The subject of this book is the history of the South East Asia from begin-ning of the XIII century to the end of the XVI century A. D.
This period may be divided into three main parts:
1. The destruction of the old and the foundation of the new feudal states XIII—XIV centuries).
2. The development of the new type of feudal states depending on the level of economic growth in the region (XIV—XV centuries).
3. The struggle of the South Eastern states (direct or indirect) against the first wave of the European (Portuguese and Spanish) colonization and redistribution of the trade and power centers influenced bv these events (XVI cen-tury).
Until the XII—beginning of the XIII centuries the prevailing type of economy in the region was natural. But in the XIII century we witness the change in this pattern due to the cardinal events in the world history. In the West because of the Crusades Europe started taking active part in the Eastern trade. In the East the Mongolian — Chinese empire of Yuan became a new great market for the goods from the SEA and the West which were reexported through the South East Asia.
The development of the trade relations in the SEA in its turn became the stimulus for the local feudals who in order to get profits raised the level of exploitation of their peoples.
But the social structure of the SEA countries was based on the natural economy and the main part of the surplus product which could not be utilised by the feudals was spent on religious needs (especially on the construction of the huge and numerous temples). New burdens imposed on the peoples could not but aroused the wave of indignation which destructed the old states.
In this acute struggle the peasants were supported by the young barbaric tribes (Thai, Shan, Lao), which entered this region from the North and by some of the petty feudals, who realised the necessity to liquidate overgrown bureau-cratic system and the privileges of the clergy as the only way out.
Social struggle of the XIII—XIV centuries destroyed the main part of the old system of the feudal yoke and for some time lessened the burden of the working people. At the same time the new type of states had evolved on the ruins of the old system. Their administrative apparatus was simplified and the clergy lost part of its wealth. New feudal systems were more suited to the economic trade relations and stayed so up to the end of the period.
The strengthening of the new states can be also explained by the struggle against the Mongolian — Chinese aggression in the XIII century which ended with the expulsion of the aggressors.
The second half of the XIV and the XV centuries was the period of the highest development of the SEA. The trade with India, Near East and China1 reached the highest level. Such states as Siam, Majapahit, Vietnam and Malacca were flourishing in this period.
By the end of the XIV century the situation was complicated by the beginning of the new Chinese aggression in the region. But in the end the peoples of the SEA headed by Vietnam repulsed this aggression.
With the occupation of Malacca by the Portuguese in 1511 the international trade in the SEA was undermined. But the countries of the region were quick in repairing the situation. The new trade centers were established and new trade routes bypassing the Malacca Strait were found. The Portuguese and the Spaniards, who reached the Philippines by the end of the XVI century, were powerless to suppress the sea trade of the SEA. The efforts of the Portuguese and Spaniards to get foot in some regions of the Indochina and their colonial adventure in Cambodia in the end of the XVI century were in vain.
At the same time the rulers of the SEA countries underestimated the European threat. Busy fighting each other and using the Portuguese soldiers of fortune they were powerless to unite in order to crush the Portuguese hold of Malacca. Therefore the XVI century was the period of balance between the countries of the SEA and the European colonialism. Only in the XVII century with the British and Dutch fleets entering the region the decisive change in favour of the West took place and the new period in the history of the SEA has started.