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Author: Rila Mukerjee

Abstract

While Melaka-Southeast Asia-China links continue to receive considerable scholarly interest, the Melaka region’s links with the economies of the northern Bay of Bengal have received less attention. Despite the fact that scholars have often focused extensively on the history of the Bay’s western littoral, and that the Straits played a crucial role in linking this western littoral to the China Seas during the Melaka era, the region has been marginalised in scholarship. As will become clear, the history of Melaka during this time can be divided into two discrete periods. The first of these periods started with the city-state’s foundation as regional rival to Ayutthaya by Palembang’s monarch Parameswara ca. 1402, and the second began with the Portuguese conquest of the port-city in 1511, after which the Straits became not only a transnational passageway for Persians, Arabs, South, Southeast and East Asians, but also a hub in East-West commerce. This study will investigate changes occurring in the northern Bay of Bengal world consequent to Melaka’s founding as regional emporium and subsequent emergence as an international marketplace, and ends with the Dutch capture of Melaka in 1641 and its subsequent decline concurrent with Batavia’s promotion as regional entrepôt.

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient