Cambodia History

By | November 6, 2021

Cambodia, officially Khmer Preah Reach Ana Pak Kampuchea, German Kingdom of Cambodia, state in mainland Southeast Asia with (2018) 16.2 million residents; The capital is Phnom Penh.

The time of the first settlement of the Cambodian territory is not known, nor is it known which languages ​​were spoken there before the 3rd century AD (introduction of a South Indian script). The earliest established traces of settlement from north-east Cambodia date back to around 4,000 BC. Dated. In prehistoric times the people of this region probably lived in village communities in houses on stilts.

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Funan and Zhenla

As the first historically tangible “state” in the area of present-day Cambodia came under Indian influence.. Just under his Chinese name Funanknown “Empire of the Mountain”, which extended almost over the entire southern part of the present-day countries of Cambodia and Vietnam and beyond that – especially as a sea trading power – had a large area of ​​influence; An embassy exchange with China has been documented since the 3rd century. At the latest from the 6th century, the time of the decline of Funan, the also only under the summarizing Chinese name Zhenla were formed next to or out of its traditional kings and local principalities of the Khmer who paid tribute to China and were perceived by China as an “empire”.

The Chinese annals state that the area was divided into a “land zhenla” (southern Laos, northeastern Cambodia and eastern Thailand) and a “water zhenla” (southern Cambodia), both of which probably comprised several domains.

The Angkor Empire

At the beginning of the 9th century Jayavarman II (802-850), descendant of a previous ruling family, conquered the country back, reunited the empire (beginning of the actual Khmer empire), renounced the sovereignty of the Javanese Shailendradynasty and allowed himself to Appoint “world ruler”. Under his reign the worship of the im Linga was established incarnated god-king (Devaraja) on a mountain in the middle of the respective capital (world axis) to the ruling state ideology, on which the authority and the strict government centralism of the Khmer rulers were based for several centuries. The first written evidence of the (Sanskrit) name Kambuja comes from this time. He refers to the hermit Kambu (Kambu Svayambhuva) who, according to legend, became the ancestor of the Khmer kings through the marriage of the heavenly nymph Mera, who was sent to him by Shiva. Among the successors of Jayavarman II., V. a. under Suryavarman II (1113-50), who professed Vishnuism, and Jayavarman VII.(1181–1219), a follower of Mahayana Buddhism, the Khmer empire experienced the greatest expansion of its political, military and territorial power with the capital Angkor founded in 889 as the center. At the same time it was a period of highest cultural prosperity (monumental buildings of Angkor Vat and Angkor Thom). 1203-20 was Champa, the Cham empire, a province of the Angkor empire, but waged several wars with it.

The social tensions between the ruling aristocracy and the large mass of the peasants who did compulsory labor favored the suppression (from the middle of the 13th century) of the state-sponsoring Devaraja worship, which was not completely abandoned under Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII, but linked to their faith was, through Theravada Buddhism, which appealed to the people; This, however, undermined the ruler’s authority and – combined with an economic decline (especially due to the neglect of the extensive irrigation system, which is important and sophisticated for agriculture) – ushered in the decline of the Khmer Empire.

Under the rule of the Thai and Vietnamese

The emergence of the Thai – in the course of the Tai peoples (Tai) pushing south from their southern Chinese homeland – increasingly called the Khmer rule into question from outside and after repeated conquests and the destruction of Angkor (1431, surrender of the city by the Khmer in 1432) to one Relocation of the capital to what is now Phnom Penh (1434). Weakened inside (first under the kings Ang Chan [1516–66] and Barom Réachéa [1566–76] temporary upswing, 1555 Dominican Father Gaspar da Cruzas the first Portuguese missionary in Cambodia) and still besieged by the Thai, the Khmer state was repeatedly involved in military conflicts with their empire Siam, which in 1594 conquered and destroyed the Khmer capital Lovek (not far north of Phnom Penh); King Satha (1576–94) fled to Laos, against which the Khmer had fought successfully several times in the second half of the 16th century (1570, 1573). From the 17th to the 19th centuries, Cambodia was the subject of a dispute between the Thai and the Vietnamese, who annexed large parts of the country and took turns exercising supremacy. Only in 1618 could the country temporarily regain its independence; the attempt of King Thommo Réachéa (1702–03, 1706–10 and 1738–47) to recapture the occupied territories failed in 1739.

French protectorate

King Norodom I (1860–1904) was forced to give in to the pressure of French expansion in Indochina. In 1863 a “friendship treaty” was signed which granted France the right to represent Cambodia in foreign affairs and to provide military protection. This began the period of the French protectorate (1863–1953). After an unsuccessful popular uprising (1884), France took complete control of the administration of Cambodia; In 1887 it was incorporated into Indochina.

Between the world wars, a national movement against French colonial rule emerged in Cambodia. After France’s defeat in Europe (1940) at the beginning of World War II, the French protectorate administration was forced to provide Japan with military bases in Cambodia, and under Japanese pressure it had to cede Cambodian provinces (Battambang, Siem Reap) to Thailand.

Cambodia History