Rajanubhab Damrong

Portrait of Rajanubhab   Damrong

Prince Tisavarakumarn, the Prince Damrong Rajanubhab (สมเด็จพระเจ้าบรมวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้าดิศวรกุมาร กรมพระยาดำรงราชานุภาพ) (21 June 1862, Bangkok, Kingdom of Siam – 1 Dec. 1943, Penang, Malaya), known as Prince Damrong, a reformer, founder of the modern Thai educational system and provincial administration, and a self-taught historian.

A son of King Mongkut with Consort Chum (เจ้าจอมมารดาชุ่ม, Chao Chom Manda Chum), Prince Damrong served as Minister of the North, Minister of Interior, Chief of the Supreme State Councul, and was the first president of the Royal Institute of Thailand. His interest in history gave birth to the "Damrong school" which, according to Thai historian Nithi Aeusrivongse, combined "the legacy of the royal chronicle with history as written in the West during the nineteenth century, creating a royal/national history to serve the modern Thai state under the absolute monarchy."

Prince Damrong worked closely with George Cœdès in sorting out the inscriptions and historical sequencing of ancient Thailand. The Khmerologist had been assigned by EFEO Director Claude-Eugène Maitre to the Bangkok Royal Library in 1918, so he could further his comparative studies in the Dvāravatī civilization, and in the Srivijaya kingdoms of Sumatra. Coedes returned to Hanoi in 1929, when he became director of the EFEO school.

After the 1932 coup, Prince Damrong, resolutely in favor of the absolute monarchy, fled to Penang, where he died in 1943.