Mads Johansen Lange - Settlement in The East - Peace Broker

Peace Broker

In the last half of the 1840s the Dutch again tried to gain control over Bali and its Rajas. In July 1846 the sent a military force to the island, the First Dutch Expedition to Bali. Their goal was the northern city of Buleleng. After an ultimatum to surrender unconditionally was rejected, the Dutch landed on the island on the 28th of June and attacked the city. It was conquered and burned. The next day the Dutch troops marched for the residency Singaraja. This city was taken without much resistance, because most Balinese were moving inland, to the fort of Djagaraga. During the attack the Dutch received support from their fleet, and the commander of this fleet would not allow the troops to move too far inland. Mads Lange offered to go to the Rajas of Buleleng and Karangasem for negotiations. These were successful and on the 9th of July the peace accords came into effect. The Rajas would pay a small amount of damages and the Dutch would maintain a small occupation force on the island until the matter would be settled.

When the Rajas did not comply with all the agreements of the treaty of 1846, the Dutch sent a larger expedition to Bali in 1848, the Second Dutch Expedition to Bali. Mads Lange was able to keep the states of Tabanan and Badung neutral, but the rest of the Balinese forces assembled at Djagaraga, the same place they had sought refuge in 1846. During the preparations for their campaign the Dutch blockaded the coast of Bali, wreaking havoc on trade. Djagaraga lay deep inland, so the attack had to go through without the help of the fleet. At first all went well, but the Dutch were stopped when they met Gusti Djilantiek, who had dug in with 600 riflemen. When it became clear that the Dutch supply was badly organized, because there were not enough coolies to carry everything, the Dutch could no longer resists Balinese attacks from the villages and they were forced to retreat.

The Dutch defeat resonated through the Dutch East Indies and the government felt compelled to re-establish authority, in order to prevent revolts in other parts of the archipelago. A new force twice the size of the previous one was sent in 1849, the Third Dutch Expedition to Bali. This time the army brought along 200 coolies to carry supplies and wounded. On April 1, 1849 the fleet reached Buleleng and on April 4 general-major Andreas Victor Michiels set up his headquarters in the abandoned palace of Singaraja. Emissaries of the Rajas of Buleleng and Karangasem were sent to the general, but he refused to talk to anyone but the Rajas themselves. He urged them to hurry up, or they would lose their territories. The meeting took place on April 7. The Balinese arrived at the palace with a force of 12.000 men, after the Dutch had allowed them to take as much guards as the Rajas deemed necessary. Fighting did not occur, since the Rajas accepted all demand of the Dutch, including the immediate demolition of the fortifications at Djagaraga.

The Dutch now decided to focus their attention on the south of Bali and they attacked the small states of Karangasem and Klungkung. At the same time they accepted an offer of 400 soldiers from the Prince of Lombok, who also coveted power over Karangasem. On the 12th of May 1849 preparations were complete and the Dutch landed near the coastal town of Padang Cove, which they conquered. A week later warriors from Lombok infiltrated in Karangasem, which rose in revolt against its Raja. The Raja, facing total defeat, killed all his wives and children and then committed suicide. The Raja of Buleleng, together with Gusti Djilantiek, fled into the mountains, with the warriors from Lombok in pursuit. The Dutch now focussed their attacks on Klungkung, where the most important and holiest Raja of Bali resided, the Dewa Agung. This Raja and his sister were the most fanatical opponents of Dutch influence on Bali, and it was of utmost importance to sideline them. Under command of major-general Michiels the Dutch progressed and conquered and old, holy temple and the town of Kasumba. The next night however they were attacked by the Balinese, and Michiels was wounded in the thigh. He died after an unsuccessful amputation. The second in command, luitenant-colonel Jan van Swieten took over command and decided to retreat the army back to the coast. There he waited for further instructions from Batavia. They were met by the warriors from Lombok who informed them that the Raja and Gusti Djilantiek were no longer alive.

Mads Lange's trade suffered from the war and when the Raja of Kassim launched an attack on neighbouring Menguwi, the people in Kotta feared a counter-attack. Mads convinced the Rajas to assemble a force of 16.000 men and join him on a journey to the Dewa Agung, plead with him for peace negotiations with the Dutch. Even though fortune favoured the Balinese after the death of Michiels and the retreat of the Dutch army, the Rajas decided to accept Mads Lange's request. Lange had placed a man aboard his ship the Venus and sent him ahead to inform the Dutch of his mediation. They were not convinced he would succeed, and when the monsoon season arrived, they decided that action needed to be taken, lest the whole expedition would fail. The army advanced on Kasumba and met almost no resistance. The Balinese had raised their defences around Klungkung. Early in the morning of June 10 the Dutch left Kasumba for Klungkung. Along the way they met Mads Lange and a small group of riders. He informed them that his mediation had failed, but that the Rajas wished for peace. Mads also warned the Dutch not to advance any further, for he could not guarantee that his 16.000 men would not join the Balinese defences. The Dutch were grateful for the information and retreated. They sent Mads Lange back to the Rajas, together with a Dutch officer, to agree with the Rajas that the Balinese would send an embassy to the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies to recognize Dutch sovereignty over the island.

A few days after the new commander of the military forces in the Dutch East Indies, Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, had arrived, Mads Lange organised a meeting for all Dutch soldiers and 12.000 Balinese. The latter were extremely curious about this 'real' European prince. The Rajas and the prince assured each other of their peaceful intentions, after which prince left for Batavia, taking most of the Dutch troops with him. Jan van Swieten was tasked with forging a final peace agreement with the Balinese princes. When the residences of the Rajas proved to be to small for the meetings, talks were held in the factorij of Mads Lange, which by that time was already a meeting place where quarrels between Balinese and foreigners were resolved. The meeting took place from 10 to 15 July. De Dewa Agung was ill and had sent his son Raja Geit Putera from Klungkung. The Rajas of Bandung, Tabanan, Gianyar and Mengwi were also present. Both parties saw the final arrangement as a victory. The Dutch left the island as sovereigns, while the Balinese would remain de facto independent for the rest of the 19th century.

According to estimates there were around 20.000 people attending the meetings, mostly Balinese. During the many days of negotiations, they all stayed in or around Mads Lange's factorij. This must have been a huge drain on his resources. Raja Kassiman rewarded him for his efforts by granting him the honorary title of unggawa besar or high commissioner, one of the most senior titles on Bali. The Dutch on their part rewarded Mads Lange with the Knight's Cross in the Order of the Netherlands Lion, awarded on the 11th of December 1849 by king William III. The newspaper of Langeland, the Danish island where Mads Lange had been born, wrote in 1850 about the award: "His many great services and self-sacrificing toils in support of the Dutch, have finally been acknowledged by the Dutch government, both in the East Indies as well as in Europe, proven by the fact that last year he was named Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion."

Read more about this topic:  Mads Johansen Lange, Settlement in The East

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