- History of Brunei
Sultanateof Bruneiwas very powerful from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century CE. Its realm covered the northern part of Borneoand the southwestern Philippines. European influence gradually brought an end to this regional power. Later, there was a brief war with Spain, in which Brunei was victorious. The decline of the Bruneian Empireculminated in the nineteenth century when Brunei lost much of its territory to the White Rajahsof Sarawak, resulting in its current small landmass and separation into two parts. Brunei was a British protectoratefrom 1888 to 1984.
Before the Sultanate
Historians believe that there was a forerunner to the present day Brunei Sultanate. One possible predecessor state was called Vijayapura, which possibly existed in northwest
Borneoin the seventh century A.D. [Not to be confused with the Indian state of the same name] It was probably a subject state of the powerful Srivijayaempire based in Sumatra. Another possible predecessor state was called Po-ni. Chinese and Arabicrecords indicate that this trading kingdom existed at the mouth of the Brunei River as early as the seventh or eighth century A.D. By the tenth century Po-ni had a close mercantile relationship with first the Song and later the Ming Dynastyand at some point even entered into a tributary relationship with China. By the fourteenth century Po-ni also fell under the influence of the Javanese MajapahitEmpire. The book of Nagarakertagamacanto 14 written by Prapanca in 1365 mentioned "Berune" as a vassal state of Majapahit. However this may have been nothing more than a symbolic relationship, as one account of the annual tribute owed each year to Majapahit was a jar of arecajuice obtained from the young green nuts of the areca palm. The relationship with mainland China nevertheless continued, culminating in 1408, when the Po-ni ruler Abdul Majid Hassanvisited China and died there. Around the same time, the Chinese admiral Zheng Hevisited the region and found a large trading port with numerous Chinese traders carrying on business with the mainland. In 1424, the Hongxi Emperorended China's maritime program, and the mainland's relationship with Po-ni effectively ended.
Song historians and archaeological evidence suggest that Po-ni was heavily influenced by
Hinducivilization, as transmitted by Hindu culture in Java and Sumatra, and not directly from India. The system of writing used was a Hindu script, and discovered artifacts include elephants, bulls, and yonis. There was also a heavy Chinese influence, with Chinese coins dating from as early as the seventh century being found in present-day Brunei.
Conversion to Islam and "Golden Age"
The later history of Po-ni, or Brunei, remains somewhat obscure. By the middle of the fifteenth century the state had entered into a close relationship with the Muslim kingdom of Malacca. This era also saw the origin of the ruling dynasty, which continues to this day. According to "the Syair Awang Semaun" (also spelled Simawn), Brunei's national epic poem, the present-day sultanate originated when Dewa Emas Kayangan descended to earth from heaven in an egg. He had children with a number of aboriginal maidens, and one of these children converted to
Islamand became the first sultan. However, the state continued to be multicultural. The second sultan was either Chinese or married a Chinese woman. The third sultan was said to be part Arab, who are seen in South and Southeast Asiaas the descendents of Muhammed.
The sultanate oversaw a gradual expansion of the state's influence and borders. This was accelerated with the conquest of Malacca by the Portuguese in
1511. Brunei benefited from the scattering of Muslim merchants and traders who were forced to use other ports. These merchants probably also helped to speed the conversion of the general population to Islam.
The sultanate was a
thalassocracy, a realm based more on controlling trade than land. Situated in a strategic location between China and the trading networks of southeast Asia, the state served as an entrepotand collected tolls on water traffic. The society was hierarchical, with the sultan serving as despot. His powers were limited, however, by a council of princes of royal blood. One of the council's duties was to arrange for royal succession.
The reign of the fifth sultan,
Bolkiah(1485-1521), is often marked as Brunei's "golden age". The sultanate's control extended over the coastal regions of modern-day Sarawakand Sabah, the Sulu archipelago, and the islands off the northwest tip of Borneo. The sultanate's influence also spread north into the Philippines, where colonies were planted in Manila Bay. The sultan also visited Java and Malacca. At the end of Bolkiah's reign, in 1521, the first Europeans visited Brunei when Ferdinand Magellan's expedition arrived at the port. Antonio Pigafetta, a navigator on the trip, described an amazing city. The Europeans rode to visit the sultan on top of "elephants, caparisoned in silk-cloth". The inhabitants of the palace "had their loins covered with gold-embroidered cloth and silk, wore poniards with golden hilts, ornamented with pearls and precious stones, and had many rings on their fingers". The visitors were fed meals on porcelain plateware.
Pigafetta described a city of 25 000 families living in wooden houses built on stilts to raise them above the water. During high tides women would ride in boats selling merchandise. The sultan's palace was surrounded by brick ramparts and protected by numerous brass and iron cannons.
This prosperous era continued through the reign of the ninth sultan, Hassan, who is credited with developing an elaborate Royal Court structure, elements of which remain today.
Relations with Europeans
Brunei's relations varied with the different European powers in the region. The Portuguese, for the most part, were more interested in economic and trading relations with the regional powers and did little to interfere with Brunei's development. This does not mean that relations were always cordial, such as in
1536when the Portuguese attacked the Muslims in the Moluccasand the ambassador to the Brunei court had to leave because of the sultan's hostility. The Portuguese also noted that the sultanate was heavily involved in the region's politics and wars, and that Brunei merchants could be found in Ligorand Siam.
