1551 - WAR WITH LOVEK
Text by Tricky Vandenberg - June 2012
During the Burmese siege of Ayutthaya in 1549 the King of Cambodia, Ang Chan (Borom Racha III) carried out a raid on Prachin Buri and
forcibly removed its inhabitants to Lovek (1). King Chakkraphat (r. 1548-1569) decided to go for a pay back as soon as the situation with the
Burmese cleared out. In 1551 Ayutthaya undertook a punitive expedition against the Khmer capital. (2)

King Chakkraphat assembled 50,000 troops in Phaniat area (3) and designated Phraya Yao as the head of the main army. Phra Si Chodük was
appointed commander of the vanguard. At the same time orders were given to the governors of the southern cities to conscript a naval force.

King Chakkraphat headed east on an auspicious moment end of January 1551 with his land army via Battambang, south of the large Thonle Sap
lake, in direction of Lovek; a voyage of over 500 Km. His naval force left via the Gulf of Siam for Phutthaimat (4) situated at the mouth of the
Choeng Krachum Canal (5).

While King Chakkraphat and his main army remained at a distance of 6 kilometers, Phra Si Chodük and his vanguard set up camp 400 meter in
front of Lovek. The naval force had sought it way up to Lovek through the Choeng Krachum Canal and the Choa Doc, Bassac and Thonle Sap
Rivers.

The King of Lovek, seeing that any resistance would be in vain, sent King Chakkraphat a message in which he recognized his mistake at Prachin
Buri and demanded to suspend all military actions against Lovek. After three days the Khmer king and his two sons Prince Sutho and Prince
Suthan offered tribute to King Chakkraphat as promised earlier in his message. The inhabitants of Prachin Buri were restored to the Siamese. The
King of Lovek remained in his function as a vassal king, while his two sons accompanied the withdrawing Siamese armies and the returned
Prachin families back to Ayutthaya. Prince Suthan was sent out to govern Sawankhalok. [1]

Footnotes:

(1) Lovek, Lawaek, Lanvêk, Lunvêk, Pandây Luûvêk or Longvek was the main city of Cambodia after the sacking of Angkor by the Ayutthayan
King Borommaracha II (r.1424-1448) in 1431. Lovek was chosen as the new capital because it was situated in a better defensible terrain. It was
located halfway between present Phnom Penh and the lower end of the Tonle Sap in present Kampong Chhnang province. King Ang Chan (r.
1516-1566 following Garnier) chose Lovek as his official capital in 1528. It remained the Cambodian capital until 1618. King Ang Chang, a
strong supporter of Buddhism, constructed the imposing sanctuary of Traleng Keng (four faces), containing a quadruple image of the Buddha
facing the four cardinal directions; a statue which was attributed supernatural powers. The legend situates also in this city the Phrea Ko - the
Monastery of the Holy Bull and the Phrea Kaeo, the Monastery of the Crystal Buddha. The findings of some Brahman statues at Lovek indicates
the earlier worshipping of ancient cults. [4]
(2) The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya indicate this event at 894 CS or 1532 AD. The Cambodian Chronicles do not report any event at that
time, with the exception of a Siamese defeat in 1540 AD. The time of the event had been adjusted by scholars and set at 1551.
The event
remains contested.
[4]
(3) Phaniat is the area where is at present Ayutthaya's
elephant kraal. In 1551 the original kraal was still in the northeastern corner of Ayutthaya's
city island near
Wat Song. In Phaniat area was a monastery situated called Wat Chumphon or the Monastery of the Concentration of Troops. It
is likely in its vicinity that the troops were assembled.
(4) Phutthaimat called Hà Tiên in Vietnam at present, was earlier known as Banteay-Meas (Golden Citadel). Hamilton wrote in 1718:
"The next
place is Ponteamass, a place of pretty good trade for many years, having the conveniency of a pretty deep but narrow river, which, in
the rainy seasons of the South-west monsoons, has communication with Bansack or Cambodia River, which conveniency made it draw
foreign commerce from the city of Cambodia hither; for the city lying near one hundred leagues up the river, and most part of the way
a continual stream running downward, made the navigation to the city so long and trouble-som, that few cared to trade to it, for which
reasons foreign commerce chose to come to Ponteamass, and it flourished pretty well till the year 1717, that the Siam fleet destroyed
it."
[2]  Hà Tiên was known by the Chinese as Cang-Khâu and transliterated by westerners as Cangcas, Kancao or Cancao.
(4) The mouth of the Choeng Krachum Canal was situated at Banteay-Meas, also called Peam (Pâm meaning confluence in Khmer). At Prabat
Chean Chum (5) the old river bed went in direction of Meat Chrouk, present Kompong Krasang in Bourei Cholsar District of Takeo Province.
The old Khmer canal debouched here downstream from the mouth of the Châu Dôc River (Pig's Snout River), which was channeled from this
point at the time of the ancient city of Puri Angar (Angkor Borei). This area contains quite a lot of pre-Angkorian sites. The canal ran as thus
northwest of present day Châu Dôc in Vietnam. A canal was dug in 1819 from the new city of Châu Dôc towards the Gulf of Siam in the reign of
Emperor Gia Long and continued under Minh Mang until its completion in 1824. It was called the Vĩnh Tế Canal. Châu Dôc is a modern
Vietnamese creation, as the original ancient Kmer city of Meat Chrok was located about 10 Km north of it and 27 Km east of Phnom Bayan in
an area called today Kompong Krasang. The ancient city was situated on the east bank of the Chao Doc River. [3]
(5) Chean Chum or Can Cum situated south of Prasat Bayang - a Khmer sanctuary erected in 601 AD on a narrow ridge on one of the foothills
of the Elephant Mountain chain - was longtime the residence of the governors of Trang (Drâmn).

References:

[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 29 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend
Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph - War With Lawæk, 1551.
[2] A New Account of the East Indies - Captain Alexander Hamilton - Edinburgh (1727) - Account of Pegu and the Voyage to Cambodia and
Siam in 1718 - version edited by Michael W. Charney and published in the Soas Bulletin of Burma Research.
[3] http://kampuchea-krom.blogspot.com/2007/10/annexes.html - retrieved 14 June 2012.
[4] Le Cambodge: Le Groupe d' Angkor et l'Histoire - Etienne Aymonier (1904) - Paris - page 750.