again in 1390 AD and reigned for 6 years until his death at 57 years (d.1396 AD). As his father Ramathibodi I was
19 years on the throne, Ramesuan must have been around 11 years old when he became the governor of Lopburi and 12 years when he was sent
out to bring Angkor under control.  As a young boy he could have been taken care of by the “House of Lopburi”, but leading an army in battle
at such a young age sounds a bit weird. Likely he must have been a few years older or the Cambodian event must have been at a later stage.
(2) Reference  put this event in 1369. The oldest Ayutthaya Chronicle of Luang Prasoet does not mention this campaign.
(3) Van Vliet is the only source who gives a reign of three years. The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya, giving a reign of one year, have been
followed in this text.
(4) Wood is of the opinion that this event is an interpolation and probably a description of some quite different war at a much later date.  We
find a discrepancy of 6 years between the Luang Prasoet Chronicles and other Royal Chronicles. Following the latter the event occurred in year
746 of the Chula Sakarat or 1384 AD. Ramesuan came a second time in power only in 1388 AD. The History of Laos mentioned an attack of
Ayutthaya on Lampang, instigated by Prince Maha Phrom, Ruler of Chiang Saen and a younger brother of the deceased King Kuena (r. 1367 -
1385) to take the throne of Sen Muang Ma (r. 1385 -1411), the son of the deceased King of Chiang Mai. The army of Ayutthaya was beaten
back. Sukhothai did not accept the supremacy of Ayutthaya and requested King Saen Muang Ma for help. The King of Chiang Mai took an army
to Sukhothai, but was ambushed by Sukhothai and his army routed. The king himself succeeded in returning to Chiang Mai. 
(5) The oldest version of the Royal Chronicles put its construction in 1374 during the reign of King Borommaracha I.
(6) In the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya we find a discrepancy for the death of King Borommaracha I. The oldest chronicle - written around
1680, before the fall of Ayutthaya - has King Borommaracha's death in year 750 of the Chula Sakarat (1388 AD), while chronicles written in the
Ratanakosin period give his death six year earlier (1382 AD). The latter chronicles give 746 of the Chula Sakarat (1384 AD) as the year the
attack on Chiang Mai took place. As there is a discrepancy of six years, the attack should logically have taken place in 1390 AD. The Lan Na
Chronicles though, do not mention this campaign.
(7) 1393 - date confirmed by reference .
 Van Vliet's Siam - Chris Baker, Dhiravat Na Pombejra, Alfons Van Der Kraan & David K. Wyatt. (2005) - page 203.
 Discovering Ayutthaya - Charnvit Kasetsiri & Michael Wright (2007) - page 180
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 11 / Source: Luang Prasoet.
 A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood (1924) - page 70.
 Thailand, A short history - David K. Wyatt - page 56.
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 12 / Source: Luang Prasoet.
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 13 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend
Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
 A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood (1924) - page 76.
 History of Laos - M.L. Manich Jumsai - page 54 -55.
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 14 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend
Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 14 / Source: Luang Prasoet, Phan Canthanumat, British Museum,
Reverend Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
1390 - Attack of Chiang Mai (discussed).
1390 - Construction of Wat Maha That in Ayutthaya.
1393 - Attack of Angkor.
1395 - Construction of Wat Phukhao Thong in Ayutthaya.