The Thai race has been great since ancient times. It appears that the That people migrated from the north more than five thousand years ago- The Chaophraya River basin became the home of the Siamese people, while other Thai groups remained to the north and east of the Mekong River, which is the present northeast border o£ Thailand- Modern, political events have divided the Thai into two Thai nations: the Thai of Thailand and the Thai outside Thailand or the Free Thai state-The Free Thai occupy the region of present-day Laos adjoining the Sip Song Pan Na and Sip Song Chu Thai regions.
According to history, the Thai people east of the Mekong migrated from China to Muang Theng, which was the capital of King Khun Borom of the Nan Chao Kingdom. It is in the Sip Song Chu Thai region and is now called Dien Bien Phu. It is an historic site, important now as the place where the French fought the Viet Minh in 1953. The French proclaimed they would fight to the death rather than surrender, but nearly a division of Frenchmen were captured.
The Thai called this muang (a town or principality) by the name "Then” or "Theng,” which is Thai for "heaven" or "god." The Chinese call it "t'ien,” which has the same meaning, and "fu," which means muang. Historically, the Thai-Lao of Luang Prabang, who were the source of the Lan Xang lineage, migrated from Muang Thong and spread to the south at the same time when the Thai of the Uthong period migrated from Chiengrai to Ayuthia.
Because of historical migrations^ the Thai people were dispersed in many areas. In recent years, when Laos became independent, though still under French influence, the French Information Service in Vientiane publicized the fact that the French returned an old seal to Laos. This seal was made of six kilos of gold and bore the likeness of a camel. The French alleged that Deo Van Tri, a "Thai" king who plundered Luang Prabang, had presented this seal as a gift to Augusts Pavie. It was subsequently preserved in the Paris Museum before being returned to Laos.
These cynical words suggest that a "Thai king is good only for pillage. Deo Van Tri was not really Thai: he was Tai from the Sip Song Chu Thai region, and Tai of that region change leaders so often that its capital has cone to be called the "town of many leaders," or Lai Chau, The Thai are not a people who steal the riches of their face from each other. Their character is not like that of the French, who covet the possessions of others and consequently see others in their own image. Because the French were at that tine in the process of stealing the independence of Laos, their cynical words should not be believed.
The French returned the camel seal to Laos at the tine of its independence neither because of love nor affection, but of necessity.
The French Government was itself on the verge of collapse. Among the Lao people there was a growing realization of freedom, from which arose an independent Lao government of national liberation. Even within the French-dominated government of Laos there was daily opposition speaking boldly against the French. Whenever the French ventured out to fight, they lost, because they fought without purpose. Their soldiers were stationed only in Vientiane and Luang Prabang; when they ventured out, the Free Lao could destroy them at will. The French also sent Lao soldiers to fight, hut when Lao met Lao they joined together and fraternized rather than fought. The French soldiers were reluctant to fight, wishing only to live and collect their pay. The French also brought in African soldiers: Senegalese, Moroccans, Tunisians, and Algerians. After fighting a long time, these Africans came to despise the French, who had made them suppress patriots who were fighting to recover their freedom. Laos is a country with a population of only three million, but it is brave enough to fight France, a great power with a population of fifty million. Every African country has many tines the population of Laos, yet the Africans appeared to be the slaves of the French who had come to destroy patriots. In conscripting Africans to suppress the Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Lao, the French will only teach them patriotism. The Africans see a poorly-armed small number of people patriotically fighting a better-armed great power. When they return home, they will repay the French with revolt, revolt, revolt!
The Lao patriotic rebellion has split into two factions, the Free Lao under Prince Souphanouvong and the Vientiane Lao Government under Prime Minister Prince Souvannaphouma. Those two brothers, having the same father, but each has d Free Lao seek the complete elimination of French while the Vientiane Government seeks reconciliation promise. Although led by brothers, each faction has the loyalty of its partisans. Who is right or wrong, only time can tell. I, the writer, therefore introduce the Iron Man of Laos, who has fought all his life to eliminate the French influence in Laos. He laid down his arms and came to Thailand because he was unable to join either side by reason of his position as head of the family of the two fighting leaders.
When no one was able to stop the brothers' armies of national liberation, the people, the Sangha, and the Vientiane Government invited Prince Phetsarath to return to Laos, an event such as had never happened in any previous period of Lao history. The author therefore invites the reader to follow the story of this prince.
Some sections of this biography are in Thai-Lao style. I assert that I have preserved the style of the Prince. The Prince wrote much at this personally, but I, the author, wrote some of the general narrative. I invite the reader to continue on. For any mistakes, I apologise to those concerned.
This book was written with the intention of letting Thai politicians and administrators know how their brothers have fought to shake off the yoke of the French and to be free. This struggle of the Lao people, led by Prince Phetsarath, is a heroic and exemplary performance by a nation of three million that has a few thousand patriots willing to die in order that their compatriots may live in freedom.
These heroes' national liberation is presented in this book. I, the writer, have never joined, but have followed, and have put together this story so that those who come later can learn how the true restoration of freedom was accomplished. Because it is a domestic matter, I do not have true knowledge of politics within Thailand. As a layman, I am not involved, and thus have little knowledge and am unable to make comparisons.
You will discover in these chapters how a neighboring nation, historically and geographically united, came under the leadership of Prince Phetsarath. The Prince has fought many struggles in internal politics and external resistance, and has had a lifetime of Sacrifice; for national freedom can neither be bought by ballot nor by obsequious politicians, but must be paid for with blood and sacrifice. Also, Prince Souphanouvong's ten-year sacrifice of his happiness has made the Prince a lion in the forest. Lieutenant Boun Kong, the soldier-hero of the Mekong Valley, was the knight destined to serve the Prince and his people. There are honest officials who spoke out boldly--people like Bong Souvannavong. The government has jails, but he has never given up because of then. By his words this rebel also has participated in the struggle.
