A Timeline Of The Indonesian History

This article is an attempt to summarize the whole history of Indonesia before it became independent in a single and readable chart. It was largely inspired from the horizontal history article from Tim Urban.

Disclaimer : this way of presenting events implies huge oversimplification of local realities and often misleading depictions of the history. Among the many caveats to this approach one can mention :

  • The fact that the history of Indonesia before roughly the 15th century has been largely reconstructed based on the relatively few available evidence.
  • Kingdoms, Sultanates or even free cities did only very seldomly represent a centralized power able to dominate and administrate large territories. The history of Indonesia is closer to an intricate web of crossed influences and exchanges between several group of people, some heading towards the open sea and trade and others mostly focused on their life in the interior.
  • Modern Indonesia (and even late colonial Indonesia) presents huge differences with what has most likely been Indonesia for centuries : a fragmented and sparsely populated land. Communication and transport were very difficult and often impossible even within a given island.

Despite those obvious shortcomings, I think that the following global chronology is helpful on many aspects :

  • It offers a good way to visualize the actual scale of the periods of the Indonesian history : the colonial era once put in perspective seems very short especially for the last additions to the Dutch empire such as Aceh, Bali or Papua.
  • It also meant to highlight the various zones of influence of key regions (like the Javanese, the Bugi/Makassarese, the Malukan Sultantes, Bali, Sumbawa …).
  • It helps to understand that the current administrative division of Indonesia is mostly based on a rich and often badly known historical past.

In a nutshell, please don’t take this timeline as perfect truth but use it instead as a tool to learn more about the fascinating Indonesian history.

Timelines of Indonesian history

The final output is pretty large, so I guess it’s best to view it in full screen. HD version available.

Key dates of Sumatra


  • 3rd century BC : Indian Ramayana epic mentions a Svarnadvipa or “Gold Island” which is thought to be Sumatra.
  • 4th century : Southern China starts to trade with Western India through the Strait of Malacca.
  • 441-563 : Chinese maintains diplomatic ties with a port of the southeast coast known by them as Gantoli.
  • 672 : first evidence of Srivijaya in the memoirs of Chinese Buddhist pilgrim I-Ching.
  • Early 7th century : evidence of another port called Malayu on the Batang Hari river.
  • By 700 : seems that Srivijaya has forced all other ports in the region to submit according to a few stone inscriptions left by its rulers.
  • 700-1000 : Srivijaya seems to dominate the Strait of Malacca according to various stone inscriptions left by Sriwijaya rulers in different parts of the Malay Peninsula.
  • 9th century : Srivijaya seems to be ruled by Sailendra prince Balaputra. There is also evidence that a Balaputra was defeated in Central Java by the Sanjaya king. It seems plausible that this defeated Javanese prince fled Java and managed to emerge as the Srivijaya leader.
  • From the 10th century : foreign powers fight for the control of the straits of Malacca (Chola that oversee commerce in the western waters of the Bay of Bengal, and the Javanese in Java and eastwards).
  • 1025 : Sack of Srivijaya capital by the Chola kings of India. Decline of Srivijaya.
  • 1080 : Malayu seems to have succeeded in reversing the relationship with Srivijaya that became a vassal.
  • 12th-13th century : date of archeological remains near Muara Jambi.
  • 1278 : Singhosari Pamalayu expedition on Malayu.
  • 13th-14th century : both Majapahit and Sukothai expand military operations to the Strait of Malacca.
  • 1377 : Malay prince (meaning that he hails from the region speaking the Malay language : south-east of Sumatra) Paramesvara establishes in Tumasik (Singapore) to escape the Javanese overlordship.
  • 15th century : rise of Malacca sponsored by the Ming fleet. Melaka dominates both side of the Strait. They develop relationships with Gujarati and Tamil merchants (for western merchandise), and north Javanese ports (for spices).
  • 15th century : conversion of Malacca to Islam. Start of the classical Malay annals.
  • 1511 : conquest of Malacca by the Portuguese.
  • 1641 : Malacca is taken by the Dutch allied to Johor from the Portuguese.
  • [1819] : the British establish themselve in Singapore.
  • 1824 : first Anglo-Dutch treaty about Sumatra : British leave Bengkulu to the Dutch which in return accept their presence in Singapore.
  • 1871 : Anglo-Dutch Sumatra treaty : Sumatra is accepted as fully under Dutch influence by the British.


  • 9th century : dating of a buddhist stone head found in Aceh.
  • 1292 : Marco Polo sojourns in the port of Samudra. Attests presence of an Islamic kingdom in the region : Peurlak = present days Langsa).
  • 1323 : Arab traveler Ibn Battuta visits Samudra / Paisai which has become Muslim.
  • 14th century : Samudra / Pasai is the dominant trade center in the Strait of Melaka, despite being challenge by Pidië.
  • 1509 : Portuguese reaches Sumatra. They report independent states at Barus, Deli, Aru (North Sumatra), Lamri [Banda Aceh], Pidië/Pedir [Sigli], Pasai (more or less the town of Lhokseumawe today).
  • [1511] : Portuguese take Malacca and then attempted to gain influence in Pasai and Pidië by intervening in their frequent succession disputes.
  • 1514-1530 : reign of the first Sultan of Aceh Ali Mughayat Syah : submits Daya, Pidië, Pasai from 1520.
  • 1536/39-1571 : Sultan Alauddin Riayat Syah al-Kahar (2nd generation after 1st Sultan, nicknamed ‘The Conqueror’) : a warrior, sacked Johor but failed to take Malacca.
  • 1571 – 1607 : period of assassinations, failed military adventures and coups.
  • 1607 – 1636 Iskandar Muda, apogy of Aceh. Aceh emerges for a time as the most powerful, wealthy and cultivated state of the area.
  • 1612 : Aceh defeats Johor.
  • 1623 : Aceh sacks again Johor.
  • 1639 : Aceh fleet of 19’000 men and several hundred ships is trapped and destroyed by a Portuguese fleet which arrived unexpectedly from Goa in India. Aceh never fully recovered from this blow.
  • 1641-1699 : 4 queens ruled and royal authority became restricted to the capital city itself. The reign of Taj al-Alam (1641-1675, the daughter of Iskandar Muda) is period of great prosperity for Aceh.
  • Outlying districts are under the authority of the uleëbalang (local elite or orang kaya).
  • 1699 : restoration of male rule. Painful time : port in decline and civil war endemic.
  • 1838-1870 Aceh ruled by Tuangku Ibrahim as Sultan Ali Alauddin Mansur Syah. Restore the power and authority of the Sultanate.
  • 1873 : Dutch attack Aceh.
  • 1874 : Aceh is annexed and the Sultanate abolished. Palace complex and the great mosque are destroyed.
  • 1910-1912 : true pacification of the region.
  • Dec 1945 – March 1946 : the leading uleebalang and their families are imprisonned or killed. The uleebalang aristocracy is replaced by Islamic leaders.
  • May 1959 : Aceh is given Special District status to close the Darul Islam rebellion.
  • 76-82 period of rebel activity.
  • 1989 : GAM (Movement for the Independence of Aceh) attacks ABRI (Indonesian military) posts and captures weapons.
  • 1990-1998 Aceh under martial law.
  • 2004 : a tsunami devastates Aceh.

