2) Chenla’s Period
5) King Bhavavarman
(AD 560—AD 600, Capital: Vyadharapura)
King Bhavavarman was the son-in-law of King Kaundinya Jayavarman. He was of Chenlan origin. After the death of King Kaundinya Jayavarman, most of the tributary states such as Chenla and Champa had revolted against Funan to gain independence. In order to regain control over Funan, King Bhavavarman dispatched his brother, Chetrasena, to neutralize the usurper, Prince Rudravarman. The campaign to take control over Funan lasted about 10 years. Finally, Funan was brought under the domain of Chenla with the ascendancy of King Bhavavarman to the throne around AD 560.
King Bhavavarman changed the name Funan to Kambuja [Kampuchea or Cambodia] to reflect the names of the mythological creators of Chenla named Kambu and Mera, which, eventually, became the official name for the Cambodian Kingdom until now.
King Bhavavarman was a very intelligent and courageous warrior who would wage wars against neighboring kingdoms to expand his territory. During his reign, Cambodia was a huge empire covering almost the entire Indochinese Peninsula including present-day Thailand.
6) King Mahendravarman
(AD 600—AD 610?, Capital:…….?
After the death of King Bhavavarman, his brother, Chetrasena, ascended the throne in AD 600 as King Mahendravarman. Soon after his ascendancy to the throne, King Mahendravarman began to stage another campaign for territorial expansion. He succeeded in annexing a few more territories to his kingdom. However, he had to contend with the existence of the Kingdom of Champa to the east, for it was too formidable for him to subdue it. King Mahendravarman died around AD 610.
7) King Isanavarman I
(AD 610—AD 635, Capital: Isanapura)
In AD 610, King Isanavarman I ascended the throne in Cambodia. To ensure a peaceful relationship with Champa, King Isanavarman married a Cham princess, and using Cham officers to serve in his army. He also set new rules for succession that only the sons of the queen could ascend the throne. Once a new heir was proclaimed, all his brothers had to have either a nose or a finger amputated in order to “disable” them from eligibility. They were also permanently forbidden to hold government office and had to reside in separate locations, lest there be any collusion.
During his reign, King Isanavarman I had built hundreds of palaces and temples. He was very fond of jewelry and grandiose lifestyle. He wore earrings and crown adorned with precious stones. Everywhere he went and stayed, he would always order his subjects to provide him with impeccable accommodation. For example, people would burn aromatic wood in portable fireplaces made of gold to provide pleasant scent in his palace.
Toward the end of his reign, King Isanavarman I succeeded in annexing the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati. After the annexation of Dvaravati, King Isanavarman I died in AD 635.
8) King Indravarman I
(AD 635—AD….?, Capital:…?
After the death of King Isanavarman I, King Indravarman I ascended the throne. There were no records on King Indravarman I’s reign, except for the fact that he was not related to King Isanavarman I. King Indravarman I had a son named Jayavarman who succeeded him in AD 655.
9) King Jayavarman I
(AD 655--AD 681, Capital: Isanapura)
King Jayavarman I was the son of King Indravarman I. He ascended the throne in AD 655. After succeeding his father, he tried to reunite and reorganize Cambodia into a cohesive kingdom. He also ensured that all territories the Cambodians acquired throughout the years were properly maintained and protected.
King Jayavarman I was cunning, intelligent, and brave that most of his enemies were quite afraid of him. They did not dare to encroach on his territories. However, in the royal chronicles, there were no references that he had ever waged war against any neighboring states.
Aside from reuniting Cambodia, King Jayavarman I also organized scholars and intellectuals to work for the good of the nation. He surrounded himself with mostly men of intellect who would help him strengthen his kingdom socially, politically, and economically. During his reign, King Jayavarman I had brought peace and tranquility to Cambodia, which enabled him to build a few more monuments to add to the legacy of previous Kings. However, after his death, King Jayavarman I left no heir behind to ascend the throne. Thus, the Cambodian Kingdom was then divided into two principalities, known as Upper Chenla (or Land Chenla) and Lower Chenla (Water Chenla). There were three rulers, Queen Jayadevi (King Bhavavarman’s daughter), Prince Pushkara of Aninditapura (present-day Southern Laos), and Prince Baladitya (who claimed to be descendent of King Kaundinya I and Queen Liv Yi) claiming sovereignty over this divided kingdom.
By AD 706, the partition of Chenla was completed. The two Chenlas appeared to have been divided along the northeastern fringe of Tonle Sap Lake. Upper Chenla was located north of Tonle Sap Lake with its capital at Sambhupura (north of Kratie, possibly at present-day Vat Phu, Laos) whereas Lower Chenla was located to the south with its capital at Angkor Borey (Takeo Province). It was during this time that Lower Chenla was brought under the wrath of the kingdom of Java (modern day Indonesia and Malaysia). According to legend, the Sailendra Maharaja of Zabag heard a rumor that the Cambodian/Chenlan king wished to see the Maharaja’s head on a plate. Enraged, the Maharaja sent one thousand armed junks to teach the king of Chenla a lesson. After capturing the Khmer or Chenlan king, the Maharaja beheaded him, put his severed head on a plate, and set sail for Java. After this event, Chenla or Cambodia became a vassal state of Java for almost 100 years.
(To be continued)