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The Portuguese and the Straits of Melaka, 1575-1619

Power, Trade and Diplomacy

Following the fall of the Melaka Sultanate to the Portuguese in 1511, the sultanates of Johor and Aceh emerged as major trading centers alongside Portuguese Melaka. Each power represented wider global interests. Aceh had links with Gujerat, the Ottoman Empire and the Levant. Johor was a center for Javanese merchants and others involved with the Eastern spice trade. Melaka was part of the Estado da India, Portugal’s trading empire that extended from Japan to Mozambique. Throughout the sixteenth century, a peculiar balance among the three powers became an important character of the political and economical life in the Straits of Melaka. The arrival of the Dutch in the early seventeenth century upset the balance and led to the decline of Portuguese Melaka. Making extensive use of contemporary Portuguese sources, Paulo Pinto uses geopolitical approach to analyze the financial, political, economic and military institutions that underlay this triangular arrangement, a system that persisted because no one power could achieve an undisputed hegemony. He also considers the position of post-conquest Melaka in the Malay World, where it remained a symbolic center of Malay civilization and a model of Malay political authority despite changes associated with Portuguese rule. In the process provides information on the social, political and genealogical circumstances of the Johor and Aceh sultanates.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps
List of Illustrations
1.         Melaka and the Estado da Índia: The Economic Backdrop
   Melaka and Its Trade
   The 17th Century and the Decline of Melaka
2.         Melaka and the Estado da Índia: The Political and Military Framework
               Tension, Change and Erosion
3.         Melaka and the Geopolitics of the Straits
               Three Decades of Equilibrium
4.         Portuguese and Malays
               Melaka in the Malay World: Politics, War and Diplomacy
               The Sultanate of Johor
               The Sultanate of Aceh
5.         The City of Melaka
               The Structure of the City: Population and Society
               The Centres of Power: Captain, Bishop and Casados
               Security: Fortifications, Material and Human Resources
Annex I: The Sultanate of Johor: Genealogical Questions and Problems
Annex II: The Sultanate of Aceh: Genealogical Questions and Problems
Captains of Melaka (1567-1620)
Viceroys and Governors of India (1564-1622)
Document Appendix

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