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The Singapore and Melaka Straits

Violence, Security and Diplomacy in the 17th Century

Peter Borschberg

Publication Year: 2010

The first half of the 17th century brought heightened political, commercial and diplomatic activity to the Straits of Singapore and Melaka. Key elements included rivalry between Johor and Aceh, the rapid expansion of the Achenese empire, the arrival of the Dutch East India Company, andthe waning of Portuguese power and prestige across the region. This account of the period draws on archives in Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands that contain detailed information in the form of maps, rare printed works, and unpublished manuscripts, many of them unfamiliar to modern researchers. The Singapore and Melaka Straits: Violence, Security and Diplomacy in the 17th Century examines early modern European cartography as a projection of Western power, treaty and alliance making, trade relations, and the struggle for naval hegemony in the Singapore and Melaka Straits. This book provides an unprecedented look at the diplomatic activities of Asian powers in the region, and also shows how the Spanish and the Portuguese attempted to restore their political fortunes by containing the rapid rise of Dutch power. The appendices provide copies of key documents, transcribed and translated into English for the first time. This book will be invaluable for historians and others interested in the European presence in Asia. It provides a fascinating look at Malay world, trade and international relations during a pivotal period about which relatively little is known.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-xii

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Acknowledgements

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pp. xv-xvi

This book incorporates research conducted over a period of almost a decade. Institutional support and funding have been indispensable over the years. The author wishes to thank especially the Department of History of the National University of Singapore; the Department of Asian Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-59

The Straits of Singapore and the nearby Strait of Melaka mark a crucial point of strategic interest in Southeast Asia. Regional and long-distance maritime trading networks converge in these maritime arteries, which link ports in Europe, the Mediterranean, eastern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent with key centres of trade in Thailand...

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1 Landscapes, Seascapes and Imagination at the Southern Tip of the Malay Peninsula

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pp. 17-59

The emporium of modern Singapore is located in a relatively narrow geographical zone. It spans from Southern Thailand in the north to the Strait of Sunda in the south, with two major maritime trading zones and monsoonal weather systems intersecting and overlapping. ...

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2 Security in the Straits: The European Struggle for Naval Hegemony

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pp. 60-116

Whilst it is true that the Singapore and Melaka Straits represent historically long-established arteries of long-distance intra-Asian trade, knowledge of the region is plagued by the elasticity of toponyms and the tenuous knowledge of the lands and waters that lay beyond the well-frequented Straits. ...

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3 Naval Security and Forts for the Straits, c. 1584–1630

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pp. 117-136

Plans for fortresses or citadels around the Straits of Melaka, Singapore and Kundur (Sabam) were conceived in direct response to developments that adversely affected the Estado da Índia’s security, particularly the security of its merchant shipping. Initial plans were designed to cope with changes in Portuguese relations with local overlords...

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4 Luso-Spanish Naval Intervention, 1615–6

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pp. 137-156

As has been evidenced in the preceding chapters, three developments across the region triggered Luso-Spanish naval intervention around the Straits between 1615 and 1616. First, there were Dutch plans to construct forts around the Straits. ...

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5 VOC Blockades in the Singapore and Melaka Straits: Diplomacy, Trade and Survival, 1633–41

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pp. 157-188

To many Europeans of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, the Portuguese emporium of Melaka was a place of almost legendary wealth, an undisputed “jewel in the crown” at the centre of the Estado da Índia’s far-flung possessions spanning from the eastern coast of Africa to the Japanese islands. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 189-202

The Singapore and Melaka Straits were historically, and still remain, a nexus of security and commerce. This is not retroactively reading present-day priorities and concerns into the more distant past. This book has shown, for the period under review (c. 1600–40), that the Straits were a focal point of competition...

Appendices

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pp. 203-254

Notes

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pp. 255-330

Glossary

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pp. 331-345

Bibliography

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pp. 346-367

Index

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pp. 368-394


E-ISBN-13: 9789971695903
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971694647

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 57 images
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: New

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Subject Headings

  • Geopolitics -- Singapore Strait -- History -- 17th century.
  • Geopolitics -- Malacca, Strait of -- History -- 17th century.
  • Singapore Strait -- History, Naval -- 17th century.
  • Malacca, Strait of -- History, Naval -- 17th century.
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