Chulalongkorn Biography

(Former King of Siam (1868 - 1910))

Birthday: September 20, 1853 (Virgo)

Born In: Bangkok, Thailand

Chulalongkorn, also known as Phrachunlachomklao and Rama V, was the fifth king of Siam under the House of Chakri from 1868 to 1910. He was the son of King Mongkut and Queen Debsirindra. As the king, he endorsed a series of reforms, starting with the abolition of slavery, establishment of a modern army, and improvement of judicial and financial institutions. Chulalongkorn laid the foundation of contemporary Thai citizenship via obligatory primary education. He also managed to save his kingdom from western colonialism. All his enthusiastic reforms garnered him great respect and earned him the title of ‘Phra Piya Maharat’ aka the great beloved king. As a young prince, Chulalongkorn visited several countries, including Singapore, Burma, and British India and his traveling experiences eventually formed the base for his ideas related to modernization and centralization reforms. On a personal note, he had several wives and concubines, and fathered 77 children. He became the first Siamese king to send royal princes to be educated in Europe and the first monarch to visit Europe to manage foreign affairs. The great king died of kidney disease in 1910, at the age of 57. He was succeeded by his son Vajiravudh or Rama VI.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: King Rama V

Died At Age: 57


father: Mongkut (Rama IV)

mother: Debsirindra

siblings: Anonga Nobakun, Arunvadi, Banchob Benchama, Bhaktra Bimalabarna, Bussabong Berkban, Butsaban Buaphan, Chandrmondol, Charoenkamala Suksavati, Daksinajar, Damrong Rajanubhab, H.R.H. Princess Kheaw, Jayanta Mongkol, Kanchanakara, Kannikakaew, Kanokvanna Lekha, Khaekhaiduang, Manyabhadhorn, Mondha Nobharatana, Nabhabhorn Prabha, Nariratana, Narisara Nuwattiwong, Oradaya Debkanya, Phra Ong Chao Nongkhran Utmadi, Phuttha Pradittha, Praditthasari, Praphai Sisa-at, Praphan Ratsami, Praphatson, Prasansisai, Puangsoi Sa-ang, Samoe Samai Hansa, Saovabha Phongsri, Saowaphakphan, Savang Vadhana, Si Phatthana, Somavadi Srirattanarajadhida, Srinaga Svasti, Sukhumala Marasri, Sunanda Kumariratana, Vani Rattanakanya, Yingyaowalack

children: Abbhantripaja, Abhakara Kiartivongse, Adisaya Suriyabha, Adorndibyanibha, Ajrabarni Rajkanya, Asdang Dejavudh, Bahurada Manimaya, Bandhavanna Varobhas, Benbadhanabongse, Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, Chandra Saradavara, Chirapravati Voradej, Chudadhuj Dharadilok, Chudharatana Rajakumari, Dibyalangkarn, Hemvadi, HRH Prince Dilok Nopparat Khrom Muen Sawanwisai Norabodhi, Isariyabhorn, Kannabhorn Bejaratana, Khajera Chirapradidha, Kitiyakara Voralaksana, Mahidol Adulyadej, Malini Nobhadara, Nabhachara Chamrassri, Nibha Nobhadol, Oraprabandh Rambai, Paribatra Sukhumbandhu, Phongpraphai, Prabha Bannabilaya, Prajadhipok, Pravitra Vadhanodom, Prince Suriyong Prayurabandhu Kromma Muen Chaiyasi Suriyophat, Purachatra Jayakara, Rangsit Prayurasakdi, Raphi Phatthanasak, Sirabhorn Sobhon, Siriraj Kakudhabhand, Sommatiwongse Varodaya, Srivilailaksana, Suchitra Bharani, Suddha Dibyaratana, Tribejrutama Dhamrong, Urubongs Rajsombhoj, Vajiravudh, Vajirunhis, Valaya Alongkorn, Vapi Busbakara, Vimolnaka Nabisi, Yaovabha Bongsanid, Yaovamalaya Narumala, Yugala Dighambara

