jeudi, novembre 09, 2006

How To Liberate Cambodia ? (4)



Khemara Jati
Montréal, Québec
Le 28 octobre 2006

Les erreurs de nos hommes politiques.

We have given our opinion in the text above with the points described above. We would try to examine the past activities of our political responsible. It will be the object of our next article.

a/. For the relations between France and Vietnam, it is interesting to refer to « History of Indochina, Pearl of the Empire on 1624 - 1954 » by Philippe Héduy, Ed. Albin Michel, Paris 1998.

b/. For the relations between the Siam and the Europeans refer to the article in:

We reproduce below a passage of the article entitled :

« The arrival of the Portuguese

« In 1491, Ramathibodi II (r. 1491 - 1529) one of the sons of Borom Trailokanat rose on the throne. He had to take actions to improve the army, base it on a compulsory duty following the continual conflicts with Burma.

« It is with him that we have to opening the relations with Europe. In 1498, Vasco de Gama (Portuguese), having crossed the Cap of Good Hope and having crossed the Indian Ocean, reached finally Calicut, a city on the Malaba’s coast in India, where he made wide profits in the business.

« This discover had to encourage his fellow countrymen to go towards this country, where they got organized to obtain a territory where cities are establishing. Goa became their headquarters under the responsibility of a Vice-King. They dashed eastward in search of oriental wealth’s such as spices, silk and porcelain.

« In 1511, Alfonso d'Albuquerque attacked Malacca, and sailed towards Siam. Received in audience by king Ramathibodi II, a treaty was signed (the first treaty between Siam and a western State) granting to the Portuguese the right to live, to trade in the inside of the country in exchange for artillery and ammunitions.

« And Portuguese hirelings participated then in the military campaigns against Chiang Mai and taught Thais the art to produce artillery and to use muskets. Nevertheless, Thais was not able to oppose to the increasing Burmese pressure. The King of Pégou, Tabinshwéti, in the head of a recently unified Burmese empire, had fixed one's choice upon Ayutthaya weakened by wars against Chiang Mai.

« Nine years after the Ramathibodi II death, in 1529, Ayutthaya was implied, for the first time, in a war with Burma. This had to drive to three successive wars in 1538, 1548 and 1569, with for result the fall of Ayutthaya.

« In 1549, when Tabinshwéti attacked, Mahachakkraphat just came to rise on the throne. The Burmese having layed siege to its capital, Mahachakkraphat tempted on going out. His sons, his wife, his daughter accompanied him, taken up on elephants. The history preserved the heroism souvenir of queen Sri Suriyothai. Dressed in warrior, she threw her frame between the king and his enemy, when she saw her husband in danger; she saved her husband but was killed. The chedi containing the queen's ashes is always visible at Ayutthaya.

« The Burmese invasion in 1549 was condemned for the defeat. The Tabinshwéti's army withdrew and Mahachakkraphat began to strengthen the defences of his royaume by means of the Portuguese. Three hundred wild elephants were captured and raised with the aim of possible wars against Burma.

« Seven of these new elephants were white. Now buddhist Kings of the Southeast Asia always loved the white elephants. Considered as auspicious animals, indispensable to the royal prestige and to the prosperity of the country. When this short story reached Burmese King Bayinnaung, he gave the signal of a new invasion in 1564. Ayutthaya was definitively overcome in 1569 and the Burmese plundered the city from top to bottom; they deported his population en masse towards Burma. Mahachakkraphat was among the captives: he died before arriving at Pégou. »

Ayutthaya, from the restoration of the independence to the end of the period of influence.

Ayutthaya was under the cup of Burma during fifteen years with king Maha Thammaracha governing the country under the supervision of the Burmese civil servants.

Maha Thammaracha, main deputy of the defeated king, was in charge by Bayinnaung of governing Siam henceforth vassalisé. His elder son, Narésuan, was taken as hostage to Burma and trained up as a Burmese prince by king Bayinnaung . At the age of fifteen, Narésuan returned to Siam, with his young brother Ekatotsarot, began immediately to muster fighters.

During his young years, Narésuan had been able to observe the Burmese army and study its strategy. He trained his troops in the guerrilla warfare; their tactics of fast attack followed by falling back was worth to them the nickname of " Wild Tigers " and of « Cats on the watch ».

Revolts in the States Shans and at Ava held the young Nandabayin, the sovereign person, in his royaume then Naresuan took advantage of this situation declaring, in 1584, Ayutthaya independent from the Burmese yoke.

This declaration of independence of Siam was made in the city called Kraeng, in May 1584, while he was supposed to command a thai contingent to help to stop the rebellion. During nine following years, the Burmese tried several times to overcome Siam again, but Narésuan had taken all the necessary defensive measures and pushed the invasions away. In 1593, on the occasion of one of them, he killed, at Nong Sa Rai near Suphan Buri, the Burmese crown prince, in single combat on the back of elephant. When his father passed away, in 1590, Naresuan assumed all the monarchy and re-strengthened Siam.

In the conflict with Burma, he turned the situation in his favour and imposed in 1594 his suzerainty to the King of Cambodia and to certain shans princes. He tried twice to conquer Burma but in vain.

