Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is a large city with a cosmopolitan culture. The history of Bangkok was the history of Thailand in general. Many important events have taken place in the city. To understand the culture, the people and everything that exists today, let’s start at the beginning. The town’s history dates back to the 15th century.
It was a quiet and straightforward agricultural and commercial area on the banks of the Chao Phraya River where small communities lived. It gained importance in the 15th and 16th centuries after new canals and roads were built. After Ayutthaya was burned down by the Burmese army in 1767, the Thai military established Thon Buri, a community in Bangkok.
The Chakri Dynasty
After the death of King Taksin of Thon Buri, Phraya Chakri, one of Taksin’s generals, came to power and was crowned Phra Yot Fa in 1782. He was also popularly known as King Buda Yodfa or Rama I. He moved the capital to Bangkok and founded the Chakri dynasty. The building planning of the area led to the development of monasteries, throne rooms, residences and magnificent temples. In 1785 the royal district was completed, and the city gave a name at the inauguration ceremony. : “Great City of Angels, Repository of Divine Gems, Great Invincible Land, Great and Great Kingdom, Enchanting Royal Capital Full of Nine Precious Gems, Supreme Royal Residence and Grand Palace, Divine Refuge and Abode of Reborn Spirits.
‘Foreign merchants continued to call the city’ Bang Makok.’ Various prisoners captured during wars were brought to Bangkok to work as laborers. With the help of these workers, Rama I improved the natural canal and river system here. Artificial waterways were also built. This was an essential step in Bangkok’s history.
Struggle for Democracy
Prime Minister Phibun Songkhram, appointed by the People’s Party, changed the country’s name from Siam to Thailand. In 1941, Bangkok’s economy stagnated due to Japanese bombing raids against the British in Burma. Phibul resigned in 1944 and went into exile in Japan in 1945. From 1964 to 1973, Thai army officers Thanom Kittikachorn and Praphat Charusathien ruled Thailand. Kukrit Pramoj set a leftist agenda after taking over the 14-party coalition government. In 1976, the military retook control. This alternation between military and civilian rulers continued in Bangkok for more than 15 years.
The Difficult Period of Democracy
Thailand’s economy collapsed in the 1990s, and after various economic reforms, Bangkok’s economy regained momentum. The 21st century has brought difficulties and challenges for Bangkok. In 2006, a bloodless coup ousted then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Accused of corruption and convicted in 2008, he currently lives in self-imposed exile.
In 2016, Maha Vajralongkorn succeeded his father to the throne. In 2017, a constitution was drafted under the ruling military junta. Gen Prayut Chan-Ocha, who took power in 2014, ran in the 2019 election with the backing of the pro-military Palang Pracharath party. Elections were held using a new mixed membership distribution system. Palang Pracharath received the most votes, while Pheu Thai emerged as the strongest party.
A seven-party alliance was formed along with Pheu Thai and Future Forward, but they could not form a government. Eventually, Prayut was elected Prime Minister. So that was the story of Bangkok. After many challenges, protection from colonization, and constant alternation between military and civilian rulers, Bangkok and Thailand, in general, have become the city and country we know today.