Is there anyone who would struggle and sacrifice for ten years? The history of the Kingdom of Laos in this period is a lessen that should teach s great deal. If you are interested in being a politician, it should be beneficial to you to read this account o£ Laos in its period of national liberation.
BIOGRAPHY OF PRINCE PHETSARATH RATANAVONGSA, VICEROY OF THE KINGDOM OF LUANG PRABANG
Prince Phetsarath was born in the Front Palace in Vat That sub-district, Luang Prabang , in the Year of the Ox, 1251 of the Lesser Era, on the fourteenth day of the waning moon of the first month, almost at noon (11:15); this day corresponds to January 19, 1890.
The zodiacal signs and their configurations on the day and time of Prince Phetsarath's birth:
The sun was in the 9th house of the zodiac, 6 degrees, 47minutes, and 5.95 seconds.
The noon was in the 8th house, 12 degrees, 45minutes, and 57.5 seconds.
Mars was in the 6th house, 19 degrees, 2minutes, and 41.287 seconds.
Mercury was in the 9th house, 8 degrees, 3minutes, and 21.376 seconds.
Jupiter was in the 9th house, 1 degree, 17 minutes, and 9.287 seconds.
Venus was in the 8th house, 28 degrees, 22 minutes, and 17,087 seconds.
Saturn was in the 4th house, 7 degrees, 37minutes, and 41.693 seconds.
Rahu [the Demon who seizes the sun or moon to cause eclipses] was in the 2nd house, 9 degrees, 26minutes, and 42.313 seconds.
Neptune was in the 1st house, 18 degrees, 1 minute, and 41.576 seconds.
Uranus was in the 5th house, 24 degrees, 46minutes, and 29.337 seconds.
The angle of the ecliptic of the day was in the 10th house, 3 degrees, 39 minutes, and 46.47 seconds.
The lineage of Prince Phetsarath
His Majesty the Boyal Uncle, King Oun Kham, had a younger brother by the name of Prince Boun Khong who became Viceroy and was the father of Prince Phetsarath.3 Prince Bonn Khong had three wives:
Princess Thong Si had a total of seven children:
1. Prince Chitarath
2. Prince Phetsarath
3. Princess Sanga Kham, uho had two sons,
a. Chao Khamkhan (a provincial governor])
b. Chao Sisumang (in the forest [?]}
4. Princess Sangiam Kham, who had one son,
5. Prince Souvannapharom
6. Prince Souvannaphouma, or Prince Khampheng, the present  Prime Minister of Laos
7. Princess Kham La, the wife of Prince Suksisavangvong, who is Prince Souphanouvong's assistant.
Mom Kham On had a total of three sons and daughters:
1. Princess Thavivan
2. Princess Chindarasami
3. Prince Souphanouvong, or Prince Fan, leader of the Pathet Lao Issara.
Mom Khai had a total of three sons and daughters;
1. Prince Souvannarath (the first Prime Minister)
2. Princess Souwannamali (the wife of Prince Chitarath)
3. Princess In Kham.
Studying to Head and Write Lao. The tradition of the family of the Front Palace, handed down from Viceroy Oun Keo, was that children of both sexes had to learn to read and write Lao from the time they were five or six years old. When they were literate in Lao, they would then study Thai or Pali. As a result, Viceroy Souvannaphromma, my paternal grandfather, was known in Bangkok for his proficiency in Pali and Sanskrit; and Viceroy Boun Khong, my father, also was proficient in Thai and Pali.
However, I did not begin to study Lao at the age prescribed by family tradition, but began at the end of my seventh year. Instead of beginning my studies earlier, I accompanied my father on a trip up the Mekong River to Thang Q.
In December 1895, the Year of the Goat, my father accompanied M. Boulloche, the first French High Conmissioner of Laos, on a trip up the Mekong River to advise the High Commissioner of the details of the northern border of Laos. Among the party who made the trip with M. Boulloche and my father, I remenber M. [Francois) Baudouin, the High Connissioner's Secretary, who later became the High Commissioner of Cambodia and was High Commissioner of all of Indochina in the Year of the Dog, 1922. There were also Prince Chitarath, Prince Phengrath, and chan Phao, who was later given the title phanya Phanthana and became a civil servant at the rank of District Chief.
When my father had accompanied the High Commissioner to Thang Q, a site north of Chieng Saen and north of the mouth of the Luak River on the Thai and Burmese side of the Mekong, we floated down the river and stopped in Fort Carnot, which is Ban Houei Sai. When evening came, High Commissioner Boulloche, his secretary, and my father went up to the fort to eat dinner. I was left in the boat with my brother Chita-rath and chan Phao, and to amuse myself I took a silver bowl to dip up water and pour it on the bubbles flowing by the side of the boat. As I splashed the water, the bubbles floated further away from the boat.
To reach them, I had to lean out farther and farther from the boat. I finally fell into the water, sank to the bottom, and then bobbed up to the surface. At just the right moment, I saw a hand reaching out above my head. The hand quickly grabbed me and pulled me to safety. Itwas chan Phao’s hand that saved my life. When I was safely in the boat, chan Phao and the royal pages insisted that we should not tell my
Father what had happened, because we would surely be punished.
In the sixth month of 1896, the Year of the Monkey, we returned to Luang Prabang. My father then ordered my brother Chitarath and me to begin studying Lao. The Front Palace School was taught by Prince Sithamnoroth and class was held on the verandah of the Royal Audience Hall. A new Front Palace School was being built at that time beside the three tamarind trees south of Prince Vongkot's residence, the same tamarind trees that are in front of Prince Saeng Sourichan's house today.
The teacher had come from the Army Officers School in Bangkok and had been a lieutenant. I remember well that he was greatly feared by the students because he was extremely ferocious and liked to administer painful punishment with a switch. His character seems to have been that way because he had commanded soldiers for a long time.
