Timeline of World History: Year by Year from Prehistory to Present Day






The Middle Ages

5th - 15th century



Southeast Asia



Once the Burmese Pagan Kingdom and the Khmer Empire of Angkor had divided  Indochina between them, the Thais replaced the Khmer in their position of power and became the main rivals of the Burmese. A number of different kingdoms, both Hindu and Buddhist, followed one another in Indonesia until the Europeans built up their colonial rule in Southeast Asia.


Empires of the Southeast Asian Mainland

While the Khmer were greatly influenced by Indian culture, the proximity to China was evident in Vietnam. New conflicts were ignited by the advance of the Burmese and lastly by that of the Thais.


The area settled by the 1 Khmer stretched from southern Thailand and southern Laos to the Mekong Delta.

1 The coasts of Southeast Asia, Portugesian naval map,
16th century

They were the trading power Chinese sources referred to as "Funan," which flourished from the first or second century a.d. to the sixth or seventh century. In the seventh and eighth century, small Khmer kingdoms emerged that were strongly influenced by Indian culture. Indravarman I was the first to establish a large kingdom; his son, Yashovarman I, founded Angkor ("the city") around 900.

The kingdom of Angkor expanded its power in the tenth century. Its rulers were followers of Shivaism and built monumental temples.

The famous temple of 5 Angkor Wat was built under Suryavarman II.

5 The Hindu temple complex Angkor Wat or Vishnuloka ("the world of Vishnu"), Cambodia, built in the twelfth century

Following an 6 invasion by the Cham, 3 Jayavarman VII expanded the Khmer kingdom over large parts of Asia.

He was a follower of Mahayana Buddhism and built up the walled capital of Angkor with 7 numerous Buddhist temples.

War of the Khmer against the Cham,
sandstone relief, ca.1200

Jayavarman VII,
12th—13th century

7 Partial view of the Buddhist temple
Angkor Thorn, built ca.1200



Suryavarman II

Suryavarman II, (died c. 1150), Cambodian king renowned as a religious reformer and temple builder. Under his rule the temple of Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious structure, was constructed.

Suryavarman defeated rival claimants to the throne and established sole rule over Cambodia by 1113, reuniting the country after more than 50 years of unrest. Warlike and ambitious, he expanded the limits of Cambodia to include much of what is now Thailand; his patronage stretched as far west as the frontiers of the Burmese state of Pagan, south to the coast of the Gulf of Thailand (including part of the eastern coast of the Malay Peninsula), and east to the kingdom of Champa in the southern part of what is now Vietnam.

Suryavarman was formally crowned in 1113, with his guru, the powerful priest Divakarapandita, presiding. The king was a religious reformer who blended the mystical cults of Vishnu and Shiva, supreme Hindu deities, and promulgated Vaishnavism as the official religion, rather than Buddhism, which had briefly flourished under his predecessors.

Angkor Wat, dedicated to Vishnu, was begun in the early years of Suryavarman’s reign and was not finished until after his death. Surrounded by a wall and a moat, the building is decorated with sculptures portraying Suryavarman as Vishnu; he is shown reviewing his troops, holding audiences, and performing other functions of a sovereign. Suryavarman also sponsored the construction of several other temples in the style of Angkor Wat. After his death, Angkor Wat also became his tomb.

In 1116 Suryavarman resumed diplomatic relations (in abeyance since the 9th century) with the Chinese, who officially recognized his kingdom as their vassal in 1128. By sending tribute to China, he acquired a powerful ally to discourage attacks from neighbouring Southeast Asian kingdoms and ensured that China would not interfere in Khmer domestic affairs.

From 1123 until 1136 Suryavarman waged a series of unsuccessful campaigns against Dai Viet, the Vietnamese kingdom that had asserted its independence from China in 939. He attempted a land attack through Laos to Nghe An in 1128 and met with defeat. A few months later, Suryavarman’s fleet of 700 junks began a long harassment along the coast in the Gulf of Tonkin. Suryavarman persuaded the kingdom of Champa to assist him in these efforts, but in 1136 the Cham king, Jaya Indravarman III, defected and made an alliance with the Vietnamese.

Suryavarman deposed the Cham king in 1144 and annexed Champa in the following year. The Chams, under a new leader, King Jaya Harivarman I, defeated Khmer troops in a decisive battle at Chakling, near Phan Rang, in southern Vietnam. Suryavarman put his brother-in-law, Harideva, on the Cham throne, but Jaya Harivarman I deposed him and reclaimed that throne. In 1150 Suryavarman died in the midst of a new campaign against Champa, leaving his people exhausted by war and victimized by the once-subservient Chams, who eventually ravaged Angkor.

