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Battle of Bubat

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Title: Battle of Bubat  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Sunda Kingdom, Military history of Indonesia, Dyah Pitaloka Citraresmi, Kidung Sunda, Sri Baduga Maharaja
Collection: 1357 in Asia, Conflicts in 1357, Majapahit, Military History of Indonesia, Sunda Kingdom
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Battle of Bubat

Battle of Bubat
Date 1357
Location Bubat square, Trowulan, Majapahit, Java
Result Majapahit victory, the death of Sunda royal family, the incident severely harm the relation between two kingdoms
Majapahit Empire Sunda Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Gajah Mada (prime minister of Majapahit) Linggabuanawisesa (king of Sunda)
Large number of Majapahit troops stationed in Majapahit capital, exact number unknown The Sundanese royal family, the state officials, servants and guards, exact number unknown, probably less than 100
Casualties and losses
unknown Almost all of Sunda party were perished, including Sunda King and Princess Pitaloka

The Battle of Bubat also known as Pasunda Bubat is the battle between the Sundanese royal family and Majapahit army that took place in Bubat square on the northern part of Trowulan (Majapahit capital city) in 1279 Saka or 1357 CE. The uneven battle and the demonstration of courage through fighting an impossible battle and facing a certain death, is somehow comparable to the Battle of Thermopylae.


  • Historical account 1
  • Wedding proposal 2
  • The battle and the suicide of the princess 3
  • Aftermath 4
  • References 5
  • See also 6

Historical account

The historical account of Pasunda Bubat is mentioned in Carita Parahyangan and Pararaton, but not found in the Nagarakretagama, while the story of the battle of Bubat is the main theme of the Balinese manuscript Kidung Sunda.

Wedding proposal

Hayam Wuruk, king of Majapahit decided — probably for political reasons — to take princess Citra Rashmi (also known as Pitaloka) as his spouse.[1] She was a daughter of Prabu Maharaja Linggabuanawisesa of the Sunda Kingdom. Tradition describes her as a girl of extraordinary beauty. Patih Madhu, a matchmaker from Majapahit was sent to the kingdom to ask for her hand in royal marriage. Delighted by the proposal and seeing the opportunity to foster an alliance with Majapahit, the mightiest kingdom in the region, the king of Sunda gave his blessing and decided to accompany his daughter to Majapahit for the wedding.

In 1357 the Sunda king and the royal family arrived in Majapahit after sailing across the Java Sea by Jung Sasana ships, landed at Hujung Galuh port, sailed inland through Brantas River and arrived at the port of Canggu. The royal party then encamped on Bubat square in the northern part of Trowulan, capital city of Majapahit, and awaited the wedding ceremony. However Gajah Mada, the Majapahit prime minister saw the event as an opportunity to demand Sunda's submission to Majapahit overlordship, and insisted that instead of becoming queen of Majapahit, the princess was to be presented as a token of submission and treated as a mere concubine of the Majapahit king. The Sunda king was angered and humiliated by Gajah Mada's demand. Humiliated, the Sunda party decided to go back home and cancelling the royal wedding, the Majapahit soldier however demand the hand of Sundanese princess, and put a siege upon Sunda encampment.

The battle and the suicide of the princess

As a result, a skirmish took place on Bubat square between the Majapahit army and the Sunda royal family in defence of their honour. It was uneven and unfair match, since the Sundanese party was composed mostly of royal family, state officials and nobles, accompanied by servants and royal guards. The numbers of Sundanese party were estimated at fewer than a hundred. On the other hand, the armed guards stationed within Majapahit capital city under Gajah Mada commands were estimated at several thousand well-armed and well-trained troops. The Sundanese party were surrounded in the center of the Bubat square. Some sources mentioned that the Sundanese managed to defend the square and strike back the Majapahit siege for several times. However as the day went on the Sundanese were exhausted and overwhelmed. Despite facing the certain death, the Sundanese demonstrated extraordinary courage and chivalry as one by one, all of them fell.

Despite courageous resistance, the royal family were overwhelmed and annihilated by the Majapahit army. The Sunda king was killed in a duel with a Majapahit general as well as other Sundanese nobles with almost all of the Sundanese royal party massacred in the tragedy.[2] Tradition says that the heartbroken princess — highly possible with all of remaining Sundanese women — took her own life to defend the honour and pride of her country.[3] The ritualized suicide by the women of kshatriya (warrior) class after the defeat of their men, is expected to defend their pride and honour as well as to protect their chastity, rather than facing possibility of humiliation through rape, subjugation or enslavery.


According to tradition, Dyah Pitaloka's death was mourned by Hayam Wuruk and the entire population of the Sunda kingdom who had lost most members of their royal family. Later king Hayam Wuruk married to Paduka Sori, his own cousin instead. Pitaloka's deed and her father's courage are revered as noble acts of honour, courage and dignity in Sundanese tradition. Her father, Prabu Maharaja Linggabuanawisesa was revered by the Sundanese as Prabu Wangi (Sundanese: king with pleasant fragrance) because of his heroic act to defend his honour against Majapahit. His descendants, the later kings of Sunda, were called Siliwangi (Sundanese: successor of Wangi).

Gajah Mada faced opposition, distrust and sneering at the Majapahit court because of his careless act which was not to the taste of the Majapahit nobles and undermined king Hayam Wuruk's influence. This unfortunate event also marked the end of Gajah Mada's career, since not long after this event the king forced Gajah Mada to an early retirement through awarding the prime minister the lands in Madakaripura (today Probolinggo) thus exiled him far from capital city courtly affairs.

This tragedy severely harmed the relationship between the two kingdoms and resulted in hostility for years to come, the situation never again returning to normality.[1] Prince Niskalawastu Kancana — the princess Pitaloka's younger brother that during his infancy remained in Kawali palace (Sunda Galuh capital city) and did not accompany his family to Majapahit — become the sole surviving heir of Sunda King. His policies after ascended to throne among others are severed Sundanese diplomatic relations with Majapahit, imposed isolation policy upon Majapahit, including edicted the law Larangan Estri ti Luaran, which forbade Sundanese people to married Javanese. This reactions reflected the Sundanese disappointment and anger towards Majapahit, and later contributed to the Sundanese-Javanese animosity, the sentiments that even may still runs to present day. For example unlike most of Indonesian cities, today in Bandung, West Java capital city also the cultural center of Sundanese people, there is no street name bearing the name "Gajah Mada" or "Majapahit". Although today Gajah Mada is considered as Indonesian national hero, Sundanese people still did not find him deserving based on his wicked deed in this incident.

Curiously, although Bali are known as the heir of Majapahit culture, Balinese opinion seems to took Sundanese side in this dispute, as evidence through their manuscript Kidung Sunda. The Balinese reverence and admiration to Sundanese heroic act by courageously facing certain death was probably in accordance with Hindu code of honour of kshatriyas caste, that the ultimate and perfect death of a kshatriya is on the edge of sword; to die on the battlefield. The practice of demonstrating the act of courage has its Balinese counterpart in their puputan tradition, a fight to the death by men and followed by mass ritual suicide by the women in preference to facing the humiliation of surrender.


  1. ^ a b Munoz, Paul Michel (2006). Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet. p. 279.  
  2. ^ Drs. R. Soekmono, (1973, 5th reprint edition in 1988). Pengantar Sejarah Kebudayaan Indonesia 2, 2nd ed. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Kanisius. p. 72. 
  3. ^ Y. Achadiati S, Soeroso M.P., (1988). Sejarah Peradaban Manusia: Zaman Majapahit'. Jakarta: PT Gita Karya. p. 13. 

See also

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