Relations with the Spanish were far more hostile. From
1565on, Spanish and Brunei forces engaged in a number of naval skirmishes, and in 1571the Spanish succeeded in capturing Manilafrom the Brunei aristocracy that had been established there. Brunei raised several large fleets with the intention of recapturing the city, but the campaigns, for various reasons, never launched. [Interestingly, the Chinese pirate Limahonattacked Manila in December, 1574, but the Brunei were unable to take advantage of the Spaniards' distraction.] In 1578, the Spanish took Sulu and late in the year attacked and captured Brunei itself, after demanding that the sultan cease sending missionaries to the Philippines and, in turn, allow Christianmissionaries to visit his kingdom. The invaders were forced to withdraw. The short term damage to the sultanate was minimal, as Sulu was recaptured soon after.
The long term effects of regional changes could not be avoided. After Sultan Hassan, Brunei entered a period of decline, due to internal battles over royal succession as well as the rising influences of European colonial powers in the region, that, among other things, disrupted traditional trading patterns, destroying the economic base of Brunei and many other Southeast Asian sultanates.
In 1839, the English adventurer
James Brookearrived in Borneo and helped the Sultan put down a rebellion. As a reward, he became governor and later "White Rajah" of Sarawak in northwest Borneo and gradually expanded the territory under his control. Brooke never gained control of Brunei; though he did attempt to. He asked the British to check whether or not it would be acceptable for him to claim Brunei as his own, however, they came back with bad news; although Brunei was poorly run, it had a definite sense of national identity and could therefore not be absorbed by Brooke.
Brunei was occupied by
Japanfrom 1941 to 1945 during World War II; Britain did not defend Brunei in spite of an Agreement to do so [http://www.bt.com.bn/en/life/2008/06/29/brunei_under_the_japanese_occupation] .
1959, a new constitution was written declaring Brunei a self-governing state, while its foreign affairs, security, and defence remained the responsibility of the United Kingdom, now represented by a High Commissioner. An attempt in 1962to introduce a partially elected legislative body with limited powers was abandoned after the opposition political party, Parti Rakyat Brunei, launched an armed uprising, which the government put down with the help of British forces. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the government also resisted pressures to join neighbouring Sabahand Sarawak in the newly formed Malaysia. The Sultan eventually decided that Brunei would remain a separate state.
1967, Omar Ali Saifuddin abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah, who became the 29th ruler. The former Sultan remained as Defence Minister and assumed the royal title Seri Begawan. In 1970, the national capital, Brunei Town, was renamed Bandar Seri Begawanin his honour. The Seri Begawan died in 1986.
January 4, 1979, Brunei and the United Kingdom signed a new treaty of friendship and cooperation. On January 1, 1984, Brunei Darussalam became a fully independent state.
*"The Philippine Islands: Explorations by Early Navigators, Descriptions of the Islands and their People, their History and Records of the Catholics Missions, as related in contemporaneous Books and Manuscripts. Vol. IV-1576-1582." Eds.
Emma Helen Blairand James Alexander Robertson. Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903.
*Ongkili, James P. "Ancient Chinese Trading Links." "East Malaysia and Brunei." Ed. Wendy Hutton. Tuttle Publishing, 2001.
*Saunders, Graham. "A History of Brunei." London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002.
*Wright, Leigh. "Brunei: An Historical Relic." "Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society." Vol. 17 (1977).
History of Southeast Asia
History of Asia
History of present-day nations and states
* [http://www.zum.de/whkmla/histatlas/seasia/haxbrunei.html Maps of the historic development of Brunei]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
History of the Pacific Islands — covers the history of the islands in the Pacific Ocean.HistoriesAustraliaThe written history of Australia began when Dutch explorers first sighted the country in the 17th century. The interpretation of the history of Australia is currently a… … Wikipedia
Brunei — Bruneian, adj., n. /broo nuy , nay /, n. a sultanate under British protection on the NW coast of Borneo: formerly a British protectorate; gained independence 1984. 307,616; 2220 sq. mi. (5750 sq. km). Cap.: Bandar Seri Begawan. Official name,… … Universalium
Brunei — State of Brunei, the Abode of Peace Negara Brunei Darussalam نڬارا بروني دارالسلام … Wikipedia
Brunei national rugby union team — Rugby team country =Brunei imagesize= 128px union = Brunei Rugby Union manage = Stuart Alpe coaches = Tim Lian (Backs), Shafeek Kamalie (Forwards) captain = caps = top scorer = pattern la1 = pattern b1 = pattern ra1 = leftarm1 = FF FF 00 body1 =… … Wikipedia
Brunei Currency and Monetary Board — Infobox Central bank bank name = Brunei Currency and Monetary Board bank name in local = image 1 = Brunei 2006 circulating coins.jpg image title 1 = Current Circulation Coins image title 2 = February 1, 2004 headquarters = Bandar Seri Begawan,… … Wikipedia
Brunei M-League Team — Football club infobox clubname = Brunei M League Team fullname = Football Association of Brunei nickname = Wasps founded = 1956 ground = Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei capacity = 35,000 | chairman = vacant manager =… … Wikipedia
History of present-day nations and states — This is a list of articles on the history of contemporary countries, states and dependencies. * See List of extinct countries, empires, etc. and Former countries in Europe after 1815 for articles about countries that are no longer in existence. * … Wikipedia
History of Southeast Asia — The history of Southeast Asia has been characterized as interaction between regional players and foreign powers. Though 11 countries currently make up the region, the history of each country is intertwined with all the others. For instance, the… … Wikipedia
History of Malaysia — History of Malaysia … Wikipedia
Brunei Bay — (Malay: Teluk Brunei) is the gateway to Brunei and Borneo. It is located 4°45 5°02 N, 114°58 115°10 E; east of Bandar Seri Begawan. The Brunei portion of the bay is in two sections separated by a finger of Sarawak (Limbang) about 6km wide at the… … Wikipedia