KHMER HISTORY

LOOSE CHRONOLOGY of KHMER HISTORY

Note - this is a skeleton (with sources removed) of the working chronology used in the research for Nice Hat!  It is neither comprehensive nor should it be considered to be 100% accurate.   It was drawn from numerous (often contradictory) sources and was mainly intended as a way to place certain major themes and entities in relation to each other.  Some of the key sources are noted in the accompanying bibliography. 

6th C – 9th C (a.d.) PRE ANGKORIAN PERIOD

  • 540 - Funan prince married ChenLa princess uniting Solar and Lunar Dynasties.  First capital of fused kingdom @ Sambor
  • 616-635 -  King Ishanavarman established new capital at Sambor Prei Kuk near modern Kampong Thom
  • 657-681 - Jayavarman I  - moved capital to Angkor  Borei near modern Takeo
  • 7th C - Chen-La period – two sections of country: Chen La of Land (no flooding) and Chen La of Water (Flooding)
  • End 8th C - Chen La (water) region subjugated by Java’s Saliendra Dyn.
  • A Mixed Buddhist(Mahayana) & Hindu culture

9th C – 13th C (a.d.)  ANGKORIAN PERIOD

  • 802-850 – Jayavarman II, born in Java, returned and claimed independence from Java, founding the Angkor kingdom north of Tonle Sap. He was crowned by Brahmin, first Khmer to claim to be devaraja (or God King.) This monarchy identified with the Hindu deity, Shiva.  Subsequent temple building to house royal lingam (phallic symbols of Shiva and Devaraja).  First capital: Indrapura (near contemporary Kampong Cham).   Next capital: Wat Phu (in Laos) and final capital: Rolous @ Angkor
  • 877-889 – Indravarman – first of great Angkor temple builders.   Built Preah Ko and Bakong (Roluos).  Believed to have built the first of the great artificial lakes (barays) in the capital region.
  • 889-900 – Yasovarman – moved capital from Roluos, built foundation of Angkor  called Yasoharapura.  Developed Tonle Sap water system.  Built the Eastern Baray (artificial lake), and Lolei, Phnom Bakheng temples
  • 921-941 – Jayavarman IV – setup rival capital at Koh Ker
  • 941-944 - Harshavarman II -- Khmer conquest of Champa people
  • 944-968 – Rajendravarman – moved capital back to Angkor – set up (Mahayana) Buddhist temples at Angkor
  • 968-1001 - Jayavarman V - built Phimeanakas, Banteay Srei
  • 1002/1011-1050 Suryavarman 1 may have come from Malay peninsula – extended Angkorian kingdom to  Laos & Thailand He was Hindu, but allowed continuation of (Mahayana) Buddhism.  Built Ta Keo (n. of Angkor Thom) and Phimeanakas pyramid.  Severe internal revolt and fragmentation after his death
  • 1080-1107 Jayavarman VI new kingdom.  New monuments at Wat Phou, and Preah Vihear (Phra Viham) and Phimealk in Thailand.
  • 1113-1150 Suryavarman II built Angkor Wat, also Banteay Samre, Bang Melea, Chey Say Tevoda, Thommanon. Kingdom stretched fr Laos to Thailand to Malay peninsula to Southern Vietnam. Regional capitals connected by roads. Deposed Champa king in 1149 (they soon regained independence).  Died during attack on Annam (area of Northern Vietnam).  Unusual in his dedication as King to Hindu deity, Vishnu.  Probably Angkor Wat is the only temple dedicated to Vishnu
  • 1177  - Chams sack Angkor
  • 1181- 1218  Jayavarman VII – Mahayana Buddhist, but sent son Tamalinda to Ceylon where he studied Theravada Buddhism (based on Pali canon). Greatest expanse of Khmer kingdom… to Burma and Northern Annam.   Major work was the capital zone of Angkor Thom (beginning in 1200) including Bayon, but built Preah Kahn( for father - with statue of father as Lokesevara), Built Ta Prohm ( for mother), Also built Ta Sohm, Banteay Kdei, and hospitals and roads throughout kingdom.
  • 1220 approx - widespread conversion to Therevada Buddhism from loose form of Shiva-istic Hinduism w/ Mahayana overtones.  From 12th Century onwards, Buddhism plays a dominant role in the Khmer world
  • 1296  - Chinese emissary Chou Ta-Kuan left extensive written descriptions of the Angkorian capital region from his extended visit. This is the oldest extant written description of ancient Angkorian life and includes observations about regular people, commerce, the royalty, and ceremonial activities in the court.
  • 13th / 14th C - Thai incursions
  • 1431 – Abandonment of Angkor as Sukothai kingdom moved in.  Still debated whether the retreat from the Angkorian region was due exclusively to invasion, or whether local famines, floods, or pestilence might have contributed to the collapse. 

