Biography of Prince Diponegoro: Background of His Life and Role in the 1825–1830 Java War

Biography of Prince Diponegoro – Friends of Sinaumed’s, of course, you already know this character. He was an actor in the Java War that erupted from 1825–1830. The Java War became one of the major changes in the world in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

For the Javanese, especially in Surakarta and Yogyakarta, these periods showed the decline of the Javanese order, especially in the palace. In addition, the uncontrollable Dutch interference exacerbated the situation.

Prince Diponegoro’s resistance to the colonial government deserved high appreciation. His resistance gained the support of the people and also the considerable involvement of the court, which shows that he had a considerable influence on the social life of society and the kingdom at that time.

This rebellion was the first event of resistance faced by the Dutch colonial government which succeeded in changing the face of Java almost as a whole. The strategy and sacrifices he made cannot be doubted, even though his party was eventually defeated by the Dutch colonial government. However, this event has succeeded in growing a spirit of unity and nationalism within the Javanese people.

So, to get to know this figure more clearly, let’s look together at a brief explanation about Prince Diponegoro which has been summarized from the following sources. Happy reading.

Prince Diponegoro Family Background

1. The Origins of Prince Diponegoro

Portrait painting of Prince Diponegoro.

Prince Diponegoro was born in Yogyakarta on November 11, 1785. His mother was a garwa ampeyan (concubine) named RA Mangkarawati who came from Pacitan. His father’s name was Gusti Raden Mas Suraja, who later ascended the throne with the title Hamengkubuwana III.

When he was born, Diponegoro was named Bendara Raden Mas Mustahar, then changed to Bendara Raden Mas Antawirya. His Islamic name is Abdul Hamid. After his father ascended the throne, Antawirya was graduated as a prince with the name Bendara Prince Harya Dipanegara.

Towards adulthood, Diponegoro rejected his father’s wish to become king. She reasoned that her mother’s position was not that of an empress consort. That’s what makes him feel unfit for the position.

Diponegoro was known as an intelligent person, well-read, and an expert in the field of Javanese-Islamic law. He was also interested in religious matters rather than matters of court administration. That’s what allows him to mingle with the people.

He prefers to live in Tegalrejo, close to where his daughter’s great-grandmother lives, namely Gusti Kangjeng Ratu Tegalrejo, queen consort of Sultan Hamengkubuwana I, rather than living in the palace.

Diponegoro began to pay attention to palace issues when he was appointed as a member of the trusteeship to accompany Sultan Hamengkubuwana V, who was only three years old at that time. Because it was still small, the daily administration of the palace was controlled by Patih Danureja IV and the Dutch Resident. He did not approve of such guardianship, so he protested.

2. Prince Diponegoro’s Personal Life

Prince Diponegoro in his daily life was a person who liked betel and Javanese cigarettes, specially rolled by hand, collecting gold and gardening. His meditation places in Selarejo and Selarong also planted various flowers and vegetables.

At least, he married eight times in his life. He first married at the age of 27 to Raden Ayu Retno Madubrongto, a religious teacher and the second daughter of Kiai Gede Dadapan. Through the results of this marriage, Diponegoro had a son named Putra Diponegoro II.

On February 27, 1807, Diponegoro married a second time to the daughter of Raden Tumenggung Natawijaya III, a regent from Panolan Jipang, Sultanate of Yogyakarta, named Raden Ajeng Supadmi. The marriage was a request from Sultan Hamengkubuwana III.

Diponegoro then divorced three years after his marriage and was blessed with a son named Prince Diponingrat, who had an arrogant nature according to Putra Diponegoro II.

The third marriage occurred in 1808 with RA Retnadewati, a daughter of a kiai in the southern region of Yogyakarta. This was because his first and third wives, namely Madubrongto and Retnadewati, died when Diponegoro was still living in Tegalrejo.

He then remarried in 1810 to Raden Ayu Citrawati, daughter of Raden Tumenggung Rangga Parwirasentika with one of his concubine wives. However, his wife died not long after giving birth to their child due to the riots in Madiun. The baby was then handed over to Ki Tembi to be raised and given the name Singlon ( a pseudonym) which is known as Raden Mas Singlon.

Diponegoro married for the fifth time on 28 September 1814 to Raden Ayu Maduretno, daughter of Raden Rangga Prawiradirjo III and Ratu Maduretna (daughter of Sultan Hamengkubuwana II). His wife is a half-sister with Sentot Prawiradirdja, but from a different mother. Raden Ayu Maduretno was appointed empress with the title Kanjeng Ratu Kedaton I on 18 February 1828, when Prince Diponegoro was crowned as Sultan Abdulhamid.

In January 1828, he married for the sixth time Raden Ayu Retnoningrum, daughter of the Middle Prince or Dipawiyana II. He married the seventh time to Raden Ayu Ratnaningsih, daughter of Raden Tumenggung Sumaprawira, a regent of Jipang Kepadhangan. His last marriage was with RA Retnakumala, daughter of Kiai Guru Kasongan.

