|THE COLLEGE CONSTANTIN
|The College Constantin was situated on the City Island at its most southern tip, right at the confluence of the (new) Pasak River
The seminarians of the College General of Maha Phram and the St Josephs Seminary were present at a reception of the Ambassador of France - M.
de Chaumont - to Siam on 14 October 1685 in order to salute him. The French Ambassador and his embassy were so impressed by the seminarians
that they asked them to present a theological thesis, which they performed in excellence. The seminarian Antonio Pinto, son of a Portuguese father
and a Siamese mother, was tasked to return with the French embassy to present a theological thesis in France at the Sorbonne and in Rome in front
of the pope and the cardinals. This mission also turned out well.
After the French Embassy returned to Paris, Constantine Phaulkon brought a visit to Maha Phram early 1646 and he was also quite impressed. For a
reason unknown, he was eager to move the seminary to Ayutthaya, something that was only reluctantly accepted by the French priests, in order not
to lose Phaulkon's support. Phaulkon requested King Narai to grant a niece piece of front of Ayutthaya's harbour. The land was although at flood
level and it needed a workforce of 500, to level the site and to construct the first the buildings. Phaulkon wanted to build the new college completely
in bricks, but Mgr Laneau estimated that the realisation of this project would take too much time and requested to use wood and bamboo for its
|Text by Tricky Vandenberg - September 2009
|The professors and seminarians redeployed from Maha Phram to Ayutthaya, while the final construction of the college in bricks was begun. It is
although not known how far these works were advanced when Phaulkon was jailed for treason by the Siamese in 1688. The seminary was named
after its establisher; the "College Constantin”. The college had soon around 80 students. Phaulkon offered a yearly contribution of 1500 ecus for the
support of its students. In 1687, Mgr Laneau transferred the seminarians which already had finished their theological studies to the St Joseph
settlement. The College at Maha Phram was not abandoned, but became a retirement location for tired missionaries.
The events of the Siamese revolution in 1688 saw the execution of Constantine Phaulkon, the ousting of French forces from Siam, and the
imprisonment of Bishop Louis Laneau and half of the students of the seminary. In April 1691 the priests and seminarians were released and returned
to the seminary, which they found well cleaned up of furniture. At that time grew the idea to move the College to Pondicherry, but this was rejected
afterwards due to the wars between the French, Dutch and English. The College Constantin was finally abandoned and the seminary was reinstalled
at Maha Phram, where it resumed its activities until the fall of Ayutthaya in 1769.
As a last witness of its past the "College Constantin" is indicated on Jacques Nicolas Bellin's map published in 1751, based on sketches made in
1687 by a French engineer.
|(College Constantin on Bellin's map)
|(College Constantin on a 1974 Fine Arts Department map - courtesy Dr. Surat Lertlum -
Program Head of Computer Science Program - Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy)