History-In the 15th century, Banten, Sunda Kelapa, and Cirebon were the territory of Pajajaran Kingdom which was a Hindu kingdom. At that time, Pajajaran had established relationship with the Portuguese. The relation was strengthened with an agreement between the two sides (1522). The contents of the agreement were as follows.
- Portugal was permitted to build a fort in Sunda Kelapa.
- Pajajaran Kingdom would provide commodities for the Portuguese.
In 1525, Nurullah, the envoy of Demak’s king (Sultan Trenggana) came to Banten to ‘Islamize’ and take control of Banten, Sunda Kelapa, and Cirebon. Banten and Cirebon were first regions which could be Islamized by Nurullah, while Sunda Kelapa which was a trade port of Pajajaran Kingdom and a competitor of Banten was taken over in 1527.
To appreciate this victory, Sultan Trenggana awarded Nurullah the title of Fatahillah which means ‘victory on Allah’s way’.
After regions on the on the north coast of west Java were captured by Fatahillah, the government of Cirebon was handed over to his son, Pangeran Pasarean.
Then in 1522, Fatahillah took over the government of Cirebon place of his son (Pangeran Pasarean) who died that year, whereas the government of Banten Kingdom was handed over to his other son, Sultan Hasanuddin.
During the reign of Sultan Hasanuddin (1552-1570), Banten Kingdom developed fast. This was due to the good leadership of Sultan Hasanuddin and several factors below.
- The location of Banten was very strategic for trade and navigation.
- Many tradesmen changed their navigation route to Sunda Strait when Malacca had been seized by Portugal (1511).
- Banten was a producer of rice and pepper.
When Sultan Hasanuddin found out that Demak Kingdom was in chaos (1550) he decided to separate from Demak.
To sterengthen Banten Kingdom, Sultan Hasanuddin tried to expand his territory as far as Lampung. With the seize of Lampung, Banten could control the areas that produced pepper and other commodities which sold well in the world market. In 1570, Sultan Hasanuddin died and he was replaced by his son, Panembahan Yusuf (1570-1580).
During the period of Panembahan Yusuf’s rule, Banten Kingdom expanded. From here Islam was continuously spread, especially to the rural areas of West Java which were mostly still under the control of Pajajaran Hindu Kingdom. Finally, Pajajaran could be conquered by Banten in 1579.
In 1580, Panembahan Yusuf died, but he left Banten as a large and powerful kingdom. After the death of Panembahan Yusuf, Banten was led by Maulana Muhammad (1580-1596). In his period of reign, Banten launched an attack on Palembang which was controlled by a Muslim poet from Surabaya named Ki Gede Suro. Banten’s attack failed, and Maulana Muhammad was even killed in battle.
The next ruler of Banten was Abdulmufakir (1596-1640), who was succedeed by Abumali Ahmad Rahmatullah (1640-1651). Not much was known about Banten during the reign of Abdulmufakir, a Dutch fleet under the command of Cornelis de Houtman managed to land in Banten in 1596.
The peak of Banten Kingdom’s glory was finally reached under the reign of Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa (1651-1682). He implemented a free trade policy. Under this policy, Banten port was open to all tradesmen, whether they were from Nusantara or from foreign countries. Foreign tradesmen who were not Muslim were also permitted to do trade freely.
The free trade policy implemented by Banten Kingdom was quite disadvantageous to the monopolistic trade policy conducted by the Dutch (VOC) the headquarter of which had been located in Batavia since 1621. So Banten was regarded by VOC as its major trade competitor.
The success of Banten in trade made the Dutch want to take control of Banten. To achieve to goal, the Dutch started to employ a devisive policy (devide et impera). The targets of the divisive policy were Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa and his son named Abdul Kahar, and finally the father and son were in conflict.
The conflict between Tirtayasa and Abdul Kahar developed into a war. Abdul Kahar was backed up by the Dutch and as a result in 1682 Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa was imprisoned.
After Abdul Kahar who was titled Sultan Haji descended the throne (1682-1687), the glory of Banten gradually declined due to the Dutch’s influence that had been implanted in the life of Banten Kingdom.
Banten’s glory even dropped after the signing of an agreement between Sultan Haji and the Dutch (1684). Because of this agreemen, the port of Banten was closed to tradesme, except Dutch tradesmen. As a result, Banten lost its role as a free port.