Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/21

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7
SIAM

touches to the new race were supplied by the great expulsion of Lao-Tai from south-west China by Kublai Khan in A.D. 1250, which profoundly affected the whole of Further India. Thereafter the north, the west and the south-west of Siam, comprising the kingdom of Swankalok-Sukhotai, and the states of Suphan and Nakhon Sri Tammarat (Ligore), with their sub-feudatories, were reduced by the Siamese (Thai), who, during their southern progress, moved their capital from Sukhotai to Nakhon Sawan, thence to Kampeng Pet, and thence again to Suvarnabhumi near the present Kanburi. A Sukhotai inscription of about 1284 states that the dominions of King Rama Kamheng extended across the country from the Mekong to Pechaburi, and thence down the Gulf of Siam to Ligore; and the Malay annals say that the Siamese had penetrated to the extremity of the peninsula before the first Malay colony from Menangkabu founded Singapore, i.e. about 1160. Meanwhile the ancient state of Lavo (Lopburi), with its capital at Sano (Sornau or Shahr-i-nao), at one time feudatory to Swankalok-Sukhotai, remained the last stronghold of the Khmer, although even here the race was much modified by Lao-Tai blood; but presently Sano also was attacked, and its fall completed the ascendancy of the Siamese (Thai) throughout the country. The city of Ayuthia which rose in A.D. 1350 upon the ruins of Sano was the capital of the first true Siamese king of all Siam. This king's sway extended to Moulmein, Tavoy, Tenasserim and the whole Malacca peninsula (where among the traders from the west Siam was known as Sornau, i.e. Shahr-i-nau, long after Sano had disappeared—Yule's Marco Polo, ii. 260), and was felt even in Java. This is corroborated by Javan records, which describe a "Cambodian" invasion about 1340; but Cambodia was itself invaded about this time by the Siamese, who took Angkor and held it for a time, carrying off 90,000 captives. The great southward expansion here recorded is confirmed by the Chinese annals of the period. The wars with Cambodia continued with varying success for some 400 years, but Cambodia gradually lost ground and was finally shorn of several provinces, her sovereign falling entirely under Siamese influence. This, however, latterly became displeasing to the French, now in Cochin China, and Siam was ultimately obliged to recognize the protectorate forced on Cambodia by that power. Vigorous attacks were also made during this period on the Lao states to the north- west and north-east, followed by vast deportation of the people, and Siamese supremacy was pretty firmly established in Chieng- mai and its dependencies by the end of the 18th century, and over the great eastern capitals, Luang Prabang and Vien-chang, about 1828. During the 15th and 16th centuries Siam was frequently invaded by the Burmese and Peguans, who, attracted probably by the great wealth of Ayuthia, besieged it more than once without success, the defenders being aided by Portuguese mercenaries, till about 1555, when the city was taken and Siam reduced to dependence. From this condition, however, it was raised a few years later by the great conqueror and national hero Phra Naret, who after subduing Laos and Cambodia invaded Pegu, which was utterly overthrown in the next century by his successors. But after the civil wars of the 18th century the Burmese, having previously taken Chieng-mai, which appealed to Siam for help, entered Tenasserim and took Mergui and Tavoy in 1764, and then advancing simultaneously from the north and the west captured and destroyed Ayuthia after a two years' siege (1767).

The intercourse between France and Siam began about 1680 under Phra Narain, who, by the advice of his minister, the Cephalonian adventurer Constantine Phaulcon, sent an embassy to Louis XIV. When the return mission arrived, the eagerness of the ambassador for the king's conversion to Christianity, added to the intrigues of Phaulcon with the Jesuits with the supposed intention of establishing a French supremacy, led to the death of Phaulcon, the persecution of the Christians, and the cessation of all intercourse with France. An interesting episode was the active intercourse, chiefly commercial, between the Siamese and Japanese governments from 1592 to 1632. Many Japanese settled in Siam, where they were much employed. They were dreaded as soldiers, and as individuals commanded a position resembling that of Europeans in most eastern countries. The jealousy of their increasing influence at last led to a massacre, and to the expulsion or absorption of the survivors. Japan was soon after this, in 1636, closed to foreigners; but trade was carried on at all events down to 1745 through Dutch and Chinese and occasional English traders. In 1752 an embassy came from Ceylon, desiring to renew the ancient friendship and to discuss religious matters. After the fall of Ayuthia a great general, Phaya Takh Sin, collected the remains of the army and restored the fortunes of the kingdom, establishing his capital at Bangkok; but, becoming insane, he was put to death, and was succeeded by another successful general, Phaya Chakkri, who founded the present dynasty. Under him Tenasserim was invaded and Tavoy held for the last time by the Siamese in 1792, though in 1825, taking advantage of the Burmese difficulty with England, they bombarded some of the towns on that coast. The supremacy of China is indicated by occasional missions sent, as on the founding of a new dynasty, to Peking, to bring back a seal and a calendar. But the Siamese now repudiate this supremacy, and have sent neither mission nor tribute for sixty years, while no steps have been taken by the Chinese to enforce its recognition. The sovereign, Phra Paramendr Maha Mongkut, was a very accomplished man, an enlightened reformer and devoted to science; his death, indeed, was caused by fatigue and exposure while observing an eclipse. Many of his predecessors, too, were men of different fibre from the ordinary Oriental sovereign, while his son Chulalong Korn, who succeeded him in 1868, showed himself an administrator of the highest capacity. He died on the 23rd of October 1910.

Of European nations the Portuguese first established intercourse with Siam. This was in 1511, after the conquest of Malacca by D'Albuquerque, and the intimacy lasted over a century, the tradition of their greatness having hardly yet died out. They were supplanted gradually in the 17th century by the Dutch, whose intercourse also lasted for a similar period; but they have left no traces of their presence, as the Portuguese always did in these countries to a greater extent than any other people. English traders were in Siam very early in the 17th century; there was a friendly interchange of letters between James I. and the king of Siam, who had some Englishmen in his service, and, when the ships visited "Sia" (which was "as great a city as London") or the queen of Patani, they were hospitably received and accorded privileges—the important items of export being, as now, tin, varnish, deer-skins and "precious drugs." Later on, the East India Company's servants, jealous at the employment of Englishmen not in their service, attacked the Siamese, which led to a massacre of the English at Mergui in 1687, and the factory at Ayuthia was abandoned in 1688. A similar attack is said to have been made in 1719 by the governor of Madras. After this the trade was neglected. Pulo Penang, an island belonging to the Siamese dependency of Kedah, was granted on a permanent lease to the East India Company in 1786, and treaties were entered into by the sultan of Kedah with the company. In 1822 John Crawfurd was sent to Bangkok to negotiate a treaty with the suzerain power, but the mission was unsuccessful. In 1824, by treaty with the Dutch, British interests became paramount in the Malay Peninsula and in Siam, and, two years later, Captain Burney signed the first treaty of friendship and commerce between England and Siam. A similar treaty was effected with America in 1833. Subsequently trade with British possessions revived, and in time a more elaborate treaty with England became desirable. Sir J. Brooke opened negotiations in 1850 which came to nothing, but in 1855 Sir J. Bowring signed a new treaty whereby Siam agreed to the appointment of a British consul in Bangkok, and to the exercise by that official of full extra-territorial powers. Englishmen were permitted to own land in certain defined districts, customs and port dues and land revenues were fixed, and many new trade facilities were granted. This important arrangement was followed at intervals by similar treaties with the other powers, the last two being those with