|Before the 19th century,
Indonesian societies had experienced considerable pressure from Europeans, but they had
not been submerged by Western influences. The political order of Mataram had been eroded,
and the first steps had been taken toward administrative centralization in Java. In the
outer islands, local rulers had been forced to submit in some measure to the will of
Batavia. The trading patterns of the archipelago had been changed and constricted.
Nevertheless, these were superficial developments when seen against the continuing
coherence and stability of Indonesian societies. They were superficial, also, compared
with the Western impact still to come.
When the Dutch returned to Indonesia after the
Napoleonic Wars, their main concern was to make the colony at least self-supporting.
During the interregnum, both exports and revenue had declined sharply, despite Raffles'
hopes for his land-rent system. The costs of government in Java were rising as a result of
the growing complexity of administration. In restoring their authority, the Dutch retained
the main outlines of the system of residencies, regencies, and lower administrative
divisions, though they did not, at first, follow exactly the attempts of Daendels and
Raffles to turn the regents into salaried officials, specifically responsible to the
residents. Rather, they saw the regent as the "younger brother" of the resident.
This difference in theory was perhaps of slight practical effect, since the tendency in
lower levels of territorial administration continued in the direction of an increasingly
centralized control. Several factors contributed to the trend: one was the need to deal
with a series of disturbances, particularly in Java and western Sumatra, but also on a
lesser scale in Celebes, Borneo, and the Moluccas; a second was the new economic policy,
adopted in 1830, which placed new economic responsibilities on local officials.
The Java War of 1825-30 sprang from a number of causes. In part, it was the product of
the disappointed ambitions of its leader, Prince Diponegoro, who had been
passed over for the succession to the throne of Jogjakarta. In part, it sprang from
resentment among the aristocratic landholders of Jogjakarta, whose contracts for the lease
of their lands to Europeans had been canceled by the governor-general. There was support,
too, from Islamic leaders. And there were also, no doubt, hidden factors of the kind often
to be found in cases of agrarian protest in Java--factors such as the messianic
expectation of the coming of a Just Ruler who would restore the harmony of the kingdom.
From these varied causes there sprang a revolt that, through the skillful use of guerrilla
tactics, continued to challenge Dutch authority for five years, until the Dutch
treacherously seized Diponegoro during truce negotiations and exiled him to Celebes. (see
also Index: Dipo Negoro, Pangeran, Yogyakarta)
About the same time, the Dutch in western Sumatra were drawn into the so-called Padri
War (named for Pedir, a town in Aceh through which Muslim pilgrims usually returned home).
Basically, this was a religious struggle between revivalist Islamic leaders in Minangkabau
and the adat (customary law) leaders of the community. Under Tuanku Imam Bonjol,
the Padri forces resisted Dutch pressure from the early 1820s until 1837. The effect of
this involvement was inevitably to strengthen the Dutch administrative commitment in