Mataram Sultanate

From New World Encyclopedia
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Early kingdoms
Srivijaya (third to fourteenth centuries)
Sailendra (eighth & ninth centuries)
Kingdom of Mataram (752–1045)
Kediri (1045–1221)
Singhasari (1222–1292)
Majapahit (1293–1500)
The rise of Muslim states
The spread of Islam (1200–1600)
Malacca Sultanate (1400–1511)
Sultanate of Demak (1475–1518)
Aceh Sultanate (1496 - 1903)
Mataram Sultanate (1500s to 1700s)
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The Sultanate of Mataram was the last major independent Javanese empire on Java before the island was colonized by the Dutch. It was the dominant political force in interior Central Java from the late sixteenth century until the beginning of the eighteenth century. The name “Mataram” does not refer to a particular polity, but to two different kingdoms which have existed in the areas around present-day Yogyakarta. Rulers of the earlier Mataram kingdom, which flourished in Central Java between 712 and 938, practiced both Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism. The kingdom vanished after two centuries, leaving behind archaeological evidence of great artistic and cultural achievement.

The second Mataram kingdom emerged from Demak, the most powerful early Muslim kingdom on Java. Extensive military conquests during the long reign of Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo, from 1613 to 1646, were responsible for the great expansion and lasting historical legacy of Mataram. In 1677, King Amangkurat II sought the assistance of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in reclaiming the throne which had been usurped by his rebellious brother. In return, he made substantial concessions of land to the Dutch East India Company, beginning seventy-five years of political and military machinations among various Javanese princes and rulers, Chinese rebels, and the Dutch, who sought to establish a stable trading empire in Java. The kingdom of Mataram ended under an agreement signed in 1755, dividing nominal control over central Java between the Yogyakarta Sultanate, under Mangkubumi, and Surakarta, under Pakubuwana.

Early Mataram

The name Mataram itself was never the official name of any specific polity. The name refers to the areas around present-day Yogyakarta. Two kingdoms that have existed in this region are both called “Mataram,” but the second kingdom is called Mataram Islam to distinguish it from the Hindu ninth century Kingdom of Mataram.

The earlier Mataram kingdom flourished in Central Java between 712 and 938 C.E.[1] The nature of ancient Javanese kingship is still unclear. Most of the rulers were male, but women also held high positions and were able to endow temples. The rulers practiced both Hinduism and Mahayan Buddhism. The kings had many religious duties and were considered a “titisan dewa,” a “droplet distilled from the essence of God,” a semi-divine union of heavenly and human aspects (binathara, the passive form of “bathara,” god). The responsibility of the king was to maintain the relationship between the kingdom and the universe. The Javanese kingdom was conceived of as a mandala or center of the world, focused on the person of the king (variously called Sri Bupati, Sri Narendra, Sang Aji, Prabu). The king was thought to be directly connected with Mount Meru, the axis of the world, and was the master of the world. As the royal icon, the king was considered the base of the kingdom’s existence.

As Islam spread through Java, the concept of the king as a semi-divine, priestly being was gradually replaced with the concept of the ruler as a messenger of God (Kalifatullah).[2] but the king continued to occupy a central role. Archaeological remains testify to almost two centuries of artistic and cultural achievement before the earlier Mataram suddenly vanished.

Dates of Mataram

The dates for events in Java and Mataram before the Siege of Batavia in the reign of Sultan Agung, third king of Mataram, are difficult to determine. The contemporary historian H.J. de Graaf used Javanese annals, such as Babad Sangkala and Babad Momana, which contain list of events and dates in Javanese calendar (A.J., Anno Javanicus), but apart from the difficulty of translating Javanese years to the modern calendar, the Javanese sources themselves are not in agreement. In Javanese literature, only events such as the rise and fall of kratons, the deaths of important princes, and great wars are deemed important enough to be dated, by using a poetic formula called candrasengkala, which can be expressed verbally and pictorially. All other events are simply described in narrative succession without dates. These candrasengkalas do not always match the annals.

