Lords of Life
To Narisara Chakrabongse
It will be a long time before you can read this book. It will be even longer before you can understand and appreciate it.
But as it is the history of our Chakri Family, I can only dedicate it to you, a very junior and humbling member of that great family, for amongst their members, high or low to rank, you are naturally the one close to my heart.
I hope that when you come to read and understand this book, you will be truly and rightly proud of your Chakri ancestry and your direct descent from five kings and five queens, as well as from your grandfather who did not live long enough to complete his work for the country he loved so well. In all your actions I ask you always to try to cherish and honour their sacred memory.
With my very best love and wish for your happiness above all else.
Tredethy, near Bodmin, Cromwell.
December 14th, 1959.
Regins Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford
IN THE NINETEENTH century the ancient monarchies of the Far East surrendered one by one to the power of Europe. For three centuries they had known Europe and felt its touch;they had realized, or been made to realize, its technical superiority;but they had still preserved their independence and their pride. The Emperor of China regarded George III as an outer barbarian whose emissary could only come to pay tribute, The King of Burma insisted on treating George IV as one of his vassals. These rulers were prepared to use Europeans;they did not expected to be used by them. But then,as the ninettenth century were on,the cascade began. The opium war in China was the warning signal.