BECK index

Pacific Islands to 1800

by Sanderson Beck

Sumatra, Java, and the Archipelago
Java and Dutch Trade 1613-1800
Philippines to 1800
Australia and New Zealand to 1800
Polynesian Islands to 1800

This chapter has been published in the book INDIA & Southeast Asia to 1800.
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Prehistoric Cultures

Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and most of the islands of the south Pacific developed their own isolated cultures and native beliefs but were not much affected by literate civilization until the arrival of European sailing vessels in the 16th century. However, Sumatra, Java, and the nearby archipelago were influenced by the cultures of India, China, and Muslim merchants.

Sumatra, Java, and the Archipelago

According to a Chinese record, in 502 CE a king on the Sumatran coast was advised in a dream that if he paid tribute, merchants would multiply in his realm. By the 6th century a harbor community was thriving in southeast Sumatra, and Java had several kingdoms. In 671 Chinese pilgrim Yi Zing found a thousand monks at Srivijaya on Sumatra, where Tantric Buddhism was already being practiced. After studying for fourteen years at the Nalanda university in Bengal, he came back to Srivijaya to translate texts from Sanskrit into Chinese before returning to China in 695. He noted that Malayu had become a part of the Srivijaya kingdom, which was preparing to invade Java. Dominating the strait of Melaka (Malacca), the Srivijaya kingdom, centered at Palembang, controlled the regional sea trade, sending camphor, aloes, cloves, sandalwood, nutmeg, cardamom, cubeb, and other goods to China and India for the next four centuries.

         Javanese civilization developed puppet shadow theater (wayang), gamelan orchestral music, and batik textiles. Gradually through trade and diplomatic contacts Hindu culture spread, though they did not use the caste system, and women maintained their higher status. The Shailendra dynasty honored Mahayana Buddhism with massive temples built in the 9th century at Borobudur and Prambanan, while Shaivism thrived in east Java, where Sindok (r, 929-47) founded a new dynasty that lasted until 1222. He was succeeded by his daughter, and a Balinese ruler introduced Javanese culture by marrying Sindok’s great granddaughter. Shadow dramas (wayang) retold the Hindu stories of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana in Javanese translations with their own servant clowns (panakawans).

         Srivijaya’s relations with China improved after the Song dynasty started in 960, but they had to fight a war with King Dharmavamsa of east Java from 990 until that king was killed in a counter-attack in 1006. Atisha studied with renowned scholar Dharmakirti in Sumatra from 1011 to 1023 and went on to reform Tibetan Buddhism. Raids by the south Indian Cholas devastated this Malay empire in 1025, enabling the half-Balinese Javanese king Airlangga to reconquer the territories lost by his father Dharmavamsa. Late in the 12th century Jambi replaced Palembang as the Srivijaya capital; but as it gradually lost control of trade, it was disregarded and deteriorated into piracy. The 1295 Yuan History noted that after much killing, the Malayu had finally submitted to Siam.

         Airlangga (r. 1019-42) put both the Shaivite and Buddhist priesthoods under royal control. Before his death he divided his Javanese kingdom between his two sons. Jayabhaya (r. 1135-57) prophesied his country’s downfall before a rise to greatness and was commemorated in the poem Harivamsa. The two kingdoms were reunited by the marriage of Bamesvara (r. 1182-94) of Kadira to a Janggala princess. According to the Javanese Chronicle Pararaton, amid discontent in Janggala, Ken Angrok usurped power by murdering the regent of Tumapel and marrying his widow Ken Dedes. Then while the last of Airlangga’s line, Kertajaya, was quarreling with the clergy, in 1222 Ken Angrok attacked and defeated Kadira to rule as King Rajasa and build a new capital, which came to be called Singhasari. Rajasa was murdered five years later by Ken Dedes’ son Anusapati, who ruled 21 years until he was murdered by another son of Rajasa, Tohjaya. He died that year and was succeeded by Vishnuvardhana (r. 1248-68).

         Javanese king Kertanagara (r. 1268-92) took over the Malayu in southern Sumatra in 1275 and conquered Bali in 1284. In 1289 Kertanagara mistreated Kublai Khan’s envoy, who was demanding tribute. Before the Mongol invasion the Kadiri prince Jayakatwang rebelled and killed the orgy-occupied Kertanagara, whose son-in-law Vijaya joined with the Mongols to overthrow Jayakatwang; then as King Kertarajasa he forced out the Mongols and established the capital at Majapahit in 1293.

         The island of Java was influenced by Hindu culture, believing in karma and reincarnation, divine incarnations of deities such as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and adopting the Dharma Shastras with their caste system. Kertarajasa (r. 1293-1309) founded a new kingdom at Majapahit; but nobles resenting his Malayu queen rebelled, and his son Jayanagara (r. 1309-28) had to face numerous revolts led by Nandi, whose fortress at Lumajang fell in 1316. The young officer Gajah Mada cleverly defeated an insurrection led by Kuti in 1319. According to the Javanese epic Nagarakertagama, while Kertarajasa’s daughter Tribhuwana reigned (1328-50), Gajah Mada as prime minister helped this Javanese empire expand by conquest to Bali, Sumatra, the Moluccas (Maluku), Borneo, and many other islands.

         King Hayam Wuruk (r. 1350-89) blamed Gajah Mada for the massacre at Bubat in 1351 as Sunda retained its independence from Java. In this era Java experienced its golden age described in Prapanca’s 1365 poem Nagarakertagama, venerating the divine wisdom of Kertanagara. Gajah Mada remained influential until his death in 1364 and oversaw the adaptation of the Laws of Manu in the Kutaramanava. A copper inscription from this era instructed judges to take into account the law, local customs, precedents, and the views of spiritual teachers, the aged, and impartial neighbors. China’s first Ming emperor Hongwu (r. 1368-98) limited trade to its vassals who brought tribute; this stimulated Java’s Majapahit king Hayam Wuruk to annex the empire of Srivijaya. He appointed a council of five ministers to rule the Javanese empire.

         As the queen had no son, Wikramawardhana (r. 1389-1429) succeeded his uncle Hayam Wuruk, who had appointed his son (by a lesser wife) Virabumi to rule eastern Java. A civil war broke out in 1401 and lasted five years until Virabumi was assassinated. The Javanese empire continued to decline because of rebellion during Queen Suhita’s reign (1429-47), and her brother Kertawijaya (r. 1447-51) was apparently the last ruler of that royal house. Between 1451 and 1478 Java was governed by six kings from different houses as civil wars disrupted the country. The year 1478 was the end of a century in the Javanese calendar and is considered the date for the fall of the Majapahit empire. That year the partially Chinese Jin Bun used his Muslim army to conquer Majapahit; but he left it to establish an Islamic capital at Demak. The last king of Majapahit was Girindrawardhana (r. 1486-1527). He tried to make a commercial treaty with the Portuguese at Melaka in 1517. Jin Bun protected him but died the next year.

         Increasing commerce by Muslims since the 13th century brought growing Islamic influence to the Indonesian islands. Ali Mughajat Syah (Shah) founded the sultanate of Acheh on the northern tip of Sumatra about 1515 and ruled until 1530. Sultan Alauddin Riayat Syah al-Kahar was an aggressive ruler of Acheh for more than thirty years until he died in 1571. Patih Yunus conquered Japara in 1511 and became sultan of Demak. Eunus ruled Demak next but died in a failed raid on Melaka in 1521. Demak finally destroyed Majapahit in 1527, dominating Java and reaching the peak of its power in 1540; but its most powerful ruler was killed seven years later while campaigning against Hindus in east Java. Then Jepara became the major city, besieging the Portuguese at Melaka in 1550 and 1574. Banten accepted Islam under its first sultan, Falehan (r. 1526-52).