The First French school. After I had studied Lao for only a few months, the French opened their first school in Luang Prabang, using the chapel of Vat Si Koet as a classroom. They also built two houses, one as a boarding house for students from outlying areas, and the other for dining and studying. When the French school opened, my father ordered his young relatives to study there as an example to encourage the people to study French. However, those who still could not read and write Lao had to master it first before they could study French.
Teachers and Supervisors of the students. The first French teacher, M. Beaulieu, was from Saigon. His manner was very gentle and he always tried to interest the students in their studies. For their enjoyment during free periods, M. Beaulieu gave the students toys from France, such as multicolored marbles and shuttlecocks. The Lao teacher was phaya Sisathan, who had been a Pali teacher for a long time. He was completely old-fashioned and very compassionate towards the students, just the opposite of my former teacher, Prince Sithamnoroth.
The students' supervisor was Prince Phim. He came from the military school in Bangkok and had just left a position as a captain in the Thai army. Consequently Prince Phim dressed and lived like people in Bangkok, which meant that he wore three freshly ironed shirts a day --one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Besides that, he brought with him a two-wheeled bicycle, something which was very exciting for the people because it was the first bicycle in Luang Prabang. Every evening he would ride his bicycle through the streets to show off his proficiency and to admire the girls bathing along the Mekong and Khan Rivers. Prince Phim liked to punish the students with a switch. This was the opposite of M. Beaulieu, who punished students by having them stand and face the wall. Prince Phim's penchant for punishing the students by beating them seems to have been the Bangkok method, as it was also used by Prince Sithamno- -roth.
Students from Outlying Areas. There were dozens of students sent to the French school from outlying provinces. I remember only three--thao Kaeo, who was blind in one eye and came from Muang Et [in the Five-Six llua Phan Cantons), and Prince Phromma and thao Chansi who came from Muang Phuan or Xieng Khouang. Thao Kaeo later became a civil servant in the French language translation service in the Five-Six Hua Phan Cantons. Many years later, he resigned and became a merchant. Prince Phromna also became a translator, but he died a few years later. Thao Chansi became a doctor's assistant until he retired on a pension.
Studying Pali. In the middle of 1897, the Year of the Cock, M. Beaulieu was sent to teach in Saigon, and since there was no teacher to replace him, the French school was closed. By the time, I could read and write Lao, and my father had me become a Buddhist novice along with my brother Chitarath and Prince Khamman Vongkotrattana. We became novices at Vat That Luang and studied Pali with phanya Sisatham at his house on Koksak Street.
My father then sent his younger brothers and nephews who had already begun French to Saigon. Those of his brothers who were sent were Prince Ratsavadi, Prince Sithammarath, Prince Sudadeth, and Prince Bunyasan. The nephews who were sent were Prince Chaiyawuth, Prince Phanyathip, and Prince Oun Kham.
Phraya Sisatham's method of teaching Pali was old-fashioned. Before we could study translation, he had us study grammar until we knew it by heart. Consequently, studying took a great deal of time. We studied grammar for two years and finished in 1899, the Year of the Pig. That was the year my father went to Saigon with King Zakarine to present gold and silver flowers to the representative of the French government, Governor-General Paul Doumer. At this opportunity, King Zakarine took two royal Princes, Prince Sisavangvong and Prince Sisaleumsak, to study at the Chasseloup-Laubat school in Saigon, and in the following year, the Year of the Rat, 1900, my father sent then to Paris to enter the Ecole Coloniale.
As for my study of Pali, when I finished studying the rules of sandhi, 1 continued with the study of nouns and finished in 1901, the Year of the Ox. Then, when I haid begun to study translation, the French reopened their school.
Studying French. The French school that opened at this time used the lower story of the old Royal Palace for classrooms and the upper story for boarding students. The French teacher was a woman named Mme. Crochet [?], the wife of the official in charge of the Lao Treasury. The assistant teacher, who had studied in Saigon, was thao Phao. He taught only one year, then drank too much whiskey, bathed in the cold Warn Khan River, and soon died. The supervisor, named thit Kham Pan but, was an in-law of phanya Sisatham, my Pali teacher. Later, he received the title of phia Asana and became a judge in Vientiane.
When the French school opened, my father sent me with many of my relatives from the other palaces and vice. From the Royal Palace there were Prince Saisanitvong, Prince Sisavong, Prince Sisawath (two of these were sons of and Prince Sonsai), and prince Kham Hing, son of the Treasury Director, Prine Kham Ngao. From the Front Palace there were Prince Chitarath, Pr Prince Souvannathong, Prince Khamman Vongkotrattana, Prince Sut, and I. From the Rear Palace there were Prince Kanya and Prince Khamtan. From the military, there were thao Khampan (chao phaya Muang Chan), son of chao phanya Muang Saen; thao Khamsuk and thao Khamphui, the sons of chao phanya Muang Chan; and chan Bua. (Thao Khamsuk later received the title of chao phanya Muang Saen, and thao Khamphui that of phanya sisonsai.) The next year Prince Sisaleumsak, a royal relative, returned from Paris and studied there also.
Temporary Halt to French Studies. When the school year was finished, in the tenth month of 1902, the Year of the Tiger, my father had my older brother Chitarath and me leave school in order to accompany King Zakarine and Prince Sisaleumsak to Hanoi. The King's party went by ordinary boat to Vientiane, by steamboat to the mouth of the Hin Boun River, and then up the river to Chaeng Chek. Dozens of elephants, horses, and porters were waiting there to receive the King and his retinue. From Chaeng Chek we reached Khammuan one day after crossing the Kading River. Before crossing the Kading, we spent a long tine performing ceremonies to propitiate the protective spirits so they would not endanger our crossing.
When we reached Khammuan, we spent the night at M. Fournereau's camp, rose early the next morning and continued on to Kham Keut. From Kham Kent to Ban Nape it was two days' journey, and from there we crossed the mountains on the Lao-Vietnamese border at 5ong Ta Mua. From Song Ta Mua we descended to the coast and to the site of a French military camp, where the Deputy Governor of Ha Tinh was waiting to receive King Zakarine. M. Dauplsy, the Deputy Governor, later became the High Commissioner of Laos. He was happy to meet Prince Phasuk, a royal relative who accompanied King Zakarine, because they had known each other at the Ecole Coloniale in France.
