Nadal is the only second player in history to win the same Grand Slam on 11 occasions after Margaret Court, who won 11 Australian Open titles between 1960 and 1973.
"There is a reason why he won 11 times here", said Thiem, a 24-year-old Austrian appearing in his first major final.
Thiem was trying to become only the second Austrian grand slam champion after Tomas Muster's 1995 Paris triumph and played his part in the tussle that lasted two hours and 42 minutes, but was unable to sustain the high-octane tennis needed to unnerve Nadal.
The number of Grand Slam finals now contested by Nadal, extending his position at second on the men's Open Era leaderboard, behind Federer (30) and ahead of Djokovic (21) and Lendl (19). "I think he is really good".
Come rain or shine, the passing of the years or a worrying attack of cramp in the hand, nothing seems to be able to stop Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
Nadal celebrated in relatively low key fashion, but then there is not much novelty value in this.
But against Thiem, there was nothing wrong with Nadal's start. "When someone wins 11 times here, for me it's unbelievable", he told reporters.
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He's the only player to beat Nadal on clay in the past two years - in Rome last year and in Madrid last month. He has won every final he has reached, and in those 11 finals he has dropped just six sets.
Thiem was still on the back foot in the third set, being forced to save four break points in the first game.
Thiem was under the cosh, saving four break points in the first game of the third set before Nadal inevitably broke for 2-1. But from 4-all in the opening set, Nadal grabbed five games in a row and was in charge.
After winning just one point in the first two games, Thiem dragged himself back into the contest, only to throw away the opening set with an erratic 10th game as he was broken to love.
Thiem wasted a break point in the seventh game as Nadal collected a time violation for taking too long to serve.
There was no disguising what it still means to him, though, as the tears welled up after being handed the Coupe des Mousquetaires from former great Ken Rosewall.
Unfortunately for him, Thiem began the second set the same way he ended the first. After guzzling water during his visit from the doctor, Nadal was back to playing his unmistakable brand of almost unbeatable clay-court tennis.