Prosperous port city, well organized, and clear river water… Tom Pires on his book Suma Oriental described about Kalapa, a city port of a Hindu Kingdom in Java Island.
Pires was on the voyage of four Portuguese ships sail from Malacca in Malaya peninsula to Java led by de Alvin in 1513. Pires also notes that a port in the estuary of Ciliwung river, later known as Sunda Kalapa, was well governed as there were port master, judge, and port treasurer (mangkubumi).
Sunda Kalapa ruler was Sanghyang Surawisesa whose father Sri Baduga Ratu Jayadewa the king of Pakuan pajajaran, had had him sent to Malacca in previous year to request for help from Alfonso d’ Albuquerque to encounter the coming influence from Islamic Kingdom of Demak and Cirebon. According to Pires, Kalapa administrator only permitted small numbers of Islamic merchant vessel to enter the harbour. But Jakarta historian, Ridwan Saidi, said there was significant numbers of Moslem merchant lived peacefully along with their Hindu host in Sunda Kalapa.
Portuguese sent the second ambassador to Kalapa in 1522 led by Enrique Leme. Leme and Surawisesa held a friendship and monopoly agreement on nutmeg trade. The friendship of Sunda-Portuguese marked by padrao, a stone monument placed in the shoreline, dated 21 August 1522. Padrao stone was found in 1918, buried under a house in Jalan Cengkeh, near the railway, and now has been kept in Jakarta National Museum. The padrao location shows the shoreline at the time of Surawisesa, a mile south of now existing Sunda Kalapa shoreline. Sediment from Ciliwung river had move the shoreline. When Dutch conquer Kalapa 100 years after Surawisesa, the shoreline had been moved almost a kilometer to north from the padrao. From Pires and other historians, it was estimated population of Pakuan Pajajaran kingdom around 150.000 people and 15.000 lived in Sunda Kalapa.
The turmoil in Goa, India, affected Portuguese in Malacca so they cannot deliver their promise to build a fortress in Kalapa, as stated in the 1522 agreement, as soon as possible. In 1526, thousand troops from Demak and Cirebon led by Fadhillah Khan (Fatahillah), a prince from Islamic kingdom of Samudera Pasai in northern Sumatera, conquered the Hindu ruler of Sunda Kalapa. Prior to Sunda Kalapa invasion, Demak and Cirebon troops took over the bigger kingdom of Banten, west of Sunda Kalapa.
In 1527 Portuguese sent ships to Kalapa to build fortress without knowing the change of political situation. On the way to Kalapa, three ships under command of Duarte Cuelho separated from the main armada due to heavy storm. One of the Cuelho ships, a brigantine manned by 30 men, landed some place in Jakarta bay only to face a sudden attack by Fatahillah troops. Outnumbered, unprepared and exhausted by the storm, they were easily slaughtered. The remaining two ships can only assisted with desperate cannon barrage and eventually return to Malacca. Upon the victory, Fatahillah change the city name to Jayakarta, means ultimate victory. It also marked the end of Hindu kingdom of Sunda which had lost her last port.
Dutch East Indies trade company or Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) founded d in 1602, following suit the foundation of British East India Company in 1600, sail to east Asia to follow the trail of Portuguese venture of spice trade. First Dutch came to Java was Cornelis de Houtman with four ships arrive in Banten port, the biggest port in south east Asia. They build some wooden godowns in Banten and made huge profit from spice trade. But soon the political situation in Banten was unstable and Dutch seek another place for spice storage before sent to Europe. They notice a small port eastern of Banten, Jayakarta.
VOC came to Jayakarta in 1608. Those days, Jayakarta was only a residence under the rule of Islamic kingdom of Banten. In 1610 the Dutch obtained permission from Prince Jayawikarta to build a godown or warehouse and a small settlement in the Chinese section of the town of Jayakarta on the eastern bank of Ciliwung estuary. However eight years later they broke their agreement by turning the godown into a well fortified stone fort.
The Dutch cheated prince Jayawikarta, the third ruler of Jayakarta after Fatahillah and Tugabus Angke, who only permitted a wooden lodge for foreign merchant. Dutch build a 150×150 square meter stone fort consisting of Nassau and Mauritius Huis later named Kasteel Jacatra.
For balancing the power, Jayawikarta permitted British merchant to build a wooden lodge on the eastern bank of Ciliwung River, just opposite with the Dutch fort. Jayawikarta build relationship with British without acknowledge from Banten which upset Prince Ranamenggala, the ruler of Banten.
Clashes between Dutch and British backed by Jayawikarta erupted. Dutch and British exchanged cannon shells. Despite being surrounded by Jayawikarta troops, Dutch gain advantages by its venerable stone wall fort built by the sea to ensure they wll never lack of logistic. British and Jayawikarta eventually on the winning side before Ranamenggala, who had been promised payment by the Dutch, sent ships to arrest Jayawikarta. British had no willing to confrontate Banten and so Jayawikarta was arrested and brought back to Banten to receive punishment. Hundreds men in Dutch fort has been saved. In 1619, Jan Pieterszoon Coen came from Moluccas with 16 ship and two thousand troops including hundreds of Japanese mercenaries (ronin) to conquer Jayakarta. The small Jayakarta city situated 500 meters south of the shoreline which no longer had a ruler, easily leveled to the ground. Almost 10.000 resident of Jayakarta mostly Bantenese ousted to inner region.
