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Information about reign: พระพุทธยอดฟ้าจุฬาโลก (Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok, King Rama I)

CountryThailand
From6 April 1782
To7 September 1809
Personal InformationKing Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I) of Thailand (1737 - 1809)
Description

Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Thai: พระพุทธยอดฟ้าจุฬาโลก), born Thongduang (Thai: ทองด้วง) and also known as Rama I, was the founder and the first monarch of the reigning House of Chakri of Siam (now Thailand). His full title in Thai is Phra Bat Somdet Phra Paramoruracha Mahachakkriborommanat Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรโมรุราชามหาจักรีบรมนารถ พระพุทธยอดฟ้าจุฬาโลก). He ascended the throne in 1782, after defeating a rebellion which had deposed King Taksin of Thonburi. He was also celebrated as the founder of Rattanakosin (now Bangkok) as the new capital of the reunited kingdom.

Rama I was born from a Mon family where his father served in the royal court in the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, and had served King Taksin in wars against the Burmese Konbaung dynasty and helped him in the reunification of Siam. During this time he emerged as Siam's most powerful military leader. Thongduang was the first Somdet Chao Phraya, the highest rank the nobility could attain, equaled to that of royalty. In 1782, he took control of Siam and crowned himself as the monarch. The most famous event in his reign was the Burmese-Siamese War of 1785, which was the last major Burmese assault on Siam.

Like other high-ranking figures of old Siam, Rama I's name changed several times during his lifetime, depending on his respective position, and even posthumously the way he was referred to change. His name at birth was Thongduang (also spelled Thong Duang ทองด้วง), family names had not yet been introduced in Siam at that time.

When Thongduang served as deputy governor of Ratchaburi Province during the rule of King Ekkathat of Ayutthaya, he bore the title of Luang Yokkrabat. After the demise of Ayutthaya, the new king Taksin to whom he served as an important military commander, awarded him successively the titles of Phra Ratcharin Chao Krom Phra Tamruat (head of the police department), Phraya Aphaironnarit,[1] Phraya Yommarat, Phraya Chakri and Chaophraya Chakri (minister of the northern provinces). Finally Taksin created him the title of Somdet Chaophraya Maha Kasatsuek, a noble title as high as no Siamese official had born before him, making him quasi-royalty.

When he ascended to the throne in 1782, he took the name Ramathibodi, just like the founder of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. His full title was much longer (Phra Borommarachathirat Ramathibodi Sisin Borommaha Chakkraphat Rachathibodin etc.), intended to demonstrate his universal claim to power like of earlier Siamese kings.

After his death, the people referred to him simply as Phaendin Ton ("the first reign"), to his son as Phaendin Klang ("the middle reign"). Continuing this system consequently, his grandson Rama III would have been "the last reign". To avoid this inauspicious title, he ended this practice by donating two Buddha statues that were placed to the sides of the Emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Kaeo and dedicated one each to his father and grandfather. He demanded to refer to his two predecessors using the names of these Buddha statues. The one dedicated to the first Chakri king was named Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok ("the Buddha on top of the sky and the crown of the worlds"). This is how this king is still referred to in Thai history books.