History since the 16th century

1. First References. Like other islands in the area, Flores has been long under the influence of various outside forces, back since the 13th century as historical documents go. However, except for occasional references found in Javanese and Chinese sources, the islands in Nusa Tenggara Timur were hardly mentioned in documents until the 16th century. Between the 16th century and the 17th century, Islam is said to have come to Ende. The history of Ende in the 16th century deals mostly with the struggle between Muslims and Portuguese. After their arrival in the area, the Portuguese made Solor (an eastern island off the mainland Flores) the centre of their trade. Repeated attacks on Solor by the Javanese seafaring traders suggest that the island had already been used as a trading port by the Javanese (especially for the sandalwood derived from Timor).


2. The Portuguese and the Muslims. In 1561, the first Bishop in Malaka sent three missionaries to Solor, where, after an attack by Javanese Muslims, they constructed a fortress. Also, on Pulau Ende, the Portuguese constructed one. The two fortresses are the main scenes of the struggle among the Portuguese, Muslims and, later on, the Dutch. The struggle between the Portuguese and the Muslims (not only Javanese, but also native people who had been converted to Islam) continued on the island of Flores. After some years of peace, in 1605, the Portuguese on Pulau Ende were driven out by the natives to a village on the mainland Flores, called Numba. At the beginning of the 17th century. The fortress on Pulau Ende was burned down. Since this time until its recovery in 1613 Pulau Ende was abandoned by the Christians.


3. Dutch East India Company. 1613 is a significant year in the history of eastern Indonesia. A Dutch fleet under the command of Apollonius Scotte (or Scot) sailed through the islands. Before arriving at Kupang, Scotte went to Solor and attacked the fortress there and took it from the Portuguese. The Portuguese fled to Larantuka; the Dutch attacked Larantuka also, but failed to take it. Adrian van der Velden, Scotte's deputy commander, went to Ende, and found the ruin of the fortress there . In the decades between 1610 and 1640, the Portuguese in Larantuka and the Dutch on Solor played a kind of see-saw game, which, in the long run, turned in favour of the Dutch. Unlike Solor, which remained significant in the Dutch Company/Colonial Rule context, Pulau Ende ceased to play any important role. The city of Ende, where the rajadom of Ende may already have formed, replaced Pulau Ende as a focus point in central Flores. Around this time, the Portuguese influence over the area waned. Even though the formal transference of Flores from the Portuguese to the Dutch took place as late as 1851 and 1859 (eastern Flores), the Portuguese began to lose their control over this part after 1657, when the Dutch East India Company established Fort Concordia in Kupang and the Dutch began to set a strong hold on the area. Through the 17th and 18th centuries, there are occasional references to the relations concluded between the Dutch East India Company and some Endenese headmen. The Company selected Ende as a rajadom. In 1756, the rajadom of Ende is said to have exported its cinnamon to the Company.


4. The Dutch Colonial Rule before 1907. The Dutch East India Company's involvement in eastern Indonesia ended in 1799 when the Company's charter expired. Then came a new era of the Dutch Colonial rule in Indonesia. During the earlier period, there was no serious intervention by the Dutch Government in Flores. In the period before 1890 the Dutch colonial rule had virtually no hold over the region. But there were some exceptions. Because the Endenese involvement in the sphere of occasional raids on Sumba and the resulting slave trade was against the Dutch colonial policy, in 1836 the Dutch government in Kupang sent an expedition to Ende. There took place a battle between this expedition and the rajadom of Ende. The latter surrendered and recognized the authority of the Netherlands. On 14 May 1838, Ende was punished for its pirate activity. Since that time, the raja of Ende and the Dutch Colonial government made successive contracts. In 1839, the raja of Ende (Bousou) concluded a contract with the Dutch Colonial Government. During this period, minimal direct involvement was the Dutch government principle For example, in 1874, the Endenese went to Sumba to take part in a war (possibly to do with slave trade), but the 'posthouder' could not do anything, even though the Government did not approve of the slave trade. Also, when a warfare broke out among the Endenese kampongs in 1878, the 'posthouder' just fled to the Pulau Ende .

5. Dutch Colonial Rule in 1907 and after. The political situation of the Endeh area before 1907 was summarized ( deVries) as follows: . . . the influence of our (Dutch) government did not go further than the vicinity of (the town of) Ende. ... Besides the necessary improvement, which was considered desirable for Ende and for which orders were given, the 'Controleur' also gave the headmen of the nearby mountain-villages to understand, with emphasis, that their villages had to be tidy, the paths had to be maintained etc., in short, all the ordinary things, but, to which these headmen had never listened. . . . They did not consider the `Compagnie' as their master. Then came the year 1907, which saw the beginning of the Dutch period of intensification of rule. At the end of the preceding year, the Dutch Government sent the first 'Controleur of Flores' to Ende, A. Couvreur . In July 1907, the town of Ende, where the Colonial Government set its capital, was raided by rebels led by several mountain Endenese chiefs. On the 3rd of July, the posthouder summoned those suspected headmen to the town of Ende, but the headmen refused to obey the order. On the 5th and 6th of the same month, the whole of the town of Ende was burned down and plundered by mountain villagers. The town inhabitants and the Chinese merchants fled to Pulau Ende. 50 people were reported to have died during the raid . When the cargo service steamer Van Swoll came to Ende on the 9th of July, she found nothing but the ruins of Ende. With the news, she went to Sumba, from where the government steamer Pelikaan was sent, by the order of the Resident, with reinforcements. With these reinforcements, the Controleur began to attack the `rebels' on the 11th of July. Even though the counter-attack did not turn out very successfully, the appearance of the Government's artillery and man-power induced many headmen to submit themselves to the government. In this incident, the raja Pua Not'e is said to have played a `treacherous part'. This suspicion later made the Dutch government decide to exile the raja. In August, military reinforcement came from Kupang, and the whole land of Flores was pacified by the military force. In September, more headmen came to submit to the government. In the same month, the first civil officer (Spruyt) was sent to Ende for East Flores, including Ende, instead of posthouders. In September and October, the civil officer went to several villages to pacify them. During his absence, on the 21st of October, Rapo Oja and Mari Longga attacked the town of Ende. This raid was, however, defeated by the force which remained in town. From this time to 1910, with further reinforcement from Kupang, the Controleur and the armed police repeatedly went through the villages of the area and pacified them. In the middle of the relatively peaceful years of the Dutch colonial rule, in 1916, there broke out a rebellion against the Dutch rule in a northern part of Tanah R'ea, Wolo Wa'e, under the then head of the district, Nipa Do. This rebellion is one reason for the reorganization of the administrative system of the central Flores in 1924. Another, more important, reason was the economizing policy of the Dutch colonial government.


6. Struggle for independency, Japanese occupation and free nation. At the same time Indonesian nationalists started their strive for independency. Sukarno was one of the main leaders. He was arrested in 1931 and set into exile to Flores. He remained under the control of the Dutch authorities until he was released by the Japanese after they invaded Indonesia in 1942. The Japanese occupation forces gave Sukarno a role in maintaining their local acceptance. The Japanese invasion was looked upon as a fulfilment of a remarkable ancient prophesy. In May 1942 Japan occupied the islands until their surrender in August 1945. After the surrender on August 15, 1945 Sukarno and Muhammad Hatta declared the independence of Indonesia on August 17th. Later Sukarno became president for life but a coup in 1965 led to the regime of president Suharto. Nowadays Indonesia is more or less a democratic state.

© Jac Reniers / Agusto Rumat