Year Era
100 – 1500 Ancient Kingdoms and the Coming of Islam
1500 – 1670 Great Kings and Trade Empires
1670 – 1800 Court Intrigues and the Dutch
1800 – 1830 Chaos and Resistance
1830 – 1910 Dutch Imperialisme
1910 – 1940 New Nationalism
1940 – 1945 Perang Dunia II
1945 – 1950 War of Independence
1950 – 1965 The Sukarno years
1965 – 1998 The Suharto years

100 – 1500 (Ancient Kingdoms and the Coming of Islam)

about 100

“Dvipantara” or “Jawa Dwipa” kingdom is reported by Indian scholars to be in Java and Sumatra.

Prince Aji Saka introduces writing system to Java based on scripts of southern India.

Hindu kings rule the area around Kutai on Kalimantan.

“Langasuka” kingdom founded around Kedah in Malaya.

Hinduism, one of Indonesia’s five religions.

Early civilization in Java and Sumatra was heavily influenced by India. Today’s cultures in Indonesia, and even the language, still show influences from the Sanskrit language and literature.

(The first thousand years or so of this timeline are not well-documented. Dates are approximate.)

about 400

Taruma kingdom flourishes in West Java. In these early days, many new plants were introduced into Indonesia, including pepper and teak.

about 425

Buddhism reaches Sumatra. Records from these days in Indonesia are scarce, but we do know that sophisticated cultures already existed. The kings and cities of Sumatra and Java are mentioned in records from China, because ambassadors were sent there. Arabs and Persians knew about the area from traders, and even the Greeks and Romans had very distant reports.

Records from inside Indonesia are very few, though, since writing was done on palm leaves and other materials that did not survive well. Much of our knowledge comes from stone buildings and inscriptions. By the time we start to get a clear history of Java and Sumatra, there are already great buildings in stone, fine sculptures, classical music and dance, much as we know them today.

about 500

Beginning of Srivijaya kingdom near Palembang, in Sumatra.

about 600

Settlers from India arrive in the area of Prambanan in central Java.

Melayu kingdom flourishes around present-day Jambi on Sumatra.

about 650

Taruma kingdom in West Java is taken by Srivijaya.

about 670

Chinese traveller I Ching visits Palembang, capital of Srivijaya.

Hindu temples built in the high Dieng plateau of central Java.


Srivijaya sends expedition against kingdoms in Java. By now, Srivijaya had also conquered Kedah, on the Malay peninsula.

about 700

Suwawa kingdom flourishes in North Sulawesi.

about 770

Sailendra King Vishnu begins building Borobudur.

Beginning of building activity on the plain of Prambanan.

Buddhism, one of Indonesia’s five religions.

about 790

Sailendra kingdom attacks and defeats Chenla (today Cambodia); rules over Chenla for about 12 years. The Sailendra kings remembered that their ancestors came from what is now Thailand or Cambodia.

about 825

Sailendra King Samaratunga, grandson of Vishnu, finishes Borobudur. Borobudur
Borobudur is a huge Buddhist monument covering a volcanic hill a few miles between present-day Magelang and Yogyakarta. It is in levels representing the stages to enlightenment. The large central stupa is empty. The many beautiful relief sculptures may have been used to educate young monks.

about 835

Patapan of Sanjaya takes Sailendra throne, replaces Buddhism on Java with Hinduism.

King Balitung rules in central Java.

By this time, Buddhist culture had spread as far east as Lombok.

about 850

Balaputra, claimant to Sailendra throne, takes power in Srivijaya.

New Sanjaya king Daksa in central Java begins building Hindu temples at Prambanan.

King Warmadewa rules on Bali.

From about this time we have a version of the Ramayana epic in the Old Javanese language. The work is sophisticated, and there were probably many earlier such works in Old Javanese that have not survived.


Sanjaya King Mpu Sindok moves court from Mataram to East Java (near Jombang). A major eruption of Mount Merapi in 928 or 929 may have been the reason that the king of Mataram and many of his subjects moved east.

about 947

Sri Isana Tunggawijaya, daughter of Mpu Sindok, succeeds Mpu Sindok as ruler in East Java.

about 975

King Udayana of Bali, father of Airlangga, is born.


Dharmavamsa becomes king of Mataram. He conquers Bali and founds a settlement in western Kalimantan. Dharmavamsa is also remembered for ordering the translation of the Mahabharata into Javanese.


Dharmavamsa and Mataram send an army overseas to attack Srivijaya and take Palembang, but fail.


Srivijaya attacks and destroys the capital of Mataram. The palace is burned, and Dharmavamsa is killed. Airlangga (then 15 years old) escapes the destruction.


Rajendra Chola, king of Coromandel in India, attacks Srivijaya.


Airlangga takes rule in eastern Java, founds Kahuripan kingdom, makes peace with Srivijaya, protects both Hindus and Buddhists. He extends his rule over central Java, eastern Java, and Bali. Airlangga is remembered in today’s Indonesia as a model of religious tolerance. He spent his early years living in the forests as an ascetic.


