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Observing King Narai'S Widening World

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Chapter Summary

Having disposed of his opponents in the conflicts of succession of 1656 and 1657, for much of his thirty-two-year reign, King Narai was occupied with attempts to maintain his hegemony over the vassal states and to expand his territories. This chapter shows how the Dutch learnt to deal with the new reign, the ruler, and his servants and how they tackled the new elements at the court, namely the French and Phaulkon. It investigates Dutch understanding of the expanding ‘worlds’ of the King, in terms of a search for diplomatic glory, material and intellectual curiosities, and their own attempts to make use of that insight. At the end of King Prasatthong’s reign, the politics of Ayutthaya faced a situation in which the chao were strong and the khunnang were weak. The growing number of foreign contacts which King Narai had made reduced the dependency of Siam on the Dutch Company.

Keywords: Ayutthaya; conflicts of succession of 1656; Constantine Phaulkon; diplomatic glory; Dutch Company; foreign trade; king Narai; king Prasatthong; material culture; Siam



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