King Naresuan the Great

One of Thailand’s greatest heroes was King Naresuan, the warrior king. When he was only nine years old, he was handed over to the Burmese as a kind of hostage when his father lost a battle. It was traditional in those days to do this in order to keep the defeated subdued. Young Naresuan spent most of his informative years in Burma where his likeable personality and excellent fighting skills made him a favourite of the Burmese king. However, Naresuan never forgot his Thai roots. When an opportunity arose, he returned to Thailand where he declared independence from the Burmese. After a series of battles the final showdown came in Suphan Buri on January 25th, 1592. King Naresuan, who was sitting atop a war elephant, spotted the Crown Prince of Burma. They had been childhood friends. Both elephants charged towards each other. After several minutes of hand-to-hand combat, the Crown Prince was fatally stabbed with a lance. With their leader dead, the Burmese troops retreated and didn’t return to Thailand for a very long time.

This day is now known as National Armed Forces day and the event is celebrated every year in Don Chedi for just over a week. On Saturday I went up to Suphan Buri to meet Steve and his good wife. He showed us around his fine city and then took us to the fair in nearby Don Chedi. The place was packed with thousands of people. It was much like the temple fair we have here in Samut Prakan every year. Apart from all the food stalls, there were Thai dancing shows, singing, likay and boxing. However, the highlight was certainly the light and sound show which recounted the life of King Naresuan. This culminated with the spectacular elephant battle which you can see in my photograph at the top. It was certainly an impressive event and only cost us 100 baht each ($2.50).

Over the weekend I did visit a few tourist attractions in Suphanburi and I will tell you about these later. Strangely, you won’t find this province mentioned in the Lonely Planet. Yet another oversight as we saw some pretty amazing stuff. However, hats off to Carl Parkes, a regular visitor to our blogs, as we took along his Moon Publications guidebook to Thailand. He had several pages on this province which helped us greatly. Thank you Carl.

9 responses to “King Naresuan the Great

  1. You are welcome, Richard, and I hope those maps of the region weren’t too, too out of date!

  2. Richard Smith

    How beautiful the picture is. A nice history lesson as well. Thanks once again.

  3. scoobyofsuphan-buri

    There is a Thai movie widely available here in Australia called “The Legend of Suryothai” which ends with the famous battle at Don Chedi. I have been told that Suphanburi was once called U Thong ( a town some 30 km’s away). Does anyone know if this is true?

  4. Just writing in regards to scooby-of- suphanburi’s question.

    A couple of thousand years ago the province was originally named ‘Suphanaphum or Phanthumburi.

    After the founding of Wat Pa Ley-lai by King U-Thong 2,000 monks ordained at the temple and the province was renamed Songphanburi (songphan = 2 thousand)

    It was usually during the Ayutthaya era that the province was finally named Suphanburi.

    U-Thong District was named after King U-Thong.

  5. WoW ! Beautiful pic. I am planing to visit Supanuri very soon because I was inspired by my dream. Last February (2006) I dreamed that the army of King Naresuan was marching passed me and some how I saw King Naresuan he was sitting on a mat discussing his fight plans with an invisible lady next to him. In the dream he was wearing his usual clothes in gold colour the whole lot. From then on I keep thinking about him and want to know more about him. So any suggestion?

    By the way, I’m Thai 🙂

  6. For short stay without a car, what should I do in Supanuri?

  7. It must have been a really spectacular show…

    But – did you know, that it was Prince Damrong Rajanubhab, who exactly 80 years ago supposed(!) that the battle had taken place here in Don Chedi? But probably it was near Wat Phu Khao Thong just north of Ayutthaya, that King Naresuan fought against the Burmese Crown Prince, as recent studies discovered.

  8. Very good site. Thanks for author !

  9. OK but what is his birth?
    And when did he died?