Therefore, the dates from historians de Graaf and Ricklefs for the period before the Siege of Batavia are generally accepted as a best guess. For the period after the Siege of Batavia (1628-29) until the first War of Succession (1704), the dates of events in which foreigners participated are recorded in their histories and reports, but are not always consistent with Javanese versions of the stories. Events which occurred between 1704-1755 can be dated with greater certainty, since during that period the Dutch interfered deeply in Mataram affairs.

The rise of Mataram

Information in Javanese sources about the early years of the kingdom is limited, and historical records are blended with myths. There are indications that later rulers, especially Agung, made efforts to establish a long line of legitimate descent by inventing predecessors. By the time more reliable records begin in the mid-seventeenth century, the kingdom was so large and powerful that most historians concur it had already been established for several generations.

According to Javanese records, the kings of Mataram were descended from one Ki Ageng Sela (Sela is a village near the present-day Demak). Demak was the most powerful early Muslim kingdom on Java from 1518 to 1550, after which two kingdoms emerged, Banten on the northwest coast and Mataram in central Java.[3] In the 1570s, one of Ki Ageng Sela's descendants, Kyai Gedhe Pamanahan became the ruler of the Mataram area with the support of the kingdom of Pajang to the north, near the current site of Surakarta (Solo). Pamanahan was often referred to as Kyai Gedhe Mataram.

Pamanahan's son, Sutawijaya or Panembahan Senapati Ingalaga, replaced his father around 1584. Under Panembahan Senapati the kingdom grew substantially through regular military campaigns against Mataram's overlord Pajang, and Pajang's former overlord, Demak. After the defeat of Pajang, Senapati assumed royal status by assuming the title "Panembahan" (literally "one who is worshiped/sembah"). He began a fateful campaign to the East along the course of the Solo River (Bengawan Solo) that was to bring endless conflicts and the eventual demise of his kingdom. He conquered Madiun in 1590-1, and turned east from Madiun to conquer Kediri in 1591, and perhaps during the same time also conquered Jipang (present day Bojonegoro), Jagaraga (north of present day Magetan), and Ponorogo. His effort to conquer Banten in West Java in 1597, witnessed by Dutch sailors, failed, perhaps due to lack of water transport. He reached east as far as Pasuruan, whose people may have used his advances as a threat to reduce pressure from the then-powerful Surabaya.

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. He faced rebellion from his relatives who were installed in the newly conquered area of Demak (1602), Ponorogo (1607-8), and Kediri (1608). 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 minimal, although they did form an alliance against Surabaya in 1613. Krapyak died that year.

Mataram under Sultan Agung

Krapyak was succeeded by his son, Raden Mas Rangsang, who assumed the title Panembahan ing Alaga. Feeling threatened by the popularity of the Isamic religious leaders (wali), he later took the title of Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo ("Great Sultan") after obtaining permission from Mecca to use the title of "Sultan." The extensive military conquests of Agung’s long reign, from 1613 to 1646, were responsible for the great expansion and lasting historical legacy of Mataram. He attacked Surabaya in 1614, and also Malang, south of Surabaya, and the eastern end of Java. In 1615, he conquered Wirasaba (present day Mojoagung, near Mojokerto). In 1616, Surabaya tried to attack Mataram, but this army was crushed by Sultan Agung's forces in Siwalan, Pajang (near Solo). The coastal city of Lasem, near Rembang, was conquered in 1616, and Pasuruan, south-east of Surabaya, was taken in 1617. Tuban, one of the oldest and biggest cities on the coast of Java, was taken in 1619.