         Muslims dominated the north coast of Java. Christian missionaries were rarely able to penetrate where Islam had been established. The arrogance of Simao d’Andrade caused a rupture in all Portuguese trade relations with China in 1519 that was not repaired until the treaty of 1550. China let the Portuguese begin using the port of Macao in 1557. The Portuguese also had factories in Ayudhya and Patani that traded with China. In the Molucca islands the Christians were rapacious, and Antonio Galvao (1536-40) was the only Portuguese governor who gained respect from the natives. The Jesuit Francis Xavier arrived at Ambon in 1546 and spent 18 months in the Moluccas but found the Christians too ignorant and the people too barbarous; so he left and went to Japan.

Ternate’s Sultan Hairun complained the Portuguese deprived him of spice profits; he controlled many islands and attacked Christian communities. A fleet from Goa persuaded him to make a new agreement, but Hairun was murdered in 1570. The people of Ternate revolted until the Portuguese defeated them in 1574, when Governor Vasconcellos built a fort. The Portuguese also built a fort at Tidore in 1578. Yet as in India, Portuguese militarism outspent the commercial profits. The English explorer Francis Drake visited Indonesia in 1579 on his voyage around the world and collected spices before departing the next year. English ambassador Thomas Roe wrote to the Mughal court in 1613 that the Portuguese settlements were beggared by the maintenance of their military forces.

         Banten’s fourth sultan, Maulana Muhammad (r. 1580-96), was the first Javanese prince to make a treaty with the Dutch in 1596; but the rude behavior of the Dutch captain Cornelius de Houtman soon alienated the Javanese, and his violence made the Dutch unwelcome at Madura. De Houtman was killed at Acheh; his brother Frederick was a prisoner for two years and compiled a Malayan-Dutch dictionary. In 1600 Dutch admiral Steven van der Haghen made a treaty with Ambon (in the Moluccas) against the Portuguese. The next year Goa sent a Portuguese fleet to regain control of Indonesia; but they had to flee from an attack near Banten by five ships from the Netherlands. In 1602 the Dutch formed their United East India Company, Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC), two years after the English had established a similar enterprise. The Banda Islands gave the Dutch a monopoly in the nutmeg trade; but the Muslim natives soon came into conflict with the Hollanders because they needed to import rice from Java and Makasar. The Dutch traded with Gowa; but in 1605 Gowa’s prince proclaimed his conversion to Islam. The sultans tried to remain neutral in the European conflicts and would not allow either the Portuguese or the Dutch to fortify their trading posts. The Dutch appointed Pieter Both as governor-general in 1609, and the next year they chased the English away and tried to conquer the Banda Islands by force, alienating Makasar.

         The English fleet under James Lancaster arrived at Acheh in 1602 and built a factory at Banten. On the second voyage of the English East India Company in 1605 Henry Middleton went to Ambon and negotiated with the Portuguese; but a Dutch fleet overcame the Portuguese and prevented the English from trading. The Dutch then captured Tidore, but Middleton managed to get cloves from Ternate before the Dutch forced him to return to Banten. More English voyages followed, and in 1615 they established factories at Acheh, Priaman, and Jambi, then at Jacatra and Jepara two years later. Because the Dutch were spending more on forts, garrisons, and squadrons, in the 17th century the English Company was able to pay higher dividends than the VOC.

         Sultan Iskander Muda (r. 1607-36) was Acheh’s most powerful ruler. In 1613 his forces defeated Johor and abducted Sultan Alauddin Riayat Syah II. The next year Iskander defeated a Portuguese fleet at Bintan. Acheh conquered Pahang in 1617 and Kedah in 1620, sacked Johor again in 1623, and took Nias by 1625. Iskander launched a campaign with several hundred ships against Melaka in 1629, but they were devastated by the Portuguese. Iskander created feudal war chiefs and assigned them districts. After having his own son killed, Iskander named as his successor the Pahang prince he had taken hostage in 1617 and who had married his daughter. She succeeded her husband as Taj ul-Alam (r. 1641-75) and made peace with Johor. Three queens ruled Acheh after her until 1699. Then three Arabs ruled Acheh until 1726, and six Bugis ruled 1727-1838.

Java and Dutch Trade 1613-1800

According to Javanese chronicles, Panembahan Senapati Ingalaga led a rebellion after the Mataram ruler refused to convert to Islam about 1576. He conquered Demak in 1588, Madiun, and Kediri (Kadira) in 1591. After Senapati died, his son Krapyak had to overcome rebellions starting in 1602. He opened up trade with the Dutch at Jepara in 1613, the year he died. His son Agung (r. 1613-46) ruled Mataram in central Java, and he began raiding eastern Java in 1614. Surabaya counter-attacked but was defeated. Agung then conquered Lasem and Pasuran before he devastated rebelling Pajang in 1617, deporting their people to Mataram. In 1618 Agung prohibited the sale of rice to the Dutch company (VOC), and hostilities between the VOC and Mataram erupted. The year after taking the port of Tuban in 1619, Agung’s navy blockaded Surabaya, but the city did not fall to Mataram until 1625. During the interval Agung’s fleet also conquered Banjermasin and Sukadana in Borneo and the island of Madura. The Dutch refused several requests from Agung for naval support. Mataram attacked Batavia in 1628 but could not sustain a siege the next year. The Sultan of Banten felt threatened by Mataram and made a treaty with Governor-General Coen, ending a decade-long blockade. In 1630 religious teachers led a revolt in Tembayat, and Agung had the rebels massacred. Agung went there on a pilgrimage in 1633, but three years later he crushed religious opposition at Giri.

         Jan Pieterszoon Coen wrote in 1614 that the Dutch should be prepared to use force in overcoming their European competitors in commerce. He became governor-general of the Netherlands Indies in 1618. The next year he changed the Muslim name of Jacatra (Jakarta) to Batavia, and it became the capital of their East Indies empire. As Batavia grew, the Dutch purchased many slaves, stimulating the selling of criminals, debtors, and war captives in Bali. Also in 1619 the Dutch and English companies agreed to share the commerce and the costs of defense in the region. In 1621 Coen’s fleet conquered Lonthor, the Bandas, and Ceram. However, in 1623 the Dutch governor of Ambon had ten Englishmen and ten Japanese executed. In 1627 the English moved their factory from Batavia to Banten. The Dutch invaded Ceram in 1635, but this failed and provoked a rebellion that Governor-General Antonie van Diemen quelled in 1637 with seventeen ships. The next year he made a treaty at Ambon with Sultan Hamja. Van Diemen sought Chinese trade, but in 1661 the Dutch had to give up their factory on Formosa to Ming refugee Guo Xingye. The Portuguese from Melaka traded with Brunei in northern Borneo. The Dutch tried to control the pepper production in Banjermasin and made monopoly contracts with the Sultan in 1635 and 1664; but they were not kept, and the Dutch withdrew from the south coast of Borneo in 1669.

