Of Rajahs and Hornbills: A Timeline

Prolouge



Kuching, Brooke Sarawak. 1848

Pak Khalid made another row on the sampan.

It was always been thus for the Malay fisherman and trader, rowing his old wooden sampan to and fro across the rivers and swamps, netting fish and critters from the murky waters and selling them fresh at the market. Every day without fail, he would wake up at dawn, eat his meal, and set out to cast his work on the grounds out in the forests and coasts.

And speaking of which...

With one more row, the boat turned according with the river bend, and as the moments pass by the village of Kuching came into view.

It still looked the same to the fisherman; the houses stood alongside the river mud, the boats and sampans plying the waters or at rest against the shore, the same menagerie of peoples walking in and out of the streets and forests; Malays, Ibans, Bidayuhs, Melanaus, and a few others whose names Khalid does not know but are familiar with.

But there were changes too, and noticeable ones in fact. On one side of the river some land has been cleared out from amongst the surrounding trees, and on a bluff stood a strange building overlooking both the river and the town.

Ahh, how much has changed. At least now we don't have to obey to those men.

As he rowed his sampan to the riverbank of the town, a strange solitary figure by the riverbank caught his eye.

The man was flanked by several warriors, but there was no mistaking the pale skin, the distinctive stature, the style of his hair, and the strange cut of his clothes compared to what Khalid and his townsmen usually wore for the day.

As Khalid rowed his boat for one last time, he wondered whether or not the times could get anymore stranger. He hoped that it wouldn't.

But something inside of him told the man: it will.
 
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Hi everyone! This is sketchoodle making my first timeline on this site after months of lurking and learning about world history! This timeline will focus almost exclusively on Brooke Sarawak and Sabah with some attention to Malaya as well.

Comments, questions, and discussions are welcome! And I mean it, seriously. Unlike most of everyone here, I have no idea as to what's going on in the outside world so I really need your input for what's going on in Europe and Asia.

Well, I hope you enjoy this timeline. :)

P.S: I'm not very good at writing stuff, so please bear with it if you can. :eek:
 
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Ah, a timeline focused on the White Rajahs? I am curious to see what you end up doing with this. Consider me Subscribed.
 
Ah, a timeline focused on the White Rajahs? I am curious to see what you end up doing with this. Consider me Subscribed.
Nassir! Can I just say that your timeline kinda inspired me to do this thing? Along with Jonathan's Male Rising and Essam's Minarets of Atlantis, your TL was what made me finally say "screw it, I'm doing this thing as much as I can give it!". Thank you for making an amazing Ottoman TL, and for making me go over the edge. :)
 
Sarawak, where the rajahs are white, the hornbills are black and the capital city is named after someone's cat (or maybe not). I'll look forward to seeing where you take this.
 
First, a little history lesson


Bandar Brunei, around 1835

"...all in all, the insurrection is getting worse, my lord." The courtier finished, reclining back to his usual sitting position in the throne hall.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II mulled over what has been said. For many years has he sat on the Balairung Seri as ruler of all Brunei, yet the news coming from the southern part of his kingdom seemed to get darker and darker by the month.

"And it is Datu Patinggi Ali who is leading this insurrection?"

"Indeed, my lord. I have collected multiple accounts from many of his involvement."

Several minutes of silence reigned.

Pengiran Indera Mahkota has really gone beyond himself. thought the sultan. What harm is there in not forcing the peasants to mine the precious metals? Maybe my uncle should be sent to teach him a thing or two about governance. Then again, considering the scale of this...

It took a few hours of thought for the final decision to be made; The sultan's uncle would be sent to the far south to pacify the revolt and put both Indera Mahkota and Patinggi Ali in their places. And with that, the concern for the far south is over.

At least, I hope it will be over.

****************

David, Dana. A History of Borneo (2005)

...The origins of the Kingdom of Sabah and Sarawak are a subject of much debate amongst contemporary historians. However, most do solidly agree on how the foundations for the future country are laid out and how the Bruneians bacame -in both figurative and literal- it's unwitting workers.

In essence, most historians pinned the early foundation on the discovery of the precious mineral antimony on the reaches of the Sarawak River (so named because the local Malay name for antimony was Serewa). The discovery of said metal prompted Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II to appoint a certain lord named Pengiran Indera Mahkota to oversee the governance of Kuching village. However, what happened next is unclear to historians are there are conflicting views as to Indera Mahkota's rule over the populace.

First, there is the general view that he was a despot who forced the locals to mine for antimony and burdened them with taxes. As the times passed, the Malays, Ibans and Bidayuhs began an uprising in the area, led by a Malay man named Datu Patinggi Ali. In response, the sultan appointed his uncle to quell down the revolt and put both Indera Mahkota and Patinggi Ali in their places.

However, there is also the conflicting view that Pengiran Indera Mahkota was a just and thoughtful man who tried to rule the region as best as he could. The Kuching region was quite known for it's piracy as roves of Dayaks would ride up and down the numerous rivers, taking men and objects and selling them elsewhere, and it was this constant danger (coupled with rumour and paranoia) that prompted the locals to revolt. Indeed, even Rajah James Brooke commented on how intelligent and bold the man was, and recorded so in his diary.

Whatever the case, around 1835 Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II decided to end the problem by appointing his uncle, Pangiran Muda Hashim, to Kuching village to both check the revolt and govern the area effectively. However, tensions soon began to form as both Indera Mahkota and Muda Hashim did not see eye to eye in the administration of Kuching, ultimately causing a split in the administration instead of a working system.

And thus, little changed. The uprising continued as governance fractured, and it was in this time when a British ship arrived at the coast, bringing with it a strange adventurer...