14th C – 20th C  POST ANGKORIAN PERIOD

Abandonment of Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism – leaving Theravada Buddhism predominant.  Extensive building of pagodas (vihara) and Buddhist statues, plus modification of some Hindu temples into Buddhist temples ( including Angkor Wat North Gallery).  General dearth of stone statuary, though there is some.  More in Wood and bronze.

  • 1434 -   court moved to Phnom Penh
  • 1473 – Siamese moved in and sacked capital again
  • 1512-1515 - Earliest known European written reference to Cambodia in Suma Oriental written by Tome Pires, extracted from eyewitness accounts of Gaspar de Cruz (Portuguese Missionary) who went to Lovek.
  • 1593 -  appeal of King Chan (capital at Lovek) to Spanish government in Philippines for help against the Siamese, even offering to convert to Catholicism
  • 1594 - Lovek fell to Siamese. King Chan had fled to Lao.  This fall of Lovek considered important in Cambodian historiography.
  • 1595-1600 Cambodia under influence of Philippine based Spanish adventrurers Blas Ruiz and Diego De Veloso.  Foreign quarters established in Lovek,  including separate quarters for Chinese, Japanese, Arabs, Spanish, and Portuguese as well as traders from the Indonesian archipelago.
  • 1640’s Cambodian king married a Malay and converted to Islam
  • 17th C - new capital Udong - according to Dutch traders, foreigners required to live in separate quarters. 
  • 1779 - Thai sponsored crowning @ Udong of 7 yr old Prince ENG

19th-early 20th C

  • 1812 - capital moved to Phnom Penh
  • 1830’s - Domination by Thailand
  • 1848 -  King Duang crowned, under Thai sponsorship ( Udong)
  • 1864 - Coronation of King Norodom cosponsored by Thai and French,
  • 1860 - Henri Mouhot explores Angkor.  Not the first Westerner to do so, but he was the one to popularize it in the Western (especially French)  mind
  • 1863 – French arrival
  • 1864 – King Norodom agreed to French Protectorate
  • 1873 - Publication of Louis Delaporte /Francis Garnier “Voyage d’Exploration en Indo-Chine”
  • 1880’s French attempted to abolish slavery
  • 1884 -  King Norodom conceded that Cambodia should become a French Colony (with Laos and Vietnam as Union Indochinoise).  French  alternately supported the Norodoms and the Sihanouks as kings
  • 1904 - King Sisowath succeeded Norodom - fervent Buddhist, close to French.  (brother of Norodom)
  • 1906 - King Sisowath coronation
  • 1906 - King Sisowath traveled to the Colonial exhibition in France with an entourage including the royal ballet.  Cambodian dance performed in the exhibition.
  • 1907 – French protectorate forces Thailand to return Battambang region  and Siem Reap region to Cambodia
  • 1920’s - French planted rubber estates in Kompong Chom
  • 1927 – death of King Sisowath
  • 1930’s - new palace built for King Monivong - (during depression!)
  • 1938 - First Khmer Novel, “Tonle Sap”
  • 1941 - 18 yr old Norodom Sihanouk crowned King
  • 1942 -  Monk riots over arrest of 2 monks who made anti-French proclamations
  • 1940’s -  French Vichy government encouraged idealization of Jayavarman 7 and ancient Angkor
  • 1945 Mar – Japanese ousted French and urged Sihanouk to declare independence,
  • 1945 Aug – French back in power, negotiations for Independence began
  • 1946 – French abolished absolute monarchy, National Assembly elected, Constitution created, King remained head of state

