Srivijayan & Madjapahit Empire

In the early 7th century a powerful empire arose in the city of Palembang on the Island of Sumatra Indonesia located between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The empire was known as Srivijaya/Sri-Vijaya and their maritime and commercial kingdom flourished until the 13th century. Their influence and advantaged control of international sea trade extended the Strait of Malacca and included much of the Malay archipelago in the Indian Ocean between the 7th and 12th century. They were in trade alliances with China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Riau Islands, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor, and the Philippines. Srivijaya’s influence was a mixture of diplomacy and conquest and operated as a thalassocracy. Merchant groups exchanged local products, ranging from local foods, gold, bronze, Chinese pottery, silk and other valuable items. The Srivijayan’s had a warrior culture and also brought the technology of forged blades to the Philippines. 


The Srivayan’s were a Mahayana Tantric Buddhist kingdom however their religious beliefs made minor impact on the Philippines. The extent of their influence in other areas is unknown however it was predominantly their commercial influence that made Sulu one of the flourishing trade centres in the Philippines. The Maragtas of Panay tells the account of ten Bornean datus who emigrated to the Philippines fleeing the Madjapahit. The Srivijayan’s colonised the central region of the Philippine archipelago known as the Visayas attributing the name to Srivijayan’s. The Filipino Visayans were subsequently practicing a systemised form of warfare.


It is said that the Srivijayan’s did not venture further north of the Philippines however the port of Manila dates as early as the 9th century having trade relations with China, Japan, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. The Port of Manila traded often with Arab merchants and even after Spanish rule Manila traded most often with Mexico, Spain, and China. By the early 11th century the Srivijayan harbor empire weakened and their rule weined by the 13th Century. They were eventually overthrown in 1377 by their rivals, the Madjapahit inland empire from eastern Java Indonesia who then ruled both land and sea including neighouring harbor principalities between the 13th and 16th centuries. The Madjapahit had a hereditary bureaucratic administration and also excercised military functions ruled by their chief king Rajasanagara (grandson of Vijaya) between 1350-1389. Their power and rulership declined in the 16th century with the introduction of Islam into Javanese politics.


Rebecca Ramilo Ongsotto, Reena R. Ongsotto, Philippines History Module-based Learning L’ 2002 Ed, Rex Book Store, pg 39

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Accessed 8 June 2018,

Khan Academy, Accessed 8 June 2018,

Maritime Heritage, Accessed 8 June 2018,

Facts and Details, Srivijaya Kingdom,

Rebecca Ramilo Ongsotto, Reena R. Ongsotto, Philippines History Module-based Learning L’ 2002 Ed, Rex Book Store, pg 39