From there we went on to Vinh (Tinh Nghe) by boat. The reception by the Vietnamese government was very exciting. On both banks of the river, the people of the villages saluted us with lighted candles and umbrellas. As soon as the King's boat reached the borders of a village, large drums were sounded, and drum-carrying runners on the shore ran alongside the King's boat until it passed beyond the borders to the nest village. The village drums were sounded in welcome and were carried along the shore all the way to Vinh.
When we reached Vinh, King Zakarine stayed at the Commissioner's house with a French Captain named Chevalier. Prince Phasuk and one of the King's aides acted as translators. The rest of us stayed at another house for two days, then went by a French torpedo boat to the port of Haiphong. While traveling on the ocean, almost all the King’s retinue became seasick — especially Prince Chakravat, chan Phao, and phaya Muang Chan.
From Haiphong, we went by train to Hanoi, where there was a large party of soldiers waiting to receive us at the railroad station. In Hanoi, the King and the members of the royal family stayed at the Metropole Hotel. The civil servants and royal pages stayed separately on rue Paul Bert across from where the Radiaume Building is today. I cannot remember how many days King Zakarine stayed in Hanoi, but before we left, I remember that the French asked the King to let Prince Chak-ravat and Prince Chitarath go to Laos with a Captain who was making maps. The King agreed to the request.
From Hanoi we went by steamboat to Viet Tri, to where a railroad was being built. From there we went to Cho Bo and stayed at a French fort. At Cho Bo, the sandbar in the Black River was so high that the boats could not pass. Consequently, we had to carry our belongings overland and get another boat at Hua Hat.
The boatmen for our trip up the Black River were from Muang Lai. We used a plank boat of the same type that is used on the Seuang and Khan Rivers in Luang Prabang Province. The Tai boatmen from Muang Lai took off their pants and shirts whenever they paddled and were completely nude. They did this to prevent wet clothes from discomforting them, but it was quite embarrassing. Whenever we tied up at a village, they put on their pants, and when we left, they took them off again.
While we were traveling by boat, two days before reaching Muang Lai, three headless corpses appeared floating in the river. Later we learned that they were the corpses of bandits that Deo Van Tri, the Chief of Muang Lai, had executed three or four days before.
When we reached Muang Lai, Deo Van Tri (Kham Heum), the District Chief, along with Kham Sam and Kham La, his younger brothers, and Kham Khang, his nephew, who had studied French at the ficole Coloniale, came down to receive King Zakarine"s boat. Then we went up to Deo Van Tri's office, which had been prepared as a residence for King Zakarine. Muang Lai is situated on the left bank of the Black River, on the right side of the mouth of the Luang River. The ground is hilly, without the slightest plain. The houses were small and numbered only in the dozens, and there were more military fortifications than there were ordinary houses. The large house on the bank of the Black River opposite the town was Deo Van Tri's residence. On the right bank of the Black River was a broad plain with rice paddies along the valleys of the streams that flow into the river.
Deo Van Tri raised four or five spotted deer next to his residence. We knew that these deer had been bought in a Vietnamese region near Hanoi because in the forests around Muang Lai there are no deer of this species. When I saw Deo Van Tri, Kham Sam, and Kham La, I could not help but hate them, because they had led the Haw attack on Luang Prabang and had executed my grandfather, Viceroy Souvannaphromma, in 1887, the Year of the Pig. However, the people of Muang Lai respectfully received King Zakarine with full honors and behaved with propriety toward his retinue.
When we left Muang Lai, King Zakarine rode one of the two or three horses that Deo Van Tri had given him. We went along the trail that passes the fields leading to Muang Theng (Dien Bien Phu). Along that trail, Deo Van Tri had prepared places for us to spend each night. On the fourth day, we reached the Pavie hilltop resthouse. This is in the forest above the mountain pass between the watersheds of the Ou River and the Black River. From the Pavie resthouse it took three days to reach Muang Theng, which is under the authority of. Muang Lai and has a garrison of Fiench troops.
From Muang Theng, we went by boat down-the Yom and Nan Rivers to the Ou River, Muang Ngoi, Muang Seum and Pak Ou. Then we went down the Mekong to Pak Seuang where my father and the Ratsavong, along with the royal princes and military officers, had come to receive the King and lead him in procession to the capital. I remember that the floor of the roofed platform built on the shore at Pak Seuang to receive King Zakarine was nearly in the water. This provided an enjoyable opportunity for me to play in t-he water and to net some small fish. I also remember that while King Zakarine sat on the platform at Pak Seuang eating lunch, the princes and civil servants were all laughing noisily on the beach. When the King asked the reason, a military officer said they were laughing at phanya Muang Chan (Sieng Phao). He had taken some dried buffalo meat that his wife had roasted for provisions when we left Luang Prabang and had warmed it up for his friends to eat on the day we came back--which showed his stinginess.
When we reached Pak Seuang, it was the beginning of the rainy season in the sixth month of 1905, the Year of the Hare.
Studying French in Saigon. When we returned from Hanoi, I resumed my study of French in Luang Prabang, but when I had studied for only a few months, M. and Mine. Crochet were transferred to Saigon. French studies were stopped again because there was no teacher to replace Mme. Crochet.
In July 1904, the Year of the Dragon, the French High Commissioner, M. Mahe, reached Luang Prabang by the steamboat "Lagrandiere." With him came his secretary, M. Ladriur, and a military doctor, M. Rouffian-dis. My father took this opportunity to ask the High Commissioner to send my brother and me to study in Saigon. We then accompanied the High Commissioner to Vientiane and stayed at his house there. Chan Bua went along as a servant.