         Agung’s son Amangkurat I (r. 1645-77) of Mataram made an agreement with Governor-General Cornelius van der Lijn (1645-50) to grant freedom of trade to the VOC. Amangkurat was a ruthless tyrant who collected ten thousand women in his palace. According to VOC ambassador van Goens, Amangkurat had 4,000 spies and put 5,000 of his Muslim enemies to death. To control the price of cloves, the Dutch stopped overproduction and smuggling by destroying trees everywhere outside of Ambon. In 1649 Arnold de Vlaming van Oudshoorn began cutting down trees in west Ceram. The elimination of clove production in the Moluccas provoked a revolt in 1650 that took six years to suppress. Ternate sultan Mandar Syah and the people on Hoamoal were deported to Batavia until he agreed to let the Dutch cut down trees. The people were forced to plant rice and sago, and the impoverishment stimulated piracy. In 1651 Amangkurat ordered a census for tax collection and banned his subjects from traveling outside of Java. The next year he prohibited the export of rice and timber, though he told the VOC they could purchase rice from him. VOC ships were attacked at Palembang in 1657 over their pepper monopoly, and they established a post there two years later.

Governor-General Johan Maetsuycker (1653-78) had devised the Statutes of Batavia for Van Diemen and had governed Sri Lanka. He directed the elimination of Portuguese power by taking Colombo in 1656, and the next year he sent Van Goens to drive the Portuguese away from Sri Lanka and the Coromandel and Malabar coasts of India. After Dutch factors and sailors were murdered at Palembang in 1658, Maetsuycker forced the Sultan to permit a Dutch fort and a monopoly over their pepper. In the Painan Contract of 1662 the VOC was authorized to protect the Minangkabau chiefs revolting against Acheh, which was subdued by the Dutch navy four years later. Makasar under Hassan Udin had been fortified by European traders; but in 1660 Johan van Dam captured a Makasar fort, and Hassan Udin agreed to stop interfering with the VOC and expel the Portuguese. When he failed to do so, Maetsuycker sent Cornelius Speelman and the Bugis chief of Bone, Arung Palakka, whose family Hassan Udin had murdered. Hassan Udin was forced to submit to the Dutch in 1667, dismantled his forts, and granted the VOC a trade monopoly. Arung Palakka became king of Bone in 1672 and ruled it until he died in 1696.

         Rumors of conflict between Amangkurat I and his son began in 1660, and the next year an attempted coup by the crown prince’s party failed; many were executed. Raden Kajoran was considered a holy man, and his daughter married the Madura prince Raden Trunajaya, who came to know Mataram’s crown prince Adipati Anom. In 1675 Trunajaya began a rebellion against Mataram in Kediri and eastern Java. Amangkurat had made a treaty with the Dutch in 1646, and thirty years later he asked for their help. Speelman’s naval force was sent against Trunajaya’s pirates from Makasar. Trunajaya occupied the capital Plered and stole the Mataram treasury. Amangkurat died while fleeing to the Dutch, who made his successor Adipati Anom grant them territory south of Batavia while his brother Puger was proclaiming himself king at Plered. The more aggressive Rijklof van Goens succeeded Maetsuycker, and Dutch troops under Anthony Hurdt captured Kediri. Adipati Anom was crowned as Amangkurat II (r. 1677-1703), and he personally stabbed the captured Trunajaya in 1680. The Dutch helped Amangkurat win the civil war over his brother Puger, who submitted in 1681.

The Dutch also intervened in a succession struggle in Banten by supporting Sultan Haji. His father Abulfatah had become Sultan Ageng in 1651 and endured a blockade by the Dutch for three years until he made peace in 1659. Sultan Haji got his name because of his pilgrimage to Mecca but returned in 1676 to find his younger brother had been made heir-apparent. During the Mataram crisis in 1677 Ageng moved his forces into Cirebon and Priangam. Haji replaced his father in 1680 and promised the Dutch he would return escaped slaves even if they had converted to Islam. His capitulating to the VOC lost him Muslim support, but Dutch forces relieved the siege of his palace and helped him win the civil war. In 1683 they captured Ageng, and the Dutch kept him in prison at Batavia until he died. The next year the grateful Sultan Haji gave the Dutch exclusive trading rights in his kingdom in lieu of paying them a large indemnity for the war expenses. The Dutch held the territories of Cirebon and Priangam. The English were forced to leave Banten and moved to Bengkulu (Bencoolen) on the west coast of Sumatra.

When Governor-General Speelman died in 1684, his corruption and abuse were revealed. He had arrested one hundred innocent people, sold free men as slaves, authorized pay for soldiers who did not exist, underpaid pepper suppliers, embezzled money, and was known for his debauchery. The Balinese slave Surapati led a band of eighty men who killed twenty VOC troops and then went to Kartasura. Rebelling Muslims turned to piracy in the Java Sea, but the fleet of Ibn Iskander was destroyed by a Dutch squadron in 1686. Captain Jonker was a Muslim who rebelled against the VOC; but he was killed in 1689, and fifty of his followers were executed. Amangkurat II sent his army against Surapati in 1690, but they were defeated.

Amangkurat III (Sunan Mas) succeeded his father in 1703 but was challenged by his uncle, Pangéran Puger, who was supported by Madura’s Panembahan Cakraningrat II (r. 1680-1707). Puger got the Dutch on his side and was enthroned as Pakubuwana I (r. 1704-19) at Kartasura. In 1705 he ceded more territory and recognized Batavia’s claims to Priangam, Cirebon, and eastern Madura. In addition the VOC could build fortifications anywhere on Java, purchase unlimited rice, had monopolies on opium and textile imports, and got other trade concessions. Sunan Mas fled to the court of Surapati. In 1706 the Dutch defeated them, killing Surapati and exiling Sunan Mas to Sri Lanka. Pakubuwana tried to pay his debts to the VOC, which had losses at every office in Ambon, Banda, Ternate, Makasar, Banten, Cirebon, and the Java coast. The sons of Surapati rebelled again in 1712 and were finally defeated in 1719. Mataram’s Pakubuwana died that year, and his son Amangkurat IV had to fight his brothers for four years. These civil wars and the VOC monopolistic policy of buying at low prices and selling at high ones caused much poverty and smuggling. In 1721 the VOC executed 49 people for an alleged Muslim plot to massacre Europeans led by Pieter Erbervelt, and the next year Governor-General Zwaardekroon had 26 Company servants beheaded in one day for theft. Amangkurat IV could not pay his war debts and died in 1726, succeeded by his son Pakubuwana II (r. 1726-49). He was only sixteen years old, and the court was divided between his mother Ratu Amangkurat and the chief minister Danureja, who exiled the King’s brother Mangkubumi. Crowded Batavia suffered poverty and an epidemic in 1734.

Early in the 18th century Lambertus Loderus got a government printing license in Batavia, and in 1707 he published a Dutch-Malay dictionary. The VOC introduced coffee in 1696. Serious cultivation began in 1718, and in 1725 three million pounds were harvested from Java. After a five-year legal case established the right to be a Christian, the ruler of Roti converted in 1729 and promoted Christian education. By 1765 the Rotinese were teaching their own schools using the Malay language. The VOC paid annual dividends of 20 to 40 percent but had to increase its debt to do so. Most of the workers were not paid enough to buy their imports, and they made their own textiles. Despite VOC quotas, many Chinese immigrated, and the number of beggars and criminal gangs increased.

