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Southeast Asia in the Era of the Spice Trade

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Sofia Martinez

on 13 October 2015

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Transcript of Southeast Asia in the Era of the Spice Trade

Emerging Mainland States
In 1500, Southeast Asia was relatively stable. In Southeast Asia, from Burma in the west to Vietnam in the east, kingdoms with their own ethnic religions, linguistic, and cultural characteristics were being formed. This new changes caused conflict.
The Vietnamese began their "March to the South" in which, by the end of the 15th century, controlled the rival state of Champa on the central coast. Then the
Vietnamese took control of the Mekong delta from the Khmer. By the 1800, the Khmer monarchy/kingdom disappeared.
In Malay Peninsula and in the Indonesian Archipelago the situation was different. This area was penetrated or "invaded" by the Muslim merchants that wanted to grow spice trade
The Arrival of Europeans
The portuguese seized Melaka and soon occupied the Moluccas (Spice Island). The Moluccas were the source of spices that attracted the Portuguese to the Indian Ocean. The Portuguese lacked military and financial resources so they set up small settlements along the coast which they used as trading posts or as route stations.

Impact on the Mainland
Southeast Asia in the Era of the
Spice Trade

The Thai secured control over the Chao Phraya River valley. The Burmese kicked out the Thai forcing them to create a new capital at Bangkok, farther to the south.
A Shift in Power
The situation changed with the arrival of the English and the Dutch. The shift in power began in the early 1600s when the Dutch took a Portuguese fort in the Moluccas and then slowly pushed the Portuguese out of the spice trade.

During the next 50 years, the Dutch occupied most of the Portuguese coastal forts along the trade routes throughout the Indian Ocean, including the island of Ceylon and Melaka. The aggressive Dutch traders drove the English traders out of the spice market, reducing the English influence to a single port on the southern coast Sumatra (Only port controlled by the English).

The Dutch began to combine their political and military control over the entire area. The Dutch established a fort in the island of Java, in which they protected the Dutch possessions. Gradually the Dutch took control of the entire island.

New states arose along the spice route. Islam was accepted first along the coast and then slowly moved inland.
However, the major impact of the Islam came in the fifteenth century with the rose of the new sultanate (country or area ruled by a sultan) in Melaka.
Melaka owed its power to its strategic location and to its rapid growth of the spice trade. Melaka had become the leading power in the region.
Fort of Portuguese
in Moluccas

took control
from the
Spice Trade
slowly pushed out
Dutch occupied
most of the Portuguese
coastal forts
During the next
50 years
from the
spice trade
drove out
reducing them
To only one port
Dutch began to combine their political and military power
after they left England with only one port
A port in the island of Java at Batavia
the purpose of the fort
Protect Dutch
in the East
Dutch brought the entire island under control
The Portuguese established limited trade relations with several
mainland states
(part of the continent as distinguished from offshore islands)
The mainland states are: Thailand, Burma,
Vietnam, and the remnants of the old Angkor
kingdom in Cambodia. These states were able to unite and drive the Europeans out.
In Vietnam, a civil war temporarily
divided the country in north and
south. The Europeans began to
take power in local politics and also set up trading posts for merchants.
By the end of the
seventeenth century
economic opportunities were

The mainland states
had begun themselves
as distinct political entities.
They had strong monarchies
that resisted foreign
In the non-mainland
states, there was less political unity.
These states were victims of their own resources.
The spice trade there was enormously profitable. European merchants and rulers were determined to gain control of the sources of the spices
Religious and Political Systems
In the non-mainland states and the Philippines, Islam and Christianity were beginning to attract converts.

Buddhism was advancing on the mainland, where it became dominant from Burma to Vietnam. Traditional beliefs survived and influenced the new religions.

Religious Systems
Political Systems
Evolved into 4 styles of monarchy.
1) Buddhist kings
2) Javanese kings
3) Islamic sultans
4) Vietnamese emperors
All adapted foreign models of government to local circumstances.
Became the chief form of the government in the mainland states of Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. The king was considered superior to other human beings and was the link between human society and universe.
Buddhist kings
Javanese kings
Rooted to the political traditions in India and shared many of the characteristics of the Buddhist system. Javanese kings were believed to have sacred quality and they maintained the balance between the sacred and material world.
Islamic Sultans
Established in the Malay Peninsula and in the small coastal states of the Indonesian Archipelago. He was the head of state and was viewed as a mortal, although he still possessed some special qualities. He was a defender of the faith and staffed his
mainly with aristocrats
Vietnamese Emperor
Followed Chinese model and ruled according to the teachings of Confucius. He was seen as a mortal who was appointed by Heaven because of his talent and virtue. He also served as the intermediary between Heaven and Earth.
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