Text by Tricky Vandenberg - September 2011
Reviewed March 2012
Prince Ram, a young son of King Ramesuan (r.1388-1395) succeeded to the throne of Ayutthaya in 1395 after the death of his father. King
Ramaracha (1) reigned following most of the versions of the Royal Chronicles for 14 years in which nothing much occurred (2).

A contemporary source, Jeremias Van Vliet, a Dutch merchant of the VOC wrote: "
The son of Phra Ramesuan became king at the age of
twenty-one and was named Phra Ram. He reigned for three years. He was of little wisdom and judgment because he sent the brother of
Phra Thong Chan (killed by his father Phra Ramesuan) as governor to the province Suphanburi and gave him so much power that the
aforementioned governor defeated and killed him, and made himself king. There is nothing more to write about this king Phra Ram,
since, as was mentioned, he reigned a short time and did nothing notable.
"  [3]

As soon as he came into power, King Ramaracha attempted vigorously to assert his authority in the north. The Nan Chronicles mention that in
1396, an Ayutthayan envoy came to Nan to perform the consecration of Chao Khamtan, the ruler of Nan, an event which turned into the
assassination of the latter. [4]

In 1397 King Ramaracha made a state visit to the Kingdom of Sukhothai and proclaimed a law on abduction, imposing Ayutthaya’s legal system
upon Sukhothai and satellite cities. [5] The law, found on a 1397 stone inscription, dictates the vassal state of Sukhothai the return of slaves or
labor force to their assigned masters. The law, making many references to the Dhammasastra and Rajasastra, also set heavy penalties and fines on
those who were guilty of abduction or helping the escape of slaves and labor force. [6]

Most of the city states had large tracts of land but only a small population. Manpower was thus a key factor for the survival of a state; hence
whenever wars were fought the enemy population was extracted and brought back as slaves. Charnvit Kasetsiri pointed out that the struggle for
control of manpower between Sukhothai and Ayutthaya can be seen in the 1397 stone inscription of Ramaracha and that it was possible that the
law had in part the purpose of reasserting Ayutthaya’s authority over Sukhothai. Kasetsiri also wrote that Ramaracha’s “visit probably reflected the
unstable internal politics of Ayudhya, where he was having increasing difficulty in keeping control”. [7] The same year, Prince Nakhon In, ruler of
Suphanburi, apparently even allowed to continue direct diplomatic relations with the Chinese court, sent a tributary mission to China. (3) [8]

King Ramaracha was far from having pacified the Kingdom of Sukhothai. King Maha Thammaracha III (Sai Luthai, r.1398-1419) succeeded on
the throne and two years later in 1400, proclaimed independence. He recaptured Nakhon Sawan from Ayutthaya. Nakhon Sawan was a strategic
city at the confluence of the Ping and Nan Rivers, from which all northern riverine communication could be controlled. This was a serious setback
for King Ramaracha and the prestige of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. David K. Wyatt wrote that it had been argued that the loss of Nakhon Sawan
contributed to the decline of Ramaracha and the Lopburi line. King Maha Thammaracha III continued to extend his authority in the principalities of
Nan and Phrae and even attempted to intervene in the succession to the throne in Lan Na. [9]

In October 1403 a Ming envoy, eunuch Li Xing, arrives in Ayutthaya very likely with the aim to control trade and execute political and economic
control, as Ayutthaya was considered a tributary state to China. [10] In the same year, whether or not with the return of the Chinese mission,
Prince Nakhon In of Suphanburi sent again an embassy to the Ming Court.

In September 1408 another Ming envoy, eunuch Zhang Yuan, led a maritime mission to Ayutthaya. [10] Prince Nakhon In was reported to have
had a personal audience with the fleet admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He). Kasetsiri wrote that it was possible that this meeting had some indirect effect
on the internal politics of Ayutthaya, where the struggle for power intensified. King Ramaracha may have feared that the Suphanburi clan was
plotting against him with the help of the Chinese and this could have been at the root for the quarrel in the following year. [8]

In 1409 King Ramracha disputed with a principal minister (4) and ordered his arrest. (5) The minister fled to safety south of the city at the Cham
village (Pathakhucam - Village at the
Moat of the Cham). From there he sent messengers to Prince Nakhon In, a nephew of King Borommaracha I
and uncle of King Ramaracha, at Suphanburi to enlist support to overthrow the ruler of Ayutthaya.

