Monarchy of Cambodia

From Beyond Angkor
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Please note that many dates are approximate (marked 'c' - circa) and even certain rulers and reigns remain unconfirmed. We have compiled our list after consulting numerous historical and archeological sources but still lay no claims to 100% accuracy.

Early Funan kings, in our opinion, involve too much conjecture to be worth noting while the 8th-century period between Jayadevi and Jayavarman II is a very grey and unverified period, as is the post-Jayavarman VII 13th-century era.

We've done our best!


Kingdom of Funan (1st century CE–c.550)

Funan was the Chinese name for a polity that existed from approximately the 1st through to 6th-centuries CE in the Mekong Delta region of modern-day Cambodia and Vietnam. The principal port was sited at Oc Eo and the capital, Vyadhapura, is considered by many historians to have been located at today's Angkor Borei. The last confirmed monarch was Rudravarman, before assimilation by Chenla in the mid to late 6th-century. There are signs of a resurgence, albeit much reduced, in the latter part of the 7th-century with records of tribute being paid to Chinese emperors however names of rulers of what had become a smaller, localised polity are not verified.

Apart from that little is confirmed and even the state's ethnic make-up is debated. DNA testing hints that at least the ruling classes may have been ethnic Malay (Cham) with the bulk of the population composed of ethnic Khmer.

In our opinion, a more comprehensive list of monarchs than below would veer too much into the realm of speculation.

Royal name Other/Posthumous names Reign
Jayavarman Kaundinya c.484-514
Gunavarman 514-514
Rudravarman 514-550

Kingdom of Chenla (c.550–802)

Chenla seems to have begun life as a Khmer city-state located in the region of today's Wat Phu in southern Laos. Whether the area was under the control of Funan or Champa is not clear but independence and expansion took place from the mid-6th-century onwards. Attempts were made to unify disparate early Khmer kingdoms in what is today northeastern Thailand and northern Cambodia - including Sambhupura and the area known as Thala Borivat - along with the absorption of former Funan areas in the south. In the mid-6th-century Bhavavarman I founds Bhavapura, later Isanapura, in the region of Sambor Prei Kuk.

By the late 7th-century, the focus seems to have moved to the Siem Reap area (West Baray) and the site of Purandarapura and Aninditapura, although by the end of Jayavarman I's reign considerable internal and external strife becomes apparent. The polity appears to have descended into a collection of warring city states - even the oft-sited 'Water' and 'Land' Chenla divisions were probably an over-simplification - until consolidation by Jayavarman II in the early 9th-century. Early rulers at Wat Phu remain conjectural while much of the 8th-century is historically hazy. Our monarch list for the latter period concentrates on the post Jayavarman I rulers in the northwestern region, although powerful Sambhupura in the northeast and resurgent Vyadhapura in the south meant that it's highly doubtful any of these listed rulers governed more than a limited, regional power-base.


Royal name Other/Posthumous names Reign
Bhavavarman I 560-c.600
Mahendravarman Citrasena (Chitrasena) 600-c.612
Isanavarman I Ishanavarman I c.612-c.628
Interregnum c.628-638/39
Bhavavarman II 638/39-656
Jayavarman I c.657-680
Nripatindravarman I(?) c.680-690/700
Jayadevi c.690/700-713
Pushkaraksha (?) Pushkara c.713-c.725/30
Rajendravarman I ?-c.760
Mahipativarman (?) c.760-790

Khmer Empire (802–1431)

Although there's no obvious discontinuity with the late Chenla period, the Angkor period is considered to have begun in 802 with Jayavarman II's successful reconsolidation of disparate city states and self-proclamation as 'universal monarch'. The capital was moved from Phnom Kulen Mahendraparvata to Rolous Hariharalaya where it remained until the late 9th-century with the establishment of a new capital, Yasodharapura, around Prasat Phnom Bakheng, on the present-day site of Angkor.

Apart from a brief Koh Ker interlude and a late 12th-century conquest of the city by Chams, the capital was to remain in this area until the early 15th-century when a probable combination of ecological issues and pressure from the Siamese forced the court to move to Longvek and Phnom Oudong close to present-day Phnom Penh.


