History of Bali till 1949
6th Century – a traveling Chinese Buddhist
monk describes the island of “Po’li, “ believed to be Bali, as composed
of some 136 villages set amid luxurious vegetation and ruled by a king
believed to be descendant of Hind deities.
882 – The oldest dated inscription in Bali
records the first king ruling Bali as Ugrasena, founder of the island’s
ancient and feudal Warmadewa Dynasty.
Late 10th Century – The island of Bali is conquered by the Javanese king
Dharmawangsa (989 – 1007). His sister, Princess Mahendradatta, marries
the Balinese King Udayana.
1001 – Prince Erlangga is born. Son of the
king Udayana and the princess Mahendradatta, Erlangga return to Java
where he builds a powerful kingdom, rules Bali as part of his empire and
lays the foundations of Javanese-Balinese political and cultural
Early 12th Century – Bali becomes a vassal of the eastern Javanese
kingdom of Kediri.
1284 – The neighboring Javanese ruler,
Kertanegara, re-conquers, pacifies and unifies Bali under Singasari
1343 – Gajah Mada, Supreme General and
Prime Minister of the Majapahit Empire, conquers Bali and introduces the
Majapahit culture and its institutions. The Balinese are most receptive
and the aristocracy eagerly seek to join their family trees to the
ruling “Wong Majapahit”.
1450 – The Hinduization of Bali proceeds
through waves of migration and cultural infusion from the Majapahit
Empire in the Eastern part of Java.
1515 – The collapse of the Majapahit Empire
(with the unstoppable rise of Islam) triggers a massive cultural
migration to Bali. The last prince of Majapahit and his royal court of
Hindu priests, artist, scholars, nobles, and soldiers flee to Bali,
transferring their culture intact.
1550 – Batu Renggong of the Gelgel Dynasty
inherits the title Dewa Agung, Great Deity or King, and initiates a
political, military and cultural renaissance sometimes called Bali’s
“Golden Age.” He controls all the Balinese rajahdoms and conquers
Sumbawa and Lombok. Several generations later the family dynasty moves
its court to Klungkung, which remainsthe “noblest” of eight rajahdoms or
principalities. (These rajahdoms are : Klungkung, Badung, Tabanan,
Bangli, Gianyar, Karangasem, Buleleng and Jembrana).
1597 – The earliest Dutch trader, Cornelis
de Houtman, arrives in Bali, searching for spices. Four members of
expedition are royally entertained by the court of Gelgel. Two man jump
from the ship for the pleasures of tropical Bali, and the Western world
receives fascinating reports about the island.
1601 – A Dutch expedition, led by Jacob van
Heemskerck, tries to open trade with the island. The Dewa Agung presents
him with a beautiful Balinese girl slave; and the Dutch interpret this
as bestowing special rights upon them.
1639 – Di Made Bekung, last Dewa Agung of
the “Golden Age” of the Gelgel Dynasty, provokes an invasion of Bali by
the Javanese Empire of Mataram. He loses Sumbawa and Lombok and the
allegiance of the other Balinese princes. The Gelgel court moves to
Klungkung. They continue to symbolize Hindu imperial grandeur, but never
again have real imperial power.
1667 – The rajahdom of Gianyar is born with
the rise of Dewa Manggis Kuning, a fourth generation Gelgel. After early
misadventures in Badung, Dewa Manggis escape arrest – by being carried
out of the palace wrapped in woven mat carried atop an old servant’s
head. The fugitive prince sets up a Gianyar court which becomes a
prosperous and powerful southern state.
1711 – The Dewa Agung’s military and
political power passes to Buleleng in the north. The join rajahdom of
Buleleng-Mengwi flourishes for better part of the 18th century.
1717 – 1718 – Frequent hostilities between
Bali and the Javanese Empire of Mataram climax in the destruction of
East Java and Madura by roaming troops of Balinese. The Dutch refrain
from real intervention in the Balinese-Javanese wars.
1740 – The rajahdom of Karangasem rises to
prominence when it conquers Lombok. Rajah Gusti Gede Karangasem, a
famous figure in Balinese history, subdues Buleleng then Negara as well,
dominating the political scene and stirring the populace to widespread
1815 – Tambora Volcano on Sumbawa erupts.
Buleleng and Singaraja, the large town of north Bali, are damage by ash
and tidal waves. This is taken as a premonition of disaster.
1817 – The Dutch begin agricultural trade
with Bali. Singaraja and Kuta become busy ports.
1830s – Dutch traders begin to negotiate
trade policies and sovereignty. The Balinese hold to a traditional
concept of reef rights whereby villagers are entitled to plunder any
ship that comes to grief near the Island, accepting it as a gift of the
1841 – The Dutch frigate Overijssel is
wrecked on the Kuta reef and plundered of its cargo by Balinese. Amid
furor and protest, a new Dutch commissioner lands at Buleleng. He is
defied by a dramatic, dynamic young prince, Gusti Ketut Jelantik, the
great hero of mid-19th century Bali.
