The Emporium of Ternate : The Glory of a Port City in the Past

Emporium of Ternate – Indonesian history records Ternate as a city of emporium, because Ternate, some time ago, was a port city that fulfilled the standards of providing every kinds of traders and sailors’ needs. Even in Negarakartagama, wich was written by Mpu Prapanca in 1365, it is said that there was a ‘Maloko’ which means ‘Four Central of Authorities in Northern Moluccas’ (Maloku Kie Raha). That been said, Ternate had drawn attention to be the central of international trading in eastern Indonesian archipelago.


Kedaton Ternate

Furthermore, the history of Ternate is closely related to the history of northern Moluccas, a region well-renowned throughout the world of its spices and herbs. Long before the Portuguese landed in Moluccas in 1512, there were four kingdoms that had always been in turf to be in possession of the region that had herbs and spices in it. The four kingdoms were the Ternate, Tidore, Bacan, and Jailolo. Ultimately, those four kingdoms were split into two opposite sides, the Uli Lima (The Alliance of Five) and the Uli Siwa (The Alliance of Nine). Uli Lima consists of Ternate, Obi, Bacan, Seram, and Ambon, led by Ternate, while Uli Siwa consists of Makagan, Jailolo or Halmahera, and the islands around Papua, led by Tidore.
The Arrival of the Portuguese expedition team led by Fransisco Serrao in search of herbs and spices, were well-accepted by the opposing Uli Lima and Uli Siwa. Both Alliances tried to establish good relationship with the Portuguese to preserve the trade with them, while also asking them for help in their turf at the same time. The portuguese took this opportunity to acquire the possession of the territory for themselves, and chose to side with the Uli Lima and given the permission to establish a fort in Ternate, the Sao Paolo fort.

Bastiong Harbor, Ternate


Sofifi Harbor, Sofifi, Halmahera.

In the same year, the Spanish also landed in Moluccas. The Uli Siwa also took this chance to gain help from them in their war against the Uli Lima, after they got rejected by the Portuguese. Then, instead of a battle between two opposing sides, each of the four participants searched for their own benefit.
The Portuguese viewed the arrival of the Spain as a violation to the Tordesillas Agreement, which divided the globe into two territories, the eastern part for the Portuguese, and the western part for the Spain, before knowing that earth is round in shape. Furthermore, to resolve the conflict, the Saragosa Treaty was held in 1529, which included the agreement to give the Moluccas to Portuguese, and the Spain was given Philippines in exchange.

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