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Bantam (city)

Bantam (city)

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Bantam in Banten province
Banten is a province of Indonesia in Java. Formerly part of the Province of West Java, it was made a separate province in 2000.The administrative center is Serang. Preliminary results from the 2010 census counted some 10.6 million people.-Geography:...

 near the western end of Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

 was a strategically important site and formerly a major trading city, with a secure harbor on the Sunda Strait
Sunda Strait
The Sunda Strait is the strait between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. It connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean...

 through which all ocean-going traffic passed, at the mouth of Banten River that provided a navigable passage for light craft into the island's interior which itself provides a good access to the hinterland.


In the 5th century, Banten was part of the Kingdom of Tarumanagara
Tarumanagara or Taruma Kingdom or just Taruma is an early Sundanese Indianized kingdom, whose fifth-century ruler, Purnavarman, produced the earliest known inscriptions on Java island...

. The Lebak relic inscriptions, found in lowland villages on the edge of Ci Danghiyang, Munjul, Pandeglang, Banten, were discovered in 1947 and contains 2 lines of poetry with Pallawa script and Sanskrit language. The inscriptions mentioned about the courage of king Purnawarman. After the collapse of the kingdom Tarumanagara following attack by Srivijaya
Srivijaya was a powerful ancient thalassocratic Malay empire based on the island of Sumatra, modern day Indonesia, which influenced much of Southeast Asia. The earliest solid proof of its existence dates from the 7th century; a Chinese monk, I-Tsing, wrote that he visited Srivijaya in 671 for 6...

, power in the western Java fell to the Kingdom of Sunda. The Chinese source, Chu-fan-chi, written circa 1200, Chou Ju-kua mentioned that in the early 13th Century, Srivijaya still ruled Sumatra, the Malay peninsula, and western Java (Sunda
Sunda Kingdom
The Sunda Kingdom was a Hindu kingdom located on the western part of Java from 669 to around 1579, covering areas of present-day Banten, Jakarta, West Java, and the western part of Central Java...

). The source identifies the port of Sunda as strategic and thriving, pepper
Black pepper
Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed...

 from Sunda being among the best in quality. The people worked in agriculture and their houses were built on wooden poles (rumah panggung). However, robbers and thieves plagued the country. It was highly possible that the port of Sunda mentioned by Chou Ju-kua was probably refer to the port of Banten.

According to Portuguese explorer, Tome Pires
Tomé Pires
Tomé Pires was an apothecary from Lisbon who spent 1512 to 1515 in Malacca immediately after the Portuguese conquest, at a time when Europeans were only first arriving in South East Asia...

, in the early 16 th century the port of Bantam (Banten) was one of the important ports of the Kingdom of Sunda, along with the ports of Pontang, Cheguide (Cigede), Tangaram (Tangerang
Tangerang is a city in the Province of Banten, Indonesia. It is located about 25 km west of Jakarta. It is the third largest urban center in the Jabotabek region after Jakarta and Bekasi. It has an area of 164.54 km² and an official intercensal estimated population of 1,537,244 for 2005...

), Calapa (Sunda Kelapa
Sunda Kelapa
Sunda Kelapa is the old port of Jakarta located on the estuarine of Ciliwung River. "Sunda Kalapa" is the original name, and it was the main port of Sunda Kingdom of Pajajaran. The port is situated in Penjaringan sub-district, of North Jakarta, Indonesia...

) and Chimanuk (estuarine of Cimanuk river).

As a trading city Bantam received an influx of Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic influence in the early 16th century. Later in the 16th century Bantam became the seat of the powerful Banten Sultanate. The English, who started to sail to the East Indies
East Indies
East Indies is a term used by Europeans from the 16th century onwards to identify what is now known as Indian subcontinent or South Asia, Southeastern Asia, and the islands of Oceania, including the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines...

 from around 1600, established a permanent trading post in Bantam in 1603. In 1613 John Jourdain was appointed as Chief Factor there, holding the administrative post until 1616 (other than for a few months during 1615, when Thomas Elkington was Chief Factor); he was succeeded in 1616 by George Berkley, but from 1617 until 1630 the factory was under a chosen President. From 1630 until 1634 a succession of Agents were appointed annually, but from 1634 the series of Presidents resumed until 1652.

In the thirty years following 1603, the trading factories established by the English on the Coromandel Coast
Coromandel Coast
The Coromandel Coast is the name given to the southeastern coast of the Indian Subcontinent between Cape Comorin and False Divi Point...

 of India, such as those at Machilipatnam
Machilipatnam is a city and a special grade municipality in the Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh, India. It is located south east of state capital, Hyderabad.-History:...

 (estd. 1611) and Fort St. George (estd. 1639), reported to Bantam. The Dutch East India Company
East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

 also established a trading factory at Bantam in 1603. During the 17th century the Portuguese and Dutch fought for control of Bantam. Eventually the fact that the Dutch found that they could control Batavia
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

 (trading factory estd. 1611) more thoroughly than Bantam may have contributed to Bantam's decline.

South-Bantam or Bantan-Kidoel or Lebak was the place where the eponymous character in Multatuli's
Eduard Douwes Dekker , better known by his pen name Multatuli , was a Dutch writer famous for his satirical novel, Max Havelaar , which denounced the abuses of colonialism in the Dutch East Indies .-Biography:Dekker was born in Amsterdam...

 novel Max Havelaar
Max Havelaar
Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company is a culturally and socially significant 1860 novel by Multatuli which was to play a key role in shaping and modifying Dutch colonial policy in the Dutch East Indies in the nineteenth and early twentieth century...

acted as the assistant-resident.

Today, Bantam is a small local seaport, economically overpowered by the neighbouring port of Merak. In Bantam, the Chinese are an important component of the community.

See also

  • Old Banten
    Old Banten
    Old Banten is a historic city which was the capital of the Indonesian Sultanate of Banten. It is now part of the Serang Regency located about 11 km north of Serang city....

  • East India Company
    East India Company
    The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

  • English colonial empire
    English colonial empire
    The English colonial empire consisted of a variety of overseas territories colonized, conquered, or otherwise acquired by the former Kingdom of England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries....

  • Dutch East India Company in Indonesia
    Dutch East India Company in Indonesia
    The Dutch East India Company had a presence in the Indonesian archipelago from 1603, when the first trading post was established, to 1800, when the bankrupted party was dissolved, and its possessions nationalised as the Dutch East Indies....