Chulalongkorn Day (Piyamaharaj Day in Thai)

Chulalongkorn Day (Piyamaharaj Day in Thai) the day to pay the homage to King Chulalongkorn, on 23rd October every year.
King Chulalongkorn
( | Press Release | 2016-10-23 08:40:59 )
King Chulalongkorn the Great (or Rama V) was the fifth monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri. He was born on September, 20, 1853 to King Mongkut and Queen Diebsirindra and given name Chulalongkorn in 1861.

In 1867, King Mongkut led an expedition to the Malay Peninsula south of the city of Hua Hin, to verify his calculations of the solar eclipse of 18 August 1868. King Mongkut fell ill of malaria. King Mongkut died on 1 October 1868. King Mongkut on his deathbed wrote, "My brother, my son, my grandson, whoever you all the senior officials think will be able to save our country will succeed my throne, choose at your own will." Si Suriyawongse, the most powerful government official of the day, managed the succession of Chulalongkorn to the throne and his own appointment as regent. The coronation was held on 11 November 1868. Chulalongkorn was tutored in public affairs, traveled to India (then under the British Raj) and Java (then under Dutch colonial rule) to observe the workings of modern public administration. He was crowned king in his own right as Rama V on 16 November 1873.

His reign was characterized by the modernization of Siam, governmental and social reforms, and territorial concessions to the British and French. As Siam was threatened by Western expansionism, Chulalongkorn, through his policies and acts, managed to save Siam from colonisation. All his reforms were dedicated to ensuring Siam's survival in the face of Western colonialism, so that Chulalongkorn earned the epithet Phra Piya Maharat, the Great Beloved King.

Siam's reformation by King Chulalongkorn the Great. Siam had been composed of a network of cities according to the Mandala system codified by King Trailokanat in 1454, with local rulers owing tribute to Bangkok. Each city retained a substantial degree of autonomy, as Siam was not a "state" but a "network" of city-states. With the rise of European colonialism, the Western concept of state and territorial division was introduced. It had to define explicitly which lands were "Siamese" and which lands were "foreign". The conflict with the French in 1893 was an example.

Sukhaphiban districts was the first sub-autonomous entities in Thailand. Monthon system was introduced in 1897. This system composed of province, city, amphoe, tambon and muban, in descending order.

He was death on October 23 1910. He is regraded as one of the greatest kings of Siam.

Abolition of corvée and slavery

In history of Siam, All Siamese common men (phrai in Thai) were subject to the Siamese corvée system. Each man at the time of his majority had to register with a government bureau, department, or leading member of the royalty called krom as a Phrai Luang or under a nobleman's master (Moon Nai or Chao Khun Moon Nai in Thai) as a Phrai Som . Phrai owed service to sovereign or master for three months of the year. Phrai Suay were those who could make payment in kind (cattle) in lieu of service. Those conscripted into military service were called Phrai Tahan.

Chulalongkorn was best known for his abolition of Siamese slavery (ทาส.) He associated the abolition of slavery in the United States with the bloodshed of the American Civil War. Chulalongkorn, to prevent such a bloodbath in Siam, provided several steps towards the abolition of slavery, not an extreme turning point from servitude to total freedom. Those who found themselves unable to live on their own sold themselves into slavery by rich noblemen. Likewise, when a debt was defaulted, the borrower would become a slave of the lender. If the debt was redeemed, the slave regained freedom.
However, those whose parents were household slaves (tas nai reuan beay) were bound to be slaves forever because their redemption price was extremely high.

Because of economic conditions, people sold themselves into slavery in great numbers and in turn they produced a large number of household slaves. In 1867 they accounted for one-third of Siamese population. In 1874, Chulalongkorn enacted a law that lowered the redemption price of household slaves born in 1867 (his ascension year) and freed all of them when they had reached 21.

The newly-freed slaves would have time to settle themselves as farmers or merchants so they would not become unemployed. In 1905, the Slave Abolition Act ended Siamese slavery in all forms. The reverse of 100 baht banknotes in circulation since the 2005 centennial depict Chulalongkorn in navy uniform abolishing the slave tradition.

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