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Rama III

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Title: Rama III  
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Subject: History of Laos, Rama I, Lao rebellion (1826–28), Bodindecha, Wat Pho
Collection: 1787 Births, 1851 Deaths, 19Th-Century Monarchs in Asia, Buddhist Monarchs, Chakri Dynasty, Thai Buddhists, Thai Monarchs
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Rama III

King Rama III
Reign 21 July 1824 – 2 April 1851
Coronation 21 July 1824
Predecessor Buddha Loetla Nabhalai (Rama II)
Successor Mongkut (Rama IV)
Vice King Maha Sakdi Polsep
Born (1788-03-31)31 March 1788
Grand Palace, Phra Nakhon, Phra Nakhon, Kingdom of Siam
Died 2 April 1851(1851-04-02) (aged 63)
Grand Palace, Phra Nakhon, Phra Nakhon, Kingdom of Siam
Issue 51 sons and daughters with various consorts
House Chakri Dynasty
Father Buddha Loetla Nabhalai
Mother Sri Sulalai
Religion Buddhism

Nangklao (Thai: นั่งเกล้า) or Rama III (31 March 1788 – 2 April 1851) was the third monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri, ruling from 21 July 1824 to 2 April 1851. He succeeded his father, Rama II, as the King of Siam. His succession was unusual according to the traditions[1] because Nangklao was a son of a concubine rather than a queen. His accession was perceived by foreign observers as having usurped the prior claim of Prince Mongkut, who was a legitimate son of Rama II born to a queen, Srisuriyendra. Under the old concept of Thai monarchy, however, a proper king must emulate Maha Sammata in that he must be "elected by the people."[2] Ironically, Prince Mongkut may have later contributed to this misconception, when he feared that his own accession might be perceived by foreign observers as a usurpation.[3]

During Nangklao's reign, the military hegemony of Siam was established by putting down the Laotian Rebellion (1826-1829, in what would come to be called Isan), the Siamese–Vietnamese War (1831–34), and the Siamese-Vietnamese War fought in Cambodia (1841–45).


  • Early life 1
  • Succession 2
  • The British and the Americans 3
  • Insurgency of Anouvong 4
  • Naming of the reigns 5
  • Revolt of Kedah 6
  • Vietnam and Cambodia 7
  • The Faithful King 8
  • Death and legacy 9
  • Titles and styles 10
  • Ancestry 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14

Early life

King Nangklao was born as Prince Thap (Thai: ทับ[4]) in 1788 to Prince Isarasundhorn and one of his royal wives Chao Chom Manda Riam, who came from a Muslim noble family from the South. Following Isarasundhorn's coronation (posthumously known as Phutthaloetla Naphalai, or Rama II) in 1809, Prince Kshatriyanuchit, the surviving son of Taksin, revolted as pretender to the throne. Prince Thap was assigned to suppress the rebellion, successfully. Praised by his father for his competence, Prince Thap was given the Sanskrit-derived title Chetsadabodin, raised to the bureaucratic rank of Kromma Muen, and served his father as Kromma Tha (minister of trade and foreign affairs.) As Kromma Tha, he developed proficiency in foreign trade, and grew an affection for Chinese goods and culture. Temples he later had constructed were characterized by Chinese influence. After a private audience in 1822, Crawfurd wrote of the Prince Krom-chiat that, "he seemed certainly to maintain the character assigned to him in public estimation, of being the most intelligent of all the princes and chiefs of the Siamese Court." The Portuguese Consul stated that the Prince had offered him a large sum of money, if he would translate from the French into the Portuguese language a history of the wars of Napoleon, for the purpose of being rendered into Siamese through the Christian interpreters.[5]


As the Prince was administrating trade affairs, his half-brother Prince Mongkut pursued the way of religion, becoming a monk in 1824. In that year, Phutthaloetla Naphalai died suddenly without having named a successor to vice king Maha Senanurak, who had died July 16, 1817. According to the traditions of royal succession, the vice king or uparaja was heir presumptive. If there were none, then an ad hoc senabodi consisting of senior officials present at the death of a king, would elect a successor.[6] Foreign observers accustomed to the concept of an heir apparent expected Prince Mongkut, as the a son of the queen, to succeed the throne. However, the assembled Senabodi considered Prince Chetsadabodin a more competent choice as he had served the king in Kromma Tha for years. Support came strongly from high-ranking nobility, including Chao Phraya Abhay Pudhorn, the Samuha Nayok, and Dis Bunnag then Minister of Kromma Tha, and other Bunnag family members.