LATE 20th Century   CAMBODIA

  • 1952 – King Sihanouk dissolved Nat’l Assembly and steered toward independence from France.  He stayed in exile until…
  • 1953 – France conceded independence
  • 1953 - Sihanouk traveled back home to Cambodia through Canada, U.S. and Japan, with extensive publicity.
  • 1953 –Cambodian Independence – renamed Kingdom Of Cambodia
  • 1955 April – Sihanouk abdicated the royal crown ( to his father) , in order to hold power as elected leader. Sihanouk holds title of Prince
  • 1960’s - Vietnam War ongoing.  Sihanouk leaned in alliance to National Liberation Front  (NLF) in Vietnam (allied with Hanoi) assuming the Communists would win in the war.
  • 1963 - Sihanouk rejects US aid, including military.  Sihanouk very concerned about assassination of Diem in Vietnam, (even though he didn’t like him) and began courting other countries (like France) to get a distance from US influence.
  • 1963-6 - Sihanouk very controlling of news, refusing re-admittance to foreign journalists who wrote against him
  • 1963 - appears that Pol Pot et al had grouped in forest by this point. KWP = precursor of CPK which became Khmer Rouge
  • 1964 - Gulf of Tonkin resolution authorizes Johnson to take executive action against N.Vietnam
  • 1965 – Sihanouk cuts links w/ Washington after US troops enter Vietnam
  • 1965-66 -  NLF troops retreating to Cambodia from North Vietnam
  • 1966 - Visit of Charles DeGaullle to Cambodia - extensively stage-managed. Apsara performance @ Angkor Wat 
  • 1966 - Half hearted election for assembly.  Sihanouk places Lon Nol as Prime Minister
  • 1967 – Peasant uprising in NW provinces of Cambodia – many thousands killed under Sihanouk government
  • 1967-69 - extremely weak economy
  • 1969 - Sihanouk restores relations w/ US -- US officials hold on to his tacit agreement that they could attack Viet Cong in unpopulated areas.
  • 1969, May 18 -  US began bombing Cambodia secretly.  Some 550,000 tons of bombs dropped.  Phnom Penh swells from population of 600,000 to around 2 million due to refugees from the bombing.
  • 1970 – 1975   Lon Nol Regime (Lon Nol ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk by coup d’etat with apparent US support by coup while Sihanouk in Moscow)  - renamed Khmer Republic. 
  • 1970, April 30 -   Nixon publicly announces US military intervention in Cambodia (though it had been going on already) to  supposedly deny Viet Cong  use of Sihanoukville port
  • 1972 - Vietnam pulling out, CPK (Khmer Rouge precursor) taking more control
  • 1973 -  US began carpet bombing ostensibly targeting ‘communist controlled areas’ of Cambodia to ‘support Lon Nol’
  • 1973 - US congress stops US bombing of Cambodia
  • 1973 - Sihanouk slips into ‘liberated’ Cambodia (coming from China down Ho Chi Minh trail, escorted by VN/ KR)
  • 1974 - Nixon resigns US presidency
  • 1975, April 17 - Khmer Rouge enter Phnom Penh
  • 1975-79 -  Khmer Rouge Regime  (lead by Pol Pot and Ieng Sary).  Renamed Democratic Kampuchea.   Estimated 1 to 3 million deaths** from execution, starvation and forced labour during this regime.    ** Please note Rithy Panh’s comments in ‘Nice Hat!’ about the risk of utilizing the oft quoted mortality numbers for the Khmer Rouge period.
    1978 - Two American journalists and Scottish Marxist academic, Malcolm Caldwell, visit DK -- first admission of any outside journalists to the country during the KR regime. Malcolm Caldwell shot in his hotel room on last night.
  • 1976 April - Sihanouk resigns as head of state.  (He had held that title under the Khmer Rouge, but was mostly under house arrest.)
  • 1979 Liberation from Khmer Rouge central control by invasion of Vietnamese forces. Commencing occupation / close relations with Vietnam. Renamed People’s Republic Of Kampuchea
  • 1980’s -  Vietnamese domination.  Despite horrific starvation conditions, Cambodia was refused aid by the West and shut out of UN representation (except for exiled representatives like Sihanouk)  due to US/UK/China objections over the influence of Vietnam.    Some subsistence assistance came in from the USSR and other Eastern block sources.
  • 1989  - Country renamed State Of Cambodia (Roet Kampuchea)
  • 1991 - Paris Peace AccordsUNTAC devised to broker some workable peace scheme between the remaining Khmer Rouge factions ( their power base had retreated to the mountains and jungles ) the Vietnamese sponsored central governments (which included the current Prime Minister, Hun Sen) and the factions supporting King Sihanouk.
  • 1991, Nov 14 - Norodom Sihanouk returns to Cambodia
  • 1992-93 - UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) operation in Cambodia. Said to be most expensive operation of its kind to that date costing over 1.5 billion US$.  Emphasis to hold peace together and begin to repair devastated infrastructure.
  • 1993 -  elections under UN auspices, coalition gov’t. formed between Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh (as Prime Minster) Ranariddh was a son of Sihanouk and thus represented the royalist faction.
  • 1993, Sept 24th - Sihanouk re-installed as king (with a leaf) “Sihanouk with his new symbolic leaf pays respect to the new flag” is the Phnom Penh Post  caption.
  • 1996 – Sihanouk pardons Ieng Sary ( Brother #2) 
  • 1997 – Hun Sen coup ousts Prince Ranariddh and most of his Funcinpec party from govt.
  • 1998, April 15  - death of Pol Pot ( Saloth Sar)
  • 1999 – Cambodia joins ASEAN
  • 2004, Oct  - abdication of Norodom Sihanouk due to poor health, ascension of King Norodom Sihamoni .