North Sumatra

  • 11th : presence of the port of Barus North of Sibolga is attested. But could be much older based on obscure foreign sources [Wikipedia]. Has the reputation to source the best camphor in the world.
  • 13th century : first trace of Aru kingdom.
  • 1509 : Portuguese reaches Sumatra. They report independent states at Barus, Deli, Aru (North Sumatra), Lamri [Banda Aceh], Pidië/Pedir [Sigli], Pasai (Aceh).
  • 1539 : Aru loses its port of Kota Rendang to Aceh. Influence declines under Aceh pressure.
  • 1586 beginning of the hereditary line of the future sultan of Langkat (by then Panglima).
  • // Reign of Iskandar Muda 1607-1636 //
  • 1630 : Asahan Sultanate is founded by the son of Iskandar Muda.
  • 1632 – 1669 : Deli as an Aceh protectorate. 1632 : Sri Paduka Tuanku Gocah Pahlawan was appointed the vice of Sultan Iskandar Muda to rule the former territory of Aru.
  • 1669-1854 Deli as Siak protectorate.
  • 1720 : Sultanate of Serdang Separates from the Sultanate of Deli.
  • 1839 : Singkil and Barus occupied by the Dutch.
  • 1861 : Dutch intervention and contract that signify Deli independence from Aceh and Siak.
  • 1862 a Dutch entrepreneur Jacob Nienhuys persuaded the Sultan of Deli to grant a concession for growing tobacco.
  • 1872 : Batak War with the Dutch.
  • 1883 : first concession granted by the sultan of Langkat to the ancestor of Royal Dutch Shell.
  • 1895 : Batak resistance finally crushed.
  • 1907 : the priest-king of the Toba Batak Si Singamangaraja 12th is shot dead by the Dutch authorities.
  • 1847, 1855, 1863 : military expedition establish Dutch authority over Nias.
  • 1910 : occupation of the Mentawai islands.

West Sumatra

  • 1183 – 1347 : Mauli dynasty rules territories in Jambi and West Sumatra from its capital Dharmasraya. Padang Roco inscriptions (1286) suggest that they are the heirs of Malayu.
  • 1347 : king Adityawarman moves to Minangkabau. His mother is a Dharmasraya princess and his father a noble from Majapahit (Java).
  • 1347-1375 : Adityawarman’s reign.
  • 16th : conversion to Islam.
  • 1651 : Dutch bought gold in Pariaman for the first time.
  • 1663 : Dutch established themselves in Padang.
  • 1797 : Padang is destroyed by an earthquake.
  • 1803 : start of the Padri movement in Agam.
  • 1815 : end of the Minangkabau kingdom.
  • 1821 : Dutch attack the Padri.
  • 1837 : Imam Bonjol is captured. End of the Padri movement.


  • 11th-12th century : date of archeological remains near Muara Takus
  • 1528 : foundation of Johor in Bintan island (near Tanjung Pinang). Keeps attacking the Portuguese in Malacca.
  • 1666-1679 : Jambi-Johor war.
  • 1673 : foundation of the port of Riau by Johor.
  • 1722-1787 Riau is the capital of Johor Sultanate.
  • 1725 : foundation of Siak Sri Indapura by Sultan Abdul Jalil Rahmad Shah.
  • 1788 : the capital of Johor is moved to Lingga island (hence the name Johor-Riau-Lingga Empire).
  • 1824-1911 : partition of the Johor-Riau sultanate under the Anglo-Dutch treaty.
  • 1858 : Siak becomes Dutch territory.
  • 1911 : the Dutch annexes the Sultanate of Riau
  • 1945 : Sultan Syarif Qasim II sent a cable to President of the Republic of Indonesia declaring allegiance to the newly created Government of the Republic of Indonesia. Not only that, the Sultan also handed over his property for the struggle of independence of the Republic of Indonesia

Note : I’m interested in a reliable source about the Riau sultanates (Siak, Indragiri, Lingga …) in the 18th and 19th century. Please get in touch if you know of any reference work.

