Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Lannathai (often short Lanna, english Kingdom of a Million Ricefields) was a kingdom in the north of Thailand around the city of Chiang Mai. It consisted of several partly independent city-states.

It was founded in 1259 by King Mengrai the Great, as the follow-up of the previous Chiengsen kingdom. In 1262 he founded the city Chiang Rai as his capital. He added the southern parts of the kingdom, which is now Lampang and Lamphun, by driving back the Mon and Dvaravati rulers of the Haripunchai kingdom in 1292. He also founded the city of Chiang Mai in 1296, which then became capital of the kingdom.

The golden age of Lanna was in the 15th century. In 1477 the 8th Buddhist council was held near Chiang Mai, which worked on improving the buddhist scriptures. Also the previously independent city-state Nan could be added to the kingdom in 1449.

The decline of the kingdom started in the early 16th century, and became worse after the death of King Phraya Kaeo in 1526. His succession on the throne was fought about, some of the kings were assassinated, others had to abdicate. This political instability invited an invasion from the neighboring Burmese kingdom, and in 1558 Lanna had to surrender and became a vassal of Burma. When the dynasty of Mengrai became extinct in 1578, the Burmese sent their own princes to serve as king of Lanna.

The Thai kings of Ayutthaya tried to capture Lanna several times, as the Burmese posed a threat to their kingdom as well. Even though around 1600 King Naresuan as well as in 1662 King Narai succeeded to occupy Chaing Mai, they were fought back after a short time.

In the early 1700s the Burmese divided the kingdom into a northern part, ruled from Chiangsen, and a southern part ruled from Chiang Mai. The northern part was partically annexed by Burma, while the southern continued to be a vassal state.

After the Burmese destroyed Ayutthaya, King Taksin could not only drive the Burmese out of the land of Ayutthaya, but also out of Lanna. In the night of February 14, 1775 Chiang Mai fell to the Thai army. Prince Kawila, who helped Taksin in his war in the north, became the first king of Lanna under Siamese rulership. In 1877 a Viceroy from Bangkok ruled together with the king, in 1892 it was formally annexed by Siam, and administrated as the Monthon Phayap. The last of the Lannathai kings, Chao Keo Naovarat, never had any administrative power anymore.

The kings of Lannathai