Encyclopaedia Britannica




Jayavarman VII

Jayavarman VII, (born c. 1120/25—died c. 1220), one of the most forceful and productive kings of the Khmer (Cambodian) empire of Angkor (reigning 1181–c. 1220). He expanded the empire to its greatest territorial extent and engaged in a building program that yielded numerous temples (including Angkor Thom), highways, rest houses, and hospitals.

Early life
Jayavarman was born into the royal family of Angkor. He married a very religious and strong-minded princess named Jayarajadevi, who exerted an important influence on him, both before he gained the throne and during the early years of his reign. Following her death he married her older sister, a very pious and learned woman whom he had previously installed as the head professor in an important Buddhist monastery.

Though practically nothing is known of Jayavarman’s childhood and youth, it is clear that during his late 30s and early 40s he settled in the neighbouring kingdom of Champa, in what is now the central region of Vietnam. At the time of the death of his father, King Dharanindravarman II (ruled 1150–60), Jayavarman was engaged in a military campaign in Champa, and, after the accession of his brother (or possibly his cousin), Yasovarman II (ruled 1160–66), he chose to remain there, returning to Cambodia only when he received word that a palace rebellion was in progress. Although Jayavarman arrived at Angkor too late to prevent the murder of Yasovarman and the accession of the rebel Tribhuvanadityavarman (ruled 1166–77), he decided to remain in his homeland and to await an opportunity to assert his own claim to the throne.

Some 12 years later, when Jayavarman was in his late 50s, that opportunity came as a result of a Cham invasion, which brought about the demise of Tribhuvanadityavarman, the sacking of Angkor, and its subjection to foreign rule. In this situation Jayavarman organized a struggle for independence and in less than five years’ time succeeded in driving out the invaders and establishing his hegemony over all his Cambodian rivals. Finally in 1181, at the age of 61, he was crowned king of a reconstituted Khmer empire and began a brilliant reign of more than 30 years, during which he brought the empire to its zenith, both in terms of territorial expansion and of royal architecture and construction.

Jayavarman’s building program
During his reign Jayavarman continued his military activities, bringing Champa, southern Laos, and portions of the Malay Peninsula and Burma under his control. But increasingly he devoted his energies and organizational capacities to the kind of religious and religio-political construction projects that had been carried on by his royal predecessors. He built a large number of awesome new temples, including the Bayon, a distinctively Mahāyāna Buddhist central pyramid temple designed to serve as the primary locus of the royal cult and also as his own personal mausoleum; personal funerary temples of the Mahāyāna type, which were dedicated to his mother and father; and a series of provincial temples, which housed reduced replicas of the Royal Buddha—i.e., Jayavarman represented with the attributes of the Buddha, the original of which had been set up in the Bayon. He rebuilt the city of Angkor, now known as Angkor Thom, and rebuilt and extended the system of highways, which radiated outward from the Bayon and the royal palace and reached far into the provinces. In addition, he constructed more than 100 rest houses along these roads and built more than 100 hospitals, which he dispersed throughout his kingdom and placed under the protection of Baiṣajyaguru Vaiḍūryaprabhā, the Great Buddha of Healing.

Jayavarman seems to have been obsessed with the need for rapid and extensive construction. For example, the less than careful workmanship evident in the temples attributed to Jayavarman’s reign vividly points to the great haste with which they were built. Some scholars have suggested that the almost frantic sense of urgency associated with Jayavarman’s works derived from the fact that, having begun his reign at a relatively advanced age, he felt that his time was short and had to be utilized to the fullest. Others have suggested that Jayavarman’s concern to carry through such a vast program of largely Buddhist-oriented construction was greatly encouraged by Jayarajadevi and her sister, both of whom dedicated a tremendous amount of energy toward gaining support for Buddhism and specifically for building Buddhist temples. And finally, if scholars are correct in their surmise that Jayavarman suffered from the dread disease of leprosy, his concern to mitigate his sin and suffering through the accumulation of great merit may have given a still further impetus to his piety and zealousness. Whatever his true motivations, Jayavarman succeeded during his lifetime in creating a legacy that few monarchs in history (Khmer or otherwise) have been able to equal; he was more than 90 years old when he died.

