On the Kingdom of Malacca: Part I

We learned quite a great deal about Malacca in secondary school. We were taught, for examples, that Malacca was a great seaport during the 15th century which has attracted a lot of people to do business there, that the founder of this kingdom is an Indonesian prince called Parameswara, that Tun Perak is a wise prime minister, and so on. However, the standard history textbook pays extremely little attention on the connection between Malacca and China, despite the fact that Malacca is intricately related to Ming China.

In 1403, Zhu Di 朱棣 became the third emperor of Ming Dynasty. One of the important decisions he made almost immediately after he ascended to the throne was to order a series of marine expeditions to the Indian Ocean. This famous series of expedition is, as you might already know, led by a muslim eunuch named Zheng He 鄭和.

In October 1403, diplomatic emissaries were sent out to a lot of foreign countries. A eunuch named Yin Qing 尹庆 was sent to Malacca 满剌加, bringing with him silk embroided with golden threads 織金文綺 as gift. This is clearly recorded in Chapter 325 of the History of Ming 明史:卷三百二十五:
永樂元年十月遣中官尹庆使其地,賜以織金文綺銷金帳幔諸物。其地无王,亦不称國,服属暹罗,岁输金四十两为賦。至,宣示威德及招徠之意。其酋拜里迷蘇剌大喜,遣使随入朝贡方物,三年九月至京師。帝嘉之,封为滿剌加國王,賜詔印、彩幣、袭衣、黄盖,复命往。
During that time, Parameswara 拜里迷蘇剌 did not formally proclaim himself as king as Malacca was still a protectorate of Siam 暹罗 and he needed to pay a tribute of 1.5 kg of gold 岁输金四十两为賦 to Siam annually. Paramesware quickly saw the arrival of the Chinese envoy as an opportunity to initiate good relationship with Ming China. And Parameswara's envoys were carried by Yin Qing's fleets and they reached Nanjing in 1405. With the royal seals 詔印, colorful coins 彩幣, royal garments 袭衣, and yellow umbrellas 黄盖 confered to Parameswara, he was formally elevated to the King of Malacca in 1405 by Zhu Di.

Between 1409-1411, Zheng He embarked on his third expedition to the Indian Ocean. On his returning trip, he fetched Parameswara, his wives, and his ministers (a entourage totaling to about 540 peoples) 其王率妻子陪臣五百四十余人来朝 to the capital city of Ming China. When they reached the ourskirt of Nanjing, Parameswara was welcomed by the eunuch Hai Shou 海寿, a Rites Ministry 禮部 officer named Huang Shang 黄裳, and others.
五年九月遣使入貢。明年,鄭和使其國,旋入貢。九年,其王率妻子陪臣五百四十余人来朝。抵近郊,命中官海寿、禮部郎中黄裳等宴劳,有司供张会同館。
Later in August 14, 1411, Parameswara met Zhu Di in the capital city, where he received many precious gifts from the Ming Emperor.
入朝奉天殿,帝亲宴之,妃以下宴他所。光祿日致牲牢上尊,賜王金繡龍衣二袭、麒麟衣一袭,金银器帷幔衾裯悉具,妃以下皆有赐。将归,赐王玉带、仪仗、鞍马,赐妃冠服。濒行,赐宴奉天门,再赐玉带、仪仗、鞍马、黄金百、白金五百. . .
In October 5, 1414, Zhu Di met Megat Iskandar Shah 母干撒于的儿沙, the prince of Parameswara 王子, in Beijing, where he was informed of the death of Parameswara 告其父訃. And Megat was made the new king of Malacca 袭封.
十二年,王子母干撒于的儿沙来朝,告其父訃。即命袭封,赐金币
It is highly probable that old Parameswara was ill after his trip from China and passed away sometime between 1413 and 1414. (the sea journey was at least 10 days between Nanjing and Malacca 满剌加,在占城南。顺风八日至龙牙门,又西行二日即至。)

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