Letter from the Phrakhlang on behalf of King Prasatthong (r. 1629-1656) to the Supreme Government in Batavia, 2 March 1641



This letter comes from me, Oya sy Darmaradt dytsia tsiat mathia nochit phy phit radt khausa tybydy a phaya Cromma pha howa [1] or keeper of the great seal of the King, general receiver of one quarter of His Majesty’s rich income, high advocate and defender of all foreigners, from a pure heart and out of sincere affection, to the Noble, generous, wise and very strict lord, the Noble lord Anthonio van Diemen, Governor-General over the state of the United Netherlands in India Oriëntalis.

Noble Lord, on this occasion with the departure of Captain Jeremias van Vliet for Batavia, I am required to inform Your Honour that the King our Lord, Probat somdit Boromma bopit probu dy t’Jaco Ichoau ney Crongh pramaha naccoon boworra touwa randy srj ajudia [2], on special consideration, namely his concern for the welfare of his subjects and in order to help the trade in the city of Batavia grow as best as he can, has consented that t’Jau phia ramaraet, seu Jaky bodun tra reu tsaey mahay soere jaky body ry soet ja na ley abaya bra Cromma ph hou thiauphia souar Colock [3] should receive a junk with a length of 18¼ and a breadth of 3¼ fathoms [4]. On this His Majesty has appointed as skipper Srj Set Ja, a Moorish Malay as first person, and as second person the skipper Pecca, a Chinese, and as third person or first merchant Cousy Sombat with two assistants, named Moncherbitit and Ney Rachuyt; as first mate a Chinese of Moorish religion named Heeuqua, and further as head boatswain or saranghy [5] Equo, a Chinese, with eleven Siamese, 26 Chinese and 22 both Moorish and Malay sailors, altogether 61 men.

The junk is armed with four brass cannon, which each can fire a ball of two fingers, and a cannon that shoots a ball of 1½ fingers diameter; further four muskets and 15 Japanese firelocks. The aforementioned junk was laden with approximately 200 lasten [6] of rice and other foodstuffs; also with 6 bahar [7] of lead, for the account of the King. It left here 16 months ago in order to go to Batavia with the merchandise listed, but through the ignorance of the helmsman it did not arrive there but landed in Patani. On the return to Siam the Chinese mate Heeuqua killed the skipper with all the Siamese and Malays and has very villainously fled with the junk and the cargo.

But for which port he has set course remains unknown to us. Therefore we request you because of the friendship that Your Honour entertains with the King our lord that in all the places within your territories where the Dutch trade or anchor and are visited by your ships orders may be given to seek out the junk, to pursue it, arrest it, take it to Batavia and deal with it according to Your Honour’s famed discretion. And if we may hear of the result, then the splendour of Your Honour’s affection and praiseworthy name will shine unchanged, and remain with us forever.

It would be most pleasant to the King, our lord, if Your Honour should kindly make a toy ship for His Majesty’s eldest son, the young prince of this realm [8], four asta [9] wide and of corresponding length, in the Dutch manner, with everything that pertains to it. Furthermore, seeing that some Dutchmen are excellent in the art of painting, we request Your Honour to have two elephants painted for our King, two asta high (the designs are attached), in the most skilful way, and kindly have them sent hither (as well as the toy ship) in haste.

In the royal city of Ayutthaya in the Year of the Cow, the 18th day of the breaking moon, being 2nd March in the year 1641.


[1] Okya Si Thammarat Dechachat Amatyanuchit Phiphit Ratanarat Kosa Thibodi etc. (Phrakhlang minister). Siamese official ranks during the Ayutthaya period in order of precedence were: chaophraya/chaophya; okya/phraya/phya; okphra/phra; okluang/luang; okkhun/khun; okmuen/muen; okphan/phan.

[2] Phrabat Somdet Borombophit Phra Phutthachaoyuhua nai Krung [Thep?] Phra Mahanakhon Bowon Thawarawadi Si Ayutthaya (King of Siam). This means roughly something approximately like “The supreme lord and refuge, the lord Buddha who resides in Si Ayutthaya the great city of celestials” etc. See also: Richard Cushman, Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya,2000.

[3] This appears to be a rather rough rendering of Okya Sawankhalok’s title: Chaophya [Okya] Kraset Songkhram Ramarat Saenya Thibodi Si Satchanalai Aphai Phiriya Bara Krom Phahu Chaophya [Phya] Sawankhalok (governor of Sawankhalok).

[4] In meters: 34,31 x 6,11 meter.

[5] Meaning unknowns.

[6] One last or load is 1250 kilograms.

[7] One bahar is 3 piculs.

[8] Chaofa Chai, King Prasatthong’s eldest son; became king for a day following his father’s death in 1656.

[9] One asta is equivalent to the Thai sok or “elbow”.