By M. C. Ricklefs
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Extra info for A History of Modern Indonesia: c. 1300 to the Present
1600-1 the capital of Balambangan was apparently conquered. Although the Balambangan area was not yet converted to Islam, successor Hinduised rulers were squeezed between expanding Javanese powers to the west and invading Balinese from the east, and never again had more than brief moments of power and influence. In the second half of the sixteenth century, two new powers emerged in the interior of Central Java, which had not been the site of a major kingdom since the tenth century. The districts of Pajang and Mataram (where are located the present-day cities of Surakarta and Yogyakarta respectively) were extremely rich agricultural territories.
Under the first three Governors-General (1610-19) the VOC centre was Ambon, but this was not very satisfactory as a headquarters. Although it was in the heart of the spice-producing areas, it was far from the main trade routes of Asia and therefore far from VOC activities elsewhere from Africa to Japan. The Dutch began to seek a better place for a 'rendezvous', a safe port where they could have offices, warehouses and facilities for their navy. Their thoughts turned naturally to the western archipelago, somewhere near the crucial Straits of Malacca or the Straits of Sunda (which had become more important as a trade route, carrying ships up the west coast of Sumatra, since insecurity in the Straits of Malacca had followed the arrival of the Portuguese).
There continued to be Christian communities here through succeeding centuries, and this contributed to a sense of shared interests with Europeans, particularly among the Ambonese, which no other Indonesian people experienced to the same degree. It is worth pointing out that this serious missionary endeavour took place in the latter half of the sixteenth century, after the pace of Portuguese conquest had stopped. The cross came seriously to East Indonesia rather a long time after the sword. By this time, the main Portuguese interest in the East was already shifting away from Maluku.
A History of Modern Indonesia: c. 1300 to the Present by M. C. Ricklefs