The Kingdom of Cambodia


Project: The Kingdom of Cambodia
Author: Lem Chuck Moth

Started date: April/01/2011
Last updated: August/30/2015
All right reserved.
Note:
Since this paper is still drafted, the readers would be advised to ignore any context errors. The content is not final and subjected to be reviewed.


INTRODUCTION
Scholars consented that Cambodia was a derivative of Kamboja and that its history dated since the Christian era when Chinese texts had recorded the emergence of the Funan Empire in Southeast Asia. The adoption of Kamboja as the official name of the Khmer Kingdom was done under the reign of Prah Thong. Identified as Jayavarman Kaundinya in Khmer inscription, Prah Thong married the daughter of the naga King and inherited from his father-in-law the kingdom of Kambujadesa (Nokor Khmer: The Khmerization of Kamboja: The new era of the Khmer Empire). From then on, Kamboja had been added to the long list of the Khmer official name that constituted the ancient legacy of the Khmer Kingdom (The making of a Cakravatin Empire: The Ketomala Dynasty: Yasodhara and Indrapath).
Krong Kamboja Thibti Sri Sodhara bavara Indapath Kururajja Vararajadhani Puriram Uttam Mahadhan
The earliest of its legacies Vararajadhani that we had identified as Hiong-wang (the Brave Kingdom) in the Chinese source was by far the start-up of the Khmer Empire as verified by available Chinese records. However, Chinese sources consistently refer Cambodia as Tsin-la which we had identified as a reference to the very first King Meru known also as the Jin (The Chenla Empire: Introduction). Started as a true Cakravatin Empire, Ta-tsin (The Great Jin) reached its apogee at Middle East. Its decline brought the core of the Meru Culture back to its birthplace where the last of its Yuga is about to be completed. Started at Prey-Nokor by Kaundinya in the early fourth century, the Khmer Empire thrived for another millennium under the Cakravatin umbrella. Angkor attained its apogee from the beginning of the eleventh century during which time Angkor Wat was built. Started by Suryavarman I (1002-1050), the construction completed during the reign of Suryavarman II (1113-1145). It was at first consecrated to Vishnuism but along the way became a Buddhist Pagoda. According to legend, it was built to shelter the Emerald Buddha' s image. Usurped by the clan of Rashupati, Angkor fell again into a series of crisis but recovered itself during the reign of Jayavarman VII (1182-1220) when its control was virtually expanding to cover all Southeast Asia. At the same time, Genghis Khan (1162-1227) emerged to form, on the ground of the scattered Central Asian stocks, the Mongolian Empire. In the worst bloody battles of mankind, he led the Mongols army in a series of conquest that stopped only after he fell death. His grand son Kublai Khan (1215-1294) continued his campaign and extended his conquest toward the East.
The Fall of Angkor
In his record, Marco Polo mentioned about the town Tholoman that already pledged allegiance to the Great Khan. Tholoman was in high probability a reference to Solomon or Solayman in middle-eastern tradition. It was also a reference to Suryavarman in the Angkorian development of building the temple of Angkor Wat. The city of Tholoman must to be located around Muang Tchou-li in Northern Shan country, at the Angkorian ancient domain of Muang Yang or Rajapati. Known to be the shelter of family members of Suryavarman, Muang Yang became an Angkorian gateway to the Cholan legacy of Ramanadesa. After subduing Burma, Kublai Khan went on to invade China and at the same time built up the Tai alliance against Angkor. More of the Mongol and Tai 's attacks brought the Angkorian Cakravatin Establishment to disintegrate. Long after the fall of the Mongol Empire, the Tai legacy spread through both Chinese migration from western and southern provinces of China. In the north, the Miao-yao migration changed the whole politic and demographic of both Yunnan and Upper Burma for good. In the south, Chinese communities formed by migrants from southern China took control of the sea-trade business and started to declare themselves independent. Their endeavors could not be that successful without another worldwide development that affected deeply the Indianized legacy of Southeast Asia. The rise of Western Culture and their worldly colonialization ended once for all the Meru Cakravatin legacy of the past. The disappearance of the Cholan legacy of Champapura was complete after the formation of Vietnam by the French Colony. On the other hand, the disappearance of the Sri Vijayan legacy was complete through the dissolution of the Burmese royal houses by the British India. At the same time, Cambodia that retained the Middle Kingdom's legacy of the Khmer Empire lost all its supremacy. Becoming prey to neighboring nations, its survival credential was put to the test.
THE LAST COURT OF UDONG
The next phase of the Khmer history started by the lost of Udong' suzerainty. Not only that the Siam King had full control of the KHmer throne, many of the Khmer court's members also swore allegiance to the Siam king. In addition to the heir-apparent who was raised in the Siam court, his entourage and other selected members of the Khmer court were kept in Bangkok as part of a vassal court. In a hightly competitive environment, they were subject to manipulation in making certain that Bangkok could benefit from the Khmer court' s crisis. Rivalry and conflicts were encouraged and if needed, were induced among them to prevent the reigning Khmer king from breaking tie with Siam.
The Reign of King Ang-Eng (1779-1797) *
King Ang-Eng was the son of Prah Ang-Tan and ascended the throne at the age of 22 years old. The siam King Phrah Bothyatphacholalok (Rama I) presided over the coronation that took place at Bangkok. All royal regalia were returned later after the ceremony to the Khmer court along with Khmer officials held previously at Bangkok. Among them was Ponha Ten who was a chief rival of Ponha Ben and was taken as prisoner to Bangkok after a political skirmish at Udong. He was released from the Siam detention and was anointed back as a high officer of the new court. Seeing his rival taking a high position in the new court of Udong, Ponha Ben was fearful for his safety. Along with his accomplice, Okgna Yamararaj Kan, he thought out a plan to save himself from possible retaliation of his old enemy. He requested the new king to transfer them to the remote provinces of Battambang and Siemreap as governors. Unable to convince them to change their mind, the King then granted them their wishes. It turned out that the two had another plan of their own to detach themselves further from the control of Udong. Soon after, they sent proposal to Bangkok to submit themselves to the Siam court. The Siam King Rama I then sent message to his foster son informing him of Chaopha Ben' s proposition. After the Khmer king 's objection, the Siam King resent the request again in a short time later. Fearing the Siam court's retaliation, Prah Ang-Eng agreed to place the two provinces temporary under the Siam control. Nevertheless, the Khmer king had made it clear that it was only for the duration of king Rama I' s reign and that the two provinces should be returned back to the Khmer court after his death. Since the Siam King was at his old age, it would be better that the issue was resolved as soon as possible. During a trip to Bangkok, Prah Ang-Eng made his first demand but it was denied by the Siam king. His own death at the young age of 44 delayed further the return of the two provinces by the Siam court. The plan of transporting the king' s body and performed the funeral at Bangkok was posponed by a new breed of Burmese attacks. At the mean time, the Siam King used Khmer troops to help Bangkok fighting the Peguan army. After King Rama I died in 1809, the next Siam King Prah Putloethfa (Rama II, 1809-1824) and his next successor Prah Nangklao ( Rama III, 1824-1851) appeared to forget altogether the original treaty. Instead of handing the two provinces back to the Khmer court, they made necessary preparation to transform them into becoming Siamese provinces. Chaopha Ben' s responsibility was reduced just to take care of the Battambang province only while the rest was placed directly under the control of Siamese court. At the same time, cultural underchange induced the people in adopting the Siam culture. In school, Siamese teachers were teaching in Tai language and to complete their higher education, students needed to attend higher achademic schools at Bangkok. In a short time, all upper-class Khmer society spoke fluently Tai Language and adopted Siamese name for their newborn babies. Siamese dresse was required for ceremonial events and intermarriage with Siamese citizen was also encouraged. In government, whoever had a good affiliation with the Siamese court was promoted to take on higher post of the governor' s office. It was not by all means what Chaopha Ben had expected from the court of Siam. After the death of king Ang-Eng, he approached Udong for a comeback. By then, all his former enemies in the court of Udong had already lost all their political edge. After the Tay-son brothers lost the war to the old Nguyen court, they could be no longer a political threat to him. In retaliation to the Siamese court, Chaofa Ben restarted a close relationship with the Udong that was made stronger with the presence of his daughter in the court of king Ang-Chan. During the coronation, he handed one of his daughters named Neang-Tep to the khmer king to become one of his cucumbines.Adding to his fortune, Nguyen Anh whom he helped to fight off the Tay-son brothers was already sitting on the throne of Hue. After settling back his court at Hue, King Gia Long found himself isolated and was facing with uncertain future. Under the watchful eyes of the French missionary, he knew that it was a matter of time that the French colonist would make a move to end his fragile reign. His first priority was to find supports to fight off the French control. The turn of event at the court of Udong however provided him with another opportunity to build-up alliance with Cambodia.
