Ang Duong (Khmer: ព្រះបាទ អង្គ ឌួង, Khmer pronunciation: [ʔɑŋ duəŋ]) (12 June 1796 – 19 October 1860) was king of Cambodia, who reigned from 1841 to 1844 and 1845 to his death in 1860. Formally invested in 1848[a], his rule proved to be most beneficial for the kingdom, that was suffering from several centuries of royal dissent and decline. His politics focused on sustained national unity and identity and the minimization of foreign interference. He issued the first substantial revision of the legal codex in centuries and he encouraged and supervised religious and cultural reforms. Confronted with increasing Siamese and Vietnamese encroachment he attempted to establish an alliance with colonial France on a sovereign basis. Although this rendez-vous culminated in the ninety year period of the French Protectorate of Cambodia, King Ang Duong was the decisive force behind the existence of the modern united Cambodian state. His official title is Preah Raja Samdach Preah Hariraksha Rama Suriya Maha Isvara Adipati.
|'Preah Raja Samdach Preah Hariraksha Rama Suriya Maha Isvara Adipati'|
|King of Cambodia|
|Reign||1840 to 19 October 1860|
|Coronation||7 March 1848|
|Born||12 June 1796
|Died||19 October 1860
Ang Duong was the son of King Ang Eng, who ruled Cambodia from 1779 to 1797 and resided at the then capital Oudong. His mother was Ros, a royal consort since 1793 and later Queen Vara. who was of Thai origin (died around 1869). Ang Duong was the father of his successor King Norodom (1834–1904), King Sisowath (1840–1927) and was the great-great-grandfather of King Norodom Sihanouk (1941-2004). Dedicated to extend the royal family line Ang Duong had numerous wives and produced 18 legitimate children - 11 sons and 7 daughters.
King Ang Duong is acclaimed as a promoter of national unity after centuries of regress and venerated among modern Cambodians for his efforts to revitalize the nation and protect the kingdom from foreign invasion. However, limited power, poverty and internal dissension prevented lasting success. He spent 27 years in Bangkok from the age of 16 until aged 43. During his residence in Thailand Ang Duong composed poetry, authored and published classical Cambodian literature and historical works and later promoted the enactment of a comprehensive reformed legal codex and participated in the artistic development of Khmer classical dance. He translated the Cambodian folktale Vorvong & Sorvong into the Thai language as a birthday present for Thai Crown prince Mongkut. He was appointed governor of the then Thai Mongkol Borey District in 1834. In 1843 Ang Duong was crowned King of Cambodia in Bangkok and returned to Oudong.
Siam (modern day Thailand) which since the late eighteenth century royal investiture of General Chakri was governed by a well established dynasty and Vietnam united since 1802 under Emperor Gia Long increasingly fought over control of the fertile Mekong basin, the Cambodian heartland. Siam had after the 1594 conquest of Cambodia's capital Longvek and the permanent annexation of Cambodia's Battambang and Siem Reap provinces introduced a tradition of taking Cambodian royalty hostage and relocate them at the court of Ayutthaya. Thus, Siam effectively controlled Cambodian national policies and royal succession. After initially conquering all of Cambodia during the Siamese–Vietnamese War of 1831 to 1834, Siam, attempting to conquer Southern Vietnam was defeated by Vietnamese troops and pushed back. Vietnam subsequently gained military control of Cambodia and restored King Ang Chan, who had been dethroned by Siam. Only a decade later Khmer discontent with increasing Vietnamese dominance among demands to adopt Vietnamese customs encouraged Siam to intervene and invade again during the Siamese–Vietnamese War of 1841 to 1845. Again Vietnam proved to be superior on the battlefield, however Siam was able to negotiate an agreeable peace treaty, by which Cambodia was placed under joint Siamese-Vietnamese suzerainty, a final act of complete disregard for Khmer national and royal authority.
Author Justin Corfield wrote in "French Indochina": " the Vietnamese expanded their lands by establishing a protectorate over Cambodia. However king […] Ang Duong was keen on Cambodia becoming independent of [...] Thailand [...] and Vietnam [...] and sought help from the British in Singapore. When that failed, he enlisted the help of the French." British agent John Crawfurd states: "...the King of that ancient Kingdom is ready to throw himself under the protection of any European nation..." King Ang Duong's policies paved the way for France to establish a Protectorate in 1863 which lasted for 90 years. In order to preserve the kingdom's national identity and integrity, King Ang Duong initiated secret negotiations in a letter to Napoleon III proposing some form of cooperation with France. King Ang Duong died in 1860, three years before negotiations had concluded. King Norodom Prohmbarirak signed and officially recognized the French protectorate on 11 August 1863, that was effectively incorporated into the Indochinese Union in 1867.
There has been considerable debate over the wisdom of Duong's policies. Nonetheless, the idea that he actively sought to subject his kingdom to colonial serfdom has been contested. Contrary to the assertions of some 19th century French authors, Duong did not seek the imposition of a French protectorate over his country, he rather pondered the feasibility of some ill-defined, unequal relationship with France. He certainly was aware, that the French main objective for a protectorate was the containment of the British and the creation of a secure flank for Cochinchina. The historic reality of 19th century Asia reminded any local ruler to seek alignment of some form or the other with at least one of the then technological more advanced Western powers. Ang Duong's death in October 1860 and accumulating foreign pressure convinced his son King Norodom Prohmbarirak to agree to the initially rather moderate French terms.
Cambodia was capable to preserve its identity, culture and traditions during the French colonial period, which might otherwise have diffused into the modern Vietnamese and Siamese nations, that could have absorbed all Cambodian territory as their modern border most likely would be the Mekong river.
- mutually accepted by Thailand and Vietnam
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