Surabaya was Mataram's most difficult enemy. Senapati had not felt strong enough to attack this powerful city and Krapyak had attacked it unsuccessfully. Sultan Agung weakened Surabaya by capturing Sukadana, Surabaya's ally in southwest Kalimantan, in 1622. The island of Madura, another ally of Surabaya, was taken in 1624 after a fierce battle. After five years of war Agung finally conquered Surabaya in 1625. The city was taken, not through outright military invasion, but 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, except for the west and east end of the island and parts of its mountainous south. In the west, Banten and the Dutch settlement in Batavia remained outside Agung's control. He tried unsuccessfully in 1628-29 to drive the Dutch from Batavia (Jakarta).

By 1625, Mataram was undisputed ruler of Java. Such a mighty feat of arms, however, did not deter Mataram’s former overlords from rebellion. Pajang rebelled in 1617, and Pati rebelled in 1627. After the capture of Surabaya in 1625, expansion stopped while the empire was preoccupied with internal rebellions. In 1630, Mataram crushed a rebellion in Tembayat (south east of Klaten) and in 1631-36, Mataram had to suppress rebellion of Sumedang and Ukur in West Java.

In 1645, Sultan Agung 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, leaving behind an empire that covered most of Java and stretched to its neighboring islands.

Power struggles

Upon taking the throne, Agung's son Susuhunan Amangkurat I tried to bring long-term stability to Mataram's realm. He executed local leaders who were insufficiently deferential to him, and closed ports and destroyed ships in the coastal cities to prevent them from becoming too powerful through trade. To further his glory, the new king abandoned the wooden palace in Karta, Sultan Agung’s capital, and moved to a grander red-brick palace in Plered.

By the mid-1670s, dissatisfaction with the king was turning into open revolt, beginning from the recalcitrant Eastern Java and creeping inward. The Crown Prince (future Amangkurat II) took his father’s concubine with the help of his maternal grandfather, Pangeran Pekik of Surabaya, making Amangkurat I suspicious that Surabayan factions were conspiring to use the Crown Prince to grab power in the capital. He had Pangeran Pekik executed. The Crown Prince, fearing that his own life was in danger, conspired with Panembahan Rama from Kajoran, west of Magelang, to finance a rebellion in East Java led by Raden Trunajaya, Rama’s son-in-law. Trunajaya, a prince from Madura, led a revolt fortified by mercenaries 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 Crown Prince and 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 Kediri, East Java, leaving Puger in control of a weak court. Seizing this opportunity, Puger assumed the throne in the ruins of Plered with the title Susuhanan ing Alaga.

Beginning of foreign involvement

Amangkurat I died in Tegal just after his expulsion, making Amangkurat II king in 1677. He was nearly helpless, having fled without an army nor a treasury to build one. In an attempt to regain his kingdom, he made substantial concessions of land to the Dutch East India Company (VOC), 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. The multinational Dutch forces, consisting of light-armed troops from Makasar and Ambon, in addition to heavily-equipped European soldiers, first defeated Trunajaya in Kediri in November, 1678. Trunajaya himself was captured in 1679, near Ngantang west of Malang. In 1681, the alliance of VOC and Amangkurat II forced Susuhunan ing Alaga (Puger) to relinquish the throne in favor of his elder brother Amangkurat II. Since the fallen capital Plered was considered inauspicious, Amangkurat II moved the capital to Kartasura in the land of Pajang (the northern part of the stretch of land between Mount Merapi and Mount Lawu).

By providing help in regaining his throne, the Dutch brought Amangkurat II under their immediate control. Amangkurat II was apparently unhappy with the situation, especially the increasing Dutch control of the coast, but he was helpless in the face of a crippling financial debt and the threat of Dutch military power. The king engaged in a series of intrigues to try to weaken the Dutch position without directly confronting them, such as seeking alliances with other kingdoms like Cirebon and Johor; and sheltering fugitives such as Untung Surapati, who were wanted by the Dutch for attacking colonial offices or disrupting shipping, In 1685, Batavia sent Captain Tack, the officer who had captured Trunojoyo, to capture Surapati and negotiate further details of the agreement between VOC and Amangkurat II. The king arranged a ruse in which he pretended to help Tack, who was then killed when pursuing Surapati in Kartasura, then capital of Mataram. The Dutch in Batavia decided not to retaliate, since the situation in Batavia itself was far from stable, unbalanced by the insurrection of Captain Jonker, native commander of the Ambonese settlement in Batavia, in 1689. By the end of his reign, Amangkurat II was deeply distrusted by the Dutch, but they were uninterested in provoking another costly war on Java.

