Somdet Phra Naresuan Maharat (Thai: สมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช) or Somdet Phra Sanphet II (Thai: สมเด็จพระสรรเพชญ์ที่ 2) (1555, 25 April – 1605) was the King of the Ayutthaya kingdom from 1590 until his death in 1605. Naresuan was one of Siam’s most revered monarchs as he was known for his campaigns to free Siam from Burmese rule. During his reign numerous wars were fought against Burma, and Siam reached its greatest territorial extent and influence.
Prabat Somdet Phra Sanpet III (Thai: พระบาทสมเด็จพระสรรเพชญ์ที่ 3) or Somdet Phra Ekatotsarot (Thai: สมเด็จพระเอกาทศรถ;-1610) was the King of Ayutthaya from 1605 to 1610 succeeding his brother Naresuan. His reign was mostly peaceful as Siam was then a powerful state through the conquests of Naresuan. Also during his reign that foreigners of various origin began to fill the mercenary corps.
King Naresuan’s fighting cocks are Leung Hang Khao strain of gamecocks.
King Ekatotsarot’s fighting cocks are Pradu Hang Dam strain of gamecocks.
The three articles below are highlighted with RED for words related to gamecock and cockfighting.
– Gameness til the End
King Naresuan (2007 Film)
Leung Hang Khao and Pradu Hang Dam
Naresuan, as a boy Prince, had been taken to Burma as hostage to ensure the good behavior of his father King Thammaraja. King Thammaraja, when he was Governor of Phitsanulok, had “sold out” to the Burmese who appointed him as puppet monarch of the now vassal Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Accordingly, Prince Naresuan grew up in Burma and became well acquainted with Burmese ways. When the Prince was 16 years old his father, King Thammaraja, asked that his son be returned to Siam. This was done and, as an exchange hostage, Prince Naresuan’s younger sister was sent to Burma. The Prince was appointed Governor of Phitsanulok. The Burmese King Bayinnuang died in 1581 and was succeeded by his son Nandabayin. At King Nandabayin’s coronation all vassal states were ordered to attend and pay homage. Prince Naresuan, with his father’s permission, attended as representative of Ayutthaya but he really wanted to keep himself informed as to what was happening in the Burmese capital (Pegu) as the new king took his throne.
As it happened, the town of Moung Kang was in a state of revolt and did not send anyone to the coronation. To put down the uprising, and as punishment, King Nandabayin sent three armies to Moung Kang. The first army was led by the Crown Prince of Burma, the second by Prince Natchinnaung, from the vassal state of Toungoo, and the third by Prince Naresuan. Moung Kang was well defended atop a hill and the two Burmese Princes, successively, made frontal attacks which were dismal failures. Prince Naresuan scouted the rear of the hill and, finding another possible storming point, planned his strategy. A small force of Prince Naresuan’s army pretended attack on Moung Kang’s frontal slopes making a fierce some, diversionary noise as they did so. At the same time, Prince Naresuan stealthily led the bulk of his army up the rear of the hill and successfully captured the town.
This victory brought Prince Naresuan nothing but jealousy from the Burmese King Nandabayin and his son the Crown Prince. Aside from making the Burmese look foolish over their lack of success to take Moung Kang, King Nandabayin realized that this Siamese upstart was clever at war tactics and would, therefore, have to be watched. At one point, the Burmese Crown Prince challenged Prince Naresuan to a game of fighting cocks which resulted in the Crown Prince losing his bird and bet. In anger, frustration and jealousy the Crown Prince exclaimed “This vassal of a cock is really impudent”. To which Prince Naresuan responded “Not only can this cock bet for money, it can also fight for kingdoms”! The words were not lost on King Nandabayin and the Crown Prince they decided to do away with Prince Naresuan.