South Sumatra

  • By 700 : seems that Srivijaya [capital thought to be near present day Palembang] has forced all other ports in the region to submit according to a few stone inscriptions left by its rulers.
  • 700-1000 : Srivijaya seems to dominate the Strait of Malacca according to various stone inscriptions left by Sriwijaya rulers in different parts of the Malay Peninsula.
  • 9th century : Srivijaya seems to be ruled by Sailendra prince Balaputra. There is also evidence that a Balaputra was defeated in Central Java by the Sanjaya king. It seems plausible that this defeated Javanese prince fled Java and managed to emerge as the Srivijaya leader.
  • From the 10th century : foreign powers fight for the control of the straits of Malacca (Chola that oversee commerce in the western waters of the Bay of Bengal, and the Javanese in Java and eastwards).
  • 1025 : Sack of Srivijaya capital by the Chola kings of India. Decline of Srivijaya.
  • 1080 : Malayu seems to have succeeded in reversing the relationship with Srivijaya that became a vassal.
  • 12th-13th century : date of archeological remains near Muara Jambi.
  • 1278 : Singhosari Pamalayu expedition on Malayu.
  • From the 11th to late 14th Palembang remained an important port. 14th several attempts of Palembang nobles to break free from Java (cf Parameswara prince below).
  • 1377 : punitive expedition of Majapahit against Palembang. A Palembang prince [of malay ethnicitiy] named Parameswara fled, first founded Singapore, then Malacca c.1400.
  • 1400 : first record of an attack by pirate Chen Zuyi in the Chinese Ming archives. Palembang is under control of Chinese pirates.
  • 1407 : the chinese admiral Zheng He destroys the pirate fleet of Chen Zuyi in his base of Palembang. He sends the pirate leader to Beijing to be hanged and nominates a new port master.
  • Late 15th : Palembang conquered by Demak (Java).
  • Early 16th : Palembang is described by Portuguese Tomé Pires as a major port dominated by Javanese culture.
  • 1596 : the king Muhammad of Banten is killed trying to capture Palembang.
  • Mid 17th : Johor controls Palembang and Jambi.
  • 1659 : VOC destroy Palembang.
  • 1662 – 1706 : rule of Sultan Abdul Rahman of Palembang : ideal ruler in the tradition. Prosperous period for Palembang.
  • 1706 – 1724 succession disputes.
  • 1724 – 1757 Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin. Palembang’s pepper declined but tin has been found on Bangka. Period of great prosperity.
  • 1817 : Belitung occupied by the Dutch.
  • 1823 : last Palembang ruler deposed and sent to Batavia. The Dutch preserved the shell of indigenous government.
  • 1864 : Palembang placed under direct control from the Netherland Indies.
  • 1849 : last rebellion of the sultanate of Palembang.


  • Plentiful archeological remains from Muara Jambi on the Batang Hari testify to Malayu’s political and economic domination of Sumatra during the 12th and 13th centuries. By contrast there are few remains at Palembang from this period.
  • Late 15th : Jambi is conquered by Demak (Java).
  • 1550-1615 : Sultan of Jambi enrich itself through pepper. Jambi is viewed by the VOC as the second richest port of Sumatra. By the end of the 16th Jambi had regained its independence.
  • 17th century : period of prosperity and expansion of influence towards the interior (for instance the Kerinci valley).
  • 1666-1679 : Jambi-Johor war
  • 1673 : sack of Johor by Jambi
  • 1679 Johor allies with the Bugis to defeat Jambi.
  • 1687-1709 : the kingdom is divided between a Dutch supported ruler downstream and a rival king based near modern Muara Tebo.
  • Mid 17th up to 18th : rising Minangkabau influence : the prince of Paggaruyung approves the Sultan. Upper Batanghari has become a Minangkabau region. Sultan of Jambi only has influence on the lower Batang Hari river.
  • 1768 : VOC post is attacked and abandonned until the 19th. For several decades Jambi is a pirates’ den.
  • 1833 : the Jambi ruler signed a contract with the Netherland Indies government in Batavia.
  • 1899 : last sultan retired and was never replaced. Jambi placed under the authority of the Resident of Palembang.
  • 1903 : Dutch invasion of the Kerinci region.
  • 1904 : death of Sultan Taha that ends the resistance to the Dutch.


  • 1685 : the English establish a garrison in Bengkulu.
  • 1714 : erection of Fort Malbourough in Bengkulu.
  • 1824 : Bengkulu is ceded to the Dutch by treaty.


  • 1512-1515 : Tomé Pires’ account : rulers south of Palembang and around the tip of Sumatra up to the west coast > most rulers were not Muslim.
  • 1905 : Dutch set up the first Javanese colonies.

Key dates of Java

Banten / West Java

  • 4th century : Tarumanagara Hindu kingdom leaves inscriptions.
  • 7th century : probable Sriviajaya expedition (based on the Kota Kapur inscription).
  • 7th century : the kingdoms of Galuh and Sunda emerges on each bank of the Citarum river.
  • 14th-15th : the interior state of Pajajaran dominates from its capital Pakuan (more or less present day Bogor) : 2 main ports Banten and Sunda Kelapa (today : Jakarta).
  • Early 16th : Pajajaran declines, growth of Banten (benefits from the fall of Malacca).
  • 1513 : a Portuguese expedition led by Lopes de Alvim calls in Sunda Kelapa and buy pepper.
  • 1522 : the Portuguese make a treaty with Banten and Sunda Kelapa.
  • 1523-1524 : an army of Demak takes Banten, either led by Fatahillah or Sunan Gunungjati in later Javanese sources. Sunda Kelapa is renamed Jayakerta (synonymous Javanese names of Sanskrit origin meaning ‘Victorious and Prosperous’). Gunungjati rules Demak as a vassal of Banten.
  • 1552 : Gunungjati moves to Cirebon and establish a royal line that rules independently.
  • 1552-1570 : second ruler of Banten (Hasanuddin), spreads Banten authority over Lampung (pepper producing region). Solidifies Banten’s prosperity as a pepper port.
  • 1579 : 3rd ruler (Maulana Yusup) conquers Pajajaran, Islamization of the Sundanese elite. The capital of Pajajaran (Pakuan) is entirely destroyed.
  • 1596 : first visit of the Dutch in the Indies (De Houtman, loads pepper in Banten and caused troubles in every ports of call).
  • //1602 : foundation of the VOC//.
  • 1602 : Sir James Lancaster of England built a trading post in Banten. Presence until 1682
  • 1603 : Dutch also opens a permanent trading post in Banten.
  • 1609 : prince Ranamanggala seizes power from young king Abdul Kadir.
  • 1611 : Dutch have a post in Jayakerta (Jakarta) then ruled by a prince vassal of Banten.
  • 1619 : VOC takes full control of Batavia (Jayakerta) from Banten. Virtual state of war until 1624.
  • 1624 : Ranamanggala is overthrown in favour of Abdul Kadir.
  • 1638 : Abdul Kadir receives from Mecqua the right to use the title of Sultan. Banten becomes a proper sultanate.
  • 1651-1682 : golden age of Banten under Sultan Ageng. Banten in the years 1660 to 1680 is the greatest non-Dtuch port in the Archipelago, ahead of Aceh or Makassar.
  • 1677 : war with Batavia over the control of Cirebon.
  • 1680 : Sultan Ageng yields power to his son Sultan Haji (a supporter of the VOC).
  • 1682 : the crown prince must accept VOC help because he is about to loose control of Banten to his father.
  • 1682 : Banten is submitted by the VOC. All foreign merchants are expelled. VOC monopolizes the pepper trade in Banten.
  • 1692 : Sultan Ageng dies in captivity in Batavia.

