Melaka Timeline

by Su Lin Lim

1400 Founding of Melaka by Parameswara, c.1400
1403 First official Chinese trade envoys arrive in Melaka.
1406 Probable date of the arrival of Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho), commander of the Chinese Imperial Fleet, in Melaka on the first of his 7 voyages to the Indian Ocean
1411 Parameswara journeys to China with an entourage of 540 and meets the Ming Emperor. The same year, he embraces Islam and changes his name to Raja Iskandar Shah.
1446 Sultan Muzaffar Shah, Parameswara’s great-grandson, begins his reign. Melaka prospers under his strong rule. He establishes Islam as the state religion and defeats the Thais in battle near Muar.
1456 Tun Perak becomes Bendahara (Prime Minister). Serving four Sultans, he is responsible for Melaka’s rise to power in maritime Southeast Asia.
1459 Sultan Mansur Shah succeeds Muzaffar Shah. Admiral Zheng He brings Chinese Princess Hang Li Po as a wife for the sultan.
1509 Arrival of Portuguese explorer, Diego Lopez de Sequiera, commander of the first Royal Portuguese trading expedition. His fleet is attacked by Malays but escapes, leaving behind 20 men as prisoners.
1511 Portuguese forces, led by Alfonso d’Albuquerque, capture Melaka. A’ Famosa, a stone fortess is built around the present St. Paul’s Hill. Within this fortress, palaces for the governor and bishop, a college and other public buildings are constructed.
1545 St. Francis Xavier visits Melaka on the first of his four sojourns, as a base in the East. He tries to get permission to travel to China from here.
1548 The first school in Melaka, St. Paul’s College, is established by St. Francis for the Portuguese Catholics and newly converted natives.
1587 Johor Malays launch a land and sea attack on Melaka, saved by Portuguese reinforcements from Goa. The Portuguese retaliate by looting and razing the Johor capital to the ground.
1606 First Dutch fleet arrives in Melaka under the command of Cornelis Matelief de Jonge. An attack is staged with Johor’s help. After a 3-month siege, Portuguese reinforcements arrive from Goa and successful ward off the attack.
1641 The Dutch capture Melaka with the help of Malays in Johor. The city, decimated by war, is rebuilt and the fortifications improved.
1645 Cheng Hoon Teng temple is founded by Kapitan China, Li Kup. It is currently the oldest functioning Chinese temple in Malaysia.
1650 The Stadhuys, home of the Dutch governor and his retinue, is built.
1710 St. Peter’s Church, the oldest functioning Christian church in Malaysia, is built after the Dutch restore freedom of religion to the Catholics.
1753 Christ Church, the Dutch church next to the Stadhuys in the Town Square, is completed after 12 years of construction.
1795-1818 Melaka is temporarily held by the British EIC during the Napoleonic Wars, to prevent it falling into French hands. Governor William Farquhar ordered to demolish the fort in order to transfer the population to Penang settlement. Although the destruction was halted midway by Sir Stamford Raffles (founder of Singapore), only the gateway was preserved. The treaty of Vienna signed at the end of the Wars. Melaka is restored to the Dutch.
1824 The Anglo-Dutch treaty signed. Dutch trade Melaka to the British in exchange for Bengkulu/Bencoolen (Sumatra). Melaka and Sumatra officially separated.
1826 The Straits Settlements of Penang, Melaka and Singapore are set up by the British.
1867 The Straits Settlements becomes a Crown Colony under the Colonial Office.
1901 The Queen Victoria fountain is erected in commemoration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (1837-1897).
1942 World War II- Japanese occupy Malaya and take Melaka from British
1945 Japanese surrender; Melaka is returned to British hands
1948 Malaysia’s internal war against Communism (The Emergency) begins and lasts for 12 years.
1956 Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, announces the news of impending independence to 50,000 people gathered on the Padang Pahlawan, in Melaka.
1957 Malaya gains independence. The last British Resident Commissioner of Melaka, H.G. Hammett, hands the instrument of independence to the first local governor on 31st August.

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