Raised as Chim, the eldest son of Rama I was given the title Prince Isarasundhorn of Siam after his father crowned himself King in 1782. In 1809, when Prince Isarasundhorn succeeded his father to throne, he was referred to as ‘Phan Din Klang', meaning 'the Middle Kingdom' (following on from his father who was referred to as ‘Phan Din Ton', meaning ‘The First Kingdom'). The royal name of Buddha Loetla Nabhalai was bestowed upon him posthumously by his son.
Unlike his father, the new King was not an aggressive military campaigner, his interests being centered on the arts, which grew and flourished during his reign. The Burmese took advantage of this fact and, in 1809, 10,000 Burmese troops attacked Southern Siam, capturing Champorn and Thalang (Phuket). The invasion devastated the area and caused many of the local villagers to flee. Armed forces from Bangkok arrived in time to repel further onslaughts and Burma's later capitulation to the British ensured that there would be no further Burmese invasions into the Kingdom.
Despite this and other battles concerning Vietnam and Cambodia, King Rama II's reign may be regarded as one of relative peace. It was a period of consolidation in which the people of Siam could pause and reflect upon the hectic changes and achievements of the previous reign.
A devout Buddhist, King Rama II oversaw the construction of many Buddhist temples including Wat Arun (the Temple of the Dawn in Bangkok) and actively promoted moral behavior, even issuing a royal decree stipulating that anyone caught gambling would suffer very severe punishment.
The King recognized the need to strengthen the nation's cultural identity, believing that it was important for the people in order for them to retain their freedom.
Rama II was a skilled composer and musician, he was also a renowned poet and writer and patron to a number of poets in his court. His reign is therefore known as the ‘Golden Age of Rattanakosin Literature'.
King Rama II died in 1824 aged 58.
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Article written by Christine Oatley.
Asia Products LLC Thailand Discovery Pages provides articles a variety of topics including current events, politics, and travel ideas for learning about Thailand. Asia Products LLC also offers an e-commerce store selling Thailand products on http://www.asiaproductsllc.com. He is documenting some of his more interesting travels in his Thailand Travel Pages website : http://www.apllc-connect.com.