Dating back to the early 15th century, Bangkok, Thailand was then being governed by Ayutthaya. The strategic position of the city was helpful since it was positioned on the Chao Phraya River. King Taksin took over after the fall of Ayutthaya and established the new capital of Thonburi on the west bank of the river. King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, in 1782, moved the capital over to the eastern bank when he took over reign. The city pillar was erected on April 21st of that year and marked the beginning of the Rattanakosin Era.
Bangkok has experienced countless changes and has survived many coups and even Allied bombing during World War II. One of the main changes took place when a waterway was excavated and changed the flow of the river, which made the western part of the city somewhat of an island. It is believed that this change could have been an intricate happening that caused the town to be named Bang Ko, which means island village. Royal chronicles mention that Maha Chakkraphat called the city Thonburi Si Mahasamut and that Bangkok was possibly a nickname later adopted al a more popular name.
Maritime trade on the Chao Phraya River was at an all time high during the 1600s. Military presence increased because of the position in regard to the waterways. An increase in French presence occurred in the late part of the century when General Desfarges arrived with the French embassy. He asked King Narai for permission to establish troops. A resentment rose from the Siamese military leaders and a revolution took place. Phetracha, a Siamese nobleman, led 40,000 troops to overthrow King Narai and the French troops eventually had to retreat.
Ayutthaya was annihilated by Burmese troops in 1767and fell victim to other rulers who wanted the kingdom. A general who defended Ayutthaya became the strongest of all and declared himself king of the area. He was the governor of Tak, Phraya Tak, and was well known as King Taksin.
The king was a smart general and extended the city all the way to the Bangkok Noi Canal. He built new city walls for protection and dug a moat around it to ensure safety. Wat Arun was built as a palace, the king’s residence.
By 1782, a coup rose up and General Chao Phraya Chakri named himself to be king over the region. He was also known as Buddha Yadfa Chulaloke or King Rama I.
Rama I was responsible for moving the capital to the more strategic side of the river and built the Grand Palace and the Front Palace. He also built royal stables, a military prison, and the royal courts of justice.
With the Burmese threat still hanging over the head of the region, military watchfulness was most important. Although poorly planned, the city continued to grow and be restored as the precious architectural structures began to age. More canals were excavated and transportation modes were put in place.
Many people settled outside the city walls and an ethnic melting pot was formed. Chinese, Portuguese, French, Japanese and people of various other cultures began to migrate in. The Chinese were successful in their markets and commerce began to boom for them.
In the 1800s, Rama IV, King Mongkut reigned and was not opposed to Western ideals. However, colonialism was staring him down and he signed the Bowring Treaty in 1855. This was a trade agreement between Siam and the UK which freed foreign trade in Siam. Sir John Bowring, who was Governor of Hong Kong and Britain’s envoy insisted on the opening of the trade in this region. The treaty also allowed the British to own land in Siam, stopped heavy taxing of foreign trade, and gave consent to a British consulate.
When King Mongkhut’s son, Chulalongkorn came along, modernization took a leap. He abolished slavery, generated a professional army, and centralized bureaucracy. Many changes were made under his reign. National borders were set up between Britain and France. The introduction of electricity into the palaces and government offices was phenomenal and telegraph offices were opened in the city. Architectural wonders were commissioned and the more contemporary buildings came into play. Western concepts were further embraced and the city began to explode.
In the early 1900s, residential districts became more defined. Absolute monarchy was dissolved in 1932 and has many power struggles in recent times. The Don Mueang International Airport was built and Bangkok became an R & R station for American military troops. This was one of the main motivations for the beginning of the sex trade and tourism in Bangkok.
The 1980s and 1990s were still bustling times for the city but it waned substantially during the 1997 Asian financial crisis. With the escalation of public issues and social problems, pressure on the core of the city was evident. Bangkok is as famous for its traffic problems as it is for its sex trade. This is evident of explosive growth and poor proper planning in this area.
Many anti-government protests have been demonstrated. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration governs the city and with a governor and several supportive offices.
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