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Thomas Matulessy
Pattimura 1961 Indonesia stamp.jpg
Born(1783-06-08)8 June 1783
Haria, Saparua, Maluku, Dutch East Indies
Died16 December 1817(1817-12-16) (aged 34)
Nieuw Victoria, Ambon, Maluku, Dutch East Indies
AllegianceUnited Kingdom British Maluku
Service/branch British Army
RankSergeant major
Battles/warsPattimura War
AwardsNational Hero of Indonesia

Thomas Matulessy (8 June 1783 – 16 December 1817), also known as Kapitan Pattimura or simply Pattimura, was an Ambonese soldier and National Hero of Indonesia from Maluku.

Born on the island of Saparua, Pattimura joined the British army after they took the Maluku islands from the Dutch colonials. When the islands were returned to the Dutch in 1816, he was dismissed. Concerned that the Dutch would implement programs that limited his people, Pattimura led an armed rebellion that captured Fort Duurstede on 16 May 1817. Killing the inhabitants of the fortress and fighting off Dutch reinforcements, on 29 May he was declared the leader of the Moluccan people. After being betrayed by the King of Booi Pati Akoon, he was captured by Dutch forces on 11 November and hanged the next month.

Pattimura has become a symbol of both Maluku and Indonesian independence, praised by President Sukarno and declared a national hero by President Suharto. He has several namesakes both in the capital of Maluku, Ambon, and in the rest of the Indonesian archipelago.


Pattimura was born Thomas Matulessy on 8 June 1783 in Saparua, Maluku; the name Pattimura was his pseudonym.[1][2] His parents were Frans Matulessia and Fransina Tilahoi, and he had a little brother named Yohanis.[3] In 1810, the Maluku islands were taken over from the Dutch colonials by the British.[4] Mattulessi received military training from their army and reached the rank of sergeant major.[1]

After the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty on 13 August 1814,[1] in 1816 the Maluku islands were returned to the Dutch; Pattimura attended the ceremony.[4] Afterwards, in violation of the treaty, he and his fellow soldiers were discharged to their hometowns.[2][4] However, Pattimura refused to accept the restoration of Dutch power. He felt that they would stop paying native Christian teachers, as they had done in 1810, and was concerned that a proposed switch to paper currency would leave the Maluku people unable to give alms — only coins were considered valid — and thus lead to churches being unable to help the poor.[5]

Ambon revolt of 1817[edit]

Fort Duurstede, Saparua, Indonesia

He was appointed as Kapitan by the people of Saparua to rebel against the Dutch on 14 May 1817.[1] The assault began on the 15th, with Pattimura and his lieutenants Said Perintah, Anthony Reebhok, Paulus Tiahahu and Tiahahu's daughter Martha Christina Tiahahu leading the way.[6] On 16 May 1817, they seized Fort Duurstede and killed the 19 Dutch soldiers, Resident Johannes Rudolph van den Berg (who had arrived just two months earlier), his wife, three of his children and their governess.[7][1][6] The only Dutch survivor was Van den Berg's five-year-old son Jean Lubbert.[6] After the seizure, Pattimura's forces defended the fort and on May 20 defeated Major Beetjes, Second Lieutenant E. S. de Haas, and their nearly 200 troops, leaving only 30 survivors.[7] On 29 May, Pattimura and other Maluku leaders made the Haria Proclamation, which outlined their grievances against the Dutch government and declared Pattimura to be the leader of the Maluku people.[8] In response, Governor-General Van der Cappellen immediately fired the governor of Ambon, Jacobus A. van Middelkoop, and his right hand, Nicolaus Engelhard, for their abuses of the local people.[9]

On June 1, Pattimura led an unsuccessful attack on Fort Zeelandia in Haruku.[8] Two months later, on August 3, Fort Duurstede was finally retaken by the Dutch, but the revolt had spread and was not subdued for another few months.[7]

Due to betrayal from Booi's king, Pati Akoon, and Tuwanakotta, Pattimura was arrested on 11 November 1817 while he was in Siri Sori. He and his fellows were sentenced to death. On 16 December 1817, Pattimura together with Anthony Reebhok, Philip Latumahina, and Said Parintah were hanged in front of Fort Nieuw Victoria [nl] in Ambon.[10][11]


Pattimura featured in the 1,000-rupiah banknote issued by Bank Indonesia.

Pattimura and his war have been used as symbols for both Maluku independence, such as with the short-lived Republic of South Maluku,[12] and Indonesian patriotism.[13] The first president of Indonesia, Sukarno, considered Pattimura a great patriot.[13]

When Pattimura was awarded the title National Hero of Indonesia by President Suharto in 1973 through Presidential Decree number 87/TK, very little was written in independent Indonesia on this subject and he was virtually unknown outside Moluccan circles.[14] [10] How widely this interpretation can vary is perhaps most clearly indicated by the fact that both the Republik Maluku Selatan and the Republic of Indonesia put forward Pattimura as "their" Freedom Hero.[15] In Ambon, he is commemorated in the names of the University of Pattimura, Pattimura Airport, and a street, as well as a statue; there are also streets named after him throughout the archipelago.[13] In Wierden, Netherlands a street in the Moluccan neighborhood is named after Pattimura. 15 May is celebrated as Pattimura Day;[16] in the Netherlands and Indonesia. A similar, smaller holiday is on 2 January for the younger Tiahahu in Indonesia.[17] He is also featured on the 2000 series of the 1,000 rupiah bill.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ajisaka & Damayanti 2010, p. 9
  2. ^ a b Poesponegoro & Notosusanto 1992, p. 183
  3. ^ Sudarmanto 2007, p. 198
  4. ^ a b c Sudarmanto 2007, p. 199
  5. ^ Aritonang & Steenbrink 2008, p. 385
  6. ^ a b c Kusumaputra, Adhi (9 November 2009). "Pattimura, Pahlawan asal Maluku yang Dihukum Mati Belanda" [Pattimura, the Hero from Maluku who was Executed by the Dutch]. Kompas (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 15 January 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Peter van Zonneveld (1995)Pattimura en het kind van Saparua. De Molukken-opstand van 1817 in de Indisch-Nederlandse literatuur, Indische Letteren, 10:41-54.
  8. ^ a b Sudarmanto 2007, p. 200
  9. ^ Thomas Matulessy, Kapitan Pattimura Muda
  10. ^ a b Ajisaka & Damayanti 2010, p. 10
  11. ^ Sudarmanto 2007, p. 201
  12. ^ Lundry 2009, p. 129
  13. ^ a b c Lundry 2009, p. 37
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Lundry 2009, p. 131
  17. ^ Tunny, Azis (27 April 2008). "Martha Christina Tiahahu: The 'kabaressi' heroine of Maluku". The Jakarta Post. Jakarta. Archived from the original on 27 December 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  18. ^ Cuhaj 2004, p. 500