King Naresuan the Great

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King Naresuan the Great was known as the hero of Taleng Phai (or the Defeat of the Mons). Thai people gave him the utmost respect and praised him as a worrior-king. He was a son of King Maha Dhammaraja. He had an elder sister, Princess Supantevi and a younger brother, Prince Ekatotsarot who helped him fight the enemy side by side. Prince Naresuan and Prince Ekatotsarot were sometimes known as the Black Prince and the White Prince respectively.

pics_1_9At the early age, Prince Naresuan was taken away to Pegu by King Bayinnuang (Burengnong) also known as “the Victorious One” when he put Maha Dhammaraja on the throne of Ayutthaya. He was kept nine years in Burma as a hostage. At the age of 16, his father asked him back and sent him to be Governor of Pitsanuloke.

There is a story about him as a young man while being held as a hostage in Burma. One day he took part in cockfighting with some Burmese princes. His cock won, and the Burmese Prince was annoyed and exclaimed,” Oh, how good this captive cook is !”. Prince Naresuan replied:” This captive cock can not only fight for a gamble, but it can also fight for a kingdom” . This shows that the Prince realised himself of being a hostage and yearned for the independence of Ayutthaya.

captionFortunately, King Bayinnuang passed away in 1581. His successsor (King Nand Bayin) was so weak that several colonies rebelled, including a city on the hill in the Mon region, Muang Kang. Three princes took turns to attack the hill city. Though assigned by the Burmese king to be the last, Prince Baresuan was able to capture the city. As a result, the Burmese king distrusted him because of his courage and intelligence and even planned to murder him When informed of the plot by the two Mon generals, Prince Naresuan declared the independence of his nation and prepared a fierce resistance against the Burmese attacks.

phitsanulok-04Prince Naresuan succeede to the throne when his father passed away in 1590. It is to be understood that during the reign of King Nand Bayin, Ayutthaya was invaded 5 times, ma,ely; The Maha Uparaja, his own son, commanded the first and second expeditions. During the third campaign, King Nand Bayin came himself. During the fourth and fifth invasions the Burmese army was again led by Maha Uparaja or the Crown Prince. It was during this fifth and last campaign that the Crown Prince was killed by King Naresuan in a single duel, elephant fight, in 1592 at Nong Sarai in present day Supphan Buri Province. This most glorious battle earned him the victory.

Throughout his life, King Naresuan never gave up trying to conquer Burma. Had he lived longer, he might have brought the whole region under his rule and the Burmese would never have been able to conquer Ayutthaya in 1767. While marching to Toungoo, he suddenly fell sick in Lampang, and succumbed to his illness and died on May 16, 1605. Prince Ekatotsarot succeede his brother and brought down his dead body to Ayutthaya for a royal cremation.

To the Thai people, King Naresuan the Great is always their hero whom the entire nation holds in high regard. Thus, every year during the week of January 25, a week long don Chedi Monument Fair is held in Supphan Buri Province to commemorate his victory over the Burmese Crown Prince.

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