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Chapter Summary

This study of the interactions between the VOC employees and the members of the court of Ayutthaya shows how over the years 'fixed Dutch/European categories' of the Siamese court elite were created. The Dutch perceptions of the Siamese court in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries generally agreed with contemporary European views of the 'absolute power' of the Siamese king and the 'splendour' of his court, which both in Dutch/European and in Thai terms served to manifest his power. Dutch understanding of the power relations among the Siamese elite did not always help them out. Without denying the significance of the awareness of cultural differences, this study shows that, for the VOC merchants, it was often rather their work situation—living in Siam and negotiating with its court—than their intellectual convictions which gave them grounds to criticize the Siamese.

Keywords: court of Ayutthaya; Dutch perceptions; eighteenth century; European views; Siamese court; VOC employees



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