King Nandabayin had a dispute with the Kingdom of Ava which involved him summoning armies, including Prince Naresuan’s, to his aid. At the Mon town of Muong Krang King Nandabayin had arranged for Prince Naresuan’s unsuspecting army to be attacked from the rear and the Prince killed. However, the Mon people had lived under the lash of the Burmese so were more sympathetic towards Prince Naresuan; using the good offices of a revered monk, they forewarned Prince Naresuan of King Nandabayin’s planned assassination. The Prince, angered by this treachery, had had enough of the Burmese so, instead of proceeding on to Ava, he called his army and the townsfolk together and, before them, swore he would no longer serve under the Burmese and declared independence for the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Then he marched on Pegu and, before King Nandabayin could return from Ava, freed the Thai people who had been held hostage. He set off for Ayutthaya, with over 10,000 Thais, but the Burmese Crown Prince’s army (under General Surakamma) was hot on his heels and Prince Naresuan just managed to cross the Sittaung River before the Crown Prince’s forces arrived on the far bank. Sighting General Surakamma across the river, Prince Naresuan drew his long-gun and fired. The Burmese Commanding General fell dead where upon the Burmese troops gave up the chase and retreated back to Pegu. Prince Naresuan, with his freed Thais, returned to Ayutthaya in peace! This was 1584.
With his father’s, King Thammaraja, approval Prince Naresuan immediately began the strengthening of Ayutthaya. He drew people from the northern regions and many people from the Shan States, who had endured suffering under the Burmese, also flocked to his banner. Slowly, slowly Prince Naresuan built his army, taking the fight to the Burmese. During the Burmese King Nandabayin’s reign, huge Burmese armies advance five times on Ayutthaya so it was always against massive odds that Prince Naresuan led his men to ensure the preservation of Ayutthaya’s independence. In 1590 the Prince’s father, King Thammaraja, died and the Prince ascended the Siamese Throne as King Naresuan sometimes known as King Naret, or the Black Prince, by foreigners but always as King Naresuan “The Great” by his people. King Naresuan was 35 years of age when he became King.
During the fifth Burmese advance on Ayutthaya, King Naresuan, with his younger brother Prince Ekatosrost, did not wait until the Burmese reached Ayutthaya instead, King and Brother Prince advanced and, at Nongsarai, set an ambush for the Burmese. A small, expeditionary force of Siamese was sent forward to engage the enemy and lure them into the trap. Of course, upon letting the Burmese sight them, the expeditionary troop retreated and the Burmese followed in hot pursuit straight into the ambush where King Naresuan and his army lay waiting. King Naresuan, from his lofty position astride his battle elephant, sees the Burmese Crown Prince his old enemy from boyhood days and immediately challenges. The fight is spectacular and brief with the Crown Prince being killed by a blow from King Naresuan’s fighting lance. The Burmese army, seeing their Crown Prince dead and the array of Siamese Generals and troops under King Naresuan, loose heart and hasten back to Burma.
After five failures to regain Ayutthaya, the Burmese dare not risk against King Naresuan again. So the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was left in peace and King Naresuan, with the enthusiastic support of his armies and people, had the opportunity to deal with other enemies. Cambodia was given a firm lesson as it had tried to steal territory and people from Ayutthaya when King Naresuan was busy sorting out the Burmese. Such opportunists were not tolerated.
Unfortunately for Ayutthaya, King Naresuan did not reign for any great length of time. In 1605 while campaigning against Ava which had annexed two of Ayutthaya’s Shan Protectorates the King was taken ill with a boil on his cheek. It had turned septic, causing blood poisoning, from which the King died. King Naresuan The Great, died aged 50 years of age having reigned for only 15 years. Had his rule been longer, he would undoubtedly have stabilized the entire region and driven any further thought of aggression from Burmese heads. With the passing of King Naresuan The Great one of Siam’s notable warrior Kings the Burmese began planning their next move against Ayutthaya Capital of a Kingdom!
A Chedi (Jadee) or pagoda was built during King Naresuan’s lifetime to commemorate a most glorious battle earned King Naresuan the victory which deterred the Burmese invasions for years and years. (It lay abandoned until 1913 when it was rediscovered). The fierce battles took place on January 25, 1592. Every year during the week of January 25 there is a week long Don (means “hill” or “slope”) Chedi Monument Fair which honours the great king who did so much for Siam. This fair includes a full costume re-enactment of an elephant battle that took place four centuries ago. (The date is also regarded as Thailand’s National Armed Forces Day).