The Reign of King Ang-Chan (1806-1835) *
After the death of his father, Prah Ang-Chan ascended the throne at the age of 16 years old. By the time that the new Khmer King ascended the throne of Udong, the Siam King Rama I was already in old age. It was again a rare opportunity for Gia Long to move in and to settle Hue's interference in the Khmer court. Added to the prospect of his plan, Chaopha Ben who helped him fighting off the Tay-son brothers, was now back in favor in the court of Udong again. Circumstances were now in favor for Gia Long to repeat the same history of the triangular affair with the Khmer court again. According to the Khmer chronicle, Hue sent messengers to Udong bringing along tribute to the new Khmer King.
The Viet King (Gia Long) sent his messengers to set a diplomatic relationship along with a crew of 93 persons and boats carrying silk cloths of 98 sets as tribute to the King Ang-Chan, in recognition of past assistance by the court of Kamboja.
The tribute might have been genuine at first, however we shall see that the next Viet inference into the politic of the Udong court repeated the advent of the lost of prey-Nokor during the reign of king Cheychetha II again. As expected, more diplomacy from the Hue' s court followed.
The king Gia-Long commissioned Ong Chan Si Nga to bring a golden stamp of squared shape and featuring a lion of 7 Nen curency money' s weight, along with 500 Viet commoners as present to the new King.
In recognition for the past alliance with Chaopha Ben, the Viet interference strengthened the tie between Hue and the Khmer court. Chaopah Ben who was in good terms with both sides, was more than happy to help build the relationship. As expected, the Khmer king Ang-chan was very pleased and sent his present back to King Gia-Long as a token of his gratitude. In Bangkok, Rama I who was in his old age apparently was not in position to interfere and stayed in distant. His son and successor Rama II (1809-1824) was however alarmed of the visible detachment of Udong from the Siamese interference. To counter balance the lean toward Hue, the Siam King appointed King Ang-Chan' brother named Prah Ang-Snguan as Vice King and another brother named Prah Ang-Im as Obraja. He then sent them to settle, not at Udong, but in two Cambodian provinces close by the border of Siam. In an effort to avert further conflict, King Ang-Chan sent messengers to invite his two brothers to move into Udong with him. Instead of accepting the invitation, the two brothers captured and kept the messengers with them. It was a clear message that they did not want to join his court but, that at the contrary they were instead set by the Siam court to challenge his authority. To make the matter worst, another brother named Prah Ang-Duang defected from Udong and went to join force with the two rebellious brothers. Seeing the situation tipped back to Siam, Rama II then sent more of his own troops for reinforcement the Vice-King at Pothisath. With his own security under threat, King Ang-Chan ended up approaching Hue for help. The King Gia-Long immediately sent his troops of 500 men to protect the King. Responding to the maneuver of the Khmer King, King Rama II sent next 5000 men marching toward Udong. The King Ang-Chan escaped to Hue where he received help for a comeback. With a Vietnamese army of ten thousands accompanying him, Prah Ang-Chan came back to rule Udong. He knew however that he could not afford to further endanger his relationship with Siam and decided to send tribute to the Siam King who in turn, kept the other Khmer royal brothers in check. For a period of time, the King appeared to reigned peacefully and Udong seamed to be better off under his reign. But the appearance had proved itself to be exasperating. As we shall see, his maneuver had serious drawback. While keeping the Siam court content with the tribute, we shall see that the court of Udong fell deeper and deeper into Hue's control. To rectify the situation, the Siam king Rama III (1824-1851) decided to interfere. A joint campaign by Siamese and Lao armies was launched in 1833-34 from both Bangkok and Champasak against King Ang Chan and sent the Khmer King to take refuge in Vietnam (THAI: The Early Bangkok Empire: Rama III: Conservative or reactionary?). At the same time a Siam naval force rounded the coast to join the rebels in Saigon was defeated by Vietnamese force. The Siamese retreat resulted in a more daring Vietnamese intervention into the politic of both the Khmer and the Lao courts. Betting on the rumors that the British India would invade Siam, both courts were looking for a way to free themselves from the Siam control. While the Khmer king Ang-Chan was securing Udong under Hue's protection, the Lao King Anu was preparing for a full-blown attack on Bangkok. The campaign started in early 1827 and after posting his troops at Khorat he proceeded toward Bangkok. As we shall see, it was a risky business for both the Khmer and the Lao courts. As the British attack on Bangkok never realized, King Anu soon faced with Bangkok' s strong retaliation. While his troops were loosing ground, he fled to Vietnam and requested protection from Hue.
