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During the reign of Suryavarman II, the temple of Angkor Wat was built to honor Vishnu, and the emperor conducted campaigns against the Chams and Viets in the east, which likely lead to his death in the 1140s. A succession crisis kept the empire in chaos until Angkor Wat was sacked by the Chams during a naval battle in 1177. A prince named Jayavarman VII amassed an army, retook the capital and campaigned against Champa for 22 years, gaining large amounts of territory in the process. Jayavarman became notable for not being a huge dick like his successors, who I would guess followed the general short-term-king pattern of usurp, oppress, get usurped on one typically sees in periods of instability. He established a new capital called Angkor Thom, built hella temples to commemmorate himself, boddhisattvas, his parents, and the world at large. He also built another damn reservoir, along with a road system with rest stops and over a hundred hospitals.
After his death, his son Indravarman II gained the throne, and immediately faced troubles from inside and out. He was forced to cede eastern territory to an alliance of the Dai Viet and Champa in 1220, and
western territory to his Thai subjects, who formed their own kingdom. In 1243 he was succeeded by Jayavarman VIII, an avid Hindu who set forth on a campaign of iconoclasm against Buddhist imagery, destroying statues and converting temples to Hinduism. Forty years into his rule, the Khans, now in control of China, began extracting tribute from the Khmers, and upon his deposition in 1295, his son-in-law reconverted the empire to Buddhism.
At this point, the empire began to decline for a number of reasons. Civil wars became the status quo, plague rampaged throughout the area, and it's theorized the authority of the king declined when the adoption of pure Buddhism became state fact: If the king is not a god, he doesn't need temples, and if he doesn't need temples, he isn't using the infrastructure that commanded largescale public labor. As such, a number of the reservoirs were not maintained, and so flood and famine became commonplace. Meanwhile, the Thai kingdom of Sukhothai, who had split off from Khmer in the reign of Indravarman II, was conquere…
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