King Sisingamangaraja XII

Raja Sisingamangaraja Ke-12

Raja Sisingamangaraja Ke-12


The Expansion of Colonialism In North Sumatra

Until the mid nineteenth century, North Sumatra were considered to be isolated. In other words, they did not have any contacts with the outside world. However, after some scientific research this assumption has been proved wrong. 

Historically, the people here have had continuous contacts with others. They were believed to adhere to their own culture. Moreover, as proof we can refer to the Christian Nestorian Denomination which was founded in the XII century in Fansur (or now named Barus). This indicates that they made contacts with others and these had caused several changes in society.

One of the main changes that had come about as a result of the contact was the relationship with Portugal, Spain, The UK, The Netherlands and France. Many people sensed the high competition among the visitors who wanted to establish colonies in that place.

It was also felt by the Sisingamangaraja Dynasty which had been on the throne for 12 generations This dynasty existed in the middle of XII century. King Sisingamangaraja was enthroned in 1875 in Bakara when he was at the age of 17.

The competition between the Dutch and the English became more distinct. They each wanted to control the marketing of goods. This eventually forced them to sign the London Agreement (1824) that allowed the Dutch more space to act freely in Indonesia. For commercial and economic reasons, the Dutch became more ambitious to conquer the archipelago, especially, after there was a war in Java (1825 – 1830).

The Dutch wanted to subjugate mainly Aceh and North Sumatra. This was evident by the Aceh and Batak wars which were, in fact, connected to each other.

Politically, the Aceh and Batak wars were coordinated as seen from the Dutch side. Two years after the Aceh war broke out, the regional authority of King Sisingamangaraja XII in Silindung was taken away little by little by the Dutch (1871).

The King led the war against the Dutch rule. The war had a great impact on the people (1875). The Dutch became more determined in trying to subjugate North Sumatra and they improved their military operations in the area. Their ambition increased after knowing that this area had enormous oil resources in Langkat which could be exploited for its commercial value.

The Dutch knew about King Sisingamangaraja and other leaders such as King Tuan Rondahaim Saragih, King Sibayak from Karo and other fighters from Aceh. They knew that they would try to prevent them from carrying out their operations.

The position of The Dutch in North Sumatra became jeopardized, particularly, after Datu Sunggal fought the Deli Sultan (1872) who was protected by the Dutch. There were 500 Malays and 1000 Bataks who joined the battle led by Datu Sunggal that forced the Dutch to call for help from Captain Koops from Riau.

Being aware of the obvious ambition of the Dutch to expand their authority in the Batak region, King Sisingamangaraja XII called for meetings of all the kings and local leaders in the region (Balige).

He officially proclaimed “Pulas” to the Dutch. It took some time and had to go through traditional laws and regulations before King Sisingamangaraja came up with a decision.

The meetings were not so smooth because some conflicts arose amongst the kings. The meetings were conducted once in four days in January 1878.

The next battles led by the King broke out in Bahal Batu (1878), Balige (1883), Pints and Samosir (1883), Sipoholon (1887), Simanullang Toruan (1889), Uluan (1907), Sipangan Lolon Girsang (1907). However, because they had modern technology, the Dutch could win the war.

This forced King Sisingamangaraja to flee to Sionomhudon (North Sumatra). In his cornered situation he kept saying: “It’s not for the sake of my grandparents, nor for the sake of my parents or myself but it’s only for the sake of Ompung Mula Jadi Nabolon (God)”.

With this holy spirit King Sisingamangaraja XII mobilized all kinds of power and support against the Dutch rule from the people in North Sumatra as well as from the people in the vicinities. He tried to maintain his authority and keep his people free.

The troops from Aceh were also called on to expel the Dutch from North Sumatra.

People might wonder how King Sisingamangaraja could survive for almost 30 years. One of his secrets was the unity principle of his leadership which was popularly called Dalihan Natolu).

Various rewards were offered by the Dutch to influence the King to surrender to them. However, the offers were turned down. It was because of his strong belief in the Mula Jadi Nabolon (God) and “the fighting spirit of the black eyed people”. As a result, he could maintain good cooperation with other local leaders and the people in the surrounding areas.

What they fought for, in fact, was the sovereignty and freedom of the Indonesian people in general. Even, well equipped with their modern technology the Dutch attacks were not successful. It made them gather all their operational power to overthrow King Sisingamangaraja XII.