Nyi Ageng Serang, a woman who made Sultan Hamengku Buwono II fall in love. Source: Mighty Women in XVIII-XIX Century Java. Source
After learning martial arts at Kadilangu, Kustiah, the small name of Nyi Ageng Serang, had to visit the Yogyakarta Palace. His visit was part of the introduction of court culture before he later became a family of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta. Kustiah's father, Panembahan Notoprojo, arranged a marriage with a crown prince named Raden Mas Sundoro.
When Kustiah visited, there was a drafting of the Babad Gianti script so that the library was built. Kustiah often visits the library to read Javanese books on history, religion and culture. In the library, Kustiah and RM Sundoro often read and discussed the contents of the book together.
From the routine meeting and fun chat, Raden Mas Sundoro, who later held the title Hamengkubuwono II, fell in love with the young Kustiah. However, Kustiah actually has a different mind. "How limited is living in the palace," Kustiah thought as Kayatun wrote in his thesis "Nyi Ageng Serang in the Diponegoro War".
In the palace, Kustiah witnessed how women must behave because they were bound by customs. "At that time he began to think, what if he really had become the wife of Mas Sundoro, of course he did not want to have to follow all the rules," wrote Kayatun. In fact, Kustiah still wants to learn many things, such as improving self-defense skills or deepening knowledge.
The Beginning of Matching Two Friends
Raden Ajeng Kustiah Retno Edi is the daughter of Duke of Serang, a remote village in the north of Solo, named Panembahan Notoprojo. Notoprojo was a friend of Prince Mangkubumi's battle when the Mataram war against the Dutch.
In the Mangkubumi rebellion, Notoprojo led troops in Serang who were tasked with recapturing the Semarang and Rembang territories. After Mangkubumi was crowned the king with the title Sultan Hamengku Buwono I, he asked Notoprojo to live in the palace. However, Notoprojo refused subtly by saying he was too old to live in the palace and prefer to return to Serang.
Hearing that answer, the sultan put forward another proposal: match up their two children, Raden Ajeng Kustinah was matched up with Crown Prince Raden Mas Sundoro. The marriage aims to keep their friendship unbroken later when both of them have died.
After Sultan Hamengku Buwono I died, the royal family urged that the marriage of Kustiah and Sundoro be carried out immediately. Kustiah agreed to Sundoro's invitation to get married but he submitted a condition: they did not have to live together. Kustiah still wants to deepen martial arts and need more life experience to strengthen his fighting spirit.
Kustiah convinced her future husband to fulfill that wish. Raden Mas Sudoro or Sultan Hamengku Buwono II agreed on the terms of Kustiah even though for the husband and wife did not live together was funny and strange.
Ahead of the wedding day, Kustiah again proposed the terms: the wedding ceremony was quite symbolic. Sultan Hamengku Buwono II accepted the condition. They were married. Kustiah's name changed to Raden Ajeng Kustiah Wulaningsih Retno Edi and was included in the list of courtiers.
When Panembahan Notoprojo's health deteriorated, Kustiah asked her husband's permission to care for his father. The Sultan could not reject Kustiah's wishes. During Kustiah's departure, the sultan realized that they were not suitable to be husband and wife. The Sultan finally gave Kustiah the freedom to choose his own mate.
In 1787, they divorced. After separating, Kustiah remarried Pangeran Mutia Kusumowijoyo who had the title Pangeran Serang I so that he became known as Nyi Ageng Serang. "The title Nyi Ageng," wrote Peter Carey in the Mighty Women of XVIII-XIX Century Java, "he got from his service in the 'Nyai' Corps at the Yogyakarta Palace. As for Serang, he got it because he married Prince Serang. "
Despite being divorced, Sultan Hamengku Buwono II and Nyi Ageng Serang still have good relations. The Sultan does not want to let go of an inner relationship with a woman who is known for being strong, tough, and smart. They finally became besan when Kustinah, son of Nyi Ageng Serang, married Pangeran Aria Adipati Mangkudiningrat, son of Sultan Hamengku Buwono II.