Ah Asahina, I was wondering if you could help me with something. I was reading about the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV and one interesting event was the reception of an embassy from Siam in 1686. It was very rare that such a formal visit to France originated from such a distant location and contemporary French accounts show that people were greatly intrigued by the culture and mannerisms of these foreigners. For the fabric patterns of the Siamese diplomats ended up being quite influential and Siamoise style fabric became quite the fashion trend. Could you talk a little bit about the Siamese side of this diplomatic mission and cultural exchange?
Sure thing! The mission was undertaken by ambassador Kosa Pan during the reign of King Narai the Great, the last king of the Prasat Thong dynasty of Ayuthaya. The policies of King Narai and his chief minister Constantine Phaulkon focused on establishing international diplomatic relations with many distant states including France.
Lets talk a little bit more about the political context for the period. The reign of King Narai and Prime Minister Constantine Paulkhon is known for being one of the most prosperous times in Ayutthayan history and it certainly marks its height as as renown state on the international level. The Prasat Thong period was marked by general openness in terms of foreign policy and trade and King Narai increased that even more.
Unlike other kings who wanted to increase the power of Ayutthaya through military expansion in Southeast Asia, King Narai instead emphasized making Ayutthaya a powerful hub for global trade.