Pasisir (Java’s north coast)

  • 6th – 7th century : Chinese source and very scarce inscriptions evokes an Hindu kingdom on the north coast of Jepara (Central Java).
  • Early 11th century : emergence of maritime trading centers in north Java.
  • Late 15th : foundation of Demak.
  • Early 16th century : Surabaya is a major trading port.
  • Early 16th century : several Islamic states are found along the coast : Demak but also Tuban or Gresik.
  • 1523 or 1524 : Sunan Gunungjati with an army of Demak takes Banten. Sunda Kelapa is renamed Jayakerta (synonymous Javanese names of Sanskrit origin meaning ‘Victorious and Prosperous’). Gunungjati rules Demak as a vassal of Banten.
  • 1527 : Demak destroys Majapahit capital
  • 1546 : Demak stopped at Panarukan (Hindu kingdom of East Java).
  • 1591 : Senopati triumphs over Demak.
  • Early 17th : Surabaya emerges as the leading coastal power.
  • 1625 : Surabaya is taken by Mataram.
  • 1743 : the north coast of Java is fully leased to the VOC that rules it alone

Central Java (interior)

  • First half 8th century : a Saivite king Sanjaya established himself at Mataram in south central Java (Willis – Merapi – Merbabu valley). Attested by the 732 inscription at Candi Canggal. Erection of the temples complex of Dieng and Gedong Songo.
  • Mid 8th-Mid 9th : period of 50 years where the Buddhist Sailendra dynasty seems to have relegated the Sanjaya to a subordinate position. Construction of several Buddhist temples starting with Candi Kalasan inaugurated in 778 and including Borobudur.
  • 824 : last known inscription mentioning the Sailendras. A prince called Balaputra may have succeeded to seize the kingdom of Srivijaya.
  • Mid 9th : Hindu kings return to power (842 inscription about Rakai Pikitan). The Sailendras and Sanjaya probably merged through marriage. Both Hindu and Buddhist temples receive state sponsorship. Building of Prambanan temple.
  • Early 10th century : development of Hindu-Buddhist Javanese culture. Translation of Sanskrit texts to Javanese.
  • 919 : sudden halt to inscription in Central Java for a few centuries.
  • Mid 10th-century : royal seat shifted eastwards into the Brantas river plain (modern Kediri > Mojokerto area). State of disorder ensues in Central Java.
  • Mid 11th-Late 16th : it’s probable the population of the region region remained quite low until the return of Mataram.
  • 1368-69 : first conclusive evidences of Islam among the Javanese in the form of tombstones (older Islamic tombstones are known in Java but it is believed that they were imported).
  • 16th century : Islam really starts to circulate.
  • Second half of the 16th century : Pajang (based in Central Java) takes over Demak.
  • 1588 : Senopati (Mataram) triumphs over Pajang.
  • 1591 : Senopati triumphs over Demak, Madiun and Kediri.
  • 1613 – 1645 : Sultan Agung of Mataram. 1st attempt to reconciliate Javanese royal traditions and Islamic identities.
  • 1625 : Surabaya is taken by Mataram.
  • 1628 and 1629 : failed assault on Batavia from Sultan Agung.
  • 1633 : Agung pilgrimage in Muslim Tembayat, abandon the Saka calendar > symbolic attempt to reconciliate Muslim & Hindu-Javanese culture.
  • 1624 : conquest of Madura.
  • 1640 : conquest of the eastern crescent.
  • 1646 – 1677 : rules of Agung’s son Amangkurat I. Tyranny and murders.
  • 1675 – 1676 : first phase of the rebellion between the alliance of Amangkurat II (the crown prince) and Trunajaya from Madura. In the end Trunajaya becomes the leading figure.
  • 1677 : Trunajaya seize the court of Mataram. Amangkurat I dies, Amangkurat II must ask the VOC for help if he wants his kingdom back.
  • 1678-1681 : VOC forces intervenes on the coast and the interior and install Amangkurat II on the throne.
  • 1704-1708 : First Javanese War of Succession.
  • 1719-1723 : Second War of Succession.
  • 1726-1749 : reign of Pakubuwana II of Mataram. New campaign of reconciliation between Javanese courts and Islam.
  • 1746 : Pakubuwana II moves his new court to Surakarta from Kartasura (slightly east of present day Solo).
  • 1746-1747 : Third War of Succession.
  • 1755 : rebellion of Prince Mangkubumi against Pakubuwama III. He is proclaimed Sultan Hamengkubuwana I and establish a new court in Yogyakarta. The kingdom of Mataram is cut in half.
  • 1757 : prince Mangkunagara I is given an independent territory taken from Surakarta’s domain.
  • 1799 : VOC goes bankrupt. All the territories controlled by the company, came under the direct control of the Dutch colonial government :