JP Coen was an accountant. He named the newly conquered land Batavia after Bataaf, a region in Germany where the origin of Dutch ancestor. JP Coen was a strick and ruthless ruler, a style which may be needed since Batavia always under treat from hostile neighbouring including Banten. Coen hate his European mates who always drunk but he liked the Japanese ronins who later helped whim conquered Banda islands and slaughtered hundreds of its natives in 1621. ”The later Coen was too energetic,” said Heeren XVII, board of director of VOC (Maya Jayapal, Old Jakarta).
Coen build the city from the ground. He replace the old fort and build the new one on it, as the starting point of a Batavia citadel. He build stone wall surrounding a complex of European style houses. Segregation policy was common practice as only European, Arab, Chinese, and slaves permitted to live inside the city wall. Before all the surrounding wall completed, Mataram kingdom in Central Java located 550 kilometers east of Batavia launched a large military campaign to Batavia in 1627 and 1629. Heavy resistant from the European and Chinese residents of Batavia combined with the lack of logistic supply for Mataram troops had help to repel the attack. But in 1629, after the last attack from Mataram troops, JP Coen died from cholera which may cause by the act of Dipati Ukur, a Sundanese commander in Mataram forces, who might have poisoned the Ciliwung water in upstream.
Batavia citadel completed in 1850 and became the VOC headquarter for its operation in Asia which include VOC offices in Molucca, India, Bengal, Sri Lanka and Deshima (Nagasaki). After 1733, health condition in Batavia worsened due to bad sanitation system and malaria epidemic. Dead rate in Batavia soar high. About 40-60 pct of newly come European who got no chance to build immunity from malaria died in the first half of year. In the whole first year, the dead rate was so rampant as 70 pct of newly come Europeans dead. Almost 85 thousands VOC employees died in Batavia attributed to malaria.
The impact of disease was so devastating for VOC. Not just paying for the medication bill, high dead rate also made VOC suffered from the lack of ship’s crews to bring spices commodities to Europe, an eminent factor besides corruptions which helped VOC dive into the pit of bankcruptcy. Historian Van der Brug estimates VOC losses mount to 1,2 million gulden a year due to disease alone, whereas in the good time the VOC annual sales peak up to 20 million gulden with only maximum earning of 2 million gulden. Batavia has brought VOC to the golden age and also brought it down.
For almost 200 years ruling until bankcruptcy in 1789, there were 26 governor general in Batavia under VOC administration after JP COen. France revolution broke in 1789 followed by Napoleon expansion to Europe resulting the annexation of Dutch kingdom. Herman Willem Daendels came to Batavia in 1808 represent emperor Napolen of France, became the second most influential ruler of Batavia.
Due to worsened health issue, Daendels move the city from the malaria infested beach area to the south, to a place later called Weltevreden (means peace and relax) which now inclued a region of Pasar Baru, Pejambon, and Medan Merdeka. Almost all building and fortress wall in old Batavia was took apart so the building material can be used to build the new city. Almost all canal in old Batavia was fill in with soil to prevent malaria mosquito to breed.
Daendels was just a mere copy of Coen in term of ruling behaviour. Threaten by possible British invasion, Daendels build a thousand kilometers highway along the northern coast of Java from Anyer in the west to Panarukan in the east. Thousands of Javanese and Sundanese workers died during the highway construction. But the Daendels mega project had helped to cut time to travel along the northern coast of Java from 40 days to only six days.
British ruled in India foresee the increasing threat of France power in Dutch Indies, let alone many French pirates and privateers based in Mauritius had marauded British vessel on Indian Oceans. On July 1811, a large British armada of 100 ships loaded with 12.000 troops embarked from Calcutta and Madras to attack Batavia. The British sea invasion led by Sir Samuel Auchmuty, an American who took on British side during 1776 American revolution. John Bastin in his foreword of the book of Major William Thorn’s ‘Conquest of Java’ called it’s the largest British sea armada before world war II.
British troops landed on Cilincing, eastern beach of Jakarta Bay on 4th August 1811. They move along the shore to Kampung Baroe, crossed the Ancol bridge and managed to occupy the old Batavia. British troops marched to Weltevreden trough Molenvliet and only found abandoned houses. From Rijswick, British troops separate in two groups. One groups move to Meester Cornelis (Jatinegara) and found a heavy resistant along their way. The other groups move south to Kampung Melayu to flank out the remaining Dutch forces tried to reinforce Meester Cornelis. Dutch and French troops led by General Jannsen was easily defeated and on 26th August the last troops defended Dutch fortress in Meester Cornelis surrender.
Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles represent British Empire to act as governor general of Batavia did not make any significant progress and he only continue Daendels’s work. Raffles who was a naturalist and interested in science develop Bogor, 50 kilometers south of Batavia, as a place for retreat. He also advocate to build some wildlife conservation forests in Java and Sumatera. Raffles later known as the founder of Singapore, a small port in the tip of Malayan Peninsula once called Tumasik.
Until the end of 19th century, Batavia has been the capital of Ducth Indies administraton and also the center of export import activites. Economic rule in Batavia only rivaled by Surabaya with its deep water port of Tanjung Perak. Batavia regain its importance as the core of export import activities after Dutch government build deep water port of Tanjung Priok in 1885 to replace Sunda Kalapa which no longer suitable for large steam vessel.
Japanese occupation in Indonesia from 1942 until 1945 did not make any progress for the city except replace the name from Batavia to Jakarta, the name which previously used for only 100 years before VOC rule in the early 17th century. Governor Ali Sadikin (1966-1977), once a marine general, regarded as ‘Father of Development of Jakarta’ turn the city from a ‘big village’ during 1950 to a metropolis in early 1980. Governor Sutiyoso (1998-2007), a former army general, proposed to build an integral development of Jakarta with surrounding urban area such Tangerang, Bekasi, Depok and Bogor into a concept called Jakarta megapolitan.