M. Mahe is the Victim of Robbery. One night, after we had been with M. Mahe for two or three days, we heard cries and moans from the main house where the High Commissioner lived. My brother Chitarath, chan Bua, and I were frightened because the cries and moans were not the sounds of anyone talking in his sleep. Someone was crying for help indicating that something violent was happening. We ran over to the house to listen and heard the sound of people fighting inside. We banged on the door to the large room that contained many Buddha images. After we had hit it several times, a panel of the door opened and we carefully walked through the room. When we reached the door to the living room, we saw the fleeting images of two men running toward the dining room and heard the sound of chairs crashing to the floor. The three of us ran over there and saw someone sitting next to another person who was lying on the floor and crying for help in French. We realized immediately that the High Commissioner had been the victim of violence. When we ran to help, the assailant saw the three of us and leaped up to fight us, but we grabbed chairs and hit him with them. He lost his balance and fell down. The three of us then took the chairs and pinned him to the floor so he couldn't get up. Then I took another chair and hit him over the head several times. At that point, M. Mahe got up and came to help us capture the attacker. Chan Bua took a knife, cut the cord from the ceiling fan, and tied the assailant's arms and legs together at which point M. Mahe sank unconscious to the floor.
My brother ordered me to find a doctor. I ran to Dr. Rouffiandis's house, awakened him, and told him that the High Commissioner had been injured. He asked me what had happened, but I could not answer because ray French was inadequate. He went with me to find the High Commissioner and tended him immediately. While he was treating M. Mahe, M. Vavontaille came in carrying a revolver. He had heard the noise and had come to investigate. When he saw the open door, he entered, but he did not know what had happened. The doctor told him, and M. Vavontaille went to awaken the other Frenchmen who lived nearby. In a short time, a crowd gathered. The military commander had soldiers carry the assailant into the room where the Buddha images were. Then they lifted M. Mahe up and sat him on a chair. After a while, the crowd of Frenchmen slowly dispersed. The military commander had the soldiers put the assailant in jail. The three of us returned to bed, but we could not sleep the rest of the night.
Three or four days later, my brother Chitarath and I went to Saigon by the Mail Steamer with M. Ladriur, the High Commissioner's secretary. I don't know what punishment the court later gave M. Mahe's assailant.
The Chasseloup-Laubat School. When we reached Saigon, we were sent to be boarding students at the Chasseloup-Laubat School. There were several Lao students there ahead of us, including Prince Phanya-thip and Prince Ounkham from Luang Prabang; Khampui, Nunoi, and Ku from Muang Khong; Bounlieng from Attopeu, Sien and No Ngeun from Savanna-khet, and Prince Oui (Sakprasoet) from Champassak.
My brother Chitarath studied in the Elementary Class (Second Year), and I studied in the Preparatory Class (First Year). The Lao students who had come before were all more advanced. They studied in the Middle and Higher Classes (Third and Fourth Years). The two of us began studying at the end of August. At the end of December, the term ended and there was vacation for two months. When the vacation came, Prince Oui took a steamboat for Bangkok because of his dissatisfaction with the Franco-Siamese treaty signed on February 13, 1904, by which France took Champassak.
The Chasseloup-Laubat School was divided into two sections, a French Section and a Vietnamese Section, which differed in both facilities' and curriculum. All of the Lao students were in the French Section. At this school, they taught up to the brevet elementaire (Sixth Year) in the French Section and to the diplome in the Vietnamese Section—also Sixth Year-but with a slightly different curriculum.
The school reopened in March 1905, and when we had studied until June, H. Ladriur came from Vientiane to take my brother Chitarath and me to France. We reached Paris at the beginning of July and stayed at M. Ladriur's father's home for a week. Then we entered the Ecole Colo-niale in July 1905.
The Ecole Coloniale. The French Government had earlier established this school for those who volunteered to be administrators in the colonies. It was divided into two sections, one for those going to Indochina and one for those going to the African colonies. The administrators' curriculum was the same in both sections. The difference was in teaching the native customs, religions, and languages. Those going to Indochina had to study Buddhism and the customs of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, and had to study one of the three languages. In addition, Thai was taught to those who needed it. For those going to Africa, Islam, customs, and languages were taught. In about 1899, M. Pavie first brought more than ten Cambodians to study in France; at his request, the French Government started another section especially for people from Indochina.
By the time I entered the Ecole Coloniale, there were already many Indochinese students there. Nguyen Van Khai and Le Quang Trinh were there from Vietnam. They had finished the seventh year in Vietnam and were studying Engineering and Medicine. Do Van Giap and Le Van Huyen, also from Vietnam, were studying in the eighth year. Saeum was there from Cambodia. Deo Van Long, Deo Van Mun, Deo Van Thai, and Deo Van Kien were therefrom Sib Song Chu Thai (Muang Lai). They were close relatives of Deo Van Tri (Kham Heum), the Chief of Muang Lai, and were studying in^'the second year. All of them studied at the Lavoisier School, one-half kilometer from the Ecole Coloniale.
When I entered the Ecole Coloniale, the schools of France were about to end the term. At the end of July, we went to stay at Thonon, on the shore of Lake Geneva near Evian. The south shore of the lake was French and the north shore was Swiss. While vacationing in Thonon I had several opportunities to go to Geneva, Lausanne, and other places in Switzerland.
In October, we returned to Paris and enrolled at the Lavoisier School with our Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Muang Lai friends. Because I had studied only to the level of the second grade of elementary school, I could hardly keep up with the other students. I couldn't understand anything the teacher taught and found it a waste of time. There was no way to keep up with the Vietnamese students who had already had secondary schooling in Vietnam. The academic level my brother Chitarath and I found at the Ecole Coloniale had long been a problem for Lao and Cambodian students who had come there before us. Because of this, those who returned home after three or four years at the Ecole Coloniale had only a little knowledge--not commensurate with the time they had spent studying. The four Muang Lai students who had come two years before us had the same problems we did.
