Khmer-Siam Royal Family Tree
23rd July, 2010
It is intriguing to learn that the Khmer and Thai royal families share the same ancestry. After an extensive search, I was able to obtain some crucial ancestry data and family lineage that have linked the two royal families together. What is more interesting is that both royal families were linked to the feudalistic family of Abhaiwongse, the rulers of Cambodia’s Battambang province and the aristocratic family of Bunnag, the most prominent and powerful family of ancient Thailand. With these interesting information, I will piece the jigsaw puzzles together in an attempt to link their ancestry in the article below.
2. The Khmer-Thai royal families are of Persian-Mon descent
Both the Khmer and Thai royal families were descended from the Persian (Iranian) (1) andMon ancestry (2). The first Persians to have come to Siam was Sheikh Ahmad the Persian Muslim merchant, along with his brother Muhamad Sa-id and his subordinates, who settled in Siam around 1600. Sheikh Ahmad was native to Qom, Safavid Iran, south of Tehran. Sheikh Ahmad established himself as a rich merchant in Ayutthaya. Then, he came under the service of Songtham, who appointed him as Lord of the Right Pier who supervised the traders that came from the West i.e. the Persians, the Indians, the Europeans, and Chularachamontri (palace official)- who oversaw all Shiites in Siam.
After subjugating a Japanese revolt under Yamada Nagamasa, Sheikh Ahmad became Samuha Nayok (First Prime Minister). Descendants of Sheikh Ahmad exerted control over Siamese politics, trade, and foreign affairs. Many of them became Samuha Nayok. They also monopolized the post of Chularachamontri. Some of them even converted to Buddhism.
One of Ahmad’s descendant was a man called Bunnag (3), who was a Buddhist. Bunnag married Nuan, who was the daughter of a wealthy Mon family and who was the sister of Nak(4). Nak, or Queen Amarindra (1737–1826), was the wife of Thong Duang, King Rama I (1736-1809) who took the name of Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke when he ascended the Siamese throne in 1782, establishing the first Chakri Dynasty.
3. The Bunnag family
The Bunnag family of Thailand was as powerful as the Thioun family of Cambodia. Thioun, a powerful palace minister in the late 1800s, and his descendants, the likes of Thioun Hell, Thioun Horl, Thioun Mumm, Thioun Chum, Thioun Thioeun, and Thioun Prasith, held high offices in the Cambodian political hierarchy. Bunnag, the first direct descendant of Ahmad, was then kinsmen to Thong Duang, Rama I. Though Thong Duang emerged as a powerful noble in Thonburi, Bunnag stayed far from the bureaucracy due to his childhood conflicts with King Taksin.
Thong Duang then became Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, a child of ethnic Mon family (10), the first king who established the Chakri Dynasty in 1782, after he brutally usurped the throne and executed King Taksin, his childhood friend. During the Nine Armies War, Bunnag led the Siamese forces against the Burmese. Bunnag was then awarded the higher rank and eventually became the Samuha Kalahom as Chao Phraya Akka Mahasena.
The House of Bunnag was a powerful Siamese noble family of the Persian descent of the early Rattanakosin. By the nineteenth century, their power reached the zenith, as they were favoured by Chakri monarchs and monopolized high-ranking titles. Three Somdet Chao Phrayas came from the Bunnag family – Prayurawongse, Pichaiyat, and Sri Suriyawongse. They played a key role in government and foreign relations of Early Rattanakosin. However, after the Front Palace Crisis, the Bunnags gradually withdrew from Siamese politics as Chulalongkorn sought to undo the power of nobility and pursued centralization, though the Bunnags continued to fill important official ranks.
Akka Mahasena (military title) Prayurawongse was, of course, the primogenitor of the House of Bunnag. He sent his sons, including Dis and That, into the palace as the royal pages of Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke as an entrance to Siamese bureaucracy. Dis quickly rose to higher official ranks as Buddha Loetla Nabhalai favored the nobles from the Bunnag and Bangchang (his mother’s family) family. Dis then became the minister of Krom Tha, supervising trade and foreign affairs under King Jessadabodindra (Rama III) – a powerful post.
He was offered the position of Samuha Kalahom (Second Prime Minister) by the king but Dis said that the Prime Ministers died early. Dis then became Samuha Kalahom instead.
Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Sri Suriyawongse (personal name Chuang Bunnag December 23, 1808 – January 19, 1883) was a prominent 19th century Thai figure and served as the regent during the early years of the reign of King Chulalongkorn.
A member of a family originally of Persian origin, Sri Suriyawongse was born the eldest son of Dis Bunnag and Tan Poo-Ying (Lady) Chan. Chuang was well educated for the time. King Mongkut made him Samuha Kalahom, one of the two Prime Ministers of old Siam.
4. How were Khmer and Thai royal families related?
One of the Bunnag descendants, Tuptim Bunnag (Thanpuying Tuptim Bunnag), married Lord Nhonh, better known as Yia Abhaiwongse, who was the Lord Governor of Battambang until 1895. Lord Nonh and Tuptim Bunnag produced 5 children. Two of them, Lord Chhum (Choom Abhaiwongse (1849 ( or 1861)-1922)), the last Lord governor of Battambang, and Lady Yem (Khun Chom Yem Bossaba Yem (?-1944)) who became the 20th wife of King Norodom (1834-1904) of Cambodia. King Norodom and Lady Yem Bossaba (5) produced two children and one of them was Prince Sutharot (1872-1945) who was Sihanouk’s grandfather. Prince Sutharot married Lady Phangangam (1874-1944) and produced King Suramarit (1896-1960), who was King Sihanouk’s father. According to some sources, Lady Phangangam was a Thai commoner. But according to Henry Szosinski, a compiler of Cambodia’s royal genealogy, she carries the Norodom surname, so she could be one of King Norodom’s children.
