The kingdom of Ayutthaya (1350-1767)

History of Thailand - part 2/5

Kingdom of Ayuthaya in 1540
Kingdom of Ayuthaya in 1540.

The first ruler of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, King Ramathibodi I, made two important contributions to Thai history: the establishment and promotion of Theravada Buddhism as the official religion – to differentiate his kingdom from the neighbouring Hindu kingdom of Angkor – and the compilation of the Dharmashastra, a legal code based on Hindu sources and traditional Thai custom. The Dharmashastra remained a tool of Thai law until late in the 19th century.

Beginning with the Portuguese in the 16th century, Ayutthaya had some contact with the West. The court of King Narai (1656-1688) had strong links with that of King Louis XIV of France.

Ayutthaya dominated a considerable area, ranging from the Islamic states on the Malay Peninsula to states in northern Thailand. Under King Naresuan the Great, who reigned from 1590 to 1605, Thailand had the biggest territorial extent in history.

Nonetheless, the Burmese, who had taken control of Lanna and had also unified their kingdom under a powerful dynasty, launched several invasion attempts in the 1750s and 1760s. Finally, in 1767, Burma invaded and destroyed the city of Ayutthaya. The royal family fled the city and the King died. The Ayutthaya royal line had been extinguished.

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