King Taksin's Multifarious Performances
Law and Administration of Justice


The country was at war all through King Taksin's reign, so there was barely time to revise laws and court regulations for judging legal cases. Laws from Ayutthaya times continued to be used in this period. The Department of the Palace Affairs or the Ministry of the Royal Household had the responsibility of deciding in which court a case should be tried and sent it accordingly.

However in this reign, King Taksin held the military court very frequently. In passing judgment, though the king handed down the severest sentence, he would have the convict punished in stages, starting with the lightest punishment.

In several cases, it seemed that those who committed serious offenses were spared heavy punishment by being assigned to other activities for atonement.

Royal Trade with Foreigners


The Thon Buri period is considered a golden age for foreign relations for both Royalty and civilians. King Taksin was very much interested in foreign trade because he viewed it as a venue to increase the country's income. The profits also help alleviate the tax burden on his people. Many royal galleons were thus sent out for international commerce creating economic stability for nation.

Trade with China

Throughout King Taksin's reign, Chinese ships sailed for trade with Thon Buri. Royal galleons were also sent to China, which was considered the most important trading partner.

Commercial relations between Thon Buri and China started with rice trading and later included local goods from the Taechew Clan such as ceremic wares, silk, pickled fruits and woven mats. On the return journey, the Chinese would load their ships with local Thai goods such as rice, spices, wood, tin and lead.

The record dating from 1777, the Tai Cheng dynasty in the forty-second year of Emperor Chien Lung's reign, states: "Important goods from Thailand are amber, gold, colored rocks, good nuggets, gold dust, semi-precious stones, and hard lead."

Trade with Portugal

In the Thon Buri period, there were some trade with the Portuguese. Thai galleons travelled to Portuguese colony of Surat, in the Goa district of India. However, formal diplomatic relations were not formed.

Trade with Britain

Thon Buri's most important arms trading partner was Great Britain, whose center of operation was India. In the year 1776, Francis Light or Captain Lehk sent 1,400 flintlock guns along with other goods as gifts to King Taksin. Later, Thon Buri ordered some guns from England.

Royal letters were exchanged and in 1777, George Stratton, the Viceroy of Madras, sent a gold scrabbard decorated with gems to King Taksin.

Trade with Holland

In 1770, natives of Tranganu and Jakarta presented King Taksin with 2,200 shotguns. At that time, Holland controlled the Java Islands.

Foreign Affairs


In the reign of King Taksin, Relations with foreign countries were as follows:


When Ayutthaya fell to Burma in 1767, Cambodia, a Thai vassal state from Ayutthaya times, asserted its independence. Several expeditions had been sent to take Cambodia. In 1781 the king wanted to categorically annex Cambodia. His wish had not been realized when the reign came to an arrupt end.


Relations between King Taksin and the Ching Dynasty can be divided into three periods according to time and situation:

1767-1770 : The Ching Dynasty refused to accept King Taksin's sovereignty due to a false report from Morsuelun of Bantaimat.

1770-1771 : The Ching Dynasty began to realize that Morsuelun's report was false and began to change its attitude towards King Taksin.

1771-1772 : King Taksin's envoy was warmly received and given special support by the Ching court.


Thai and Vietnamese relations in the Thon Buri period could be divided into two stages. In the first stage Vietnam cultivated friendship with Thailand because it believed the Thais could help settle its internal problems. Later when Thailand had differences with Vietnam regarding Cambodia, relations between the two countries became so strained towards the end of the reign that they almost came to war.

Nakhon Si Thammarat

After taking Nakhon Si Thammarat in 1769, King Taksin gave the administration back to the local authorities. He raised it to the status of a vassal state. Its governor held the rank of Chao Nakhon Si Thammarat, the equivalent of a king. The vassal state and Thon Buri were on very good terms throughout the reign.


During the first ten years of the Thon Buri period, Thailand and Burma were at war eight times. It can be said that Burma was Thon Buri sworn enemy.

Malay States

Major Malay provinces, namely Pattani, Sai Buri, Peris, Kelantan, and Trengganu had been Thai vassal states since the days of Sukhothai. When Ayutthaya fell, these states became independent. As King Taksin was occupied with the war against Burma and the revival of the country, the Malay states were left free from Thai influence until the end of the reign.


Major Lanna states, namely Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun, Phrae, and Nan, governed themselves with their own princes. They were important strategically for both Thailand and Burma that the two nations vied for control these territories since Ayutthaya times.


At the time, Laos consisted of three states :- Luang Phrabang, Vientiane, and Champsak. King Taksin exerted his influence over Laos twice. Troops were sent in 1776 to take Champasak, Khong and Attapeu. It also succeeded in persuading Cambodian jungle towns of Talung, Surin, Sangkla, and Khukhan to acknowledge Thai sovereignty. Thus the whole of southern Laos came under Thai influence. A second expedition was sent in 1778 to take Vientiane. The Emerald Buddha and the Phra Bang were brought to Thon Buri. Luang Phrabang, which had conflicts with Vientiane, also pledged loyalty to the Thai monarch. Laos, therefore, became a Thai vassal state until the end of the reign.



Thon Buri was governed along the same line as Ayutthaya and the administration of the country was divided into three parts:

Central Administration

This was under the responsibility of ministers of the four departments that dealt with civic, palace, financial, and agricultural affairs.

Provincial Administration

Provinces in the kingdom were administered in two levels: those that were governed by central officials of the phraya rank and those that were vassal states.

Manpower or Phrai

Control of manpower, or phrai, was central to the administration of the country. The phrai system broke down when Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese. Titled officials took the opportunity to pass phrai luang (the king's soldiers) off as their own men, depriving the country of labor and tax. King Taksin therefore, had the phrai system revived. He ordered that all phrai luang and phrai som (fresh recruits) have their wrist tattooed. This was the first time that men in every division and department were required to be tattooed.

