The Mataram Kingdom &
Royal Palaces

In Yogyakarta and Surakarta

The center of Mataram Kingdom were Yogyakarta, Surakarta and Central Java.


It was known as Hindu Mataram Kingdom which had ruled this region from 8th to 10th century AD. This kingdom has a very fertile land so it could support the constructions of several temples, like Prambanan, Borobudur, etc.

According to a Dutch archeologist, DR. Krom, prior to the arrival of Hindus, in the earlier centuries, the Javanese had known, among other :

1. Irrigation (wet-rice cultivation) or Agriculture.
2. Fishery
3. Astronomy
4. Weaving
5. Batik
6. Gamelan
7. Wayang

This kingdom were ruled by Javanese who had adopted the Hindu faith and culture. Before the arrival of the Hindus, Javanese already had a culture and beliefs of their own.

The Hindu-Javanese culture was a result of a meeting of the two civilizations, the indigenous and the Hindu. The influence of Islam, from the 15th century, into the Javanese civilization again produced a mix culture which does exist to present date.
The Mataram kingdom I, moved from Central Java to East Java, probably due to destructive eruption of MOUNT Merapi, which had ruined and covered with ash and debris several temples such as Borobudur, Sambisari, etc. Some scientist analyzed that removal of the power center eastward was due to internal wars between the rulers. Although the power center had shifted to East Java, but the rulers were the descendants or families from Mataram Rulers.
The first kingdom was established at Brantas river valley where agriculture was also flourishing due to its fertile soil. The king was Mpu Sindok, who had left many records on stone and the king Dharmawangsa. Under his rule, the epic Bharatayudha was translated into old Javanese language (996 AD). From 1019 to 1042, Airlangga was one of the biggest king in East Java.

The KEDIRI KINGDOM existed until 1222, followed by Singhasari Kingdom (1222-1292) with its territory on present day Malang.


The founder was Wijaya. This was the most powerful Indonesian Kingdom, with its capital at Trowulan (nearby Surabaya). Majapahit reached its golden peak under the king Hayam Wuruk (1350) with his brilliant prime minister Gajah Mada. At that time Majapahit kingdom embraced almost the entire territory of what is now Indonesia.

Gajah Mada was famous with his Palapa Oath. He swore that he would never consume spices (palapa) before he could unite the whole Indonesia archipelago under the Majapahit's power umbrella (The first Indonesian satellite communication devices were named ' Palapa ' in honour of Gajah Mada).

DEMAK KINGDOM (Central Java)

After the collapse of Majapahit, the power center had shifted to Demak (30 km) east of Semarang - Central Java. It marked by the beginning of the rise of Islam in Java.
After the fall of Majapahit sometimes in 1478 AD, some of the people who did not agree with Demak Kingdom, fled to Bali and around the mountain Bromo (Tengger) and kept their faith to present date.
Demak with the famous and legendary Wali Songo (the nine Islamic leaders) went forward with Islamization. The last Hindu kingdom in Kediri was conquered at 1527, at the same year, Sunda Kelapa liberated and changed its name to be JAYAKARTA - Glorious City (now Jakarta).
The first king was Raden Patah, his father was a king of Majapahit who married his Je'ampa Moslem mother. The second king was Patiunus, the third was Trenggono.

The rice of Demak and Islam in Java were attributed by the Wali Songo -the nine religious leaders among other Sunan Kalijaga, Sunan Kudus, Sunan Gunung Jati (Falatehan), etc.

Islam became the official religion of the kingdom and provided new social and moral codes, at the same time Javanese philosophy and tradition continued.


The son in law, of Trenggono the last king of Demak, Joko Tingkir had moved the power center to Pajang (10 km west of Solo) sometimes around 1540 AD.
Joko Tingkir (the boy from the village of Tingkir), became the ruler as Sultan Hadiwijoyo


Panembahan Senopati was the first ruler (1584-1601) of Mataram. His father, Pemanahan (Ki Ageng Mataram) was a chief-warrior in Pajang, his great grand father was the last king of Majapahit Empire. Panembahan comes from the word : SEMBAH - respectful greeting - made with palms together, fingertips upward and touching the top of the nose. This is the way the Javanese respect their elders, their superiors especially in the court family. So, Panembahan is the one who highly respected, adored or even worshipped. Panembahan Senopati with his child name Sutowijoyo was a legendary king of Mataram.
The stories of Panembahan Senopati are full with tales of mystical power and occult feats. Nowadays, the places where he made meditations or gained supernatural powers, his former palace (Kotagede) 5 km Southeast of Yogyakarta and his grave attract thousand of pilgrims, and considered by many believers as holy places of Mataram Dynasty.

