Bruneian Empire

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Bruneian Empire
Empayar Brunei
ايمڤاير بروني

7th century–1888


The extent of the Bruneian Empire in the 15th century
Capital Kota Batu
Kampong Ayer
Brunei Town
Languages Brunei Malay, Old Malay and Arabic languages
Religion Sunni Islam
Government Monarchy
Last Empire Sultan
 -  1885–1906 Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin
 -  Empire begins 7th century
 -  Became protectorate of British 1888
Currency Barter, Cowrie and later Brunei pitis
Preceded by
Succeeded by
History of Brunei
Crown Colony of Labuan
Kingdom of Sarawak
North Borneo
Spanish East Indies
Sultanate of Sulu
Dutch East Indies
Today part of  Brunei
Part of a series on the
History of Brunei
Emblem of Brunei.svg
Bruneian Empire
7th century
to 1888
House of Bolkiah
(15th century–present)
Kingdom of Maynila
15th century
to 1571
Sultanate of Sulu
15th century
to 1578
Castille War 1578
Civil War 1660–1673
Kingdom of Sarawak
15th century
to 1841
White Rajahs 1841–1946
15th century
to 1846
Sabah (North Borneo)
15th century
to 1865
British protectorate 1888–1984
Japanese occupation 1942–1945
Borneo campaign 1945
Revolt 1962

The Bruneian Empire was founded in the early 7th century on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. The Chinese referred to it as Po-ni,[1] as both the Borneo and Brunei were usually transliterated as Po-li and Po-ni in Chinese texts.[2]

At the first, the empire was ruled by pagan or Hindu kings, who were later converted to Islam by Indians, Arabs and merchants from other parts of Maritime Southeast Asia who came to trade and spread Islam.[3][4] No local or indigenous sources exist to provide evidence for any of this, so Chinese texts have been used to construct a history of early Brunei.[5] Boni in Chinese sources refers to probably Borneo as a whole, while Poli 婆利, probably located in Sumatra, is claimed by local authorities to refer to Brunei as well.[6] The earliest diplomatic relations between Borneo (Boni 渤泥) and China are recorded in the Taiping huanyuji 太平環宇記 (978).[6]

By the 15th century, the empire became a Muslim state. It controlled most of northern Borneo, and it became an important hub for the East and Western world trading system.[7] During the rule of Bolkiah, the fifth Sultan, the empire expanded to cover all of the Borneo until Banjarmasin and reach to Seludong (present-day Manila), Sulu Archipelago including part of the island of Mindanao.[3][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] The earliest recorded documentation by the West about Brunei was by an Italian known as Ludovico di Varthema. Ludovico was at the time on a route to the Maluku Islands when he landed in Borneo and met with the people of Brunei. The record of his documentation dates back to 1550.[4][15][16]

"We arrived at the island of Bornei (Brunei or Borneo), which is distant from the Maluch about two hundred miles, and we found that it was somewhat larger than the aforesaid and much lower. The people are pagans and are men of goodwill. Their colour is whiter than that of the other this island justice is well administered..."[17]

However, the empire lost much of its territory due to the arriving of the western powers such as Spanish, Dutch and the British. Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin later appealed to the British to stop further encroachment in 1888. The resultant "Treaty of Protection" made Brunei a British protectorate until 1984 when it gained independence.[13][18]


  1. ^ Oxford Business Group (2009). The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2009. Oxford Business Group. pp. 214–. ISBN 978-1-907065-09-5. 
  2. ^ Dekun Zheng (1 January 1982). Studies in Chinese Archaeology. Chinese University Press. pp. 38–. ISBN 978-962-201-261-5. 
  3. ^ a b Graham Saunders (5 November 2013). A History of Brunei. Taylor & Francis. pp. 23 & 60. ISBN 978-1-136-87401-7. 
  4. ^ a b Awang Abdul Aziz bin Awang Juned (Pehin Tuan Imam Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji.) (1992). Islam di Brunei: zaman pemerintahan Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzuddin Waddaulah, Sultan dan Yang Di-Pertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam (in Malay). Jabatan Pusat Sejarah Brunei Darussalam. 
  5. ^ Jamil Al-Sufri, Tarsilah Brunei: The Early History of Brunei up to 1432 AD (Bandar Seri Begawan: Brunei History Centre, 2000)
  6. ^ a b Johannes L. Kurz. "Boni in Chinese Sources: Translations of Relevant Texts from the Song to the Qing Dynasties" (PDF). Universiti Brunei Darussalam. National University of Singapore. p. 1. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Oxford Business Group. The Report: Sabah 2011. Oxford Business Group. pp. 179–. ISBN 978-1-907065-36-1. 
  8. ^ Frans Welman (1 August 2013). Borneo Trilogy Brunei: Vol 1. Booksmango. pp. 8–. ISBN 978-616-222-235-1. 
  9. ^ David Lea; Colette Milward (2001). A Political Chronology of South-East Asia and Oceania. Psychology Press. pp. 16–. ISBN 978-1-85743-117-9. 
  10. ^ Patricia Herbert; Anthony Crothers Milner (1989). South-East Asia: Languages and Literatures : a Select Guide. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 99–. ISBN 978-0-8248-1267-6. 
  11. ^ Nigel Hicks (2007). The Philippines. New Holland Publishers. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-1-84537-663-5. 
  12. ^ Peter Church (3 February 2012). A Short History of South-East Asia. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 16–. ISBN 978-1-118-35044-7. 
  13. ^ a b Harun Abdul Majid (15 August 2007). Rebellion in Brunei: The 1962 Revolt, Imperialism, Confrontation and Oil. I.B.Tauris. pp. 2 & 4. ISBN 978-1-84511-423-7. 
  14. ^ Eur (2002). The Far East and Australasia 2003. Psychology Press. pp. 203–. ISBN 978-1-85743-133-9. 
  15. ^ The Brunei Museum Journal. The Museum. 1986. 
  16. ^ Awang Mohd. Zain Jamil Al-Sufri (1990). Tarsilah Brunei: sejarah awal dan perkembangan Islam (in Malay). Jabatan Pusat Sejarah Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia, dan Sukan. 
  17. ^ Bilcher Bala (2005). Thalassocracy: a history of the medieval Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam. School of Social Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah. ISBN 978-983-2643-74-6. 
  18. ^ Jatswan S. Sidhu (22 December 2009). Historical Dictionary of Brunei Darussalam. Scarecrow Press. pp. 92–. ISBN 978-0-8108-7078-9.