East Java

  • 1020-1046 : Airlangga (one of the great king of early Java) has its capital near Kediri. Close an alliance with Srivijaya, emergence of maritime trading centers in north Java. Golden age of Javanese literature.
  • 11th-12th-1310s : very few evidence. Kingdom of Airlangga is divided between his two sons (Janggala > East of Kediri / and Panjalu > Madiun + Kediri).
  • Late 12th : Panjalu becomes Kediri and absorbs Janggala. Writings of the Mahabharata.
  • 1222 : Kediri is overthrown by Singhasari (posing as the champion of Janggala).
  • 1227 : founder of Singhasari dies. Cultural basis of the future Majapahit era is achieved.
  • 1268-1292 : rule of Kertanagara (still Singhasari) that endeavour to assert Javanese supremacy over a decline Srivijaya. Get control of Java + Bali + Madura ?
  • 1292 : Kertanagara is murdered and supplanted by a vassal.
  • 1293 : Kertarajasa (Kertanagara’s son) uses a Mongol expeditionary force to depose the vassal, they drives back the Mongol in the sea and establishes its capital at Majapahit.
  • 1294 : start of the reign of the first Majaphit ruler
  • 1293 – 1309 : Kertarajasa
  • 1309 – 1328 : his son Jayanagara. By then fight to control eastern Java.
  • 1328 – 1350 : daughter of Kertanagara / wife Kertarajasa = Queen Tribhuwana Wijayottunga Dewi, his daughter is regent.
  • 1330s-1364 : leadership of prime minister Gaja Mada
  • 1343 : conquest of Bali
  • 1350 – 1389 : Hayam Wuruk / Rajasanagara
  • 1365 : writing of Nagarakretagama
  • Late 13th – early 16th : Majapahit : dominates eastern Java, Bali, Madura / exercise a punitive influence over western Java, portion of southern Borneo, Celebes and Sumbawa / For a time over the Straits of Malacca.
  • From 1389 : rapid decline > internal warfare and challenged by Malacca for control of regional entrepôt trade.
  • Between 1486-1515 : the remains of Majaphit capital is moved to Kediri. Advance state of collapse.
  • 1527 : Demak destroys Majapahit capital
  • 1546 : Demak stopped at Panarukan (Hindu kingdom of East Java).
  • Second half of the 16th century : Pajang (based in Central Java) takes over Demak.
  • Late 16th-1625 : unresolved conflict between Surabaya and Mataram for the hegemony in East and Central Java.

Java (colonial era)

  • 1811 – 1816 : British Interim period on Java.
  • 1812 : principality of Pakualam is hived off Yogyakarta’s domain.
  • 1816 : after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Java is returned to the Dutch under the terms included in the Convention of London in 1816.
  • 1825-1830 : Javanese revolt of Diponegoro.
  • 1830 – 1860 : Culture System.
  • 1908 : establishment of first non-traditional Javanese organization : Budi Utomo.
  • 1928 : Indonesian Youth vowed to adopt Bahasa Indonesia as the national language.
  • 1911 : foundation of the Sarekat Islam.
  • 1912 : foundation of Muhammadiyah in Yogyakarta.
  • 1926 : foundation of Nahdlatul Ulama at Surabaya.


  • 1528 : according to the local tradition, Islamization of Madura under the expansion of Demak.
  • Before 1624 : various local princes.
  • 1624 : Sultan Agung of Mataram conquers Madura and unifies the the Madurese princely line : the Cakraningrat that are vassal to the Javanese court. Other lesser lines still exist in Pamekasan and Sumenep.
  • 1680-1707 : reign of Cakraningrat II that extend his control over the north of east Java.
  • 1705 : Cakraningrat II of Madura allies with Amangkurat III’s uncle (now Pakubuwana I) in the First Javanese war of Sucession.
  • 1705-1708 : after the First Javanese War of Sucession, the new Javanese ruler Pakubuwono I signs a treaty with the VOC that grants them East Madura. The Cakraninkrat keep West Madura.
  • 1707-1718 : reign of Cakraningrat III that is a major actor tof the Surabaya War (1717-23) against the central Javanese power.
  • 1718-1745 : reign of Cakraningrat IV that tries to expand his authority over East Madura and East Java.
  • 1743 : Cakraningrat IV helps the VOC to quasch the rebellion of the Chinese later supported by Pakubuwono II in the pasisir.
  • 1743 : Pakubuwono II cedes the entire Madura island to the VOC. This is contested by Cakraningrat IV but he ends up captured by the VOC and exiled at the Cape of Good Hope where he dies in 1746.
  • 1746 : Madura is under full VOC control even though they put Cakraningrat V on the throne.
  • 1880s : the Cakraningrat line is fully sidelined and Madura is administered directly by the Dutch.

Eastern crescent

  • 1292 : First ruler of Blambangan is Wiraraja, that had helped Raden Wijaya to found Majapahit in 1292 and in return was granted Blambangan in the esternmost part of Java.
  • Mid 16th-1767 : Balinese kingdoms of Gelgel, Buleleng and Mengwai acted in turn as Blambangan’s protector, sometimes its overlord.
  • 1633-1640 : Sultan Agung of Mataram raids the region and eventually conquers it.
  • 1647 : seems that Mataram no more attempted to control the region.
  • 1655-1691 : independent reign of Tawan Alung (1655-1691) that is considered kind of a golden age.
  • 1767 Dutch establish control over Blambangan, because it is regarded as a haven for enemies (Surapati) and also they fear that Brits establish an entrepot there.
  • 1767 : foundation of Banyuwangi by the Dutch.

Key dates of the Sunda Islands (from Bali to Timor)


  • 1343 : conquest of Bali by Majapahit. According to the Babad Dalem, a Javanese noble : Kresna Kapakisan established the Gelgel dynasty.
  • Mid-16th century : reign of Baturenggong and his court priest Nirartha (a refugee from Bali that is said to instigated the caste system). Golden age of Gelgel kingdom. According to the local chronicles Bali’s hegemony extends as far as Pasuruan in eastern Java as well as Lombok and Sumbawa.
  • 17th century : weakening of the central power in Gelgel. The rebel prime minister Maruti seize power.
  • 1686 : the great-grandson of Baturenggong (Dewa Agung Jambe) overthrows Maruti and re-establishes the core line at Klungkung (3km north of the old capital at Gelgel).
  • By the end of the 17th century : the central state of Gelgel had fragmented into independent kingdoms (even though Klungkung remains the direct heir of the Gelgel dynasty).
  • 1841-43 : the Dutch negociate individual treaties with several Balinese kingdoms.
  • 1845 : alliance of Buleleng and Karangasem to conquer other Balinese states.
  • 1846 : in response the Dutch attack Buleleng. Balinese military coalition starts to organize.
  • 1848 : Dutch attack again but are defeated.
  • 1849 : third attack succesful in the north.
  • 1853 : domestic rebellion in Buleleng, Dutch takes direct control of North and West Bali (Buleleng and Jembrana).
  • 1882 : Bali and Lombok are united under a single residency of the Netherlands East Indies.
  • 1883 : internal conflicts everywhere in Bali.
  • 1891 : king of Mengwi is defeated and his kingdom taken over by Badung.
  • 1894 : the Dutch defeat Karangasem.
  • 1900 : the Dutch defeat Gianyar.
  • 1906 : the Dutch defeat Badung and Tabanan.
  • 1908 : final puputan of the Dewa Agung of Klungkung.