In 1740 Governor-General Adriaan Valckenier deported unemployed Chinese to Sri Lanka, and a rumor spread that they had been thrown overboard. Soldiers, slaves, and other Javanese feared an uprising and massacred more than a thousand Chinese. Valckenier even had Chinese prisoners killed. The government promised the Chinese amnesty if they turned in their weapons within a month, but most went east and attacked Europeans. In 1741 the rebels took over Juwana, besieged Semarang, and massacred VOC employees at Rembang. For a while Pakubuwana II sided with the rebels by sending troops that supported the siege of Semarang. Madura’s Cakraningrat IV (r. 1718-46) allied with the VOC, and in 1742 Pakubuwana came back to the Dutch side. The rebels seized Kartasura, but six months later Cakraningrat’s forces drove them out. Pakubuwana II was restored in 1743. Valckenier in 1740  had arrested and deported his opponent, Baron Van Imhoff; but the interim Thedens put Valckenier in prison, and Imhoff returned as governor-general (1743-50). Cakraningrat IV tried to expand his realm in eastern Java, but the VOC finally forced him to flee from Madura in 1745. That year Pakubuwana moved his court to Surakarta.

In 1746 Mangkubumi defeated the rebel Mas Said and claimed the reward that his brother Pakubuwana II had offered. However, Governor-General Imhoff advised the King not to give it because Mangkubumi was getting too powerful. So Mangkubumi joined with Mas Said in rebellion. Pakubuwana trusted the VOC governor of the Northeast Coast, Von Hohendorff, who had helped restore him, and while dying in 1749 he ceded his kingdom to him and the VOC. Mangkubumi claimed the kingdom, but Hohendorff crowned Pakubuwana III. The third Javanese war of succession went on until 1757. The new Northeast Coast governor, Nicolaas Hartingh, opened negotiations by offering Mangkubumi half the kingdom in 1754, and the next year the VOC recognized him as Sultan Hamengkubuwana I. In 1756 he built his court at Yogyakarta in central Java. Mas Said submitted the next year, and Pakubuwana III gave him an appanage of 4,000 households. Mas Said was crowned Mangkunegara I and reigned until 1795. All three rulers now recognized the sovereignty of the VOC.

Meanwhile in Banten the Sultan Zainul Arifin (r. 1733-48) was sent into exile by the VOC and his Arab wife Ratu Sarifa. Her intrigue had replaced the crown prince with her nephew, but her regency was unpopular and provoked a rebellion. In 1750 the VOC arrested and exiled both her and her nephew. The former king’s brother agreed to govern until the previously exiled crown prince returned. After some plundering by rebels, they fled. Zainul Arifin’s son Zainul Asyikin (r. 1753-77) was proclaimed sultan of Banten, which became a fief of the VOC.

After these succession wars, Java had several decades of relative peace. The two major courts at Surakarta and Yogyakarta agreed on a new law code in 1771 and two years later on law for settling disputes. Pakubuwana III was succeeded by his son Pakubuwana IV (r. 1788-1820). He was only 19 and chose advisors who aroused hostility; rumors led to his court being surrounded by enemies in 1790, persuading Pakubuwana to surrender his counselors to the VOC, which sent them into exile. Hamengkubuwana was succeeded by his son Hamengkubuwana II in 1792. About 1770 the French captured clove plants and introduced them to the island of Mauritius and other French colonies, ending the lucrative Dutch monopoly. Willem van Hogendorp and others founded the Batavian Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1778. Van Hogendorp wrote histories of Java and promoted the study of smallpox vaccination. He published the play, Harsh Blows, or Slavery, depicting and criticizing Portuguese and Eurasian treatment of slaves.

After John Adams got the Dutch to recognize the independence of the United States, the Netherlands found itself at war with England in 1780; but an expected attack on Batavia did not occur. After the French invasion of the Netherlands in 1795, the Kew letters allowed England to take over Dutch colonies under the agreement they would return them after the war against France. The British blockade of Batavia disrupted the export of coffee. The 17 directors were replaced by a committee in 1796, and the VOC was formally dissolved on the first day of 1800. The States-General gave the Asian territories of the Dutch to Holland’s royal family. Intrigue permeated the Yogyakarta court of Sultan Hamengkubuwana II (r. 1792-1810), and the corvée system used in building projects burdened the people. Mangkunegara II (r. 1796-1835) on his accession had his inheritance taken by the corrupt Governor-General, Baron van Reede tot de Parkeler. Alexander Dalrymple’s settlement on the island of Balambangan failed in 1775.

Indonesia and the Dutch 1800-1950

Philippines to 1800

On their voyage that was the first circumnavigation of the globe, the Spanish ships led by Magellan discovered the islands east of Vietnam in 1521. While attacking natives on the island of Cebu, Magellan was killed by an arrow. Juan Carvallo went to the Moluccas and established a factory for collecting cloves at Tidore. Despite their 1529 treaty with Portugal, Spain sent ships to these islands. A voyage of five ships from Mexico in 1542 named the islands after Prince Philip, and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi led the first permanent Spanish settlements of 1565 that were extended to the islands of Cebu, Leyte, Pany, Mindoro, and the plain of Luzon before his death in 1572. Manila was founded in 1571, and the local chief agreed to let the Spaniards propagate their religion. The natives had no concept of land as property until the Spaniards started buying it from their chiefs. The Spaniards found this conquest did not help them in the spice trade, nor did it give them access to Japan and China; but their third purpose of converting the natives to Christianity was fairly successful. The Christians had arrived before Islam had spread beyond the southern islands, and those religious conditions tended to remain.

         The Chinese Limahong led the pirates that killed Martin de Goiti. The Chinese had been trying to catch these pirates; so after they were defeated by the Spaniards, interim Philippines governor Lavezares was able to arrange trade relations between the Spaniards and the Chinese before he was replaced by Francisco de Sande in 1575. Spanish efforts to invade the Moros in the southern region in 1578 and Mindanao in 1596 both failed miserably. In 1578 fifteen Franciscans arrived in the Philippines to join the Augustinians, and Domingo de Salazar became the first bishop of Manila three years later. He called a synod in 1582 that questioned the Spaniards’ legal right to take possession of the Philippines, and the synod decided that they had no right to collect tribute from the Filipinos. Bishop Salazar later returned to Spain in order to ask for a royal decree to prohibit the forced labor of the  Filipinos for building churches and other public works. He also requested that military escorts for missionaries be abolished. The Jesuits came in 1581, followed by Dominicans in 1587 and Recollects in 1605. By 1595 some 134 missionaries claimed they had baptized 288,000 Filipinos. Education was dominated by Christian theology; but key terms were not translated so as not to be confused with indigenous beliefs. In 1585 Philip II banned Chinese trade with Manila, but Mexico’s viceroy would not enforce this. In 1593 Spain required all commerce from the Philippines to go through Acapulco in Mexico, and this policy continued until 1815.

         Forces from Manila were sent to attack Ternate; but in 1593 Spaniards in a hundred ships were massacred when their Chinese rowers mutinied. In 1600 Oliver van Noort lost one of his five Dutch ships while attacking Chinese and Filipino ships in Manila Bay. In 1603 the Dutch helped Ternate repulse an attack by the allied Portuguese and Spaniards. Two years later Dutch aid also enabled Ternate sultan Zaide to drive the Portuguese out of his island and Tidore; but in 1606 Manila governor Pedro de Acuña led an expedition that defeated Zaide and the Dutch and garrisoned Ternate with Spaniards and Filipinos. The Philippines were organized into fifteen provinces under alcalde-mayors responsible to the Spanish governor-general; but the pay of the mayors was so low and their local power so despotic that corruption was rampant. The governor-general had autocratic power and established a supreme court called the Royal Audiencia in 1583. Native customs were respected unless they violated the Spaniards’ Catholic morality. Spanish adventures to get involved in Cambodia by helping defend them against Siam began in 1593, and in the next ten years Cambodia had six different kings before they decided that Spanish aid was not worth the trouble and agreed to become a vassal state of Siam in 1603. Admiral Wittert blockaded Manila Bay for five months in 1609, but in April 1610 Spanish ships defeated and killed him.

