Paregreg war

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Paregreg war
Date 1404-1406
Location Majapahit, Java
Result Western Majapahit victory, the death of Bhre Wirabhumi, the ruler of Eastern Majapahit
Western court Eastern court
Commanders and leaders
Wikramawardhana Bhre Wirabhumi
Casualties and losses
Soldiers Soldiers, Bhre Wirabhumi and his family, including Chinese envoys that visiting eastern court

Paregreg war was the Majapahit civil war that took place in 1404-1406. The war was fought as the contest of succession between Western court led by Wikramawardhana, against Eastern court led by Bhre Wirabhumi. This war of rivalry and succession had caused the calamity, crisis, court's preoccupation, the drain of financial resources, and exhaustion, that is thought to be one of the causes of Majapahit decline in the following years.[1]

The division of West and East courts

The Majapahit kingdom was established in 1293 by Raden Wijaya with the help of cunning and able Arya Wiraraja, the Regent of Madura. As the reward of Wiraraja's help, in 1295, Raden Wijaya agreed to give the eastern portions of East Java, which includes Blambangan areas with Lumajang as its capital.[1] Throughout Raden Wijaya's reign, Arya Wiraraja ruled eastern realm peacefully as Majapahit's vassal, yet enjoyed substantial freedom. In 1316, Jayanagara son and heir of Raden Wijaya, cracked down the Nambi rebellion in Lumajang. Nambi was the successor of Arya Wiraraja. After that battle, the western and eastern realms of East Java were reunited.

According to Pararaton, in 1376 appeared "a new mountain", which hinted the emergence of a new keraton (court, palace or center of power) opposed to the central authority of Majapahit. According to Ming Chinese chronicle, in 1377 there was two independent kingdoms in Java, both of them sent their envoys to Ming's court. The Western Kingdom was led by Wu-lao-po-wu, and the Eastern Kingdom was led by Wu-lao-wang-chieh.

Wu-lao-po-wu is Chinese pronunciation of Bhra Prabu, which refer to Hayam Wuruk (according to Pararaton), while Wu-lao-wang-chieh is refer to Bhre Wengker alias Wijayarajasa, the husband of Rajadewi (Hayam Wuruk's aunt). It seems that Wijayarajasa has ambition to be Majapahit monarch. After the death of Gajah Mada, Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi, and Rajadewi, he built a new eastern court in Pamotan, thus in Pararaton, he also mentioned as Bhatara Parameswara ring Pamotan.

Bhre Wirabhumi and Wikramawardhana rivalry

The Paregreg war was incited by Bhre Wirabhumi. The real name of Bhre Wirabhumi is unknown. His name just simply means Bhre (Duke) of Wirabhumi, a province of Majapahit corresponds with Blambangan area in "eastern hook" of Java. According to Pararaton, he is the son of Hayam Wuruk with concubine, and adopted as a foster son by Bhre Daha (Rajadewi), the wife of Wijayarajasa. Later Bhre Wirabhumi would be married to Bhre Lasem sang Alemu, the daughter of Bhre Pajang (Hayam Wuruk's sister).

According to Nagarakretagama, the wife of Bhre Wirabhumi is Nagarawardhani, the daughter of Bhre Lasem or also known as Indudewi. Indudewi is the daughter of Rajadewi and Wijayarajasa. The Nagarakretagama is more valid than Pararaton, since it was written during Bhre Wirabhumi life time. During the reign of Hayam Wuruk and Wijayarajasa, the relation between western court of Majapahit and the eastern court is described in somewhat an uneasy coexistence and mutual respect, since Wijayarajasa is Hayam Wuruk's father in-law.

After the death of Hayam Wuruk in 1389, he was succeeded by his nephew and also son in-law, Wikramawardhana. In eastern court, after the death of Wijayarajasa in 1398, he was succeeded by his foster son that also his grand daughter's husband, Bhre Wirabhumi. Wirabhumi would rule the Blambangan kingdom with Lumajang as his capital.[1] After the death of Indudewi, the position of Bhre Lasem was awarded to her daughter, Nagarawardhani. However Wikramawardhana also bestowed the title of Bhre lasem to his own wife, the queen Kusumawardhani. That is why in Pararaton there are two Bhre Lasem, Bhre Lasem Sang Halemu (The Fat Bhre Lasem) Bhre Wirabhumi's wife, and Bhre Lasem Sang Ahayu (The Beautiful Bhre Lasem) Wikramawardhana's wife. The contest of Bhre Lasem title has created an animosity between eastern and western courts, until 1400 when both Nagarawardhani and Kusumawardhani died. Wikramawardhana immediately appointed his daughter in-law as the new Bhre Lasem, the wife of Bhre Tumapel.

