Malaya - History of the East

13.1. Malaya

The data of anthropology, archeology and paleolinguistics indicate that the most ancient Negroid and austromelanesoid race-ethnic substratum in the III-I millennium BC. the ethno-cultural layer of the Malayan tribes who migrated to Malaya from Southwest China and brought with them Neolithic and Bronze cultures was overlaid. Advantageous geographical position (through the Malacca Straits run the most convenient trade routes) promoted the transformation of the southern part of the peninsula into a commercial crossroads, where for centuries crossed the routes of Indian, Arab, and then Chinese merchants and where, therefore, from the turn of our era port cities appeared and served transshipment base, and the market, and carrier of rapidly spread cultural influences. A particularly prominent role was played here by Indian merchants and, in general, immigrants from India, including representatives of Brahmin castes and Buddhist monks. They created the initial socio-political and religious and cultural basis in the urban and port settlements of Malaya. Something similar at the same time was in the continental part of the region, where Indian influence in the early stages of the formation of civilization and statehood was very tangible. The Indian fundamental principle was palpable for many centuries and even predominated, even to Islamization, so it was not by chance that the region as a whole was perceived by foreigners (Europeans) as something connected with India, which was reflected in the already mentioned names.

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The first proto-states in the territory of Malaya, which arose at the turn of our era, were more foreign enclaves, rather than the result of spontaneous development of local ethnic communities. However, over time, the Indo-Buddhist religious and political core of urban settlers overgrew the local rural periphery that was gravitating toward it. There were proto-state entities such as city-states, a large part of which initially was in vassal dependence on the Khmer Founani or, somewhat later, from the 8th century, from the Sumatran Srivijaya. When in the XI century. the southern Indian state, Cholov, seized Shrivijaya for a while, and this also affected the Malayan states that fell under Cholov's rule. In the XII century. part of the Malayan principalities was under the rule of the Khmer Angkor. But at the same time, the Sumatran Srivijaya, and the strengthened early state Jambi, formerly the vassal of Srivijaya, did not refuse from their claims to suzerainty. In the XIII century. Among the Malayan principalities was allocated the state of Tramblalinga, decided to free themselves from vassalage. However, an appeal for help to Thai Sukhothai led only to the fact that Trumbralinga was under the rule of Sukhothai. For many years, the Malays had fought for the expulsion of Thais from their country, and when this goal was achieved, Javanese Majapahit began to claim hegemony.

The picture, in general, is quite clear. The Malayan principalities, located in a strategically important region of South-East Asia and controlling navigation along the Strait of Malacca, were too tasty a piece to long remain fully independent. The weakness of these small state entities contributed to the fact that they continually fell into a vassal dependence on a strong neighbor. The situation changed rather sharply only at the turn of the 14th-15th centuries, when the Javanese prince of Paramsurvara , who fled from Majapahita to Malaya, made the weak principalities of Malaya his socio-political pillar in the struggle to create a strong Muslim power. The point is that after the beginning of the process of Islamization of India, the main stream of Indian merchants to Southeast Asia began to be formed at the expense of the merchant fleet of Gujarat. Indian Gujarati merchants were predominantly Muslims, which immediately affected the transformation of Islam into a leading force in the Malaysian-Indonesian trade. In 1414 Parameshvara officially adopted Islam and under the name of Iskander-shah, became the head of the Malacca Sultanate , which he quickly managed to capture not only almost all of Malaya, but also part of Sumatra and a number of adjacent islands. Although Iskander-Shah himself failed to achieve complete success, because the Hindu-oriented part of the Malaysian trade and political elite was at that time still quite strong, from the middle of the 15th century onwards. Islam in the Sultanate has become firmly entrenched.

It was with the help of Islamic political and social institutions that the Malacca Sultanate turned into a strong centralized state with the supreme authority of the ruler, exercising strict strict supreme control over both land relations, as in all Islamic political structures, and in the sphere of political administration, and in trade. It is important to note that, although Muslims penetrated and consolidated themselves on the islands of Indonesia long before the Malay Sultanate, only after the victory of Islam in Malaya and the appearance of a strong centralized power in the area of ​​the Strait of Malacca, they began to triumph over the victory in Indonesia. In particular, this was facilitated by the migration of Malays Muslims to Kalimantan, in the Saravak and Sabah regions, the very ones that have already entered, not by chance, into Malaysia. Throughout the XV century. Islam actively ousted the remnants of Hinduism and Buddhism in the Malay culture, which in particular led to the replacement of the Indian script here with the Arab-Persian, to the decline of the temple structures of Indo-Buddhist origin. At the same time, Islamization helped to bring the Malay language to the forefront, to turning it into a literary language.

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The Malacca Sultanate ceased to exist in 1511 under the onslaught of the Portuguese, who defeated the Sultan's army and turned his capital Malacca into his trading post, where Portuguese merchants dominated until the middle of the 17th century. The collapse of a centralized state did not, however, lead to the death of Islamic statehood. Several smaller sultanates appeared on the site of the united one, each of which pursued its own policy, resisted the onslaught of the Portuguese and then the Dutch colonialists or in some way cooperated with them.

Of course, decentralization has led to a weakening of the power of the Sultans, which was the goal of the colonialists. And within the framework of small sultanates, the colonialists actively promoted the growth of centrifugal tendencies, i. strengthening the independence of the rulers of the provinces, often turning into autocratic hereditary princes. But, in spite of this whole process, over time, some of the sultanates, especially the South-Malay Johoru , managed to strengthen themselves internally and noticeably intensify. Having used the favorable foreign policy situation and having entered into an alliance with the Dutch, the sultans of Johor managed in the middle of the 17th century. expel the Portuguese from Malaya.

The expulsion of the Portuguese was a great victory. True, instead of them in Malacca firmly entrenched the Dutch, but sharply increased prestige of Johor, which contributed to its transformation into the largest state of the peninsula. Almost the entire XVIII century. passed in the fierce rivalry of the Jokhhor sultans with the Dutch. In the end, the Dutch took the upper hand, and Johor, like the Malacca Sultanate, broke up into a number of small sultanates. However, this victory did not bring good luck to the Dutch. The English East India Company, which tried already at the end of the XVIII century. strengthened in Singapore, began to guide the bribery of certain sultans, and in fact succeeded. The collapse of Johor was beneficial to her. In 1795, the British occupied Malacca, ousting the Dutch from there, and at the beginning of the nineteenth century. one after another, the most important Malay sultanates were taken to their hands. The seizure in 1819 of Singapore finally consolidated the leading position of England in Malaya, in fact turned into an English colony. London Treaty of 1824 Malaya was recognized by the British sphere of influence, while Holland refused it. Control over the sea route through the Strait of Malacca was in the hands of the British.

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