         European traders had often found concubines, who were paid to be temporary wives during visits; but about 1600 the Spanish and Dutch noticed that slave women of kings or nobles were being used as prostitutes. The Malay epic Sejarah Melayu of 1612 portrayed abortion as a common occurrence. Because divorce in southeast Asia was usually easy, many observed that husbands had to be more attentive to their wives. They usually married much younger than in Europe. Yet virginity was considered such an obstacle to marriage that it might be ritually removed, probably because blood was believed to be polluting by men.

         Governor-General Juan de Silva ventured into the Moluccas in 1616; but his Portuguese allies did not show up, and the fleet returned because of de Silva’s death. The next year the Dutch defeated the Spaniards at Playa Honda and plundered shipping in Manila Bay for the next three years. An Anglo-Dutch blockade of Manila lasted sixteen months until May 1622. The Dutch built a fort in the Pescadores Islands and in 1624 started using Formosa to divert trade from Manila. The Spaniards won a third naval battle against the Dutch at Playa Honda and built two forts on Formosa. In 1637 Governor-General Corcuera conquered some Muslim bases in Mindanao and the next year took over Jolo. Corcuera decreed the obligation of personal service, and in 1639 the Chinese in Laguna revolted against this and abusive tax collectors. Thousands of Chinese were killed before the revolt was subdued the next year. In 1642 the Dutch captured the Formosa forts, and three years later they bombarded the Spanish fort at Jolo. After his term of office, Corcuera was put on trial in a residencia, but he was acquitted. A Jesuit negotiated a peace treaty with Jolo’s Sultan Bungsu in 1646. The Spaniards used two old galleons to win several naval victories over the Dutch. In 1647 Martin Gerretsen with twelve ships invaded Manila Bay and bombarded the fort at Cavite; but his flagship was sunk by artillery, and he was killed. The Dutch fleet went to Corregidor and plundered Bataan until they encountered resistance and suffered disease.

In 1648 Spain and the Netherlands made a treaty at Munster. Some raiding went on until 1662 when Coxinga threatened to attack Manila; but the Spaniards withdrew from Zamboanga, the Muslim Moros region, and Ternate. This retreat allowed Moro raids, but Jesuit requests to reoccupy the fort were denied as too expensive. When Governor-General Fajardo drafted workers to build the Cavite Arsenal, many protested. Juan Ponce Sumoroy led the violent rebellion that spread in 1649, but it was quelled the next year. Rebellion spread again in 1660, and Andres Malong proclaimed himself king of Pangasinan. The next year Pedro Almazan was named king of Iloscos, but all these rebel leaders were crushed and executed in 1661.

Spain’s queen Mariana sponsored the missionaries sent to the islands that were named the Marianas after her and became part of the Philippines in 1669. On the island of Guam, Jesuit missionary Diego Luis de San Vitores baptized Chief Kapuha (Quipuha), who granted land for a Catholic church. San Vitores baptized 13,000 native Chamorros in the first year. Kapuha died in 1669, and two years later war broke out between the Spaniards and the Chamorros. After their most destructive war, the Chamorros asked for peace, and the Spaniards insisted that they attend mass every Sunday. San Vitores solicited money from Queen Mariana, and churches were constructed. In April 1672 Chief Matapang and his war chief Hirao murdered San Vitores for having baptized his baby daughter without his permission. This provoked another war, and Matapang was mortally wounded in a battle on the island of Rota in 1680. The Spaniards conquered the Chamorros of the Marianas, forcing them to live in five villages after 1695. The Chamorro population was reduced from nearly 200,000 to 5,000 by 1740 when they were moved to Guam from all the northern Mariana Islands except Rota.

The Palaus and Carolines became dependencies of the Philippines in 1696. Late in the 17th century the private encomiendas, which could collect taxes, were abolished. Friars were allowed to borrow money from the Government and the Obras Pias (charitable foundations), and in 1717 Governor Bustamente learned that both the Government and the Obras Pias were bankrupt. After he urged them to return the money, friars murdered him in 1719.

The Muslim Malays developed confederacies, and in 1704 a Jesuit priest from Manila arbitrated a dispute between Madindanau and Sulu. Zamboanga was finally fortified again in 1718 for campaigns against the Moros. In 1722 the sultan of Sulu agreed to release Christian captives and tolerate Christianity, but such alliances did not prevent Moro raiding at sea. Sultan Alimud Din revised Sulu laws and translated Arabic texts and part of the Qur’an into Sulu. In 1744 he opened his dominion to Jesuit preaching and even allowed a church and a Spanish fort. Complaining Muslims compelled the Jesuits to take refuge in Zamboanga, and in 1749 his brother Bantilan seized the throne as Sultan Muhammad Mu‘izzudin. Alimud Din fled with his family to Manila, where he was baptized and named the Catholic king of Jolo. An expedition in 1751 to restore him was aborted after he was suspected of treason for having written to the Mindanao sultan saying he had been forced to allow the Catholic religion in his domain. Governor-General Obando issued a decree permitting acts of war against Filipino Muslims, but such plunder and slave-holding was prohibited by other laws. In 1752 Alimud was imprisoned at Manila, and other captives were branded on the face as slaves. Alimud was allowed to marry his former concubine in 1755 and was given a pension.

Also in 1744 Francisco Dagahoy, irritated that a priest would not give his brother a Catholic funeral, led a popular revolt with 3,000 followers; they held out in the Bohol mountains, and their community of 20,000 people lasted until 1829, when they were given amnesty and resettled. A series of agrarian uprisings around Manila began in 1745. Philip VI ordered the ecclesiastics investigated for usurping land, but the Audiencia and the Council of the Indies in Madrid refused to remedy the injustice. A royal decree in 1751 allowed the alcalde-mayors to engage in trade and business; this corrupt policy was not abolished until 1844. By the middle of the 18th century less than one thousand Spaniards lived in the Philippines, but 904,110 Christian Filipinos were counted. Governor Arandia (1754-59) reorganized the military, but Muslim raids killed and enslaved thousands on the coasts of Luzon and the Bisayas. To neutralize Chinese economic influence, Arandia expelled non-Christian Chinese in 1755, but the Chinese mestizos retained their higher social status.

After Spain gave up its neutrality in the Seven Years War to become an ally of France, in 1762 the British with 6,700 men and thirteen ships seized Manila, overcoming the defense by a thousand soldiers and 5,000 Filipino civilians. Despite General Draper’s promises, the British spent forty hours sacking Manila. Archbishop Rojo signed the capitulation, but Simon de Anda organized resistance outside the capital, proclaiming himself captain-general and governor. General Drake and Rojo governed the British occupation in Manila. The British released Alimudin and gave him a boat to return to Jolo, where he was restored to his throne but soon abdicated so that his son Israel could rule. The division between Rojo and Anda and this blow to Spain’s military prestige stimulated rebellions by Filipinos in Pangasinan, Laguna, Cavite, Tondo, Iloilo, Zamboanga, Samar, Cebu, Panay, and Ilocos against the Spanish authorities, who were never popular because of their dictatorial exploitation of natives. Diego Silang led the largest rebellion in Ilocos, refusing to pay taxes because the Spaniards had not defended the country. The British appointed Silang governor of Ilocos. Silang had Bishop Ustariz and twelve Augustinian missionaries arrested, but he was killed by Miguel Vico to free them. Governor-General Anda suppressed the uprisings, and he also complained to the king about friars meddling in worldly affairs and owning estates. After news of the European peace treaty arrived, the British evacuated Manila in March 1764.