The triangular Affair with Hue and Bangkok *
The advent of the Vietnamese Emperors Gia Long and later his son Ming-Mang fighting the West with the support of China was the least understood by western historians. After fighting off the Tay-son brothers, they were allowed to rule both Tongkin and Hue under the Chinese vassalage despite the short-coming of their qualification. Of military background, they lacked the administration and political skill of the Trinh. Like the Tay-son brothers, they were under strict Chinese control and suffered the lack of revenue from the South China sea trade. Due to the close policy of the Quing court, only Chinese ships were allowed to carry good into Chinese seashores. Piracy was on the other hand off limit to them as they were to answer directly to the Chinese court. In that situation, many Viet venturers saw in Cambodia viable source of revenues that could solve Hue's financial problem. The fair advance of King Gia-Long in approaching the Udong court early in the reign of king Chanraja turned out to be at the right time that Hue needed to intrude in Cambodian affair. It induced the Oudong court into falling once again in the Vietnamese trap through the Viet commissioners who were delegated from Hue to the Udong court. When king Ang-Chan died in 1834 The Vietnamese secured his daughter Mei to the throne of Udong as queen of Cambodia. Shewas the second daughter of Prah Chanraja and ascended the throne at the age of 20 years old. Under the tutelage of Hue, the queen was nothing more than a figurehead as the court affairs were fallen into the hand of the Viet officers. They then began a thorough program of Vietnamization to transform Cambodia into becoming a vassal of Hue. To counter the interference of Hue, the Siam King resent the rival brothers of King Chanraja back into the western provinces of Cambodia. He commissioned Prah obraja Ang-Snguan to station at Battambang while instructing his brother Prah Ang-Duang to settle at Mangkolpuri. At Udong where the Khmer court completely fell under sway of Hue, the Viet officers were preparing for the final take over of Cambodia. In their grand scheme to take over of the country, they sent all Khmer royal members to Hue where they were retained as prisoners. They then sent secret messengers to Battambang to illuscitate Ang-Snguan into taking the vacant Khmer throne at Udong. It was a very tempting proposition and Ang-Snguan fell immediately into the trick. Following the Viet instruction, he sent messengers to inform the Siam King Rama III of the maneuver that was conducted by the Viet authorities of Udong. Instead of implicating himself in the scheme, he denounced his brother Ang-Duang as the Viet accomplice. The Siam King ordered the latter back to Bangkok and held him under house arrest. All clear to leave Battambang, Prah Ang-Snguan joined the Viet troops in heading to Udong. Little that he suspected about the real intention of the Viet commissioners. They took no time to capture him along with his family and sent them to join others royal families who were previously held prisoner at Hue. The Viet generals then took a free ride of transforming Cambodia into a second Vietnam. They went on to settle Viet migrants into Cambodia and took hold of any major commercial endeavors in the benefit of Hue. All the fishing enterprises of the Great Lake, for instance, were in Vietnamese hands. It was in the critical moment that Ming-Manh was in desperation for revenue. With costly tribute to China and virtually no income from the sea-trade, the Nguyen court was in the verge of collapsing. Just as the Nguyen court started to receive relief by exploiting Cambodia, the Viet generals had committed a crucial mistake of excessively abusing their power. In the drive of Vietnamizing Cambodia, they went on curbing the Khmer cultural practices by destroying Buddhist institutions and replacing them with Taoist temples. The measures alarmed the Khmer people and generated a big scale of uprising. They managed to drive out the Viet mandarins who were holding the power of the court of Udong and sent messengers to request from the Siam court, the release of Prah Ang-Duang back to take control of the vacant throne. Rama III then ordered the Siam General Bodintecho to head 15000 Siam troops to help King Ang-Duong stabilizing the country. Along the way, they drove off the rest of Viet occupation back to Vietnam. Afraid that he might go further after the Khmer royalty who were held as prisoners at Hue, Ming-Manh ordered the release of all Khmer family members to King Ang-Duang. To appease Bangkok, he also handed over King Anu of Viet-tian along with his families to the Siamese general Bodintecho. While the Khmer royal family was reunited with the Khmer court at Udong, the Lao King Anu and family were brought to Bangkok. He died later inside a cage, set in display for people of Bangkok to see as a punishment of his treachery.
THE EARLY FRENCH COLONIALIZATION
Lost in the jogging game, the Khmer court found itself at the merci of their neighbors. At the West, Bangkok played a protecting role and at the same time intruded in the politic of the Khmer court. Two western provinces, BattambAng and Siemreap were wrested into the control of Thonpuri by the initiative of the Khmer governor Chaopha Ben. At the east, Dai-Viet had made its way south to take control of Prey-Nokor after subduing Champapura. King Ang-Duong saw the French attack on Hue as an opportunity to take Prey-Nokor back to Cambodia. His hope dashed as France later took the whole Cochinchina to be a French colony and started on a discovery expedition to find a connecting way with China.
The Reign of the King Ang-Duang (1847-1860) *
Modern history books gave full credit to the Siam King RAma III for the next Siamese interference in restoring back the Khmer court of Udong. The Cambodian source however gave a different version by stressing on the uprising of the Khmer people that drove away the Viet occupation from Udong. Seeing their country falling deeper and deeper into the Vietnamization carried through by a handful of Viet officials, they rose up to chase the Viets out off the country. They then sent messenger to Bangkok requesting King Ang-Doung to return back home. Along with Siamese troops conducted by the Siamese general Decho-bodin, King Ang-Duang himself led Khmer recruits toward Hue to free all his family that were brought as prisoners to Hue. Unable to fight back, Ming-Manh released all the Khmer' s court members back to Udong. Under the tutelage of the Siam court, king Ang-Duang ascended the throne of Udong in 1947. Rama III took the opportunity to set-up a new scheme designed to convert the two Khmer provinces under the control of Chaopha Ben into becoming Siam provinces permanently. A lady of the Caopha Ben' s court named Khlib who was married to the son of the Siam general Bodindecho was received in high honor at the court of Siam and was appointed as Khmer representative to carry the annual tribute to Siam. At the same time, it was secretly planned that her husband would be the next governor of Battambang and Siem reap provinces after Chaopha Ben' s death. It is important to note that up to this time, Chaopha Ben was allowed to rule the two Khmer provinces with the total privilege as warlord king. He was awarded the Siam court' s privileged sword that can be used to kill anyone, Cambodian and Siamese alike, without being at fault (Notes: The privileged sword). The scheme set by the Siam court was later discovered and was foiled by the Chaopha Ben' s son named Chaopha Chhum. Using the privileged sword awarded by the siam King, he rushed to kill the husband of the lady Khlip and secured himself the control of the two provinces. When the next Siam king Rama IV placed the two provinces as part of a political super-district under the new Siamese administrative reorganization in 1894, he assigned Chaopha Chhum as a residential governor of the new-formed super district. To king Ang-Duang, the down turn of the Siam court under king Rama III allowed him to work on his initiation. Having set his country back in order, he saw the weakness of the Hue 's court as a rare opportunity to get the lost territory of Cochinchina back under the Khmer control. Trough the acquaintance with the French missionaries and businessmen met at the court of Bangkok, he knew that France was also preparing for a punitive campaign against Hue. In retaliation against the Nguyen court for their harsh policy in regard to the missionary work, Napoleon III was pressured for a overdue retaliation (The birth of Vietnam: The Nguyen Dynasty: The Viet Emperor Minh-Mang). With the agreement from he court, he approached the bishop Miche to write a letter addressing to the new elected French president. According to the Khmer source, the latter' s main intention was to inform France that Cochinchina was still belonged to the Khmer court. In the letter, he promised the assistance of the Khmer army to help France attacking the court of Hue in return for the French recognition of the Khmer suzerainty over Prey Nokor (Notes: The diplomatic maneuver with France). The letter was perhaps left unreaded as Napoleon III prepared to take over Cochinchina for himself. It turned out that France did not need King Ang Duang assistance after all. The conquest of Cochinchina and Tonking was relatively an easy victory and France owed nothing to King Ang-Duang proposition (The French Indochina: The French Cochinchina: The French Invasion). Not only that Prey-Nokor was kept, but more of Kamboja Krom' s lands were wrested to make-up for the French colony of Cochinchina. The formation of the French Indochina stopped the direct intervention of both Bangkok and Hue from interfering into the internal politic of Cambodia and Laos until modern time. During the next colonial rule, the new generation of Siam kings was more interested in safeguarding Bangkok' s suzerainty than to challenge European colonial drive. In collaboration with France and Britain, Bangkok was left alone and Siam was then known as the only Southeast Asian country free from direct colonization. At the same time, Bangkok was modernizing itself and became one of the big Asian cities of pro western world. From the reign of King Mongkot (Rama IV) onward, the next history of Bangkok involved very much with western colonization.
