The Kingdom of Yogyakarta, also known as the Yogyakarta Sultanate (Kesultanan Yogyakarta), is a Javanese monarchy located in the region of Yogyakarta, on the island of Java in present-day Indonesia. The Kingdom’s history can be divided into several key periods.
Formation of the Sultanate (1755):
The Kingdom of Yogyakarta was founded on October 7, 1755, as a result of the Treaty of Giyanti. This treaty divided the Mataram Sultanate, which had ruled over central Java since the late 16th century, into two separate kingdoms: the Sultanate of Yogyakarta and the Sunanate of Surakarta (Solo). The division occurred due to internal conflicts within the Mataram Sultanate, as well as Dutch intervention through the Dutch East India Company (VOC).
Sultan Hamengkubuwono I, the first ruler of the Yogyakarta Sultanate, was a strong and capable leader who built the new kingdom by developing the city of Yogyakarta and establishing political stability.
Resistance against the Dutch (1811-1830):
During the early 19th century, the Kingdom of Yogyakarta resisted Dutch colonial rule. The British briefly occupied the region between 1811 and 1816, during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. During this time, Stamford Raffles, the British Lieutenant-Governor of Java, took control of Yogyakarta and exiled Sultan Hamengkubuwono II.
In 1816, the Dutch regained power and tensions between them and the Yogyakarta Sultanate increased, leading to the Java War from 1825 to 1830. The conflict was spearheaded by Prince Diponegoro, the eldest son of Sultan Hamengkubuwono III, and ended with Diponegoro’s capture, resulting in the Yogyakarta Sultanate being absorbed into the Dutch East Indies.
During the early 20th century, nationalistic fervor grew in the Dutch East Indies, with the Kingdom of Yogyakarta playing a pivotal role in the Indonesian National Awakening. In 1940, Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX ascended the throne and supported Indonesia’s fight for independence from Dutch colonial rule.
After Indonesia declared independence on August 17, 1945, Yogyakarta became a center for resistance against the Dutch during the Indonesian National Revolution from 1945 to 1949. President Sukarno and the fledgling Indonesian government used Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX’s palace as their headquarters.
Following Indonesia’s independence, the Yogyakarta Sultanate retained its unique status as a special region within the Indonesian Republic. This has allowed the Sultan of Yogyakarta to serve as both the hereditary ruler of the kingdom and the governor of the Yogyakarta Special Region to this day.
Today, the Kingdom of Yogyakarta remains a significant symbol of Javanese culture, tradition, and heritage. Its cultural sites, including the Kraton royal palace, continue to attract tourists from around the world.