Raden Wijaya

In February 1292 the Mongol emperor of China, Kublai Khan, ordered the preparation of a punitive naval expedition directed against Java. It was partly an act of retaliation for King Kertanagara's refusal to pay tribute to China, and especially for the cruel and contemptuous way in which the Javanese ruler had disfigured the face of an imperial envoy.

The fleet, which is reported to have consisted of 1000 ships, manned with 20,000 soldiers, was ready to leave by November. The journey was hazardous and beset with ill- fortune. Almost immediately after departure the convoy was hit by a typhoon; it was refused entry into Champa, where the loading of fresh supplies had been anticipated, and consequently by the time it approached the harbour at Tuban on Java's north coast the force was already demoralized, many of the soldiers suffering from starvation and dysentery.

The Chinese army was greeted by representatives from the new settlement at Majapahit, who explained that Kertanagara had been defeated and killed a few months previously and that his throne had been seized by a usurper, Jayakatwang of Kediri. The rightful heir, Raden Wijaya, son-in-law of Kertanagara, had established a stronghold at Majapahit and was asking for assistance in the annihilation of their common enemy, in return for official tribute.

An alliance was formed and on 15 March 1293 the combined force launched an attack on Daha (Kediri). The final assault on the capital was made five days later, resulting in the loss of 5000 Kediri lives and the surrender of Jayakatwang. Raden Wijaya then returned to Majapahit, ostensibly to prepare his tribute settlement, leaving his allies to celebrate their victory. Quickly mobilizing his forces again, however, he turned on the Chinese army in a surprise attack, killing many and sending the rest running back to their ships. In this way Raden Wijaya established the kingdom of Majapahit. Seven months later, in November 1293, he was officially enthroned, bearing the royal title Kertarajasa Jayawardhana.



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