King of Siam Rama V
King Rama V, the Great Beloved King
Rama the 5th is known as The Royal Buddha. He was considered as one of the greatest Thai Kings who ever lived. It was his efforts that saved his country from being colonized. He was born to King Mongkut and Queen Debsirindra. According to royal tradition, he was obliged to be a novice monk. He became one for a short period of six months. He and his father fell ill to malaria. When his father died of the disease, Si Suriyawongse, a powerful government official ensures his succession to the throne. He was formally crowned as King Rama V on 1873.
In his young age, Chulalongkorn visited British colonies like Singapore, Java and British India to observe the reforms being made there. His observations and travels helped him form ideas that wpuld be the basis for Siam modernization. King Rama V married four of his half sisters. They were all daughters of King Mongkut namely Savang, Vadhana, Saovabha, and Sunandha. He also took two concubines and they are Piam and Samli. He initiated reforms in the military. It was during his reign that the Royal Military Academy was established. The academy trained Thai troops using Western methods.
He abolished the barbaric method of torturing criminals and introduced the Western code. He was the first Siamese king to send the royal princes to Europe to further their education. He also frequently travelled to Europe and left his queen Saovabha as regent when he traveled. It was his dream to let Europe see Siam as a powerful and independent country. After his travels to Europe, he tried to establish Monthons. Each monthon was administered by the Minister of Interior. This ended the power of local dynasties. It was not well received though since local rulers tried to rebel against his rule. All of the insurgents were crushed and imprisoned.
He was a nationalist at heart and was best known for abolishing slavery in Siam. Those who cannot live on their own sold themselves as slaves to rich noblemen while others become slaves when they were unable to pay their debts. As soon as the slaves had paid their debts they became free men. Some of the slaves became farmers or merchants. He ordered the construction of Siam’s railways and power plant. It was the first time that electric lights lit up the roads.
During his life he engaged in writing books. He wrote about Thai Royal Ceremonies, and other books. He established a plumbing system. The King had 92 consorts and 77 children from these unions. He sent his sons to study in Europe and take military training in Denmark, Germany and Russia. He died suffering from a kidney disease and was succeeded by his son Vajiravudh. His was the longest reign in Thai history (42 years) and was well loved by his people. To honor him, Chulalongkorn Day celebrated every October 23 was established from the time that he died until the present. It is a fitting tribute to a beloved King of the people.
His son Vajiravudh was Rama VI.