Friday, May 31, 2013

The Cambodian Royal Chronicle

85) Lord Chaovar (Talaha1) Poc

(1796--1806)
After King Ang Eng’s death, Cambodia was without ruler-king for 10 years (from 1796-1806) because King Rama I of Siam did not allow any of King Ang Eng’s children to succeed the throne. The reason was that these princes were too young. Therefore, the Siamese court appointed Lord Chaovar Poc to rule Cambodia for the time being.
During the period of Lord Chaovar Poc’s rule, Cambodia was filled with turmoil and chaos. On one hand, the Siamese king, Rama I, obliged Lord Chaovar Poc to send Khmer army to help fight the Burmese. On the other hand, Emperor Gia Long of Vietnam asked the king of Siam to order Lord Chaovar Poc to send Khmer army to help him fight against the Tyson Rebellion. Lord Chaovar Poc obliged to both demands. As a result, people began to rebel against his rule. Many provincial governors began to establish independence fiefdoms and stop paying taxes to the kingdom.
Seeing this dire situation, King Rama I of Siam sent Prince Ang Chan to ascend the Khmer throne. As for Lord Chaovar Poc, he was taken back to Siam and reprimanded for his failure to pacify the Cambodians. Lord Chaovar Poc died at the age of 65.

86) King Ang Chan II
(1806--1834, Oudong)
King Ang Chan II was the oldest son of King Ang Eng. He succeeded the throne in 1806 at the age of 16 under the blessing of the Siamese court. At the same time, Vietnam threatened to wage war with Cambodia unless King Ang Chan II agrees to make the Khmer Kingdom its tributary state. In order to avoid war with Vietnam, King Ang Chan II agreed to the Vietnamese demand.
During King Ang Chan II’s reign, there were numerous conflicts with the Siamese court. The king of Siam ordered the Khmers to send soldiers to help protect Siamese territory. But King Ang Chan II ignored the order. Not only that, he imposed capital punishment on Oknha Krolahom Moeurng and Oknha Chakrey Baen who colluded with prince Ang Snguon and secretly mobilized an army to help Siam. Later on, Techou Moeurng (Oknha Krolahom Moeurng?), Governor of Kompong Svay (now Kompong Thom province), led an uprising against King Ang Chan II. However, he was defeated by the royal army.
In 1814, Siam sent an army to invade and capture the provinces of Mlu Prey, Tonle Pov, and Stung Treng. In 1828, the Governor of Pursat colluded with Siam and asked King Nang Klao (Rama III) of Siam to send an army to invade Cambodia. One year later in 1829, Siam secretly sent an army led by Ponhea Bodin to invade Cambodia. After the Siamese troops captured Pursat, King Ang Chan II fled to Saigon (Vietnam). But, by 1831, Vietnam sent an army to expel the Siamese from Cambodia and returned King Ang Chan II to the throne. King Ang Chan II died in 1834.

87) Queen Ang Mey
(1834--1841, Capital: Oudong)
After the death of King Ang Chan II, there was no heir apparent to the Khmer throne, for King Ang Chan II had no son except for 4 daughters, princesses Ben, Mey, Pov, and Snguon. This delighted both Vietnam and Siam, the two nemeses who wanted to eliminate the royal rulers in Cambodia. The Vietnamese, who were occupying Cambodia, did not allow either Princes Ang Em or Ang Duong to succeed the throne. They instead appointed Princess Ben to succeed her father. However, she declined. Thus, the Vietnamese chose Princess Mey to ascend the throne.
During Queen Ang Mey’s reign, Vietnam appointed a general named Truong Minh Giang to supervise and rule Cambodia. Following order from Emperor Minh Mang of Vietnam, Truong Minh Giang introduced a radical change in Cambodia by forcing the Khmer officials to dress like Vietnamese and ordered them to feed and support the Vietnamese soldiers who were occupying Cambodia. The Vietnamese ordered that the sacred banyan trees be cut down, the statues of Buddha be destroyed, and the name of Capital-to-be Phnom Penh be changed to Nam Giang1.
These radical changes had gone a bit too far that the Khmers could no longer stand the Vietnamese overlord. A general uprising against Vietnamese occupation was ensued and the Vietnamese were eventually expelled from Cambodia. After the expulsion of the Vietnamese, the Khmers repatriated Prince Ang Duong, who was staying in Siam, to ascend the throne in 1841.

88) King Harirak Reamia Thibadey [a.k.a. Ang Duong]
(1841--1860, Capital: Oudong)
King Harirak Reamia Thibadey (Ang Duong hereafter) was the youngest son of King Ang Eng. At the onset of his repatriation from Siam to succeed the Khmer throne, Cambodia had become a pariah state because of ceaseless warfare. The Vietnamese had waged war with Khmers for 6 years from 1841-47. But this conflict was at a stalemate. Thus, King Ang Duong, after being repatriated to succeed the throne, had to wait out for 6 years before he could formally ascend the throne in 1847.
During his succession, both Vietnam and Siam acted as overlords upon the Khmers. Soon after King Ang Duong’s coronation, Siam demanded to annex the provinces of Battambang, Tonle Pov, and Mlu Prey. However, King Ang Duong did not bow to the Siamese demand.
In order to avoid war with both Siam and Vietnam, King Ang Duong decided to put the Khmer Kingdom under France’s protection which, in effect, made Cambodia a French protectorate. After Cambodia became a French protectorate, Vietnam agreed to repatriate Queen Ang Mey and many other members of the royal family, who were taken as hostages, back to Cambodia.
King Ang Duong was a kind, caring, honest, and pacifist ruler. He was a devout Buddhist, a great poet, and was very fond of literature. During his reign, he managed to build a road from Oudong to Kampot, linking the Capital to the sea port, and many other infrastructures for the kingdom. King Ang Duong died in 1860. He was survived by 3 sons, Princes Norodom, Sisowath, and Siwatha.
(To be continued)

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