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Thailand means "land of the free", and throughout its 800-year history, Thailand can boast the distinction of being the only country in Southeast Asia never to have been colonized. Its history is divided into five major periods.
Nanchao Period (650-1250 A.D.)
The Thai people founded their kingdom in the southern part of China, which is Yunnan, Kwangsi and Canton today. A great number of people migrated south as far as the Chao Phraya Basin and settled down over the Central Plain under the sovereignty of the Khmer Empire, whose culture they probably accepted. The Thai people founded their independent state of Sukhothai around 1238 A.D., which marks the beginning of the Sukhothai Period
Sukhothai Period (1238-1378 A.D.)
Thais began to emerge as a dominant force in the region in the13th century, gradually asserting independence from existing Khmer and Mon kingdoms. Called by its rulers "the dawn of happiness", this is often considered the golden era of Thai history, an ideal Thai state in a land of plenty governed by paternal and benevolent kings, the most famous of whom was King Ramkamhaeng the Great. However in 1350, the mightier state of Ayutthaya exerted its influence over Sukhothai.
Ayutthaya Period (1350-1767)
The Ayutthaya kings adopted Khmer cultural influences
from the very beginning. No longer the paternal and accessible rulers
that the kings of Sukhothai had been, Ayutthaya's sovereigns were absolute
monarchs and assumed the title devaraja (god-king). The early part of
this period saw Ayutthaya extend its sovereignty over neighboring Thai
principalities and come into conflict with its neighbours, During the
17th century, Siam started diplomatic and commercial relations with western
Thon Buri Period (1767-1772)
General Taksin, as he is popularly known, decided to transfer the capital from Ayutthaya to a site nearer to the sea which would facilitate foreign trade, ensure the procurement of arms, and make defence and withdrawal easier in case of a renewed Burmese attack. He established his new capital at Thon Buri on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The rule of Taksin was not an easy one. The lack of central authority since the fall of Ayutthaya led to the rapid disintegration of the kingdom, and Taksin's reign was spent reuniting the provinces.
Rattanakosin Period (1782 - the Present)
After Taksin's death, General Chakri became the first
king of the Chakri Dynasty, Rama I, ruling from 1782 to 1809. His first
action as king was to transfer the royal capital across the river from
Thon Buri to Bangkok and build the Grand Palace. Rama II (1809-1824) continued
the restoration begun by his predecessor. King Nang Klao, Rama III (1824-1851)
reopened relations with Western nations and developed trade with China.
King Mongkut, Rama IV, (1851-1868) of "The King and I" concluded
treaties with European countries, avoided colonialisation and established
modern Thailand. He made many social and economic reforms during his reign.
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