From Ayutthaya to Bangkok: Continuation amid drastic Change. A Talk by Prof. Tongthong Chandransu



The collapse of Ayutthaya in 1767 was the end of a long development process in one of the most prosperous societies in Southeast Asia, and the disruption of countless lives. Onlookers may be saddened by the sight of what remains today of historical Ayutthaya, which testifies to the scale of the disruption, but much of the essence of the Ayutthaya legacy lives on in the new capital of Bangkok. The planning and construction of the new city, and its key edifices, were meant to embody Ayutthaya at the height of its prosperity. A great deal of artistic and architectural works we admire - such as the temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace – reflected the taste and aspiration of survivors of the war, who dwelled in the fallen kingdom. Other aspects of this legacy - from the bureaucratic governance and legal system, to the customs and norms that govern the daily lives of the people - may be less tangible but equally important. For instance, the tradition of Wang Na (leading claimant to the throne), which represents both the position of the heir-apparent and the governing institution that plays an important role in the early period of the Bangkok era. My talk will explore aspects of this legacy and highlight what they represent in the early development of present-day Thai society.

Prof. Tongthong Chandransu holds law degrees from Chulalongkorn University and New York University. In 1980 he was called to the Thai Bar. His teaching career began in 1980 at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Law, where he still lectures.  His thesis for Master’s degree on the royal prerogative of the Thai monarch reflects his interest in adopting an historical approach in the legal analysis of the roles played by the Thai royal institutions over the years, and remains a frequently-cited reference. Aj. Tongthong expanded his responsibilities from the academic setting to include executive roles in several offices in the Thai public sector, including the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the Education Council and the Prime Minister's Office. For the general public, ‘Ajarn Tongthong’ is best known as the author of several books on the modernization of the Thai court, from the reign of King Chulalongkorn onwards. His voice is familiar to many in the Kingdom, as a commentator for the Thai television network on special occasions involving royal ceremonies.

Date: Thursday, 26 July 2018
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Place: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Non-members donation: B200. Siam Society members, members’ spouses and children, and all students showing valid student ID cards are admitted free of charge. For more information, please contact Khun Arunsri or

Office Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00am. – 5:00pm.

The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H.W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the 2017-2018 Lecture Series.