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Chenla - 550-800

Bhavavarman Imid 6th cent. AD
Mahendravarmanflend of 6th cent.
Isanavarman Iearly 7th cent.
Bhavavarman IIearlier 7th cent.
Jayavarman Imid 7th cent.
Jayadevi (f)early 8th cent.
Sambhuvarman8th cent.
Rajendravarman Ilate 8th cent.
The people of Chenla were Khmer. In the 6th century, the kingdom was the scene of dynastic rivalries resulting in civil wars and general disruption of the state and economy. One of the northern vassal states, the kingdom of Chenla, invaded, usurped the throne, and established a new kingdom which was dominant for three centuries. The Chenla royal families intermarried with Fuanese elites and preserved and extended the Indianized culture.

The conquest of Funan was only one step in a series of conquests for the new Khmer state of Chenla. Once they established control over Funan, they embarked on a course of conquest that continued for three centuries. They subjugated central and upper Laos, annexed portions of the Mekong Delta, and brought what are now western Cambodia and southern Thailand under their direct control.

The royal families of Chenla intermarried with their Funanese counterparts and generally preserved the earlier political, social, and religious institutions of Funan. In the eighth century AD, however, factional disputes at the Chenla court resulted in the splitting of the kingdom into rival northern and southern halves. According to Chinese chronicles, the two parts were known as Land (or Upper) Chenla and Water (or Lower) Chenla. Land Chenla maintained a relatively stable existence, but Water Chenla underwent a period of constant turbulence.

In the Chinese annals Cambodia is noticed under the names Tchinla, Funan, Kan-pogee. The Anamese also refer to the kingdom as Funan and as Chanlap. The Arab narratives show that trade was habitual in the 9th. So great was its wealth that, in those olden times, in the mouth of the people of China, "rich as Chinla " became a proverb. This name Chanlap occurs in the annals of the Chinese Emperor Lung-King, 1565 to 1571: "The king of examples, Siam made war against Chanlap, dethroned its king, and most to defy annexed his territory."

During the mid 8th century, two political centers appeared, one situated in Sambhupura, the present Kratie province and another was based at Angkor Borei area again. The traditional interpretation of Javanese invasion was rejected because from 880s, Jayavarman originated in Aninditapura started to unite the splits. In 790 AD he led a war against South Champa at Panduranga. A Cham King was captured.

Late in the eighth century AD, Water Chenla was subjected to attacks by pirates from Java, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula. By the beginning of the ninth century, it had apparently become a vassal of the Sailendra dynasty of Java. The last of the Water Chenla kings allegedly was killed around AD 790 by a Javanese monarch whom he had offended. The ultimate victor in the strife that followed was the ruler of a small Khmer state located north of the Mekong Delta. His assumption of the throne as Jayavarman II (ca. AD 802-50) marked the liberation of the Khmer people from Javanese suzerainty and the beginning of a unified Khmer nation.

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Page last modified: 28-05-2012 13:27:17 ZULU