The Kingdom of Siam

The diplomatic relations between Thailand, Indonesia and the Netherlands date back to the seventeenth century. After establishing a Dutch factory in Ayutthaya the Siamese ruler Ekathotsarot send an ambassador to Holland in September 1606. Following this, a treaty was signed in 1617. Looking at the Dutch archives at ANRI of this early modern era new documents and stories are slowly unlocked and will shed new light onto our past and the shared heritage between these nations. 

Ayutthaya 1665 oleh Vingboons

Among the diplomatic correspondence are four hundred letters that were exchanged between the nobles of the Kingdom of Siam (present day Thailand) and the Dutch head office in Batavia in the period between 1636 and 1807.

Usually the texts are only Dutch and are copied translations of incoming Malay letters. The original incoming letters are mostly lost or disappeared into private collections. Copies of outgoing letters are sometimes preserved with their original Dutch text as well as the Malay translation. 

Eleven letters highlighted as Harta Karun articles 

Eleven letters from the Kingdom of Siam and their return letters from the Castle of Batavia have been studied in more detail by Dutch historian Hendrik E. Niemeijer and Thai historian Dhiravat na Pombejra. These letters were recieved in different years and from different noblemen. The articles are introduced and published here below as a collection of articles in the so called Harta Karun section of 'III.3 Co-operations, Relations and Diplomacy'.

Browsing the full collection of letters of the Kingdom of Siam

Most of the diplomatic letters (340) can be found only in the archival series of the Daily Journals, a series that is fully scanned and published online. But eleven letters can only be read from the Daily Journal Volumes published by Bataviaasch Genootschap in the 19th century. Fifty letters can be located in both archive and books, like the letters of 1641 and 1668 as described before in the Harta Karun articles. Offcourse it is possible that there are more letters hidden in the archives or in other places, but these are still to be discovered.
The majority of the letters was exchanged with Ayutthaya, for a long time the capital of Siam. Only a small number of letters was exchanged with the other neighbouring cities Thonburi and Bangkok in the second half of the 18th century. 



Visualization of the letters of the Kingdom of Siam

The diplomatic letters between the Kingdom of Siam and the Castle of Batavia can be visualized dynamically in three different ways: geographically, chronologically and socially. Geographically means that the locations of the sender and receiver of the letter are mapped onto a world map to show where the letters actually came from. Chronologically in this case means that the letters are put on a time line. Socially means that also the senders of the letters can be made visual and the size and place near the center indicates their relative importance in the correspondence. (click on 'objects' and 'object descriptions' to see this in full action).

Each of the visualizations has a time slider that can be moved and resized to 'travel through time' and select only letters of a certain time frame. In this more dynamic way you yourself can experience and interpret the changes in the available data. Clicking on lines, circles and bars eventually will lead to short lists of letters that can be clicked and viewed in the scanned archives themselves. We kindly invite you to explore all three visualizations available here below.  


A more straightforward way to visualize all the diplomatic letters is by providing a simple list overview. The list can be reordered on 'insertion date' or 'Ruler'. The individual entries are linked again to the scans of the digitized archival series 'Dagregisters' and 'Inlandse Vorsten'.