Wars of succession

Amangkurat II died in 1703, and was briefly succeeded by his son, Amangkurat III. However, the Dutch sought to strengthen their control by supporting his uncle Pangeran Puger, formerly Susuhunan ing Alaga, who had previously been defeated by VOC and Amangkurat II. Pangeran Puger went to the Dutch and accused Amangkurat III of planning an uprising in East Java. Unlike Pangeran Puger, Amangkurat III had inherited a blood connection with the Surabayan ruler, Jangrana II, through his father Amangkurat II. This lent credibility to the allegation that he was cooperating with the now powerful Untung Surapati in Pasuruan. Though he harbored personal hatred towards Pangeran Puger, Panembahan Cakraningrat II of Madura, VOC’s most trusted ally, persuaded the Dutch to support him. Though Jangrana II was his grandson, Cakraningrat II wished to prevent an alliance between Amangkurat III, his Surabaya relatives and Surapati in Bangil.

Pangeran Puger took the title of Pakubuwana I upon his accession in June 1704. The conflict between Amangkurat III and Pakubuwana I, who was supported by the Dutch, known as the First Javanese War of Succession, dragged on for five years before the Dutch managed to install Pakubuwana. In August 1705, Pakubuwono I’s retainers and VOC forces captured Kartasura without resistance from Amangkurat III, whose forces turned back in fear when the enemy reached Ungaran. Surapati’s forces in Bangil, near Pasuruan, were crushed by the alliance of VOC, Kartasura and Madura in 1706. Jangrana II, who tended to side with Amangkurat III and did not venture any assistance in the capture of Bangil, was called to present himself before Pakubuwana I, where he was murdered at the request of the VOC in the same year. Amangkurat III fled to Malang with Surapati’s descendants and his remnant forces, but found himself without glory in an isolated no-man’s-land. Though allied operations to the eastern interior of Java in 1706-08, were not particularly successful, the fallen king surrendered, in 1708, after being promised a household (lungguh) and land. He was banished to Ceylon along with his wives and children, putting an end to the Surabayan faction in Mataram.

With the installation of Pakubuwana, the Dutch substantially increased their control over the interior of Central Java. Pakubuwana I was more than willing to agree to anything the VOC asked of him. In 1705, he agreed to cede the regions of Cirebon and eastern part of Madura (under Cakraningrat II), over which Mataram had no real control, to the VOC. The VOC was given Semarang as a new headquarters, the right to build fortresses anywhere in Java, a garrison in the kraton in Kartasura, monopoly over opium and textiles, and the right to buy as much rice as they wanted. Mataram would pay an annual tribute of 1300 metric tons of rice. Any debt incurred before 1705 was canceled. In 1709, Pakubuwana I made another agreement with the VOC in which Mataram would pay annual tribute of wood, indigo, and coffee (planted since 1696 at the instigation of the VOC) in addition to rice. These tributes made Pakubuwana I the first genuine puppet of the Dutch. On paper, these terms seemed very advantageous to the Dutch, since the VOC itself was in financial difficulties during the period of 1683-1710. But the ability of the king to fulfill the terms of agreement depended largely on the stability of Java, which VOC had guaranteed. Later, the VOC ’s military might proved incapable of such a huge task.