When the end of the term came, I was afraid that it had been just a waste of time. Therefore I let M. Ladriur's brother-in-law know my dissatisfaction, and asked him to help find a solution to the problem of my education. He was a section chief in the Ministry of the Interior. He took up the matter by contacting the Colonial Ministry, but someone in the Ministry told the director of the Ecole Coloniale, and that resulted in the director of the school calling me in to reprove me for going over his head to complain directly to the Ministry. Then he punished me by not letting me go out on Sundays for two months. This made my brother afraid that the school director would continue to despise me. Although I suffered heavy punishment, I was not worried, because my complaint was justified: I was dissatisfied with wasting several years.
The final result was that in May 1906, the Year of the Snake, the Colonial Ministry decided they would hire a teacher to tutor those students whose level was not up to that of secondary school and then send them to continue at the Lavoisier School. This was started in October.
When June came, King Sisowath of Cambodia came to France and visited the Indochinese students at the Ecole Coloniale. He brought his sons, Prince Monivong, Prince Souphanouvong, and Prince Chanthalekha. Prince Norodom came also. Before taking leave of the students' supervisor, King Sisowath ordered that Prince Souphanouvong and Prince Chanthalekha should enter the Ecole Coloniale along with okya Kesari, the son of a military official, but that Prince Monivong should study in the military school in Saint-Messain [?].
A few days later, Prince Souphanouvong, Prince Chanthalekha, and okya Kesari joined us. When the term ended, they stayed with us until the end of September on the shore of the Mediterranean at Bandol. Then we returned to Paris, where we studied together under M. Barri [?], a retired teacher who had formerly taught at the rue de la Martinique.
Those of us who studied together were Prince Souphanouvong, Prince Chanthalekha, okya Kesari, the four Muang Lai students already mentioned, Kham Ouan and Somchine Nginn who had just come from Vientiane, and two Vietnamese students named Duan Ky and Nguyen Dinh Thong who had come at the same time.
Studying under M. Barri had very good results for me. In only six months, I felt I could understand and write good French. My knowledge of mathematics had also progressed considerably. Consequently, I thought I would like to enter the Lyc6e after finishing the term that year. When I had decided on this, I told M. Ladriur's brother-in-law. He agreed, then advised me to ask the Colonial Minister. I called on the Colonial Minister the following week, but did not request permission to do so from the director of the Ecole Coloniale. When I returned to school from the Ministry, the director called me to report to him immediately. He told me that he had heard by telephone from the Minister's Secretary that I had gone to see the Minister, and that seeing a Ministry official without the permission of the school director was very much against the rules. Therefore I would be punished by not being allowed to go anywhere for three months after the end of the term. This occurrence, which arose from my carelessness, frightened my brother Chitarath, and he decided to return to Luang Prabang at the end of the school year. I insisted that he should stay on for a year or two to get more education before returning, but he would not agree.
Consequently, at the end of July 1907, the Year of the Goat, my brother Chitarath made arrangements to return to Laos, then got on a steamboat and left. I was sorry he was leaving but did not go to send him off at Marseilles. Prince Souphanouvong, Prince Chanthalekha, and okya Kesari returned to Phnom Penh at the same time my brother Chitarath returned to Laos.
When the term ended, I stayed on the shore of the Atlantic at Royan until the end of September.
Studying at the Lyeee Montaigne. In October, I entered the Lycee Montaigne which was adjacent to the Ecole Coloniale. After testing me, the teacher put me in the third levl of secondary school (the fourth year in the French system). I lacked the required knowledge of foreign languages as specified by the Science and Foreign Languages sections in which I was studying. This meant I had to study one foreign language. I chose English, and studied very diligently to catch up with the other students who had already studied two years of foreign language. To fulfill my desire to learn English, I found a special tutor to study with outside school hours.
However, it turned out that studying English privately was against the rules of the Ecole Coloniale. Every Thursday the Indochinese students had to go with our supervisor to visit important historical sites in Paris. When I asked to be exempt from these trips so I could study English, the supervisor, who was named Coupillon and who later became a teacher in Tonkin, said that my purpose was to avoid studying history and to sneak off and play. He told the director of the Ecole Coloniale, who again became angry with me and punished me by not letting me go out on Sundays for two months. This didn't trouble me at all since I thus had more time to study English.
His punishing me again made me decide not to continue in that school, because if I continued, the supervisor and director would probably find more things against me and I might be expelled. Consequently, I went to see M. Prade, M. Ladriur's brother-in-law, and told him of my dissatisfaction and my desire to get out of the Ecole Coloniale. I wanted to stay with a French family that my father had known for a long time. M. Prade agreed, then contacted the Colonial Ministry to give me my wish. At the end of the term in July 1908, M. Faidherbe came to fetch me at the Ecole Coloniale, and I stayed with him at 28 Coq-Heron Street.
My First Trip to England. After two days with M. Faidherbe, I told him that my knowledge of English had not caught up with that of my classmates and I needed to study in England for the two months of school vacation. I asked him to advise me of an English family who would be willing to let me stay with them. He said he did not know any English families and would be unable to help, so I decided to go by myself and find somewhere to stay when I reached England. I prepared my bags that very day.
I awakened in the morning and called a taxi to take me to the train station. The driver asked me which station. I couldn't answer because I wasn't sure which line, so I told him I wanted to go to England but didn't know which way was cheapest, and asked him to take me to the appropriate station. He took me to the Saint Lazare station and told me that this was the way to England by way of Le Havre and Dieppe.. He said that passenger tickets weren't very expensive, but he didn't know which line was cheapest and said I should ask the ticket seller. The ticket seller advised me to go to Dieppe because crossing the Channel there took less time than at Le Havre. When he asked me where he should punch the ticket to get off, I couldn't answer because I didn't know where to go, so I told him to punch the ticket for the English port opposite Dieppe.
