KING BOROMMARACHA I (สมเด็จพระบรมราชาธิราช ๑)
Text by Tricky Vandenberg - September 2011
founder of the kingdom of Ayutthaya; either his younger or elder sister was a queen of the latter.

Khun Luang Pha-ngua, ruler of Suphanburi, was a war-like and capable man, and ran into the aid of Prince
Ramesuan on request of the latter’s
father - King Ramathibodi I, when losing his advanced forces in a battle with the Khmer in 1353 AD. Khun Luang Pha-ngua continued the
Siamese campaign by besieging Angkor for more than a year until its fall in 1358 AD.

After the death of King Ramathibodi I, he forced King Ramesuan to step down due to emerging internal conflicts. He was crowned as the third
king of Ayutthaya in 1370 AD under the name King Borommaracha I at the age of 63. The internal conflicts seemed to have been resolved rather
quickly as Van Vliet writes: “
The land was blackened with civil war under his rule, but he settled everything with little bloodshed, bringing
everyone under submission and under one head“.
About the character of the new king, the Dutchman states: “The aforementioned king was
wise, eloquent, devout, religious, liberal toward the ecclesiastics and the poor. By nature a war-minded ruler, a lover of weapons, he
took great care of his soldiers and the community”.
[2] Seeking legitimacy, King Borommaracha I sent an embassy to the Emperor of China
and cordial relations were continued throughout his reign. (2)

King Borommaracha I, once on the throne, turned his attention to the north and pushed an expansionist policy to consolidate Ayutthaya’s
hegemony. Sukhothai had regained many of its former dependencies under Mahathammaracha I (Lü Thai) (r. 1346/7- 1368/74?), lost since the
death of King Ramkhamhaeng (1279?-1298), and recovered in strength. [3] More off, the continual escape of work power into Sukhothai was
probably a thorn in the Siamese king’s eye. Following the death of Mahathammaracha I, King Borommaracha I adventured north.

In 1371, he invaded Sukhothai and seized a number of northern cities. The campaign continued the next years by seizing the cities of Nakhon
Phangkha and Sængcharao. (3) [4]

In 1373 he attacked Chakangrao (4), the western outpost of Sukhothai. Its governor killed, the Sukhothai army sought refuge inside the city, but
Chakangrao did not fell. The Siamese army returned to Ayutthaya. [6]

The construction of
Wat Maha That is started the next year (1374) in the city of Ayutthaya. (5) [6]

In 1375, King Borommaracha I invaded Sukhothai again and attacked the second capital, Phitsanulok. The city was captured and its governor
seized. A large work force was taken back to Ayutthaya. [6]

A year later, in 1376, Ayutthaya was attempting again to take Chakangrao. Chakangrao was reinforced by a Lao army of the ruler of Nan (6) and
both leaders decided to attack the Siamese army. The attack did not succeed and the ruler of Nan withdrew with his army, chased after by King
Borommaracha I. The troops of Nan were scattered and many soldiers were captured. The Siamese army returned to Ayutthaya, leaving
Chakangrao unseized. [6]

In 1378, King Borommaracha I attacked Chakangrao once more. The king of Sukhothai, Mahathammaracha II (r. 1368/74 – 1398?) was now
present on the battlefield but realizing that further resistance was vain; he surrendered and submitted to King Borommaracha I. This event wiped
the Kingdom of Sukhothai from the slate. It took Ayutthaya six invasions over a period of eight years to dominate Sukhothai. The western part of
Sukhothai including Chakangrao was annexed to the Ayutthaya. Chakangrao and Nakhon Chum were united and became later known as
Kamphaeng Phet. King Mahathammaracha II continued to reign over a portion of his former dominions as a vassal of Ayutthaya with Phitsanulok
as capital. [6] [7]

