Cambodia in the Nineteenth Century: Out of the Siamese Frying Pan and into the French Fire?
As the European colonial powers expanded and consolidated their possessions in Southeast Asia, Cambodia began to attract attention. The establishment of a protectorate in Cambodia became increasingly attractive to the French. It would provide them with a buffer against the British sphere of interest in Siam and also perhaps with a ‘river road to China’. The country also appeared to be attractive for commercial interests. Thus, the protectorate was established by treaty in 1863. Although the terms of the Treaty appeared innocuous, France gradually established complete control over the kingdom. King Norodom was reduced to a puppet and his kingdom became a de facto French colony. Cambodia had escaped the Siamese embrace only to succumb to that of a new overlord.