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Far East Kingdoms

South East Asia

 

Khmer Empire
AD 802 - 1432

The capital of the empire was at Angkor, which was founded in 889 by Jayavarman II and finally abandoned in 1432. At its height the kingdom extended even farther than its predecessor, taking in more territory to the north and reaching far down into the Thai peninsula. The numbering of kings continued from that of Chen-La.

The empire absorbed this kingdom and its many city-state principalities in what seems to have been a very brief period of time. Many of those city states are barely known by history, such as Ampil Rolum, Aninditapura, Canasapura (perhaps a little later than the 802-809 period in which the Khmer empire was founded), and Vyadhapura.

It was customary for a Khmer emperor to build one or more grand temples during his reign in honour of his ancestors. It was Suryavarman II who decided to build a temple which was greater than any that had gone before - the great temple of Ankor Wat.

Cambodia's historic past

(Additional information by Ben Lawrie, and from the two-part BBC documentary series, Jungle Atlantis, first screened on 25 September 2014.)

802 - 850

Jayavarman II

Founder. Numbering continued from Chen-La.

802

Jayavarman II is a vassal of the Sumatran state of Sri Vijaya. Now he asserts his independence, unites Upper Chen-La and Lower Chen-La and other rival fiefdoms and, on the plain near the site of the future Angkor, he builds his capital of Harlharalaya.

He is declared the universal monarch, chakravartin ('supreme king of kings') on the Kulen Hills. He brings under his rule much of what is now Cambodia, southern Thailand, southern Laos, and much of south-western Vietnam. Chen-La, however, appears to survive as a separate entity until at least 809.

Mahabalipuram Temple
Between about 802-809 Jayavarman II of Lower Chen-La unified the region, shrugged off his overlords on Sumatra, and established his capital at Harlharalaya (shown here) to found the beginnings of the Khmer empire

850 - 877

Jayavarman III

Brother to Jyestha of Chen-La.

c.850 - 870

Chen-La has retained its identity, seemingly for some decades as a vassal state of the Khmer empire. It has been governed from Isanapura in Upper Chen-La by Jyestha, daughter of Jayavarman II and Jayendrabha. Upon her death in this period, Chen-La is merged fully into the holdings of her brother, Jayavarman III.

877 - 889

Indravarman I

Great-grandson of Indrani of Chen-La.

889 - 900

Yasovarman I

Son of Indradevi. Descendant of Pushkara  of Aninditapura.

900 - c.922

Harshavarman I

c.922 - 928

Isanavarman II

928 - 942

Jayavarman IV

942 - 944

Harshavarman II

944 - 968

Rajendravarman II

968 - 1001

Jayavarman V

1001 - 1002

Udayadityavarman I

1002 - c.1011

Jayaviravarman

1002 - 1050

Suryavarman I

1050 - 1066

Udayadityavarman II

1066 - 1090

Harshavarman III

1075 - 1076

 

The Northern Sung have introduced revolutionary and very fair-minded economic reforms. Nevertheless, these have incensed opponents who would rather retain the old tithe and tribute practices. Lý Nhân Tông of Dai Viet and his regent mother see an opportunity to interfere militarily, sparking the Sino–Vietnamese War of 1075-1076.

The Viet besiege Yongzhou but suffer high casualties due to resistance from inside the city walls. When they finally break through those walls they slaughter close to sixty thousand people.

The Sung response is delivered in 1076 in the form of an invasion of Dai Viet. Sung vassal states - Khmer and Champa - support them. Fortunes swing and both sides win a major battle, but casualties are tremendously high. Both sides are happy to sue for peace and the Sung withdraw, gradually.

1090 - 1107

Jayavarman VI

1107 - 1113

Dharanindravarman I

Ineffectual ruler. Killed.

1113

Suryavarman kills Dharanindravarman in battle, seizing his throne at the tender age of seventeen. The empire is still in a state of civil war.

1113 - 1150

Suryavarman II

Built temple & mausoleum of Angkor Wat.

1120 - 1150

Work is started on the great temple of Suryavarman II, digging out the foundations in the middle of the jungle.

Construction of the temple and mausoleum of Angkor Wat is completed in 1150. By the end of the century, Angkor is a bustling metropolis covering a thousand square kilometres of territory.

