The Kings of Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya was once known as the largest and most beautiful city in the world.
Ayutthaya Kingdom was the second Siamese Kingdom that existed from 14th century to 18th century and is characterized as the kingdom of gigantic monasteries and the prang (reliquary towers). The name “Ayutthaya” came from the Indian ancient city “ Ayodhya ”. It became one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan urban area and was the center of diplomacy and commercial trade. Foreign traders were always welcomed into the Ayutthaya kingdom and making the one of the center place for trading with foreign traders like Chinese, Vietnamese, Indians, Persians, as well as Japanese. During the Sixteenth century, Ayutthaya Kingdom became one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East providing shelter to Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish and French outside the Capital walls. The Ayutthaya Kingdom was located in the island that was surrounded by three rivers, connecting to a sea to make the kingdom strategically the center of foreign trades and diplomacy. Even the ambassadors of France during King Louis XIV reign compare the kingdom of Ayutthaya on par with Paris in terms of wealth and kingdom’s size. It was stated that the court of King Narai had strong links with King Louis XIV to increase the potency of trading.
Kings of Ayutthaya
During the time of Ayutthaya Kingdom , the kings used to be monarchs who were semi-religious. They used to follow various ideologies of both Hinduism and Buddhism . Even though, the main religion that used to prevail in Ayutthaya Kingdom was Theravada Buddhism. But according to Hindu Tradition, the kings were looked up as the avatar of Lord Vishnu , and was born to be the protector of the people destroying the demons. While according to Buddhism, the king was known as the righteous ruler whose aim is to fulfill the well-being of the people, following strictly the teaching of Lord Buddha .
The kingdom of Ayutthaya was first ruled by 1st Uthong Dynasty , which came to last from 1350-1370. The first king of Ayutthaya was Somdet Phra Chao Uthong and also known as Somdet Phra Ramathibodi I. Ramathibodi I had always secured his position of king by political marriage and ties. After Ramathibodi’s death, the conflict over succession remains at large. Eventually, his son Somdet Phra Ramesuan took over the succession, but later got abducted and which eventually caused the civil war.
After throwing the Uthong dynasty, seizing the power of King Ramesuan of Ayutthaya Kingdom , Lord of Suphanburi took the throne of Ayutthaya and became the third king of Ayutthaya. Starting Suphannaphum Dynasty in 1370, Somdet Phra Borommarachathirat I , also known as Khun Luang Pha Ngua, he reigned over the kingdom for 18 years and became the great warrior expanding the kingdom to the north. He also defeated various northern powers of Phitsanuloke and subdued the rebellion in Sukothai Kingdom. His army got defeated while invading Chiengmai. The second king of Suphannaphum Dynasty and the fourth king of Ayutthaya Kingdom were Somdet Phrachao Thonglan and his reign only lasted a week and got executed.
After being deposed by King Somdet Phra Borommarachathirat I, with sufficient support and power, King Ramesuan once again took the throne after executing 17-year-old Thonglan. During his second reign, King Ramesuan took Chiang Mai, the capital of Lan Na.
Here are the Kings of the different dynasty that ruled the Ayutthaya Kingdom during the 14th century to 18th century.
• Uthong Dynasty .
1. Somdet Phra Chao Uthong (Ramathibodi I)
2. Somdet Phra Ramesuan (First Reign) (Second Reign)
3. Somdet Phra Rama Ratchathirat (Second Reign)
• Suphannaphum Dynasty
1. Somdet Phra Borommarachathirat I
2. Somdet Phrachao Thong Lan
3. Somdet Phra Intha Racha I
4. Somdet Phra Borommarachathirat II
5. Somdet Phra Boromma Trailokanat
• SukoThai Dynasty
1. Somdet Phra Maha Thammarachathirat
2. Somdet Phra Naresuan The Great
3. Somdet Phra Ekathotsarot
4. Somdet Phra Si Saowaphak
• Prasat Thong Dynasty
1. Somdet Phrachao Prasat Thong
2. Somdet Chao Fa Chai
3. Somdet Phra Si Suthammaracha
4. Somdet Phra Narai The Great
• Ban Phlu Luang Dynasty
1. Somdet Phra Phetracha
2. Somdet Phra Suriyenthathibodi
3. Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Thai Sa
During the reign of these Dynasties, Ayutthaya Kingdom was known as the largest and most beautiful cities in the world. But 1767, a final Burmese Invasion almost destroyed the city and the kingdom was desolate and the treasures and most of the population of Ayutthaya Kingdom moved to Burma. But the temples and palaces of the kingdom still remain and some of them are still some of the spectacular places in South East Asia.
Ayutthaya Buddha Statues
In the past 400 years, many kings ruled one of the largest and most beautiful city in the world during that time. Around 33 kings of different dynasties ruled this kingdom and made this city even more beautiful until its total destruction. In the interval of 417 years, the kingdom was full of beautiful monasteries, pagodas, Buddha statues , Buddhist temples , palaces.
The Prasat Thong Dynasty had many influences in providing beautiful structures of this ancient kingdom. The first king of the Prasat Thong Dynasty was the King Prasat Thong of his reign. He constructed Wat Chaiwatthanaram, one of the magnificent Buddhist temples of that lies in the city of Ayutthaya Kingdom. The name of this temple means “The Temple of long reign and glorious era”. The Wat Chaiwatthanaram Buddhist temple was built in Khmer style architecture. This temple has 35 m high prang with four other similar prangs. This whole building is constructed on the rectangular platform and is surrounded by eight Chedi-shaped chapels. These eight chapels are constructed in a unique way since it has various paintings in the interior walls whereas 12 reliefs depicting scenes from the life of Lord Buddha and these scenes must be read clockwise. During the same dynasty, one of the great king, King Narai the great also known as Ramathibodi III constructed Wat Kudi duo. Wat Kudi Duo was a Buddhist temple which later was restored by King Thai Sa of Ban Phlu Luang Dynasty. This temple was constructed in late Ayutthaya Style. Some of the importants of parts of Wat Duo buddhist temple are The Ubosot (ordination Hall), The Viharn (Image Hall), The bell shaped principle Chedi of Sri Lankan Style and so on.
The first king who started the Ayutthaya Kingdom was King U-thong also constructed Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon. Wat Yai Chai is a Buddhist temple which was constructed for the purpose of accommodating of monks . Some other important Buddhist temple constructed during Ayutthaya Kindom is Wat Ratchburana, Wat Phanan Choeng, Wat Phra Si Sanphet etc. Wat Tuek Temple is one of the active temple still present. This temple consists of two sermon halls and the ubosot in the temple contains large number of Buddha images in various poses. There are several modern shrines which are monument to Buddha, several monks and some modern Hindu deities.
Wat Ratchburana was founded by King Borommarachathirat II of Suphannaphum Dynasty. The temple’s main prang is one of the finest in the city and comprises of the rare example of from the early Ayutthaya period and also consists of a large number of Buddha images, gold artifacts, Chao Sam Phraya Museum, influenced by both Khmer and Sukothai style.
The monastic architecture of Wat Phra Si Sanphet was basically straight aligned on an east-west axis with the core of the temple, three chedis of temples which are identical and were constructed on rectangular platform. These three chedis were built in the Sukothai Style which were derived from Srivijayan Stupa. These three Chedis were constructed by three kings, King Ramathibodi II, King Borommaracha III and King Boromracha IV.
Since the invasion of Burmese army, many Buddha statues , temples were destroyed, but various structures are still there. Like Wat Mahata, we can see Buddha head overgrown with tree.