The last years of Pakubuwana's reign, from 1717 to 1719, were overshadowed by rebellion in East Java against the kingdom and its foreign patrons. The murder of Jangrana II in 1706 had incited his three brothers, regents of Surabaya, Jangrana III, Jayapuspita and Surengrana, to raise a rebellion with the help of Balinese mercenaries in 1717. Pakubuwana I’s tributes to the VOC secured him political and military power over his subjects in Central Java, but for the first time since 1646, Mataram was ruled by a king who had no eastern connection. Surabaya no longer had any reason to submit to Mataram, and the brother regents openly contested Mataram’s power in Eastern Java. Cakraningkrat III, who ruled Madura after ousting the VOC’s loyal ally Cakraningrat II, sided with his cousins in Surabaya. The VOC managed to capture Surabaya after a bloody war in 1718, and Madura was pacified when Cakraningrat III was killed in a fight on board a VOC ship in Surabaya the same year. In 1718, Balinese mercenaries plundered eastern Madura and were repulsed by VOC. However, the interior regencies in East Java (Ponorogo, Madiun, Magetan, and Jogorogo) joined the rebellion en masse. Pakubuwana I sent his son, Pangeran Dipanagara (not to be confused with another prince with the same title who fought the Dutch in 1825-1830) to suppress the rebellion in the eastern interior, but instead Dipanagara joined the rebels and assumed the messianic title of Panembahan Herucakra.

In 1719, Pakubuwana I died and his son Amangkurat IV took the throne, but his brothers, Pangeran Blitar and Purbaya, contested the succession and attacked the kraton in June 1719. When they were repulsed by the cannons in VOC’s fort, they retreated south to the land of Mataram. Another royal brother, Pangeran Arya Mataram, hurried to Japara and proclaimed himself king, beginning the Second War of Succession. Before the year ended, Arya Mataram surrendered and was strangled in Japara by king’s order, and in November, Blitar and Purbaya were dislodged from their stronghold in Mataram. The two Surabayan princes fled to the still rebellious interior of East Java, where Jangrana III and Jayapuspita died in 1718-20, and Pangeran Blitar died in 1721. In May and June of 1723, the remnants of the rebels and their leaders surrendered, including Surengrana of Surabaya, Pangeran Purbaya and Dipanagara. All were banished to Ceylon except Purbaya, who was taken to Batavia to serve as a “backup” replacement for Amangkurat IV in case of any disruption in the relationship between the king and VOC. It is obvious from these two Wars of Succession that even though VOC forces were virtually invincible in the field, mere military prowess was not sufficient to pacify Java.

Court intrigues in 1723-1741

After 1723, the situation seemed to stabilize, much to the delight of the Dutch. Javanese nobility had learned that an alliance with the VOC’s military power made any Javanese faction nearly invincible. It appeared that the VOC’s plan to reap the profit from a stable Java under a kingdom which was deeply indebted to them would soon be realized. In 1726, Amangkurat IV died of an illness that resembled poisoning. His son assumed the throne as Pakubuwana II, this time without any serious resistance from anybody. The history for the period of 1723 until 1741 was dominated by a series of intrigues which further demonstrated the fragile nature of Javanese politics, held together by the efforts of the Dutch. In this relatively peaceful situation, the king could not gather the support of his "subjects" and instead was swayed by short-term considerations, siding with one faction for a moment and then with another. The king never seemed to lack challenges to his "legitimacy." The descendants of Amangkurat III, who were allowed to return from Ceylon, and the royal brothers, especially Pangeran Ngabehi Loring Pasar and the banished Pangeran Arya Mangkunegara, tried to gain the support of the Dutch by spreading rumors of rebellion against the king and the patih (vizier), Danureja. At the same time, the patih tried to strengthen his position by installing his relatives and clients in the regencies, sometimes without the king’s consent, at the expense of other nobles’ interests, including the powerful Queen-Dowagers, Ratu Amangkurat (Amangkurat IV’s wife) and Ratu Pakubuwana (Pakubuwana I’s wife), much to the confusion of the Dutch. The king tried to suppress the dominance of Danureja by asking the help of the Dutch to banish him, but Danureja’s successor, Natakusuma, was influenced heavily by the Queen’s brother, Arya Purbaya, son of the rebel Pangeran Purbaya, who was also Natakusuma’s brother-in-law. Arya Purbaya’s erratic behavior in court, his alleged homosexuality, which was abhorred by the pious king, and rumors of his planning a rebellion against the “heathen” (the Dutch) provoked unrest in Kartasura and hatred from the nobles. After his sister, the Queen, died of a miscarriage in 1738, the king asked the Dutch to banish him, and the Dutch gladly complied. Despite these factional struggles, the situation did not show any signs of developing into full-scale war. Eastern Java was quiet, though Cakraningrat IV gave various excuses for refusing to pay homage to the court. Madura was held under firm control by the VOC and Surabaya did not stir.

