6th Century- A travelling Chinese Buddhist monk
describes the island of Po’li, some historians thought it
to be Bali, was made up of 136 villages set amongst luxuriant
vegetation and ruled by a king, who believed he was descended
from Hindu deities.
882- Oldest dated inscription found in Bali records
the first king ruling Bali as Ugrasena, founder of the islands
ancient and feudal Warmadewa Dynasty.
Late 10th Century- The island of Bali is conquered
by the Javanese king, Dharmawangsa (989-1007). His sister
Mahendradatta, marries the Balinese king, Udayana (Dharmodayana).
1001- Prince Erlangga is born. Son of Udayana and
Mahendradatta. Erlangga returns to Java where he builds a powerful
kingdom and rules Bali as part of his empire, and he lays
the foundations of Javanese-Balinese political and cultural contact.
Early 12th Century- Bali becomes a vassal
of the eastern Javanese kingdom of Kediri.
1284- The neighbouring Javanese ruler Kertanegara,
reconquers and pacifies and unifies Bali under the Singasari
1343- Gajah Mada, Supreme General and Prime Minister
of the Majapahit Empire, conquers Bali and introduces the Majapahit
culture and its institutions. The Balinese are very receptive
and the aristocracy eagerly seek to join their family trees to
the ruling ‘Wong Majapahit (Man of Majapahit).
1450- The Hinduization of Bali proceeds through
waves of migration and cultural infusion from the Majapahit Empire
in the eastern part of Java.
1515- The collapse of the Majapahit Empire (due
to the unstoppable rise of Islam) triggers a massive cultural
migration to Bali. The last prince of Majapahit and his royal
court of Hindu priests, artists, scholars, nobles and soldiers
flee to Bali, transporting their culture intact.
1550- Batu Renggong of the Gelgel Dynasty inherits
the title Dewa Agung, (Great Deity or King), and initiates a political,
military and cultural renaissance sometimes called Bali’s
Golden Age. He controlled all the Balinese Rajadoms and conquered
Sumbawa and Lombok. Several generations later the family dynasty
moved its court to Klungkung which remains the noblest of the
eight Rajadoms (or principalities) these principalities are Klungkung,
Badung, Tabanan, Bangli, Gianyar, Karangasem, Buleleng and Jembrana.
1597- The Dutch trader Cornelius De Houtman arrived
in Bali, searching for spices. The court at Gelgel royally entertained
four men of this expedition. Two men jumped ship, and the world
received fascinating reports about this beautiful tropical paradise.
1601- A Dutch expedition led by Jacob van Heemskerck,
tries to open trade relations with the island. The Dewa Agung
presented him with a beautiful Balinese girl, as a gift, the Dutch
interpreted this as tacit approval and that it ‘bestowed
special rights’ to them.
1639- Di Made Bakung, last Dewa Agung of the
‘Golden Age’ of Gelgel Dynasty, provoked an invasion
by the Javanese Empire of Mataram. He lost Sumbawa, Lombok and
the allegiance of the other Balinese princes. The Gelgel court
moved to Klungkung. They continued to symbolize imperial grandeur,
but never again have real imperial power.
1667- The Rajadom of Gianyar is born with
the rise of Dewa Manggis Kuning, a fourth generation of Gelgel.
After some early misadventures in Badung, Dewa Manggis escaped
death by being carried out of the palace wrapped in a mat, on
top of a servant’s head. The fugitive prince then set up
a court in Gianyar, which became prosperous and powerful southern
1711- The Dewa Agung’s military and political
power passes to Buleleng in the north. The joint principalities
of Buleleng-Mengwi flourish for the most of this century.
