History of the Malay Sultanate

Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu

A Royal Diplomat

A royal diplomat, who was the half-brother of the Sultan, and had a talent for making alliances and managing relations between regional powers.

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A Royal Diplomat

After the Portuguese attacked Melaka in 1511, our Laksamana
An admiral of the sea, the Laksamana was a high-ranking official who oversaw the sea security of the Melaka Sultanate and commanded its entire fleet. His other roles included being in charge of protocol, making policy decisions and dealing with foreign embassies. He also had a say over foreign traders and trade.
arrived in Singapore with the ships that survived. From here, our navy launched several attempts from Singapore to retake Melaka after we regrouped in Bintan, but they were unsuccessful. Unhappy with his son, Sultan Mahmud Shah killed him and retook the…
Sultan Alauddin Rinyat Shah III
Raja Mansur
Sultan Alauddin Rinyat Shah III
Raja Mansur

Brother of Raja Bongsu

Would later be known as Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah III when he started his reign in 1597, after his father Sultan Ali Jalla bin Abdul Jalil Shah II died.

Brother of Raja Bongsu
Circa 1591
My brother, all was not lost. Recall that Sultan Mahmud’s other son Alauddin Riayat Shah II re-established our Sultanate along the Johor River. Singapore’s resilience was proven when a settlement rapidly grew there after the Portuguese sacking and we rebuilt our navy there to defend the Sultanate from enemy ships. We certainly did not take our defeats lying down and continued to trouble the Portuguese in Melaka with our many attacks! Singapore is now our Shabandaria
Shabandaria (also: Xabandaria, Sabandaria) is the Portuguese transcription of the Persian “Shabandar”, meaning the “Lord of the Haven”. Flemish trader Jacques de Coutre used this name to refer to the main settlement on Singapore due to the presence of a Johor Shabandar or harbourmaster on the island. The Shabandar acted as the middleman for Johor rulers and foreign merchants. In fact, Singapore was the gateway of the riverine economy of the Johor Sultanate, which began in 1528, to regional trade.
— our port that opens our riverine economy to foreign traders.
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Johor Sultanate Fights against the Portuguese

Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu

A Royal Diplomat

A royal diplomat, who was the half-brother of the Sultan, and had a talent for making alliances and managing relations between regional powers.

Explore

A Royal Diplomat

With the blessing of my brother Alauddin Riayat Shah III, we will stop the Portuguese and protect the Sultanate at all costs! Singapore, our Shabandaria, must be protected. The Portuguese have been a thorn in our side for far too long. After attacks on Sayong Pinang in 1530, they worked…
A Dutchman
A Dutchman
Circa 1602
The Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC)
Better known as the Dutch East India Company, this multinational corporation was founded in 1602 by a collective of commercial companies from Holland and Zeeland. It grew into one of the biggest trading and shipping companies, moving goods between Europe and Asia. It also established its own warehouses and factories. The VOC obtained many coveted products such as salt, pepper and cinnamon from India, and gold, silver and porcelain from Japan. It later faced strong competition from other European companies and was hit by financial troubles. By the 1790s, the VOC needed government funds. It became defunct in 1800.
is in the East Indies!
Throughout history, there have been many areas that have been labelled as the East Indies. It has been commonly used to refer to Indonesia and all its islands, including Bali, Borneo, Java, Sumatra and Timor. In a broader sense, the Malay Archipelago, which includes the regions of Southeast Asia and the Philippines, has also been called the East Indies. In the most general context, all of Southeast Asia and India have also been grouped together as the East Indies.
Mark my words, we will take control of the trade in this region. Work with us to defeat the Portuguese!

The Santa Catarina Incident

Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu

A Royal Diplomat

A royal diplomat, who was the half-brother of the Sultan, and had a talent for making alliances and managing relations between regional powers.

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shared Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck's
Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck
Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck

A Dutch Naval Commander

Born in Amsterdam, this Dutch naval commander and merchant was skilled at diplomacy. He commanded a huge fleet and established trade relations with various rulers.

post

A Royal Diplomat

It was a day of intense fighting at sea. Our Dutch friends have come out triumphant!