But dark clouds were forming. This time, the explosion came from the west: Batavia itself.

Chinese War 1741-1743

In the meantime, the Dutch were contending with other problems. The excessive use of land for sugar cane plantation in the interior of West Java reduced the flow of water in Ciliwung River (which flows through the city of Batavia) and made the city canals an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, resulting in a series of malaria outbreaks from 1733 to 1795. The fall of sugar price in European market, brought about the bankruptcy of the sugar factories in the areas around Batavia (the Ommelanden), which were mostly operated and manned by Chinese labor. The resulting unrest prompted VOC authorities to reduce the number of unlicensed Chinese settlers, who had been smuggled into Batavia by Chinese sugar factory owners. These laborers were loaded into ships to be transported out of Batavia, but rumors that these people were being thrown into the sea as soon as the ship was beyond the horizon caused panic among the Chinese. On October 7, 1740, several Chinese mobs attacked Europeans outside the city and incited the Dutch to order a massacre two days later. The Chinese settlement in Batavia was looted for several days. The Chinese ran away and captured Bekasi, but were dislodged by the VOC in June of 1741.

In 1741, Chinese rebels infested Central Java, particularly around Tanjung (Welahan), Pati, Grobogan, and Kaliwungu. In May 1741, Juwana was captured by the Chinese. The Javanese at first sided with the Dutch and reinforced Demak on June 10, 1741. Two days later, a detachment of Javanese forces went together with VOC forces of European, Balinese and Buginese soldiers in Semarang to defend Tugu, west of Semarang. The Chinese rebels lured them into an ambush by their main force on a narrow road on Mount Bergota. The allied forces were dispersed and retreated as fast as they could to Semarang. The Chinese pursued them but were repulsed by the Dutch cannons in the fortress at Semarang. Semarang was seized by panic. By July 1741, the Chinese had occupied Kaligawe, south of Semarang, Rembang, and besieged Jepara.

This was a most difficult time for the VOC. Their military superiority would enable them to hold Semarang without any support from Mataram forces, but this would be meaningless because a turbulent interior would disrupt trade and therefore profit, which was their primary objective. One VOC official, Abraham Roos, suggested that the VOC assume royal function in Java by denying Pakubuwana II’s “legitimacy” and asking the regents to take an oath of loyalty to VOC’s sovereignty. This idea was turned down by the Council of Indies (Raad van Indie) in Batavia, because even if the VOC forces managed to conquer the coast, they would not be strong enough to conquer the mountainous interior of Java, where the rugged terrain was unsuitable for Western methods of warfare. The Dutch East India Company was forced to support its superior but inadequate military by picking the right allies. One such ally, Cakraningkrat IV of Madura, could be relied on to hold the eastern coast against the Chinese, but the interior of Eastern and Central Java was beyond his reach. The VOC had no choice but to side with Pakubuwana II.