Bearing in mind that the father of King Ramracha executed the cousin of Prince Nakhon In,
King Thong Lan (r.1388), the ruler of Suphanburi must
have had some resentment against the ruler of Ayutthaya and the House of U-Thong.

Prince Nakhon In proceeded to Ayutthaya and ordered Chao Senabodi to capture the city. The capital was taken and King Ramaracha forced to
abdicate and exiled to the Cham village. Prince Nakhon In proclaimed himself King with the title of Intharacha I. [11] The accession of Intharacha
I to the throne eliminated the U-Thong family from the political scene and was the beginning of Suphanburi’s supremacy in Ayutthaya. [12]


(1) Rama-Raja: from the names of the early kings of Ayutthaya we can deduct that the latter were treated as reincarnations of the great Hindu
gods, Vishnu or Shiva. Rama is the hero of the Ramayana and a reincarnation of Vishnu. [1]
(2) Van Vliet put King Ramaracha’s reign at only 3 years. The oldest chronicle - Luang Prasoet - set King Ramaracha’s reign from 1395 till 1409.
Other royal chronicles write 1387 as the year of Prince Ram’s accession to the throne. The Phan Canthanumat, British Museum & Phra
Cakkraphatdiphong give a reign of 14 years, while the Reverend Phonnarat has 5 years and the Royal Autograph 15 years. The Luang Prasoet
version of the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya has been followed in this article.
(3) Prince Nakhon In (ruler of Inburi - Mueang Indra, a town under Suphanburi established by Khun Luang Pha Ngua in 1377) is said to have sent
a mission to the Chinese crown prince implying that his rank was equal to that of the mission’s recipient, as early as 1374. He continued to cultivate
good relations with the Chinese court and apparently personally headed three further missions to China, in 1375, 1377, and 1384. [8] Wood
wrote that Prince Nakhon In visited Nankin in person in 1375, and brought back an autographed letter from the Emperor to King Borommaracha
I. [13]
(4) Prince Damrong believed he was one of the military leaders. Whether or not the minister - bearing the title Chao (a title reserved for royalty)
was related to the House of Suphanburi, cannot be confirmed but Prince Nakhon-In rewarded him with the daughter of a royal concubine.
(5) 1409 is the date given by the oldest of the royal chronicles - the Luang Prasoet version. Later chronicles put this event in 763 CS or 1401 AD
- year of the serpent.


[1] The Rise of Ayudhya - Charnvit Kasetsiri (1976) - Oxford University Press, London - page 101.
[2] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 14 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum & Phra
[3] Van Vliet's Siam - Chris Baker, Dhiravat Na Pombejra, Alfons Van Der Kraan & David K. Wyatt. (2005) - Silkworm Books - page 205.
[4] The Nan Chronicle - Ratchasomphan (Sænluang.) - David K. Wyatt (1994) - SEAP Publications -page 49 (2.13).
[5] The Rise of Ayudhya - Charnvit Kasetsiri (1976) - Oxford University Press, London - page 134.
[6] Ibid. - page 103.
[7] Ibid. - page 130.
[8] Ibid. - page 112-3.
[9] Thailand, A short history - David K. Wyatt - 2nd Ed. (2003) - Silkworm Books - page 58.
[10] The Zheng He Voyages: A Reassessment - Geoff Wade (2004) - Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series No. 31.
[11] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 14 / Source: Luang Prasoet, Phan Canthanumat, British Museum,
Reverend Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
[12] The Rise of Ayudhya - Charnvit Kasetsiri (1976) - Oxford University Press, London - page 111.
[13] A History of Siam - W.A.R. Wood (1924) - Chalermnit Press - page 71.