The Philippines lost its monopoly over the China trade as Europeans began to compete. Moro raids began capturing about 500 Filipinos a year to sell as slaves. Spain’s new imperial policy caused the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, and the Dominicans agreed to submit to some investigations. King Carlos III declared in 1773 that parishes could be filled with Filipino secular priests, but they were not yet well educated. Friars complained, and the King suspended secularization three years later. Governor-General Jose de Basco (1778-87) founded the Economic Society of Friends of the Country in 1781 to develop the natural resources of the Philippines. He encouraged the cultivation of indigo, cotton, tobacco, cinnamon, pepper, sugar, silk, hemp, tea, coffee, and the opium poppy, and the next year tobacco became a government monopoly. Compulsory labor on tobacco plantations sometimes prevented workers from growing enough food. Carlos III (r. 1759-88) sponsored an annual ship going around the Cape to Manila, and in 1785 he became the principal shareholder in the Royal Company of the Philippines; but this enterprise failed because merchants preferred their galleon trade. In 1788 Historia General de las Islas Filipinas in 14 volumes by the Franciscan missionary Juan de la Concepcion was published. The Philippines government wasted 1,500,000 pesos fighting the Muslims between 1778 and 1793.

Philippines 1800-1949

Australia and New Zealand to 1800

Prehistoric Cultures

C. M. H. Clark began his multi-volume history of Australia by stating, “Civilization did not begin in Australia until the last quarter of the eighteenth century.”1 This Ethics of Civilization also does not focus on pre-literate cultures because of the lack of information about specific events. Yet it is helpful to understand something about the Aboriginal culture that still has direct influence from farther back in time than probably anywhere else on Earth. At least 38,000 years ago and perhaps 50,000 or more, the dark-skinned, curly-haired, broad-nosed Negrito people migrated from southeast Asia into New Guinea, Australia, and Tasmania. During the ice ages these lands were connected; after the ice melted, they were separated by the Pacific Ocean about 12,000 years ago. Australia’s inland sea dried up, and much of the continent became a desert. The second wave of immigrants have been called Murrayians and are related to the Ainu who inhabited Japan. These peoples went south as the Carpentarians arrived; the latter are related to the Vedda of Sri Lanka. A few thousand people lived on the island of Tasmania, and about three hundred thousand in Australia had some two hundred languages. As the Malays spread in the archipelago of Southeast Asia, the island of Timor (which means “east”) became their eastern boundary.

         The Aborigines lived by hunting and gathering without using metals. They did not farm by planting grains nor did they herd animals, though some may have had fish farms. They had no private property, but about five hundred tribes were very territorial, which accounts for the multiplicity of languages. Family relationships were important, but there did not seem to be chiefs or an aristocratic hierarchy. In the warm climate they usually did not need clothes, or they used furs and fires. Yet they had a very sophisticated oral culture and passed on their lore about what they call the “dream-time,” which refers to the spiritual world that exists eternally before the creation of this Earth and is still present as the home where souls go after death. The Aborigines usually believe in reincarnation and often communicate with each other and disincarnate spirits by means of mental telepathy. The Iora tribe fished; the men hunted, and the women gathered food. Many lived in caves. Children were initiated into adulthood at puberty. By then most girls had already been promised in marriage to older men. Mothers fed their children their milk for at least three years. Abortions and infanticide were used to prevent too many children. Men sometimes swapped wives or offered their hospitality to comfort visitors.

Neither the Hindus, Buddhists, Chinese (except for a brief landing in 1432), Muslims, nor even for a time the European navigators disturbed the land of Australia. Judging by the hostile rituals by which they tried to discourage the first Europeans with sticks and stones, it seems likely to me that the Aborigines sensed the danger to their way of life by intruders from outside and used their magic to try to keep them away. In the 17th century explorers began approaching. In 1606 the Dutch captain Willem Jansz concluded that no good was to be done there, and Pieter Nuyts explored the southern coast in 1626-27. In 1642 the Dutch East India Company wanted to find precious minerals and decided that the undiscovered land must be explored. That year Abel Tasman discovered the southern island later named after him which he called Van Dieman’s Land. In 1644 he explored the northern coast and named the land mass New Holland. The English navigator William Dampier was not impressed by the land he saw at Shark’s Bay in 1688 nor on the west coast in 1698. He called the people miserable and brutal.

         Captain James Cook, after visiting the “noble savages” of Tahiti in 1768, circumnavigated New Zealand, and landed at Botany Bay, claiming southeastern Australia for England as New South Wales. Cook suggested that the people there who seemed so wretched were actually very happy. The British had been sending convicted criminals to work in Maryland and Virginia since 1717; but after these colonies declared their independence in 1776, this was not practical. Joseph Banks had sailed with Cook on the Endeavour, and in 1779 he proposed that convicts be transported to New South Wales. After Britain lost their American colonies in 1783, this idea took hold; three years later George III ordered the Admiralty to transport 750 convicts to Botany Bay and appointed Arthur Phillip as governor. No convicted murderers or rapists were transported; almost all the crimes were some form of stealing or fraud, most being minor theft. A judge advocate and six military officers were to preside over a criminal court. At Sydney Cove the men began building tents and huts on January 26, 1788, and eleven days later the women convicts disembarked. That night during a rainstorm that blew down tents, many were raped or participated in an orgy with rum. The next day Phillip threatened to shoot any man who went into the women’s quarters at night, and he warned that anyone caught stealing cattle or chickens would be hanged. Only a third of the men had been working, and he said that those who did not work would not eat.

         Cholera and influenza germs quickly spread and began devastating the Aborigines. Any prisoner escaping faced the likelihood of being killed by a spear. Some convicts stole native tools and weapons to sell as souvenirs. After three whites were killed, in March 1789 a group of sixteen with clubs went out for revenge; the Iora ambushed them, killing one and wounding seven. Governor Phillip ordered the other eight to be flogged with 150 lashes and be in leg irons for a year. Phillip also had six marines hanged for stealing food. The first crop failed, and the second harvest only produced enough seed to save for the next planting. Food supplies were carefully rationed. To keep the French away, Phillip sent 22 people to Norfolk Island to grow flax. A vegetable garden was planted on an island in the Sydney harbor to prevent the greens from being stolen. One ship made it to Cape Town and back in May 1789 with wheat, barley, and flour. An old man died of starvation before a ship arrived in June 1790. More convicts were brought, although about a quarter had died on the voyage. Many were too ill to work.

Watkin Tench recorded that 38 convicts escaped into the wilderness in 1791. That year Phillip tried to show the Aborigines his justice by having a white man flogged for having stolen a native woman’s tackle; the Aborigines felt sympathy for the victim, and the woman tried to stop the flagellator. European civilization had bad effects on the Aborigines, and some became drunkards. In 1796 Aborigines killed one of their girls for having worked in the house of a European. In 1800 some Aborigines murdered whites and burned their houses. In revenge some settlers killed two Aborigines. By 1806 the soldiers were being ordered to drive the Aborigines away. As the Europeans continued to encroach, they were often met with guerrilla warfare. During this long frontier war at least 2,000 European settlers were killed, and the number of Aborigines dying by such overt violence was about ten times that.

