Son of King Thammaraja, who held the Thai throne on Burmese sufferance, the nine-year-old Naresuan had been taken hostage to Burma right after Ayutthaya’s fall. Under the personal tutelage of Ayutthaya’s conqueror, King Burengnong, Naresuan learned martial arts and was produced heir to the Thai throne in the erroneous belief that his Burmese sojourn and instruction had made him a pliable Burmese puppet.
Returning to Ayutthaya at the age of sixteen, Naresuan raised his own army. He reorganized northern Thai defences and blocked sporadic Cambodian raids from the east. Equally nicely versed in traditional warfare from elephant back or classical guerilla warfare, prepared to use foreign mercenaries, Naresuan patiently bided his time till 1584 when he proclaimed Thai independence and defeated the newly-crowned Burmese monarch, King Nanda Bayin.
In 1590, King Thammaraja died and Naresuan succeeded him, ruthlessly arresting 5 full-scale Burmese invasions for the duration of the subsequent 3 years. In the course of the 1592 invasion, Naresuan fought and killed the Burmese Crown Prince in single-handed combat on elephants. Following an intensive 1599 Thai campaign, their empire fragmented, and for several years the Burmese have been as well weak to seriously trouble the Thais. By the time of his death in 1605, Naresuan had consolidated the Thai kingdom, guaranteeing it crucial security for the next 160 years, no enemy would threaten Ayutthaya’s city walls.
The subsequent 50 years saw the rising presence of foreign traders and missionaries that created Ayutthaya, by the time of its zenith in the 1650s, a truly cosmopolitan city.The Chinese, Japanese, French, Dutch, Spanish, English and Portuguese traders had their own enclaves and Ayutthaya’s population exceeded London’s.
In 1608, responding to Dutch trading initiatives, Naresuan’s successor, his brother King Ekatotsarot, sent the first Thai embassy to the Hague. Their seven-month voyage aboard a Dutch vessel resulted in the initial recorded look of Thais in Europe. Other European traders arrived in subsequent years, and in 1621 formal trade was established with Japan, which paid silver bullion and copper for Thai teak, tin, deer-skin, sandalwood, sugar, coconut oil and other commodities.
In spite of border conflicts, palace intrigues and an aborted 1632 court uprising that resulted in the massacre of Japanese palace guards (and subsequent susperision of Thai-Japanese relations for more than 200 years), the first half of the 17th century saw gradual consolidation of the peace developed by Naresuan’s military campaigns. Trade developed with other countries, the Thais employing a method of royal monopolies to conserve natural sources and closely monitor foreign trade.
Ayutthaya’s pre-eminence occurred throughout the reign of King Narai (1656.1688). Right after seizing the throne from his nephew, King Narai produced complete use of his royal prerogatives to exercising strict handle over foreign traders. Not caring to participate straight in trade, the Thais had permitted manage of commerce to fall into the hands of foreigners, specifically industrious Chinese immigrants. Understandably wishing to remain masters in their personal property, Thai leaders felt compelled to regulate the conduct of trade. Thereafter, the Thai Treasury levied taxes on imports and legally held options on all foreign cargoes which they could buy cheaply and later sell at a profit. The Crown also controlled certain export things such as rice, ivory, hides and sandalwood.