Thonburi Period (1767 - 1782)

In 1767, after dominating southeast Asia for almost 400 years, the Ayutthaya kingdom was
brought down by invading Burmese armies, its capital burned, and its territory
occupied by the invaders.
Despite its complete
defeat and occupation by Burma, Siam made a rapid recovery. The resistance to
Burmese rule was led by a noble of Chinese descent, Taksin, a capable military
leader. Initially based at Chanthaburi in the south-east, within a year he had
defeated the Burmese occupation army and re-established a Siamese state with its
capital at Thonburi on the west bank of the Chao Phraya, 20 km from the sea. In
1768 he was crowned as King Taksin (now officially known as Taksin the Great).
He rapidly re-united the central Thai heartlands under his rule, and in 1769 he
also occupied western Cambodia. He then marched south and re-established Siamese
rule over the Malay Peninsula as far south as Penang and Terengganu. Having
secured his base in Siam, Taksin attacked the Burmese in the north in 1774 and
captured Chiang Mai in 1776, permanently uniting Siam and Lanna. Taksin's
leading general in this campaign was Thong Duang, known by the title Chaophraya
Chakri. In 1778 Chakri led a Siamese army which captured Vientiane and
re-established Siamese domination over Laos.
Despite these successes, by 1779 Taksin was in political trouble at home. He seems to have developed a
religious mania, alienating the powerful Buddhist monkhood by claiming to be a
sotapanna or divine figure. He also attacked the Chinese merchant class, and
foreign observers began to speculate that he would soon be overthrown. In 1782
Taksin sent his armies under Chakri to invade Cambodia, but while they were away
a rebellion broke out in the area around the capital. The rebels, who had wide
popular support, offered the throne to Chakri. Chakri marched back from Cambodia
and deposed Taksin, who was secretly executed shortly after. Chakri ruled under
the name Ramathibodi (he was posthumously given the name Phutthayotfa Chulalok),
but is now generally known as King Rama I, first king of the Chakri dynasty. One
of his first decisions was to move the capital across the river to the village
of Bang Makok (meaning "place of olive plums"), which soon became the city of
Bangkok. The new capital was located on the island of Rattanakosin, protected
from attack by the river to the west and by a series of canals to the north,
east and south. Siam thus acquired both its current dynasty and its current