Sukhothai kingdom
The Sukhothai Kingdom was an early kingdom in the area around the city Sukhothai
Sukhothai (city)
Sukhothai ) was the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom.Sukhothai is 12 km from the modern city of New Sukhothai.Sukhothai, which literally means "Dawn of Happiness" with an area of 6,596 km2., is about 427 km north of Bangkok and was founded in 1238. Sukhothai was the capital of the...

, in north central Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. The Kingdom existed from 1238 till 1438. The old capital, now 12 km outside of New Sukhothai
New Sukhothai
Sukhothai is a small modern town about north of Bangkok on the River Yom, a tributary of the Chao Phraya River. Population 37,000. The city is located 12 km to the east of the historic city of Sukhothai , which was the capital of the first Thai kingdom, usually called the Sukhothai Kingdom,...

 in Tambon Mueang Kao, is in ruins and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

 historical park.

Liberation from Lavo

Prior to the 13th century, Tai
Tai may refer to:*Tai peoples*Tai languages*Tai , a Chinese surname*Mount Tai, in Shandong, China*Lake Tai, on the border of the Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, China...

 kingdoms had existed on the northern highlands including the Ngoen Yang (centered on Chiang Saen
Chiang Saen
* Amphoe Chiang Saen, a district in modern Chiang Rai Province* Chiang Saen, a capital in the ancient Lanna kingdom, and the namesake of the modern district...

; predecessor of Lanna
The Kingdom of Lanna was a kingdom centered in present-day northern Thailand from the 13th to 18th centuries. The cultural development of the people of Lanna, the Tai Yuan people, had begun long before as successive Tai Yuan kingdoms preceded Lanna...

) kingdom and the Heokam (centered on Chiang Hung, modern Jinghong
Jinghong romanised as chiang rung, chiang hung, chengrung, cheng hung, jinghung, keng hung and muangjinghung) is the capital of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan province, China, and the historic capital of the former Tai kingdom of Sipsongpanna.-Location:Located between 100°25' -...

 in China) kingdom of Tai Lue people. Sukhothai had been a trade center and part of Lavo
Lavo kingdom
The Kingdom of Lavo was a political entity on the left bank of the Chao Phraya River in the Upper Chao Phraya valley from the end of Dvaravati civilization, around the 7th century, until 1388...

, which was under the domination of the Khmer Empire
Khmer Empire
The Khmer Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Southeast Asia. The empire, which grew out of the former kingdom of Chenla, at times ruled over and/or vassalized parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Malaysia. Its greatest legacy is Angkor, the site of the capital city...

. The migration of Tai people into upper Chao Phraya valley was somewhat gradual.

Modern historians stated that the secession of Sukhothai from the Khmer empire began as early as 1180 during the reign of Po Khun Sri Naw Namthom who was the ruler of Sukhothai and the peripheral city of Sri Satchanalai (now a part of Sukhothai Province
Sukhothai Province
Sukhothai is one of the northern provinces of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are Phrae, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Kamphaeng Phet, Tak, and Lampang...

 as Amphoe
Amphoe Si Satchanalai
Si Satchanalai is the northernmost district of Sukhothai Province, northern Thailand. Si may also be transliterated as Sri.-Geography:...

). Sukhothai had enjoyed a substantial autonomy until it was re-conquered around 1180 by the Mons
Mon people
The Mon are an ethnic group from Burma , living mostly in Mon State, Bago Division, the Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern Thai–Burmese border. One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, the Mon were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and Thailand...

 of Lavo under Khomsabad Khlonlampong.

Two brothers, Po Khun Bangklanghao and Po Khun Phameung (Po Khun was a Siamese title of high nobility) took Sukhothai from Mon hands in 1239. Bangklanghao ruled Sukhothai as Sri Inthraditaya – and began the Phra Ruang Dynasty - he expanded his primordial kingdom to the bordering cities. At the end of his reign in 1257, the Sukhothai kingdom covered the entire Upper Chao Phraya valley.

Traditional Thai historians considered the foundation of the Sukhothai kingdom as the beginning of their nation because little was known about the kingdoms prior to Sukhothai. Modern historical studies demonstrate that Thai history began before Sukhothai. Yet the foundation of Sukhothai is still a celebrated event.

Expansions under Ramkamhaeng

Pho Khun Ban Muang and his brother Ram Khamhaeng expanded the Sukhothai kingdom at the expense of neighboring civilizations. For the first time a Thai state became a dominant power in Southeast Asia. To the south, Ramkamhaeng subjugated the kingdom of Supannabhum and Sri Thamnakorn (Tambralinga
Tambralinga was an ancient kingdom located on the Malay Peninsula that at one time came under the influence of Srivijaya. The name had been forgotten until scholars recognized Tambralinga as Nagara Sri Dharmaraja. Early records are scarce while estimations range from the seventh to fourteenth...

