Angkor and Cambodia in the Sixteenth Century

by Bernard Philippe Groslier & Charles Ralph Boxer & Michael Smithies

Languages : English, Portuguese, Spanish

2010 - #60 at Angkor Database Library. - 186 pages - Hardback Orchid Press

ISBN: 9745240532

Seminal compendium of major Spanish and Portuguese sources on Angkor, B.P. Groslier's work (initially published in French in 1958) is also an important contribution on the "decline and fall" of the Angkorian Empire.

All the quoted explorers, missionaries or adventurers, concur to state that Angkor was rediscovered "by chance", during a hunting party led by Khmer King Ang Chan in the mid 1500s. Showing the extent of plagiarism in all these testimonies, Groslier attempts a much more nuanced approach by studying the multiple factors that led to the abandonment of the Angkorian metropolis, including the military and cultural pressure by Siamese forces, the decay of the irrigation system, and the infightings between Jayavarman VII's (legitimate or self-proclaimed) heirs.

Note: we have added C.R. Boxer as an author, which was B.P. Groslier's wish but did not happen because of "Boxer's modesty", according to Groslier himself in his foreword.

AngkorDatabase offers here the integral text of Diogo do Couto's Chapter 6 of Duedecima Decada da Asia, "Of the Great and Marvellous City Discovered in the Forests of the Kingdom of Camboja, its construction and its location"

This text is the recollection of the Franciscan friar António da Madalena's visit to Cambodia in 1551 or 1552. 

About the Authors

Bernard Philippe Groslier

Son of Cambodia National Museum's founder George Groslier, Bernard Philippe Groslier (1926-1986) was the Curator of Angkor Monuments from 1960 until 1975. Archeologist and explorer, he has led the excavations and mapping process at Angkor Thom

His book Angkor, Hommes et Pierres (Paris, 1968) remains a major reference for Angkor researchers. He also contributed several monographies on Khmer inscriptions, sculptures and architectural vestiges.

See Bernard Philippe Groslier's obituary in The Washington Post here

Charles Ralph Boxer

C.R. Boxer (1904-2000), legendary Far East researcher and scholar, was the chief of British Military Intelligence services in Hong Kong during WWII.

His interest in Dutch and Portuguese maritime expeditions during the XV and XVI centuries led him to the discovery of an unpublished chapter in the monumental chronicle "Decada da Asia", from Portuguese author Diogo do Couto: the description of Angkor Wat by a Franciscan priest in 1551, one of the oldest and most developed Western documents related to Angkor.

Professor at King's College, London, granted honorary doctorates in Lisbon, Utrecht and Taiwan, C.R. Boxer has compiled the famous "Boxer Codex". He is also known for his affair with American journalist Hillary Hahn, whom he married in 1945. 

Michael Smithies

Translator of major works on Angkor and Cambodia from French into English, author of numerous books on the Siamese civilization.

Representative of the British Council in South East Asia for many years.