The extended family of Prince Diponegoro.

From his several marriages, Diponegoro has 12 sons and five daughters, whose descendants are currently living in various parts of the world, including Java, Madura, Sulawesi, Maluku, Australia, Serbia, Germany, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.

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Diponegoro War (1825–1830)

The Diponegoro War or the Java War began with the decisions and actions of the Dutch colonial government which installed stakes on Diponegoro’s land in Tegalrejo Village. This action was exacerbated by some Dutch behavior that did not respect local customs and excessive exploitation of the people with high taxes. This made Prince Diponegoro even more fed up with it and sparked resistance.

According to the former Minister of Education and Culture Professor Wardiman Djojonegoro, there is historical distortion in some literature written by the Dutch East Indies regarding the causes of Prince Diponegoro’s resistance.

He is said to have felt hurt by the Dutch colonial government and the palace, which had refused to let him become king. The resistance that was actually carried out was because he wanted to release the suffering of the poor from the Dutch tax system and free the palace from madat.

Diponegoro’s decision and attitude to openly oppose the Dutch then won support and sympathy from the people. On the advice of his uncle, GPH Mangkubumi, Diponegoro stepped aside from Tegalrejo and made a headquarters in Selarong Cave.

At that time, he stated that his resistance was a “crusade”, that is, resistance against infidels. The spirit of the “crusade” that he waged had a wide influence on the Pacitan and Kedu regions. The battlefield includes Yogyakarta, Kedu, Bagelen, Surakarta, and several areas such as Banyumas, Wonosobo, Banjarnegara, Weleri, Pekalongan, Tegal, Semarang, Demak, Kudus, Purwodadi, Parakan, Magelang, Madiun, Pacitan, Kediri, Bojonegoro, Tuban, and Surabaya.

Dutch tactics in the Diponegoro War

For the Dutch, the Diponegoro War was an open war by deploying various types of troops, ranging from infantry, cavalry, and artillery, which since the Napoleonic Wars had always been a mainstay weapon in frontal battles.

The battle fronts took place in various villages and towns throughout Java and were very fierce. Domination of a territory is always changing. If an area was controlled by Dutch troops during the day, at night that area would have been recaptured by native troops, and vice versa.

Logistical routes were built from one region to another to support the needs of the war. Tens of gunpowder plants were built in the forests and at the bottom of the cliff. Production of gunpowder and bullets continued while the war was raging. Ciphers and couriers worked hard to find and convey the information needed to devise a war strategy.

Information about enemy forces, distance and time, terrain conditions, rainfall made headlines, because the right tactics and strategies can only be built through the mastery of information.

At the peak of the war in 1827, the Dutch deployed more than 23,000 soldiers, something that had never happened in an area that was not too large as Central Java and parts of East Java, but was guarded by tens of thousands of soldiers.

From a military point of view, this was the first war that involved all the methods known in a modern war, both the open warfare method and the guerilla warfare method which were carried out through hit and run tactics and ambush.

This was not a tribal war, but a modern war using tactics that had not yet been put into practice. This war was complemented by psywar tactics (psychological warfare) through insinuation and pressure, as well as provocation by the Dutch against those who were directly involved in the battle. Apart from that, this war also used espionage activities with both parties spying on each other and seeking information about the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents.

Various cunning methods were also used by the Dutch to arrest Diponegoro, and a competition was even used by issuing an announcement on September 21, 1829, namely anyone who could catch Prince Diponegoro, whether dead or alive, would be given a prize of 50,000 Gulden, along with land and respect.

Changes in Dutch strategy occurred when Governor General De Kock was appointed commander of all the Dutch East Indies in 1827. To limit the space for movement and guerrilla strategy from Diponegoro, De Kock used a fortification strategy (Benteng Stelsel).

Forts with barbed wire were erected once the Dutch troops succeeded in seizing the territory under the control of Diponegoro’s troops. The aim was so that the Diponegoro troops could not return and narrow their space. The distance between the forts is close together and connected by fast troop movements.

Diponegoro’s resistance had weakened since the end of 1828, namely after Kiai Madja, the spiritual leader of the rebellion, was arrested on October 12, 1828. Followed by Sentot Prawirodirdjo and his troops on October 16, 1828. his son was caught on October 14, 1829.

Negotiation and Betrayal

On 16 February 1830, Diponegoro agreed to meet with General De Kock’s envoy, namely Colonel Jan Baptist Clereens and sent Kiai Pekih Ibrahim and Haji Badaruddin so that Clereens could come to Remo Kamal, Bagelen (now part of the Purworejo Regency), upstream of the Cingcinggulung River.