Chetsadabodin accepted the throne and was crowned in 1824. He raised his mother, Riam, to Princess Mother Sri Suralai. He appointed his uncle Sakdiphonlasep as vice king on July 21, 1824 – who predeceased the king May 1, 1832, leading to yet another succession crisis. He did not name his reign, but was posthumously awarded the name Nangklao by Mongkut, who had in the interim remained in ecclesiastic status to avoid the intrigues of royal politics.[7]

The British and the Americans

The reign of Nangklao (as he was posthumously known) saw the renewal of Western contacts. In 1822, British East India Company agent John Crawfurd's mission to Siam[5] laid the groundwork for a British request for Siamese support in the First Anglo-Burmese War, which broke out in 1824. Nangklao provided fleets and elephants to rush through Burmese forests. He also sent Siamese armies to participate in the invasion of Burma since the British promised Siam the conquered lands. Phraya Chumporn ordered a forced migration out of Mergui (a common practice in Southeast Asia regarding the newly-conquered lands), which had been conquered by the British. The British were frustrated at Phraya Chumporn's actions, and hostilities were heightened. Nangklao ordered the Siamese armies to leave to avoid further conflict.

In 1825, Henry Burney arrived to negotiate peace agreements. The Burney Treaty was the first treaty with the West in the Rattanakosin period. Its purpose was to established free trade in Siam and to greatly reduce taxation on foreign trading ships. That it accomplished the objectives is disputed.[8]

In 1833, President Andrew Jackson's "special agent" and envoy Edmund Roberts, referring often to Crawfurd's account,[9]:pp198ffconcluded the Siamese-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, signed at the Royal City of Sia-Yut'hia (Bangkok) on 20 March, the last of the fourth month of the year 1194 Chula Sakarat. This treaty, with later modifications, is still in force.[10][11] Dan Beach Bradley, an American physician and prominent Western personality of the time, introduced printing and vaccination.

Insurgency of Anouvong

The three Laotian kingdoms (Lan Xang in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Champasak) became Siamese tributary states after Chao Phraya Maha Kshatriyaseuk (King Rama I, Nangklao's grandfather) had conquered them in 1778. Anouvong, the son of the king of Vientiene, was taken to Bangkok as a captive. He spent his time in Siam for nearly thirty years and joined the Siamese forces in wars with Burma. In 1805, Anouvong returned to Vientiane to be crowned as the king.

In 1824, Phutthaloetla Naphalai died and, in the next year, Siam was dragged into conflicts with the British Empire.[12] Anouvong saw this as an opportunity to expose his power. In 1825, returning from the funeral of Phutthaloetla Naphalai in Bangkok, Anouvong rallied a huge troops. After defeating major Bangkok's vassal principalities along the route, Anouvong captured Korat, the main defensive stronghold of Siam in the northeast. He forced the city to be evacuated while heading down to Saraburi, approaching the capital Bangkok. However, the Korat captives rebelled - said to have been at the instigation of Lady Mo, wife of a ruling noble of Korat - although this claim is countered by many historians who say Mo had no heroic role in the events at Tung Samrit, though a contemporary account did mention her action. As Bangkok began to move its counterstriking troops, Anouvong then decided to return to Vientiane after subsequently being defeated by Thai forces. When he was later captured at Lao-Vietnam border, Rama III had him tortured and publicly humiliated until he died.

Nangklao sent his brother Maha Sakdi Polsep the Front Palace and Sing Singhaseni (at the time styled Phraya Ratchasuphawadi) to defeat the armies of Anouvong in Isan. Anouvong was defeated and fled to Vietnam. The Siamese captured Vientiane and ordered the evacuation of the city.