) and, through Tambralinga, adopted Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 as state religion. Traditional history described the extension of Sukhothai in a great fashion and the accuracy of these claims is disputed. To the north, Ramkamhaeng put Phrae
Phrae is a town in northern Thailand, capital of the Phrae Province.The town covers the whole tambon Nai Wiang of the Mueang Phrae district. It covers an area of 9 km² and as of 2005 it has a population of 17,971....

 and Muang Sua
Muang Sua
Muang Sua was the name of Luang Phrabang following its conquest in 698 by a Tai prince, Khun Lo, who seized his opportunity when the king of Nanzhao was engaged elsewhere. Khun Lo had been awarded the town by his father, Khun Borom, who is associated with the Lao legend of the creation of the...

 (Luang Prabang) under tribute.

To the west, Ramkhamhaeng helped the Mons under Wareru
Wareru was the founder of the Ramanya Kingdom located in today's Lower Burma . The kingdom is more commonly known as Kingdom of Hanthawady Pegu , or simply Pegu although the kingdom's first capital was Martaban...

 (who is said to have eloped with Ramkamhaeng’s daughter) to free themselves from Pagan control and established a kingdom at Martaban (they later moved to Pegu). So, Thai historians considered the Kingdom of Martaban a Sukhothai tributary. However, in practice, such Sukhothai domination may not have extended that far.

With regard to culture, Ramkhamhaeng requested the monks from Sri Thamnakorn to propagate the Theravada religion in Sukhothai. In 1283, the Thai script was invented by Ramkamhaeng, formulating into the controversial Ramkamhaeng Stele discovered by Mongkut
Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramenthramaha Mongkut Phra Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua , or Rama IV, known in foreign countries as King Mongkut , was the fourth monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri, ruling from 1851-1868...

 600 years later. The Stele provides almost all the information we have about Sukhothai.

Ramkhamhaeng’s government characterized the governance of Sukhothai kingdom – the patrocracy – in which the king is considered “father” and the people “children”. He also encouraged free trade, stating those who wish to trade elephants, trade them then. Those who wish to trade horses, trade them then.

It was also this time that the first relation with Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 was formulated and Sukhothai began sending trade missions to China. The well-known exported good of Sukhothai was the Sangkalok (i.e. Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 pottery) – the only period that Siam produced Chinese-styled ceramics and fell out of use by the 14th century.

Decline and domination of Ayutthaya

The Sukhothai domination was, however, short. After the death of Ramkhamhaeng, the Sukhothai tributaries broke away. Ramkhamhaeng was succeeded by his son Loethai. The vassal kingdoms, first Uttaradit
Uttaradit Province
Uttaradit is one of the northern provinces of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Phrae and Nan...

 in the north, then soon after the Laotian kingdoms of Luang Prabang and Vientiane (Wiangchan), liberated themselves from their overlord. In 1319 the Mon state to the west broke away, and in 1321 Lanna placed Tak
Tak Province
Tak is one of the northern provinces of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani and Kanchanaburi...

, one of the oldest towns under the control of Sukhothai, under its control. To the south the powerful city of Suphanburi
Suphan Buri is a town in central Thailand, capital of the Suphan Buri Province. It covers the whole tambon Tha Philiang and parts of the tambon Rua Yai and Tha Rahat, all within the Mueang Suphan Buri district...

 also broke free early in the reign of Loethai. Thus the kingdom was quickly reduced to its former local importance only. Meanwhile, Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya kingdom
Ayutthaya was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1350 to 1767. Ayutthaya was friendly towards foreign traders, including the Chinese, Vietnamese , Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French, permitting them to set up villages outside the walls of the...

 rose in strength, and finally in 1378 King Thammaracha II had to submit to this new power.
In 1378, the armies from Ayutthaya kingdom
Ayutthaya kingdom
Ayutthaya was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1350 to 1767. Ayutthaya was friendly towards foreign traders, including the Chinese, Vietnamese , Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French, permitting them to set up villages outside the walls of the...

 invaded and put Sukhothai under her tributary. Suffering the urban decline, Luethai moved the capital to Pitsanulok.

In 1424, after the death of Sailuethai, Paya Ram and Paya Banmeung the two brothers fought for the throne. Nagarindrathirat of Ayutthaya intervened and further divided the kingdom between the two. Their sister had married to Borommaracha II
Borommaracha II
Phrabat Somdet Phra Boromaracha Thirat II or Chao Sam Phraya was the king of Ayutthaya kingdom. His reign saw early expansions of Ayutthaya....

 of Ayutthaya and produced a son, Prince Ramesuan. When Borommapan died in 1446 without any heirs, the throne passed to Ramesuan or Trailokanat. Ramesuan was also crowned as the King of Ayutthaya in 1448, thus began the personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 between the Kingdom of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.

The Silajaruek Sukhothai are hundreds of stone inscriptions that form a historical record of the period. Among the most important inscriptions are Silajaruek Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng (Stone Inscription of King Ramkhamhaeng), Silajaruek Wat Srichum (an account on history of the region itself and of Srilanka), and Silajaruek Wat Pamamuang (a Politico-Religious record of King Loethai).

