Brunei - History
Brunei and Borneo were among early the European references to the state and the island.
The Brunei ruling dynasty descends from the 1360s when Awang Alak Betatar became the first Brunei ruler and the present ruler is his direct descendant.
Awang Alak Betatar was the first Brunei Raja to accept Islam, and changed his name to Sultan Muhammad Shah (1363-1402) in honour of the Prophet.
With the advent of Islam, Brunei’s trade and territories grew in line with the spread of Islam to encompass existing Malay kingdoms in Borneo and the Philippines.
A golden age dawned with the reign of the fifth sultan, Nakhoda Ragam who was an avid adventurer. His seafaring took him to Java, Malacca and the Philippines. His rule extended over the Sultanates of Sambas, Pontianak, Banjarmasin, Pasi Kotei, Balongan, the Sulu Archipelago, and Islands of Balabac, Banggi, Balambangan and Palawan.
Strong trade and royal relationships were established with China during the reign of the first and second sultans until about 1425.
Sultan Bolkiah, whose conquests covered the whole of Borneo and as far north as Luzon in the Philippine Islands, where he initiated the spread of Islam, succeeded Sultan Sulaiman. He was known as Nakhoda Ragam. His queen was known as Puteri Laila Menchanai.
The reign of Sultan Bolkiah (1485-1584) was the height of the Brunei Sultanate in territory, influence and power.
Sultan Bolkiah was succeeded by his son Sultan Abdul Kahar (1524-1530). In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan and Antonio Pigafetta visited him while he was a deputy (Pemangku Sultan).
Sultan Saiful Rijal was succeeded by Sultan Shah Brunei (1581-1582), who had no heir, so he handed over his throne to his younger brother, Sultan Mohammad Hasan.
Sultan Muhammad Hasan was succeeded by Sultan Abdul Jalilul Akbar (1598-1659), who developed a relationship with the Spaniards.
Sultan Nasruddin (1690-1710) introduced gold coins during his reign in 1690-1710.
Sultan Muhammad Tajuddin (1795-1804 and 1804-1807) ordered the building of houses for the Brunei pilgrims in Mecca.
The reign of Sultan Omar Ali Saiffuddien11 (1828-1852), heralded the beginning of direct European involvement in Brunei. He ruled until his death in 1852 by which time he had surrendered Labuan Island to the English in 1846. He signed a treaty with the English on trade and good relationship.
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di Pertuan Brunei Darussalam ascended the throne on October 5, 1967 as the 29th Sultan. He further pushed Brunei Darussalam on the road to greater economic and social development.
Brunei gained full independence in 1984.
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