1717-1717- There are frequent hostilities
between Bali and the Javanese Empire of Mataram, which climax
in the destruction of East Java and Madura by roaming troops of
Balinese. The Dutch refrained from intervening in the Balinese-Javanese
1740- The Rajadom of Karangasem rise to prominence,
conquer Lombok. Raja Gusti Gede of Karangasem, famous prince in
Balinese history subdues Buleleng, then Negara, dominates the
political scene and stirs the populace to widespread resentment
1815- Tambora Volcano on Sumbawa erupts. Buleleng
and Singaraja, the large towns in the north, are damaged by ash
and tidal waves. This is perceived as a premonition of impending
1817- The Dutch begin agricultural trade with
Bali. Singaraja and Kuta become busy ports.
1826- First permanent Dutch agent settles in
Kuta in southern Bali, is the start of modern Dutch presence on
the island. Captain J.S. Wetters’ purpose is to recruit
1000 Balinese soldiers for the Dutch colonial army. The trade
in opium and Balinese slaves flourish under his influence.
1830’s- Dutch traders begin to negotiate trade
policies and sovereignty. The Balinese keep rigidly the traditional
concept of ‘reef rights’ whereby villagers are entitled
to plunder any ship that wrecks near the island, accepting the
booty as gifts from the gods.
1841- The Dutch frigate Overijsset is
wrecked on Kuta reef and plundered by Balinese. Amid furore and
protest, a new commissioner arrives at Buleleng. A dynamic young
prince, Gusti Ketut Jelantik, the great hero of mid-nineteenth
century Bali, deifies him.
1846- Dutch-Bali wars. The first Dutch punitive
expedition brings an invasion fleet of 58 vessels and 3000 armed
men to defeat Jelantik’s defence force in Buleleng. Danish
trader Mads Lange, who runs a shipping and trading post in Kuta,
acts as intermediary between the Balinese and the Dutch.
1848- In this second punitive expedition, the brilliant
military leader Gusti Jelantik fights off three attacks from the
Dutch with 25 cannon and 16,000 men.
1849- The third and final punitive Dutch
expedition arrives with 100-armed vessels. The Dutch attack the
Balinese stronghold of Jagaraga. Balinese lose thousands of men,
and then they advance in puputan, which is a fight to death (ritual
suicide). The Dutch gain allies and troops from Lombok, which
overtake the rajas of Karangasem and Buleleng. The Balinese resistance
is in disarray whilst the Dutch gain strength.
1850’s- The Dutch ‘protective’
administration assumes sovereign power over northern and western
Bali. Coffee plantations are introduced in the north, which are
a profitable colonial enterprise. Dutch ban the Hindu practice
of suttee, the burning of widowed wives with their husbands, and
now take the first steps to eradicate slavery.
1868- The climax of the intermittent Gianyar-Klungkung
wars, the rajadom of Gianyar (the most powerful and prosperous
state of the south), smashes the army of Klungkung.
1882- Buleleng and Jembrana states are brought under
direct Dutch rule. All Balinese women in that part of the island
are ordered to cover their breasts.
1885- Dewa Manggis and his Gianyar retinue
travel to Klungkung to pay homage to the Dewa Agung but are imprisoned
instead; and their ranks destroyed. A rebellion of Muslim Sasak
vassals of the Balinese rulers of Karangasem, east Bali, is suppressed
with extreme cruelty.
1894- The Dutch send a military expedition
to Lombok and to punish the Balinese rulers, but they are massacred
in the notorious ‘Lombok Treachery’ at their camp
at Cakranegara. To revenge this defeat the Dutch lay waste Lombok,
and raze Mataram to the ground in the process. The Balinese rulers
perish in a mass rite of puputan, or ritual suicide; rather than
surrender to the Dutch. Dutch-Balinese relations become increasingly
1900- The Dutch annex Gianyar.
1904- The Chinese schooner ‘Sri Kumala’
is wrecked near Sanur beach and plundered. The Dutch demand compensation
from the Raja of Badung, who remained defiant. He is supported
by the Raja’s of Klungkung and Tabanan. The last known suttee
takes place in Tabanan.