Phra Ruang Dynasty (1238-1368-1438)

Name Birth Reign From Reign Until Death Relationship with Predecessor(s)
Pho Khun Sri Indraditya
Sri Indraditya
Pho Khun Sri Indraditya is said, according to the Number One Stone Inscription, to be the founder of the so-called Phra Ruang Clan, or 'dynasty' of the Sukhothai Kingdom...

(Pho Khun Bang Klang Hao)
? 1239 1279 (30 years) First King of Sukhothai
Pho Khun Ban Muang
Ban Muang
Ban Muang can refer to:*Ban Muang, King of Sukhothai, Thailand*Ban Muang, a tambon of Ban Pong District, Ratchaburi Province, Thailand...

? 1279 (1 year) Son of Sri Indraditya
Pho Khun Ram Khamhaeng
Ram Khamhaeng
Ram Khamhaeng was a Thai king in the Sukhothai period. Ram Khamhaeng, Ramkhamhaeng or Ram Kham Haeng may also refer to:* Ram Khamhaeng inscription, a stone inscription claimed to have been created by Ram Khamhaeng...

 the Great
(Pho Khun Ram Racha)
circa 1237-1247 1279 1298 (19 years) Younger brother of Ban Muang
Son of Sri Indraditya
Phaya Lerthai ? 1298 1323 (25 years) Son of Ram Khamhaeng
Phaya Nguanamthom
Phaya Nguanamthom was the fourth King of Sukhothai . He was preceded by his father Phaya Lerthai and was succeeding by Phaya Lithai.-See also:*Sukhothai kingdom...

? 1323 1347 (24 years) Cousin of Lerthai
Son of Ban Muang
Phaya Lithai
Phaya Lithai , also known as Phra Maha Thammaracha I was a king of the Sukhothai kingdom, reigning from roughly 1346 until his death in 1374. Lithai was the son of Lerthai, also known as Loethai or Lelithai. The exact chronology of Lithai's rise to the throne is unclear...

(Phra Maha Thammaracha I)
? 1347 1368 (21 years) Cousin of Nguanamthom
Son of Lerthai
Under the suzerain of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya
Phaya Leuthai
(Phra Maha Thammaracha II)
? 1368 1399 (31 years) Son of Lithai
Phaya Saileuthai
(Phra Maha Thammaracha III)
? 1400 1419 (19 years) Son of Leuthai
Phaya Borommapan
(Phra Maha Thammaracha IV)
? 1419 1438 (19 years) Son of Saileuthai

Comments: Sukhothai in Thai historiography

Sukhothai story was narrated into Thailand's "national history" in late nineteenth century by King Mongkut, Rama IV, as a historical work presented to the British diplomatic mission. King Mongkut is considered as the champion of Sukhothai narrative history, based on his found of the Number One Stone Inscription, the 'first evidence' telling the history of Sukhothai.

From then on, as a part of modern nation building process, modern national Siamese or Thai history comprises the history of Sukhothai. Sukhothai was said to be the 'first national capital', followed by Ayutthaya, Thonburi until Rattanakosin or today Bangkok. Sukhothai history was crucial among Siam/ Thailand's 'modernists', both 'conservative' and 'revolutionary'. Rama IV or King Mongkut
Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramenthramaha Mongkut Phra Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua , or Rama IV, known in foreign countries as King Mongkut , was the fourth monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri, ruling from 1851-1868...

, was said he found 'the first Stone Inscription' in Sukhothai, telling story of Sukhothai's origin, heroic kings such as Ramkhamhaeng, administrative system and other developments, considered as the 'prosperous time' of the kingdom.

Sukhothai history became important even after the Revolution of 1932. Researches and writings on Sukhothai history were abundant. Details derived from the inscription were studied and 'theorized'. One of the most well-known topics was Sukhothai's 'democracy' rule. Story of the close relationship between king and his people, vividly described as 'father-son' relationship, the 'seed' of Thai Democracy. However the change in ruling style took place when later society embraced 'foreign' tradition, Khmer's Angkor tradition, influenced by Hinduism and 'mystic' Mahayana Buddhism. The story of Sukhothai became the model of 'freedom'. Jit Bhumisak, a 'revolutionary' scholar, also saw Sukhothai period as the beginning of Thai people's liberation movement from foreign ruler, Angkor.

During military rule, from 1950s, Sukhothai was placed in Thai national curriculum. Sukhothai became model of 'father-son' rule, described as 'Thai Democracy', free from 'foreign ideology'; Angkorian tradition compared to communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

. Other Sukhothai aspects were investigated seriously, such as commoner and slave status, and economic situation. These topics, said, were on stage of ideological thoughts fighting during the Cold war and civil insurgency times in 1960-1970s.
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