Khmer Emperors of Angkor Era
Cambodia is the oldest country in South East Asia which its history was starting to record from the 1st century. Since the 1st century, the history of Cambodia has been divided into many different stages such as Phnom Empire, Chenla, Angkor, Longvek, Oudong, and Chaktomuk. Angkor period is the most prosperous of Khmer under the leading of Varman family.
Started from 802, Angkor period was first led by Jayavarman II, and the period ended in 1431 in the reign of King Baramaraja or Chav Punnheayat. Here is a list of the king in Angkor period and their achievements in Khmer art.
Jayavarman II (802-850) Devaraja of Angkor
According to stone inscription of Sdok Kak Thom, Jayavarman II was back to Cambodia from Java in 800 AD. Then he moved to many places in Cambodia to reunite the kingdom which was divided into many parts and ruled by many kings. He is the builder of Hariharalaya, the first city of Angkor, which locates in Roluos Siem Reap province in the present day.
On Mahendra Paravata (Kulen Mountain), King Jayavarman II celebrated Devaraja ceremony in order to release Cambodia from the control of Java and made himself a Devaraja, the God King.
In his reign, he built a temple named Preah Aram Rong Chen on Kulen Mountain to keep a Shiva linga which was used for Devaraja ceremony.
Jayavarman II passed away in 850 AD at his last city Hariharalaya with the name of death as Baramesvara.
Jayavathana or Jayavarman III (850-877)
After the dead of Jayavarman II, Jayavarman III reigned after his father and continued living in Hariharalaya all his life. In his reign, he built several temples such as Prei Monti Temple, Trapeang Phong, and some part of Bakong. He has got a name of death as Vishnuloka.
Indravarman I (877-889)
Jayavarman III has no successor, so his cousin Indravaraman I have been crowned. He is the builder of Indratataka Baray, now dry, which was the first reservoir in Angkor area. The baray is 3000 m by 800 m and could store water around 6 millions meter cubic. The work at this baray was started in the first year of his reign in 877 AD.
In 879, Indravarman I started to construct Preah Ko Temple to dedicated to his ancestors. Two years later, he built the first sandstone temple of Angkor in era, Bakong Temple, and entitled it as his state temple located in the center of his capital Hariharalaya. Bakong was the house of a linga named Indrasvara. Isvaraloka was the death name of Indravarman I.
Yasovarman I (889-900) the Builder of Yasodhapura
Yasovarman I was a son of Indravarman I. In his reign, Angkor area had a new capital named Yasohapura which located at about 13 km away from the old capital Hariharalaya. Phnom Bakheng Temple was his state temple that built on a natural hill. He also built two more hill top temples Phnom Krom and Phnom Bok. Besides, Lolei Temple, Prasat Bei, some part of Phimeanakas also completed in his time. Moreover, a new reservoir, Yasodhatataka, was also constructed. This baray now is also known as East Baray, it is 7 km east west, 1.8 km north south.
Beside the temples in Angkor area, Yasovarman also built a temple named Shekharisvara on Preah Vihear Mount and another temple named Bhadresvara at Shivapura, Sandork Mount, in Siem Reap.
Yasovarman I had his name of death as Baramshivaloka.
Harshavarman I (900-922)
Harshavarman I was a son of Yasovarman I. He reigned after his father until 922 AD. He is the builder of Baksei Cham Krong, a small temple at the foot of Phnom Bakheng. There is another temple also constructed in his reign, Prasat Kravan, but it was probably built by high officials of Yasovarman I.
Harshavarman I had his name of death as Rudraloka.
Isanavarman II (922-928)
King Isanavarman II reign after his older brother, Harshavarman I. In his reign, there was another king crowned at Chok Kakiyara, Koh Ker in present day, Jayavarman IV. There was no temple has been built in his time. Baramrudraloka is his name of death.
Jayavarman IV (921-941) the Builder of Koh Ker
Jayavarman IV reign at Chok Kakiyara (Koh Ker) while Isanavarman II reign at Angkor, Yasodhapura. He was Isanavarman II’s uncle and brother-in-law of Yasovarman I. In 928, he became king of Angkor when Isanavarman II died and his capital was still at Koh Ker.
In 931, the king built a large temple in Kor Ker named Prasat Thom and built a reservoir named Rahal to support his capital. Jayavarman IV passed away in 941, his son crowned after him and took the name as Harshavarman II.