  • Before 13th century : feudal kingdoms. Local traditions mention 3 primary kingdoms : Selaparang in the east, Bayan in the north and Daha/Kuripan in the west.
  • 14th : Lombok Merah is mentioned in the Nagarakretagama.
  • 1550 : Balinese Klungkung controlled West Lombok and introduced sawah. East was impenetrable forest.
  • Early 16th : Islam introduced in Lombok from Java.
  • 16th-17th century : rise of Islamic kingdoms : Pejanggik and Selaparang (differnt from the 13th century Selaparang which was likely Hindu).
  • 1678 : Balinese kingdom of Karangasem defeat Selaparang and other Sasak kingdoms ; divide Lombok between themselves and local figure.
  • 1740-1894 : Balinese colonize Lombok, meeting occasional resistance (late 18th : first Praya War between Balinese colonizers and their local Sasak allies).
  • Late 17th-1830s : Balinese, Sumbawan and Makassarese forces contest for control over Lombok.
  • 1775-1838 : internal feuds between Balinese, Sasak regain some independence.
  • 1838 : emergence of the Balinese kingdom of Mataram (Lombok, different from Mataram in Java).
  • 1850-1890 : golden age of Mataram.
  • 1891 : Second Praya War between Sasak and Balinese. Sasak ask the help of the Dutch that imposes a 3 year maritime blockade to prevent reinforcement troops to be sent from Bali.
  • 1894 : Dutch invasion. The palace of Mataram is looted.


  • 14th : Bima, Dompu, Sape and Taliwang listed as tributaries of Majaphit in the Nagarakretagama.
  • Few pre-Islamic writings found in Sumbawa island.
  • 1513 : Tomé Pires describes the port of Bima on the road from Malacca to Maluku.
  • 1619 : Makassar expedition that defeats Bima.
  • 1621 : first Sultan of Bima (previously Hindu kings).
  • 1640-1660 : Islamization of east Sumbawa.
  • 1668 : VOC defeats Makassar but only defines contracts with the Sultanate of Bima.
  • 1701 : VOC establishes a trading port in Bima.
  • 1727 : through a marriage between Makassar and Bima royal family, Bima obtains the overlordship over Manggarai & Komodo.
  • 18th century : Bima is the dominant kingdom on Sumbawa.
  • 1815 : Tambora eruption.
  • 1905 : Bima incorporated in the Netherlands East Indies.


  • 1595 : building of a fort on Ende island (facing Ende) by Portuguese Dominicans.
  • 1596 : invasion by Goa (a kingdom in South Sulawesi).
  • 1637 : Ternate destroys the Portuguese’s fortress in Ende.
  • 1815 : Tambora eruptions, the Ngada takes opportunity to attack the Bimanese and their allies and defeat them in Flores.
  • 1843 and 1846 : Dutch expeditions against Flores.
  • 1907-1908 : colonial military force send in Flores that puts down all resistance.
  • 1905 : Manggarai and Komodo are removed from Bimanese control and placed under the jurisdiction of the resident of Timor.
  • 1907 : Ngada resistance is finally crushed.

East of Flores

  • 1562 Portuguese Dominican priests established in Solor and commenced Christianization.
  • 1613 Portuguese are expelled from their fort in Lohayong, Solor by the Dutch. The fort is renamed Fort Henricus.
  • 1618 : VOC signs its first treaty with local Solor authority. Dutch presence until 1629.
  • 1646 : Dutch treaty with Solor is renewed and the Dutch returns to Solor where they installed a garrison.
  • 1851 : Dili treaty, the Portuguese hands over Larantuka and Adonara to the Dutch


  • Since at least 1662 : claimed by the Sultan of Bima.
  • 18th century : slave trade primarily run by Endenese merchants and rising horses export.
  • Late 19th : involvement of the Dutch that pick local rajas.
  • 1886-1898 : Catholic post in western Sumba.
  • 1907 : first permanent Calvinists missionaries.

Timor + Rote + Savu

  • From the 16th century : Timor was a limited source of sandalwood but Flores, Sumba, Savu and Roti were of little commercial interest.
  • Early 16th : the Portuguese are trading in Timor.
  • 1550s : some Portuguese traders stayed in Solor over the winter (rainy season) waiting for the monsoon wind to change to go back west. Catholic missionaries began expanding their influence in the Solor islands and the north coast of Timor.
  • 1613 : VOC arrives in Timor (after the Portuguese, which had by then had abandonned their fortress in Kupang).
  • 1620s : the Portuguese introduced the position of rajas in Savu by demanding a political and commercial spokesman in each cultural domains.
  • 1648 : an Dutch expedition to Savu is launched from Solor. A trade treaty is signed with the eastern Dimu domain.
  • 1653 : VOC occupies Kupang.
  • 1681 : VOC campaign in Roti, to ensure a steady supply of slaves. Put allies in power.
  • 18th : Rotinese convert to Christianity. 1729 : first Rotinese ruler to convert.
  • 1749 : failed attacked of Portuguese speaking Floreses “Larantuqueiros” on Kupang. Ends a 2 year period during which some domains on Rote wanted to get rid of Dutch influence in favor of Portuguese.
  • 1859 : Treaty of Lisbon defines the border between Dutch West Timor and Portuguese East Timor.
  • 1860 : Savu forced opened to the world.
  • 1869 : smallpow epidemics in Savu killing 1/3 to ½ of the population.

