The kings of Ayutthaya were absolute monarchs with semi-religious status. Their authority derived from the ideologies of Hinduism and Buddhism as well as from natural leadership. The king ofSukhothai was the moral inspiration of the Inscription Number 1 found in Sukhothai, which stated that King Ramkhamhaeng would hear the petition of any subject who rang the bell at the palace gate. The king was thus considered as a father by his people.
At Ayutthaya, however, the paternal aspects of kingship disappeared. The king was consideredchakkraphat, the Sanskrit-Pali term for the Chakravartin who through his adherence to the law made all the world revolve around him. According to Hindu tradition, the king is the Avatar of God Vishnu, the Destroyer of Demons, who was born to be the defender of the people. The Buddhist belief in the king is as the Righteous ruler or Dhammaraja, aiming at the well-being of the people, who strictly follows the teaching of the Buddha.
The kings' official names were reflections of those religions: Hinduism and Buddhism. They were considered as the incarnation of various Hindu gods: Indra, Shiva or Vishnu (Rama). The coronation ceremony was directed by Brahmins as the Hindu god Shiva was "lord of the universe". However, according to the codes, the king had the ultimate duty as protector of the people and the annihilator of evil.
On the other hand, according to Buddhism's influence in place of Hinduism, the king was also believed to be a Bodhisattva or Buddha-like. He followed and respected the Dhamma of the Buddha. One of the most important duties of the king was to build a temple or a Buddha statue as a symbol of prosperity and peace.
For locals, another aspect of the kingship was also the analogy of "The Lord of the Land", (Phra Chao Phaendin), or He who Rules the Earth. According to the court etiquette, a special language, Rachasap (Sanskrit: Rājāśabda, Royal Language), was used to communicate with or about royalty. In Ayutthaya, the king was said to grant control over land to his subjects, from nobles to commoners, according to the Sakna or Sakdina system codified by King Trailokanat (1448–88). The Sakdina system was similar to, but not the same asfeudalism, under which the monarch does not own the land. While there is no concrete evidence that this land management system constituted a formal Palace economy, the FrenchAbbé de Choisy, who came to Ayutthaya in 1685, wrote, "the king has absolute power. He is truly the god of the Siamese: no-one dares to utter his name." Another 17th-century writer, the Dutchman Jan van Vliet, remarked that the King of Siam was "honoured and worshipped by his subjects second to god." Laws and orders were issued by the king. For sometimes the king himself was also the highest judge who judged and punished important criminals such as traitors or rebels.
In addition to the Sakdina system, another of the numerous institutional innovations of King Trailokanat was to adopt the position of uparaja, translated as "viceroy" or "prince", usually held by the king's senior son or full brother, in an attempt to regularize the succession to the throne—a particularly difficult feat for a polygamous dynasty. In practice, there was inherent conflict between king and uparaja and frequent disputed successions. However, it is evident that the power of the Throne of Ayutthaya had its limit. The hegemony of the Ayutthaya king was always based on his charisma in terms of his age and supporters. Without supporters, bloody coups took place from time to time. The most powerful figures of the capital were always generals, or the Minister of Military Department, Kalahom. During the last century of Ayutthaya, the bloody fighting among princes and generals, aiming at the throne, plagued the court.