18) King Rajendravarman II
(AD 944--AD 968, Capital: Koh Ker & Angkor)
King Rajendravarman II was a nephew of King Jayavarman IV. After dethroning his cousin, King Harshavarman II, he ascended the throne at Koh Ker for only one year then moved the capital back to Angkor. At Angkor, he ordered the construction of more monuments and temples and made repairs to the city after being abandoned for a few years.
King Rajendravarman II had fought with the Chams (Champa) numerous times and made Champa a tributary state. At the end of his reign, Cambodia had more than 60 tributary states,1 which would send suzerainties to the Khmer court regularly.
19) King Jayavarman V
(AD 968--AD 1001, Capital: Angkor)
King Jayavarman V was the son of King Rajendravarman II. During his reign, there was no record about conquest or war between Cambodia and its neighbors. Around this period, the influence of Buddhism had been widespread throughout Southeast Asia. However, most of the Khmer kings still adhered to Brahmanism/Hinduism. According to historical records, Buddhism had been coming to Cambodia since AD 450. However, it was until AD 490 that some Cambodian kings allowed its practice. Hence, many non-Buddhists began to join the faith.
Within the complex of Angkor near the Bayon Monument, there remained a big Buddha statue known as the Buddha of Kauk Thlok, which was built around AD 943. King Jayavarman V died in 1001 and received a burial name as Paramaviraloka.
20) King Udayadityavarman I
After the death of King Jayavarman V, his nephew, Udayadityavarman, succeeded him. However, King Udayadityavarman I was an incompetent ruler. His reign lasted less than one year, for he was unable to cope with the rivalry between two princes named Jayaviravarman, who took over the leadership at Angkor, and Suryavarman, who ruled over territories to the east. The two princes fought each other for 9 years; finally, Suryavarman was able to consolidate his power over the throne at Angkor in 1010.
21) King Suryavarman I
(AD 1002-1049, Capital: Angkor)
King Suryavarman I was a descendant of King Yasovarman I. Prior to his accession to the throne, most of the vassal kingdoms settling along the Dangrek Mountain Range and the Me Nam River valley had revolted against Cambodia. Also, there was a rival prince, Jayaviravarman, who took advantage of the chaotic situation to seize the throne at Angkor. So, he had to wage war against both the rebelling vassals and the renegade prince for 9 years before he could become king.
After the war with the uprising vassal kingdoms, King Suryavarman I forged alliance with China and Champa in order to form defensive axis against the Vietnamese who were planning to invade neighboring states and make these states their vassals. The Vietnamese had been settling in the area known as Tonkin (present-day Northern Vietnam) north of Champa.
King Suryavarman I had built two monuments--one at Mount Chiso, in Batie, Takeo province, and the other at Mount Santuk, Kompong Thom province. He was a devout Buddhist; thus, after he died, he received a posthumous name of Preah Nirvanabat.
22) King Udayadityavarman II
(1049--1065, Capital: Angkor)
King Udayadityavarman II was the son of King Suryavarman I. He succeeded the throne in 1049. During his reign, Cambodia was a pariah kingdom, for it had to undergo a few times of turmoil and uprisings. In 1051, a warrior named Aranvindharada led a revolt against the king, but he was defeated and forced to flee to Champa. In 1065, another revolt, led by a general named Kamvau, had taken place. But it too was quelled, and General Kamvau was killed in battle. After the 1065’s revolt, King Udayadityavarman II was, finally, able to bring order to the kingdom, thanks in part to a very capable military leader who helped him neutralize most of his enemies. Unfortunately, the exhausted King Udayadityavarman II died in the same year.
23) King Harshavarman III
(1066--1080, Capital: Angkor)
After the death of King Udayadityavarman II, his youngest brother, Harshavarman III, succeeded the throne in 1066. During King Harshavarman III’s reign, Cambodia was once again in great turmoil because of internal strife/revolt happened in almost every corner of the kingdom. However, King Harshavarman III had successfully put down the internal conflicts and restored peace and stability to the kingdom.
Since AD 1000, China and Vietnam had been engaging in warfare. Thus, the Emperor of China had asked for the Khmer soldiers to help fight the Vietnamese. And King Harshavarman III agreed to send an army to help the Chinese, for Cambodia, at that time, had entered an agreement with China forming the Sino-Cambodian alliance. King Harshavarman III died in 1080.
24) Kings Jayavarman VI & Dharanindravarman I
(1080--…..?, Capital Angkor)
After the death of King Harshavarman III, the Khmer kingdom appeared to plunge into a state of perpetual anarchy. There were little records about the two kings, Jayavarman VI and Dharanindravarman I, who ruled Cambodia during this brief period. What appeared to be historically significant about their rules was that they had started a new dynasty known as the Mahidharapura.
25) King Suryavarman II
(1112--1150, Capital: Angkor)
Little is known about the backgrounds of King Suryavarman II. However, some sources suggested that he was the grandson of King Dharanindravarman I. He ascended the throne in 1112. At the early part of his rule, Cambodia had had a prolonged internal conflict, which caused the death of thousands of people, especially soldiers.
During his reign, King Suryavarman II had staged a series of military expenditure against Dai Viet (Vietnam). However, all of his military campaigns against Vietnam failed. Unable to subdue the Vietnamese, a frustrated King Suryavarman II turned his military adventure against Champa. In 1145, he captured Vijaya (Champa’s Capital) and put his brother-in-law, Harideva, to rule over Champa. However, in 1149, a Cham king named Jaya Harivarman I recaptured Vijaya and slaughtered most of the Khmer occupying forces included Prince Harideva. One year later in 1150, the Khmers mounted another attack on Champa. Unfortunately, a torrential rain hampered the operation. Thus, the Khmer dominance over Champa was put on hold.
King Suryavarman II had built one of the most beautiful and largest religious monuments in the world called Angkor Wat. Though there have been some damages to the surrounding structure due to weather and thefts, the main building remains splendid and stands almost as perfect as it was constructed nearly 1000 years ago. Angkor Wat is now the national symbol of Cambodia.
Though, militarily, he was not so successful, King Suryavarman II appeared to be a very intelligent and competent leader who knew how to govern the kingdom effectively. In order to reduce religious conflict among his subjects who adhered to different religious faiths, he practiced both Buddhism and Brahmanism. After his death, King Suryavarman II was given a posthumous name of Preah Botumsuryavong.
(To be continued)