Religious Affairs

It should be noted that though the country was at war most of the time, King Taksin did not neglect his obligations regarding religious affairs. He was determined to restore Buddhism to its former glory from Ayutthaya times.

Reorganization of Monastic Order

As soon as he established Thon Buri as the capital, the king had the monastic order reorganized. Moreover, when he went north to suppress the Phra Fang faction, he could see that monks in the north were lax and undisciplined. He invited ecclesiastical dignitaries from the capital to teach those monks and brought them back in line with the main teachings of Buddhism.

Manuscripts of Buddhist Sacred Writings

The king assiduously searched for manuscripts of the Tripitaka (collection of Buddhist sacred writings) that survived the fall of the capital to be copied and compiled as the royal version for the new capital. When he went to suppress the Chao Nakhon Si Thammarat faction in 1769, the king asked for a loan of the Tripitaka and had it transported by boat to be copied in Thon Buri. The following year when he went to Uttaradit to suppress Phra Fang faction, another version of the Tripitaka was brought to Thon Buri to be compared with that from Nakhon Si Thammarat, which was most useful in the revision of the Tripitaka in the next reign.

Reception of the Emerald Buddha

When Vientiane was captured, the Emerald Buddha and the Phra Bang were brought to Thon Buri. The king ordered a grand procession of 246 boats to welcome them with himself at the head of the procession. They were enshrined at Wat Arun Ratchawararam, (the temple of Dawn) and the Emerald Buddha has since become the nation's holy symbol.

Restoration of Temples

The king spent a large part of his own money restoring several monasteries and made them royal temples, such as Wat Intharam, Wat Hong Ratanaram, and Wat Arun Ratchawaram.

Promulgation of Monastic Discipline

In 1773 KingTaksin promulgated a law on monastic daily routine in accordance with the Doctrine and the Discipline, this is considered the first Thai law concerning monks. Moreover, the king used Buddhist concepts as the basis for setting up social order at the time.

Literature and Fine Arts

Literary Works

King Taksin's main mission was to unify the country and build a new capital. He therefore did not have enough time to fully revive literature. There are not many literary works from this period but a few that exist are of great value.

Dances and Drama

King Taksin was also interested in other branches of art, including dance and drama. There is evidence that when he went to suppress the Chao Nakhon Si Thammarat faction in 1769, he brought back Chao Nakhon's female dancers. Together with dancers that he had assembled from other places, they trained and set up a royal troupe in Thon Buri on the Ayutthaya model. The King wrote four episodes from the Ramakian for the royal troupe to rehearse and perform.

Arts and Crafts

The most important work of art of the Thon Buri period is an illustrated manuscript book on the three worlds: Buddha's, Heaven and Hell. The King had it drawn up in 1776, following the content of ancient religious beliefs written in Thai old script called Tri Poom. It can be considered one of the biggest illustrated manuscript books in Thailand. When unfolded, the book is 34.72 meters long. There are paintings in color on both sides of the sheet done by four artists. At present the book is kept at the National Library, Tha Wasuki, Bangkok.


King Taksin realized that there were very few craftsmen left in Thon Buri. He gathered skilled workmen together and revived all the arts and crafts, such as boat building, construction, decorating, and painting. Since these men were new apprentices and there was little time due to war, it is hard to find works of fine craftsmanship in this period. However, there are few exceptional pieces, among them the following:

King Taksin's bed : located at Wat Intharam in Thon Buri.

A seat for meditation : located in the small wihara in front of the Prang of the temple of Dawn, in Thon Buri. A black and gold lacquered cabinet : with the year indicating that it was made in Thon Buri period, located in the Vajirayan section of the National Library, Tha Wasukri, Bangkok.
Phra Racha Wang Derm : the Throne hall that King Taksin used when he administered affairs of state. It is in the compound of the present headquarters of the Royal Thai Navy, near Temple of Dawn.

Economic and Social Welfare


Problem of Famine

When King Taksin established Thon Buri as his capital, people were living in abject poverty, food and clothing were scarce. The king was well aware of the plight of his subjects. He therefore considered solving economic problems the main priority. He paid high price for rice with his own money to induce foreign traders to bring in adequate amount of basic necessities to satisfy the need of the people. He then distributed rice and clothing to all his starving subjects without exception. People that had been dispersed came back to their homes. Normalcy was restored. The economy of the country gradually recovered.

Transportation and Communication

King Taksin had roads built during the cool season,which was free of war to facillitate travel, transportation of goods and communication. The King also promoted water transportation by speeding up the digging of a canal, Khlong Tha Kham, to provide facilities for cargo boats and naval vessels.

Sea Trade

After peace returned to the country, the king devoted his attention to reviving sea trade with foreign nations for revenues from boat taxes, tariffs and customs duties. The income was used in developing the country and help relieve the burden of tax on the people to a large extent.

Thon Buri Money


In the Thon Buri period, bullet coins or Pod Duang were made from pure silver and were of the same weight and value as those of the Pre Sukhothai, Sukhothai and Ayutthaya period. The coins remained in use up to the reign of King Rama IV in the Rattanakosin period. The enblem of the current reign was stamped in front and the symbol of sovereignty, the Chakra, the representation of the God Narai of the Brahmin Sect, was stamped on top of the coin.

The Thon Buri bullet coins carried King Taksin's royal emblem which was the Trisul or Tri, a trident which was the weapon of the God Issawara and Tawiwuth-a two pronged fork framed by a cordial shape. The symbol of power of that period was still the Chakra.

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