1846 – Dutch-Bali wars. The firs Dutch
punitive expedition brings an invasion fleet of 58 vessels and 3000
well-armed men to defeat Jelantik’s defense force in Buleleng. Danish
trader Mads Lange, who runs successful shipping and trading post in Kuta,
acts as an intermediary and tries to negotiate a truce between the
rajahs and the Dutch.
1848 – In the second Dutch punitive
expedition the brilliant military leader Gusti Jelantik fights off three
attacks with 25 cannon and 16,000 men.
1849 – The third and final Dutch expedition
arrives with 100 armed vessels. The Dutch attack the Balinese stronghold
at Jagaraga. The Balinese lose thousands. Then advance in puputan
(ritual suicide). The Dutch gains allies and troops from Lombok, who
overtake the rajahs of Karangasem and Buleleng. The Balinese resistance
is in complete disarray whilst the Dutch get stronger.
1850s – The Dutch “protective”
administration assumes sovereign power over northern and western Bali. A
new coffee plantation turns the north into a profitable colonial
enterprise. Dutch ban the Hindu practice of suttee, the burning widowed
wives with their husbands, and take the first enlightened steps to wipe
1868 – As the climax to the intermittent
Gianyar-Klungkung wars, the rajahdom of Gianyar, the most prosperous and
powerful state of the south, shatters the army of Klungkung.
1882 – Buleleng and Jembrana state are
brought under direct Dutch rule.
1885 – The Dewa Manggis and his Gianyar
retinue travel to Klungkung to homage to the Dewa Agung, but they are
imprisoned instead and their ranks are destroyed. A rebellion of Muslim
Sasaks in Lombok, vassals of the Balinese rulers of Karangasem, East
Bali, is suppressed with cruetly.
1894 – The Dutch send a military expedition
to Lombok to punish Balinese rulers, but the ambushed and massacred in
the notorious “Lombok Treachery”, at their camp in Cakranegara. To
revenge their defeat, the Dutch lay to waste Lombok Island and raze
Mataram to the ground in the process. The Balinese nobles perish in the
mass rite of puputan, or ritual suicide, rather than surrender to the
invaders, Dutch-Balinese relation are in increasingly strained.
1900 – The Dutch annex Gianyar.
1904 – The Chinese schooner of Sri Kumala
is wrecked near Sanur beach and is plundered. The Dutch demand
compensation from the rajah of Badung, who remains defiant – and is
backed up by the rajahs of Klungkung and Tabanan. The last suttee take
place in Tabanan this year.
1906 – A large Dutch military expedition
lands at Sanur beach and troops march towards the royal palace in
Denpasar. They are met by the rajah and his entire court, splendidly
dressed for the tragic rite of puputan. In a ghastly suicide ceremony,
the company turn their daggers and kris upon one another. The women
tauntingly throw jewels at the Dutch soldiers. The entire court dies
together and the battle field before the burning palace is covered with
mounds of corpses. The puputan ritual is repeated that same afternoon in
Pemecutan, a minor court of Badung; and two days later in the court of
the rajah of Tabanan.
1908 – Disorder and bombardment around
Gelgel and Klungkung lead to the final puputan of the Dewa Agung and his
court in Klungkung, the victims of relentless western intrusion. The
Dutch resolve to make amends. The introduce reforms under the Ethical
Policy. They do not allow the presence of a Dutch colony, nor
agricultural business, as in against the sudden impact of outside
influences. A “conservationist” stance towards Balinese culture is taken
and Dutch scholar usher in an era of achievements in art and
1920s -1930s – Foreign scholars, artists
and musicians “discover” Bali. They record it and broadcast it to the
world. Among the visitors are anthropologists Margaret Mead, Jane Belo
and Gregory Bateson; artists Miguel Covarrubias. Walter Spies, Rudolf
Bonnet, Arie Smit, Han Snel; musician Colin McPhee; writer Vicki Baum;
and dancers and ethnologists Ted and Katharene Merson.
1942 – Japanese Occupation. Japanese troops
land at Sanur Beach and control the island for three years, through
headquarters at Denpasar and Singaraja. Walter Spies, Bali’s most famous
Western artist, perishes when a Japanese submarine torpedoes the ship on
which he is being transported to safety as a German internee.
1945 – General Soekarno, a soldier and
politician who has risen fast through the party ranks in Jakarta,
declares Merdeka – Independence – for the entire Indonesian archipelago.
Dutch troops drive the Japanese out of Bali and try to reimpose a Dutch
1946 – The battle for independence on Bali
climaxes with the Margarana Incident in Tabanan state. A charismatic
young Balinese military officer, I Gusti Ngurah Rai – who relies not on
tactics and logistics but upon intuition and mystical guidance – leads a
suicide attack against Dutch forces and is martyred at Marga along with
1949 – The Hague concedes Indonesian
Independence. Bali becomes part of the Republic of the United State of
Indonesia with Soekarno as its President.