Royal Name Other/Posthumous Names Reign
Jayavarman II Parameshvara 802-835
Jayavarman III Vishnuloka 835-c.877
Indravarman I Isvaraloka c.877-889
Yasovarman I Parasivaloka 889-900
Harshavarman I Rudraloka 900-923
Isanavarman II Paramarudraloka 923-928
Jayavarman IV Paramashivapada 928-941
Harshavarman II Brahmaloka 941-944
Rajendravarman I Shivaloka 944-968
Jayavarman V Paramaviraloka 968-1001
Udayadityavarman I (unknown) 1001-1002
Jayaviravarman (unknown) 1002-1006
Suryavarman I Paramanirvanapada 1006-1050
Udayadityavarman II (unknown) 1050-1066
Harshavarman III Sadashivapada 1066-c.1080
Jayavarman VI Paramakaivalyapada c.1080-1107
Dharanindravarman I Paramaniskalapada 1107-1113
Suryavarman II Paramavishnuloka 1113-1150
Dharanindravarman II Mahaparamanirvanapada 1150-1156
Yasovarman II (unknown) 1156-1165
Tribhuvanadityavarman (unknown) 1165-1177
Cham Occupation c.1177-1181
Jayavarman VII Mahaparamasaugatapada 1181-1218/20
Indravarman II (unknown) 1220-1243
Jayavarman VIII Jayavarmma Parameshvara 1243-1295
Indravarman III Sri Indravarman 1295-1308
Injayaravarman Sri Indrajayvarman 1308-1327
Jayavarman IX Parameshwara 1327-1336
Trasak Paem Ponhea Chey 1336-1340
Nippean Bat Ponhea Kreak 1340-1346
Sithean Reachea Sidhanta Raja 1346-1347
Lompeng Reachea 1347-1352
Siamese Occupation 1352-1357
Basat Bakrasat 1356-1359
Soryavong 1357-1363
Borom Reachea I Borommarama 1363-1373
Thomma Saok 1373-1393
In Reachea Nakhonin 1394-1421
Ponhea Prek 1421
Barom Reachea II Ponhea Yat c.1421-1431

Kingdom of Cambodia (1431–present day)

Chaktomuk Era (1431-1525)

As a result of repeated incursions by the neighbouring Siamese (as well as widely cited environmental issues at Angkor), Ponhea Yat moved his court to the Phnom Penh area in the early-15th-century. Chaktomuk is Sanskrit for 4-faces, traditionally referring to Brahma, although in this case undoubtedly also to the 4 rivers which converged at the new capital as well. The area had been occupied for many centuries (an important 7thb century settlement has been identified in the present-day city's southwestern suburbs) but by the 15th-century was probably only a small regional centre or river port.

The capital was to remain here for some 80 years until a move to nearby Longvek.


Royal Name Other Names Reign
Ponhea Yat 1431-1463
Noreay Reameathiptei Noreay Reachea 1463-1469
Reachea Reameathiptei Srei Reachea 1469-1475
Srei Soriyotei II (?) Rajadhiraja 1472-1475
Thommo Reachea I Dharmarajadhiraja 1476-1504
Srei Sukonthor Damkhat Sukonthor 1504-1512

Longvek Era (1525-1594)

King Ang Chan I is said to have been the ruler responsible for moving the capital some 50kms north to a site adjacent to the later capital of Oudong, on the banks of the Tonle Sap River. (We're not certain why but we're sure someone can enlighten us.) The area is not particularly defensible and suffers extensive annual flooding and was sacked by King Naresuan of Ayutthaya in 1594.


Royal Name Other Names Reign
Srei Chettha Sdach Korn 1512-1521
Ang Chan I Ponhea Chan 1516-1566
Barom Reachea I Satha Mahindharaja 1566-1576
Satha I Barom Reachea IV 1576-1584
Chey Chettha I Chey Chettha 1584-1594

Srei Sathor (1594-1620)

After the sacking of Longvek by Ayuthaya in 1594, a series of short-lived monarchs seem to have established themselves at the location of Srei Sathor, (or Santhor) a short distance east of Longvek and sited on the south bank of the Mekong rather than the west bank of the Tonle Sap as the previous capital was.