VOC’s dire situation after the Battle of Tugu in July of 1741 had not escaped the king’s attention, but he had avoided any open breach with VOC, since he needed Dutch support against opposing factions within his own kraton. Instead, he used Patih Natakusuma to perform actions against the Dutch, such as ordering Tumenggung Mataun, the Arch-Regent (Adipati) of Jipang (Bojonegoro), to join the Chinese. In September 1741, the king ordered Patih Natakusuma and several regents to help the Chinese besiege Semarang, and let Natakusuma attack the VOC garrison in Kartasura, which had been starved into submission in August. Reinforcements from the VOC’s posts in the Outer Islands had been arriving since August, and they were all concentrated on repelling the Chinese around Semarang. In the beginning of November, the Dutch attacked Kaligawe, Torbaya, near Semarang, and repulsed the alliance of Javanese and Chinese forces, who were stationed in four separate fortresses and did not coordinate with each other. At the end of November, Cakraningrat IV had control of the stretch of east coast from Tuban to Sedayu and the Dutch had relieved Tegal of Chinese rebels. This caused Pakubuwana II to change sides and open negotiations with the Dutch.

In February of 1742, the alliance of Javanese and Chinese left Semarang and captured Kudus and Pati. In March, Pakubuwana II sent a messenger to negotiate with the Dutch in Semarang and offered them absolute control over all northern coasts of Java and the privilege to appoint a patih. The VOC promptly sent van Hohendorff with a small force to observe the situation in Kartasura. Things began to get worse for Pakubuwana II when, in April, the rebels set up Raden Mas Garendi, a descendant of Amangkurat III, as king with the title of Sunan Kuning.

In May, the Dutch agreed to support Pakubuwana II after considering that, after all, the regencies in eastern interior were still loyal to him, though the Javano-Chinese rebel alliance had occupied the only road from Semarang to Kartasura and captured Salatiga. The princes in Mataram tried to attack the Javano-Chinese alliance but they were repulsed. On June 30, 1742, the rebels captured Kartasura and van Hohendorff had to flee through a in the wall of the kraton wall, with the helpless Pakubuwana II on his back. The Dutch, however, ignored Kartasura’s fate in rebel hands and concentrated its forces under Captain Gerrit Mom and Nathaniel Steinmets to repulse the rebels around Demak, Welahan, Jepara, Kudus and Rembang. By October 1742, the northern coast of Central Java was clear of the rebels, who seemed to disperse into the traditional rebel hideout in Malang to the east, and in November, the Dutch forces returned to Semarang. Cakraningrat IV, who wished to free the eastern coast of Java from Mataram influence, could not deter the Dutch from supporting Pakubuwana II, but he managed to capture and plunder Kartasura in November 1742. In December 1742, the VOC negotiated with Cakraningrat and persuaded him to relieve Kartasura of Madurese and Balinese troops under his pay. The treasures of Kartasura, however, remained in Cakraningrat’s hand.

The reinstatement of Pakubuwana II in Kartasura on December 4, 1742, marked the end of the Chinese war and showed who was in control of the situation. Sunan Kuning surrendered in October 1743, followed by other rebel leaders. Cakraningrat IV was not pleased with this outcome and began to make an alliance with Surabaya, the descendants of Untung Surapati, and hire more Balinese mercenaries. He stopped paying tribute to VOC in 1744, and after a failed attempt to negotiate, the Dutch attacked Madura, in 1745, and ousted Cakraningrat, who was banished to the Cape in 1746.

Division of Mataram

The divided Mataram in 1830, after the Java War.

The fall of Kartasura made the palace there inauspicious for the king, and Pakubuwana II built a new kraton in Surakarta, or Solo, and moved there in 1746. However, Pakubuwana II was far from secure on his throne. Raden Mas Said, or Pangeran Sambernyawa (meaning “Soul Reaper”), son of the banished Arya Mangkunegara, who later established the princely house of Mangkunagara in Solo, and several other princes of the royal blood still maintained a rebellion. Pakubuwana II declared that anyone who could suppress the rebellion in Sukawati, the area around present day Sragen, would be rewarded with 3000 households. Pangeran Mangkubumi, Pakuwana II’s brother, who later established the royal house of Yogyakarta took the challenge and defeated Mas Said in 1746. But when he claimed his prize, his old enemy, patih Pringgalaya, advised the king against it.