 
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Sarawak, where the rajahs are white, the hornbills are black and the capital city is named after someone's cat (or maybe not). I'll look forward to seeing where you take this.
Yes! I got the great Jonathan Edelstein to take a peek at this thing! :D

Also, the area was already named Kuching by the time the Brookes arrived there. Most locals say it's either a cat, a small river (the Kuching river) or the fruit tree (the Buah Mata Kuching) that gave the name. Either way, everyone there loves the name now.
 
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Background of James Brooke


Singapore Town, Singapore. August 1839.


“Sir, if I may ask…”

George Bonham looked up from his writing desk and stared at the young man that sat on the opposite side. A newcomer to the East Indies, the lad was clearly uncomfortable with the local climate, what with the sweat that is forming on his brow and the distinct uneasiness that radiated from his figure. Bonham, already a resident for a full year, has grown used to the hot days and cool nights that enveloped this part of the world.

“Yes?” he asked.

The newcomer stopped squirming, though it was clear he disliked being in the chair. “…I was wondering about the man who met with us just this afternoon. Who was he?”

“Hmm? Oh… that one”. Bonham replied, finally realizing just who the lad was asking. “He was a Brit from India who wanted to do affairs with us. Served in Rangoon during the Burmese war, even got promoted because of it, in fact. I gave him a duty, from one officer to another; ever hear of Se-re-wak?”

“No sir.”

“It is an area in Borneo. The lord from over there took some care of our sailors during a storm some time back. I requested from our visiting officer a job for him; a thank you from me and the boys. The gent was already interested in the East Indies anyways.”

The newcomer raised his eyebrows. “Wait. You told this man to travel to Borneo just to give a lord a thank you?

Bonham looked back, his expression calm. “If it serves us in the end, I see no problem with it.”

Also, you have a lot to learn about surrounding affairs, boy.


**********

Mary Schneider, The colonial affairs of South-East Asia (Ender Publishing; 2009)

…If the unrest in Sarawak laid the foundations for today’s current kingdom, then George Bonham’s unorthodox pick for a ‘thank you’ messenger was certainly the keystone that completed the perfect set of factors for what was about to follow.

Regardless of his actions or of his notions of ideals, there is no doubt that James Brooke was an extraordinary man. Born in Secrole, a suburb of British India, he was a son of a court judge and the daughter of a Scottish peer. After twelve years of living in the Raj, he was sent to England by his parents to be educated but soon ran away from his enrolled academy, preferring instead to be home-tutored in the city of Bath. In 1819 he returned back to India as an ensign of the Bengal Army in the British East India Company and participated in the First Anglo-Burmese War, in which he proved to be quite the capable officer.

On the 15th of August, 1839 James Brooke arrived off the coast of Kuching aboard his own schooner, The Royalist, a vessel that he purchased through using his father’s inheritance money. Stepping ashore to meet with Pangiran Muda Hashim – to whom he delivered the letter of thanks from Singapore – one writer described the Malay lord as: “…not imposing, but his manners were a pattern of courtesy and he maintained a certain shabby dignity. He returned the Royalist’s salute of 21 guns with a salute of 17 and received his visitor with some pomp in the palm-leaf shed which went by the name of audience hall.



James Brooke and Pangiran Muda Hashim


It was probably during the subsequent meetings that followed that led Pangiran Muda Hashim to know of James' involvement in the First Anglo-Burmese War, for it was during the Englishman’s first voyage to Kuching that the part-lord of the town requested his help. The Patinggi Ali insurrection was still active outside the town proper, and the administration itself was split between the aforementioned lord and his opposite counterpart, Pangiran Indera Mahkota.

Not wanting to get involved in local matters, James refused and left Kuching shortly after. However, he continued to sail around the Malay Archipelago for quite some time after, a full year in fact. From what bits and pieces of information modern historians could find from this period, it seems that the young Brooke was impressed with the scale and potential of the East Indies. It was perhaps for this reason that, when he returned back to Kuching for a second time in August 1940, he accepted Pangiran Muda Hashim’s plea, although his offer of Governor of Sarawak to James also played no small part in his decision.

However, there were several voices who disagreed with the English adventurer mucking about in domestic policy. As James and his men begin to combat the Patinggi Ali revolt, those dissenters would begin to rally around a certain lord named Indera Mahkota…
 
This is still OTL, right?
Yes for now, though as time goes on I'm planning to pull a few strings here and there both in Kuching and in the surrounding areas. I'm unfamiliar with big POD's and this is my first TL, so I'm trying to change history by doing incremental changes (for now) and discussing how they pan out.
 
Well, this is an interesting TL you don't see every day (not on its own at least). I'ma subscribe, I can't wait to see what happens next :D.
 
The White Raja was always one of those little historical oddities that you wish more had come from - looking forward to seeing what you do with it!
 
Well, this is an interesting TL you don't see every day (not on its own at least). I'ma subscribe, I can't wait to see what happens next :D.
The White Raja was always one of those little historical oddities that you wish more had come from - looking forward to seeing what you do with it!
Well, lets just say that things will get a little bit confusing in the next update. I may need to draw a chart to detail out what's going on. :eek:

Also, I would like my next update to not end up on the bottom of this page, so can anyone be kind enough to add a last comment to this one instead?
 
Well, lets just say that things will get a little bit confusing in the next update. I may need to draw a chart to detail out what's going on. :eek:

Also, I would like my next update to not end up on the bottom of this page, so can anyone be kind enough to add a last comment to this one instead?
Trust me, graphics (including charts) always help. :D
 
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