When I reached Newhaven, which is across from Dieppe, I checked my bags at the railway station and went downtown to find a place to stay. I saw that Newhaven was very quiet and melancholy and I didn't want to stay there, so I returned to the railway station and asked if there were any towns close by that were larger and more prosperous. They told me that Brighton was much larger and was twelve kilometers to the west along the ocean. Then I bought a ticket to Brighton.
When I reached Brighton, I checked my bag at the railway station and began walking around to find a place to stay for the two-month vacation, but after I had walked a while I was troubled by having to urinate. When I looked for a place along the road, I didn't see any at all, which was unlike Paris, where there are many places for such a need.
After walking a long time, I had seen many people descend steps leading underground and a short time later come back up again. I went down after them and saw underground bathrooms unlike the ones along the-streets in France. This.method of putting the bathrooms underground is cleaner than in France.
After coming up from underground, I walked around all the streets looking for a room to rent, but I couldn't find any place at all. Then I came to a school that had a sign saying "Technical School." I went in and asked if they accepted people for the summer, but the person I asked didn't understand my question. He ran to find another person who spoke fluent French. When he understood my needs, he told me that he was the French teacher at the school, but the school had already finished the term and could not take people in. He said that if I needed a place to live, I should rent a room where he was staying, because it was inexpensive, the room and board was good, and the landlord was very proper. I asked the teacher to take me to his house to rent a room.
The house was on Church Street and the landlord was named Mr. Lemon, an astronomy teacher around fifty years old. His wife was in charge of the boarders. There were four daughters in the family. The oldest was married to Mr. Day, who worked in a bank, and they had a daughter about five years old. The second daughter was married to a Frenchman who was the owner of a vineyard in Tunisia. As for the other two daughters, the older one was named Ethyl and worked at home helping her mother. The younger one was named Dorothy and worked in a tailor shop.
Mr. Lemon's house had four rooms for boarders. When I moved in, there were two empty rooms which were later rented to two French girls. The landlord took care of the boarders himself, which pleased me very much because it was an opportunity to observe the customs and life of the English. Mr. Lemon knew that I was interested in astronomy and often took me up on the roof to look at the sky and to see the movements of the planets through his large telescope. My great interest in astrology after returning to Laos was the product of Mr. Lemon's advice about these matters.
Studying at the Lycee Saint Louis. At the end of September, I returned to Paris and entered the second year at the Lycee Saint Louis. I felt that my two months in England had helped my English a great deal because in the test I did better than dozens of my fellow students.
Trips to England during Vacations. When school closed for a week for Christmas and New Year, I went back to Brighton, and during a later vacation in March 1909, I also went back for fifteen days for the chance to speak English. In 1910, I took the opportunity to go to England every time school closed, and each time I went to London to see the English capital and its museums.
Starting a Chinese Restaurant in Paris. Once, in March 1910, I was sitting in Hyde Park and a Chinese man came up and asked me something in Chinese, because he thought I was Chinese. When he saw that I didn't understand, he spoke to me in English. His story was that he had been a cook for two years on an English merchant ship that traveled between Portsmouth and Shanghai, but now he had married an English girl and had given up his work as the ship's cook to be with his wife. However, he had not been able to find a new job and asked to be my cook. When I told him that I couldn't hire him as my cook because I was a student and ate with a French family, he asked me to help him find work. I told him I would help him as much as I could and asked him to give me his address so I could contact him in the future.
When I returned to Paris, I told the story of the Chinese man to several of the Vietnamese and Chinese students. A few days later, a group of Vietnamese and Chinese came to chat with me and said that most of the Asians in Paris rented rooms and ate in low-class restaurants because it was inexpensive, but the food wasn't very good and there wasn't enough of it. They said that if several people pooled their money, the unemployed Chinese cook could be hired to come and cook for us, and that would be better than eating in French restaurants. It would also be an opportunity to get Chinese food. We all agreed to start a Chinese restaurant for the Asian students, and promised that each of us would pay one hundred francs to pay the fare for the Chinese cook and his wife to come from London and to rent a place for the restaurant. The fund would also buy seasoning for the food from China. Anyone who came to eat at the restaurant would also have to pay one hundred francs to the fund. As for the cost of the food, we decided to work out a system later.
When we had agreed and had collected enough money for our needs, I wrote to the Chinese man asking him to bring his wife and come to Paris, where we had already rented a place for them. When the cook came, we gave him money to buy dishes and utensils for the food, and dozens of Vietnamese, Chinese, Lao, and Cambodian students ate there every day. The cook sent the leftover money to China to buy various • seasonings such as dried salted fish, fish sauce, pickled bamboo shoots, and various other things.
The Underground X-Ray. When the Chinese condiments reached Paris, the Inspector of foodstuffs at Les Halles Market wrote me requesting that I come to his office to inspect the things that had come from China. He thought that they had an inappropriate smell and that he would not pass them. I took the Chinese cook along and went to see him. When the inspector opened the odiferous package containing the fish sauce and dried salted fish, he said it was completely rotten and he couldn't pass it for our use. I explained that this was not the case at all, that the food was still good, the smell was perfectly ordinary, and it wasn't rotten. He was most amazed and wasn't inclined to believe my assurances. I compared the smell with that of the cheese which the French are so fond of eating and asked him if he thought French cheese was rotten. He finally passed the imports for our use and let us take them. Then he took us to see the laboratory in the basement of the market where there were many rooms for the inspection of the food that was sent to be sold in Paris. In the X-ray room, the inspector had the Chinese cook stand in front of the X-ray machine, and X-rayed his bones and body. When the cook saw his own skeleton, he was so terrified his face went pale and his entire body trembled. Having that opportunity to see the laboratory made me feel that the French take admirable care of their people.
Our first restaurant had to be moved within six months. This was because more and more Chinese came to eat there and because the landlord would not extend the lease. So we rented another place near the Odeon Theater.
