Year published :1998

Pages :168 pp.

Size :14.5x21 cm.

ISBN: 9789747100716

Resounding Failure, A: Martin and the French in Siam 1672–1693

by Michael Smithies

The French involvement in Siam in the second half of the seventeenth century is generally well known, though the details are often maddeningly obscure. Initially seeking converts and trade, the French presence turned into a classic colonial adventure, with troops sent to occupy, by force if necessary, the most important ports of Bangkok and Mergui.

Francois Martin, from his unique viewpoint as director of the trading outpost at Pondichery, provides a careful analysis of the motives of the persons involved in the French colonizing venture. He describes the growth of French involvement from its small missionary and trade beginnings, as well as the Makassar uprising in Bangkok and the Mergui massacre of the English. He objectively details the intrigues of Phaulkon, the flow of embassies to and from France, the Greek's death and that of King Narai after the Lopburi coup d’etat, the subsequent disasters of the French withdrawal and the fruitless expedition to Phuket led by the incompetent General Desfarges.

Martin's Memoirs were first published in the 1930s in French. Michael Smithies has skilfully translated and assembled all the references to Siam from these memoirs, and by linking the segments together with his own knowledgeable commentary, he presents a detailed picture of the unfolding tragedy.

This highly readable account presents a complete contemporary viewpoint of events in Siam at this critical juncture. They were to influence Siamese attitudes for decades afterwards.