Kanjeng Panembahan Senopati Hingkang Sinuwun Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo

Those places among other are :

In the southern beach of Parang Tritis (20 km south of Yogyakarta), where he received a divine revelation and made an agreement with Kanjeng Ratu Kidul (the supreme goddess of the south sea) that the queen should always protect the kings of Mataram and its people from evil deeds. Some considers, that every king of Mataram dynasty is married with the queen, it is more precisely a spiritual marriage or agreement.

Located 10 km south of Yogyakarta, where the young Sutowijoyo received the God's revelation, known as LINTANG JOHAR.

Located 68 km southeast of Solo it was his retreat, where he conversed the jungle of Mentaok to be a powerful kingdom, it was also attributed to his wise advisors such as his own father Pemanahan, Ki Ageng Giring (his father in law), his uncles Juru Mertani and Penjawi. He also respected highly Sunan Kalijogo, who told Sultan of Pajang - Hadiwijoyo, his adopted father to transfer immediately the Mentaok Jungle as promised to Pemanahan and Suto Wijoyo.
Sultan Hadiwijoyo was reluctant to release Mentaok after listening the prediction of Sunan Kudus that one day Mataram should become a strong and glorious power.
Sunan Giri said that establishment of Mataram is a God's will. It was true Mataram expanded its territory due to the strong military power.
In 1588, Pajang's heirlooms, the symbols of king's power were taken to Mataram, followed by the conquered of Demak (1588), Madiun (1590), Kediri, Ponorogo and other places of southern part of East Java (1591).

The second Mataram's king was Panembahan Sedo ing Krapyak (1601-1613), in which the holy city of Kudus was under Mataram.

Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo was the third king (1613-1646), the greatest king warrior in Java. Under his rule Mataram reached its peak, dominating all parts of Java except Banten and Batavia.
The wars against the Dutch colonialism in Batavia contained a lot of historic lessons to Indonesia. Sultan Agung concentrated his power in hinterland, he did not appreciate the traders. He moved the capital to Kerta, South of Kotegede. His grave in the hill of Imogiri visited by a lot of pilgrims, who believe in his sacred supernatural power.
The Javanese lunar calendar which is functioning now, was created by Sultan Agung by combining the Javanese and Islam calendar.
His Successors :

Susuhunan Amangkurat I (1646-1677)
Susuhunan Amangkurat II (1677-1703)
Susuhunan Amangkurat III (1703-1708)
Susuhunan Pakubuwono I (1704-1719)
Susuhunan Amangkurat IV (1719-1726)
Susuhunan Pakubuwono II (1726-1749)

Continuously involved in a series of internal wars in Java and wars against the Dutch V.O.C. (East Indian Company) had weakened significantly the power of Mataram Kingdom. The capital of Mataram had been moved several times, in 1647 by Amangkurat I to Plered (nearby Kerta), in 1680 by Amangkurat II to Kartosuro (10 km) west of Solo,in 1743 by Pakubuwono II to the bank of river Solo.

Giyanti Treaty in February 13, 1755
Recognized Prince Mangkubumi or Hamengkubuwono I as the king of Yogyakarta Kingdom.

The division of Mataram Kingdom II.

The king : Susuhunan Pakubuwono III (1749-1788)
Adipati (Viceroy) : Sri Mangkunagoro I (1757-1795)
Recognized since March 1757 in SALATIGA.

The king : Sultan Hamengkubuwono I (1749-1792)
Adipati (Viceroy) : Sri Pakualam I (1813-1829)
Recognized by Raffles, the then British Lieutenant Governor of Java.

These royal and court families of Surakarta and Yogyakarta do exist up to now, and they stand in forefront to preserve Javanese culture and tradition.

(Suryo S. Negoro)

Copyright© PT Sangga Sarana Persada, 1997-2000
Designed by Sangga Web Team
Any comment and question related to this page, please contact