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Cambodia in the Nineteenth Century: Out of the Siamese Frying Pan and into the French Fire?

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Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    David Chandler , A History of Cambodia, Fourth Edition (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2008), 141.

  2. 2.

    Henri Mouhot , Travels in the Central Part of Indo-China (Siam), Cambodia, and Laos: during the years 1858, 1859, and 1860, Vol. 1 (London: John Murray, 1864), 272.

  3. 3.

    A full account of the Cambodian Dark Age is beyond the scope of this chapter. The best account is David Chandler’s unpublished PhD thesis, ‘Cambodia Before the French: Politics in a Tributary Kingdom’, Modern History, University of Michigan, 1973. For a shorter account, see Chandler’s A History of Cambodia. See also David Chandler, ‘Cambodia’s Relations with Siam in the Early Bangkok Period: The Politics of a Tributary State’, Journal of the Siam Society, 60, No. 1 (1972): 153–169.

  4. 4.

    Chandler , ‘Cambodia Before the French’, 106, 115.

  5. 5.

    Andrew Spooner , ‘Report on Cambodia. A Trip from Saigon to Battambang’, trans. Nola Cooke, Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies, 1 (2007): 155.

  6. 6.

    29 September 1863, letter from British Consul at Bangkok to the Foreign Office, F.O. 69/39, Public Record Office (P.R.O), London.

  7. 7.

    Kitagawa Takako, ‘Kampot in the Belle Epoque’, Southeast Asia Studies, 42, No. 4 (March 2005).

  8. 8.

    A Madras Officer, ‘A Visit to Cambodia’, The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle: a journal of papers and subjects connected with maritime affairs, 1856, 649, 651.

  9. 9.

    Philippe Vandermaelen , Atlas universal de géographie physique, politique, statistique et minéralogique, Vol. 2, Asie (Bruxelles: Philippe Vandermaelen, 1827).

  10. 10.

    Philippe Vandermaelen , ‘Carte du Camboge et Anam’ (Bruxelles: Vandermaelen, 1827).

  11. 11.

    ‘Carte du Pays de Cambodge, Dressée et Gravée d’après d’Ayot et les recherches de M. Abel Rémusat par Ambroise Tardieu.’ The map, which the present author found on an antiquarian bookstall in Paris, is undated.

  12. 12.

    A Madras Officer, ‘A Visit to Cambodia’, 654.

  13. 13.

    Chandler , A History of Cambodia, 119.

  14. 14.

    Charles-Emile Bouillevaux, Voyages dans l’Indochine, 1848–1856 avec carte du Cambodge (Paris: Victor Palmé, 1858).

  15. 15.

    Henri Mouhot , Henri Mouhot’s Diary, ed. Christopher Pym (London: Oxford University Press, 1966).

  16. 16.

    Ibid., 275.

  17. 17.

    John Tully, Cambodia Under the Tricolour: King Sisowath and the ‘Mission Civilisatrice’ 1904–1927 (Clayton, Vic: Monash Asia Institute, 1996), 5–6.

  18. 18.

    Ibid., 23, n.105.

  19. 19.

    China, Pictorial and Descriptive, and Historical, with some account of Ava and the Burmese, Siam, and Anam (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), 283–292.

  20. 20.

    5 October 1850, letter from Sir James Brooke to Lord Palmerston, F.O. 69/1, P.R.O., London.

  21. 21.

    20 May 1851, letter from William Butterworth to the Secretary Foreign Office, F.O. 17/185, P.R.O., London.

  22. 22.

    Nicholas Tarling ‘British Policy Towards Siam, Cambodia, and Vietnam, 1842–1858’, (August 1965), paper presented to the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science, Hobart.

  23. 23.

    Jean Moura , Le Royaume du Cambodge, Vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 130.

  24. 24.

    Achille Dauphin-Meunier, Le Cambodge de Sihanouk or la difficulté d’être neutre (Paris: Nouvelles Editions Latines, 1965), 69.

  25. 25.

    David Chandler , ‘Going through the motions: ritual aspects of the reign of King Duang of Cambodia (1848–1860)’ in David Chandler, Facing the Cambodian Past: Selected Essays, 1971–1994 (St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1996), 100.

  26. 26.

    4 October 1861, letter from the Siamese government to the British Consul at Bangkok , F.O. 69/39, P.R.O., London.

  27. 27.

    Pierre Brocheux and Daniel Hémery, Indochina: An Ambiguous Colonization, 1858–1954, trans. Lan Dill-Klein et al. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009), 21.

  28. 28.

    China, Pictorial and Descriptive, 283.

  29. 29.

    Brocheux and Hémery, Indochina: An Ambiguous Colonization, 22.

  30. 30.

    Cited in Penny Edwards , Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation, 1860–1945 (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2008), 20.

  31. 31.

    Spooner ‘Report on Cambodia’.