In 1827, Nangklao ordered the total destruction of Vientiane. Anouvong returned to Laos with Vietnamese forces. Ratchasuphawadi led the Siamese to fight and the engagements occurred at Nongkai. Anouvong was defeated again and, after an attempt to flee, was captured. Vientiane was razed to the ground, extinguishing her 200-year prosperity, and ceased to be a kingdom. Anouvong was imprisoned in an iron cage in front of the Suthaisawan Hall and died in 1829.[13]

Naming of the reigns

Monarchs of
the Chakri Dynasty
(Rama I)
(Rama II)
(Rama III)
(Rama IV)
(Rama V)
(Rama VI)
(Rama VII)
Ananda Mahidol
(Rama VIII)
Bhumibol Adulyadej
(Rama IX)

Since the establishment of Bangkok as a kingdom, none of the monarchs of Siam had been named properly according to the royal tradition. The Siamese called Nangklao's grandfather the "First Reign", his father the "Middle Reign", and Nangklao himself the "Late Reign". The term "Late Reign" was considered inauspicious, therefore a new method of naming was created.

Nangklao had sculpted two Buddha statues for his father and grandfather. He then named them after their respective Buddha statues. His grandfather was given the name "Phutthayotfa Chulalok" after his Buddha statue, and his father "Phutthaloetla Naphalai". Yet he left his own reign unnamed until his brother Mongkut named him as "Nangklao" and created a more systematic royal nomenclature.

Revolt of Kedah

In 1837, Krom Somdet Phra Sri Suralai, mother of Nangklao, died. All officials throughout the kingdom went to Bangkok to attend the funeral. At Syburi (Kedah of Malaysia now), without the presence of Siamese governors, a nephew of the Sultan of Kedah then staged a revolt. Nangklao then sent Tat Bunnag down south to subjugate the rebellion quickly in 1838. Tat then suggested an autonomous government for Kedah Sultanate. In 1839, Kedah was divided into four autonomous parts.

Vietnam and Cambodia

In 1810, the internal conflicts between the Cambodian princes forced Ang Im and Ang Duong to flee to Bangkok. Otteyraja of Cambodia turned to Gia Long of Vietnam for support against the opposing princes. However, this was perceived by Siam as treacherous as the two countries had fought for centuries over the domination of Cambodia.

In 1833, the Lê Văn Khôi revolt against Minh Mạng broke out in Vietnam. Lê Văn Khôi, the rebel leader, sought Siamese helping hands. The possible war between the two countries had been commenced since Vietnamese influences in Cambodia increased. Nangklao intended to take this opportunity to install a pro-Siamese monarch on the Cambodian throne.

Phraya Ratchasuphawadi, who had been promoted to Chao Phraya Bodindecha, was assigned the mission of the capture of Saigon, with Dis Bunnag the Minister of Kromma Tha commanded the fleet - to be joined at Saigon. The two Cambodian princes, Ang Im and Ang Duong, also joined the expedition. Bodindecha took Udongk and the fleet took Bantey Mas. The fleet proceeded to Saigon but was repelled.

Bodindecha then took Phnom Penh and again invaded Vietnam by land in 1842. In 1845, the Vietnamese recapture Phnom Penh but Bodindecha was able to defend Udongk. In 1847, due to Emperor Thiệu Trị's policies on Christian missionaries, French forces invaded Vietnam. So the war front with Siam was negotiated. Ang Duong was installed as the Cambodian monarch with equal influences from both Siam and Vietnam, thus ending the war.

The Faithful King

Rama III statue in Bangkok

Nangklao was famous for his Buddhist faith. He fed the poor each day after becoming prince, and released animals every monastery day. More than 50 temples were built and repaired in his reign, including the first Chinese style temple at Rajaorasa, the highest stupa at Wat Arun, the Golden Mountain at Wat Sraket, the metal temple at Wat Ratchanadda, and Chetupol Temple or Wat Pho. Wat Pho is the site of the first university in Thailand.

Death and legacy

Nangklao died on 2 April 1851 without having named a successor. He had 51 children including sons,[14] but raised none of his consorts to queen. The throne passed to his half-brother, Prince Mongkut.