         After serving their sentence or upon being given a conditional pardon, each male was granted thirty acres of land with twenty more if married and ten more for each child. After Phillip left in December 1792, the settlement was governed by officers. Major Francis Ghose encouraged the convicts to work by paying them with rum, and he allowed officers to engage in trade that soon enabled them to accumulate wealth. By 1799 they owned most of the sheep and horses and a large portion of the cattle and goats. John Macarthur cultivated a large farm with vines, fruit trees, vegetables, grains, pigs, cattle, and poultry, using the first plow in 1795. He quarreled with authorities, and in 1802 Governor King sent Macarthur to England for trial; but he persuaded the Secretary of State to let him return to begin the wool industry on a grant of ten thousand acres. Many convicts were given pardons to work, but they were not allowed to return to Britain until their sentence ended. Convicts were punished for disobedience or drunkenness, usually by flogging; those not deterred by this often fell into despair and degradation. In 1795 coal was discovered at a place later named Newcastle, and the next year a theater opened in Sydney.

         Around a thousand years ago people migrated from eastern Polynesian islands to the southern island group they called Aotearoa, which means “the land of the long white cloud.” Their tribes had a large ruling class, commoners, and some war captives who were treated as slaves. They did not use written language but had a strong oral tradition. Their chiefs sought to preserve and enhance their mana, a kind of magical power that implied prestige. Chiefs and other persons and objects had a sacredness called tapu (taboo) that deterred people from violating them. Those who broke a tapu were punished and shunned until they were ritually purified. They were warriors and often fought to gain satisfaction or revenge (utu). A proverb indicates that men died for women and land. Their fighting was hand-to-hand because they did not even have bows and arrows. In 1642 Abel Tasman sailed from Batavia and explored these islands the Dutch named Nieuw Zeeland. In the first encounter the Maoris killed four Europeans. The word maori means normal, and the tribes adopted this name only after meeting the invaders.

         In 1769 Captain James Cook came from Tahiti with a chieftain interpreter and circumnavigated New Zealand. Cook tried to interact with the natives without injuring them, but in the early encounters ten Maoris were killed; he called them “a brave, warlike people with sentiments void of treachery.”2 Cook’s estimate of 100,000 Maoris has been accepted as probable by recent scholars. In 1772 a French expedition to the Bay of Islands led by Marion du Fresne killed some Maoris and burned three villages. In 1792 a gang from the Britannia collected 4,500 sealskins for the Chinese market, and the next year a British ship left a party of sealers on the South Island. One of Vancouver’s ships abducted two Maori men to teach convicts on Norfolk Island how to work flax. As women did this work and they did not know how, Captain Philip Gidley King sent them back, supplying the Maoris with seed potatoes, which became a staple in their diet.

Australia to 1950
New Zealand to 1950

Polynesian Islands to 1800

Little is known of the history of New Guinea and most of the islands of Melanesia until German traders arrived in the 1870s. Papuans had been living there for about fifty thousand years, and Austronesians migrated there about 4,500 years ago. Portuguese navigator Jorge de Meneses discovered New Guinea in 1526. Three years later in the Treaty of Zaragoza the Portuguese claimed the western Pacific and let Spain claim the eastern Pacific. Alvaro de Mendaña de Neira from Peru named the Solomon Islands in 1568, hoping that gold would be found there. In 1606 Pedro Fernandes de Queiros landed in the New Hebrides and was expelled by the natives. Two French vessels were shipwrecked on the Solomon Islands in 1788.

         In Micronesia the Mariana Islands have been discussed above in relation to the Philippines. Spaniards also explored the Caroline Islands in the 16th century; Jesuits tried to evangelize them, starting in 1710; and they were colonized in the 19th century. In 1788 the Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands were named after the two British captains who discovered them.

         The experience of Alexander Selkirk living for five years on Islas Juan Fernandez off the coast of Chile until 1709 inspired Daniel Defoe to write the immensely popular Robinson Crusoe in 1719. Rousseau’s philosophy of the “noble savage” helped inspire the romantic movement, and Diderot also piqued interest in France by publishing his Supplement to Bougainville’s Voyage in 1796.

         In Polynesia in 1722 Jacob Roggeveen found Rapanui (Easter Island), Bora Bora, Maupiti, and Samoa, but the Dutch Company confiscated his ships because they had not authorized his venture. Whaling ships got supplies from the Marquesas Islands in the 1790s.

         In 1767 British captain Samuel Wallis of the Dolphin led the first exploration of Tahiti. He fired cannons at the southern side of the island and then went to Matavai Bay in the north. So many Tahitians surrounded his ship on canoes that he ordered more firing and later the destruction of all the canoes on the beach. After this bad start, the British soon learned that the Tahitians were very friendly and did not have sexual inhibitions. Sailors traded nails and later shirts for sexual favors. Although the ship surgeon claimed they currently did not have any syphilis or gonorrhea, these venereal diseases would eventually spread. Tahiti had several local chiefs, and Purea was regent for her young son Tu. For Tahitians the main taboo was to be unkind, but they did not recognize private property and would take things. Their generosity and gift exchanges gradually degenerated into bartering for better bargains because the Europeans had things they wanted such as iron, muskets, and rum. Young Tahitians practiced free and open sexual play, and even the married were not jealous and shared their spouses with others. Their arioi were priests who excelled in entertaining by music, dance, plays, wrestling, and lascivious games. Because they did not want children, the arioi practiced infanticide. The supreme God of the Tahitians was called Te Atua and was impersonal and transcendent, but the son Oro had come down to Earth on a rainbow for a beautiful girl.

         Soon after the British left, Louis Bougainville and two French ships arrived at eastern Tahiti in April 1768. The crews were suffering from scurvy but soon recovered, and Bougainville claimed the island for France. The London Royal Society wanted the transit of Venus to be observed in 1769 because the phenomenon would not recur for a century. So the British sent Captain James Cook and the wealthy young botanist Joseph Banks on the Endeavour. Purea liked Banks, but she began to abuse her increased power, making her people construct a large temple. Other chiefs allied against her, and she was defeated. Cook had Fort Venus built at Matavai Bay, and he imprisoned five chiefs until two marines who had run off with women were returned. Banks persuaded Cook to take Tupia and his servant back to England. After his second voyage to Tahiti in 1774 Cook took Omai, bringing him back on his third voyage in 1776. Tuteha and Vehiatua had overthrown Purea; by the time Cook returned, they had died and the younger Vehiatua had become friendly with Tu. The girls were bartering for dresses, and a taboo was put on the diminishing pigs. Tu acquired new tools and became the most powerful chief. Spaniards visited Tahiti three times and left two priests on the island in 1774. They spent their time guarding their possessions; their mission failed when they could not cure the ill Vehiatua.