Records concerning the death of Suryavarman and of the immediate events afterwards have not survived. The empire seems to fall into a state of chaos.

1150 - 1160

Dharanindravarman II

1160 - 1166

Yasovarman II

Dethroned and killed.

1166 - 1177

Tribhuvanadityavarman

Usurper. Executed by Champa.

1177 - 1181

Jaya Indravarman IV of Champa is guided by a Chinese castaway when he attacks the Khmer capital without warning and with a powerful fleet. He pillages the city and puts to death Tribhuvanadityavarman without listening to a single peace proposal.

This event produces a great deal of hatred for Champa. The rightful Khmer king, Jayavarman VII, wages a series of battles against the Cham invaders. Especially noteworthy is a naval battle which finally rids the state of its oppressors. Angkor Thom is strengthened and fortified in its final format.

1181 - c.1219

Jayavarman VII

Son of Dharanindravarman. Conquered Champa.

1190 - 1191

Jayavarman VII turns the tables by conquering Panduranga in 1190, and then taking Vijaya. Champa's King Jaya Indravarman IV is captured by the Khmer general and Cham prince, Vidyanandana, and is taken away as a prisoner.

1203 - 1220

The throne is again vacant. The end of the medieval period also sees dramatic shifts in climate across South-East Asia. Tree ring samples record sudden fluctuations between extreme dry and wet conditions, and a modern (2014) lidar map of Angkor Wat reveals catastrophic flood damage to the city's vital water network. With this lifeline in tatters, Angkor enters a spiral of decline from which it never recovers.

c.1219 - 1243

Indravarman II

1243 - 1295

Jayavarman VIII

1295 - 1308

Indravarman III

1308 - 1327

Indrajayavarman

1327 - 1353

Jayavarman Paramesvara

1353 - 1362

The throne is again vacant. The end of the medieval period also sees dramatic shifts in climate across South-East Asia. Tree ring samples record sudden fluctuations between extreme dry and wet conditions, and a modern (2014) lidar map of Angkor Wat reveals catastrophic flood damage to the city's vital water network. With this lifeline in tatters, Angkor enters a spiral of decline from which it never recovers.

1362 - 1369

Nippean Bat

1369 - 1375

The Khmer are controlled by Lan Na. As a result they lose much of their power for the next century, while they are embroiled in conflicts with the Thais.

1371 - ?

Kalamegha

Ruled from Basan.

14th cent.

Kambujadhitaja

Recovered Angkor Wat.

14th cent.

Dharmasokaraja

? - 1389

The Khmer again fall under the control of the Thai kingdom of Lan Na.

1389 - 1404

Ponthea Yat

1404 - 1429

Narayana Ramadhipati

1429 - 1444

Sri Bodhya

1431 - 1432

The Khmer are defeated by Lan Na in 1431. The following year the capital is moved southwards to Phnom Penh. Angkor Wat is abandoned to the jungle and the seeds of modern Cambodia are sown.

1444 - 1486

Dharmara Jadhiraja

1486 - 1512

Sri Sukonthor

1512 - 1516

Ney Kan

1516 - 1566

Ang Chan I

1566 - 1576

Barom Reachea I

1576 - 1594

Chettha I

1594

Phnom Penh is captured by Lan Na.

1594 - 1596

Reamea Chung Prey

1596 - 1599

Barom Reachea II

1599 - 1600

Barom Reachea III

1600 - 1603

Chau Ponhea Nhom

1603 - 1618

Barom Reachea IV

1618 - 1622

Chettha II

1622 - 1628

Interregnum.

1628

Ponhea To

1628 - 1642

Outey

1630 - 1642

Ponhea Nu

1640 - 1642

Ang Non I

1642 - 1659

Chan

1659 - 1672

Barom Reachea V

1672 - 1673

Chettha III

1673 - 1674

Ang Chei

1674 - 1675

Ang Non

1675 - 1695

Chettha IV

1695 - 1699

Outey I

1699 - 1701

Ang Em

1701 - 1702

Chettha IV

Restored?

1702 - 1703

Thommo Reachea II

1703 - 1706

Chettha IV

Restored? d.c.1725.

1706 - 1710

Thommo Reachea II

Restored?

1710 - 1722

Ang Em

Restored? d.1730.