Lord Chhum (6) had more than 40 wives. One of his Thai wives, Lady Rord, produced him a son named Khuang Abhaiwongse who later went on to become the prime minister of Thailand three times in the 1940s (7). Lord Chhum also married Lady Ing (Khunying Sa-Ing Kathadhorndhoranintra) and produced 4 children and one of them is Loeum, better known in Thailand as Luam Abhaiwongse. Luam married Lady Lek Bunnag and produced a daughter named Krua Kaew, better known as Tew Abhaiwongse. In in 1924, Tew Abhaiwongse married King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) of Thailand and became Princess Consort and took the name of Phra Nang Chao Suvadhana (8). King Vajiravudh and Princess Consort Suvadhana produced one daughter in 1925 named Bejaratana Rajasuda. Now, Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda’s maternal grandmother, Dame Sri Sunthornnat (Thao Sri Sundhornnath – formerly Kaew Abhaiwongse) was a sister of Khun Chom Iem Bossaba (Yem Bossaba Abhaiwongse)[1864-1944], the 20th wife of King Norodom (1834-1904). Khun Yem Bossaba and Dame Sri Sunthornnat were daughters of Lord Nhonh and sisters of Lord Chhum, who was Bejaratana’s direct grandfather. So, Sihanouk is a great grand nephew of Lord Chhum and a descendant of the Abhaiwongse, a family he once allegedly called traitor.
The Khmer royal family also related to the Thai royal family through Lady Nuan and Lady Nak, the daughters of the wealthy Mon family who married Bunnag and King Rama I respectively. Bunnag and Thong Duang (Rama I) were very good friends before Thong Duang became king. Rama I was the great-great-great grandfather of Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda(9), who was the third cousin of ex-King Sihanouk of Cambodia, and the great-great-great grandfather of the present King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who took the title of Rama VIX. There are claims that the kings of the Chakri Dynasty had also married some of the Bunnag descendants who could then be direct relatives of the present Khmer king, but I am unable to trace their marriages here.
However, according to a book “Battambang During the Time of the Lord Governor” by Tauch Chhuong, there are verbal anecdotes which passed down from generations to generations which claimed that Rama I, or Thong Duang who took the name of Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke when he ascended the throne, was a Khmer child from Kampot province who grew up in the royal Thai capital of Ayuthaya. The anecdotes claimed that he was from Tram Sorsor village, Samrong commune, Touk Meas district in Kampot province. The anecdotes went on to claim he and his family was taken prisoner by the Siamese troops and brought to the Siamese royal capital of Ayutthya. When he grew up, he became a powerful military commander, usurped the throne, killed King Taksin, who was his childhood friend, and proclaimed himself king in 1782. It must be noted that there is no historical records to substantiate this claim and the claim that he was a Khmer. However, there are historical records to say that he was, like his wife Nak, a child of a wealthy Mon family. He came to power through usurpation, by killing his childhood friend, King Taksin, and executed all of Taksin’s relatives, including Prince Kasatranuchit who was his own grandson through a marriage to Taksin’s relative.
Now, the ancestry links between the Khmer and Thai royal families had been established. Sheik Ahmad, produced the Bunnag descendants and the Bunnag descendants produced the Cambodian princes, princesses, and kings. Some Thai kings were known to be married to some of the Bunnag descendants. Or at least Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda is a third cousin of Sihanouk because both were descended from the Abhaiwongse and the Bunnag ancestry. Yem Bossaba, the 20th wife of King Norodom was described by Henry Szosinski, a Cambodian royal genealogy compiler, as a daughter of a Battambang mandarin and a distant relative of the King of Thailand (5). The Khmer and the Thai royal families were related by blood of some sort because of their marriages to the two Mon sisters, Nuan and Nak. Nuan was married to a Bunnag who was a maternal ancestor of Prince Sutharot, King Suramarit, King Sihanouk and King Sihamoni. Nak was married to King Rama I, Thong Duang or Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke who was of a Mon descendant, was the ancestor of the present King Bhumibol Adulyadej (2), who is described as a distant relative of Yem Bossaba, the 20th wife of King Norodom and the great grandmother of Sihanouk.
(11).“Battambang During the Time of the Lord Governor” by Tauch Chhuong.
* I am forever grateful to Heng Soy of Ki-Media for drawing a wonderful Khmer-Thai Royal Family Tree diagram for this article.
NOTE: I have observed that many readers have misunderstood the content of the article about the Khmer Royal family descendants made by the researcher. Actually, the Khmer-Siamese family tree is really informative and it clearly states that the Khmer royal family doesn’t have any connection with the Amad family from the first establishment of the Khmer society until the marriage of King Norodom and Yem Bosaba in the late 19 century. Actually, Bosaba was also half-blood, Khmer-persian.
On the other hand, it clearly states that the Tai/ pure tai /Siamese/Thai never have a chane to rule Thailand at all since they have created the Thai society in the southeast asean regoin or simply states that they just dont have such a competence to govern the country without the help, control, leadership of other races, Khmer-Mon, the Amads of persian and Chinese (Taksin).
Its also interesting to read “All Thai kings have Khmer blood except Taksin“