Indonesia until the 18th century
A number of Hindu and Buddhist states flourished and declined across Indonesia. By the time of the European Renaissance, the two largest islands in what is now Indonesia, Java and Sumatra had already seen over a millennium of civilization and two major empires.
The political history of Indonesia during the fourteenth and fifteen centuries is not well known due to scarcity of evidence. Two major states dominated this period; Majapahit in East Java, the greatest of the pre-Islamic Indonesian states, and Malacca on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, arguably the greatest of the Muslim trading empires.
Kingdom of Mataram
· Main article: Kingdom of Mataram
Mataram was an Indianized kingdom based in Central Java (the area surrounding modern-day Yogyakarta) between the 8th and 10th centuries. The centre of the kingdom was moved from Central Java to East Java by Mpu Sindok. The move may have been caused by an eruption of the volcano Mount Merapi, or a power struggle.
The first king of Mataram was Sanjaya, who drove the Sailendras from Java and left inscriptions in stone. The monumental Hindu temple of Prambanan in the vicinity of Yogyakarta was built by Daksa. Dharmawangsa ordered the translation of the Mahabharata into Old Javanese in 996.
The kingdom collapsed into chaos at the end of Dharmawangsa’s reign under military pressure from Srivijaya. Airlangga, a son of Udayana of Bali and a relative of Dharmawangsa re-established the kingdom (including Bali) under the name of Kahuripan.
· Main article: Srivijaya
Srivijaya (-sri meaning glitters or radiant, -jaya meaning success or excellence) was an ancient Malay kingdom on the island of Sumatra which influenced much of the Malay Archipelago. Records of its beginning are scarce, and estimates are from the 200s to the 500s. It ceased to exist around the year 1400.
Around 500 the roots of Srivijaya developed around present-day Palembang, and around the year 600 Chinese records mention two kingdoms on Sumatra based at Jambi and Palembang, as well as three kingdoms on Java.
Srivijaya was centered in the coastal trading center of present day Palembang. The empire was a thalassocracy and did not extend its influence far beyond the coastal areas of the islands of Southeast Asia. Srivijaya was organised in three main zones — the estuarine capital region centred on Palembang, the Musi River basin which served as hinterland, and rival esturarine zones capable of formng rival power centres. The capital zone was administered directly by the ruler. The hinterland zone remained under its own local datus or chiefs who were organized into a network of allegiance to the maharaja. Force was the dominant element in the empire’s relations with rival river systems such as the Batang Hari river basin centred on Jambi. The ruling lineage intermarried with and allied with the Sailendras of Central Java.
Although historical records and archaeological evidence are scarce, it appears that by the seventh century, Srivijaya established suzerainty over large areas of Sumatra, western Java, and much of the Malay Peninsula. Dominating the Malacca and Sunda straits, Srivijaya controlled both the Spice Route traffic and local trade, charging a toll on passing ships, and remained a formidable sea power until the thirteenth century. This spread the Malay culture throughout Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and western Borneo.
A stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism, Srivijaya attracted pilgrims and scholars from other parts of Asia. These included the Chinese monk Yijing, who made several lengthy visits to Sumatra on his way to study at Nalanda in India in 671 and 695, and the eleventh-century Buddhist scholar Atisha, who played a major role in the development of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. Travellers to these islands mentioned that gold coinage was in use on the coasts, but not inland.
In 1068, Rajendra Chola, the Chola king of Tamil Nadu, conquered Kedah from Srivijaya. The Cholas continued a series of raids and conquests throughout what is now Indonesia and Malaysia for the next 20 years. Although the Chola invasion was ultimately unsuccessful, it gravely weakened the Srivijayan hegemony and enabled the formation of regional kingdoms based, like Kediri, on intensive agriculture rather than coastal and long distance trade.
Srivijaya influence waned by the 11th century. The island was in frequent conflict with the Javanese kingdoms, first Singhasari and then Majapahit. Islam eventually made its way to the Aceh region of Sumatra, spreading its influence through contacts with Arabs and Indian traders. By the late 13th century, the kingdom of Pasai (in northern Sumatra) converted to Islam. At the same time Srivijaya was briefly a tributary of the Khmer empire and later the Sukhothai kingdom. The last inscription dates to 1374, in a crown prince, Ananggavarman, is mentioned.
By 1414 Parameswara, the last prince of Srivijaya converted to Islam, and founded the Sultanate of Malacca on the Malay peninsula.
Singhasari and the Majapahit Empire
· Main article: Singhasari
· Main article: Majapahit Empire
Two empires would originate in Eastern Java, and would drive Srivijaya and assume its territory: the Singhasari and the Majapahit. Singhasari was a kingdom located in east Java between 1222 and 1292. The Majapahit Empire would emerge later, and ruled much of the southern Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and Bali from about 1293 to around 1500.
The founder of the Majapahit Empire, Kertarajasa, was the son-in-law of the ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, also based in Java. After Singhasari drove Srivijaya out of Java altogether in 1290, the rising power of Singhasari came to the attention of Kublai Khan in China and he sent emissaries demanding tribute. Kertanagara, ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, refused to pay tribute and the Khan sent a punitive expedition which arrived off the coast of Java in 1293. By that time, a rebel from Kediri, Jayakatwang, had killed Kertanagara. The Majapahit founder allied himself with the Mongols against Jayakatwang and, once the Singhasari kingdom was destroyed, turned and forced his Mongol allies to withdraw in confusion.