Key dates of Sulawesi

South Sulawesi

  • 14th century : writing of La Galigo.
  • 15th century : dominated by Luwu.
  • 1509 : devasting defeat of Luwu against Bone.
  • 1st half of the 16th century : the 9th ruler of the small kingdom of Gowa reformed his kingdom and settle an alliance with the neighbour kingdom of Tallo. Gowa and Tallo will come to be known by outsiders as Makassar.
  • 1546-1565 : reign of Tunipalangga of Gowa that conquests most of what is now south Sulawesi, west Sulawesi (and the western coast up to Tolitoli), southeast Sulawesi, Buton island, Banggai and Sula islands as well as the eastern part of Sumbawa (Bima).
  • 1605 – 1611 : conversion of South Sulawesi to Islam.
  • Mid 16th-Mid 17th : the harbor of Makassar grows into a major international entrepot as Gowa’s trading ships capture a sizeable part of the spide trade that they fetch directly in Maluku.
  • 1667 : Makassar (that competes with the VOC on the spice trade) is defeated by the Dutch allied to Arung Palaka of the kingdom of Bone. Treaty of Bungaya.
  • Until 1669 (Arung Palakka’s death) : Bone is the main kingdom of South Sulawesi.
  • 1726 : a descendant of Wajo royal family (Bugi) conquer Kutai and Pasir in East Kal. 1733 fails to take Banjarmasin.
  • 1735 : Arung Singkang (the Wajo) returns to Sulawesi. Takes control of Wajo. Marches against Makassar, court of Bone is burned.
  • 1740 : punitive expedition of the VOC against Wajo. Wajo continued his war against Bone until 1765 (Singkang death).
  • 1825 : Dutch and Makassarese force of Gowa defeat Bone.
  • 1858-1860 new colonial campaign to crush rebellions.
  • 1905-1906 : resistance of Makassar and Bugis states are broken.
  • 1950 – 1965 Islamic Rebellion. From 1952 joined with Darul Islam.

Highlands & Central Sulawesi

  • Late 17th : first invasion by lowlanders, Duri and Enrekang becomes Islamized
  • Late 19th : lowland kingdoms of Sindenreng and Luwu fight in the highland for the control of the coffee trade. 20 years period. 15-20% of the population is taken as slaves.
  • 1905-1906 : Dutch takeover
  • 1953 and 1958 clashes against the Darul Islam.

Southeast Sulawesi

  • 1327-1541 : pre-Islamic kingdom of Buton.
  • 1541-1960 : Sultanate of Buton.
  • 16th : influence of Ternate.
  • 16th : influence of Makassar.

North of Sulawesi

  • 1563 : a Jesuit father is sent from Ternate to Manado and convert the king of Manado and the king of Siau at their request.
  • 16th century : first written accounts we have. Northern Sulawesi is inhabited mostly by confederacies of intermarrying villages. In some place larger chiefdoms headed by a raja, datu, kolano or mokole existed.
  • 1535-1583 : Under reign of Sultan Hairun and latter Babullah of Ternate the North Sulawesi area becomes associated with Ternate.
  • Early 17th : came under the domination of the kingdom of Goa (South Sulawesi).
  • 17th – early 18th : the Dutch East India Company expands its influence in North Sulawesi.
  • 1658 : VOC establishes a fortress in Manado.
  • 1661 : a revolt in upland Minahasa and Tondano is defeated by the VOC and its local allies.
  • 1667 : Makassar is defeated by the Dutch. Makassarese claims to Minahasa are abandonned.
  • 1677 : Dutch and local allies attacks and conquers Siau.
  • 1681 : Dutch attack on Gorontalo on behalf of Tomini and Dumoga chiefdoms.
  • //1770-1850 : heydays of the Sulu Sultanates (southern Philippines).
  • 1808-1809 : Tondano war between local chiefdoms and the Dutch. Subsequent full integration of North Sulawesi in the Dutch East Indies.
  • 19th : mass conversion to Christianism.

Note : I’m interested in a reliable source about the links between North Sulawesi + northern islands and the southern Philippines Sultanates + the extent of the Spanish influence in the 17th century. Please get in touch if you know of any reference work.

Key dates of Kalimantan

West Kalimantan

  • 1609 : establishment of the Sultanate of Sambas
  • 1771 : establishment of the Malay Sultanate of Pontianak
  • 1778 : start of the VOC presence in Pontianak
  • 1777-1884 : Lanfang Republic (Chinese kongsi federation) allied to the Sultanate of Pontianak.
  • 1820s-1830s : Dutch concluded treaties with Pontianak, Sambas and other small west coast states.
  • 1835 : Rheinische Mission start to work in South Borneo.
  • 1884 : Dutch occupation

South Kalimantan

  • 1520-1546 : Sultan Suriansyah founds the Sultanate of Banjarmasin.
  • 1526 : Raden Samudra converts to Islam and becomes Sultan Suriansyah.
  • 1787 : start of the VOC presence.
  • 1809 : Daendel withdraw the VOC post in Banjarmasin.
  • 1817 : Dutch returns to Banjamarsin.
  • 1859 : major rebellion in Banjarmasin.
  • 1860 : Dutch phase out the Sultanate of Banjarmasin and assume direct rule.
  • 1905 : last claimant to the throne dies.
  • 1906 : end of resistance to the Dutch.

East Kalimantan

  • 4th century : Seven stone pillars ‘Yupa’ found in the Kaman estuary mentions rulers of Kutai Martadipura
  • 13th century : kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara
  • 1732-1739 : first ruler with an Islamic name. Potentially influenced by Bugi refugees after the fall of Gowa.
  • 1731 : establishment of the Sultanate of Bulungan (Berau-North Borneo)
  • 1844 : Dutch defeat Sultan Aji Muhammad Salehudin and take direct control of Kutai.

Note : the north of Borneo was for a significant period under the influence of southern Philippines sultanates (like the Sulu Sultanate). If you have any reference work about that, please contact me.