Harshavarman II (941-944)
Because of his time as king was too short, that there has no temple built in his time. He died in young age that had no successor.
Rajendravarman II (944-968) and the Returning to Angkor
Rajendravarman II was a son of Mahendravarman and Mahendradevy who was sister of King Yasovarman I. He was chosen by the high officials to crown after the dead of Harshavarman II. He moved back to Yasodhapura with Devaraja linga which was taken to Koh Ker by Jayavarman IV.
In 952, the king built East Mebon Temple in the center of East Baray or Yasodhatataka to dedicate to Shiva and his ancestors. Another temple Pre Rup was built as his state temple at the southern bank of East Baray in 961. Besides, there were many temples such as Bat Chum, Kutishvara, Srah Srang, some part of Phimeanakas, and even Banteay Srei, have been built during his reign.
Stone inscription described the name of some important people in his reign such as Rajakol Mohamuntri, a high official; Shivaraja, a master; Kavindrarimathana, the royal architect; and Yajavaraha, the royal teacher.
Rajendravarman II passed away in 968 with his name of death as Shivaloka which mean that his spirit going to be in the world of Shiva.
Jayavarman V (968-1001) the Builder of Ta Keo Temple
Rajendravarman II had his son, Jayavarman V, crowned after him. Jayavarman V was the youngest king in Angkor era that crowned when he was only 10 year olds. The remarkable temple of his time was Ta Keo Temple, a large and elegant but incomplete temple, with its original name as Hemagagiri. His capital city was named Jayendranagagiri. His death name was Baramviraloka. Later, his nephew, Udayadityavarman I, succeed him. Unfortunately, a few months later he also passed away.
Suryavarman I (1002-1050)
After the death of Udayadityavarman I, there were two kings crowned in different places, Jayaviravarman at Yasodhapura and Suryavarman I at Samphupura (eastern of Cambodia). Suryavarman I had gained victory over Jayaviravarman in 1006 and reigned at Yasodhapura.
Suryavarman I was the first king who worship to Buddhism in Angkor and he also has had a large contributions in constructing Angkorian Temples. The great Preah Vihear Temple on Dorng Rek Mountain was his largest construction. He had also taken part in building of Phimeanakas and the Royal Place, the South Kleang, Phnom Chiso Temple in Takeo province, Preah Khan Kampong Svay in Kampong Thom province, and Wat Phu in present day Laos.
Beside temples, Suryavarman I also built a Baray which is common known as the West Baray of Angkor. He passed away in 1050 with the name of death as Nivanabata.
Udayadityavarman II (1050-1066) the Builder of Baphuon Temple
Udayadityavarman II was the oldest son of Suryavarman I. After crowned, the king built a temple-mountain which was also his state temple, Baphuon, in the center of his capital. Udayadityavarman II also continued to dig the West Baray until finished and built a temple in the center of this baray, West Mebon, where the biggest Reclining Vishnu was found.
Harshavarman III (1066-1080)
Harshavarman was brother of Udayadityavarman II. In his time, no temple had been built. In 1074, Champa led by Prince Pang invaded Samphupura (eastern Cambodia) when Harshavarman III’s commander was defeated. In 1076, Harshavarman III helped Song Dynasty to fight against Dai Viet (present day Vietnam). He had got the name of death as Sateashivabata.
After the death of Harshavarman III, again Cambodia had two kings with Narutindravarman (1080-1113) at Angkor and Jayvarman VI at Mahithapura which the exact location is unknown.
Jayavarman VI (1080-1107) the Builder of Phimai Temple
Jayavarman VI was a son of Haranayavarman and Haranayalakshmi which was probably in the royal family; however, he didn’t reign at Angkor. He continued with the temple at Sandork Mount, Preah Vihear Mount, Wat Phu, and Phimai (in present day Thailand). His name of death was Baramkaivalayabata.
Dharanindravarman I (1107-1113)
Upon the request of many high officials, Dharanindravarman I, Jayavarman VI’s brother, agreed to receive the throne. In 1113, Dharanindravarman I had been assassinated by his relative and had got the name of death as Baramnispalabata.
Suryavarman II (1113-1150) the Builder of Angkor Wat Temple
According to stone inscription of Wat Phu, Suryavarman II was a king crowned by united two kingdoms, Mahethapura and Yasodhapura which ruled by Dharamindravarman I’s relative and Narutindravarman.
