History: Between The Elephant And The Dragon, Part 1

by KhmerLife on Apr 02, 2020

History: Between The Elephant And The Dragon, Part 1

As great powers fall, others shall rise in their placeThe Khmer empire, at its peak controlled or had under vassal, much of mainland Southeast Asia, from southern China to the Isthmus of Kra. Overstretched military campaigns, climate change, poor economic planning and ethnic rebellions all began to erode the once mighty kingdom of Angkor. Internecine fighting between powerful, and usually related, clans weakened the state, as neighboring kingdoms began to centralize.

By the fate of geography and politics, Cambodia found herself trapped between two aggressive and ambitious neighbors to the west and east.

The following is the first in the series on the relationship with the Thais to the West, Viets to the east, with Cambodia, relegated to a pawn on the board, stuck in the middle. Note that sources can vary, in both names, dates and versions of events. This piece has been sourced from various places, and there may be some mistakes.

The 13th and 14th centuries saw great changes to the political and social order of mainland Southeast Asia.

The area known as Sukhothai, which had rebelled and fought against the Khmer empire in the past was now coming under the dominance of a new Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya.

Amid this, the powerful Khmer kingdom was in a rapid decline.

In 1220, a Dai-Viet and Cham alliance had forced the Khmer to withdraw from many of the northern territories they had seized from Champa, while around the same time in the west there were Siamese rebellions, leading to the formation of the state of Sukhothai, widely considered by many to be the origins of the modern Thai nation.

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