The son of King Thammaraja who had capitulated to the Burmese after the first fall of ancient Ayutthaya, took the young Naresuan (then a Prince) to Burma as a royal hostage to ensure the continued subservience of his father. At this time, Naresuan was nine years old and the historic Kingdom of Ayutthaya was in bondage to the Burmese. Thus, the boy prince spent his formative years in Burma, amidst his enemies, and became very familiar with their military thinking and tactics. However, throughout all of his captivity, Prince Naresuan never forgot that he was Siamese and consoled himself that, someday, he would try to free his native kingdom from the occupying forces.
When Prince Naresuan was sixteen, with Siam still a vassal state of Burma, he was able to return to Ayutthaya as an exchange hostage — but he still had to give military service to the Burmese. During a minor uprising in the Burmese town of Muang Kung of Shan Kingdom, the King of Burma — King Nandabayin sent three armies to suppress the revolt. The first army was led by the Burmese Crown Prince — Munggayoshawa, the second by Prince Matchinnaung of Toungoo — and the third by Prince Naresuan of Siam! The town of Muang Kung straddled a hilltop and was well defended so frontal attacks by the first and second Burmese armies were thwarted. Using his own strategy, Prince Naresuan staged a small, noisy decoy attack on the frontal slopes but led his main army up the ill defended rear climb and captured the town.
The success of Prince Naresuan at the expense of the Burmese princes brought quick jealousies — and became a turning point for both Burma and Siam. The Burmese decided that Prince Naresuan was too clever and impudent by far. (He had once remarked, after beating the Burmese Crown Prince at a contest of fighting cocks, “Not only can this cock champion a money bet, it can also fight for kingdoms”). They conspired to have the prince killed. After the battle for Muang Kung, Prince Naresuan was to proceed to the Burmese court at Ava but, having learned of the assassination plan from a monk — Kaan Shong indicated that he wanted nothing more to do with the Burmese and their deceits. Instead, at Muang Kraeng of Mon Kingdom, in front of his army and the gathered townspeople, who were ready to join him, Prince Naresuan, at the age of 29, declared independence and restoration for the Kingdom of Siam. In 1584, Prince Naresuan led his army and 10,000 freed people back to Ayutthaya where his father, King Thammaraja was still ruler.
In 1590, at the age of 35, Prince Naresuan became King upon the death of his father (the puppet monarch) and, as King Naresuan, continued in his exploits and battles to drive the Burmese from the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. The final battle was at Nhong Sarai in Supanburi where King Naresuan set an ambush for the Burmese. A small Siamese advance party had been sent forward, drew Burmese attention, and lured them into a waiting trap. During the course of the fighting, King Naresuan spotted his enemy from boyhood, the Crown Prince of Burma and urging his war elephant forward, killed the Burmese Prince with a thrust from his fighting lance. The fierce battles took place on January 25, 1592. January 25 is regarded as an annual Thailand’s National Armed Forces day. Their leadership gone, the Burmese withdrew and, after so many defeats at the hands of King Naresuan, The Great — left the kingdom of Ayutthaya for the foreseeable future.
In 1604 King Naresuan and his younger brother, Prince Egatosrost, campaigned against Ava — which had annexed two of Ayutthaya’s Shan Protectorates. They led the troops from Ayutthaya to Chiangmai city and continued further. Leaving Chiangmai heading the north, Prince Egatosrost went through Chiang Dao and arrived at Faang, meanwhile, King Naresuan took his troops through the west of Mae Taeng toward Haeng (present-day Wiang Haeng) where he was taken ill caused by a boil on his cheek. It turned septic, causing blood-poisoning, from which the king died on 15 May in 1605. Three days earlier, Prince Egatosrost arrived after the urgent message was sent to him in Faang. King Naresuan’s coffin was taken by his younger brother to Ayutthaya. A chedi or pagoda was built in the town of Haang to commemorate King Naresuan’s bravery which eventually deterred the Burmese invasions for years and years. The local citizens with Shan minorities call this chedi with the name of Jao Dtai, meaning “The Thai Monarch” and pay respect whenever they come by. Even in the time of peace, the Burmese learned about this ruin chedi of Jao Dtai and therefore sent their soldiers to sneak in and demolish it several decades ago.
