So I’m “watching” (more like skipping to the interesting scenes) the Thai lakorn/historical drama Sri Ayodhaya and in one episode, this one professor said that Ayutthaya was an incredibly wealthy and powerful kingdom and the city itself was also very well defended and wealthy too due to Ayutthaya being an extremely crucial and important trading city. In the latest episode, one other visiting professor also states that King Ekkathat commanded a large army and the city itself was very well defended.

If that’s the case, then how was it that Hongsawadee/Burma was able to sack and pillage Ayutthaya and burn it to the ground? I mean, shit, according to this one article/book that I read, people at the time saw the sacking of Ayutthaya as the literal apocalypse, and I could easily understand why. If I was Ayutthayan/Siamese and I was alive at the time and I saw Hongsawadee troops burn houses down and loot everything in sight (IIRC, some Hongsawadee soldiers even looted Buddha statues that were made of gold), I’d think that the world was ending, especially if I was led to believe up until that point that Ayutthaya was one of the greatest cities in the world that was forged by the Heavens or whatever.

So how was it that the Burmese were able to take and burn Ayutthaya to the ground? I heard that it was due to the political instability of the royal court of Ayutthaya along with incompetent rulers and power struggles/corruption but is that it?

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    Surprisingly detailed sketch from Wikipedia, Burmese–Siamese War (1765–1767).
    – J Asia
    Dec 22, 2019 at 6:35
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    Don't confuse wealth and mercenary army with strength. Overfeed dogs do not fight very well ;)
    – rs.29
    Dec 22, 2019 at 7:18
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    Is it possible that this was explained in one of the non-interesting scenes that you skipped over?
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 22, 2019 at 10:39
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    Please name and link to the "one article/book" you read.
    – Spencer
    Dec 22, 2019 at 16:35
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    I normally don't answer SEA-related questions because it takes too much effort (providing necessary context). As you're new, however, and the comments keep on piling-up, which usually end with your question closed, I'll try this. I believe your question as stated shows you're relying too much on that video/show. Simply, Ayutthaya's opponent was no slouch. How did they sack the capital? Because the Burmese Konbaung dynasty was v. strong military, and Hsinbyushin (their king) was an effective military leader. Just research the bold for a start. Good luck.
    – J Asia
    Dec 22, 2019 at 20:46

2 Answers 2


Here are some other historical questions that user 69268 could ask:

How was Ninevah, capital of the mighty Neo Assyrian Empire, captured and destroyed by the revolting Medes, Persians, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Scythians, and Cimmerians in 612 BC?

How was Babylon, capital of the mighty Neo Babylonian Empire, captured by the Persians in 539 BC?

How as Persepolis, capital of the mighty Persian Empire, captured and destroyed by the Macedonians and Greeks in 330 BC?

How did Rome get sacked by the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455? Rome had never been captured by foreign forces since the Gauls in about 390 BC, about 800 years before AD 410.

How did Constantinople, "this city of the world's desire", get sacked by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 after beating off many besieging forces since it was founded 874 years earlier in 330?

How was Ctesiphon, a great and wealthy city, capital of the mighty Persian Empire of the Sassanid Dynasty, captured and sacked by the Arabs in 637?

How was Chang'an, the largest city in the world, capital of the mighty Tang dynasty of China, captured and briefly occupied by the An Lushan rebels in 756 and by Tibetan forces in 763?

How was Tenochtitlan, one of the largest and most splendid cities in the world, and possibly the largest in the western hemisphere, capital of a powerful realm, captured and destroyed during the fighting by Cortes and a relatively small force of Spanish and their native allies in 1521?

How was Vijayanagara, one of the largest cities in the world and capital of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire, captured by the Deccan Sultanates, looted, burned, and its population enslaved and massacred, in 1565?

Such events do happen, and in each case there is a complicated specific situation and series of events that explain how those cities were captured by their enemies.

Assuming that Ayutthaya, capital of a large and powerful country, could not be captured by its enemies is foolish, as many capitals of larger and more powerful states have been captured by their enemies.

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    This is all true, but it doesn't actually answer the question. As you say, there are specific situations which explain each event, but Ayutthaya is not even mentioned here. At the moment, @J Asia's comment above is more enlightening. Dec 23, 2019 at 0:10

the Thai lakorn/historical drama Sri Ayodhaya

It's more lakorn and a LOT of historical propaganda rather than a historical drama, to be honest.

and in one episode, this one professor said that Ayutthaya was an incredibly wealthy and powerful kingdom

All incredibly wealthy and powerful kingdoms were eventually defeated.

The kingdoms of Ayutthaya, before that Sukhothai, and after that Siam were perpetually at war with the Burmese. Sometimes the Burmese won, sometimes the (now) Thais. Even today border raids by the Tatmadaw or Burmese army happen. Not very often, and the last couple of years none at all. But they happened and possibly/probably will happen again. Ask any Thai, they rarely talk favorably about the Burmese.

At the end of Ayutthaya the last king, king Ekkhathat, was not a very strong man. The court was divided into many factions. Wikipedia says there was a bloody struggle between princes over power. Something that almost certainly will not show up on the Thai version, as this is awfully close to lèse-majesté in Thailand...

So the king was not a powerful man, he got to rule after a bloody struggle over the throne. He had to be careful not to be murdered by his courtiers or family. Then the Burmese appear. At that time the Burmese army was at the peak of its strength, with a very strong and expansionist ruler Hsinbyushin.

I'm not surprised at all Ayutthaya fell. The conquest didn't last long, though. The next king, Singu Min realized his logistics were vastly overstretched and withdrew back to Burma.

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    a **LOT** of historical propaganda rather than a historical drama and that’s why, coupled with the loss of a massive chunk of the Royal Archives during the sacking and destruction of Ayutthaya, I take a lot of Thai historical dramas with a decent grain of salt. Doesn’t mean I hate Thai historical war movies (I LOVE the King Naresuan series), but I do recognize that Thailand has a very traditional monarchist society and its against the law to insult or criticize any king in Thai history.
    – user69268
    Dec 23, 2019 at 0:40
  • I kind of liked the first Naresuan movie, but found it to have a rather childish plot. I thought it was written for 10-14 year olds. Not really for adults. I think most adult Thais thought the same, because it wasn't exactly a blockbuster.
    – Jos
    Dec 23, 2019 at 0:42

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