Although little is known about the early history of the Southeast Asian region and the origins of its peoples are unclear, the neighboring civilizations of both China and India had major influences upon Southeast Asian history.
Although little is known about the early history of the Southeast Asian region and the origins of its peoples are unclear, the neighboring civilizations of both China and India had major influences upon Southeast Asian history. As a result of the permeation of Indian culture in the fifth century, the
Some of the kingdoms of the region were controlling empires based on agriculture rather than foreign trade. Others were ports where trade with other states was of prime importance. Certainly Funan has its origins in trade, but the shift of the
The main aim of rulers throughout the region was to maintain their dynasties. Much of the region was dominated by
The gradual conversion to
The earliest information that exists on the warfare in the region comes from the small Indianized states on the
Militarily, this federal system was no match for unified states, and under
The growth and expansion of the
By contrast, in mainland Southeast Asia, there was a balance of power for much of this period between the Burmans, Thais (or Tais), and the peoples from Angkor and Champa.
The weapons used by most of the people in Southeast Asia in medieval times were Indian in style: bows, arrows, curved flat swords, broad short daggers, and long shields. In Śrivijaya, the unusual
As a result of the Indian influence,
After the formation of the Majapahit
A Javanese inscription of 1323 speaks of “magically forged weapons,” indicative of the belief that
As well as fighting on land, the
Southeast Asia, 8th-9th Centuries
The commander-in-chief of both the Khmers and Chams was usually a prince, often the king’s brother. Of other officers there is little detailed knowledge, but it seems that they would begin in the Royal Guard and then ascend to captain roughly a thousand men for war. The officers were distinguished by the red parasols that they carried into battle. Moreover, as in Java, in the Khmer and Champa empires, the use of
According to Chinese texts, Cham weapons consisted of shields, spears, halberds, bows, and crossbows. The arrows of bamboo, however, were not feathered, but the points were
It is known that during the thirteenth century, the commanders of the Javanese army received an annual salary of twenty taels of gold, and the soldiers, 30,000 in number, also received fixed annual pay in varying amounts in gold. The reliefs of the temples of this time reveal little. An inscription of 1294, alongside reports in Chinese annals, tells much about the results of the fighting that took place in repelling the
The Khmer and Cham empires also had considerable knowledge of
The ideal type of army exchange was to bring about a pitched frontal battle. In a battle such as this, once some important leaders had been slain or had run away, the defeated side usually fled to the sheltering jungle. Chinese accounts claim that the Cham soldiers fought in parties of five, and the members mutually helped one another. If one fled, the other four were liable to be punished with death. Once the battle was over and a victor clear, it was the custom for the conqueror to set up pillars to commemorate victory. A similar system operated in Java and in the Majapahit Empire.
Concerning the early
their respective rule. The second Siamese kingdom captured Angkor in 1352, after the Khmer kingdom had become weak and exhausted. In 1393 the Siamese took Angkor again, and in 1432 they captured it for the final time. Thus, although the Siamese had embraced Buddhism, they began to learn the ways of war from the dying Khmer Empire.
Few written sources exist regarding warfare in Southeast Asia during this period, and many of these are questionable. The earliest knowledge, extremely limited, comes from various Chinese sources beginning in the third century. This is often found in the form of accounts drawn from Chinese missions as well as pilgrims heading to India, especially the seventh century account of
Charney, Michael W. Southeast Asian Warfare, 1300-1900. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 2004. Coèdes, Georges. The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. Edited by Walter F. Vella. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1968. Hall, D. G. E. A History of South-East Asia. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1981. Jacques, Claude. The Khmer Empire: Cities and Sanctuaries. Bangkok, Thailand: River Books, 2007. Quaritch Wales, H. G. Ancient South-East Asian Warfare. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1952. Tarling, Nicholas. The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia. 2 vols. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Wolters, O. W. Early Southeast Asia: Selected Essays. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 2008. Children of the Seven-Headed Snake. Documentary. FIP-Odysse-Ampersand, 1999. Mekong: The Three Ancient Kingdoms of Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Documentary. Global Edu-tainment, 2008.
India and South Asia: Medieval