  32. 32.

    Ibid., 156.

  33. 33.

    17 May 1863, letter from the Governor of Cochinchina to the Minister of the Navy at Paris, AF Carton 10, Dossier A30 (6), Archives d’Outre-Mer (A.O.M.), Aix-en-Provence.

  34. 34.

    11 August 1863, text of ‘Traité d’Amitie, de Commerce, et de Protection Française entre la France et le Cambodge, le 11 août 1863, [Ratifications échangées à Houdong, le 14 avril, 1864], F.O. 881/2395, P.R.O., London. An English translation of the text is included as Appendix 3 in Jim Mizerski, Cambodia Captured: Angkor’s First Photographers in 1860s Colonial Intrigues (Phnom Penh: Jasmine Image Machine, 2016), 226–229.

  35. 35.

    Pierre Pasquier , ‘Indo-China Today’, The Asiatic Review, XXV, 84, (October 1929): 600.

  36. 36.

    The Straits Times, August 20, 1864.

  37. 37.

    See, for instance, Francis Garnier , Travels in Cambodia and Part of Laos: The Mekong Exploration Commission Report (1866–1868), trans. Walter E.J. Tips (Bangkok: White Lotus, 1996); John Keay, ‘The Mekong Exploration Commission, 1866–68: Anglo-French Rivalry in South East Asia’, Asian Affairs, XXVI, No. III, (November 2005): 289–312; Milton Osborne, River Road to China: The Mekong River Expedition, 1866–1873 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1975).

  38. 38.

    For accounts of the Pou Kombo revolt, see Moura , Le Royaume du Cambodge, and John Tully, France on the Mekong: A History of the Protectorate in Cambodia, 1863–1953 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2002), 45–46.

  39. 39.

    Moura , Le Royaume du Cambodge, 170–175.

  40. 40.

    Ibid.

  41. 41.

    Chandler, History, 173.

  42. 42.

    Mouhot’s views on the Khmers are set out in his Travels in the Central Parts of Indo-China, 180–181.

  43. 43.

    Paul Leroy-Beaulieu , De la Colonisation Chez Peuples Modernes, (Paris: Guillaumin, 1874).

  44. 44.

    Gustave Janneau, ‘Le Cambodge d’autrefois’, Revue Indochinoise, XXI, 1914, 265.

  45. 45.

    ‘Cambodge’, Le Mékong, 29 June, 1894.

  46. 46.

    18 March 1880, letter from Résident Etienne Aymonier to the Governor of Cochinchina, Indochine AF Carton 14, Dossier A 30 (28), A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  47. 47.

    For an extended account of the royal palace and harem, and of Norodom’s character and habits, see John Tully France on the Mekong, 57–67.

  48. 48.

    1874–1875, correspondence between Governor Krantz at Saigon and the Colonial Minister at Paris, Indochine AF 13 Dossier A30 (22) Cambodge 1874–75, A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  49. 49.

    Ibid.

  50. 50.

    1886, Report by M. Blancsubé, Fonds Ministeriels, Indochine, Ancient Série, Carton 2, AA00 (25), A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  51. 51.

    For discussions of Khmer customs and views of society and history, see Paul Collard, Cambodge et Cambodgiens (Paris: Société d’Editions Géographiques, 1925); Jean Delvert, Le Paysan Cambodgien (Paris: Mouton, 1961); and Guy Porée and Eveline Maspero, Moeurs et Coutumes des Khmers (Paris: Payot, 1938). For a discussion of Theravada Buddhist views of history, see B.G. Gokhale, ‘The Theravada-Buddhist View of History’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 85, No. 3 (July–September 1965): 354–366.

  52. 52.

    Max Weber , ‘Politics as a Vocation’ in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, trans and ed, with an introduction by H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (Abingdon, Oxford: Routledge, 2009), 78–79.

  53. 53.

    Tully , France on the Mekong, 57.

  54. 54.

    Charles Meyer, Derrière le Sourire Khmer (Paris: Plon, 1971), 72.

  55. 55.

    This point is made by John Walsh, ‘Cambodia’, in Junius P. Rodriguez, ed., Slavery in the Modern World: A History of Political, Social, and Economic Oppression, Vol. 1 (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2011), 159–160.

  56. 56.

    19 November 1881, M. De Vilers to the Minister of Colonies, Indochine AF Carton 15 Dossier A30 (52). Situation au Cambodge. Rapports de le Myre de Vilers, 1880–82, A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  57. 57.

    Ibid. 1881, letter from Norodom to the President of the Republic.

  58. 58.

    20 March 1884, Letter from Thomson to the Minister, Indochine Carton 17, Dossier A30 (66), A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  59. 59.

    For an extended account, see Tully , France on the Mekong, 73–76.

  60. 60.

