Sukhothai and the founding of the Thai nation

History of Thailand - part 1/5

This series of 5 articles is only a modest attempt at mentionning a few milestones in Thai history. We used various sources of information but mainly Wikipedia, synthetizing their articles about history of Thailand, then adding maps and pictures.

The Kingdom of Sukhothai
The Kingdom of Sukhothai.

The Thais date the founding of their nation to the 13th century, so this is where we shall start. Before that, during the 9th and 10th century, the whole region was under Khmer domination. It’s only during the 11th and 12th centuries that the Thais, coming from China, began to settle. They gained independence from the Khmer Empire at Sukhothai, which was established as a sovereign Kingdom in 1238. This event traditionally marks the founding of the modern Thai nation.

Under King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, the third king of Sukhothai, who is credited with designing the Thai alphabet, Sukhothai enjoyed a golden age of prosperity. At its peak, supposedly stretching from Martaban (now in Burma) to Luang Prabang (now in Laos) and down the Malay Peninsula as far south as Nakhon Si Thammarat, the kingdom’s sphere of influence was larger than that of modern Thailand, although the degree of control exercised over outlying areas was variable. The northern states of Phayao and Lanna also coexisted with Sukhothai.

After Ramkhamhaeng’s death in 1365 the kingdom fell into decline and became subject to another emerging Thai state known as the Ayutthaya kingdom, which grew from the earlier kingdom of Lopburi and dominated southern and central Thailand until the 1700’s.

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