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The Kingdom of Sukhothai

  • In the early 13th C, the territory around the Yom River in which lies Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai was ruled by Pho Khun Sinownamthom and later the Khmers. In the middle of the 13th C Khmer power in the region waned and a combination of Tai rulers in the region sacked the Khmer garrison and appointed Pho Khun Banglanghow to become King. He then took the title, Kamornteng Si Intratit, and become the first King of the Kingdom of Sukhothai about 1250. This was the Phraruang dynasty which lasted 200 years until 1438 when the Kingdom of Ayutthaya absorbed the territory into its own.
  • In the beginning the important cities were Si Satchanalai and vassal states along the Ping, Yom and Nan rivers which flow through this basin. By the time of the 3rd King, King Ramkhamhaeng, the youngest son of Intradit, and as a result of his prestige and war power, the territory was expanded to include to the North, Nan, Phrae and parts of modern Laos to Luang Prabang, to the South, Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Chainat and areas to the coast of Malaysia, to the East land across the Mekong to Vientaine in Laos and to the west land to the coast of present day Myanmar. After the reign of Ramkamhaeng the extent of territory and or Sukhothai influence was not precise as some vassel states became independent or joined Ayuthaya or Lan Na.

Sukhothai and Regional Defence Strategies

  • The City of Sukhothai was the administrative centre and was surrounded by neighbouring towns to form a defence. The first layer of defence was called Muang Lukluang and included Si Satchanalai to the north, Muang Saluang (Phichit) to the south, Phitsanulok to the east and the town of Nakhon Chum (Kamphaeng Phet) to the west. These centres were ruled by the members of the royal family.
  • Further away, the second line of defence, the Muang Phraya Mahanakhon, consisted of remoter settlements ruled by appointed rulers called Khun . These included Prabang (now Nakhon Sawan) and Chiang Thong. The third layer were foreign settlements previously conquered which still ruled themselves but sent tribute and provided manpower to help in times of war. These included Phrae and Nan in the North, Vientiane (Laos) in the east, Nakhon Si Thammarat in the Peninsula of South Thailand and Hongsawadee and Thawaii to the west (in Burma).

The Political Philosophy Pho Khun Of The Sukhothai Kingdom

  • The distinquishing features of the Sukhothai Kingdom were the presumptions of the Sukhothai Kings. These were not the God Kings of the Khmer Hindhu style as adopted by the Kings of Ayuthaya, but rather a paternal administration.
A stone inscription of the time explains the laws and customs of the administration to be:
  • succession to the throne was to be from father to children and from the older to the younger
  • the people could trade freely with no tax
  • administration was with justice
  • prisoners of war were treated well and could eventually become citizens.
  • A bell was hung in front of the Royal Palace and cit could be rung by any person who had suffered distress or who had a complaint. The King would respond to the request and decide for his people.

The Sukhothai Empire and Its Neighbours In South East Asia

  • Sukhothai sent gifts and delegations to China to enhance relations for advantages in trade.Lan Chang (Laos) was a fellow Tai Kingdom and support against the ever threat of the Khmer Kingdom. The Mons ruled to the West in Myanmar and provided Sukhothai with access to the sea. The King of the Mons, Farua, married Ramkhamhaeng's daughter to bind the relationship. From the very South, Sukhothai imported its Lankawong Sect of Buddhism from Nakhon Si Thammarat where it also controlled influence. King Ramkamhaeng was a friend of King Mangrai of Lan Na and King Ngammuang of Phayao. They were all Tai. They formed alliances, particularly to fight any Mongol invasions from the north.