    31 December 1884, text of treaty: Cambodge. Convention de 17 juin 1884. Texte, annexes et correspondences et ratification du juin au 31 décembre 1884, Indochine AF Carton 18, A30 (67), A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  61. 61.

    For a detailed discussion of the land question see Roger Kleinpeter, Le Problème Foncier au Cambodge (Paris: Editions Domat-Montchrestien, 1935).

  62. 62.

    1904, Report of the Conseil Supérieure de l’Indochine, Session Ordinaire de 1904, Nr 9, RSC D35 File 2970 Box 333, Archives Nationales du Cambodge (A.N.C.), Phnom Penh.

  63. 63.

    1915, Rapport Politique, 1er Trimestre 1915. R.S.C. 430, A.O.M, Aix-en-Provence.

  64. 64.

    For discussions of the uprising, see Tully , France on the Mekong, 83–99; Moura , Histoire, 159–61, 170, 152; Lt. Batz, ‘Historique de l’Occupation Militaire du Cambodge par les Troupes Françaises de 1855 à 1910’, Bulletin de la Société des Etudes Indochinoises, 6, Nos. 3 & 4 (1931).

  65. 65.

    10 January 1885, letter from Thomson to the Minister of Colonies, Indochine A.F. Carton 18 A30 (67), Cambodge. Convention de 17 juin 1884, A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  66. 66.

    Ibid., 6 May 1885, Letter from Thomson to the Minister of Colonies.

  67. 67.

    Moura , Histoire, 159–61, 170, 152.

  68. 68.

    30 July 1886, Report by Governor Filippini to the Minister of Colonies, Indochine A.F. Carton 19 A30 Dossier 80. Situation au Cambodge, 1886–97, A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  69. 69.

    Milton E. Osborne , The French Presence in Cochinchina and Cambodia: Rule and Response (1859–1905) (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969), 215–217.

  70. 70.

    9 October 1886, Report by Governor Filippini to the Minister of Colonies, Indochine A.F. Carton 19 A30 Dossier 80, Situation au Cambodge, 1886–97, A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  71. 71.

    ‘Le Cambodge en 1893’, Revue Indochinoise Illustrée, September 1893, 157.

  72. 72.

    30 July 1886, Report by Governor Filippini to the Minister of Colonies, Indochine A.F. Carton 19 A30 Dossier 80, Situation au Cambodge, 1886–97, A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  73. 73.

    J-L de Lanessan, La Colonisation Française en Indochine (Paris: Germer Baillière, 1895), 30.

  74. 74.

    Chandler, History, 177.

  75. 75.

    Tully , France on the Mekong, 88–89.

  76. 76.

    30 July 1886, Report by Filippini to the Minister of Colonies, Indochine A.F. Carton 19 A30 Dossier 80, Situation au Cambodge, 1886–97, A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  77. 77.

    Ibid., 27 July 1887, letter from the Résident-Général to Résidents, sous-Résidents and Garrison Commanders.

  78. 78.

    2 May 1890, Report by the Résident of Kompong Thom on negotiations commenced with the rebel Prince Siwotha to effect his surrender, R.S.C. E 03 File 4724 Box 498 Dossier No. 8588, A.N.C., Phnom Penh.

  79. 79.

    Situation au Cambodge, 1886–97. Filippini to the Minister, 30 July 1886.

  80. 80.

    ‘La population du Cambodge’, Quinzaine Coloniale , deuxième semester, 25 October 1903.

  81. 81.

    ‘Le Cambodge en 1893’.

  82. 82.

    Osborne , Rule and Response, 235.

  83. 83.

    ‘Le Cambodge en 1893’.

  84. 84.

    27 December 1897, Minutes of the Council of Ministers, 10th session of 27 December, 1897, R.S.C. F451, A.N.C., Phnom Penh; and Osborne , Rule and Response, 238.

  85. 85.

    See Jean Hess, L’Affaire Iukanthor: Les Dessous d’un Protectorate (Paris: Félix Juven, 1900); and Pierre L. Lamant, L’Affaire Yukanthor: Autopsie d’une Scandale Coloniale (Paris: Société Française d’Histoire D’Outre-mer, 1989).

  86. 86.

    16 October 1892, letter from Norodom to the Résident Supérieur cited in a report by the Governor-General of Indochina to the Under-Secretary of State for Colonies, Indochine, AF Carton 20 Dossier A30 (96), A.O.M., Aix-en-Provence.

  87. 87.

    John MacGregor , Through the Buffer State: A Record of Recent Travels Through Borneo, Siam, and Cambodia (London: F.V. White, 1896), 205.

  88. 88.

    Chandler, History, 168.

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Tully, J. (2018). Cambodia in the Nineteenth Century: Out of the Siamese Frying Pan and into the French Fire?. In: Smith, T. (eds) Cambodia and the West, 1500-2000. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-55532-8_3

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