Friday, May 3, 2013

The Cambodian Royal Chronicle

65) King Jayajetha II

(1618--1628, Capital: Lovea Em & Oudong)
When King Sri Suryopor abdicated the throne in favor of his son, King Jayajetha II, he had also appointed his youngest son, Prince Utya, as first heir apparent (Moha Uparaja). King Jayajetha II succeeded the throne in 1618 and, after 2 years of ruling, he decided to move the Capital from Lovea Em to Oudong in 1620. In that same year, the Emperor of Vietnam had offered his beautiful daughter named Cochinsin (Lady Chov) to King Jayajetha II as concubine. King Jayajetha II agreed to accept her and make her his fifth wife.
In 1623, the Siamese waged war against the Khmers twice but were defeated both times. In that same year, the Emperor of Vietnam also sent a letter to King Jayajetha II asking him permission for the Vietnamese people to establish trading posts and settlements on the southern flank of Cambodia territory (present-day Southern Vietnam). Because of his personal connection with the Vietnamese court by marriage and possibly the threat of a double conflict with both Vietnam and Siam, King Jayajetha II agreed to the request (and the rest is history). The Vietnamese came to permanently settle in the area and that region was eventually annexed to Vietnam after World War II when the French government, which put that territory under its direct rule for almost 100 years, decided to give it to the Vietnamese majority. King Jayajetha II died in 1628 at the age of 52 years old.
For the record, King Jayajetha II was the most reviled ruler in Cambodian history rivaled, perhaps, only by Pol Pot (a.k.a. Saloth Sar), a recent ruler who turned Cambodia into a “killing field”. He (Jayajetha II) was, undoubtedly, the cause of distrust and animosity among the Khmers toward the Vietnamese, which have lingered for ages.

66) Prince Dhamaraja Samphear [a.k.a. Ponhea To]
(1629--1634, Capital: Koh Khlok)
Prince Dhamaraja Samphear was the son of King Jayajetha II. When he was still a little boy, his father had pre-arranged married him with a princess named Bophavati. But before ascending the throne and prior to his father’s death, Prince Dhamaraja Samphear entered the sangha and became a Buddhist monk. Thus, after his father’s death, the throne was left under the care of his uncle, Prince Utya, for the time being. Prince Utya not only took the throne but took princess Bophavati as his wife as well.
In 1629, Prince Dhamaraja Samphear left the sangha and return to take the reign from his uncle. After the succession, he moved the Capital to Koh Khlok in present-day Khsach Kandal district, Kandal province. One year later, he led an army to take Nokoraja province from Siam but failed to capture it. He then repatriated thousands of Khmer citizens from Siam to Cambodia.
Prince Dhamaraja Samphear was not able to let go of his childhood fiancée, Princess Bophavati. Thus, he kept corresponding with her and asked her to rendezvous with him at Koh Khlok. After Prince Utya heard of the rendezvous, he was furious and led an army to arrest Prince Dhamaraja Samphear. Fighting between the two Princes ensued and Prince Dhamaraja Samphear was defeated. He fled to Kanchor district, Kratie province, with Prince Utya in pursuit. Eventually, Prince Utya cornered him and ordered his forces to shoot him dead with an arrow.
Prince Dhamaraja Samphear died in 1634. For the record, he was very fond of literature. He wrote a number of poems. One of them entitled Chbab Preah Rajasamphear is still being read and learned in school today.

3) The Oudong Period
67) King Ang Tong I [a.k.a. Ponhea Ton]
(1634--1640, Capital: Oudong)
King Ang Tong I was also the son of King Jayajetha II. He succeeded the throne in 1634, after the death of his brother, Prince Dhamaraja Samphear.
During his reign, things were relatively calm except for a minor uprising in Rolang Traul district which was instigated by an Indian. He successfully suppressed the uprising and executed the Indian ring leader. King Ang Tong I died in June 1640 after 6 years of ruling.

68) Prince Botumaraja [a.k.a. Ang Non]
(1640--1642, Capital: Oudong)
Prince Botumaraja was the oldest son of Prince Utya. He succeeded the throne in 1640. Soon after his succession, Prince Ang Chan, another son of King Jayajetha II, was jealous and, therefore, began to instigate an uprising against Prince Botumraja. Prince Ang Chan solicited the Cham and Javanese ethnic minorities1 to help him in his revolt. Both Prince Botumaraja and his father, Prince Utya, were killed in that uprising in 1642. The other three of Prince Utya’s children escaped. One of them, Prince Ang Im, went to seek refuge with Prince Ang Chan’s mother, and the other two, princes Ponhea So and Ang Ton, went to stay with the Vietnamese widow of King Jayajetha II.
In this period, Cambodia was in complete chaos like a pariah state--most people were in distress.

69) King Botumaraja I [a.k.a. Reamia Thibadey Chan]
(1642--1658, Capital: Oudong)
King Botumaraja I was the younger brother of Prince Dhamaraja Samphear. He had Laotian mother. After successfully led the Cham and Javanese minorities’ revolt against Prince Botumaraja in 1642, he succeeded the throne, took a Javanese (Malay) wife, and converted to Muslim. Thus, King Botumaraja I was also known as Ang Chan Mohammed or Ibrahim.
During his rule, King Botumaraja I appointed a number of Cham and Javanese ethnic minorities to hold high position in his court. This action caused outrages among the Khmers. In 1658, princes Ponhea So and Ang Ton, who were staying with King Jayajetha II’s widow had asked the Vietnamese to invade Cambodia and capture King Borumaraja I to Vietnam. One year later in 1659, King Botumaraja I died at the age of 40 years old.

70) King Botumaraja II [a.k.a. Ponhea So]
(1658--1672, Capital: Oudong)
King Botumaraja II was another son of Prince Utya. After asking the Vietnamese to invade Cambodia and successfully capturing King Botumaraja I to Vietnam, he succeeded the throne in 1658. In the early part of his reign, there was a Cham/Javanese uprising in Thbong Khmom (now a district in Kompong Cham province). King Botumaraja II put down the uprising. However, most of the ringleaders along with three of King Botumaraja I’s children and about 2,200 or so supporters had escaped to seek refuge in Siam.
Cambodia had experienced tranquility for a while until 1672 when King Botumaraja II’s son-in-law, prince Jayajetha, staged a coup d’etat and killed him. However, one year later in 1673, King Botumaraja I’s Javanese widow, in turn, instigated the Chams and Javanese to murder prince Jayajetha. At this point, the Cambodian royal court became a divided house with the pro-Javanese and pro-Vietnamese royal descendants exacting revenges on each other throughout the next century.
(To be Continued)

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