Gajah Mada, an ambitious Majapahit prime minister and regent from 1331 to 1364, extended the empire’s rule to the surrounding islands. A few years after Gajah Madah’s death, the Majapahit navy captured Palembang, putting an end to the Srivijayan kingdom. Although the Majapahit rulers extended their power over other islands and destroyed neighboring kingdoms, their focus seems to have been on controlling and gaining a larger share of the commercial trade that passed through the archipelago. About the time Majapahit was founded, Muslim traders and proselytizers began entering the area.
After peaking the 1300s, Majapahit power began to decline with a war over succession that started in 1401 and went on for four years. Majapahit found itself unable to control the rising power of the Sultanate of Malacca. Dates for the end of the Majapahit Empire range from 1478 to 1520. A large number of courtiers, artisans, priests, and members of the royalty moved east to the island of Bali at the end of Majapahit’s existence.
The spread of Islam
· Main article: The spread of Islam in Indonesia
Islam was first established in Indonesia sometime during the 12th century and, through assimilation, supplanted Hinduism by the end of the 16th century in Java and Sumatra. Only Bali retained a Hindu majority. In the eastern archipelago, both Christian and Islamic missionaries were active in the 16th and 17th centuries, and, currently, there are large communities of both religions on these islands. The spread of Islam was driven by increasing trade links outside of the archipelago; in general, traders and the royalty of major kingdoms were the first to adopt the new religion. Dominant kingdoms included Mataram in Central Java, and the sultanates of Ternate and Tidore in the Maluku Islands to the east. Although it is known that the spread of Islam began in the west of the archipelago, the fragmentary evidence does not suggest a rolling wave of conversion through adjacent areas; rather, it suggests the process was complicated and slow.
Sultanate of Mataram
· Main article: Sultanate of Mataram
Sultanate of Mataram was the third Sultanate in Java. The first was Demak Bintoro and the second was Pajang. According to Javanese records, Kyai Gedhe Pamanahan became the ruler of the Mataram area some time within the in the 1570s with the support of the kingdom of Pajang to the east, near the current site of Surakarta (Solo). Pamanahan was often referred to as Kyai Gedhe Mataram after his ascension.
Pamanahan’s son, Panembahan Senapati Ingalaga, replaced his father on the throne around 1584. Under Senapati the kingdom grew substantially through regular military campaigns against Mataram’s neighbors. Shortly after his accession, for example, he conquered his father’s patrons in Pajang.
The reign of Panembahan Seda ing Krapyak (c. 1601-1613), the son of Senapati, was dominated by further warfare, especially against powerful Surabaya, already a major center in East Java. The first contact between Mataram and the Dutch East India Company (VOC) occurred under Krapyak. Dutch activities at the time were limited to trading from limited coastal settlements, so their interactions with the inland Mataram kingdom were limited, although they did form an alliance against Surabaya in 1613. Krapyak died that year.
Krapyak was succeeded by his son, who is known simply as Sultan Agung (“Great Sultan”) in Javanese records. Agung was responsible for the great expansion and lasting historical legacy of Mataram due to the extensive military conquests of his long reign from 1613 to 1646.
After years of war Agung finally conquered Surabaya. The city was taken not through outright military invasion, but instead because Agung surrounded it on land and sea, starving it into submission. With Surabaya brought into the empire, the Mataram kingdom encompassed all of central and eastern Java, and Madura; only in the west did Banten and the Dutch settlement in Batavia remain outside Agung’s control. He tried repeatedly in the 1620s and 1630s to drive the Dutch from Batavia, but his armies had met their match, and he was forced to share control over Java.
In 1645 he began building Imogiri, his burial place, about fifteen kilometers south of Yogyakarta. Imogiri remains the resting place of most of the royalty of Yogyakarta and Surakarta to this day. Agung died in the spring of 1646, with his image of royal invincibility shattered by his losses to the Dutch, but he did leave behind an empire that covered most of Java and stretched to its neighboring islands.
Upon taking the throne, Agung’s son Susuhunan Amangkurat I tried to bring long-term stability to Mataram’s realm, murdering local leaders that were insufficiently deferential to him, and closing ports so he alone had control over trade with the Dutch.
By the mid-1670s dissatisfaction with the king fanned into open revolt, beginning at the margins and creeping inward. Raden Trunajaya, a prince from Madura, lead a revolt fortified by itinerant fighters from faraway Makassar that captured the king’s court at Mataram in mid-1677. The king escaped to the north coast with his eldest son, the future king Amangkurat II, leaving his younger son Pangeran Puger in Mataram. Apparently more interested in profit and revenge than in running a struggling empire, the rebel Trunajaya looted the court and withdrew to his stronghold in East Java leaving Puger in control of a weak court.
Amangkurat I died just after his expulsion, making Amangkurat II king in 1677. He too was nearly helpless, though, having fled without an army or treasury to build one. In an attempt to regain his kingdom, he made substantial concessions to the Dutch, who then went to war to reinstate him. For the Dutch, a stable Mataram empire that was deeply indebted to them would help ensure continued trade on favorable terms. They were willing to lend their military might to keep the kingdom together. Dutch forces first captured Trunajaya, then forced Puger to recognize the sovereignty of his elder brother Amangkurat II.
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