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The North Historical Background
Evidence of long occupation by minorities has been found in the sites around the present-day basin areas. Each group followed its own lifestyle and developed individual cultures. Cultural and commercial contacts among the groups inevitably led to inter-cultural blending among themselves.
Prior to the 12th century, the land was under the domination of the Mons and the Khmers. There are chronicles and legends on ancient towns particularly of the upper area of the Mekong basin. Historical records became much more exact in the 13th century when large and small cities were merged into kingdoms. Prominent were the Sukhothai Kingdom ruled by the Thais, and the Lanna with Chiang Mai as its core. Both kingdoms emerged almost during the same period and both flourished for about 200 years.
The Kingdom of Sukhothai was founded in the 13th century when Khmer power was beginning to wane. Its power base was in the Yom basin with Sukhothai as its capital. There were several cities under its domination including Kamphaeng Phet and Phitsanulok. Sukhothai reached its zenith of influence during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great militarily, administratively, culturally and commercially. Close commerical contacts were established with China. Its power began to decline after two centuries and the kingdom, which held sway in the central region.
The Lanna Kingdom was established by King Mengrai with Chiang Mai as its centre. Nineteen successive kings ruled the land lasting about 280 years before it fell to the Burmese (circa 16th Century). Some two hundred years later, the Thip Chang dynasty was founded and ruled Lanna as a vassal state of Thailand during the reign of king Rama I.