Term Paper: Avoiding Imperialism

1649 words - 7 pages

In the Age of Discovery, many of the dominant European countries set out to explore and take as much land as possible. These Empires competed for land with gold, spices, cloth, anything that is not readily available in normal European countries, and so they conquered many lands, oppressing the natives of that land and claiming ownership. The lands conquered included land in Africa, the middle east, the America's, Philippines, India, and most of Southeast Asia, and some of these countries would remain colonized for a long time, in fact, some even last into the 20th century. Surprisingly enough, one of the countries in Southeast Asia was an exception to colonialism, despite the fact that all the countries around them were colonized, and that country is Thailand, formally known as Siam. Now, what made Thailand an exception to this pattern of conquest? There are many factors, but the three most probable factors that allowed Thailand to remain independent would be: Good open minded policies, Economic and political influences, and finally just plain luck. Before diving further into each of these factors, basic knowledge of Thailand's historical background is necessary.Starting with the earliest known Thai independent state, call Sukhothai or the "Dawn of Happiness" which was established in 1238. In about a century Sukhothai would fall and replaced by the first great Thai city-state of Ayutthaya, which is established in 1350 and lasts till about 1767, and it was one of the biggest cosmopolitan cities in the world. During this time Thailand along with other Southeast Asian countries would make first contact with the Europeans, for Thailand it was the Portugese in 1511, and the Dutch, Britain, French, and Spain soon followed afterward. Each will begin to claim its territory while Thailand would remain untouched, though not completely uninfluenced by these western countries, as they compete in economic trade using political pressure rather than military force. In 1767, after famine, epidemics, and disunity, Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese, fortunately the Burmese had to withdraw soon after because of threats on the Burmese homeland from the north, namely China, leaving a small amount of troops behind. This chance allowed the Thai people to regroup and form the Early Bangkok Empire that lasted from 1767 to 1851 and was followed by King Mongkut and Chulalongkorn from 1851-1910. This covers Thailands history through out the Age of Discovery and into the early 20th century, where the threat of colonization had dropped significantly due to international laws and alliances with different countries. (Colonies did exist; it's just that new colonies were not established)During the Ayutthaya Empire first contact with the foreigners were made. The first king to make this contact was by the name of Ekathotsarot, who was intrigued by these strangers and wished to increase his fortune through trades with the foreigners. This acceptance of the foreigners and an open minded...

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