WAT PHICHAI SONGKHRAM (วัดพิชัยสงคราม)
Wat Phichai Songkhram or the "Monastery of War Victory" is a temple still in use by
the monastic clergy. It is a classic built temple with an ordination and  sermon hall. While
there is no prang in situ and the vihara is rather large, it is likely constructed in the Late
Ayutthaya period. A cupper plate at the  monastery indicates that it was built shortly
before the final war between Burma and Ayutthaya in 1765. The temple is located
outside the city island in Kramang sub-district, at the mouth and south bank of
Khlong
Ban Bat (junction with the Pa Sak River).

The temple is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya as being the place where
the Phraya of Kamphaeng Phet (the later King Taksin) with his followers  set up camp in
December 1766 .

The Phraya of Tak was promoted to Phraya Kamphaeng Phet by the Siamese King
Suriyamin (Ekathat) and appointed as a brigade commander of a boat army that he  had
to constitute at
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon in order to confront the Burmese in the open
plains southeast of Ayutthaya. Phraya Kamphaeng Phet assigned the  Phraya of Phetburi
as his front guard, while Luang Saraseni's troops were in support. The front guard
consisting of five fighting boats got in contact with  the enemy. The boats of the Phraya of
Phetburi got completely encircled by the numerous boats of the Burmese. Phraya
Kamphaeng Phet and Luang Saraseni moored  their boats, watched but did not advance
to reinforce the front guard. The troops of the Phraya of Phetburi were slain and the
latter, after a heroic battle,  was impaled by the Burmese. Phraya Kamphaeng Phet and
Luang Saraseni fled the scene, did not return to the capital and set up stockades
respectively near Wat  Phichai and the adjacent
Wat Kluei. Phraya Kamphaeng Phet,
likely convinced that Ayutthaya would been soon lost to the Burmese, decided to seek
his fortune  in the south, while Luang Saraseni went his own way and fled elsewhere. [1]

The troops of Phraya Kamphaeng Phet consisted of about 1000 Thai and Chinese
soldiers. Folk tale states that he went praying at Wat Phichai to seek good  fortune in his
planned escape to the south. On leaving the temple weather turned bad. Considering this
as an auspicious sign (indeed somewhat rare to have  rainy weather in the cool season)
and taking advantage of the situation he broke through the Burmese encirclement after
some fighting near Hantra Village.  Latter he clashed with a pursuing Burmese army at
Three Bandits Village, got them defeated and continued his travel to the south. [1]

The monastery was called Wat Phichai in Ayutthayan times. The word "Songkhram"
meaning "war" has been added at its name by the locals at a later stage during  the
Rattanakosin period.

The monastery is indicated on
a map drafted in the mid-19th century and on Phraya
Boran Rachathanin's map (1926).

References:

[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 514 /
Source: Royal Autograph.
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - May 2009
Addendum

Professor Bidya Sriwattanasarn writes in his weblog [1] that Phraya Kamphaengphet
(formerly called Phraya Tak and later King Taksin] had among his followers a number of
Portuguese descendants. This fact is not recorded in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya,
but was derived from a Portuguese research published in 1983 [2], which specified that
79 Portuguese soldiers belonging to the “Department of western (foreign) marksman
soldiers” (กรมทหารฝรั่งแม่นปืน) had been engaged in Phraya Tak’s army during the
period 1767-1768. At least one of the four chiefs of this small Portuguese regiment (1),
Khun Rit Samdaeng, joined Phraya Tak’s Army. After the Burmese were driven
out, they were granted land by King Taksin to establish a new settlement, named as the
“Bandel de Nossa Senhora do Rosário” (Lit. the Village of Our Lady of the
Rosary). The village was situated on the east bank of the Chao Praya River, south of
Wat Kalayanamitr at the entrance of Khlong Bangkok Yai Canal, not far from Wat Arun
and the former Palace of King Taksin at Thonburi. Sriwattanasarn assumes that the
above mentioned 79 Portuguese soldiers were of the same group which was assigned the
task to defend the French settlement (St Joseph Church) prior.

Footnotes:

(1) The "Three Seals Code" indicated the existence of a structure called the "Department
of western (foreign) marksman soldiers". This small regiment consisted of 170 Portuguese
soldiers divided in four platoons. Each platoon contained around 45 man and was led by
a chief, with a deputy chief and three lieutenants. [1]

References:

[1] The Portuguese Bandel in the Kingdom of Thonburi: reward of the Portuguese Sharp-
Shooters in Siam, 1768 A.D. written 29 Oct 2010 - http://siamportuguesestudy.blogspot.
com/2010_10_01_archive.html - Weblog retrieved 06 November 2010.
[2] Early Portuguese accounts of Thailand - Joaquim de Campos, Joachim Joseph A.
Campos - Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, 1983.
Addendum by Tricky Vandenberg - November 2010
Addendum

In the manuscript "Testimony of the king from Wat Pradu Songtham", a document likely
compiled in the Early Ratanakosin Period, is written that there was a land market at Wat
Phichai in Ban Bat. (1) [1][2]

There was a boat ferry between Wat Phichai and the landing near the Jao Jan Gate (2),
east of Wat Pa Thon  connecting the city. In Ayutthayan times there were twenty-two
ferry routes. In the eastern area, the four other crossings were: Tha Chang Wang Na to
Tha Wilanda, north of Wat Khwang Fortress to
Wat Taphan Kluea, south of Wat
Khwang to Wat Nang Chi and north of the Rachakrue Fortress to Wat Ko Kaeo. [4]
See "
The Boat & Ferry Landings of Ayutthaya".

Footnotes:

(1) Ban Bat or Alms Bow Village was known for making puppets, covered trays,
two-level pedestal trays for sale. [1][3]
(2) The Jao Jan Gate was a large land gate in the city wall, where it was forbidden to
take corpses out. [1]

References:

[1] Geographical description of Ayutthaya: Documents from the palace - Dr Winai
Pongsripian - Bangkok (2007).
[2] Note on the Testimonies and the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of
the Siam Society, Vol. 99, 2011 - page 77 (paragraph on KWPS).
[3] Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and
Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya - Chris Baker - Journal of the Siam
Society, Vol. 99, 2011- page 54.
[4] Explanation of the map of the Capital of Ayutthaya with a ruling of Phraya Boran
Rachathanin - Revised 2nd edition and Geography of the Ayutthaya Kingdom - Ton
Chabab print office - Nonthaburi (2007) - page 91.
Addendum by Tricky Vandenberg - May 2011
Updated October 2013
(View of the ubosot from the east)
(View of the ubosot from the west)
(View from the west)
(View from the south)