Looking for the Lost Aceh History
POLICY on history, many social scientists agree that Aceh has its own character that distinguishes this region from other regions. Among other things, perhaps it can be seen from the role of uleebalang and the rich in shaping the governmental and social order of the Aceh sultanate can not be ignored. This group is believed to be part of the vote representing the Acehnese civilians. Through them, the people have the power to support or overthrow the government. Through them the people can regulate trade rules according to the needs and development of markets and natural resources. The strong role of this group can be seen in the 18th century. When the reins of leadership were so weak, the two groups became the party most feared by the sultan and his circles.
Contrary to what some historians assume, I think the uleebalangs and the rich in the eighteenth century primarily, launched the resistance against the sultan not only because of the pressures of the tax regulation imposed by the sultanate, but also because of the unpreparedness of the empire the shifting power of the commercial network in Aceh from previously dominated by Muslim, Arabian, Persian and Turkish merchant traders that not only affected the sultanate's color with its Islamic economic style, but also influenced the style of the Sultanate politics, switched to a European community the 18th has controlled key port ports in Southeast Asia including in Sumatra such as Bengkulu, Natal, Tapanuli, and Aceh waters. This can be seen from the impact of monopoly competition of pepper supply from Aceh between England, Netherlands, America and France.
Competition is increasing and worsening when uleebalangs and rich people activate new ports in Pidie waters and continue with pepper planting in western waters. When Pidie's harbor attracted many traders, especially European merchants, uleebalangs and wealthy people in the region made a vigorous contradiction when the sultan tried to stick the rules there. Known then Pidie rebels are equipped with weapons believed to be obtained from their international partners or trading partners. To deal with these rebels the sultan worked with France.
At other times, many times the sovereign tried to exchange supplies of pepper with warships and weapons from Britain to deal with the rebellious uleebalangs in the region. Even when trade on the west coast increased rapidly under the command of a local king who disputed his submission to the sultan, both the sultan and the uleebalang in that place called for help in Europe. Parties in the west coast ask for help from the UK who have posts and factories in Bengkulu, Natal, and Tapanuli. While the Sultan obtained assistance from America.
A separate review should be made as to what the real reasons were to free the resistance against the Sultan. Based on the facts adapted from the reports of western generals and settlers such as Thomas Forrest, there is a change of view of the sultanate on the development of Europe. If in the 16th to 17th centuries the sultanate of Aceh consistently resisted European aggression in the waters of the Strait of Malacca and tightened their trade policies in the territory or at least during the reign of the four queens, trade with Europe was allowed to run under uleebalang and orangkaya control and minimal intervention from the sultanate . The 18th century became the period in which the Acehnese sultan mellowed and provided greater economic and political opportunity for their interests here. Even the sultan then raised the Europeans as his counselors, where previously held by the Muslim majority of India and Arabia.
Regardless of the existence of the English village in Aceh that has existed since 1688, the change of view towards Europe may have been more connected as the reign of the reigning Sultan Muhammad Shah in 1781-1795. He is noted as a sultan who is able to speak French and Portuguese. He can also read and understand Arabic. A book written by Voltaire, a famous French satirist novelist once served and read by the Sultan. This marks the flow of enlightenment from the French renaissance period to touch the perspective of the sultanate of Aceh. The book was awarded by Thomas Forrest during his visit to Aceh in 1784.
Not only that, the Sultan is also known to have an interest in military technology which was then widely developed by the West. For the first time in Aceh's history, Sultan Muhammad Shah appointed the Europeans to command his battleship. In fact, it was learned that not only the Sultan began to employ many Europeans in his government, even the royal families, especially those connected to ports in the Malay Peninsula, employed European commanders as well as crew with military capability to supply pepper supplies in Aceh's ports. Perhaps this is due to the unsafe situation of Aceh waters of that era.
Sultan Muhammad Shah was replaced by his son Sultan Jauhar al Alam Syah. When his father died, he was known to be too young to be king. In 1805, when he was 16 years old, he was officially crowned Sultan. When the Sultan Jauhar took the lead, the British fangs had stuck strongly, especially in the Western plots which not only covered Meulaboh but also Singkil, Susoh, and Meukek, the result of a feud of representatives of the Aceh Sultanate there with Britain, Malay betrayal and the emperor's powerlessness entirely held by government officials from uleebalangs and rich people.
Continuing the dream of the father, Sultan Jauhar al Alam recorded able to communicate with Europe directly without the intermediary of a translator. He is also known to serve in the Nonsuch ship to learn the navigation talents. He also continued to employ Europeans as advisors.
It is wrong
I can not say that this connection with Europe became the only reason for the resistance of the uleebalang and the rich at that time. It does not rule out that there is another reason, where the empire prevailed and put forward the interests of the group that caused these rebellions to spread like wildfire that raged through the 18th century until the first half of the 19th century.
These recorded records explain that there is indeed a shift in the perspective of the sultanate of Aceh. The transitional period is usually always followed by a period of adjustment or adaptation of the old system to a new system, which is more favorable to the benefits of the sultanate and its cronies but ignores the advantages equivalent to the others. This is also reinforced by the reality of the weakening of the role of ulama in the sultanate after the death of Sheikh Abdurrauf al Singkili.
Until the 19th century was not so sound scholars who have greater influence than the sultan and uleebalang. Resistance against this oppressive rule continued into the 19th century. When Sutan Ibrahim Mansur Shah managed to sit in power, he brought another wave in which ties with Muslim rulers were revived and the two groups above recorded no significant rebellion against the empire.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the roles of the two groups above can not be ignored, although uleebalangs and rich people at that time have shown a split between partiality with Europe or the empire. But when the Dutch pledged war on the sultanate of Aceh in 1873, the majority of uleebalangs provided direct or indirect support despite the end of the struggle, their number on the Dutch side increasing.