1722 - 1738

Satha II

1738 - 1747

Thommo Reachea II

Restored?

1747

Thommo Reachea III

1747 - 1749

Ang Tong

1749 - 1755

Chettha V

1755 - 1758

Ang Tong

1758 - 1775

Outey II

1775 - 1796

Ang Non II

1796 - 1806

Interregnum.

1806 - 1837

Ang Chan II

Recaptured throne in 1812. A Vietnamese puppet in later years.

1831 - 1834

The Siamese-Vietnamese War has the alternate title of the Siamese-Cambodian War. Following Ang Chan's recapture of the Cambodian throne in 1812, the Siamese have been moving into northern Cambodia and then advancing towards the south in support of their own claimant. The Cambodians are routed at the Battle of Kompong Chang in 1832, and Ang Chan is forced to flee to Vietnam. Siam is soon distracted by a revolt by the Cambodians at the same time as the Vietnamese-controlled Laos revolt. A Vietnamese army of 15,000 advances towards the Siamese in 1833, forcing the latter to withdraw. Ang Chan is restored, albeit as a Vietnamese puppet.

1837 - 1841

Ang Mey

Queen. Installed by Vietnam. Overthrown.

1841 - 1845

The 'Siamese-Vietnamese War in Cambodia', as it is known, has seen increasing Vietnamese influence in Cambodia during the reign of Queen Ang Mey. The Cambodians rebel in 1841, overthrowing the pro-Vietnamese elements and appealing to Siam.

Their chosen candidate is Prince Ang Duong, and he is duly installed by force in 1842. Viet Nam and Siam now face strike and counter-strike by their respective armies while the Cambodians rebel against the same Siamese heavy-handedness which had started the war in the first place.

On 13 September 1845, the Vietnamese take Phnom Penh and Siam is forced to withdraw. During the subsequent peace negotiations, Cambodia is placed under joint Siamese-Vietnamese protection.

1841 - 1859

Ang Duong

Installed by Siam.

1858 - 1863

In April 1858 a young French explorer, Henri Mouhot, sails from London to South-East Asia. For the next three years he travels widely, discovering exotic jungle insects that still bear his name. Today he would be all but forgotten were it not for his journal, published in 1863, two years after he dies of fever in Laos, aged just 35.

Readers are gripped by his vivid descriptions of vast temples consumed by the jungle: Mouhot introduces the world to the lost medieval city of Angkor and its romantic, awe-inspiring splendour. 'One of these temples, a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo, may take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome,' he writes. The largest of these buildings is Angkor Wat, constructed around 1150, which remains the biggest religious complex on Earth, covering an area four times larger than Vatican City.

1859 - 1904

Norodom I

Vassal of Siam.

1863

Norodom requests that France establish a protectorate over Cambodia, ending joint Siamese-Vietnamese protection. Siam voluntarily relinquishes its role and recognises the French protectorate of Cambodia. Viet Nam has its own problems, with creeping French colonial activities taking place within its borders.

1887 - 1888

Now firmly in control of the imperial throne, the French unite Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina, and Cambodia into the 'Union of Indochina', otherwise known as French Indochina. In 1888, the French capture the Viet rebel emperor, Ham Nghi, and exile him to Algeria.

1893

France creates Laos out of the kingdom of Luang Prabang and the province of Xieng Khouang and added Laos to French Indochina.

1904 - 1927

Sisovath

1927 - 1941

Sisovath Monivong

1941 - 1955

Norodom II Sihanouk

1940 - 1941

From about October 1940 onwards, Thailand under the military domination of Lord Plaek Phibul Songkhram begins attacking the eastern banks of the Mekong between Vientiane and Champassak province, intent on creating a pan-Thai empire.

This erupts into a full Thai invasion of Laos in January 1941, but initial victories soon give way to a stalemate when the French colonial authorities of French Indochina win a great naval victory at Ko Chang.

Their Japanese overlords mediate a ceasefire, compelling the French colonial government to cede Champasak and Xaignabouli province in Laos and Battambang province in Cambodia to Thailand. This ends the war.

1941 - 1945

Japanese occupation.

1955 - 1960

Norodom III Suramarit

1960 - 1970

Norodom II Sihanouk

Prince & Head of State.

 
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