The Sultan

Portrait: Sultan Saifuddin of Tidore, Czartoryski Museum, Krakow


“Kesultanan Tidore does not betray its people,” the Sultan waved his hand to dismiss the envoy. “We are not Ternate,” he added, ignoring his advisor’s frown.

The envoy left, stiff-backed, and the Sultan sighed and rose from his seat. It was past time for lunch.

“I do not like the Portuguese any more than I like the Dutch,” he admitted.Β  “Neither have our well-being in mind. But the Spaniards have helped us resist the Dutch’s dogged attempts at making us their puppets. I will not become Ternate.”

“The Sultan speaks wise words,” the advisor bowed. “As for the trade?”

“I will take the Dutch’s payment for the cloves my people grow,” Sultan Saiffudin’s smile was tight, “and I will gift it to my people, whose support I trust more than that of the Dutch East India Company.” His smile dropped. “Make no mistake, the Dutch’s only aim is monopoly.”




For What Pegman Saw: Raja Ampat, Indonesia



20 thoughts on “The Sultan

    • Yes, they wanted to use the people and the islands as commodities. Even the ‘soul’ part was as means to absolute control.
      Sultan Saifuddin seemed to have known this about them and in his days, Tidore was more independent than later on. He was also respected, which helped him have alliances from within and rely less on the Dutch (which Ternate ended up having to do…).
      Thanks, J!


  1. Great job bringing this slice of history to life. Sadly, in the long history of powerful companies venturing out to trade with far-off lands, the lure of profit and monopolizing it has led to tragedy and horrors. I appreciated seeing the Sultan’s resistance here!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve caught the Sultan’s strength and shrewdness beautifully. The way you have him ignore his advisor is a brilliant way of emphasising his ability to go beyond conventional wisdom (and probably local graft by officials…) in defence of his people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Penny! I think sometimes people forget that aristocrats often had only the information fed to them, and unless they had good instincts and enough leadership to go the extra mile to get their information from as many sources as possible, and then knew how to USE that information and weed the nonsense from the real stuff … they risked being played by others who did not have their best interests in mind. We see that happening today, too …
      But this Sultan was a REAL leader, and he clearly knew his stuff.


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