King Naresuan died at the age of 50 years, on Keun 8 kumm (8th day of waxing moon) Duan 6 (6th Lunar month) which was equivalent to some day in May, reigning for only 15 years. He went to 29 different battle fields since he was 20 years old. Among these battles, Prince Egatosrost went along and they fought together 17 times. They spent only 2 years together in the capital before they took off through Chiangmai toward Ava. The King restored independence, dignity and Monarchy to his Kingdom of Ayutthaya.
This is the day on which, all Thai citizens honor a great Siamese fighting king of many years ago. The monarch was King Naresuan who fought a fierce and decisive battle against the invading Burmese armies. To the Thai people, King Naresuan the Great, remains a hero whom the entire nation holds in high regard.
The King Naresuan Monument is located north of the city island, slightly east of Wat Phukhao Thong (which serves as a backdrop). It can easily be seen from Highway 309, which also connects to the monument’s main entrance gate. The King Naresuan Monument can also be accessed from two smaller roads in the vicinity.
King Naresuan is perhaps one of Ayutthaya’s most highly revered idols due to his numerous military accomplishments and his role in asserting Siamese independence from the Burmese. As a young child, Prince Naresuan was taken to Burma after the capital city fell in defeat to Burmese King Bayin Naung in 1564 and 1569. Ayutthaya became a vassal state as a consequence, and the Burmese installed Prince Naresuan’s father – King Maha Thammaracha (1569-1590) – on the throne. Prince Naresuan was subsequently raised in the land of his enemies as a type of collateral against future uprisings. While still in Burma, Prince Naresuan proved himself as a skilled fighter with a keen sense of military strategy. With his complicated rise in power, a string of events provoked Prince Naresuan to shift allegiances and declare Ayutthaya independent once again.
Royal Chronicles describe this story in great detail. While still technically allied with the King Honsawadi of Burma, Prince Naresuan marched his troops to the city of Khraeng, where they encamped near the monastery of the Great Holy Tera Khan Chong. King Hongsawadi, in the meantime, set up a plan to betray Prince Narasuaen – sending out an army of 10,000 to ambush and kill him. Phraya Kiat and Phraya Ram were told by the Burmese King Hongsawadi to make a flanking attack from the rear. Their orders were to attack Prince Naresuan, seize his troops, and execute him.
However, the Great Holy Tera Khan Chong was informed of this treachery and took pity on Prince Naresuan. He arranged a meeting between Phraya Kiat, Phraya Ram, and Prince Naresuan in which all was revealed. As a result, Prince Naresuan declared revenge and announced that the two kingdoms shall be totally divorced from each other from that day and forever onward. He promised to escort the two Mon leaders, the Holy reverent, and a multitude of Mon families back to the safety of Ayutthaya. On route, Prince Naresuan successfully defeated the Burmese in battle, and Ayutthaya became independent once again (Cushman 88-90). After obtaining the throne, King Naresuan continued with national warfare and the expansion of Siamese territories.
The glorification of King Naresuan and his great victories swelled over the following centuries. This adoration took on an especially nationalistic flavor with the rise of Thai militarism and the creation of a constitutional monarchy. Military leaders such as Phibun Songtham, Sarit Thanarat, and Thanom Kittikachorn understood the power that public monuments could have in promoting patriotic nationalism and a unified Thai identity. As a result, militaristic kings such as King Naresuan and King Taksin became important mythical icons, and memorials to them were constructed across the country (Wong 75-99).
The construction of the King Naresuan Monument in Ayutthaya, however, did not get completed until 1999. Chaun Leekpai reigned as prime minister, and the economy was still greatly suffering from Asian stock market crash in 1997. The country was politically divided, so the development of such a monument served as a reminder of kingly heroes, national sacrifice, and a common Thai identity. The monument was intentionally placed on the site where many battles actually took place against the Burmese – the Pukhao Thong Plain. The memorial’ s location near Chedi Phukhao Thong is also symbolic. This chedi was originally built to commemorate the Burmese victory over Siam in 1569, and the statue of Naresuan serves as a reminder of the value of independence and national pride.