Temporary Return to Laos and Ordination as a Monk. With the end of the school term in January 1910, I had finished the eighth year of-secondary school, and my father asked me to return temporarily to Laos. When I had been in Luang Prabang for two months, my father asked me to enter the monkhood. I became a monk at Wat Nong Sakeo, which is around three kilometers across the river from Luang Prabang. To receive alms, I had to walk to the city every day, which was extremely difficult for me because I had worn shoes for many years. I had to walk barefoot, the morning mist was cold and damp, my robe was thin, and the monks had shaved off all my hair. Altogether, it was sheer suffering.
Because the Prince was reported to be a troublesome student for his French teacher, his dislike for the French increased, in spite of the fact that he was a monk and had increased patience in body and in spirit. His heart had been resolute from a young age. Once, when he was eight years old and the present King was three years older than he, the King bullied him, and he fought back with his fists. The King lost and was afraid to fight him again. Refusing to give in when unfairly treated was a quality that the Prince had from an early age. Even when an older person bullied him, he wouldn't retreat. When the Prince was eleven years old, his father had an eighteen-year-old royal page who bullied him. Instead of going to tell his father to punish the page, the Prince kept his feelings to himself. One day he found an opportunity for revenge. A stallion and a mare were tied up under the house and were copulating there. The Prince enticed the royal page to come and take a look. To see clearly, he had to bend over. While the page was bent over absorbed in the view, the Prince took a stick of wood and cracked him over the head, which avenged the Prince's feelings. He had been waiting a long time for an opportunity to punish the page, since the page was bigger and the Prince couldn't reach high enough to hit him on the head.
The conduct of Prince Phetsarath is a result of his acting with resolute determination. Thus he is a democrat. He has studied the customs and traditions of foreign countries such as England and France in the mother countries themselves, not from the colonial riffraff. He has seen what is good and desirable. In visiting the people, he mixes with them without consciousness of status. Even with the monks, he conducts himself as a good Buddhist. Thus he is beloved by the people, in contrast to their feelings toward other members of the royal family. Royal custom strictly forbid.^ the people from coming close to the King, so they can only see him from a distance. In contrast, the Prince has a very different approach, and the people feel differently toward him. I need not say whom they love more.
The Prince's First Marriage. When the Prince was young, he was loved by many girls, and several of them wanted to marry him, including the woman who has since become Queen. However, he remembered the grace and kindness of the widowed King and knew that the King wanted this girl. He made the sacrifice of not becoming involved, and instead married the King's older sister who was a widow and was many years older than the Prince. He did this following the desires of his father, the Viceroy, who had long wanted to bind the split between the royal families of Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Thus the Prince's marriage to the King's older sister was done for political reasons and was destined according to the Prince's astrological fate. However, when the Prince spent eleven years in exile in Thailand in order to redeem the independence of Laos from the influence of the French, his chief wife did not accompany him. Some people thought that since it was not a marriage of true love, this absence would not be accompanied with great difficulty. However, in all fairness, it would have been difficult for his wife, who was the older sister of the King, to live in dishonorable poverty. She had to decide between two paths--love for her husband or love for her family honor. If she had come to Thailand out of love for her husband, she would have lost her family honor. She thus decided to remain in Vientiane. Later, the Prince fell in love with a Thai widow of high family, and she was the serious love of his life.
The Royal Family of Luang Prabang
The sons and daughters of King Zakarine are as follows:
(1) Princess Kham Wen married Prince Phetsarath after her husband, Prince Bourapanh, the sixth son of King Mangthathurath, died.
(2) Prince Khieo, or Prince Sisaleumsak, was a few years older than the king of Luang Prabang, but his mother was a commoner.
(3) Prince Settha was born around the same time as King Sisavang-vong, but by a commoner mother.
(4) Prince Khao, who became king under the name of Sisavangvong, was the second son of Queen Thong Si. (Her first son, Prince Duang Chan, might have become king, but he died while still young.) Sisa-vangvong's first queen, Kham Ouan, who died before reaching old age, had the following children:
(a) Prince Savangvatthana [King of Laos from 1959]
(b) Princess Khampheng (who drowned in the Mekong in a boat accident)
(c) Princess Samathi
(d) Prince Intharavong
(e) Prince Phanurangsi
(5) Prince Sisonsai, younger brother of Sisavangvong, went to Thailand and had the following children:
(a) Prince Sisavath, or khun Sisavath, became a civil servant in Bangkok.
(b) Prince Sisaveng
(c) Prince Sisavai is now Lt. Gen. Savai Senyakam, the commander of the Second Army in Nakhon Ratchasima [Northeast Thailand]. You will note that he is a very important prince, who by right could become king without breaking the royal customs of Luang Prabang. His status as prince is equal to that of Sisavangvong, the present  king of Lan Xang-Luang Prabang. The fact that Prince Sisavai has become a high-ranking general in Thailand pleased the royalty and people of Luang Prabang. It is appealing to the people of the east bank of the Mekong to increase their close ties with the Thai government.
(d) Princess Sutsanguan
(e) Princess Khamphiu, who is now  one of the wives of the King of Luang Prabang.
(f) Prince Savath.
(6) Princess Kham Fan is the second queen of King Sisavangvong,
her older brother, but has no children. Princess Kham Fan became chief
queen after Queen Thong Si died.
(7) Princess Kham Tun was Sisavangvong's third queen and had a son named Prince Burattana.
Besides his three queens, King Sisavangvong also had concubines, including Princess In, who had two sons, Prince Sai and Prince Sisumang. The concubine mom La had two sons, Prince Khampan, who is the present  Lao Ambassador to Thailand, and Prince Kham Hing.
Important Members of the Family of the Viceroy
It is interesting to observe that, from the beginning of the royal family until the reign of King Oun Kham, one first had to hold the position of viceroy before one could become king. Before one could be viceroy, one first had to be Ratsavong; and the Ratsavong was selected from among the Ratsabut, or royal sons. However, ever since the reign of King Oun Kham the crown has been handed down from father to son.
Consequently, the lineage of the Viceroy has been separate from that of the royal family of the king.
This site was last updated 07/30/05