From time immemorial until the decree of 7 April 1861, all land belonged to the Thai king. This paper explores what this meant in practice, over time. In pre-modern times, land ideally could be inherited, but this could be overruled by the king. Taking and exploiting a piece of land meant that the owner would be registered and taxed. In the Chaophraya Delta, where waterways were the dominant means of water transport, two separate types of housing developed: the house-boat and houses on rafts. The latter form of high-density living on the water was only abandoned in the second half of the nineteenth century. Finally, the question of occupying land is looked at from the perspective of the commoner.
NealeFred. Arthur, Narrative of a Residence at the Capital of the Kingdom of Siam with a Description of the Manners Customs and Laws of the Modern Siamese, (Office of the National Illustrated Library, London1852).
Van NijenrodeCornelis, 'Remonstrantie ende verthoninge der gelegentheyt des coninckrijx van Siam, mitsgaeders haeren Handel ende wandel ende waer de Negotie meest in bestaet' (1622) Utrechts Archief Hilten archief [Municipal Archives Utrecht The Netherlands].
WilsonConstance M., 'Revenue Farming, Economic Development and Government Policy in Thailand, 1830-1910' Paper presented at the Conference on Revenue Farming and Southeast Asian Transitions, , Canberra(mimeographed).
Sai Aung Tun“Hkamti Shans and their Traditional Laws,” in Selected Writings of U Sai Aung Tun(Yangon: Myanmar Historical Commission 2004): 81. Sai Aung Tun adds here that the same rule applied to Myanmar cultivators and that the land was inheritable.
J. O’Kane trans.The Ship of Sulaiman (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul1972): 149-50. The reference to vineyards may have been a standard Persian expression for agricultural lands or the author may have made a mistake.
Nijenrode in1621says that each governor had to render his accounts every three years. Parts of this correspondence have been studied by Constance M. Wilson. See for example “The Nai Kong in Thai Administration 1824-68” Contributions to Asian Studies 15 (1980): 41-57 and “Revenue Farming Economic Development and Government Policy in Thailand 1830-1910” paper presented at the Conference on Revenue Farming and Southeast Asian Transitions Canberra 1988.
For the Thai text see H. HundiusDas Nirat Müang Kläng von Sunthon Phu Analyse und Übersetzung eines thailändisches Reisegedichts (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz1976): 137.