War-bands on Java

Leiden Repository

War-bands on Java

Type: Research master thesis
Title: War-bands on Java
Author: Kemper, Simon
Issue Date: 2014-05-08
Keywords: Java
Abstract: What is war to whom? The troops roaming on Java in the late seventeenth century were of all shapes and colours. Some came from Sulawesi, some from Madura; some were religious others acquisitive. Usually they operated in small units known as war-bands led by a warlord. Despite the differences between these war-bands, many of them did gather and fight under a single banner. Often they hurdled behind overlords -sunans or sultans- who were in need for additional brawn; a competitive market of martial supply and demand resulted. The king with the most men usually won. Even the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was part of this market and relied on indigenous patrol. In 1677, the Company decided to support the Central Javanese realm called Mataram and thus landed in a diplomatic struggle for troops. This thesis wonders how VOC men reported on these warriors and what clues are given of a Javanese military labour market at odds with the European one. The Dutch commanders would soon find out drawing in allies was as important as winning battles; the extent to which they could enter the networks of warlords and rulers thereby determined much of their victory. This thesis tells how far they did in the two chaotic and bloody years of 1677 and 1678.
Description: This thesis is part of a larger project on war-bands around the Java Sea in the late seventeenth century. In this piece, I flesh out new approaches to studying VOC sources. Many more perspectives, however, can be obtained through different methods and sources. These range from Javanese court chronicles to stories of Juru Kunci to geographical surveys. During the next four years, I intend to conduct research from those angles as well. Some questions implicitly raised in the introduction will then be addressed more directly. The conclusion here limits itself to European beholders. As the reader will find, however, plenty of translated letters of Javanese, Makassarese and Bantense origin are available in the Dutch archives and already discussed here. Those still give a dynamic touch to the European eyelet offered in this thesis.
Supervisor: Gommans, J.J.L.
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: History (Research master)
Specialisation: Colonial and Global History
ECTS Credits: 40
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/25549

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