King of Siam Rama III


King Rama III

King Rama III succeeded his father King Rama II.  His ascension to the throne was said to be a surprise.  He was after all the son of a concubine rather than a queen.  Foreign observers say that he usurped the rightful position from his half brother Prince Mongkut.  The latter was a legitimate son of King Rama II and his wife Queen Srisuriyendra.  Prince Mongkut later on became a monk.  He was known as King Nangklao and was born as Prince Thap to King Rama II and his royal wife Chao Chom Manda Riam.  During his reign, he led the military in their fight against several enemies like Vietnam and Cambodia.

It was to his credit that the rebellion against Thailand was suppressed when he was still a prince.  He was promoted by his father to rule as Minister of Trade and Foreign Affairs.  As a minister he developed his skills trading with foreign nationals.  He also grew affection towards Chinese culture and goods.  This is the reason why during his reign, temples were built with Chinese influences.  It was also during his reign when contacts in the West were renewed.  The British government requested his support when against Burma.

The British government promised him a portion of the conquered lands.  The Burney Treaty during his reign reduced the taxation on foreign trading ships.  Henry Burney was a British diplomat.  Later on he also concluded another treaty this time with the Americans.  Edmund Roberts was sent as an envoy by then President Andrew Jackson.  The Siamese-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce is still in force but with some modifications even until today.  The Siamese have a strange way of naming the reign of their kings.  His grandfather was referred to as the First Reign, his father was the Middle Reign and his reign was referred to as Late Reign.

It was during his reign that Sultan of Kedah staged a revolt.  King Nangklao sent Tat Bunnag to subdue the rebellion and suggested the establishment of an autonomous government for Kedah Sultanate.  At present Kedah is part of Malaysia.  King Rama III was famous for his Buddhist faith.  He fed the poor on a daily basis after he became prince.  Every day he also released animals in each monastery.  It was during his reign when more temples were either rebuild or restored.

During his reign trading with China and his country became prosperous.  He kept his profits under his bed in red purses.  He earned the money through his use of a great business sense.  He wanted to set the money for an emergency fund for his country.  He was always concerned about the welfare of his subjects.  When his country suffered from terrible drought, he sold rice from the Royal store for a very low price.  He built a Prang structure on the grounds of the Temple of Dawn.  The structure was so solidly build in porcelain that it can withstand even harsh weather conditions.  He ordered governors to assist the farmers.  He died without naming a successor.  He had 51 children including sons.  Mainly due to these reasons, his half brother Mongkut became Rama IV.