Explore Thailand: Founder Rama I

The king the world remembers as King Rama I of Siam was born as Thongduang. His own country, now known as Thailand, remembers him as Phraphutthayotfa Chulalok. He was born on the 21st March 1737 in the city of Ayutthaya, located in central Thailand, north of Bangkok.

His mother, of mixed Chinese and Thai origin, was the wife of a top court official in Ayutthaya. He became King of Siam in 1782 after defeating a rebellion that had deposed the previous king, Taksin. Thongduang, as they then knew him was then, a successful military leader.

Thongduang led campaigns against Burmese and Cambodian invaders. He rose to become the highest-ranking among the nobility of the region. After the fall of King Taksin, he took the throne and crowned himself the king of Siam.

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Achievements of Rama I’s Reign

He set up his capital at Rattanakosin, known today as Bangkok. During his reign, Siam asserted itself as a powerful nation. Under Rama I, Siam defeated Burmese invasions. It asserted its influence over Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Rama I was a wartime king rather than a peacetime king.

He constructed temples and monuments. This gave his people work after the losses incurred by wars and invasions. He was the father of 42 children, by his wife and various concubines.

Legacy of Rama I

King Rama I died on the 7th September 1809. Although an 18th-century king, Rama I’s influence has endureded in Thailand, as Siam now called. History remembers him as a majestic warrior king. His country also remembers him as the founder of the Chakri dynasty. Each year on 6 April “Chakri Memorial Day” is observed as a public holiday to commemorate the founder of the Chakri dynasty. This is the dynasty that reigns over Thailand until the present day.

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The capital city of Bangkok to this day sets itself apart as one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Far East, with cuisine that draws people from all over the world. Dishes that unite the flavours from Chinese, Indian and seemingly international dishes, when in fact it is Thailand that was the original for these flavoursome dishes.