         Banks became president of the Royal Society and proposed that breadfruit plants be taken from Tahiti to the West Indies to supply a cheap food for the slaves there. In 1787 Captain William Bligh and the Bounty sailed to Cape Horn before going east, stopping only at the Cape of Good Hope on the way to Tahiti. Tu joined the Arioi and married Itia; their first child was killed, but then he quit the society to have children. Tu became regent and took the name Pomare. Bligh had three deserters captured, flogged, and put in irons. He left Pomare in power with a few muskets and pistols. Near Tonga, first-mate Fletcher Christian wanted to desert in a boat but learned that about half the crew wanted to join him. So they put Bligh in a boat with eighteen others but had to keep four who wanted to go with them on the Bounty. Bligh’s boat found an island the next day, but then Bligh sailed 3,600 miles to the nearest European settlement on Timor. The Bounty went to Tubuai; they built a fort but did not get along well with the natives. Christian went to Matavai Bay and by lying managed to get 460 pigs, 50 goats, and fowls. Sixteen men from the Bounty stayed in Tahiti despite the danger, and Pomare gave them land with houses. They built a schooner, and their muskets helped Pomare become ruler of all Tahiti. When the HMS Pandora arrived, the fourteen mutineers were arrested. Four drowned when the ship sank in the Torres Straits. After a trial four were acquitted, three were pardoned, and three were hanged. Meanwhile Captain Bligh had successfully transported the breadfruit.

         The London Missionary Society (LMS) sent the first missionaries to Tahiti in 1795. Two years later eighteen Calvinist missionaries came and criticized the infanticide and free sexuality. When the Nautilus arrived, the missionaries tried to stop the bartering for muskets. After Tahitians stripped off their clothes, eleven missionaries decided to leave on the Nautilus. The number of Tahitians had dwindled from over a hundred thousand to 16,050.

         The Fiji islands are in eastern Melanesia and probably were a stepping off point for many who migrated further east to Polynesia. Fijians had no written language until the 19th century. Fear of epidemics caused them to strangle the sick in the 1790s.

On the island of Tonga in 1616 the Dutch killed natives with muskets after encountering hostility and fled from what they called Traitor’s Island. In 1799 three missionaries were murdered there during a civil war, and the other seven missionaries fled.

         Austronesians migrated to Samoa about two thousand years ago. The language of the Samoans may be the oldest in the Polynesian group. In 1768 Louis de Bougainville saw Samoans sailing far from land, which he called the Navigator Islands. Explorer Lapérouse had a difficult encounter in 1787, and Samoans killed twelve of his men. Lapérouse was unable to punish the perpetrators and restrained himself from attacking the innocent. Four years later the HMS Pandora, while looking for Bounty mutineers, was attacked and used guns to kill many Samoans. These incidents apparently discouraged other ventures.

         Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands first settled in the Hawaiian Islands perhaps as early as 400 CE. According to legend, about 1100 the priest Paao sent a messenger to Tahiti or Samoa, and Pili came to overthrow the bad ruler and become chief. Many migrated from Tahiti in the 12th and 13th centuries, bringing food plants, dogs, pigs, chickens, and paper-mulberry trees. Pili’s descendants and other new chiefs became dominant and established their religion on the larger islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. Their religious concept of kapu is similar to tapu (taboo). Women were not allowed to eat with men nor partake of bananas, coconuts, pork, and some kinds of fish such as shark.

         While looking for a northwest passage from the Pacific Ocean, in January 1778 Captain James Cook on the Resolution and with the Discovery came upon Kauai. The islanders were friendly and traded fish, pork, and sweet potatoes for brass and iron. When one took a meat cleaver, men from the Discovery fired guns at him. Lt. Williamson shot dead a man who was trying to take a boat hook. Concerned about spreading venereal disease, Cook tried to limit contact to only his healthy men. They estimated there were about 30,000 people on Kauai and five hundred on Niihau. Cook named the archipelago the Sandwich Islands after the Lord of the British Admiralty. In the spring Cook went north but could not find an opening in the ice. In November they returned for the winter and found that venereal disease had already spread to Maui.  During this season the Hawaiians celebrated the return of Lono, and they seemed to believe that Cook might be a reincarnation of the god. Cook was greeted by about ten thousand Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay. In February 1778 a large boat was stolen, and Cook went ashore to abduct the chief Kalaniopuu until it was returned. When a crowd of more than two thousand gathered, Cook changed his mind. Meanwhile his men blockading the canoes had killed a chief. When the crowd began throwing stones, Cook shot twice, killing one man. After the marines fired a volley, Cook was struck down and killed in the tide. Four marines were also killed. Captain Clerke fired cannons at the crowd and later negotiated for Cook’s bones.

         After Kalianopuu died in 1782, he was succeeded by his son Kiwalao; his nephew Kamehameha became guardian of the war god Kukailimoku. These two factions quarreled over land, and in a battle Kamehameha’s ally Keeaumoku killed Kiwalao. The most powerful chief was Kahekili on Maui. He invaded Oahu, sacrificed his foster-son to the war god, and tortured other Oahu chiefs to death. Kahekili’s half-brother Kaeokulani ruled Kauai. Fur traders traveling between America and Canton began stopping to trade, and the Hawaiians wanted muskets. John Kendrick of the Lady Washington and others sold guns and ammunition to chiefs. Hogs were made kapu to foreigners unless they paid with weapons. Some sailors venturing on shore were killed. In 1790 at Honuaula on Maui the American merchant Simon Metcalfe on the Eleanora killed some Hawaiians in revenge for one sailor’s murder. The fighting escalated, and Metcalfe’s men killed or wounded more than a hundred. When his son Thomas Metcalfe arrived later, chief Kameeiamoku and his men killed him and four others. Another chief allowed Isaac Davis to live. Kamehameha took possession of the ship. He put a kapu on the bay and abducted boatswain John Young when the Eleanora returned.

         Kamehameha did not let Davis and Young leave, and they became his allies, helping him with cannons to defeat the army at Maui. Kamehameha had to fight Keoua on Hawaii until Keeaumoku treacherously murdered Keoua at a negotiation. British merchant William Brown discovered the valuable harbor Honolulu in Oahu and was promised this island by Kahekili for military aid. Cook’s former midshipman, George Vancouver, made three voyages to the Sandwich Islands. He brought sheep and cattle, but he refused to sell arms to Kamehameha and tried unsuccessfully to stop the civil wars. Kamehameha put a kapu ban on slaughtering cattle for ten years. When Kahekili died in 1794, his son Kalanikupule with Brown’s help defeated Kaeokulani of Kauai and Maui. In celebrating the victory, Brown fired a salute to the Lady Washington. The cannon was mistakenly loaded, and Kendrick and some of his crew were killed. A month later natives killed Brown and some of his crew, and Kalanikupule took over two ships until George Lamport and their crews regained control. Lamport warned Young and Davis, and in 1795 Kamehameha invaded Maui and Oahu, chasing down and killing Kalanikupule.

The next year Kamehameha had to give up invading Kauai to go back and put down a revolt on Hawaii. He invited leading chiefs to reside at his court where he could watch them. He appointed governors for the other islands and had a fleet of 800 vessels built to transport an army of several thousand. He traded for muskets and cannons.

Pacific Islands 1800-1949


1. A History of Australia by C. M. H. Clark, Volume 1, p. 3.
2. Quoted in A History of New Zealand by Keith Sinclair, p. 32.

Copyright © 2004-2007 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book INDIA & Southeast Asia to 1800.
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Burma, Malaya, and Siam 1800-1950
Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos 1800-1945

SOUTH ASIA 1800-1950

Vedas and Upanishads
Mahavira and Jainism
Buddha and Buddhism
Political and Social Ethics of India
Hindu Philosophy
Literature of Ancient India
India 30 BC to 1300
Delhi Sultans and Rajas 1300-1526
Mughal Empire 1526-1707
Marathas and the English Company 1707-1800
Southeast Asia to 1800
Pacific Islands to 1800
Summary and Evaluation


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