WAT KHOK PHRAYA





Wat Khok Phraya, or the Monastery of the Mound of the Nobles (1), is a small monastic ruin built in the early Ayutthaya period (1350-1488 CE). It is located north outside the city island in the Lum Phli Sub-district of Ayutthaya in the vicinity of Wat Na Phra Men and Wat Hatsadawat.


The ruin consists of a walled vihara with a bell-shaped chedi on an octagonal base. There are several minor chedis in situ. A brick platform is situated on the north side. As it was described in 1629 CE by Dutch merchant Jeremias Van Vliet as being an old ruin, the temple had to be restored several times during the centuries.


The location was witness to many punishments and executions of royals of Ayutthaya. Some locals call the place haunted. It was here that the young King Thong Lan, son of King Boromaracha I (reign 1370-1388 CE), was executed by Ramesuan, the governor of Lopburi, in 1388 CE. The method used in Ayutthaya then was to tie the victim in a velvet sack and dash him in his chest with a club of sandalwood. By this means, the royal body was not touched.


"In 744, a year of the dog, fourth of the decade, King Bòromracha I passed away, having been on the throne for thirteen years. So Prince Thòng Lan, his son and fifteen years of age, ascended the royal throne and ruled for seven days. King Ramesuan came down from Lopburi, entered the royal palace, was able to arrest Prince Thòng Lan, and had him executed at Khok Phraya Monastery. Then he ascended the royal throne." [1]





The child King Yot Fa, son of King Chairacha (reign 1534-1547 CE), was executed in 1547 CE by Khun Warawongsa (reign 1548 CE) in this location so that he could usurp the throne.


"In 891, a year of the ox, first of the decade, on Sunday, the fifth day of the waxing moon of the eighth month, Khun Warawongsa, Lord of the Realm, plotted with Queen Regent Si Sudacan to have King Yòt Fa taken to be executed at Khòk Phraya Monastery, but Prince Si Sin, his younger brother, who was only seven years old, was spared. King Yòt Fa had been on the throne for one year and two months." [2]


In 1611 CE King Si Saowaphak (1610-1611 CE) was killed by Prince Si Sin, the younger brother of King Songtham (reign 1610/11?-1628 CE) and his body was buried at this monastery. Prince Sri Sin, rightful heir to the throne, on his turn, was killed in early 1629 CE at Wat Khok Phraya on the order of King Songtham's son Prince Chettha. Van Vliet wrote at that time:


"There he was placed upon a piece of red cloth, whereupon his chest was dashed in with a piece of sandalwood. They wrapped up the body and the sandalwood club in the cloth, and the whole was thrown into a well where the body was left to decompose." [3]


King Chetthathirat (reign 1628-1629 CE) shortly after was executed at this temple at the same time as his mother, Queen Amarit, on the order of the mandarins in August 1629 CE, eight months after his throne ascendancy in December 1628 CE. In 1633 CE, during the third year of King Prasat Thong's reign, the usurper king succeeded in killing nearly all scions of King Songtham at Wat Khok Phraya. Van Vliet wrote:


"Hereupon the three boys (who together were about eighteen years of age) were apprehended, taken to the same place of execution, and killed in the same manner as their lawful uncle and their four brothers. The woman was cut in two and her remains were thrown into the river."





In 1656 CE, it was the theatre for the execution of King Chai (reign 1656 CE) by Prince Si Sutham Racha and Prince Narai, and the killing of King Si Sutham Ratcha (reign 1656) by Prince Narai.


Prince Sarasak (Luang Sorasak), in 1703 CE, at the end of the reign of King Phetracha (1688-1703 CE), moved against its future rivals and killed the princes Trat Noi and Khwan, both sons of King Phetracha and candidates for the throne. Their bodies were buried at the monastery.


Celestial-Lord Chai accordingly took over the management of the royal wealth. Later on, Supreme-Holy-Existing-Lord Narai sent secret agents out to ponder royal service with Phra Si Sutham Racha, who was His Holy Lord Uncle. His Holy Lord Uncle decided to go in. During the evening, Holy-Functioning-Lord Narai accordingly escorted the holy younger sibling belonging to His Holiness in secret flight out by way of the Obstruction to the Crystal Pond Gate and went in search of His Holy Lord Uncle. Phra Si Sutham Racha and Phra Narai, his royal nephew, having gathered heaps of people in readiness, advanced on in to the holy royal palace enclosure, arrested Celestial-Lord Chai, and took him to be executed at the Monastery of the Knoll of the Phraya.” [4]


“On that same day, the ministers, having followed and taken the Supreme-Holy Si Sutham Rachathirat at the Rear Palace Enclosure, had him taken to have his punishment executed at the Monastery of the Knoll of the Phraya in accordance with custom. Holy Si Sutham Rachathirat had managed to be in possession of the royal wealth for two months and twenty days.” [5]





In 1758 CE, three half-brothers of King Uthumphon (reign 1758 CE), who collected large bands of armed followers and appeared to be plotting a rebellion, were executed on the spot.

Finally, this place has been the killing ground for five dynasties of Ayutthaya kings, starting with the U-Thong and ending with the Ban Phlu Luang Dynasty, Ayutthaya’s last.

Wat Khok Phraya, mentioned as "Wat Kock Pia", is found on François Valentyn's map published in the third part of his work 'Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (1726)'. [6]

There is another monastery with an identical name near Wat Phukhao Thong, particularly Wat Khok Phrayaram. The board in situ still mentions Wat Khok Phraya and I believe the suffix ‘aram’ was added recently to distinguish between the two sites.

Footnotes:

In the Siamese French English Dictionary from Pallegoix, we find the Thai word "Phraya", translated as "king, mandarin". I translated the word "Phraya" as "nobles". [7]

References:

[1] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 12.
[2] Ibid. p. 23.
[3] Baker, Chris Pombejra, Dhiravat na Van Der Kraan Alfons & Wyatt, David K. (2005). Van Vliet's Siam. Silkworm Books.
[4] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 227.
[5] Ibid. p. 230.
[6] Valentyn, François (1626). Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën. Deel 3. Boek 6. Beschryvinge van Siam en onsen Handel aldaar.
[7] Siamese French English Dictionary by D.J.B. Pallegoix Bishop of Mallos. Vicar apostolic of Siam - revised by J.L. Vey Bishop of Geraza, Vicar apostolic of Siam - printing office of the Catholic Mission Bangkok (1896). p. 712.