[ Rama V ] 1868 -1910
Also known as Phra Chula Chomklao Chaoyuhua, and the eldest
son of King Rama IV, he was born
in Bangkok on September 20, 1853 and was crowned King
on October 1, 1868, following the death of his father.
The first few years of his reign were under a regency.
King Chulalongkorn is perhaps the most revered of all
the Chakri Kings--during his
long reign of 42 years 23 days great advances were achieved
for the country.
The King actively pursued a policy of
"modernizing" the country and had a number of
Europeans in his service to oversee such projects as the
building of the first railway in Thailand.
He himself made two visits to Europe, one in 1897 and
another in 1907, during which he became acquainted with
most of the rulers of Europe. Bonds of friendship between
himself and the various European royal families were formed
which exist to the present day. Not only was he the first
Thai king to travel abroad [ he made several visits to
the Straits Settlements, the Malay States and the Dutch
East Indies ] but he also sent his sons to study in Europe
[ to school in England and later for military training
to Denmark, Germany and Russia ].
He successfully managed to cultivate
the idea of Siam as a buffer state between the colonial
possessions of the European powers in South-East Asia.
The price he paid of losing certain border territories
was amply rewarded, for Siam was never colonized - the
only country in the region to maintain its sovereignty
throughout the period of colonial expansionism. Much beloved
by his people he died on October 23, 1910.