King Naresuan Day in Thailand Date in the current year: April 25, 2024

King Naresuan Day in Thailand King Naresuan Day (Wan Somdet Phra Naresuan Maharat) is an official observance in Thailand held on April 25 each year. It is dedicated to Naresuan the Great, also known as Sanphet II, who is famous for freeing Siam from the vassalage of the Taungoo Empire. He is one of the most revered monarchs of Thailand.

Naresuan was the 18th monarch of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and the 2nd monarch of the Sukhotay dynasty, founded by his father Maha Thammarachathirat (Sanphet I). He was born in 1555 to the then king of Phitsanulok and his queen consort. When Naresuan was still a boy, Phitsanulok and Ayutthaya were conquered by the Burmese king Bayinnaung, and Thailand became a Burmese tributary state.

Bayinnaung requested that Maha Thammarachathirat send his sons, Naresuan (the Black Prince) and Ekathotsarot (the White Prince), to the Burmese capital of Bago as royal hostages to ensure the king’s loyalty. While in Bago, Naresuan received excellent education and military training.

Following the Burmese–Siamese War of 1568–1569, Bayinnaung installed Maha Thammarachathirat as a vassal king of Ayutthaya, and the princes were allowed to return home after six years spend in Burma. Maha Thammarachathirat made his eldest son, who was only 15 years of age then, the ruler of Phitsanulok.

Naresuan successfully defended Phitsanulok from Cambodia, and he and his father spent several years strengthening the capital and northern cities, as well as re-equipping their troops. After the death of king Bayinnaung, they announced the end of Ayutthaya’s vassalage. Nanda Baying, Bayinnaung’s son and successor, attacked Ayutthaya, but failed to reconquer it due to an aggressive defense of Naresuan.

Following his father’s death in 1590, Naresuan, who had been the de facto ruler of Ayutthaya for some time at this point, was crowned as Sanphet II. After defeating the invading Burmese army once more, he launched a counteroffensive and conquered Martaban, Tavoy and Tenasserim. Then he invaded and conquered Cambodia, forcing the royal family to flee to Laos.

Thanks to Naresuan’s conquests, Ayutthaya became a large and prosperous kingdom, whose sphere of influence stretched from Islamic states in the Malay Peninsula, Andaman Sea ports (present-day India) and the Angkor Kingdom (Cambodia), to northern Siam. In addition, Naresuan was the first king of Siam to establish trading relations with Europe: in 1598, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya began to trade with Spain.

Naresuan died on April 25, 1605, during a war with Burma. He is generally thought to have died of an infection, most probably smallpox. Since the king had no issue, he was succeeded by his brother Ekathotsarot, who was crowned as Sanphet III. Instead of new conquests, Sanphet III focused on preserving the lands that had been conquered by Naresuan.

King Naresuan Day was established by the government of Thailand in November 2005 and has been celebrated every year since. It is marked by a state ceremony. Another holiday adopted in King Naresuan’s honor is Royal Thai Armed Forces Day (January 18). It commemorates Naresuan’s glorious victory in an elephant duel against the viceroy of Burma.

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King Naresuan Day in Thailand, holidays in Thailand, anniversaries, King Naresuan of Ayutthaya