The Santa Catarina Incident

Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck
Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck
Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck
Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck

A Dutch Naval Commander

Born in Amsterdam, this Dutch naval commander and merchant was skilled at diplomacy. He commanded a huge fleet and established trade relations with various rulers.

A Dutch Naval Commander

People will be talking about this incident for years to come. It was a massive coup for us to take the Santa Catarina!
Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck
Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck
Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck
Admiral Jacob van Heemskerck

A Dutch Naval Commander

Born in Amsterdam, this Dutch naval commander and merchant was skilled at diplomacy. He commanded a huge fleet and established trade relations with various rulers.

A Dutch Naval Commander
25 Feb 1603
We were lying in ambush at Tioman, when we received news in a letter from Raja Bongsu that it was better to wait at the east of Singapore if we wanted to attack a Portuguese carrack. After contemplating for a few days, I shifted our forces. We found the 1,400-ton Santa Catarina with its anchor dropped. The winds were favourable and our two ships stood ready. We fired our cannons at her sails. It was a short and decisive fight. The cargo haul from the ship fetched 3.2 million guilders
This is worth a significant sum today. According to historian Peter Borschberg, 1 guilder weighed about 10.6g of coin-grade silver. That would make the haul about 33,920kg of coin-grade silver. At S$652 per kilo, that would amount to S$22.116 million.
in Holland — half the paid-up capital of the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie! My men did well in taking the ship!

Johor Sultanate’s Treaties for Peace

Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu

A Royal Diplomat

A royal diplomat, who was the half-brother of the Sultan, and had a talent for making alliances and managing relations between regional powers.

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A Royal Diplomat

Cornelis Matelieff, please accept my thanks for hosting my brother, my 300 men and me on board the Oranje. I also appreciate how you warmly welcomed the Shabandar of Singapore
Shabandar means Lord of the Harbour in Persian, and is sometimes translated as Harbour Master. However, this modern translation does not do the title justice. Shabandars were often foreigners deemed trustworthy by local rulers. They were tasked with supervising the collection of custom duties, warehousing imports and managing the ruler’s investments. The Shabandars mediated disputes between foreigners and locals. Because of the presence of the Shabandar in Singapore, it became known as Shabandaria.
, Seri Raja Negara, whom you met days earlier, and allowed him to view your fleet. Regarding this treaty
The Dutch proposed that if Johor helped take Melaka from the Portuguese, they would share the reward. The Dutch would obtain the city for trading, storing goods and Dutch settlements, while the Sultanate would get lands controlled by the Portuguese and artillery found at A Famosa, the Portuguese fortress in Melaka. Both would have to stop dealing with the Portuguese and the Spanish, their mutual enemies. If any party went to war with other countries, the other would not be obliged to help, unless it was to defend itself. Raja Bongsu was unsure but Admiral Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge said it was the price to pay for Dutch help.
we are…
Admiral Cornelia Matelieff de Jonge
Admiral Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge
Admiral Cornelia Matelieff de Jonge
Admiral Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge

A Dutch Admiral

Commanded a Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie fleet of 11 ships that sailed from Europe to the East Indies in 1605, and also led notable battles against the Portuguese in Southeast Asia.

A Dutch Admiral
17 May 1606
What then, would our reward be for helping the Johor Sultanate? A house where I could bring all my wares free of toll? This would be given to enemies as well, just as the kings of Aceh, Banten and Ternate gave us, without any service asked. I am not asking for the Sultan’s property. The present city, after all, was built by the Portuguese and not your ancestors. I know that you wish to attack Aceh, but we cannot remove its king because our people are at peace with Aceh. However, IF you are attacked, we will protect you with all our might.

Singapore Attacked, Johor Sultanate in Crisis

Iskandar Muda
Iskandar Muda
Iskandar Muda
Iskandar Muda

Sultan of the Aceh Empire

The ruler of the Aceh empire (1607 to 1636) who styled himself as the Mahkota Alam or ‘Crown of the World’. He formed strong ties with the Europeans and the Ottoman Empire.

