By M. C. Ricklefs
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Extra info for A History of Modern Indonesia: c. 1300 to the Present (Asian history series)
Timber had to be imported to build ships and houses. Although the city was never conquered by an Indonesian power, it had from time to time to be defended against Banten in the west and Mataram in the east, both of which were hostile. All of these considerations meant heavy expenses. And they would also almost inevitably lead the VOC into its catastrophic involvement in the internal affairs of the kingdoms of Java. Batavia was a major cause of the VOC's financial decline. It was also the foundation from which Dutch rule in Java would later grow, but only after much bloodshed and hardship.
They were short of both money and manpower. Their organisation was typified by confused and overlapping commands, inefficiency and corruption. Even their own governors of Malacca traded for personal gain at the Malay port of johor, where duties and prices were lower, in violation of the monopoly they were supposed to maintain. The Asian traders transferred much of their trade to other ports, and simply bypassed the Portuguese monopoly. 22 A HISTORY OF MODERN INDONESIA In the west of the archipelago the Portuguese fairly soon ceased to be such a revolutionary force.
But there may have been a Hindu-Buddhist reaction under the fourth king Parameswara Dewa Syah (r. 1445-6), who was apparently killed in a Muslim coup and replaced by his half-brother Sultan Muzaffar Syah (r. 1446-59). Thereafter the position of Islam was unchallenged. The most interesting aspect of Malacca for this history of Indonesia is the vast trading network which reached out to the Indonesian islands. The Portugese writer Tome Pires described the wealth of this system with an enthusiasm which may be exaggerated, but his general description is clearly reliable.