Majapahit - Administration - Territorial Division

Territorial Division

Majapahit recognize the hierarchy classifications of lands within its realm:

  1. Bhumi: the kingdom, ruled by the king
  2. Nagara: the province, ruled by the rajya (governor), or natha (lord), or bhre (prince or duke)
  3. Watek: the regency, administered by wiyasa,
  4. Kuwu: the district, administered by lurah,
  5. Wanua: the village, administered by thani,
  6. Kabuyutan: the hamlet or sanctuary place.

During its formation, Majapahit traditional realm only consists of lesser vassal kingdoms (provinces) in eastern and central Java. This region is ruled by provincial kings called Paduka Bhattara with the title Bhre. This title is the highest position below the monarch and similar to duke or duchess. Usually this position reserved for the close relatives of the king. Their duty is to administer their own provinces, collect taxes, send annual tributes to the capital, and manage the defenses of their borders.

During the reign of Hayam Wuruk (1350 to 1389) there were 12 provinces of Majapahit, administered by king's close relatives:

Provinces Titles Rulers Relation to the King
Kahuripan (or Janggala, today Surabaya) Bhre Kahuripan Tribhuwanatunggadewi queen mother
Daha (former capital of Kediri) Bhre Daha Rajadewi Maharajasa aunt and also mother in-law
Tumapel (former capital of Singhasari) Bhre Tumapel Kertawardhana father
Wengker (today Ponorogo) Bhre Wengker Wijayarajasa uncle and also father in-law
Matahun (today Bojonegoro) Bhre Matahun Rajasawardhana husband of the duchess of Lasem, king's cousin
Wirabhumi (Blambangan) Bhre Wirabhumi Bhre Wirabhumi1 son
Paguhan Bhre Paguhan Singhawardhana brother in-law
Kabalan Bhre Kabalan Kusumawardhani2 daughter
Pawanuan Bhre Pawanuan Surawardhani niece
Lasem (a coastal town in Central Java) Bhre Lasem Rajasaduhita Indudewi cousin
Pajang (today Surakarta) Bhre Pajang Rajasaduhita Iswari sister
Mataram (today Yogyakarta) Bhre Mataram Wikramawardhana2 nephew

1 Bhre Wirabhumi is actually the title: the Duke of Wirabhumi (Blambangan), the real name is unknown and he referred as Bhre Wirabhumi in Pararaton. He married to Nagawardhani, the king's niece.

2 Kusumawardhani (king's daughter) married to Wikramawardhana (king's nephew), the couple become the heir.

When Majapahit entered the thalassocratic imperial phase during the administration of Gajah Mada, several overseas vassal states were included within the Majapahit sphere of influence, as the result the new larger territorial concept was defined:

  • Negara Agung, or the Grand State, the core kingdom. The traditional or initial area of Majapahit during its formation before entering the imperial phase. This includes the capital city and the surrounding areas where the king effectively exercises his government. This area covered the eastern half of Java, with all its provinces ruled by the Bhres (dukes), the king's close relatives.
  • Mancanegara, areas surrounding Negara Agung. These areas are directly influenced by Javanese culture, and obliged to pay annual tributes. However these areas usually possess their own native rulers or kings, that might foster alliance or intermarried with the Majapahit royal family. Majapahit stationed their officials and officers in these places and regulate their foreign trade activities and collect taxes, yet they enjoyed substantial internal autonomy. This includes the rest of Java island, Madura, Bali, as well as Dharmasraya, Pagaruyung, Lampung and Palembang in Sumatra.
  • Nusantara, areas which do not reflect Javanese culture, but are included as colonies and they had to pay annual tribute. They enjoyed substantial autonomy and internal freedom, and Majapahit did not necessarily station their officials or military officers here; however, any challenges on Majapahit oversight might draw severe response. These areas such as the vassal kingdoms and colonies in Maluku, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sulawesi, Borneo, and Malay peninsula.

All of those three categories were within the sphere of influence of the Majapahit empire, however Majapahit also recognize the fourth realm that defines its foreign diplomatic relations:

  • Mitreka Satata, literary means "partners with common order". It refer to independent foreign states that is considered as Majapahit's equals, not the subject of Majapahit powers. According to Nagarakretagama canto 15, the foreign states are Syangkayodhyapura (Ayutthaya of Siam), Dharmmanagari (Nakhon Si Thammarat Kingdom), Marutma, Rajapura and Sinhanagari (kingdoms in Myanmar), Champa, Kamboja (Cambodia), and Yawana (Annam). Mitreka Satata can be considered as Majapahit's allies, since other foreign kingdoms in China and India was not included in this category, although Majapahit known has conducted foreign relations with these nations.

The model of political formations and power difussion from its core in Majapahit capital city that radiates through its overseas possessions, was later identified by historians as "mandala" model. The term mandala derived from Sanskrit "circle" to explain the typical ancient Southeast Asian polity that was defined by its centre rather than its boundaries, and it could be composed of numerous other tributary polities without undergoing administrative integration. The territories belongs within Majapahit Mandala sphere of influence were those categorized as Mancanegara and Nusantara. These areas usually have their own indigenous rulers, enjoy substantial autonomy and have their own political institution intact without further integration into Majapahit administration. The same mandala model also applied on previous empires; Srivijaya and Angkor, and also Majapahit's neighboring mandalas; Ayutthaya and Champa.

In later period, Majapahit's hold on its overseas possessions began to waned. According to Wingun Pitu inscription (dated 1447) it was mentioned that Majapahit was consist of 14 provinces, that administrated by the ruler titled Bhre. The provinces or vassal areas are:

  • Daha (former capital of Kediri)
  • Jagaraga
  • Kabalan
  • Kahuripan (or Janggala, modern Surabaya)
  • Keling
  • Kelinggapura
  • Kembang Jenar
  • Matahun (today Bojonegoro)
  • Pajang (today Surakarta)
  • Singhapura
  • Tanjungpura
  • Tumapel (former capital of Singhasari)
  • Wengker (today Ponorogo)
  • Wirabhumi (today Blambangan)

Read more about this topic:  Majapahit, Administration

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