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Indonesia History - Sultanate of Bantam (Bantan, Banten)

In 1527, Sultan Hasanudin's Muslim army seized Banten and proclaimed him its king, after which Banten became a gateway into Indonesia for Islam, which quickly took root in West Java and has remained the most powerful religion. The Sultanate of Bantent was created in the aftermath of conquest of Banten and Sunda Kelapa from Sunda kingdom. The sultanate would grew into a major trading center in Southeast Asia. Reaching its golden age during the first half of the seventeenth century, the Sultanate of Banten lasted for 300 years (1526-1813 AD).

Around 1600, the princes of Banten, Jakarta, Cirebon, Gabang (western Java), Mataram, and Tuban (central Java) are described as hunters. The only ruler who was explicitly named as a tiger hunter was the Sultan of Banten. In 1638, envoys from Mecca conferred the title of sultan on Banten's fourth ruler. He reigned as Sultan Abdulmafakir Mahmud Abdulkadir until 1651. It is likely that Banten was the largest city in ]ava (possibly Indonesia) until as late as the 19th century; Raffles in his Histoty of Java thought the sultanate had a total population of 232,000.

The progress of Islam in the West of Java seems to have been much slower than in the East ; a long struggle ensued between the worshippers of Siva and the followers of the Prophet, and it was not probably until the middle of the next century that the Hindu kingdom of Pajajaran, which in one period of the history of Java seems to have exercised suzerainty over the princedoms in the western part of the island, came to an end, while other smaller heathen communities survived to a much later period. The history of one of these the so-called Baduwis is of especial interest; they are the descendants of the adherents of the old religion, who after the fall of Pajajaran fled into the woods and the recesses of the mountains, where they might uninterruptedly carry out the observances of their ancestral faith.

In later times when the Baduwis submitted to the rule of the Musahnan Sultan of Banten, they were allowed to continue in the exercise of their religion, on condition that no increase should be allowed in the numbers of those who professed this idolatrous faith'; and strange to say, still observed this custom although the Dutch rule had been so long established in Java, and set them free from the necessity of obedience to this ancient agreement. They strictly limit their number to forty households, and when the community increases beyond this limit, one family or more had to leave this inner circle and settle among the Muhammadan population in one of the surrounding villages.

The country of the Lampongs, formerly under the suzerainty of the Sultans of Bantam (Bantan, Banten), was in 1808 annexed by Daendels, after an expedition against Bantam itself. Since then, with the exception of a formidable rebellion in 1850, the country has been quiet. The territories of the Redjangs and the Lebongs, who were recognised vassals of Holland, shortly afterwards made a show of hostility, and murdered some European agents, with the result that they were incorporated as part of the Dutch domain in 1858. The wealthier and more desirable eastern coast was acquired with far greater difficulty.

While the first Dutch contact with Banten occurred in 1596. The sultanate itself was forced to accept the status of a protectorate in 1684, when Sultan Haji had to pay a high price as the VOC extracted monopoly rights for the foreign trade of Banten. Banten had a long history as an autonomous region during the Sultanate (1552- 1809).

In the beginning Banten flourished as a trading centre. In the seventeenth century it was superseded by its neighbour and rival, Dutch Jakarta-Batavia, and in the eighteenth century it fell into decay.By the 19th century, Banten became a backwater fishing village. During the Dutch colonial occupation, with the abolition of the Sultanate of Banten, the area lost its autonomy (in 1817). The final blow came in the early nineteenth century when 1832 that the Dutch finally abolished the last vestiges of the sultanate. For a century and a half thereafter, people in Banten were periodically stirred by hopes for a restoration of the great realm of their long- vanished sultans.




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