Flag of Bali Kingdom 914 AD/CE to 1908 AD/CE

Capitals: Bedulu, Samparangan, Gelgel, Klungkung

1920px-Bali Kingdom Gelgel.svg.png

Continent: Asia

Official Languages: Kawi, Balinese

Established: 914 AD/CE

Disestablished: 1908 AD/CE


The historical period in Bali started c. 8th century, marked by the discovery of inscribed Buddhist votive clay tablets. These Buddhist votive tablets, found in small clay stupa figurines called "stupikas", are the first known written inscriptions in Bali and date from around the 8th century CE. Such stupikas have been found in the regency of Gianyar, in the villages of Pejeng, Tatiapi and Blahbatuh. The bell-shaped stupikas bears resemblances to the style of the 8th-century stupas of Central Javanese Buddhist art found in Borobudur and other Buddhist temples dated from that period, which suggested the Sailendra link to the Buddhist pilgrims or inhabitant of early Bali's history.

n the early 10th century, a king called Sri Kesari Warmadewa issued the Belanjong pillar inscription found near the southern strip of Sanur beach. It is the oldest inscription found in Bali that names the ruler who issued it. The pillar is dated 914 CE according to the Indian Saka calendar. Three other inscriptions by Kesari are known in central Bali, which suggest conflict in the mountainous interior of the island. Sri Kesari is first known ruler to bear the Warmadewa title, which was used by rulers for several generations prior to Javanese expansion.

In the second half of the 10th century, Bali was ruled by king Udayana Warmadewa and his queen, Mahendradatta, a princess of Isyana dynasty from East Java. Mahendradatta was the daughter of king Sri Makutawangsawarddhana, and sister of king Dharmawangsa of Medang Kingdom. The presence of a Javanese queen in the Balinese court suggests that either Bali had formed an alliance with East Java, or Bali was Java's vassal; their marriage was a political arrangement to seal Bali as part of East Javanese Medang realm. The royal Balinese couple was the parents of the famous king of Java, Airlangga (1001–late 1040s). Airlangga's younger brothers Marakata and later Anak Wungçu rose to the Balinese throne.

In the late 13th century, Bali once again appeared in Javanese sources. In 1284, the Javanese king Kertanegara launched a military offensive expedition against the Balinese ruler. According to the Javanese chronicle Deśavarṇana: "In Śaka 'bodies-sky-suns' (1206, AD 1284) he then sent emissaries to Bali to crush it, and before long its queen was overcome and duly brought as captive before the King" (42.1). This expedition seems to have integrated Bali into Singhasari’s realm. However, after the Jayakatwang rebellion of Gelang-gelang in 1292 that led to the death of Kertanegara and the fall of Singhasari, Java was unable to assert their rule upon Bali, and once again Balinese rulers enjoyed their independence from Java.

In 1468 Prince Kertabhumi rebelled against King Singhawikramawardhana and captured Trowulan. The usurped king moved the capital further inland to Daha (the former capital of Kadiri), effectively split Majapahit into two centres of powers; Trowulan and Daha. Singhawikramawardhana was succeeded by his son Ranawijaya in 1474, that ruled from Daha. To keep Majapahit influence and economic interest, Kertabhumi awarded Muslim merchant trading rights on the north coast of Java, an action which led to the prominence of Demak Sultanate in following decades. This policy increased Majapahit economy and influence, but weaken Hindu - Buddha's position as the main religion, as Islam began to spread faster and freely in Java. Hindu - Buddha followers' grievance later urged Ranawijaya to defeat Kertabumi.

In 1478, Ranawijaya's army under general Udara breached Trowulan defences and killed Kertabumi in his palace, Demak sent reinforcements under Sunan Ngudung, who later died in battle and was replaced by Sunan Kudus, but they came too late to save Kertabumi although they managed to repel the Ranawijaya's army. This event is mentioned in Jiwu and Petak inscription, where Ranawijaya claimed that he already defeated Kertabhumi and reunited Majapahit as one Kingdom. Ranawijaya ruled from 1474 to 1498 with the formal name Girindrawardhana, with Udara as his vice-regent. This event led to the war between Sultanate of Demak and Daha, since Demak ruler, Raden Patah, were the descendant of Kertabhumi.