The King Naresuan Monument was created by Chin Prasang, a sculptor from Silpakorn University, which evolved from the School of Fine Arts partially founded by Silpa Bhirasri (who is often referred to as the father of modern Thai art). Silpa Bhirasri was Italian sculptor born under the name of Corrado Feroci who traveled to Thailand in 1923. The following year he entered Into the Fine Arts Department due to his skills with war memorials and statues of national heroes. After teaching these skills to a new generation of Thai artists, Silpa was rewarded with Thai citizenship in the 1940s. Sculptors such as Chin Prasang reflect continuity in Silpa’s style for casting national monuments.
The larger than life monument showcases the many accomplishments of Naresuan. The massive marble and metallic structure is crowned with an armed image of King Naresuan on horseback. This is in reflection of a well-known battle in which Naresuan killed a Burmese general with a strike from his lance. In each corner of the monument are replicas that this leader used to defeat his foes (a spear, sword, gun, and helmet). A large number of third-dimensional metallic friezes are displayed around the monument. Each of these stories signifies a popular story relating to the life of King Naresuan. For example, in on frieze he slays an alligator in a dream, which was seen as an auspicious omen of a future victory. In another frieze, he pours water on the ground, which refers to his announcement that he would seek independence from the Burmese. These friezes give King Naresuan an almost super-hero appeal at times.
Visitors at this site might be perplexed by the multitudes of rooster statues in situ. Some of these rooster statues are larger than the average human being. These roosters are suggestive of a poplar legend in which a young Prince Naresuan wagered a bet with a young Burmese prince that Ayutthaya would be freed if Naresuan’s rooster emerged victorious in the cock fight. Prince Naresuan’s rooster naturally won the bet, and the Burmese prince was humiliated in the process. After the release of a popular movie about King Naresuan, these rooster statues began to appear mysterious at temples across Ayutthaya. They are most highly concentrated at temples associated with this royal warrior (Wat Worachet, Wat Worachetharam, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, etc.).
However, the rooster statues around this particular memorial can number in the hundreds, and Thai citizens bring them from all over the country as offerings.
There were 24 Wars between Ayutthaya as capital of Siam and the Burmese:
- 1539 when the Burmese invaded Muang Chiang Kran [ a border skirmish ]
- 1548 when the Burmese invade via the 3 pagodas pass during an Ayutthaya dynastic fight
- 1563 when Ayutthaya was besieged ans surrendered,then to pay tribute
- 1568 when the capital, Ayutthaya was taken by the King of Hongsawadi
- 1584 when Narusuan proclaimed independence of Siam
- 1584 when the Siamese fought the Governor of Bassein
- 1585 when the Burmese sent the viceroy of Chiang Mai to fight the Siamese at Ban Saket
- 1590 when the Burmese Maha Uparat came the first time
- 1592 when Naresuan fought the Maha Uparat on elephants in single combat
- 1592 when the Siamese attached Tavoy & Tenasserin in Burma
- 1594 when Naresuan took the Mon Provinces
- 1595 when Naresuan attacked Hongsawadi the first time
- 1599 when Naresuan attacked Hongsawadi the second time
- 1604 Naresuan’s last war when he died on route to invade the Shan states via Lan Na
- 1613 Burmese take Tavoy & Tenasserim, but Siam recovers these
- 1614 Burmese besiege and take Chiang Mai
- 1662 Burmese attack and take Tavoy
- 1662 Siamese [ Narai ] sends Kosa Lek to besiege and take Chiang Mai while Ava is attacked by Ho
- 1663 Burmese attack through the 3 Pagodas pass to Sai Yok in Siamese Territory
- 1664 Siamese [ Narai ] mounts a 3 army attack in Burma
- 1759 Burmese invade and take Mon ports and besiege Ayuthaya
- 1764 Burmese retake Mon ports, then maruad and attack the Southern Provinces of Siam
- 1767 Burmese from Lan Na besiege, conquer and destroy Ayutthaya