Paregreg war

After the appointment of the new Bhre Lasem, a dispute erupted between the two palaces. According to Pararaton, in 1402 Bhre Wirabhumi and Wikramawardhana involved in a bitter quarrel and after that they shunned each other and refused to talk. In 1403, through dangerous gamble of power, Wirabhumi sought military assistance from Chinese court against Majapahit court.[1] Chinese Imperial court responded by recognizing his province's independence from Majapahit, in exchange Bhre Wirabhumi accepted a seal, commission, and other insignia of Chinese suzerainty over his land.[1] This action would lead to a larger Paregreg war in 1404. In Old Javanese Paregreg means slowly developed or step by step. It indicates that there are many battles fought between eastern and western Majapahit throughout two years, sometimes a battle was won by western court, sometimes won by eastern court.

Finally in 1406 the western troops led by Bhre Tumapel, the son of Wikramawardhana, penetrated the eastern palace. Bhre Wirabhumi was defeated and fled using a boat during the night time. He was chased after and killed by Raden Gajah or also known as Bhra Narapati, titled as Ratu Angabhaya of western court. Raden Gajah brought the head of Bhre Wirabhumi to western court (Trowulan). Later Bhre Wirabhumi would be sanctified in Girisa Pura temple located in Lung area.

The aftermath

After the defeat of Bhre Wirabhumi, the eastern court was finally reunited with the western court. However, the ongoing conflicts all these years has kept Majapahit preoccupied and has loosened Majapahit grip on their overseas vassals. As one by one Majapahit overseas possessions outside of Java has liberated themselves and refuse to paid tribute to the central court, Majapahit could do nothing to assert their rules. In 1405, West Borneo was held under Chinese influence. Followed by the rebellions in Palembang, Malayu, and Malacca that would grow into thriving ports independent from Majapahit. In northern coast of Borneo, the Brunei Kingdom has also liberated themselves from Javanese overlordship.

Moreover, Wikramawardhana also owed a huge debt of gold to the Chinese Ming court, a blood money as the compensation for the death of Chinese envoys. During the Paregreg war, some Chinese envoys was sent by Chinese Admiral Zheng He to visit the eastern court, however they was caught in the middle of the battle. Around 170 Chinese envoys were killed during this battle as a collateral victims, which caused the uproar of Chinese Ming Emperor. For this incident Wikramawardhana was fined 60,000 tahil of gold by Ming's court. Until 1408 Wikramawardaha could only paid 10,000 tahil. Finally emperor Yong Le pardoned the fine out of pity to the Javanese king. This event was recorded in Ma Huan's book Ying-yai-sheng-lan, he was Zheng He's secretary.

After the Paregreg war, Wikramawardhana brought Bhre Daha, the daughter of Bhre Wirabhumi as a concubine. From that marriage born Suhita that would ascend to the throne as queen regnant in 1427 to succeed Wikramawardhana. During the reign of Suhita, the killer of Bhre Wirabhumi, Raden Gajah, was punished by death sentence in 1433.

Paregreg war in Javanese literature

The war of Paregreg is remembered in the collective memory of Javanese tradition. After the advent of Islamic polities in Java, the theme of Paregreg war appeared in Javanese literatures, such as in Serat Kanda, Serat Damarwulan, and Serat Blambangan.

According to the tales in Serat Kanda, there was a war between Queen Kencanawungu, the ruler of Majapahit in the west against Menak Jingga the ruler of Blambangan in the east. Menak Jingga finally was killed by Damarwulan, a knight sent by Queen Kencanawungu. As the reward, Damarwulan would be wed to Queen Kencanawungu and become the king of Majapahit, stylized as Prabu Mertawijaya. From their union would born king Brawijaya the last king of Majapahit.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Victor M Fic (2 Jan 2014). From Majapahit and Sukuh to Megawati Sukarnoputri. Abhinav Publications. p. 104. Archived from the original on 21 December 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 


  • Ricklefs, Merle Calvin (1991). Sejarah Indonesia Modern. Yogyakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press. ISBN 9794201871. OCLC 38320467. 
  • Muljana, Slamet (2005). Runtuhnya Kerajaan Hindu-Jawa dan Timbulnya Negara-Negara Islam di Nusantara. Yogyakarta: LKiS Yogyakarta. ISBN 9798451163. OCLC 61447145. 
  • Muljana, Slamet (2006). Tafsir Sejarah Nagara Kretagama. Yogyakarta: LKiS. ISBN 9792552545. OCLC 191089695. 
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