Key dates of Maluku

  • Last quarter of the 15th century, ruler of Ternate embrace Islam
  • Early 16th ruler of Ternate adopts Islam too.
  • Late 1511 : Portuguese reaches Ternate.
  • According to Tomé Pires (1512-1515) Ternate, Tidore and Bacan had Muslim kings
  • 1522 Portuguese build a fortress in Ternate.
  • 1529 : Saragosse’s treaty, Spain relinquish his claim on Maluku against a payment from Portugal.
  • 1575 Portuguese are expelled from Ternate
  • 1578 Portuguese established a new fortress in Tidore.
  • 1546-47 work of the Spaniard Saint Francis Xavier in Ambon, Ternate and Morotai. Foundation of a permanent order. Start of the Christianization of Maluku.
  • 1599 : Jacob van Neck reaches Maluku for the first time for Dutch.
  • 1605 Ambon is occupied by the VOC. The Portuguese are expelled.
  • 1606 : a Spanish fleet takes Ternate and Tidore.
  • 1606 – 1660s Spanish presence in Maluku.
  • 1604 : English reached Ternate, Tidore, Ambon and Banda.
  • 1623 : British (as well as Japanese and Porguese) agents are slaughtered in Ambon.
  • 1620s : virtually all the population of Banda is deported, driven away, starved to death or massacred.
  • 1633-1646 : VOC quelled the local resistance of Hitu (northern Muslim portion of Ambon) with the help of Ternate at Haomoal in West Seram and Makassar.
  • 1652 : Ternate fully under VOC’s control.
  • 1667 : Tidore accepts VOC overlordship
  • 1652-1658 – clearing of Ternate outpost in Hoamoal. All spice trees destroyed.
  • 1781 – 1783 : rebellion of Nuku, a noble from Tidore.
  • 1781 : with the help of the British Nuku takes Ternate and defeat the Dutch.
  • Oct 83 : Ternate allies with VOC and led a sucessful expedition against Tidore. Nuku continue to dominate eastern periphery of the area.
  • 1795 : amid fleeing Napoleon, king William V of the Netherlands instruced Dutch governors of overseas territories to turn them over to the British.
  • 1796 : Brittish took Banda and Ambon on the basis of this authority.
  • 1803 : Maluku returned to the Dutch.
  • 1803 – 1805 : state of hostility between Nuku and the Dutch until Nuku’s death.
  • 1810-1817 new period of British administration.
  • 1817 : rebellion of Pattimura on Saparua.
  • Early 18th : Tidore has dependencies in south-eastern Halmahera and Raja Ampat Islands.
  • 1882 : Aru and Tanimbar brought under Dutch administration.
  • 1950 : end of Ambonese rebellion.

Key dates of Papua

  • 1828-1836 : Fort de Bus established and latter abandonned because of malaria.
  • 1898 : Dutch occupation resumes.
  • 1910 : foundation of the city of Hollandia on site existing site of Numbay (today Jayapura).
  • 1938 : Archbold expedition, first contact with the Grand Valley Dani.

Key events outside Indonesia of relevant importance

  • 7th century : by the time of the 3rd caliph of Uthman (644-656) Muslim emissaries from Arabia began to arrive at the Chinese court.
  • 9th century : presence of thousands of Muslim merchants in Canton > such contacts between China and the Islamic world would have been maintained primarily via the sea routes through Indonesian waters.
  • 1453 : Constantinople taken by the Ottoman turks. The old spice route is controlled by Muslims.
  • 1488 : Dias finds the Cape of Good Hope.
  • 1498 : Vasco de Gamma reaches India by sailing past Africa.
  • 15th-17th great pepper boom exported from Sumatra.
  • 1511 : the Portuguese take Malacca.
  • 1528 : foundation of Johor.
  • 1564 : Spain’s Legazpi expedition. Occupation of the Philippines.
  • 1577-1580 : Sir Francis Drake makes first English contact with Indonesian during his world tour.
  • 1580 : unification of the crown of Spain and Portugal.
  • 17th century : Dutch is fighting in Europe for its independence against Spain.
  • 1600 : creation of the East Indies Company in the UK.
  • 1602 : formation of the VOC.
  • 1604 : East Indies Company (UK) reaches Maluku.
  • 1641 : VOC allies with Johor and take Malacca against the promise of not competing for territories with Johor.
  • 1811-1816 : British takeover of Dutch East Indies.
  • 1824 : Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1824.
  • 1839 : James Brooke in Sarawak. > intensified intervention of the Dutch in West and East Kalimantan.
  • 1850 : the word Indonesia is coined by George Windson Earl and James Richardson Logan in the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia.
  • 1869 : opening of the Suez Canal.
  • 1881 : Brunei, Sarawak and British North Borneo (now Sabah) are declared British Protectorates.

Sources used

  • M.C. Rickliefs – A History of Modern Indonesia Since C.1200 (4th edition, 2008).
  • N. Tarling – The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia : Volume 1, From Early Times to c.1800.
  • Leonard Y. Andaya – The World of Maluku. Eastern Indonesia in the Early Modern Period (1993).
  • Andrew Beatty – Varieties of Javanese Religion (1999) [for Java Eastern Crescent].
  • Christine Dobbins – Islamic Revivalism in a Changing Peasant Economy. Central Sumatra 1784-1847 (1983) [for West Sumatra].
  • Christian Pelras – The Bugis (1996) [for South Sulawesi].
  • Terance W. Bigalke – Tana Toraja : A Social History of an Indonesian People (2005) [for South Sulawesi].
  • Michael Hitchcock – Islam and Identity in Eastern Indonesia (1996) [for Sumbawa].
  • Ali Rosdin, 2015, Buton, Islamization, and its Manuscripts Tradition, Faculty of Cultural Science, Halu Oleo University of Kendari [for Buton].
  • David Henley – Conflict, Justice and the Stranger-King Indigenous Roots of Colonial Rule in Indonesia and Elsewhere (2004) [for North Sulawesi].
  • Tular Sudarmadi, 2014, Between colonial legacies and grassroots movements: exploring cultural heritage practice in the Ngadha and Manggarai Region of Flores, de Vrije University Amsterdam [for Flores].
  • Wikipedia pages, especially for old kingdoms, North Sumatra and Riau sultanates.


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