- Sun Tzu
Post Angkor history is also known as the dark ages of Cambodian history due to the lack of historical evidence. After the Thais violently sacked Angkor in 1431, the Khmers retreated and shifted the capital to Phnom Penh. Little is known about the reasons for this retreat, although the continuous Thai offensives, the lack of human manpower to sustaing the complex irrigation system and weakening of central control, leading to the independece of some bordering principalities, have been mentioned by scholars.
The temples however, were never completely abandoned and some of them were maintained by Buddhist monks, and a Cambodian court briefly returned in the 16th century. Meanwhile, King Ang Chan moved the capital to Lover and encouraged sea trade thus attracting foreing trading communities in the 16th century. It is at this time also that Spanish and Portuguese missionaires arrived from Malacca and they have left written accounts of Angkor Wat and other temples.
In 1594 the Thais invaded Lovek, asserting a fatal blow to the Khmer kingdom. As opposed to Cambodia, its neighbours Vietnam and Thai grew stronger and started annexing Cambodian territories. By the 17th century Vietnam had cut Cambodia's access to the sea. Over the next century Cambodia became a puppet in the hands of Siam and Vietnam, whose struggles for controling the Khmer Kingdom stopped only for brief periods due to internal or external threats to their own stability.
In order to avoid being absorved by its neighbours and persuaded by the French, who believed Cambodia to be a wealthy land, King Norodom signed an agreement in 1863 to obtain French protection in exchange of rights to exploit Cambodia's natural resources. This treaty marked the beginning of Cambodia as a French colony and soon it became part of the French Indochina.
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