Modern reputation
Despite the importance of Jayavarman VII in the history of the Angkor kingdom, no memory of him was preserved in the later Cambodian chronicles. In modern times, however, as archaeological studies generated popular interest in his reign, Jayavarman VII became a kind of paradigmatic national hero, who was credited not only with establishing the full greatness of the Cambodian nation but also with bringing into being a welfare state that was motivated by Buddhism and dedicated to serving both the spiritual and the physical needs of the Cambodian people. Scholars, however, have sought to maintain a more balanced view of Jayavarman, recognizing the obvious immensity of his accomplishments but also taking account of the fact that the overweening demands that he placed on the material and human resources of his kingdom may have been a major factor in its subsequent loss of creativity and its eventual demise.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Raids by the Thai led to the loss of Angkor in 1369 and in 1389. The capital was move south in the 15th century to Longvek,  Udong, and Phnom Penh, also for reasons of trade.

The state of Nam Viet (today's North Vietnam) was conquered in III B.C. by the Chinese Han dynasty. China's powerless-ness following the Tang dynasty in 931 made possible the founding of a kingdom called Dai Viet in Tonkin, with its center in the Red River Delta. It was ruled by the Ly dynasty from 1009 to 1225. Chinese influence, as well as the great significance of Confucianism, remained evident. The Ly were followed by the Tran, who ruled from 1225 to 1400 and in 1287 repulsed a Mongol invasion.

The Cham had settled in the southern regions in central and southern Vietnam. There they founded the kingdom of Champa by the fourth or fifth century. In 1177, the Cham conquered Angkor, but in 1181 were beaten back, and from 1192 to 1220 fell under the rule of the Khmer. Champa came under pressure from the Vietnamese and the kingdom was annexed ca. 1471.

The Burmese migrated in the ninth century down into present-day Burma and founded the 2, 8 Pagan Kingdom around 849.

Until its destruction by the Mongols in 1287, the kingdom shared domination over southern Asia with the Khmer. Two separate state systems emerged after the fall of Pagan, and they were not reunited until the 18th century.

Tribes speaking the Thai language moved into Yunnan in the southwest of China from about the second century B.C. The kingdom of Nan Zhao developed there in the seventh century: the Mongols destroyed it in 1253.

The 4 kingdom of Sukhothai formed in the middle of present-day Thailand in 1238 is considered to be the political and cultural origin of Thailand.

The kingdom experienced its high point in the second half of the 13th century under King Ramkhamhaeng, who expanded his dominion to the Gulf of Thailand at the expense of the Khmer and Burmese. Around 1283, he devised the traditional Thai script that is still in use today. His successors dedicated themselves only to religion and science, so that in 1350 the local Thai prince of Ayutthaya  was able to take over the kingdom without a struggle.

2 Pagoda in Pagan, eleventh century

8 Temple of Pagan in Burma,
present-day Myanmar

4 Buddhist monk praying in front of
the hand of a 48-foot Buddha
statue in Sukhothai




The Island Kingdoms of Southeast Asia

Indonesia had always been influenced by Indian culture and religions. Various Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms existed there until Islam began its advance in the 14th century, after being introduced onto the island by Arabian merchants.


Until the 1300s, both Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms existed in the Indonesian archipelago. The most notable Buddhist realm was the maritime kingdom of Srivijaya, which emerged in the seventh century on the southeast coast of Sumatra. From its capital Palembang, Srivijaya spread its area of dominance throughout the South China Sea and adjoining regions. Local rulers began making themselves independent again in the eleventh century.

The Shailendra dynasty, which was also Buddhist, left the temple complex of 9 Borobudur on Java.

9 Temple of Borobudur on Java, Indonesia, built in the eighth century

The Hindu Majapahit empire, which replaced Srivijaya as the dominant power, was established in 1293 in eastern Java by King Vijaya. It existed until about 1520, experiencing its golden age in the 14th century when King Gajah Mada controlled Indonesia.

Around 1300, Arabian merchants introduced Islam into Indonesia, and it was rapidly accepted almost everywhere.

Only the island kingdom of 12 Bali remained 11 Hindu.

In the mid-15th century, the prince of Paramesvara on Sumatra founded the Malacca sultanate, with Palembang as its capital.

12 Pavilon and lotus pond in a palace on Bali,
built in the 17th century

11 Water temple on Bali

It was the leading trading hub of the region until it was conquered by the 10 Portuguese in 1511.

In the 17th century, Java was controlled for the most part by the 13 kingdom of Mataram.

The Dutch, who had replaced the Portuguese as the most important European trading power, established the trading base of 14 Batavia on Java in 1619 and from there brought Indonesia under their control.

In 1755, they brought about the division of the once-mighty Mataram into the two principalities of Surakarta and Yogyakarta, thus effectively curtailing its power.

10 Portuguese shipwreck,
Indian miniature, 16th century

13 Nandi bull in a Hindu temple of the
kings of Mataram, built in the tenth с

14 Map of Batavia, present-day Jakarta,
copper engraving, 17th century