Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Cambodian Royal Chronicle

2) The Lovek Period


57) King Baramindraraja
(1555--1567, Capital: Lovek)
King Baramindraraja was the son of King Ang Chan I. Three years before his father’s death, he was put in charge of the court on behalf of his father until 1555 when he was formally received coronation to become king.
Early in his reign around 1557, the Burmese (Myanmar) waged war against the Siamese. Taking this opportunity, King Baramindraraja sent an army to invade Siam and recaptured some of the former Khmer provinces lost to Siam. He appointed Khmer military governors to rule those provinces and repatriated some 70,000 Khmers back to Cambodia.
In 1560, King Baramindraraja also captured Laos, took thousands of Laotians as prisoners, and settled them in the districts of Baray, Kompong Thom, and Cheung Prey, Kompong Cham.
Around 1562, the Siamese sent an army to fight with the Khmer soldiers who were occupying their provinces in an effort to expel them. But King Baramindraraja reinforced his army and the fighting dragged on for years. Finally, the two sides agreed to cease hostilities toward each other and sign a mutual relationship treaty in 1567. King Baramindraraja reigned for 12 years. He died at the age of 52 in 1567, after signing the treaty with Siam.

58) Prince Satha I
(1567--1575, Capital: Lovek)
Prince Satha I was the oldest son of King Baramindraraja. He succeeded the throne in 1567 at the age of 25 years old. He appointed his brother named Sri Suryopor, who was 19, as first heir apparent (Moha Uparaja). At the time, Burma once again waged war with Siam and the king of Siam asked the Khmer to send an army to help fight against the Burmese. Prince Satha I ordered his brother, Prince Sri Suryopor, to lead an army to help Siam. After successfully defeating the Burmese, the king of Siam did not appreciate the help from the Khmer court and acted indifferently toward Prince Sri Suryopor. This behavior triggered outrages in the Khmer court.
Before long, the Burmese waged war with Siam, again. Seeing good opportunity, Prince Satha I sent an army to invade and capture some of the Siamese Eastern provinces and repatriated a lot of Khmer citizens back to Cambodia.
Prince Satha I reigned for 8 years, then he decided to abdicate in favor of his oldest son named Jayajetha. He also appointed his second son named Ponhea Ton as heir apparent along with his younger bother, Prince Sri Suryopor.

59) King Jayajetha I [a.k.a. Jayajesda]
(1575--1593, Capital: Lovek)
King Jayajetha I was the oldest son of Prince Satha I. He succeeded the throne in 1575 at the age of 10 years old. His succession to the throne caused great concern and anger among court officials and ordinary people alike because of his extreme youth and inexperience. There were tumults all over the country. Seeing this chaos, Siam sent an army to capture Lovek. However, the Siamese was defeated and had to retreat.
In 1593, the Siamese invaded Cambodia, again. This time, they succeeded in capturing Lovek. The King and his father, Prince Satha I, escaped to Stung Treng province, and both of them died there in 1594. Prince Sri Suryopor and many royal family members were captured by the Siamese who took them, along with 90,000 other people, as prisoners to Siam. The Siamese had destroyed and burned Cambodia into rubbles, which left the Khmer kingdom to face an ominous crisis in the aftermath.

60) King Reamia Cheung Prey
(1594--1596, Capital: Lovek)
After subduing the Khmers and achieving victory over Lovek in 1593, the Siamese put an occupying army to rule Cambodia. During that period, a royal prince named Reamia Cheung Prey escaped from Lovek and went into hiding and mobilizing an army in remote areas of the kingdom. One year later in 1594, he led his army to fight against the Siamese occupying forces. He succeeded in dislodging the Siamese from Cambodia and ascended the throne in that same year.
Later on, two Spaniard adventurers named Diego de Veloso and Blas Ruiz had led an army from the Philippines to invade Cambodia. These two European mercenaries killed King Reamia Cheung Prey in 1596. Afterward, they ascended Prince Ponhea Ton, who was the son of Prince Satha I, to the Cambodian throne.

61) Prince Borumaraja I [a.k.a. Ponhea Ton]
(1596--1597, Capital: Lovek]
Prince Borumaraja I succeeded the throne in 1596 at the age of 18. He was the second son of Prince Satha I.
In recognition of de Veloso’s and Ruiz’s kindness for offering him to rule Cambodia, Prince Borumaraja I appointed both of them as warlord governors of Thbong Khmom (present-day Kompong Cham province) and Trang (present-day Takeo province), respectively. The appointment of these foreigners, who looked nothing like local people, caused outrages among the population. The Cham minorities in Thbong Khmom along with the rest of the population revolted and civil unrest ensued. De Veloso was defeated and killed in the battle. As for Ruiz who led an army to help de Veloso was also defeated and killed. Finally, Prince Borumaraja I, who led an army in an attempt to put down the revolt, was also defeated and killed in 1597.

62) Prince Borumaraja II [a.k.a. Ponhea An]
(1597--1599, Capital: Lovek)
Prince Borumaraja II was the younger brother of Princes Satha I and Sri Suryopor. He succeeded the throne in 1597 following the death of his nephew, Prince Borumaraja I, and after, of course, suppressing the revolt which caused the death of Prince Borumaraja I.
In 1599, another group of rebels from Takeo village (now part of Capital Phnom Penh) had challenged the throne. The rebel leader, who declared himself king known as Sdach Keo Preah Phleung, led an army to battle with Prince Borumaraja II. At that time, Prince Borumaraja II had secretly had an affair with a wife of an army officer named Ponhea Thei. After Ponhea Thei had known of the affair, he was furious and joined Sdach Keo Preah Phleung to wage war against Prince Borumaraja II. Prince Borumaraja II was defeated and killed in the fighting in 1599.

63) Prince Ponhea Yom
(1599--1600, Capital: Srey Santhor)
Prince Ponhea Yom was another son of Prince Satha I with a Laotian mother. He succeeded the throne in 1599 after having suppressed the rebellion, which took the life of Prince Borumaraja II. However, Prince Ponhea Yom was more a playboy than a ruler. He was more concerned with his personal indiscretion than with the well being of his subjects. Thus, his court officials lost confidence in him, and they asked Prince Sri Suryopor, who was brought to Siam earlier, to return to take the throne.
Prince Ponhea Yom escaped and tried to recruit people to revolt against Prince Sri Suryopor. He died in the struggle.

64) King Sri Suryopor
(1600--1618, Capital: Lovek)
King Sri Suryopor was the second son of King Baraminthraraja and the younger brother of Prince Satha I. When the Siamese overran the Khmer fortress at Lovek in 1593, they took him as captive to Siam and kept him there for a period of four successions in the Khmer throne.
At the onset of his reign, Cambodia was in an awful state of anarchy because of the Sdach Keo Preah Phleung Rebellion and Prince Ponhea Yom’s revolt. However, King Sri Suryopor had successfully suppressed the unrest. During this chaotic period, Siam took the opportunity to invade Cambodia, again. King Sri Suryopor battled the Siamese until they were defeated and withdrawn from Cambodia.
After 18 years of ruling, King Sri Suryopor was tired and ready to retire. He abdicated the throne in 1618 in favor of his son named Jayajetha II. One year later in 1619, he died at the age of 64.
(To be continued)

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