Rajendra Chola of southern India takes Malay peninsula from Srivijaya for twenty years.

Airlangga extends the power and influence of Kahuripan as Srivijaya is weakened.

Around this time, Tumasik was a small kingdom on the site of today’s Singapore. It may have been influenced by the newcomers from southern India.

Also around this time, the Panai kingdom was flourishing in the Batak areas of northern Sumatra.


Airlangga divides Kahuripan into two kingdoms, Janggala (around today’s Malang) and Kediri, for his two sons, and abdicates to live the life of an ascetic. He passes away a year later.


Vira Rajendra, king of Coromandel, conquers Kedah from Srivijaya.


King Joyoboyo takes rule in Kediri until 1157. Joyoboyo is remembered for a prophecy that Indonesia would be ruled by a white race for a long time, then a yellow race for a short time, then be independent.


Ken Angrok, local ruler of Tumapel, defeats the forces of Kediri (Battle of Genter).


Ken Angrok founds the Singhasari kingdom. Putri Dedes was the wife of Ken Angrok. She was the daughter of a Buddhist priest who was stolen away by the governor of Tumapel on Java. Ken Angrok himself stole Putri Dedes away from her first husband to be his wife, but she was already pregnant, and her son (later King Anusapati) was actually the son of the governor, Tunggul Ametung. Eventually Ken Angrok conspired to have Tunggul Ametung killed so that he could become ruler of Tumapel.

Tumapel paid tribute to Kediri until Ken Angrok became powerful enough to conquer Kediri for himself in 1222. The last ruler of Kediri, Kertajaya, was considered cruel and overbearing.

Putri Dedes was long remembered as the mother of the royal line of Singhasari, and later Majapahit, Mataram, Yogya and Solo.


Ken Angrok dies, and is succeeded by Anusapati. By now, Jambi was an independent kingdom on Sumatra.


Anusapati dies after a peaceful 20-year reign. Tohjaya, son of Ken Angrok by a concubine, becomes king of Singhasari. Tradition says that the kings of Singhasari during this period were all murdered by their successors, as part of the feud arising from Ken Angrok stealing away Putri Dedes.


Tohjaya is killed in a rebellion and replaced as king by by Wisnuwardhana, son of Anusapati.


King Wisnuwardhana of Singhasari dies, and is succeeded by Kertanegara. Kertanegara promotes a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism.


Kertanegara conquers the Melayu kingdom around Jambi on Sumatra.


A group of Javanese from Kediri, unhappy with Kertanegara, settle around Kutai in Kalimantan.


Muslims from Jambi send an embassy to Kublai Khan.


Kertanegara takes Bali for Singhasari.


Kublai Khan sends messengers to Singhasari to demand tribute; Kertanegara slashes their faces and sends them home.


Kertanegara conquers Srivijaya.


Marco Polo visits Sumatra and Java.

Kublai Khan prepares invasion fleet of 1000 ships to take Java.

Kertanegara killed in court rebellion; son-in-law Vijaya retreats and founds new court at Majapahit (today Trowulan), with the help of Arya Wiraraja, local ruler of Madura.

Bali breaks away from Singhasari under Pejeng kings at Ubud.

November Mongol fleet leaves for Java; lands at Tuban.

Majapahit was one of the few countries of that time to defeat a Mongol invasion, along with Japan and Egypt. However, the Mongol fleet was hit by a typhoon along the way, and was refused permission to land in Champa (in today’s Vietnam) to take on supplies. By the time the fleet reached Tuban, the army was sickened and weak.


Vijaya forms alliance with Mongol forces against remainder of Singhasari in Kediri, led by Jayakatwang.

March Combined force of Mongol/Chinese soldiers and Majapahit takes Kediri.

Vijaya returns to Trowulan, then attacks Mongols in a surprise attack. Mongols retreat and leave Java.

November Vijaya is enthroned as king Kertarajasa Jayawardhana of new Majapahit.

Vijaya being crowned the king of Majapahit, in a sculpture from that time.

Vijaya married all four daughters of the former king Kertanegara.


Pasai in Sumatra converts to Islam. Sultan Malek Saleh is the first Muslim ruler in what is now Indonesia.


Jayanegara becomes king of Majapahit.


Jayanegara is assassinated, possibly with the help of Gajah Mada. Tribhuwana Wijayatungga Dewi (or Queen Suhita), daughter of Vijaya, is titular head until 1350. Around this time, Odoric of Pordonone, a Franciscan monk from Italy, visited Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan.


Gajah Madah becomes patih or chief minister of Majapahit, rules as regent.


Kingdom of Pajajaran is founded, with its capital at Pakuan near today’s Bogor. One of the few areas that were not conquered by Majapahit was the Sundanese area of West Java, the Kingdom of Pajajaran. It occasionally paid tribute to Majapahit, but was known for its independent behavior.


Hayam Wuruk is born to Tribhuwana Wijayatungga Dewi; heir to line of Majapahit.


Force under Gajah Madah defeats the Pejeng king of Bali, Daiem Bedaulu, and takes Bali for Majapahit. Gajah Madah in a statue from the 1300s.