The Discovery of Angkor *
The first time that Henry Mouhot' s publication about his exploration at the Angkorian site was made available to the French public, fascination about the temple of Angkor Wat was immediate. It was perhaps his way with words that made his presentation of the temple stood out from other previous publication. A closer look however provided more reality of his work that was to become an instant success of catching the interest of International audience. His true success was that he succeeded to convey both physical and spiritual images of the temples to the readers. Throught his clever description, he has presented not only the real look of Angkor, but also the hidden messages behind its majestic architecture and decoration. Sketches were included to help the reader's imagination that words alone could not describe. Due to his magnificent work, Mouhot was credited as the discovery of Angkor Wat by many of his colleagues. It was not because he was the first to discover the temple but because he was the first to generate a wide-scale interest among western readers in the temple. True to the Khmer tradition, Angkor was never been lost. Abandoned during the reign of King Chao Ponha Yat, Angkor was left to the jungle and became degenerated into ruin. However, Angkor always stayed in the mind of every Cambodians as a witness to the past glory of the Khmer Empire. It also a reminder of the conflict with Siam that characterized the final fall after it was abandoned. After Angkor was sacked many times by Ayudhya, the Khmer court left Angkor to head south for better protection. Before Mouhot had made his trip in 1837, many westerners had already explored Angkor and some had already published their discoveries to the general public. The early trips were mostly done by missionaries or adventurers and were done mostly for personal interests. However, more and more exploration trips were organized by both British and French colonial rule through the accommodation of Bangkok. It was because Siamreap, the Khmer province where Angkor was located had been wrested by the Siam court into its control since the reign of King Ang-Eng (The Kingdom of Siam: The Dependency of Siam: The reign of King Ang-Eng). Administered by the Khmer governor Chaopha Ben, the provinces of Battambang and Siemreap were then off limit to the court of Udong that was then under Vietnamese control. Situation changed when King Ang-Duang took over Udong back from the Viet king Ming-manh and consolidated the country under his control. Even though Angkor was still under Siam, the new Khmer court also had access to it and already started to claim it back. Mouhot could then prepare his trip from the court of Oudong where he made an acquaintance with the prince Norodom, son of the reigning king Ang-Duang. In preparing his trip, there were indications that Mouhot already had collected a fair amount of information of Angkor, not only from publication of previous explorers but also from the court of Udong. His accurate description along with sketches proved that the discovery of the Angkor site was not of pure accident but was well prepared up front. On the other hand, the discovery of Angkor was complete but was by no means, the end of his mission. His publication went out to excite the French people but was not however what the French colonists had expected of him. As interest in Angkor Wat was rekindled among French readers, the renewed attention to the colonisation of Indochina was already in full force. Returned back to Bangkok in 1860, Mouhot soon prepared for another expedition. This time, it was truly a discovery trip that was expected of him. The exploration of the upper stream of the Mekong river that took a toll on him and later his life was actually what the French colonists were looking for. He began his journey in the late 1860 and crossed the Mekong River to LuAng-Prah BAng-in 1861. His plan to reach Upper Vietnam and to return back to Cambodia through the Mekong River however had to be scraped due to his illness that ended his life in the same year. However unsuccessful the trip was, it became the source of more intensive inspiration on the French colonists. It came at the exact moment that colonial endeavor in Indochina came into intense scrutiny from the French government. Continuing the interests generated by explorers, there was a growing determination to explore regions of the mainland Indochina that still held mysteries for outsiders. More and more explorers were focusing on the territory connected to China. There was a general conception that the vast empire with its enormous people was a potential source of a great commercial opportunity. One of such campaigns had been taken in 1837 by a British army officer, captain McLeod (Notes: A land route to China). His trip was however cut short by the refusal of Chinese authority to allow him passing through the Chinese controlled territory of Yunnan.
The Exploration of the Mekong River *
One year after the French authority of Cochinchina took control of the court of Udong and forced king Norodom to sign the Franco-Khmer treaty in 1863, France still saw no prospect from its Southeast Asian venture. Throughout 1864, the French authorities vacillated over whether to sustain their colonial possession in southern Vietnam or to abandon a venture that was so far proved to be unpromising. Among the pro-colonialist, Francis Garnier was one of the most active voices in arguing forcefully for the maintenance of the new French Position. In the same year, he published a pamphlet, La Cochinchine francaise, trying to rally French support for the colonial cause. It was a document that mixed passionate advocacy with either doubtful or questionable claims about the prospects for the colony. He conjured up a vision of the great commercial opportunities that await any nation ready to tap the riches of Western China by way of the Mekong River. If the river is proved to be navigable for merchandise transportation, there were no more reasons for stopping French enterprise in Indochina. In a most convincing of all, Garnier argued for the exploration of the Mekong in terms of certain riches that await for such enterprise. Little however that he mentioned about any obstacles nor any bad sentiment from the Chinese court in regard to theirs venturing. The same for the British India, the Chinese resistance was not of a big concern for the French Colonists. With a superior army, they could care less for any unpleasant encounters during their quest for profit. The natural obstacles however were proved to be tremendous. They stopped at Angkor to verify what Mouhot described to them in his pamphlet and so far they appeared to satisfy with their own finding. The disappointment started after they left Angkor in the search for the golden opportunity along the Mekong River. Arriving at the Khone falls, they soon realized that the River was not fully navigable at all for merchandise transport (Notes: The Khone falls). Immediately, the excitement of a prospective endeavor with China dashed and doubts about other beneficial encounters also settled in during the rest of the trip. The first to feel the pinch was Francis Garnier whose insight about the prospect of the trip was later blamed for the wasteful colonial initiative, in the court of France. The next falling spirit was Doudard de Lagree who was the trip's organizer and became the first in command of the expedition. From the start, de Lagree did not fall into the myth of the Mekong River. After taking hold of Cambodia, he had already received enough information from the Khmer court about the real condition of the Mekong River. His interest was thus different from Garnier and was more tailored toward the real colonization of Indochina. Nevertheless, he was also disappointed to find out that the Khorat plateau and upper territory of the mainland Indochina was infertile and also presented no other real prospective for the colonial cause. Reaching southern China, his health took a toll on him and soon died disenchanted. Unable to go further in the trip, he gave permission to Garnier to go ahead exploring the rest of the Mekong upstream. Garnier continued to complete his original plan even though he knew now that it led to no colonial reward of any kind. His work was later applaused by the geographic societies as a priceless contribution to the scientific publication of the time but a hard blow to the colonial original project. The hope of making intercourse with China through Yunnan was never again mentioned in the court of France. Back to Paris, Garnier received some recognition of completing the trip that for some, was a good source for providing geographical information about the Mekong River. The reward was soon challenged by De Lagree's supporters who claims that without De lagree the trip would not realized at the first place. Any recognition given in regard to the trip should go to him. Needless to say, Garnier received a cold feet treatment from his colonial peers who were in desperate need to find some credibility in the French court to carry on their next plan. To them, the control over the Khmer court of Udong was not wasted even though the exploration trip was not yielding the expected result. As a matter of fact, their personal benefits had so far not been connected to the Chinese trade. The lucrative land concession in Cochin China, for once, was very beneficial and was still carried on in full force. The French protectorate over Cambodia, on the other hand, gave them opportunities of extending the land encroachment deep inside Cambodian territory.
