Chulalongkorn Day in Thailand

king rama v 1 246x300 Chulalongkorn Day in ThailandToday is Chulalongkorn Day in Thailand. A celebration of the life of King Chulalongkorn, also known as King Rama V. October 23 marks the day of his death.

Most westerners will recognize King Chulalongkorn as the boy king depicted in the movie and musical The King and I.

King Chulalongkorn is one of Thailand’s most revered and important kings. During his reign from 1868 to 1910 he brought many reforms to Thailand that helped to modernize the country.

Born on September 20, 1853 he ascended the throne in 1868 at the age of 15 and reigned for 42 years until his death in 1910.

Ushering in a new age for Thailand he was very interested in the West and learned much of the western governments and politics while extending friendship to such countries as America, Great Britain, France, and Russia. King Chulalongkorn was the first Thai King to travel extensively, visiting neighboring countries often and Europe two times.

king rama v 2 206x300 Chulalongkorn Day in ThailandOf his many reforms while King the most important was the abolition of slavery. As he took the throne over 1/3 of the Thai population at the time were slaves. Slavery was for life and the children of slaves were also slaves which kept the slave population growing.

A Thai could buy their way out of slavery but the price was excessive and for the most part beyond the slaves means to pay, making them a slave for life.

On August 21st 1874 King Chulalongkorn issued the Royal Slave Ablation Act which was the beginning of the end for slavery in Thailand. The act allowed for children born of slaves in or after 1868, the year of his coronation, had the right to reduce their slave price every year and by the time they were 21 if they had not already bought their freedom they would be freed. The Act also fixed the price of a slave to be half as much as it was originally. All other slaves were to have their debt lowered to 1 baht a month until they had their freedom.

The act sought to prohibit children being born into slavery and slave trading in general.

king rama v 300x199 Chulalongkorn Day in ThailandAmong his other accomplishments King Chulalongkorn established a much broader political system of ministries, expanded the national railway system, established mail and telegraph services, and Began a system of public utilities with emphasis on education and health.

King Chulaongkorn is one of the most honored Thai kings to ever live. His picture can be found in every Thai house and it is widely belevied that paying respect to him will bring prosperity and good luck.

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9 Responses to Chulalongkorn Day in Thailand
  1. Jacqueline
    October 23, 2008 | 5:30 am

    Wow, I see why he is considered such a Great King. There should be a huge celebration in his honor at least three times a year. :-)

    Jacquelines last blog post..Sneak Peek 2009 Front Cover

  2. fragileheart
    October 23, 2008 | 4:37 pm

    I have yet to see the musical/movie The King and I but this makes me want to. Thanks Talen.

    fragilehearts last blog post..I’m a (Black)berry happy girl!

  3. Fren
    October 25, 2008 | 5:46 am

    Thanks for the info. It is very interesting!

    Frens last blog post..Firework

  4. The Fitness Diva
    October 25, 2008 | 2:22 pm

    Wow. Great and informative article. It’s always good to know where something you know from pop culture originated from. I must have seen that movie dozens of times from when I was a child. Never knew that there was a real story and person behind it!

    The Fitness Divas last blog post..Whose Fault is it When A Child Becomes Obese?

    • Talen
      October 25, 2008 | 11:59 pm

      Yes, the story is true from the standpoint that there was an Anna ( Anna Leonowens ) who was a British Governess to the King and his brothers from 1862-1867. But much of the story is misleading or false.

      This would make a great subject for a post.

  5. Daryl
    October 25, 2008 | 10:25 pm

    Excellent read. What made him determined to end slavery; particularly since when he ascended to the throne it was just a given fact of everyday life?

    Daryls last blog post..It Happens To Cartoonist Also

    • Talen
      October 25, 2008 | 11:56 pm

      All of his reforms were meant to break the old establishment. Although he was King at age 15 the prime minister was King Regent and made most decisions. When he was 20 he became the full King. Even so the Monarchy was pretty much run by the ruling elite families of the day.

      By making reforms such as mandating education for all and abolishing slavery in steps he solidified his power with the people.

  6. iWalk
    October 28, 2008 | 12:28 pm

    I knew his story from that movie.

    I also read some information about real King Chulalongkorn in history, many different from the movie story.

    I think he is a very very great king!

    I love that music too.

    iWalks last blog post..The Secrets Of JinMa BiJi Archways

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