Nangklao stated on his deathbed that "Our wars with Burma and Vietnam were over, only the threats of the Westerners was left to us. We should study their innovations for our own benefits but not to the degree of obsession or worship." This vision coincided with intense Western intervention in Siam in the reign of Mongkut. He was able to predict but not see neighboring kingdoms of Burma and Vietnam, fell to European colonial rule. His deathbed statement shows that he had foreseen the Western threats and also expresses his sympathy towards the Europeans contrasted to most Asian rulers of his time.

During his reign, trade between Siam and China became prosperous. The King kept his profits in red purses beside his bed, subsequently this money was known as "Red Purse Money". Nangklao stipulated that the Red Purse Money which he had earned through his personal business acumen should be set aside as the State's emergency fund for the future "so that Siam would be able to buy the land back" if it might enter into a squabble with a foreign power. In the reign of his nephew Chulalongkorn, Siam indeed had to pay reparation to France for the 1893 Paknam incident (part of Franco-Siamese War), and part of the money did come from Nangklao's Red Purse Money.

Thai baht 15th Series banknotes issued to draw attention to deeds of Chakri Dynasty monarchs in agriculture, science, religion and finance, depicted King Rama III on the reverse of the 500-Baht banknote issued 3 August 2001, with a partial quotation of his deathbed statement below a Chinese sailing ship.[15]

Titles and styles

  • 1788-1808: His Serene Highness Prince Thap (หม่อมเจ้าทับ)
  • 1808-1813: His Highness Prince Thap (พระองค์เจ้าทับ)
  • 1813-1824: His Royal Highness Prince Thap, the Prince Chetsadabodin (สมเด็จพระเจ้าลูกเธอ กรมหมื่นเจษฎาบดินทร์)
  • 1824-1851: His Majesty King Borommarachathirat Ramathibodi (พระบาทสมเด็จพระบรมราชาธิราชรามาธิบดี)
  • Posthumously renamed by King Mongkut : King Nangklao (พระบาทสมเด็จพระนั่งเกล้าเจ้าอยู่หัว)


See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Dhani Nivat, Kromamun Bidyalabh Bluitiyakara (1947). "The Old Siamese conception of the Monarchy" (PDF).  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Glenn S. (January 2, 2013). "ทับ thap" (Dictionary). Royal Institute Dictionary - 1982. Retrieved January 3, 2013. verb to place on top of 
  5. ^ a b  
  6. ^ "Rattanakosin Period (1782 -present)". Thailand Introduction. August 18, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2013. If there was no uparaja at the time of the king's death — and this was frequently the case — the choice of a new monarch drawn from the royal family was left to the Senabodi, the council of senior officials, princes, and Buddhist prelates that assembled at the death of a king. It was such a council that chose Nang Klao's successor. 
  7. ^ Roberts, p. 300
  8. ^ Terwiel, B.J. (1991). "The Bowring Treaty: Imperialism and the Indigenous Perspective" (free PDF).  
  9. ^ Roberts, Edmund (Digitized October 12, 2007) [First published in 1837]. Embassy to the Eastern courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat : in the U. S. sloop-of-war Peacock ... during the years 1832-3-4. Harper & brothers. 351 pages. Retrieved April 25, 2012. Here they were pointed to Mr. Crawford’s [ 
  10. ^ William M. Malloy. "Siam. 1833." (PDF). United States, United States, William M. Malloy > Compilation of Treaties in Force. Washington, D.C.:  
  11. ^ Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (April 18, 2012). "Thailand". Bureau of Public Affairs: Electronic Information Publications » Background Notes.  
  12. ^ Bruce, Robert. "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch Vol.9(1969)" (PDF). 
  13. ^  
  14. ^ A History of Thailand (2009), page 31
  15. ^ "Banknotes, Series 15". Banknotes > History and Series of Banknotes >.  

External links

Rama III
Chakri Dynasty
Born: 31 March 1788 Died: 2 April 1851
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Phutthaloetla Naphalai
King of Siam
Succeeded by
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