I’m afraid I broke a promise. A month ago, I predicted that future episodes would cover shorter time periods, but today, to get Siam done in one episode, I covered a 157-year time span, from 1782 to 1939. That means this episode will be the longest so far in the podcast series, but fortunately it is still less than an hour; you won’t have to set aside a day to listen, like you would for Dan Carlin’s history podcast. Here you will learn how Siam modernized, why it was the only Southeast Asian country that did not become a European colony, and why it changed its name to Thailand at the end of the period.
Here is a map of Siam in the early 1800s, when the kingdom was at its greatest size. These borders lasted until 1863, when Britain and France started taking parts of the kingdom for themselves. The core territory they left behind became present-day Thailand in 1939.