The shrewd ruler of the port of Malacca suddenly converted stay in China. Up to this time, Malacca had been a vassal of China-ruled by descendants of the prestigious Hindus line of Palembang (Sriwijaya) and Singapore kings who had been attacked and evicted by the Javanese and the Thais during the 14th Century.
China had proved a valuable patron of Malacca ever since its founding in 1402, but by 1436, China’s influence in the region was on the wane, and Thais were once again demanding tribute. By embracing Islam, the ruler of Malacca gained protection against Thai advances. And as a port ruled by a dynasty with a long – standing tradition of catering to overseas traders, Malacca was then in an excellent position to capitalize upon the commercial success of the Islamic world, while maintaining ties with other traders as well. By 1500, Malacca was to become the greatest emporium in the East, a city comparable in size to the largest European cities of the day.
During the 15th Century, all of the trading ports of the western archipelago were brought within Malacca’s orbit. The most important of these were the ports along the north or pesisir coast of Java. Traditionally these ports owed their allegiance to the great inland Hindu-Javanese kingdoms, acting in effect as import-export and shipping agents, exchanging Javanese – grown rice for spices, silks, gold, textiles, medicines, gems and other items in a complex series of transaction which vastly increased the original value of the goods.
After about 1400, however, the power of the inland Javanese rulers was rapidly declining, and the rulers of the coastal cities were seeking ways to assert their independence and thereby retain more of the profits of the trade for themselves. Gradually, through intermarriage between leading Islamic traders and local aristocrats, relations were cemented with the Muslim world centred at Malacca.
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