James Brooke

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James Brooke

Sir James Brooke (born April 29, 1803 in Bath , † June 11, 1868 in Burrator , Devon ) was an English adventurer and the first White Raja of Sarawak in northern Borneo .


The way to the first white Raja

In 1817 Brooke joined the East India Company Army . As a cadet he fought 1823-1825 in the Assam campaign . There he was wounded as leader of a native cavalry unit attacking a fort . After his convalescence leave in England, he returned to Asia in 1830. After the death of his father and with the inheritance thus acquired ( £ 30,000 ), he bought the armed schooner The Royalist and toured the coastal waters of North Borneo with him in 1839. He helped Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II of Brunei to pacify an uprising by the indigenous Bidayuh . Brooke succeeded in pacifying the uprising without a single sacrifice: he summoned the chiefs of the rebel tribes and demonstrated the firepower of his ship to them. Then there was a peace agreement on the Sarawak River in the area of ​​today's capital Kuching . The Sultan made him his liege on September 24, 1841 as Raja and gave him a huge area for personal administration. For this he had to pay the Sultan £ 500 a year .


James Brooke fighting pirates

James Brooke managed to break his domain from the sultan's suzerainty and become sovereign. He founded the Brooke dynasty of the white Rajas , which ruled in three generations until 1946 . The area of ​​his rule is largely identical to the present day Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah . Brooke reformed the administration of the country and led several expeditions from 1843 to 1849 together with the future Admiral Sir Henry Keppel to suppress piracy by the Iban tribe .

Of Queen Victoria , he was for a stay in England on 27 April 1848 as a Knight Commander of the Bath in the knighthood raised. He also became the British Consul General in Borneo. In 1857 Brooke was temporarily expelled from his capital, Kuching , but was able to return with the help of his nephew and subsequent successor Charles Johnson Brooke , originally Charles Anthoni Johnson . Since James Brooke remained childless, he first named his nephew John, Charles' brother, as his successor. He later took this decision back, so that from 1865 Charles was appointed as Charles Brooke as his successor. In the same year he sponsored Odoardo Beccari's research trip to Borneo.


Location of Sarawak in what is now Malaysia

After his death in 1868, his nephew Charles Johnson Brooke took over the rule and made Sarawak the Protectorate of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1888 . His son and successor, Charles Vyner Brooke , the third and last white Raja, was expelled by the Japanese army in 1942 during World War II and returned to Sarawak in 1945. The reign of the White Rajas of Borneo ended in 1946 when Charles Vyner Brooke handed rule to the British, who ruled Sarawak as a colony until 1963 , before becoming part of what is now Malaysia .


The carnivorous plant Nepenthes rajah , the butterfly Trogonoptera brookiana and the rajah scops owl ( Otus brookii ) were named after Brooke.

In the adventure books by the Italian author Emilio Salgari , published from 1895, James Brooke is the antagonist of the title hero Sandokan .


  • Nigel Barley : White Rajah. A biography of Sir James Brooke. Little, Brown & Co., London 2002, ISBN 0-316-85920-6 .
  • Emily Hahn : James Brooke of Sarawak. A biography of Sir James Brooke. Arthur Barker, London 1953.
  • Nicholas Tarling: The Burthen, the Risk, and the Glory. A biography of Sir James Brooke. Oxford University Press, Kuala Lumpur et al. 1982, ISBN 0-19-582508-X .
  • Muzaffar DJ Tate: Rajah Brooke's Borneo. The Nineteenth Century World of Pirates and Head-Hunters, Orang Utan and Hornbills, and other such Rarities as seen through the Illustrated London News and other contemporary Sources. Falcon Press, Damansara Jaya 1997, ISBN 983-9672-23-1 .
  • John H. Walker: Power and Prowess. The origins of Brooke kingship in Sarawak. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW Australia 2002, ISBN 0-8248-2500-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. Hansard's Parliamentary Debates , Volume CXVIII, page 498. London 1851 (English), accessed on September 21, 2011
  2. Knights and Dames: BED-BUG at Leigh Rayment's Peerage
predecessor Office successor
- Raja of Sarawak
Charles Johnson Brooke