Independence during this period was only nominal and the much-reduced Khmer kingdom found itself, not for the last time, as a pawn in the power struggle between Thailand and Vietnam.


Royal Name Other Names Reign
Preah Ram I Reamea Cheung Prey 1594-1596
Preah Ram II Keo Ban On 1596-1597
Barom Reachea II Ponhea Ton 1597-1599
Barom Reachea III Ponhea An 1599-1600
Kaev Hua I Ponhea Nhom 1600-1603
Barom Reachea IV Srei Soriyopor 1603-1618

Oudong Era (1618-1863)

The royal capital was moved once again in the early 17th-century - back to the area of Longvek at the foot of Phnom Oudong - where it was to remain for the next 250 years or so, until the arrival of the French in the 1860s. Again this represents a period of limited autonomy under alternate pressure from both of its powerful neighbours.


Royal Name Other Names Reign
Chey Chettha II 1618-1628
Outey Reachea I Outey 1628-1642
Thommo Reachea II Ponhea To 1628-1631
Ang Tong Reachea Ponhea Nou 1631-1640
Batom Reachea Ang Non 1640-1642
Reameathiptei I Ponhea Chan 1642-1658
Barom Reachea V Ang So 1658-1672
Chey Chettha III 1672-1673
Preah Keo II Ang Chee 1674-1674
Batom Reachea III Ang Nan 1674
Chey Chettha IV Ang Sor 1675-1695, 1696-1699, 1700-1706
Outey I Ang Yong 1695-1696
Barom Reameathiptei Ang Em 1699-1700, 1710-1722
Thommo Reachea III Ang Tham 1706-1709, 1736-1747
Satha II Ang Chey 1722-1736, 1749
Thommo Reachea IV Ang Em 1747
Reameathiptei III Ang Tong 1748–1749, 1755–1758
Chey Chettha V Ang Snguon 1749–1755
Outey Reachea II Ang Ton 1758–1775
Ream Reachea Ang Non II 1775–1779
Neareay Reachea III Ang Eng 1779 – 1782, 1794 – 1796
Regency period Ang Chan 1796 – 1806
Outey Reachea III Ang Chan 1806–1834
Ang Mey Ksat Trey 1834–1841
Harihak Reamea Issarathiptei Ang Duong 1841–1860

French Protectorate (1860-1953)

The establishment of Cambodia as a French protectorate in 1860 saw the capital return south to Phnom Penh, which the new rulers apparently saw as a more practical location for commerce and communications. The period includes some of Cambodia's most prestigious monarchs of recent times, such as Kings Norodom and Sisowath although autonomy was again purely nominal and Cambodia was in reality fully absorbed into French Indochine.

It has to be noted that, despite all the negative aspects, the French protectorate did ensure the survival of Cambodia as an independent kingdom and without it, there's a strong chance that today the country would have been absorbed by its larger neighbours, Thailand and Vietnamese.


Royal Name Other Names Reign
Norodom 1860-1904
Sisowath 1904-1927
Sisowath Monivong 1927-1941
Norodom Sihanouk 1941-1955

Sangkum Reastr Niyum (1953-1970)

This covers the sadly brief period between independence from France in 1953 and the declaration of a Khmer Republic in 1970. King Sihanouk abdicated in favour of his father in 1955 in order to devote himself to a political role. Upon the death of his father Norodom, his mother Sisowath Kossamak became regent with Sihanouk as de facto head of state. The queen was placed under house arrest after Lon Nol's coup created the Cambodian Republic and died in exile in China in 1975, 10 days after the Khmer Rouge took power.


Royal Name Other Names Reign
Norodom Suramarit 1955-1960
Sisowath Kossamak 1960-1970

Modern Cambodia (1993-present day)

After a long career in politics, including years as de facto head of state plus a (to say the least) chequered role during the Khmer Rouge and civil war periods, Sihanouk was finally reinstated as regent in 1993 at the time of the UN organized Cambodian elections. He then remained king until his second abdication (this time for health reasons) in 2004 and died in 2012 whereupon the royal council unanimously elected his eldest son, Sihamoni to the throne where he remains to the present day.


Royal Name Other Names Reign
Norodom Sihanouk 1993-2004
Norodom Sihamoni 2004-Present