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A History of Modern Indonesia: c. 1300 to the Present by M. C. Ricklefs

By M. C. Ricklefs

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Throughout the later sixteenth century, Aceh remained a significant military force in the Straits. It was, however, often handicapped by internal dissension. Between 1571 and 1607 there were eight Sultans of Aceh, two of them, 157989, not of Acehnese descent but from the kidnapped royal house of Perak in the Malay Peninsula. One of these rulers had a reign of fifteen years (Alauddin Riayat Syah al-Mukamil, 1589-1604), but several ruled for only a few months or years. This was a period of assassinations, coups and failed military adventures.

Whether the policies established by Coen and pursued by his immediate successors (culminating in the events described in chapter 6) were any more wise than gentle is open to question. In Maluku, the VOC certainly made progress towards its goal of a spice monopoly. There the local populations could hardly challenge VOC naval supremacy. In the end, the only form of resistance available to them was smuggling in defiance of VOC regulations. To attempt to control one source of this smuggling, virtually the whole population of Banda was deported, driven away or massacred in the 1620s, and an attempt was made to replace it with Dutch colonists using slave labour.

The fourth ruler of Demak, traditionally called Sultan Prawata (r. c. ), appears not to have attempted campaigns like those of his predecessor Trenggana. It is hard to know what the hegemony of Demak had amounted to even in its 'golden age', during Trenggana's second reign (c. 152146). This was apparently a period of confusion and fragmentation, and Demak's 'empire' is unlikely to have been more than a loose federation of states. It is doubtful if there was ever any centralised administrative control, and Demak's conquests may have been more in the nature of punitive (and populationgathering) raids.

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