With Gajah Madah as chief minister, the kingdom of Majapahit gained control or collected tribute from most of what is now Indonesia. He is remembered for the “Palapa Oath”, saying that he would refuse to eat spices in his food (palapa) until all the islands around were united under one rule. Today in Yogyakarta, the university is named for him.


Arab traveller and writer Ibn Battuta visits Pasai on Sumatra.


Adityavarman, king of Melayu or Jambi, rules Minangkabau for Majapahit. Adityavarman had been kept at the court of Majapahit as a boy. When he came of age, he ruled over Melayu as a vassal of Majapahit, and extended the influence of Majapahit into the Minangkabau areas of Sumatra.


Rajasanegara becomes King of Majapahit.

Majapahit conquers the Islamic kingdoms of Pasai and Aru (later Deli, near Medan) in northern Sumatra.

The poet Mpu Tantular of Majapahit, who lived about this time, is remembered for coining the motto “Bhinneka Tunggal Eka”, which is Indonesia’s national motto today. (The meaning is very similar to the United States’ “E Pluribus Unum”: “Unity in Diversity”.)


Gajah Madah passes away. The many responsibilities that he handled are considered to be too burdensome for one normal person, so his duties are divided between four new government posts.

Hayam Wuruk becomes King of Majapahit.


Majapahit sends a navy against Palembang, a remnant of Srivijaya, and conquers it. The King of Palembang sent a courier to China, offering his kingdom to the emperor in exchange for protection. The Emperor of China accepted the offer, and sent officials in return, but by the time the officials got to Palembang, it had already been conquered by Majapahit, and they were executed.


Empu Jamatka founds Banjarmasin.


Hayam Wuruk passes away; beginning of decline of Majapahit.


Aceh converts to Islam.


War of succession begins in Majapahit, lasting four years. The power of Majapahit begins to lessen. About this time, the kings of Gelgel began to rule as “dewa agung”, or chief king, in Bali.


Melaka founded by Parameshwara, rebel prince from Palembang.


Parameshwara sends an embassy to Beijing, receives promise of protection from China.


Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho visits Semarang.


Cheng Ho visits Melaka.


Parameshwara visits Beijing on a state visit.


Parameshwara converts to Islam, takes name Iskandar Syah. Melaka is now an Islamic sultanate. Islam, one of Indonesia’s five religions.

The Islamic religion had been common among traders in Sumatra and Java for some time. The Singhasari and Majapahit kingdoms probably had a few Muslims involved in their courts. Large-scale conversions to Islam began when local kings adopted the new religion. Aceh and Melaka were among the first. Most of Java did not become Muslims until the early 1500s.

(Today, over 85% of Indonesians are Muslims.)

See also Notes on Islam in Modern Indonesia.


First masjid founded on Ambon island.


Queen Suhita inherits the Majapahit kingdom from Wikramawardhana.


Hindu revolt in Melaka against Islam is suppressed.

Thai attack on Melaka is driven back.


Kertawijaya, brother of Suhita, becomes King of Majapahit. He converts to Islam on the advice of his wife, Darawati, a princess of Champa (in what is now Vietnam).

Sunan Ampel, nephew of Kertawijaya, works to spread Islam around Surabaya.

Sunan Ampel in a traditional portrait. Sunan Ampel was the first notable member of the Nine Walis or Walisongo, Islamic teachers who worked to spread Islam around Java in the late 1400s and early 1500s. See also the separate page on the Walisongo.


King Kertawijaya is murdered and replaced by Rajasawardhana, who hinders the spread of Islam in Majapahit.


Thai attack on Melaka by sea is driven back.

Bhre Wengker becomes king of Majapahit after three years of chaos.

Around this time, Palembang converted to Islam.


Raja Abdullah of Melaka conquers Kedah and Pahang from the Thais.


Kingdom of Aru (near Deli) on Sumatra becomes independent.


Suraprabhawa becomes king of Majapahit.

Kyai Demung founds Sumenep on Madura; breaks away from Majapahit control.


Court rebellion in Majapahit: Bhre Kertabhumi drives Suraprabhawa out of his court at Tumapel. Suraprabhawa moves his seat to Daha, near Kediri. Around this time, many Hindus from Majapahit left Java for Bali.


Ternate and Tidore convert to Islam.


Daha region under Girindrawardhana, a great-grandson of Kertawijaya, revolts. Majapahit kingdom falls into chaos. Bhre Kertabumi, King of Majapahit at Tumapel, flees to Demak. Girindrawardhana sets himself up as ruler in Majapahit.

Islamic Kingdom of Demak founded by Raden Patah (or Fattah), a prince of Majapahit (son of King Kertawijaya by a Chinese wife). Masjid founded at Demak.

Islamic Sultanate founded at Cirebon, formerly a possession of the Pajajaran King Siliwangi.

By the 1490s, the Portuguese had sailed around the southern tip of Africa and had landed in India.


Zainal Abidin becomes Sultan of Ternate (until 1500).

Court of Majapahit moves to Kediri.