Suryavarman II has won many battles with the neighbor countries and he was the king who built the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat, dedicated to Vishnu which was also his state temple. Beside Angkor Wat, the king finished the construction of Phnom Chiso Temple, Phnom Sandork Temple, Wat Phu Temple and Preah Vihear Temple. Other remarkable temples of Suryavarman II are Chav Say Tevoda, Thommanon, Banteay Samre, Phnom Rung (in Thailand), and Beng Mealea.
Suryavarman II had his name of death as Baramvishnuloka, mean his spirit going to stay in the world of Vishnu.
Dharanindravarman II and Yasovarman II (1150-1165)
After the death of Suryavarman II, his cousin, Dharanindravarman II succeeded him. Dharanindravarman II married queen Chodiamony who was a daughter of Harshavarman III and they had got a son name Jayavathuna in 1125. The last year of Dharanindravarman was unknown, but after him, Yasovarman II crowned, who believed that was his relative. However, there is no inscription describe about the biography of Yasovarman II.
In 1165, Yasovarman II was killed by his high court official, Tribhuvanadityavarman. During that time, Prince Jayathuna was back from Champa border wanted to help Yasovarman II, but it was too late. So Tribhuvanadityavarman reigned at Angkor. In 1177, he was killed by Champa during their invading Angkor.
Jayaindravarman IV Champa’s King (1177-1181)
Angkor was under control of Champa for four years. In 1181, Jayaindravarman IV was killed at Preah Khan site, the last battle against Champa led by Prince Jayavathuna.
Jayavarman VII the Greatest Khmer King (1181-1218)
After defeated Champa in Angkor and all over the kingdom, Prince Jayavathuna have crowned with his crown name as Jayavarman VII. He was the greatest Khmer King in history of Cambodia, who built a new capital of Angkor Thom and his state temple Bayon. In the time of Jayavarman VII, the Khmer Kingdom had grown to its top with great development in all sectors and the state religion has been changed from Brahmanism to Mahayana Buddhism.
Besides Angkor Thom City and Bayon, many other major temples in Angkor area also were born in the time of Jayavarman VII. They are Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, Ta Nei, Banteay Chmar, Elephant Terrace, Leper King Terrace, Royal Palace, Srah Srang, and Jayatataka Baray.
Out of temples, King Jayavarman VII also built many route and bridges throughout his kingdom. Kampong Kdei Bridge, on the road to Siem Reap, is the ancient bridge of his time that still remains until today. Especially, there were 121 rest houses and 102 hospitals built in over the kingdom.
The date of Jayavarman VII passed away was unknown. According to researchers, he probably passed away in 1218 (some other say 1220) with his name of death as Mahabaramsavkut.
Indravarman II (1218-1243)
Indravarman II was a son of king Jayavarman VII. He continued the incomplete constructions of his father and since then no more temples have been built. According to Khmer history book, the reason in which no more temple have been built is because of the country was in war.
Jayavarman VIII (1243-1295)
The king reigned after Indravarman II was Jayavarman VIII. This king worshipped Hindu Gods and the state religion was returned to Brahmanism again. He had a hand in many previously built temples, especially the temples dedicated to Buddhism in the reign of Jayavarman VII. He destroyed almost Buddha image carvings in those temples and tried to replace with scenes from Hindu epics.
Jayavarman VIII died in 1295 with the name of death as Baramesvarabata.
Srindravarman or Indravarman III (1295-1307)
Since the second half of the 13th century, the power of Khmer Empire has been reclining. It seems there no more capable king to rule the country and it started to be invaded by its neighbor countries. Moreover, the civil wars between the royal family members also have happened in some parts of the country.
There is an inscription described about the construction of Vihara (the Buddhist Sanctuary) and Buddha statue in 1039 by Indravarman III, after he give up his throne to live in the forest. This is suggested that after the reign of Jayavarman VIII, the religion of Cambodia has returned to Buddhism again.
He was a relative of Indravarman III. During his time there has no important event were recorded.
Jayavarman IX or Jayavarman Paramesvara (1327-13xx)
Jayavarman IX was the last king of Varman family. Since then the history of Cambodia has lost. There were many kings at Angkor for nearly one century, until the reign of Chav Ponhea Yat (1394-1463). In 1431, Chav Ponhea Yat moved his capital from Angkor to Toul Basan (present day Kampong Cham province), then to Chaktomuk (Phnom Penh) in 1434. Since then, the Angkor era has end and Cambodia started another stage of history.