The Sultanate of Cirebon ( Kesultanan Cirebon in Indonesian and Kasultanan Cirebon in Sundanese ) was a sultanate Muslim located in West Java founded in the xv th century.


The coastal area around Cirebon Harbor was then occupied by a village called Muara Jati which was part of the Sunda Kingdom . Its existence is established in the Bujangga Manik , travelogues through the Hindu sites in Java and Bali at the end of the xv th century or early xvi th century written by a hermit Sundanese Hindu one . The boundary of the Sunda Kingdom to the west was the Sunda Strait and to the east the Cipamali and Cisarayu rivers in Central Java 2. Muara Jati was at that time located 14 kilometers from Cirebon. The transformation of this fishing village into a Muslim trading port took place under the reign of Ki Gedeng Tapa.

Ki Gedeng Tapa was a wealthy merchant of Muara Jati (later known as Singapura). The village was attracting Muslim traders and it is reported that following these contacts, Ki Gedeng Tapa and his daughter Nyai Subang Larang converted to Islam . The King of Sunda, Sri Baduga Maharaja , married this girl and had three children: Prince Walangsungsang (born in 1423), Princess Rara Santang (or Syarifah Mudaim , born in 1426) and Prince Kian Santang (or Raden Sangara, born 1428) 3 .

Although the elder, Prince Walangsungsang did not inherit the crown of the kingdom because his mother was not prameswari (queen consort) and because, under the influence of it, he had converted to Islam. The official religions at the time were Sunda Wiwitan (traditional Sunda religion), Hinduism and Buddhism . He was the son of Sri Baduga Maharaja’s third wife, Prince Surawisesa, who became King of Sunda.

Walangsungang then went to study Islam with his wife, Nyai Endang Geulis, daughter of Ki Gedheng Danu Warsih. They learned from an ulema from Persia , Sheikh Datuk Kahfi 4 , who asked the Prince to establish a new town southeast of Gunung Jati. Thus the forest was cleared to create Dukuh Alang-alang in 1445.

Danusela, Walangsungang’s wife’s uncle, was elected chief of the city and called himself Ki Gedeng Alang-Alang. He died two years later and Walangsungsang became chief under the name of Prince Cakrabuana. 346 people lived in the city then 5 . After the hajj , Cakrabuana took a Muslim name, Haji Abdullah Iman, and established a court in Cirebon. Upon the death of Ki Gedeng Tapa, his grandfather, he inherited his fortune and linked Singapura to his nascent kingdom.


Cakrabuana abdicated in 1479 and was succeeded by his nephew Sharif Hidayatullah, known as Sunan Gunung Jati . So far, Cirebon paid a tribute to Sunda. Sunan Gunung Jati refused to continue this vassalage. He sent a letter to his grandfather Sri Baduga Maharaja to announce his full independence.

In 1515, the Sultanate of Cirebon is now recognized as an Islamic state. Under the reign of Sunan Gunung Jati, the Sultanate is experiencing rapid economic development and becoming an important state of the region. The sultan even married a princess, Ong Tien, daughter of the Emperor of China 6 . He died in 1568 without descendants.

General Fatahillah took her away but he too died two years later 7 . He is a great-grandson of Sunan Gunung Jati who took the throne, Panembahan Ratu. This one will fight the Europeans to expel them from Java. When he died in 1649, his grandson Panembahan Girilaya succeeded him.


Two great powers surrounded Cirebon during the reign of Panembahan Girilaya: the Sultanate of Banten and the Sultanate of Mataram . Banten suspected Cirebon of getting closer to Mataram. On the other side, Mataram has the opposite suspicions and thought that their rapprochement with Cirebon was not sincere. Mataram ends up having more and more influence on Cirebon. Mataram then demanded that Banten submit to his authority, which Banten refused. Mataram then ordered Cirebon to attack Banten. The naval military campaign against Banten was a disaster. It is about the war of Pagarage in 1650. Following this failure, Sultan Panembahan Girilaya was executed by Mataram and his heirs, princes Mertawijaya and Kertawijaya were taken hostage.

Prince Wangsakerta, left free, took over from his father and took charge of the administration of Cirebon. Worried about the fate of his brothers, he left to seek the help of the new Sultan of Banten, Ageng Tirtayasa , whose father had been killed during the war. He accepted and managed to release Wangsakerta’s brothers. He appointed them all three sultans, and thus divided the power of the sultanate, with Wangsakerta obtaining only a small domain. In 1677, three lines were detached in Cirebon: Kasepuhan (by Martawijaya) Kanoman (by Kartawijaya) and Keprabonan (by Wangsakerta) 8 . Banten held the three courts under his influence, the sultanate had disappeared.

After a century, disputes between the three lineages became incessant. A Kanoman prince seceded, which added a fourth line: Kacirebonan. In 1807, the Dutch East India Company , whose influence grew, officially supported the Kanoman lineage. The Dutch East Indies Government , through this division, took control of the affairs of these courts.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ ( in ) J. Noorduyn , Three Old Sundanese poems , KITLV Press,p.  438
  2. ↑ ( in ) Edi S. Ekajati , Kebudayaan Sunda Pajajaran Jaman , Yayasan Cipta Loka Caraka,
  3. ↑ ( id ) ” Sejarah Kabupaten Cirebon ”  [ archive ] , Cirebon Regency (accessed January 16, 2013 )
  4. ↑ ( id ) Dadan Wildan, Sunan Gunung Jati antara fiksi dan fakta , 2003, Humaniora, p. 49.
  5. ↑ ( id ) Yoseph Iskandar, Sejarah Jawa Barat , 1997.
  6. ↑ ( in ) Dhurorudin Mashad, Muslim Bali: Mencari Kembali Harmoni yang Hilang , 2014, Pustaka Al Kautsar, p. 113
  7. ↑ ( id ) Mengenal Kerajaan-Kerajaan Nusantar , Pustaka Widyatama, 2009, p. 74.
  8. ↑ ( id ) Uka Tjandrasasmita, Arkeologi Islam Nusantara , 2009 Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia, p.167.