|After the beginning of the
10th century, inscriptions and monuments in central Java cease. For more than 500 years
little is known of developments in central Java, and nothing of what happened in western
Java or in the eastern hook of the island. The evidence for these years comes almost
exclusively from the Brantas River valley and the adjacent valleys of eastern Java. This
abrupt shift in the historian's focus of attention has never been satisfactorily
Government and politics.
Eastern Java did not form a natural political unit. No single town emerged that was so
exceptionally endowed in local resources as to become a permanent capital; instead, the
residencies of defeated kings were abandoned, and the sites of some of them are unknown.
The problems of government in these conditions are illustrated by the events of the 11th
century. In 1016 the overlord's city was destroyed in what an inscription of 1041 (called
the "Calcutta" inscription) described as "the destruction of the
world," and the kingdom fell apart. The most recent explanation of the episode is
that a Javanese vassal had rebelled. The kingdom was restored by the dead king's
son-in-law Airlangga (Erlangga), a half-Balinese prince. From 1017 to 1019 he lived with
hermits, probably practicing asceticism. In 1019 he was hailed as ruler of the small
principality of Pasuruan near the Brantas delta, but he could not take the military
offensive until 1028 and his final success was not before 1035. His victories gradually
established his claims to divine power. Airlangga dispatched his last enemy by provoking
an uprising against him in the manner taught by Kautilya , the master of Indian statecraft
who recommended the use of subversion against an enemy. In his "Calcutta"
inscription Airlangga expressed the hope that all in the land would now be able to lead
He then undid the results of his achievement. Foreseeing that two of his sons might
quarrel, he divided his kingdom so that one son should rule over the southern part, known
as Panjalu, Kadiri , or Daha, and the other over the northern part, Janggala. The
consequences of this decision are mourned in a 14th-century poem, the Nagarakertagama .
Airlangga's sons refused to honour their father's intentions. Fighting broke out, and the
Kadiri rulers were unable to establish their uneasy domination over the kingdom until the
early 12th century.
The chain of command between the capital and the villages--and the number of officials
involved--had grown since the central Java period. The ideal of a greater Javanese unity,
protected by a divine king, was probably cherished most by the villagers, since they
especially would benefit from peace and safe internal communications. Inscriptions
sometimes acknowledge the king's gratitude for villagers' assistance in times of need. The
villages were prosperous centres of local government. As a result of increasing contacts
with the royal court, village society had now become more stratified, with elaborate signs
of status. But local lords could make difficulties for the villages by tampering with the
flow of the river or exacting heavy tolls from traders. In comparison with these
vexations, the royal right to the villagers' services and part of their produce was
probably not resented. No document was more respected than the inscription that recorded a
The king's chief secular responsibility was to safeguard his subjects' lands, including
the estates of the temples and monasteries that were so conspicuous a feature of the
Javanese landscape. When the king wanted to build a temple on wet-rice land he was
expected to buy the land, not confiscate it. At court he was assisted by a small group of
high officials, among whom his heir seems to have been the most important. Officials were
rewarded with appanages from royal lands, for the king, like his noble vassals, was also a
regional lord. The council of officials passed on royal decisions to subordinates.
Officials made a circuit of the country and visited village elders. Royal rule was
probably not harsh; the protests that have been preserved were probably prompted by
unusually weak government. A reasonable relationship between ruler and villagers may be
seen in a Balinese inscription of 1025 that records a king's sale of his hunting land to a
village after the villagers had complained of their lack of land. Village elders sat with
the officers of royal law in order to guarantee fair trials and verdicts reflecting the
consensus of local opinion. Customary law was incorporated in the royal statutes.
Aggrieved individuals could appeal to the king for redress; groups of villages sought his
assistance for large-scale irrigation works. The villages paid taxes to the ruler, who
thus enjoyed an economic advantage over other regional lords. Everything depended on the
ruler's energy and a general agreement that his government served the interests of all.
The Kadiri princes of the 12th century ruled over a land that was never free from
rebellion. In 1222 Kertajaya was defeated by an adventurer, Angrok, and a new capital was
located at Kutaraja, later renamed Singhasari, near to the harbours of east Java. The
changed economic circumstances in the archipelago as a whole must now be taken into
account, since they have an important bearing on the internal history of Java in the 13th
and 14th centuries.