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Learning Siam'S Politics: The Case Of King Prasatthong

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Chapter Summary

King Prasatthong’s rise to power and his struggle to maintain it, which was not entirely a unique case for Ayutthaya’s history, significantly gave the Dutch a basic understanding of the political culture and reality of the Siamese court. This chapter shows that arbitrary use of power and the urge to exert control were two sides of the same coin when Prasatthong exercised his absolute power. Van Vliet stigmatized King Prasatthong as the epitome of a distorter of Siamese law. The chapter attempts to show only what the Dutch understood to be the nature of the power struggle in Siam. The Dutch were familiar with the problems of the ‘unstable’ relationships between Siam and its vassals, since they were sometimes asked to assist Ayutthaya in this matter. In their writings, Van Nijenrode, Schouten, and Van Vliet give the impression of the absolute power of the Siamese ruler over his servants.

Keywords: absolute power; Ayutthaya; Dutch Company; king Prasatthong; Schouten; Siamese court; Van Vliet; vassal rebellion



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