THE FRENCH COLONIAL POLICY
To the court of France, the back down from Indochina was not an option since it meant giving England full control of Southeast Asia. De Lagree' associate obviously knew and took advantage of it. The account of the failing trip, on the other hand, provided them with crucial information for their next plan of colonizing the whole of Indochina. The exploration of the upper part of the Mekong river provided them with enough information about Laos that was going to become the next target of the French colonization. Despite the lack of other resources, Laos was the producer of opium, a high commodity that would generate good revenue for the colony (The French Indochina: The colonization of Laos: The Opium trade).
The Reign of King Norodom (1864-1904) *
In his presentation, the first civilian governor general Paul Doumer (1897-1902) played down the importance of Cambodia in the French colony as just a little more than the French resident superior's hunting reserves. His comment not only presented a totally false report of the extended benefits extracted from Cambodia but also induced France's overall policy that failed Cambodia at the first place. His comment was by all-means an echo of the general practices of the colonial government when reporting to the court of France. As personal benefits were at stake, French colonists knew that France should not be aware of their source of hidden income. As we had argued, the land concession in Cochinchina generated a lot of wealth to both the French colonists and the Chinese aristocrats who worked for the colonial cause (The French Indochina: The French Cochinchina: The colonization of Cochinchina). It is not clear however that France knew that the land concession would continue deeper into Cambodia if a big scale uprising, as we shall see, did not occur to stop it. When King Norodom took hold of the Khmer throne after his father's death, he was not crowned because the royal regalia needed for the coronation was held at the Siam court. The French authorities prevented him to make a trip to Bangkok for the crowning and by doing so, forced the latter to yield to their demand. They allowed the coronation to take place only after he agreed to sign the Franco-Cambodian treaty in 1863. In a desperate move, King Norodom had also yielded to Bangkok. Just three months after the conclusion of the Franco-Cambodian treaty was signed, he secretly signed in December 1863 a new treaty with Siam that completely undermined the provisions of the French-imposed agreement (Notes: The new treaty with Siam). The French colonist might not understand why King Norodom was willing to sign such treaty with Siam, seemingly at the heavy cost for both himself and his Kingdom. They knew that King Norodom was still trying to use his personal connection with Bangkok to undermine their control but what they did not know was how far King Norodom was willing to bet for both the Siamese court and the French protectorate to get their approval for the throne. As it appears in the new treaty, King Norodom left the control of the two provinces to Bangkok, in return for the latter' s approval of his coronation. Later reassessment indicated that King Norodom was only reassuring Siam of extending the original accord that already granted the Siam court to take hold of the two provinces only for the time being. According to the original treaty, the two provinces were supposed to be returned to Cambodia soon after King Rama I' s death. The Khmer court had then tried in vain to have Siam returning them back during the next reigns of Siamese kings. In a lawless world that no one win except by military force, treaties without proper endorsement were potentially ignored. Surrounded by aggressive neighbors, the Khmer court was not in a position to enforce the treaty without endangering further the suzerainty of Cambodia. Now, king Norodom had to yield to the Siam court again for the throne. Held a year later in 1864, the coronation was conducted in a joint ceremony by both the representatives of France and Siam (Notes: The Coronation of King Norodom). After the coronation, King Norodom had to face even more difficult tasks of handling the interference of both France and the Siamese court. To enhance his position, the new king tried to play them against each other in a dangerous political joggling game. With little chance of winning, the game was the only option left for him to play against the two master minds. For the Siam' s court, the game was not new and was already been mastered. Like they had done before, they quickly grabbed whatever presented as opportunities to them and wait patiently for the auspicious moment to take control of the game and turned it in their favor. To the French colonists, the game was at first a disconcerting setback but hardly lost anything to Siam. As a matter of fact, they had nothing to lose to the Khmer court either. As stated by the Admiral Duperre, the French already won even before the game started. What the French authority need to do was to tolerate the manner in which King Norodom played his game. If the King was at the time uncooperative, he had substantial grievances to level again the French in relation to the frontiers of his kingdom. Unlike Vietnam that was subdued and remained under the French control through military force, neither the lost of Prey-Nokor to Vietnam nor the western provinces to Siam was by military mean. They were on the contrary, temporary treaties that were un-keenly broken by both Hue and Siam for their own benefits (The Kingdom of Syam: The Siamese dependency: The Thonpuri' s strategy). Needless to say, King Norodom still held the lost territories dearly as legally belonged to Cambodia.
The French Policy in regard to Prey Nokor *
Until 1887, French officials in Cambodia were all reporting to the governor of Cochinchina who was also in command of the French military post in Prey-Nokor. As decisions for Cambodia were made in Saigon, there was a tendency of ignoring Cambodian interest. At first, there was some consideration for the differences between the two countries that required careful attention. When a colonial decision had to be implemented, at least some accommodations were made up-front to avoid open conflict with Cambodia. Nevertheless, Vietnam was always the first to receive any consideration from the governor. To suit the colonial agenda, all the measures needed to pass through Vietnam's cooperation and need to say less was at the expense of Cambodia. After Doumer's arrival, Colonial policy in regard to Cambodia had changed for the worst.
In Doumer' s case, it should be noted, he had less interest in the individual components of the Indochinese region than in organizing an effective over-all administrative and economic control. (FPCC:The Civilizing Missioners: P. 49)
Conforming to this policy, it is clear that the benefit for the French Indochina was often decided without any input from Cambodia. As expected, the new policy induced strong resistance from the Cambodian side. This time, it was the Khmer throne that created obstacle to the colonial implementation. While the court of Hue was generally cooperating, the court of King Norodom was protesting. As we had seen, the animosity started since the appeal to the French protectorate about retrieving back Prey-Nokor failed. In a closer relationship with Vietnam, the French government never held to their engagement in rectifying the frontier near Chau-Doc and Ha-Tien with Cambodia. As everywhere else where conflicts arose between the native Cambodian people and the Vietnamese immigrants, French colonists delegated the control to Vietnamese personal to solve the problems. On a higher note, the French officials deliberately hold on to Prey-Nokor and the help of the corrupted Vietnamese officers, continued to draw the benefit from the land concession scheme. So far, the plea made by both King Ang-Duang and his son, King Norodom, had been fallen into deaf ears. Since it is apparent now that the French colonists were actually the one to blame for the territory lost to the Vietnamese settlers, the Khmer resistance took a different turn. The next wave of Khmer resistance was this time directed against the French occupation. The increased Vietnamese immigration that was the most important of the Khmer' s concern in the past now took precedence after the colonization. The resistance was strong enough to concern the French authority and forced them to be more tactful in handling the politic of the Khmer court. As expected, the fierce objection of King Norodom, was more than the French policy could accept and according to the colonial rule, the insubordination had to be corrected. French colonists however knew that tough measures did not work and to make the matter worst would further alienate against the Khmer people. To achieve their goal, they had to use political tricks learned from Hue and Bangkok in better handling the Khmer court. It was an engagement that involved heavily in court manipulation to induce the Khmer court into yielding to their demands. In return, they rewarded the King extravaganza life-style that only western colonial wealth could offer. Despite all their political animosity toward king Norodom, it is apparent that the French authorities provided him with more than decent personal treatment. The royal palace at Phnom Penh, for instance, was the first spacious and luxurious of all royal residences so far known in Khmer history. The governor general Paul Doumer found the architecture offensive to his European tastes, but there is no doubt that it was grander and far more imposing than the earlier royal residences at Udong. French gifts of carriages and steamboats, added to his elephants and cavalry, bolstered the king 's live style and prestige. Despite all the accommodation, King Norodom still maintained his stance and the French colonists needed to look for alternative measures to carry on their colonial agenda. As both Siam and Hue have done successfully in the past, the French colony was preparing for the higher level of court' s manipulation. The measure was to divert King Norodom's familial rivalry into a political crisis that would cripple the Khmer court. They did not need to do any dirty work and even did not need to look far as fracture already occurred among members of the royal family through intense foreign intervention. Under many centuries of Hue and Bangkok 's domination, Khmer royal family was by now broken into many factions leaning heavily on foreign assistance to conduct their day to day rivalry.
