Nakhon Si Thammarat Kingdom

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Kingdom of Nakhon Sri Thammarat
Nagara Sri Dharmaraja
13th century–1782
Capital Ligor
Common languages Southern Thai, Pali/Sanskrit (for religious and ceremonial use), Malay
Religion Theravada Buddhism (dominant),
Islam, Hinduism
Government Monarchy
Historical era Middles Ages, Early modern period
• Establishment of a Tai kingdom
13th century
• Vassal of Sukhothai
c. 1279–1298
• Vassal of Ayutthaya
15th century
• Vassal of Taungoo
• Vassal of Ayutthaya
• Vassal of Thonburi
• Demoted to Rattanakosin Province
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Rattanakosin
Part of a series on the
History of Thailand
1686 Map of the Kingdom of Siam
Sukhothai Kingdom
Ayutthaya Kingdom
Thonburi Kingdom
Rattanakosin Kingdom
1932 to 1973
Since 1973
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Nakhon Si Thammarat Kingdom (Kingdom of Ligor) (RTGSAnachak Nakhon Si Thammarat) was one of the major constituent city states (mueang) of the Siamese kingdoms of Sukhothai and later Ayutthaya and controlled a sizeable part of the Malay peninsula. Its capital was the eponymous city of Nakhon Si Thammarat in what is now Southern Thailand.

Establishment and Sukhothai period

Most historians identify the Tambralinga kingdom of Chinese records (existing c. 7th to 14th century) with a precursor of Nakhon Si Thammarat. During the late-1st and early-2nd millennium BC, Tai peoples expanded in mainland Southeast Asia. By the 13th century, they made Nakhon Si Thammarat one of their mueang (city states).[1] The exact circumstances of the Tai taking over the earlier Buddhist and Indianised kingdom at this location remain unclear. The Ramkhamhaeng stele of 1283 (or 1292) lists Nakhon Si Thammarat as the southernmost tributary kingdom of Sukhothai, probably ruled by a relative of King Ram Khamhaeng. Nakhon Si Thammarat's Buddhist Theravada tradition was a model for the whole Sukhothai kingdom.[2] Exemplary for the Southeast Asian Mandala model, the dependency towards Sukhothai was only personal, not institutional. Therefore, after Ram Khaemhaeng's death, Nakhon Si Thammarat regained its independence and became the dominant Thai mueang on the Malay peninsula.

Ayutthaya period

In the Palatine law of King Trailok dated 1468, Nakhon Si Thammarat was listed as one of eight "great cities" (phraya maha nakhon) belonging to the Ayutthaya kingdom. Nevertheless, it maintained its own dynasty and had vassal states of its own, which it mediated to Ayutthaya[3] (again a typical feature of the Mandala model with its tiered levels of power). Under king Naresuan (r. 1590–1605) it became instead a "first class province" (mueang ek). However, the post of provincial governor was still quasi-hereditary and usually handed down from father to son within the old Nakhon Si Thammarat dynasty. It was the most important among Ayutthaya's southern provinces and enjoyed a primacy vis-à-vis the other provinces on the Malay Peninsula. Its role in overseas trade (involving Dutch and Portuguese merchants) resulted in the province's substantial wealth and contributed to a high level of confidence and claim of autonomy in relation to the central power.

During the Ayutthayan succession conflict of 1629, Nakhon Si Thammarat rebelled against the new king Prasat Thong. The usurper sent the influential Japanese adventurer Yamada Nagamasa with his mercenary force to quell the rebellion and made him governor and lord of Nakhon Si Thammarat for a short time.[4] Another insurrection of Nakhon Si Thammarat against the capital took place after the Siamese revolution of 1688 when the local ruler refused to accept the accession of usurper king Phetracha.[5]

Thonburi and Rattanakosin periods

After the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, Nakhon Si Thammarat again enjoyed a short period of independence, including its subordinate provinces on the Malay peninsula, but was subdued by Taksin in 1769 on his mission to reunite Siam.[6] Under Rama I, the rank of the Lord of Nakhon Si Thammarat was demoted from a vassal ruler to a mere governor of a first-class province and his control over the Northern Malay sultanates (including Patani) was taken away, instead awarding them to the governor of Songkhla.[7] Nakhon Si Thammarat was supervised by the Kalahom (Minister of the Southern provinces).[8] In 1821 and 1831 however, kings Rama II and Rama III again tasked the governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat to quell rebellions in the Malay sultanate of Kedah.[9]

Integration into the Siamese central state

With the Thesaphiban reform of Prince Damrong Rajanubhab at the end of the 19th century the kingdom was finally fully absorbed into Siam. A new administrative entity named monthon (circle) was created, each supervising several provinces. Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat, established 1896, covered those areas on the east coast of the peninsula, i.e. the provinces Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung.

Further reading

  • Stuart Munro-Hay. Nakhon Sri Thammarat - The Archaeology, History and Legends of a Southern Thai Town. ISBN 974-7534-73-8


  1. ^ David K. Wyatt (2004). Thailand: A Short History (Second ed.). Silkworm Books. p. 30.
  2. ^ David K. Wyatt (2004). Thailand: A Short History (Second ed.). Silkworm Books. pp. 35, 43–46.
  3. ^ David K. Wyatt (2004). Thailand: A Short History (Second ed.). Silkworm Books. pp. 72–74.
  4. ^ David K. Wyatt (2004). Thailand: A Short History (Second ed.). Silkworm Books. pp. 93, 96–98.
  5. ^ David K. Wyatt (2004). Thailand: A Short History (Second ed.). Silkworm Books. p. 108.
  6. ^ David K. Wyatt (2004). Thailand: A Short History (Second ed.). Silkworm Books. pp. 123–124.
  7. ^ David K. Wyatt (2004). Thailand: A Short History (Second ed.). Silkworm Books. pp. 141–143.
  8. ^ David K. Wyatt (2004). Thailand: A Short History (Second ed.). Silkworm Books. p. 146.
  9. ^ David K. Wyatt (2004). Thailand: A Short History (Second ed.). Silkworm Books. pp. 149, 156.

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