When Napoleon’s forces invaded Java, The British East India Company sent 10,000 men to eject them. Their orders were to go home once the job was done. They did not. For four tempestuous years, from 1811 to 1815, Java was British. The man in charge, still in his early 30s, was Thomas Stamford Raffles, later to become the founder of Singapore.

Ably supported by a team of friends including his brilliant wife Olivia, Raffles played the role of colonial administrator with aplomb, fending off interference from both the military who wanted to rule Java with an iron hand, and the East India Company who wanted to use it as a milch-cow, while at the same time attempting to reorganise the country’s ravaged economy. But he also
entered the world of the Javanese aristocracy, where Diponegoro, the future leader of Java’s first anti-colonial war, was a crucial figure.He immersed himself in the traditional arts of Java: the dance, the gamelan, the shadow puppet play, and made some close friends. In the mean time he almost forgot that like imperial Britain, theirs was a military culture, and that a collision was bound to come. 

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Update: to see details of a recent research trip to Java please
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