In 1498, vice regent Udara usurped Girindrawardhana and the war between Demak and Daha recede. But this delicate balance end when Udara ask help to Portugal in Malacca and led Adipati Yunus of Demak to attack both Malacca and Daha. Another theory suggested that the reasons for the Demak's attacks against Majapahit was a revenge against Girindrawardhana, who had defeated Adipati Yunus' grandfather Prabu Bhre Kertabumi (Prabu Brawijaya V). The defeat of Daha under Demak marked the end of Hindu Majapahit era in Java. After the fall of the empire, many Majapahit nobles, artisans and priests took refuge either in the interior mountainous region of East Java, Blambangan in eastern end of Java, or across the narrow strait to Bali. The refugees probably fled to avoid Demak's retribution for their support for Ranawijaya against Kertabhumi.

The first European contact with Bali was made in 1512, when a Portuguese expedition led by Antonio Abreu and Francisco Serrão sailed from Portuguese Malacca and reached northern coast of Bali. Bali was also mapped in 1512, in the chart of Francisco Rodrigues. In Majapahit, East Java, the fall of Daha to Demak Sultanate in 1517 has prompted the refuge of Hindu nobles, priests and artisans to Bali. In 1585, the Portuguese government in Malacca sent a ship to establish a fort and a trading post in Bali, but the mission failed as ship foundered on the reef of the Bukit peninsula.

By the 16th century, the Puri (Balinese court) of Gelgel become a powerful polity in the region. The successor of Dewa Ketut, Dalem Baturenggong, reigned in the mid-16th century. He received a Javanese Brahmin sage called Nirartha who fled from the decline of Hinduism in Java. The King become the patron of Nirartha, who carried out an extensive literary works that formed the spiritualism of Balinese Hinduism. Gelgel reached its apogee during the reign of Dalem Baturenggong, as Lombok, western Sumbawa and Blambangan on easternmost Java, were united under Gelgel's suzerainty. Gelgel's influence over the still Hindu Blambangan seems to caught the attention the Sultan of Mataram that aspired to unite the whole of Java and also to spread Islamic faith. In 1639 Mataram launched an invasion to Blambangan. Kingdom of Gelgel immediately supported Blambangan as a buffer against the Islamic expansion of Muslim Mataram. Blambangan surrendered in 1639, but quickly regained their independence and rejoined Bali soon after the Mataram troops withdrew. Mataram Sultanate itself, after the death of Sultan Agung, seems to preoccupied in their internal problems, and lost interest to continue their campaign and pursue hostilities against Blambangan and Gelgel.

In 1894, the Dutch used the Sasak rebellion against Balinese ruler of western Lombok, as a pretext to interfere and conquer Lombok. The Dutch supported the Sasak rebellion, and launched a military expedition against Balinese court in Mataram, Lombok. By the end of November 1894, the Dutch had annihilated the Balinese positions, with thousands dead, and the Balinese surrendered or committed puputan ritual suicide. Lombok and Karangasem became part of the Dutch East Indies. Soon the court of Bangli and Gianyar also accepted Dutch suzerainty, but southern Bali kept resisting.

In 1906 the Dutch launched a military expedition against the southern Bali kingdom of Badung and Tabanan, and weakened the kingdom of Klungkung, again under the pretext of Balinese tawan karang tradition (plunder of shipwrecks). Finally in 1908, the Dutch launched an invasion against the court of Klungkung, under the pretext of securing their opium monopoly. This event concluded the Dutch conquest over Bali, and by then it had become a Dutch protectorate. Although some members of Balinese royalties still survived, the Dutch had completely dismantled the royal institutions of Bali, destroyed the power and authority of Balinese kings and thus ended centuries of Balinese kingdoms' rule. During the Dutch East Indies period, the colonial capital of Bali and Lesser Sunda Islands was located in Singaraja on the northern coast.