In the middle of this problem, the VOC’s Governor General, van Imhoff, paid a visit to the kraton, (he was the first Governor General to do so during the whole history of the relationship between Mataram and VOC), in order to confirm the de facto Dutch possession of the coastal region and several interior regions. Pakubuwana II hesitantly accepted the cession in lieu of payment of 20,000 real per year. Mangkubumi was dissatisfied with his brother’s capitulation to van Imhoff, which was done without consulting the other members of royal family and nobility. Van Imhoff had neither the experience nor tact to understand the delicate situation in Mataram and publicly rebuked Mangkubumi as “too ambitious” before the whole court when Mangkubumi claimed his prize of 3000 households. This shameful treatment from a foreigner, who had wrested the most prosperous lands of Mataram from his weak brother, provoked him to incite his followers to rebellion in May 1746, this time with the help of Mas Said.

In the midst of Mangkubumi’s rebellion in 1749, Pakubuwana II fell ill and called van Hohendorff, his trusted friend who had saved his life during the fall of Kartasura in 1742. He asked Hohendorff to assume control over the kingdom. Hohendorff was naturally surprised and refused, thinking that he would be made king of Mataram, but when the king insisted on it, he asked his sick friend to confirm it in writing. On December 11, 1749, Pakubuwana II signed an agreement in which the “sovereignty” of Mataram was given to the VOC.

On December 15, 1749, Hohendorff announced the accession of Pakubuwana II’s son as the new king of Mataram, with the title Pakubuwana III. However, three days earlier, Mangkubumi in his stronghold in Yogyakarta had also announced his accession with the title Mangkubumi, with Mas Said as his patih. This rebellion strengthened day by day, and in 1753, the Crown Prince of Surakarta joined the rebels. The VOC decided that it did have not the military capability to suppress this rebellion, though in 1752, Mas Said had broken away from Hamengkubuwana. By 1754, all parties were tired of war and ready to negotiate.

The kingdom of Mataram was divided in 1755, under an agreement signed in Giyanti between the Dutch under the Governor General Nicolaas Hartingh, and rebellious prince Mangkubumi. The treaty divided nominal control over central Java between the Yogyakarta Sultanate, under Mangkubumi, and Surakarta, under Pakubuwana. Mas Said, however, proved to be stronger than the combined forces of Solo, Yogya and VOC. In 1756, he almost captured Yogyakarta, but realized that he could not defeat the three powers alone. In February, 1757, he surrendered to Pakubuwana III and was given 4000 households, all taken from Pakubuwana III’s own lungguh, a parcel of land near Solo, the present day Mangkunegaran Palace, and the title of “Pangeran Arya Adipati Mangkunegara.” The political struggle was again confined to palace or inter-palace intrigues and peace was maintained until 1812.

After 1755, the kingdom was no longer referred to as “Mataram,” but was usually called the “Royal Lands” (Vorstenlanden, Praja Kejawen) to distinguish it from the region directly administered by the Dutch.[4]

See also


  1. Keat Gin Ooi, Southeast Asia a Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor (Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2004), p. 863.
  2. Ibid. p. 864
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid. p. 866.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Anderson, Benedict R. O'G. 1990. Language and Power Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801423543.
  • Carey, Peter. 1997. Civilization on loan: The making of an upstart polity: Mataram and its successors, 1600-1830. Modern Asian Studies 31(3) :711-734.
  • Miksic, John (ed.). 2006. Karaton Surakarta. A look into the Court of Surakarta Hadiningrat, Central Java. Marshall Cavendish Editions. ISBN 981-261-226-2.
  • Ricklefs, M.C. 2002. Yogyakarta di Bawah Sultan Mangkubumi 1749-1792: Sejarah Pembagian Jawa. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Matabangsa. ISBN 9789799471093
  • Ricklefs, M.C. 2001. A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1200. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4480-7.
  • Ricklefs, M.C., and Dharmono Hardjowidjono. 1991. Sejarah Indonesia Modern. Yogyakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press. ISBN 9789794201879.


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