Under Naresuan the great, Ayutthaya knew a prosperity moment as shown the descriptions made by the Europeans visiting the metropolis in XVIIth century. Indeed, during the reign of Naresuan the great, the Spaniards, after the Portuguese, began trades with Ayutthaya.

After having solved the problems with Filipinos by chosing Manilla as their capital in 1571, they expand territories over the nearby countries.

In 1598, Don Tello de Aguirre left Manilla for a diplomatic mission to Ayutthaya. This embassy had to lead to the signature of friendship and business treaty with Siam. The terms of the treaty were similar to those of the treaty from Portugal in 1516.

The Burmese attacked Siameses first because they had acquired firearms sold by the Portuguese, before Ayutthaya:

“The European presence in Ayutthaya simply fed into this continuing process of state development, mainly due to the military technology they introduced at a time when Ayutthayan kings were attempting to assert their superiority over often reluctant vassals. In a climate where military organization was receiving closer attention, European weapons were attractive because they could be effectively combined with traditional fighting methods to give the possessor a distinct advantage, even if it was simply to inspire terror through the noise of explosives. Thus a contract made with Ramathibodi in 1518 allowed the Portuguese to trade in Ayutthaya, Ligor, Tenasserim and Pattani in return for guns and war munitions, and a number of Portuguese mercenaries were attached to the Ayutthayan army.

“However, it was in Burma where European military technology apparently had its greatest appeal, and may have made a measurable contribution to the resurgence of Burman strength. The founders of a new dynasty originating from Toungoo, Tabinshwehti (r.1531-50) and his successor Bayinnaung (r. 1551-81), aimed from the outset to recreate a centralized state in the Irrawaddy basin, and the advent of the Europeans was thus timely. Experts in gunnery were recruited into royal service, and during successful attacks on the Mon capital of Pegu in the late 1530s and on Martaban in the 1540s several hundred Portuguese mercenaries were reportedly deployed. While it would be wrong to overestimate the effects of European firearms, local chronicles speak with awe of the ‘great guns’ by which Tabinshwehti could ‘smash the [Shan] saw-dwas’ warboats to splinters’ since they ‘had no cannon or large mortars’. By the late 1550s he even defeated Chiengmai, which had successfully resisted the armies of Ayutthaya eleven years earlier. So impressive were his victories that one eminent Thai prince, the viceroy of the northern provinces, was ever willing to attach himself to this seemingly invincible conqueror. Besieged by Bayinnaung’s army, Ayutthaya fell in August 1569 and by 1574 Vientiane in Lan Sang was also in Burman hand. For the first time in history Burman rulers had been able to subdue the ‘great arc of Thai-speaking people’, and from Chiengmai to Ayutthaya splendid new pagodas built at Bayinnaung’s direction proclaimed the power of the king whom the Mons referred to in awe as the ‘Victor of the Ten Directions’.”[1]

So the Burmese overcame the Siameses because they had acquired firearms, sold by the Portuguese before Ayutthaya, more they are helped by hundreds of Portuguese hirelings. The Portuguese interest was to sell firearms and gain some money. Then the Portuguese sold weapons to the Burmese and to the Siameses as well. So was not Portuguese arbitrators of the wars between Burma and Siam? Then how about Cambodians during that period ?

Let us remind that the Siameses plundered Angkor in 1431 taking with them all the wealth of the city among which two monumental bronze statues and deported almost totality of our intellectuals. Let us note that Angkor was the only civilization of the Southeast Asia to produce bronze monumental works. Certain statues measure 6 metres high.[2]

« For the statuary, the novelty is great, concerning the technique as well as the sources of inspiration. In the technique's field, the most striking fact is the importance, until now unsuspected, of a monumental art of the bronze combining to the resources of a traditional profession by the evident progress. For the inspiration, the exceptional quality of the relief reveals that the artists were not only the official portrait painters whom have had already recognized. Fascinated for the alive forms which they observed with an unexpected acuteness, they interpreted the most classic subjects with originality, a personality which we shall find at no other moment in the Southeast Asia. » (Page 334).

During the Ayutthaya's plundering in 1569, the Burmese brought with them an enormous booty among which two Angkor monumental statues found nowadays in the pagoda Arakan (Burma).

The battle of Longvêk took place in 1595 not in 1594, date supplied by Bottu above. According to the document above, the Siamese armies acquired a strong military training in their fights against the Burmese's army. Then the Siameses know perfectly of using the armies bought from the Portuguese, including the artillery. Moreover our ancestors bequeathed us a legend where they was mentioned that the Siameses « fired silver shots ». It would be interesting to interpret this legend in the light of the information above. About the presence of some three or four Portuguese hirelings with some firearms of the Cambodian side, refer to the book of Bernard Philippe Groslier « Angkor and Cambodia in the XVIth century, according to the Portuguese and Spanish sources » University Press of France, Paris 1958. Is the intervention of the Portuguese in our region unimportant in our defeat at Longvêk?

Should not we rewrite our history in the light of this new information?

Note : Cet article est disponible en français sur demande.

[1] Excerpt from « The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia » Volume One, Part Two, from c. 1500 to c. 1800, edited by Nicholas Tarling, Cambridge University Press, 1992, 1999, page 71 and 72.
[2] « Notes of the Bronze Art in the Ancient Cambodia » by Jean Boisselier, in Artibus Asiae, vol. XXIX, 1967, n° 4, pages 275 to 334