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Geopolitics & the Collapse of the Majapahit

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    Posted: 12-Aug-2007 at 14:28
I have been doing light research for a little project and run into a roadblock. Basically, I am finding very few, if any, satisfactory sources on the geopolitical situation of Indonesia and the Phillipines during the collapse of the Majapahit Empire. If anyone can provide me with information it would be greatly appreciated.
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Sander View Drop Down
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  Quote Sander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Aug-2007 at 19:27
Regarding Majapahit s decline. Where do you get blocked Question
The standard explanation ( in minor variations though ) :  dynastic quarells (in  the Majapahit royal family ) were responsible for its decline and fall. The coming of Islam played some role in this too ( to what extent is debated ) . For Indonesia there were no foreign islamic invasions; Islam entered by peaceful means but the conversion of rulers in the archipelago ( including some Majapahit royal family members) brought certain changes that affected the whole region and Majapapahit' s political and economic system.
Majapahit empire (founded  AD 1293 ) ruled Java and most of Malay archipelago at its peak ( c. 1350-1390 ) . The big decline is often said to have started with a dynastic war (AD 1403 ) on Java , between 2 princes, fighting for the throne ( Wikramawardhana and Virabhumi) . According to the Javanese chronicles, this civil war ( c. 1403-1406 ) greatly weakened Majapahit power . Consequences could be seen in sumatra and Malay peninsula, formerly outer territories that could now operate  more freely ( having independent trading relations with foreign states ).
 Also , the control on the subordinate local rulers at Java s north coast had weakened. At the same time , some of these local rulers had converted to islam because the trading network was in the 1300 -1500s dominated by foreign and native muslim merchants ( it takes little imagination that muslim merchants prefered muslim ruled ports ). The Pasai and malacca sultanates were getting  important commercial and religious centres.
The Javanese coastal citystates  were small but were dominated by commercial populations. Majapahit s power was getting mostly confined to inland Java , actually its heartland. The trade revenues decreased due to loss of this coast. On the other hand, the coastal islamic rulers gained  wealth and power ( Thomas pires , visiting Java early 1500s could still witness some of this process and described it ). Majapahit kept the rice-surplusses ofcourse, but the loss of trade revenues was hardly stimulating for the traditional statecraft . ( See  on this passage  Hall  1985 :253 )
Around ( 1451 ) a Majapahit king ( Kertawijaya) converted to Islam. He was eliminated by other family members and replaced. Some islamized family members had fled to the north coast where islam had become popular among local rulers. A chaotic periode started. Around the 1470s a new serie of wars started between various Majapahit princes and the seat of power switched between regions. Therefore, Majapahit (as political entity and seat of power ) was gone around the 1470 s. Yet, parts of the inland stayed Hindu buddhistic untill the 1500s. Its debateble if we shoud see this as Majapahit (probably not) or as isolated pockets of power , related to Majapahit era.
Around 1480, The Demak sultanate emerged at the north coast, founded by some people who were related to the old Majapahit dynasty but islamized ( one was a direct descendant of the Majapahit king Kertawijaya, who had converted and was murdered in 1451 ) . In 1527 Demak sulatanate invaded and conquered Kadiri , one of the last Hindu kingdoms on Java. Some see this as last phase of Majapahit wich is why some claim majapahit ended 1527. For the other view, see former passage.
Majapahit cultural legacy did not completely dissapear. During the chaotic decline, several Majapahit elites had migrated to bali ,where some of Majapahit culture is preserved, mixed with Balinese traditions.
Corrections, updates, etc are welcome.
K. R. Hall , Maritime Trade and State development in South East Asia 1985

Edited by Sander - 16-Aug-2007 at 19:59
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