The Coming of the West: European Cambodian Marketplace Connectivity, 1500–1800
The Cambodia kingdom experienced the intertwined forces of political, social, and religious elites transforming the very nature of its longstanding rural economy from the fifteenth into the sixteenth century. In doing so, they took advantage of new commercial opportunities for raw materials and finished goods. Multiple international commercial and maritime diasporic communities were initially drawn from China and subsequently attracted interest from diverse global seas, such as the Japanese, Middle Eastern, and early European merchant explorers. The financial boon that resulted placed sixteenth-century Cambodia in a favourable position relative to its neighbours. An increasingly competitive commercial marketplace for moderate to luxury and high value goods grew regionally. However, by the eighteenth century Cambodia was less engaged in international commerce than in the prior two centuries with negative consequence.