The early Uprisings *
Following the Siam delegation of the Khmer throne to King Norodom, a half brother of his named Si Votha, did already make his intention clear to contest the Khmer throne. By escaping into northern jungles, he launched his rebellious activity against the Khmer court. Another half brother of the King, the prince Sisowath, was also well disposed to adopt the same policy if circumstances did not prevent him from doing so. His temperament of cooperating with the French colonial rule moreover made him as the best candidate for the French support. The prince had chosen to work along side the French colonists to attain his goal than to take the risk of launching his own campaign. As we shall see, his decision would suit him in the long run. At the mean time, Si Votha's campaign against both the Khmer throne and the French protectorate had proved to be a failure. The French refused at first to help King Norodom in subduing his half brother's revolt until he agreed to conclude a treaty that advocated several reforms with them. In a returned favor, the French went on launching a campaign to defeat Si Votha's uprising that lasted until the year 1885-1886. The French however would face with bigger revolts of their own that have been started even before the protectorate of Cambodia. They were uprisings of local peasants against Vietnamese settlement on their traditional lands. As part of the Cochin-china colonial policy, the French administered the land concession in favor for the Viet migrants. A prominent leader by the name of Achar Sva, took opportunities of the conflicts to launch a wide scale campaigns to drive the Vietnamese out from the eastern side of Cambodia. Pretending to be of royal family, he took on the false identity as a prince. As his scheme was still kept secret, he could collect strong supports from local government and people alike to build his own control. While he managed to keep the Vietnamese out of his controlled era, he made himself becoming a target for the French retaliation. Thanks to the support from the people, Achar Swa still managed to hold firm on to his territory against the French troops. However, the French colonists had recourse to King Norodom for help. By then, King Norodom had already been tied to colonial rule and was forced to take action against the uprising. Having to fight with the Khmer throne, Achar Swa' s elaborate scheme was soon blown uncovered. AS his true identity became known, he became nothing more than a lonely man with his noble cause. Loosing all supports, he would soon face with his own people' s treachery. He was killed by close associates who hoped to cash in the reward put-up by the Khmer court against his head. After his death, the Viet settlers came back and, needless to say, more uprisings soon followed. The next rebellious leader launched his campaign under the assumed named of Po Kambor. Because it was happening right after Achar Swa' s death and the fact that the uprising was conducted and later subdued almost in the same manner, his campaign was often confused by many historians as the same one of his predecessor Achar Swa. His campaign however, was more targeting to the French control. As it was clear now that the French colonist took the protection role of the Viet settlers and was about to take Cambodia as colony, the uprisings soon spread all over the country. This time there was nothing that the Khmer court could or wanted to help. Facing with dilemma, the French colonists then started on the blaming game. Some had made the unpleasant remark that their treat to King Norodom had worked against them. The good life of King Norodom, they argued, inspired further resistance to the French protectorate. Having resisting the French occupation during all his life, King Norodom had reputed a national prestige on his people. At his death, the French blamed themselves of further enhancing the King's personal euphora by organizing elaborate funeral for him. The ceremonies took place in January 1906, with a splendor and an éclat that was only possible in a country whose court was provided with colonial adequate funds. Seventeen hundred Buddhist monks recited prayers for the repose of Norodom's soul, and French military honors were added to the traditional rites of the ceremony. Phnom Penh was then swollen by an enormous influx of people from the provincial regions of the country. Undeniably the good treatment to King Norodom attracted more admiration from the Khmer population to the court and in the process lent support to his cause. Such extravaganza had never been possible in the recent past before the French protectorate (Notes: King's Funeral in the Past).
THE FRENCH PROTECTORAT
The French protectorate meant to Cambodia the end of Siam and Hue' s interference on the Khmer court. Unfortunately, it also meant the end of Cambodian independence. In the past, Bangkok and Hue were not strong enough to dissolve Khmer feudatory system to fit their own. Even though the Khmer court was under their tutelage, lower channels of Khmer administration were still intact and operated under their own initiative. Contrary to common belief that the Khmer court was responsible of the lost of territory to both Siam and Hue, evidences show that the lower channel rulers were as much as critical in safeguarding their own territories (Notes: The recent Lost of Territories). On the other hand, we shall see that the French protectorate replaced Khmer feudatory administration completely with colonial rule and in the process was responsible for the lost of Cochinchina to Vietnam ().