Sukhothai been disposed off, nothing was in the way for Ayutthaya to extend its influence into the Kingdom of Lan Na. When the ninth ruler of
Chiang Mai, King Kü Na died in 1385, he was succeeded by his young son Prince Saen Müang Ma (r. 1385 - 1401). A brother of King Kü Na,
Prince Maha Phrom, ruler of Chiang Saen, failing in the attempt to seize the Lan Na throne with an army, fled to Sawankhalok and demanded the
support of Ayutthaya. King Borommaracha I, sensing the opportunity of a possible expansion of his territories, dispatched an army to Lan Na in
1386 (7). The objective was to conquer first Lampang, but a large Lao force lay in waiting. The Siamese had difficulties to hold their position.
Following the Ayutthayan Chronicles there was an understanding between the king of Ayutthaya and the ruler of Lampang, on which the Siamese
army withdrew. The first invasion of Chiengmai was as thus not a very successful one.  [6]

Prince Maha Phrom took refuge in Kamphaeng Phet with his army. He relinquished his ambitions to the throne and in a reconciliatory gesture
offered an important Buddha image - the Phra Sihing - pilfered at Kamphaeng Phet to King Saen Müang Ma. [8]

King Borommaracha I returned with an army to Kamphaeng Phet in 1388. Whether it was to assist the governor of that city against Prince Maha
Phrom as Wood writes; or to subdue a rebellion of Kamphaeng Phet (formerly belonging to Sukhothai) is not exactly known. (8) The Siamese
king became ill, returned and died on the way back to Ayutthaya. He was succeeded by his son Prince
Thong Lan after a reign of 18 years. [6]


(1) His name, Pha-ngua, is an archaic form of the word “ngua” meaning “five”. At that time it was very common to call children by numbers, even
in noble or princely families. Ngoa may be compared to the Roman name Quintus. This system of nomenclature was as follows : 1. Ai; 2. Yi; 3.
Sam; 4. Sai; 5. Ngua; 6. Lok; 7. Chet; 8. Pet; 9. Chao; 10. Chong. These same names are in use among the Shans at the present day, though
most of them have fallen in disuse in Siam. There was a similar system for naming girls. [1]
(2) In 1373 a Siamese princess, probably the mother of the ex-King Ramesuan, sent envoys to Nankin; In 1384, the king's nephew, Prince
Nakhon In sent envoys with presents to the Imperial pair; In 1385 a son of the ex-king Ramesuan sent an embassy to Nankin; the same year
Prince Nakhon In visited Nankin in person, and brought back an autographed letter from the Emperor to King Borommaracha I. [1]
(3) Satellite cities from Mueang Chakangrao.
(4) Mueang Chakangrao, situated on the east bank of the Ping River, is now part of Kamphaeng Phet. Chakangrao was built by the Khmer in
1157 as a military outpost. In the period of Sukhothai, King Lö Thai (r. 1298-1346/47) moved the political and administrative centre to Nakhon
Chum on the west bank of the Ping River. After the death of King Mahathammaracha I, Chakangrao became again the centre. [5]
(5) Later versions of the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya state that Wat Maha That was established by King Ramesuan (r. 1388-1395) after his
attack of Chiang Mai in 1384, (746 CS), in fact likely 1390 AD.
(6) Thao Pha Kong.
(7) Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya written in the Ratanakosin period give 1380 AD as date.
(8) In Ref [3] - page 57 there is spoken of the rebellion of Kamphaeng Phet.


[1] A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood (1924) - page 70.
[2] Van Vliet's Siam - Chris Baker, Dhiravat Na Pombejra, Alfons Van Der Kraan & David K. Wyatt. (2005) - page 204.
[3] Thailand, A short history - David K. Wyatt - page 57.
[4] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 12 / Source: Luang Prasoet, Phan Canthanumat, Reverend
Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
[5] Ancient Cities in Thailand - Abha Bhamorabutr (1981) - page 4.
[6] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 12 / Source: Luang Prasoet, Phan Canthanumat, British Museum,
Reverend Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
[7] A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood (1924) - page 72.
[8] Ibid - page 73-74.

1371 - Start of the attacks on Sukhothai.
1378 - Sukhothai becomes a vassal state.
1386 - Attack of Lan Na (Lampang).
1388 - Loss of the Phra Sihing to Lan Na.