Malacca Sultanate

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Malacca Sultanate


a Malay state in Southeast Asia from 1402 (or 1403) to 1511, with Malacca as its center.

At its apogee, in the second half of the 15th century, the Malacca Sultanate included the Malay Peninsula, the RiauLingga islands, and the eastern coast of Sumatra. It was founded by Parameswara, a prince of Majapahit. Between 1424 and 1445 the sultanate was shaken by a struggle between feudal coalitions, one of which supported Hinduism and the other Islam. The struggle ended in 1445 with the victory of the Islamic forces and the assumption of power by Raja Kasim, who became the first sultan of Malacca under the name of Muzaffar Shah I. From that time on, power in the sultanate passed from the Malay-Javanese aristocracy to a new feudal elite, which sought an alliance with the Muslim merchantry.

The Malacca Sultanate was a feudal state with a strong central government. Trade, especially foreign trade, played an enormous role. Malacca became the chief port through which India and the Middle East received silk from China and spices from the Malay Archipelago. The mining of tin for export became highly developed. The sultanate was a center for the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia. The period of the sultanate was marked by the flourishing of Malay culture, and the Malay language became the lingua franca of Southeast Asia.

The Malacca Sultanate fell under the blows of the Portuguese colonialists, who took advantage of the sultanate’s weakened condition, brought about by the struggle for power between feudal lords, the conflicts between the ruling elite and the Chinese and Javanese merchantry, and the uprising of vassals on Sumatra. In 1509 the sultanate succeeded in repulsing the first Portuguese attack, but in 1511 it fell to Portuguese troops under the command of d’Albuquerque.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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