The Reign of King Sisovath (1904-1927)
Now that the French colony became one of the contending powers of Southeast Asia, it is expected that some members of the Udong court would make themselves available as their subordinators. Led by prince Sisowath whose political leaning toward French was well known in the colonial arena, the faction was brought up by the French authority after the death of King Norodom. It was projected that once on the throne, king Sisowath would become a pliant tool of the French authorities and new departures could then be expected from the outcome of his reign. The changes would have considerable effect on the attitude of other Khmer senior court officials who were forced to adapt to the colonial system. To the French authority, the death of King Norodom meant less resistance to the French Colonist. The general conception was that once he is dead and the prince Sisovath was set on the throne, the French problems with the Khmer court were over. This is because the next king Sisowath, although as prodigal and just as given to vice, did not have a taste for absolute power. Unlike his brother, King Sisowath was more willing to compromise with the colonial rule. The new king moreover was willing to work out with the French authority for the next big changes. The French authorities seized the opportunity to introduce a long list of possible changes in the administration of the Kingdom. For the first time, a French official was appointed to regulate the finances of the palace. Within three weeks of his brother's death, king Sisowath accepted the French control over his civil duty by signing a convention setting the civilian code of his administration. Examination for entrance to the posts of Cambodian administration was then implemented according to French initiative. The immediate outcome was the demolition of traditional administrative system, as older generation of the Khmer administrators who were mostly in close connection with the last royal court could not obviously to take the test, let alone to pass it. They were discarded to make way for a new generation of administrators who were considered qualified in the Western bureaucratic style of government. On the other hand, the French authority wanted the initiative to be extended further as the general education to the public. Before he died, King Norodom had made a request in his will for a western style of schooling to be available for palace's princes and princesses of his government, but it was not implemented soon enough to save their jobs by the new administrative standard. A mutual education society was established in 1905 to encourage study of the French Language that became since the official language of the new government. In this ambitious project, high establishments were built but were too few to accommodate a general enrollment and were barely enough to accommodate family members of the new elite who worked for the French administration. With the lack of qualified Khmer candidates, the positions were mostly filled with French family members and their Viet collaborators from Hanoi or Saigon. Building on their strong support for the colony, the new government went ahead laying out colonial agenda. Without spending more of investment fund from France, the French authority exploited Cambodia's resource through channels of administration made to suit Colonial interest. Starting from the administrative reform, Phnom Penh now had been transformed as a satellite of Prey-Nokor. The next colonial administrative main-task was to make Cambodia as profitable as it could be. They needed to work on establishing the tax collection offices so revenue could be used to offset the expense. The rice harvest, for instance, became a stable supplier to the Colonial fund of high revenue. King Sisovath's effort in making the protectorate worked for both countries finally got its recognition. They rewarded him with more attention to his court' s demands. It was a good gesture that never happened during the reign of King Norodom. Among the high iconic grants to King Sisovath, the return back of the provinces of Siemreap and Battambang was finally complete in 1907, more than a decade later after the Franco-Siamese treaty in 1893 was signed. Despise all their elaborate political maneuvers, the French colonists found out that the core problems of their colonial rule were still in full force. As score of public affairs were met with setbacks and revolts, the French were in the contrary facing with greater resistance. They know now for sure that it did not come from the Khmer court, but was instead started with the Khmer people who saw that all the changes that were imposed on them were not for their benefits.
The Resistance against Colonial Rule *
From the start, the French policy makers knew that the Khmer uprisings were not culturally related. As many of the rebel leaders were Buddhist monks who took off their yellow saffron to fight against colonial rule, it is natural to think that religious factor was one of the rebellious drives. Despite the fact that the replacement of Buddhism with Christianity was always on top of their agenda, French missionaries so far failed to find Buddhist Cambodians to convert into Christianity. By now, the Missionary works were restricted almost entirely to the Vietnamese migrants and the descendants of earlier Spanish and Portuguese associates of the Cambodian court. To the less extend, there are little evidences to suggest that other cultural changes were the cause. Even though big city's dwellers who were mostly foreigners could benefit from the French Education system, the rest of the Khmer people could care less about the western civilization. After King Norodom's death and the ascension of King Sisovath on the throne, the French authority hoped to turn the Khmer upsurge sentiment in favor for the French Colonization. Under the French administrative reform, French officers now held most high positions down to provincial governors usually run by Khmer administrators. On the other hand, lower offices were transformed from administrating the needs of the people to emphasize on tax collecting purpose. Run mostly by lesser ranking Viet or Chinese officers, each office took care of colonial tax collection directly from Khmer communities. The result was disappointing as the arrangement generated more animosity among Khmer rural communities against the French administration and their foreign associates. While the urban people enjoyed their western ways of life, the rural population on the other side of the spectrum suffered the worst unfair treatment. In addition to the lost of opportunities, they lost their dignity to foreigners who very much conscious of maintaining their powers, acted like they were above anything that Cambodians were cherishing. Buddhism was criticized for its impracticality and its failure to face the New World 's way of life. Nevertheless, cultural issues were not much of a colonial ambition to upset the Khmer people. What was actually the real cause of discontentment, was a general rejection of the French presence as a dictating authority figure. From members of the Khmer court down to the rural people, the French and associate' s arrogance and abusive temperament were even harder to bare (Notes: The French Arrogance). As stated by the French Resident General himself, the war calamities took place since the early French occupation.
The day the French troops invaded Cambodia, after the unhappy events of Sambor and Banam, they considered themselves to be in a conquered country and the inhabitants had to suffer the calamities of a state of war; thefts from private homes and from pagodas, assassinations, rapes. Such behavior had inevitably to bring the greatest part of the population to oppose us and engendered hate, which it is difficult to eliminate. (FPCC: Cambodia before the storm (1863-1883))
At the beginning, the occupation of the French Colonial army was generally received with mix feelings. In some cases, it was even seen as a chance of liberation from the Hue's court oppression. Through implementation however, the colonialisation revealed the true nature of itself. The most deception was in conjunction with the land concession of eastern provinces bordering Prey-Nokor (The French Indochina: The Colonization of Vietnam: The wealth distribution). Under the French watch, Viet administrators were mostly seen as the colonial forces responsible for the dirty work of land encroachment while committing atrocity against their Khmer subjects. The memory of the hash treatment during King Ming-manh moreover came back to rekindle the hate sentiment about the Viet mistreatment of the past. They soon realized that the Viet authorities were not alone and revolting against them would mean colonial retaliation and punishment from the French authority. Viet settlers were free to occupy any public land that was originally belonged to the Khmer Kambuja krom' s communities. By providing protection to the new Viet communities, the French Colonists shifted the hate upon themselves and were soon facing with a full-scale rebellion. It is important to note that once the land was wrested out from the Khmer communities, the French colonists then move in to establish French control over the new conquered territory. Through any mean possible, either from a direct confiscation to a more sophisticate maneuver, the land was back under the French authority and their collaborators.
