30) King Jayavarman VIII
(1243-1295, Capital: Angkor)
By 1243, King Jayavarman VIII ascended to the Cambodian throne. Upon taking charge of the Cambodian court, King Jayavarman VIII reestablished and reverted to the practice of Hinduism, which had been sidelined by King Jayavarman VII who was worshiping Buddhism. During his reign, the Mongol ruler of China, Kublai Khan, had sent an envoy to demand that the Cambodian court should pay homage to China. However, King Jayavarman VIII not only refused to pay homage to China, he even imprisoned the two emissaries who were sent to Cambodia by Kublai Khan.
31) King Indravarman III
(1295-1308, Capital: Angkor)
King Jayavarman VIII’s reign came to an abrupt end when his son-in-law, Indravarman III overthrew him in a coup. One year after he ascended to the Khmer throne, the Mongol ruler in China named Timur Khan, Kublai Khan’s grandson and successor, sent another envoy to Cambodia. The envoy was accompanied by a Chinese rapporteur named Chou Ta-Kuan. From Chou Ta-Kuan’s reports, though flawed with prejudices, we learned that King Indravarman III had welcomed the Mongol envoys and allowed them to stay in Cambodia for about one year. However, we did not know whether the Khmer king had ever paid homage to China. It was through Chou Ta-Kuan’s reports that we had a glimpse of what life during Angkorian Era, at least at the somber end of it, was like. (For detail of Chou Ta-Kuan’s reports, please see appendix).
Notice: Due to conflicting dates, the reigning period of the following kings from King Ang Jaya to King Suryopor will be omitted.
32) King Ang Jaya [I] [a.k.a. Trosak Ph’aem]
(------------, Capital: Angkor)
King Ang Jaya was the first non-varman’s ruler in Cambodia. According to Cambodian legend, before he became king, he was just an ordinary farmer. One day, King Ang Jaya-to-be heard that the King had come to visit his village. Thus, he picked some sweet melons from his farm to offer to the King. The King liked his sweet melons so much that he (King) nicknamed him Trosak Ph’aem (Sweet Melon) and gave him a spear to protect his melon farm.
One night, the King wanted to find out whether Trosak Ph’aem had seriously guarded his sweet melon farm. He secretly went into the farm. Trosak Ph’aem did not know that the King had come to spy on him. So, he mistook the King as an intruder and threw the spear at him. It hit the King and he was killed instantly.
After the King’s death, Trosak Ph’aem became king and took the name Ang Jaya. Hence, King Ang Jaya’s descendants began to rule Cambodia from this point onward.
33) King Ponhea Sous
(……….., Capital Angkor)
After the death of King Ang Jaya, his brother, Ponhea Sous, succeeded him. King Ponhea Sous was a devout Buddhist. Throughout his reign, he devoted himself to building the foundation and endowment of Buddhism in Cambodia. In the middle of his reign, a hermit named Chey declared himself a devaraja, which caused a stir in the kingdom. King Ponhea Sous sent two of his military commanders named Ponhea Chakra and Krolahaum to arrest the hermit for causing the confusion in the kingdom. The hermit was later executed.
King Ponhea Sous had no children. So after his death, his nephew named Serey Vichet succeeded him.
34) King Serey Vichet
(…………, Capital Angkor)
King Serey Vichet was the son of King Ang Jaya. After the death of his uncle, King Ponhea Sous, he ascended the throne at the age of 67 years old. Like his uncle, King Serey Vichet, too, was a devout Buddhist who continued to endorse and endow Buddhism as the state religion. As a result, Hinduism, which was so prevalent during the reigns of previous kings 1000 years earlier, began to lose its influence over the Cambodian population.
King Serey Vichet and his wife, Queen Kuntheak Botum, had a son named Prince Lumpong who would succeed the throne after his father’s death.
35) King Lumpong
(…………, Capital Angkor)
The succession from King Serey Vichet to King Lumpong went smoothly without any intrigue or complication. King Lumpong and his wife, Queen Pheakatey, had a son named Prince Aungkar. King Lumpong died of a natural cause at the age of 75 years old.
36) King Aungkaraja
(……….., Capital Angkor)
After the death of his father, Prince Aungkar ascended the throne and took the crown name, Aungkaraja. Like his predecessors, King Aungkaraja was also a devout Buddhist. During his reign, he built a number of pagodas in the kingdom. Among these pagodas were the two temples in the complex of Wat Nokor Bachey near the city of Kompong Cham.
King Aungkaraja died at the age of 78 years old. His son, Prince Suryopor, ascended the throne after his death.
37) King Suryopor
(…………., Capital Angkor)
After the death of his father, King Aungkaraja, Prince Suryopor was crowned King at the age of 23 years old. After his coronation, King Suryopor married his step sister, Princess Muntea Pisey. They had two sons named Nirvanabat and Sotheanaraja.
King Suryopor died of natural cause. He was survived by two sons, Princes Nirvanabat and Sotheanaraja, and three grandsons, Princes Sri Sokunchakra, Sri Lumpongraja, and Sri Suryotey.
38) King Nirvanabat
(1340--1346, Capital: Angkor)
King Nirvanabat was the oldest son of King Suryopor. He succeeded the throne in 1340. During his reign, Cambodia was at peace with its neighbors due in part to the mutual relationship he had established with the kingdoms of Laos, Siam, Tonkin, and Champa. King Nirvanabat ruled Cambodia for only 5 years. He died in 1346.
39) King Sotheanaraja
(1346, Capital: Angkor)
After the death of King Nirvanabat, his younger brother named Sotheanaraja succeeded the throne in 1346. King Sotheanaraja’s succession to the throne came at the expense of his nephew--the son of King Nirvanabat, Prince Sri Sokunchakra, who was supposed to be the heir to the throne. King Sotheanaraja’s reign lasted for only one year. He died in the same year of his ascendancy to the throne.
40) King Sri Lumpongraja
(1347--1353, Capital: Angkor)
King Sri Lumpongraja was the son of King Sotheanaraja. He succeeded the throne in 1347. Near the end of his reign, the Siamese king named Ramathibodi had waged war against Cambodia with a plan to capture Angkor. The war dragged on for years. In 1353, King Sri Lumpongraja was ill and subsequently died. His younger brother, Prince Sri Suryotey, took charge of the war against the Siamese invaders. But his effort was futile. The Siamese had successfully broken through the Khmer’s defense line, and they eventually killed Prince Sri Suryotey.
After capturing Angkor, the Siamese ransacked the city and took 10,000 Khmers as prisoners to Krung Tep (Bangkok). The Siamese occupied Angkor for about 6 years and appointed Siamese officials to govern some of the Khmer provinces from 1353-1359.
41) Prince Sri Suryotey
(See King Sri Lumpongraja)
42) Preah Chao Basat [The Siamese Ruler]
(1353-1355, Capital Angkor)
After capturing Angkor, King Ramathibodi appointed Preah Chao Basat to rule over the kingdom of Cambodia. However, despite his efforts, Preah Chao Basat failed to extend his administration beyond the Angkor’s region. To the east, north, and south, the administration fell under the hands of local Cambodian warlords.
After ruling the Khmer kingdom for two years, Preah Chao Basat fell ill and eventually died.
(To be continued)