Friday, 8 March 2013

Prehistory of Malacca

The history of Malacca is largely the story of the city for which it is named, and the story of the city of Malacca begins with the fascinating and partly legendary tale of the Hindu prince Parameswara.
The Malay Annals relate that Parameswara was a fourteenth-century Palembang prince who, fleeing from a Japanese enemy, escaped to the island of Temasik (present-day Singapore) and quickly established himself as its king. Shortly afterward, however, Parameswara was driven out of Temasik by an invasion, and with a small band of followers set out along the west coast of the Malay peninsula in search of a new refuge. The refugees settled first at Muar, butthey were quickly driven away by a vast and implacable horde of monitor lizards; the second spot chosen seemed equally inauspicious, as the fortress that the refugees began to build fell to ruins immediately. Parameswara moved on. Soon afterward, during a hunt near the mouth of a river called Bertam, he saw a white mouse-deer kick one of his hunting dogs. So impressed was he by the deer's defiant gesture that he decided immediately to build a city on the spot. He asked one of his servants the name of the tree under which he was standing and, being informed that the tree was called a Malaka, gave that name to the city. The year was 1400.

Although its origin is as much romance as history, the fact is that Parameswara's new city was situated at a point of enormous strategic importance. Midway along the straits that linked China to India and the Near East, Malacca was perfectly positioned as a center for maritime trade. The city grew rapidly, and within fifty years it had become a wealthy and powerful hub of international commerce, with a population of over 50,000. It was during this period of Malacca's history that Islam was introduced to the Malay world, arriving along with Gujarati traders from western India. By the first decade of the sixteenth century Malacca was a bustling, cosmopolitan port, attracting hundreds of ships each year. The city was known worldwide as a center for the trade of silk and porcelain from China; textiles from Gujarat and Coromandel in India; nutmeg, mace, and cloves from the Moluccas, gold and pepper from Sumatra; camphor from Borneo; sandalwood from Timor; and tin from western Malaya.

Unfortunately, this fame arrived at just the moment when Europe began to extend its power into the East, and Malacca was one of the very first cities to attract its covetous eye. The Portuguese under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque arrived first, taking the city after a sustained bombardment in 1511. The Sultan fled to Johor, from whence the Malays counterattacked the Portuguese repeatedly though without success. One reason for the strength of the Portuguese defense was the construction of the massive fortification of A Famosa, only a small portion of which survives today.

A Famosa ensured Portuguese control of the city for the next one hundred and fifty years, until, in 1641, the Dutch invested Malacca after an eight-month siege and a fierce battle. Malacca was theirs, but it lay in almost complete ruin. Over the next century and a half, the Dutch rebuilt the city and employed it largely as a military base, using its strategic location to control the Straits of Malacca. In 1795, when the Netherlands was captured by French Revolutionary armies, Malacca was handed over to the British to avoid capture by the French. Although they returned the city to the Dutch in 1808, it was soon given over to the British once again in a trade for Bencoleen, Sumatra. From 1826, the city was ruled by the English East India Company in Calcutta, although it experienced Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945. Independence did not arrive until 1957, when anti-colonial sentiment culminated in a proclamation of independence by His Highness Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, Malaysia's first Prime Minister.

Source :- Google

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