Born Country: Thailand

Emperors & Kings Thai Men

Died on: October 23, 1910

place of death: Bangkok, Thailand

Cause of Death: Kidney Disease

City: Bangkok, Thailand

Childhood & Early Life
Chulalongkorn was born on 20 September 1853, in Grand Palace, Bangkok, Siam, to King Mongkut and Queen Debsirindra.
In 1866, he became a monk for six months in accordance to royal tradition and was designated Krommakhun Phinit Prachanat upon his return. The following year, he alongside his father fell ill of malaria.
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Chulalongkorn’s father died on 1 October 1868, thus making Chulalongkorn the king. His first coronation took place in November 1868. Two years later, he visited Java and Singapore and later British India to study the administration of British colonies.
On 16 November 1873, Chulalongkorn was crowned as the king of Siam once again.
Major Events during Early Reign
Chulalongkorn’s initial major reform was the establishment of the "Auditory Office" responsible for tax collection. In 1874, he established a Privy Council as his personal advisory board and the Council of State as a legislative body.
From December 1874 to February 1875, he was involved in The Front Palace Crisis alongside his cousin and vice king or Front Palace, Prince Bovorn Vichaichan.
On 28 December 1874, a fire in the Grand Palace broke out which led to an open confrontation between King Chulalongkorn and Vichaichan¸ eventually promoting the latter to escape to the British Consulate.
The crisis was subsequently resolved with the help of the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Andrew Clarke. The title of Front Palace was abolished after Vichaichan's death in 1885.
In 1875, the king sent his army to eliminate the Haw, Chinese of the Taiping Rebellion who had taken refuge at various places including Vientiane.
In 1887, he established the Royal Military Academy. He appointed the Samuha Nayok aka prime minister as the head of the central government to control northern Siam, and the Samuha Kalahom aka grand commander to control southern parts of Siam.
Ministries were created in 1892. Two years later, Chulalongkorn dissolved the council and allotted advisory duties to the cabinet.
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During his early reign, he introduced a western judicial code and abolished the traditional methods of torture. He became the first Siamese monarch to send princes to Europe for studies. His reign also encouraged many writers to publish their works for the first time.
Conflict With French Indochina
In 1863, Cambodia was put under the French protectorate with its cession officially taking place in 1867. However, some parts of inner Cambodia, including Srisopon and Siem Reap, remained in Siamese possession.
In 1888, the French army invaded northern Laos and continued expanding their territories by conquering more Laotian lands.
Siam protested against this cession and this eventually led to the Franco–Siamese War of 1893. The issue was finally resolved with Laos’ cession. However, the French army declined to leave Chantaburi and Trat.
In 1898, Chulalongkorn established the Royal Thai Naval Academy after realizing the importance of maintaining the navy.
In 1906, the French troops would leave Chantaburi but still hold the coast land from Trat to Koh Kong.
Important Reforms
In 1897, Chulalongkorn established the first sub-autonomous entities, Sukhaphiban sanitary districts. That year under his reign, the hierarchical system of monthons was established. The units of this system in descending order were province, city, amphoe, tambon, and muban.
Chulalongkorn abolished Siamese slavery by freeing Siamese slaves and commoners whose lives were closely regulated by the government. This abolishment initially didn’t include people whose parents were household slaves because of the high redemption price.
In 1874, the king enacted a law to lower the redemption cost of household slaves and freed all of them. Then in 1905, the enactment of the Slave Abolition Act ended slavery in all forms.
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In the year 1873, Thailand's public journal, the Royal Siamese Government Gazette published about the abolition of prostration.
In 1901, the first railway from Bangkok to Korat was launched. That year, Siam also opened its first power plant to produce electricity.
Major Events of Later Reign
In 1908, the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn was unveiled to mark the 40th anniversary of his reign. The same year, he established a public sanitary sewer and plumbing system.
In 1909, the king signed the Anglo-Siamese Treaty with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Under the agreement, the four sultanates, including Perlis, Terengganu, Kelantan, and Kedah entered the British sphere of influence in exchange for Siamese legal rights as well as a loan to build railways in southern Siam.
Family & Personal Life
Chulalongkorn had over 100 wives, consorts and concubines. With them, he produced 77 surviving children.
He married four of his paternal half-sisters, including Sunandha, Sukumalmarsri, Saovabha, and Savang Vadhana.
Death & Legacy
On 23 October 1910, Chulalongkorn died of kidney disease in the Dusit Palace. He was 57.
In 1917, Chulalongkorn University, the first university in Thailand, was named after him.
In 1997, a memorial pavilion in Ragunda, Sweden, was raised in his honor.
In 2005, new 100 baht banknotes depicting Chulalongkorn in naval uniform were issued. Also in 2015, 1,000 baht banknotes that depicted the King Chulalongkorn monument and the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall were released.

See the events in life of Chulalongkorn in Chronological Order

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