Furthermore, a meeting on 20 February 1830 between the two sides did not result in an agreement, although it went smoothly and intimately. Finally, Diponegoro wanted to meet De Kock in person, who was then in Batavia and intended to wait for him in West Bagelen. However, Clereens suggested that Diponegoro wait for him at Menoreh. He finally arrived on 21 February 1830 and was cheered by his 700 followers.

At that time, the month of Ramadan took place from 25 February to 27 March 1830 and Diponegoro confirmed to De Kock that during the meeting there would be no serious discussions and only ordinary hospitality until the month of Ramadan ended. De Kock agreed. While in Magelang, all troops and their followers were marked with black turbans and robes given by Clereens.

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De Kock showed kindness to Diponegoro by giving a gift of a gray horse and f 10,000 in two installments to finance his followers during the fasting month. De Kock also allowed the prince’s wife, his mother, his two sons and young daughter (Raden Mas Joned and Raden Mas Raib), his eldest son who was in North Kedu (Basah Imam Musbah) to join Magelang.

In De Kock’s mind, the voluntary arrival of Diponegoro and his followers showed that he had lost de facto . Meanwhile, during the fasting month, De Kock met him three times, namely twice during a dawn walk at the residency park and once when De Kock came alone to the guest house.

However, the spy who was implanted by Resident Valck in the Diponegoro unit, Tumenggung Mangunkusumo, reported that Diponegoro continued to insist on receiving Dutch recognition as the sultan of southern Java or as queen paneteg panatagama wontening Tanah Jawi sedaya (king and religious administrator throughout Java or head of the Islamic religion).

After that, De Kock gave secret orders to his two commanders on March 25, 1830, namely Lieutenant Colonel Louis du Perron and Major AV Michels, to prepare military equipment to secure Diponegoro’s arrest.

Finally, on March 28, 1830, coinciding with Idul Fitri, General De Kock met with Diponegoro. General De Kock was accompanied by Resident Kedu Valck, Lieutenant Colonel Roest (De Kock’s officer), Major FVHA de Stuers, and Javanese translator, Captain JJ Roefs.

Prince Diponegoro was accompanied by his three sons, religious advisors, two clowns, and commander Basah Mertanegara. De Kock started the meeting by asking Diponegoro not to return to Metesih. Diponegoro was surprised and again questioned De Kock why he was not allowed to return, even though he was only staying in touch at the end of the fasting month. De Kock immediately said he would arrest Diponegoro and the atmosphere immediately became tense.

Painting of the arrest of Prince Diponegoro by Lieutenant General Hendrik Markus de Kock on 28 March 1830, by Raden Saleh.

Diponegoro immediately responded by asking about the reasons why he had to be detained. He feels innocent and does not harbor hatred for anyone. Mertanegara interrupted the conversation and asked that political problems be resolved at another time. De Kock immediately interrupted the conversation and emphasized in a high tone that the political problems would be resolved that very day.

Diponegoro immediately spoke up and accused De Kock of being rotten because his decision was rushed and had never been discussed before during the fasting month. He said that he had no other wishes, except for the Dutch colonial government to recognize him as the religion of Islam in Java and the title of sultan he bears.

De Kock then ordered Lieutenant Colonel Roest for Du Perron to prepare troops. Diponegoro responded to this action by saying, “In such a situation and because of your evil nature, I am not afraid to die. I am not afraid of being killed and have no intention of avoiding it.”

De Kock was shocked to hear Diponegoro’s tough attitude and said in a low voice that he would not kill Diponegoro. However, it will still fulfill Diponegoro’s wish. It had occurred to Diponegoro to stab a dagger into De Kock’s body, but the intention was reversed because it would humiliate his dignity.

After drinking tea and approaching his followers, Diponegoro went out and he was successfully arrested. He is willing to surrender on condition that the rest of his army members are released. After being arrested in Magelang, he was exiled to the Semarang Residency Building in Ungaran, then taken to Batavia on 5 April 1830 by ship Pollux.

Diponegoro arrived in Batavia on 11 April 1830 and was taken prisoner in the stadhuis (Fatahillah Museum Building). He was then exiled to Manado on 30 April 1830 with his sixth wife, Tumenggung Dipasena, and other followers such as Mertaleksana, Banteng Wereng, and Nyai Sotaruna.

They arrived in Manado on 3 May 1830 and were taken prisoner at Fort Nieuw Amsterdam. In 1834, Diponegoro was transferred to Makassar until his death at Fort Rotterdam on January 8, 1855.

So, that’s a brief explanation of Prince Diponegoro’s Biography and His Role in the 1825–1830 Java War . Appreciating the services of national figures, like Prince Diponegoro, is not only by remembering and thanking them in their hearts, but also by emulating their attitudes and actions.

Sinaumed’s can visit sinaumedia’s book collection at www.sinaumedia.com to get references about other heroes, starting from their life background, education, and struggle history.

The following is a recommendation for sinaumedia books that Sinaumed’s can read to learn about Indonesian history so they can fully interpret it. Happy reading.

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