1906- A large military expedition lands at
Sanur beach with troops, and march toward the royal palace at
Denpasar. They are met by the raja and his entire court, dressed
in splendour for the ritual of puputan. In this ghastly suicide
ceremony, the entire court turn their daggers and krisses upon
one another. The women tauntingly throw their jewels at the Dutch
troops. The entire court died on the battle field. The puputan
ritual is repeated that same afternoon in Pemecutan, a minor court
of Badung; and two days later in the court of the raja of Tabanan.
1908- Disorder and bombardment by the Dutch,
around Klungkung and Gelgel leads to the final puputan of the
Dewa Agung and his court at Klungkung. The Dutch then resolve
to make amends, and introduces reforms under the ‘Ethical
Policy’ they do not allow the presence of a Dutch colony,
nor agricultural business, as in Java. Balinese farmers are protected
against exploitation, and the sudden impact of outside influences.
A ‘conservationist’ stance towards Balinese culture
is taken in art and architecture.
1920’s-1930’s- Foreign artists
and musicians ‘discover’ Bali. Walter Spies, Miguel
Covarrubias, Rudolph Bonnet, Ari Smit, Han Snel, Vicki Baum, and
anthropologists Margaret Mead, Jane Belo and Gregory Bateson,
are just a few of the many that came to Bali.
1942- Japanese Occupation. Japanese troops land
at Sanur beach and control the island for three years, headquarters
at Denpasar and Singaraja. Walter Spies, Bali’s most famous
western artist, perishes when a Japanese submarine torpedoes his
ship, when he was being transported to safety as a German internee.
1945- General Sukarno, soldier and politician,
rises through party ranks in Jakarta. Declares ‘Merdeka’
- Independence, for the entire Indonesian archipelago. Dutch troops
drive the Japanese out of Bali and try to re-impose a Dutch civil
1946- Battle for independence in Bali, climax with
a young military officer, Ngurah Rai, who relies on mystical guidance;
leads a suicide attack against Dutch forces and is martyred at
Marga, along with 95 followers.
1949- The Hague concedes Indonesian Independence.
Bali becomes part of the Republic of the United States of Indonesia,
with Sukarno as President.
1956- Sukarno, President of Indonesia and ‘patron’
of Bali, builds various monuments such as the Tampaksiring Palace,
Bali Beach Hotel, and the Udayana University: which is now Bali’s
chief centre of higher education.
1962- A plague of rats infest Bali. This is interpreted
as a sign of divine wrath and displeasure.
1963- Gunung Agung erupts, killing over 1000 people
and laying waste much of the island. This occurs whilst the Balinese
are celebrating Eka Desa Rudra, the most sacred of festivals,
held only once each Balinese century at Pura Besakih, the mother
temple, on the slopes of Gunung Agung, the most holy mountain
in Bali. The eruption is seen as an evil omen.
1965- Gestapu, September 30, an abortive coup de
‘etat; five top army generals are murdered brutally by a
by a clique of communist conspirators. Revulsion and a desire
for vengeance promote a national bloodletting. In Bali thousands
of suspected communists are killed in a matter of weeks.
1970s- Tourism develops in southern Bali, in the
capital Denpasar, and in the beach resort villages of Sanur and
Kuta. The Ngurah Rai International Airport is opened. The government
declares tourism the new industry and launches the development
of the Nusa Dua, a mega-resort, in the Bukit peninsular.
1979- The cremation of Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati,
the high prince and designate Raja of Ubud, was given what has
been called ‘ the last great cremation’ was burned
in a huge black and gold bull sarcophagus.
1979- On January 31, Balinese again celebrate Eka
Desa Rudra. Exactly 11 years and 11 days after the aborted festival
of 1963, a massive celebration involving the most elaborate preparations
and animal sacrifices ever seen. The priests announce it as successful.
A true purging of the old and a blessed beginning of a century
of hope to the Balinese people.