One of the golden eras of Thai history was during the period from 1350 to 1767 when Ayutthaya was the capital. The former capital was founded in 1350 by King Uthong. later crowned King Ramathibodi I, who led his men from U Thong where there was an outburst of cholera. The city was named for Ayutthaya, the home of Rama in the Indian epic Ramayana which means “Undefeatable”.
In fact, Ayutthaya was a thriving town before it was founded as the Thai capital by King Uthong. Before the arrival of the invading Thais, the area was occupied by the Khmers or Cambodians who ruled Lavo or Lopburi. The city was situated on an island which was the confluence of three rivers, the Chao Phraya, the Pa Sak and the Lopburi. Thus, is was the centre of trade and communications.
Meanwhile, during his reign King Ramathibodi I created the offices of the four Great Officers of State as follows;
- Khun Muang corresponded to the Minister of Local Government whose duties included the maintenance of law and order and the punishment of criminals.
- Khun Wang corresponded to the Minister of the Royal Household. He also acted as a judge who decided cases among the people.
- Khun Klang corresponded to the Minister of Finance. He collected taxes and took care of state properties.
- Khun Na corresponded to the Minister of Agriculture who was responsible for the storing of food for the capital.
The kingdom was the Best known to Europeans, for it was during this period that Europeans began to wander East, and many of them came to visit Ayutthaya. During it heyday, Thai culture and international communications flourished in the kingdom. The Ayutthaya period has so far been the apex of Thai history.
Ayutthaya remained the Thai capital for 417 years and was reigned by 33 kings of five Siamese dynasties until it was conquered by the Burmese. The defeated capital was left in the jungle for over a hundred years when it was wrested out of the jungle again.
Ayutthaya is 85 kms north of Bangkok and is accessible by road, river and railway. Magnificient ruins of principal temle and palaces of the old capital still remain to give a clue to the city’s former glory.