The Protuket: the Thai-Portuguese Catholic Community, From Ayutthaya to Bangkok. A Talk by Miguel Castelo-Branco



Sponsored by the Embassy of Portugal and the Camões,
Institute for Cooperation and Language


The Portuguese are acknowledged as pioneers of Western relations with the Kingdom of Siam, dating back to the early years of the 16th century. The diplomatic alliance began in 1511, when Portugal sent a delegation to Siam during the reign of Rama Thibodi II, who ruled as King of Ayutthaya from 1491 to 1529. The Treaty of Friendship and Commerce, signed in 1518, is taken as the auspicious beginning for this alliance, which this year has been marked by numerous celebrations in both countries, attesting to 500 years of enduring friendship.

After the 1767 sacking of Ayutthaya, King Rama II (of the Rattanakosin period), facilitated the setting up of the first Portuguese consulate by granting land on the side of the Chao Phraya River. Over the centuries, relations between the two countries have grown in strength, particularly after King Chulalongkorn’s first visit to Portugal as part of his 1897 European tour.

Crucially, as well as allowing Portugal to set up a trading post in Ayutthaya, the 1518 Treaty also guaranteed religious freedom for the sizeable Portuguese community. Numerous Catholic churches in Bangkok attest to the legacy of Portuguese-Siamese relations and to the well-integrated nature of Portuguese descendants into Thai society.

Tonight’s lecture aims to offer a general understanding of what was, for over 300 years, a strategically fundamental group in balancing between Ayutthaya, Bangkok and the Western World.

Dr. Miguel Castelo-Branco, a former associate lecturer of Political Science and research fellow in the Instituto do Oriente, has been a senior researcher in the National Library of Portugal since 1991. With a Master's degree in History and Culture obtained at the Nova University of Lisbon, he was granted a scholarship for a PhD from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which led him to undertake extensive research in Thailand, Cambodia, France and Portugal from 2007 to 2010. The results of this research will be published in 2019 under the title of The Portuguese-Siamese relations during the Bangkok Period (1772-1939). Miguel Castelo-Branco is also the author, among others, of The Portuguese in the East (2004), The Portuguese-Siamese Treaty of 1820 (2011), Das Partes do Sião, Portugal-China: 500 years (2014) and The Portuguese in the Persian Gulf (2018).

Date: Thursday, 30 August 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 2018-2019 Lecture Series.