Sultan of the Aceh Empire

The Johor Sultanate’s peace treaties with all the Europeans are a thinly veiled attempt to trap us! To protect our security, we have retaliated with the might of Aceh. We have ransacked Singapore on our way to attack Johor Lama and Johor’s capital Batu Sawar. Your Shabandaria in Singapore and…
An Orang Kaya
An Orang Kaya
An Orang Kaya
An Orang Kaya

A Rich, Powerful Local

“Orang Kaya” is a Malay term which means “a rich person”. These were often royals, nobles and officials who engaged in trade and commerce, and were trusted by the rulers.

A Rich, Powerful Local
1613
You Acehnese got nothing from Singapore! We burnt it all before you got your filthy hands on our goods.

Raja Bongsu’s Marriage

Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu
Raja Bongsu

A Royal Diplomat

A royal diplomat, who was the half-brother of the Sultan, and had a talent for making alliances and managing relations between regional powers.

Explore

A Royal Diplomat

I'm marrying an Acehnese princess, who is Iskandar Muda’s sister, to make peace. I will return to the Johor Sultanate as the new Sultan, bearing a new name: Sultan Abdullah Hammayat Shah. My first order of business is to rescind the Johor Sultanate’s peace agreement with Portugal. Then we'll attack…
An Achenese
An Acehnese
1613
Peace at last! Johor is now a vassal of Aceh, as it rightly should be so. Sultan Abdullah Hammayat Shah is a good king. He even sought the Dutch to join us in a massive offensive against the Portuguese in Melaka.

Raja Bongsu’s Death

Raja Bongsu Descendants
Raja Bongsu's Descendants

Following the death of Sultan Abdullah Hammayat Shah — who was affectionately remembered by many as Raja Bongsu — in 1623, his social media page is now managed by his descendants and will be known as “In Memoriam of Raja Bongsu”.

The Sejarah Melayu and the Social Contract

Megat Sri Rama
Megat Sri Rama
Megat Sri Rama
Megat Sri Rama

A Fleet Commander

Hailing from Bintan, he was a Laksamana, the commander of a fleet or admiral, and held the fourth highest office in the Sultanate, during Sultan Mahmud Shah II’s reign.

shared Raja Bongsu's Descendants's post

A Fleet Commander

Oh, how our rulers have changed since the time of Raja Bongsu. Listening to him, I yearn for a king with vision and kindness. Our current ruler Sultan Mahmud Shah II is an evil person! He disembowelled my pregnant wife for eating a piece of jackfruit from the royal compound, claiming it was the only way he could see my unborn child tasting the fruit! I was away defending the shores of Johor when he killed her. This is not the type of Sultan we want or need. The Orang Kaya will not accept further abuse.

The Sejarah Melayu and the Social Contract

Raja Bongsu Descendants
Raja Bongsu's Descendants

Raja Bongsu commissioned the rewriting of the Sejarah Melayu
The Malay Annals documented the history and genealogy of the Malay kings of the Melaka Sultanate. The genealogy was first compiled by an unknown author living in Melaka around 1436. Originally written in Jawi, it contains no dates and was meant to be read aloud to entertain an audience. Often, stories were retold to reflect the political situation or daily realities of that time. It was also used to drum up support for the Malay kings by painting them as just rulers to win their subjects’ loyalty. Singapore was also referred to in the text as Temasek.
. Here, he reads a story from it telling us about the relationship with the royals and their people.
An Orang Kaya
An Orang Kaya
An Orang Kaya
An Orang Kaya

A Rich, Powerful Local

“Orang Kaya” is a Malay term which means “a rich person”. These were often royals, nobles and officials who engaged in trade and commerce, and were trusted by the rulers.

A Rich, Powerful Local
1699
Laksamana Megat Sri Rama was a good husband for avenging the death of his beloved wife. He, and a few of us Orang Kaya, ambushed Mahmud Shah as he was carried on his sedan chair to the mosque. The Laksamana killed him with a fatal blow. The Bendahara Paduka Raja will take the place of Sultan and become Sultan Abdu’l Jalil Shah IV
After Mahmud Shah II was assassinated, Abdu'l Jalil, who was the Bendahara or chief of all ministers in the Sultanate, was made the replacement Sultan by the Orang Kaya. He changed his name to Abdu'l Jalil Shah IV, and went on to rule for about two decades until he was killed.
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