Malaya and Its History

Malaya and Its History

Malaya and Its History

Malaya and Its History

Excerpt

Seven times the Malay Peninsula has played a notable part on the world's stage. About 6000 B.C. it was a bridge down which the ancestors of the Australian aborigine and of the Papuan made their way to the narrow waters they crossed one after another to their present homes. About 2000 B.C. the ancestors of the Malays descended its rivers on their trek from Yunnan to Sumatra and Java and beyond. Then, when India and China had built ships for the high seas, a Malay Buddhist empire, Sri Vijaya, maintained a footing in the north of the peninsula to command the Straits of Malacca, as it maintained a footing in Palembang to command the Sunda Straits. For five centuries the fleets of its Maharaja intercepted ships faring between India and China to levy tribute and toll, as afterwards the fleets of Portuguese and Dutch monopolists were to do. In the fourteenth century Sri Vijaya and its colonies fell before the attacks of Majapahit, Java's last Hindu empire, and one of its fugitive princes founded about 1403 the port kingdom of Malacca to be for a hundred years a Malay world market. In addition (a happening even more momentous) Malacca became a centre from which Indian and Arab missionaries carried the religion of Muhammad to the islands of the archipelago. In 1511 the port was captured by d'Albuquerque to be fortified as Portugal's base for trade with the Spice Islands and the Far East.

In 1641 Malacca was wrested from Portugal by the Dutch, who, having settled at Batavia to command the Sunda Straits, wanted, like Sri Vijaya, to dominate the Straits of Malacca also, the more effectively to hold the East and West in fee. Under Dutch rule Malacca, after nearly two and a half centuries of greatness, was eclipsed by Batavia, and when in the nineteenthcentury . . .

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