The Impact of the Resistance *
It is understandable that the French authority at first underestimated the Khmer uprisings. In contrast to the French troops who were equipped with the state-of-the-art armament, the Khmer insurgence was basically equipped with ancient weapons. The finding made the French army feeling more secure of their position and took no preparation to face the attacks. The negligence soon worked against them in a big way. According to oral tradition, the first encounters with the Khmer fighters ended generally with disaster for the French troops. During the attacks led by Achar Lak, nicknamed as Pokambor, the French were little prepared. In surprise attacks, the Khmer insurgence managed to inflict heavy casualty on French troops. Seeing that the long-shot Khmer weapons were only bows and arrows, they let the Khmer attackers moving closer to make better target for their riffles. Thinking that the worst that could happen to them were just minor injuries, they did not even bother to find adequate hiding place. They soon found out that they made a serious mistake. Having not known that the arrows were poisoned, they allowed themselves to get hit with not much precaution. As the injuries had led to immediate death, panic soon settled in. The Khmer troops took the opportunity to launch the final assault and to win the battle. Until the news spread and the French started to take proper precaution, the Khmer resistance took already on a different turn. Weapons were then confiscated that allowed them to stage bigger fights. Code named as the Khmer Issarak (the free Khmer), the movement became more and more organized and spread itself through out the country. Using the guerrilla fighting technique, their attacks would make the French army's efficiency very much restricted and became more vulnerable to the insurgency attacks. With no ground support from the people, the French army could not risk venturing out far from their posts in the pursuit of the insurgence. Barely extended beyond a few kilometers around military posts, the French colonists virtually controlled only the urban people. To figh off the insurgence, a new trick was put in place that proved to be more successful in capturing the Khmer leader alive. Without shooting a single bullet, the scheme consisted of eliminating the rebellious leaders through direct contact. Taking advantage of the trusting nature of Khmer leaders, they lured them to theirs headquarters and arrest them on the spot. As in the case of Kralahom Kong, they arrested him when he went to meet them in Phnom Penh. According to oral tradition, they then set him to a slow death by tying him up to a steamboat's chimney. It was an obvious way to terrorize any resistance that deemed to challenge the colonial rule. In safeguarding their venture with the general crowd, they created contingents of specialized task force that was intended to quiet down rebellion at all cost. Recruited from bad elements of the cities, their training was mainly about crushing any uprisings of the people. Well known for their brutality, they were mostly deployed in support of the tax collection' s offices. Two of the most famous for theirs brutal behaviors were the Red Leg and the Black Leg contingents, identified respectively by their special Leg' s wear of Red and Black colors. Rarely going out to fight off the Khmer Issarak in the countryside, they spent most of their time quarreling with each other in town (PP: The early struggle through press). Nevertheless, they instilled enough fear on the Khmer communities and their local administrators into conforming to the colonial rule. Along the way, the measure drew more resistance from the lower stratum of the Khmer people who, having to fight without the court approval, turned themselves as enemies of both the French Colonist and the Khmer throne. Their leaders, often of modest background, were quickly eliminated through manipulation and kidnapping schemes. With no adequate leadership of their own, they turned to the Vietminh for guidance. Formed by Ho-Chi-Minh, the Vietminh was the first organization after the Indochinese Communist Party, to fight off the French control in Indochina. The Vietminh took the opportunities to convert them into guerrilla groups of fighters known as the Khmer Vietminh, mainly to support their own cause. Armaments, usually of second hand and of second grade, were distributed to defend themselves against French and government attacks. Under disguised Vietminh officers, they were trained in guerrilla warfare and at the same time endoctrined with communism. Their well known hid-and-Run tactic was efficient in small battle and allowed them to inflict casualty on the colonial army without risking much for their own life. However, their campaigns yield neither territory gain nor creating serious impact to the French colonial rule. By creating havoc to the local people, they were regarded as no less unpatriotic as their French collaborators compatriot. Clandestine campaigns to collect donation for their cause furthermore induced suspicion and the French retaliation against the rural people was always ruthless.

Reference:
  1. CKH: The Chonicle of Khmer heroes, by Sot Eng
  2. COCHIN: Histoire de la Cochinchine Des Origins a 1883, By Miltone E. Osborne, By P. Cultru
  3. FPCC: The French Presence in Cochinchina and Cambodia, By Miltone E. Osborne
  4. MEKONG: The Mekong, Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future; By Miltone E. Osborne
  5. LAOS: Le Laos Francaise, by Eugene Picanon
  6. HSEA: A history of Southeast Asia, by D.G.E. Hall
  7. KK: Kamboja Krom: The Power without the Khmer Krom's people, By Trang Chat But.
  8. ANGKA:Who was Angka? (Angka Chea Narna?), by Kim Thy Ouy
  9. SVA:Achar Sva, by Sou Chamreun
  10. PO:Po Kambor, by Sou Chamreun
  11. PP:Political Prison, by Bun Chan Mol
  12. HLAO: A History of Laos, by Martin Stuart-Fox
Notes:
  1. Chronology
    1779-1797: The reign of King Ang-Eng; 1806-1835: The reign of King Ang-Chan : 1847-1860: The reign of King Ang-Duong; 1863: King Norodom signed the Franco-Cambodian treaty; 1864-1904: The reign of King Norodom; 1866: The expedition of the Lagree and Garnier over the Mekong River; 1904-1927: The reign of King Sisowath; 1939-1945: World War II;
  2. The privileged sword
    The privileged sword was awarded by the Siam King for Chaopha ben to use to quell uprising and had been used by both father and son to kill numerous Khmer subjects without restraint. The sword was later revoked after Chaopha Chhum used it to kill his own son, accused of having affair with one of his concubines.
  3. The diplomatic maneuver with France
    According to the Khmer source, king Ang-Duang requested the assistance of France to attack Vietnam. He was willing to offer compensation to pay France for the indemnity of wresting Prey-nokor from Hue back to Cambodia. He made his proposition through the bishop Miche who acted as intermediary between the two courts.
    Please bring the royal letter to request an army from France to attack Prey-Nokor. After winning, the government of Kamboja will pay the sum of 500 millions (?) to the French government as a token of friendship. (CKH: The reign of King Ang-Duang)
    The Khmer source even added that while France attacked Hue and took Prey-Nokor, the Khmer army took care the western districts of Prey-Nokor. It was clearly a proposition to a join campaign against Hue to free Rey-Nokor back to the Khmer court. Unfortunately, French source is quiet about such proposition ever presented to the court of Napoleon III.
  4. A land route to China
    This was the reason for the attempt made in 1837 by a captain McLeod, a British army officer, to travel from Burma into China in search of a possible future route for trade between the newly established British colony and the Middle Kingdom. He reached the Mekong at Jinghong, having first traveled up the Salween River and then across the country, but was refused entry into Yunnan by Chinese officials. Unlike the French explorers who succeeded him, Mcload did not regard the Mekong as a possible basis for navigation into China. (MEKONG:The Mekong Explored: from hope to disappointment)
  5. The Khone Falls
    The Khone Falls lie across the Mekong River at the border of modern Cambodia and Laos today. The falls disrupt the flow of the river, making the navigation impossible to go through the falls.
  6. The Khmer Court of Udong
    Any hostile campaign to the capital had to pass through these provincial governors first who were able to detect the enemy' s progression through posting guards at the countryside. They then made their own decision either to face head on with the invaders or at least to delay their march while messengers were sent to the capital.
  7. The Coronation of King Norodom
    The king of Siam provided his reign name while the French representative at the ceremony handed Norodom the crown. It was for Norodom, the culmination of four years of waiting and hoping. He was, the reports of the ceremony note, ecstatic.(FPCC: Cambodia before the storm (1863-1883): P. 186)
  8. King's funeral in the past
    King's funeral had always been important to the Khmer society. However modest resources and bad circumstances put the strains on the Khmer court to limit their expedenture on the King's funeral. No such ceremony in a grand scale had been done before the French protectorate. King Ang-Duong had died three years before but in the years that followed, Cambodia was racked by fratricidal conflict that prevented the cremation ceremony. It was very a different situation as in King Norodom's case.
  9. The recent Lost of Territories
    Except for lost of the city of Prey-Nokor (by the Khmer King Chey Chetha II), the other lost of territories to Siam and HUe could be hardly attributed to the Khmer court' s responsibility. For instance, the lost of Ha Tieng to Hue was due to the Chinese governor Mac Cau (The Birth of Vietnam: The Nam-Tien or the Vietnamization down south: The Chinese Colony of Ha-tien). Likewise, we had seen that Chaopha Ben was as much as responsible for the hand-over of Battambang and Siamreap provinces to Siam.
  10. The French Arrogance
    In a confrontation between a Khmer court's member and a French officer of less ranking, the reaction of the former was dramatic. Because he was a poet, his disgust against the French officer came out as a well verse poetic sentence.
    A Baraing (French officer), a barau (weirdo), a chor oblack (bad thief) dares to lift his feet and kick the Alack Lom Vieng (his court's title). The remark was well known in all level Cambodian societies to represent the French colonist arrogance toward their Cambodian subjects.