A VERY Simplified History of Melaka. Excerpts from the Management Plan and the UNESCO WHS Dossier:
"The Melaka founder prince was said to be Parameswara, which meant ‘prince
consort’, was the husband of a Majapahit princess in Java. He was a prince from
Palembang, the capital of Srivijaya, and who was involved in the war of succession
before ﬂeeing to Tumasek (Singapore). There he was reported to have killed the
Siamese regent who ruled the island, and was driven by armies from Pahang or
Patani, which were vassals of Siam. He wandered around until he reached the
estuary of a river, later known to be the Melaka River, and rested under a tree.
While resting he was said to have noticed a mouse deer being chased by a dog, but
the former retaliated back, notwithstanding its smaller size, and managed to chase the
dog away. This demonstration of steely courage was taken by Parameswara as
a symbol of fortune for him. He asked around for the name of the place. Since
none knew, he named it after the tree under which he was resting, the Melaka
tree. Thus Melaka was founded. Under Parameswara’s rule this small ﬁ shing
settlement became a thriving port. "
"Melaka’s glory under the Malay sultanate ended in 1511, when the Portuguese
captured the ‘fabulous eastern empire’, under the command of Alfonso de
Albuquerque. The reputation of Melaka must already have reached them much
earlier. In 1509 a group of traders led by De Sequeira had landed in Melaka,
but were attacked and some were killed. De Albuquerque who had succeeded in
capturing Goa in India, decided that it was the best opportunity for him to rescue and
avenge his fellowmen and capture Melaka and the famous spice trade. By controlling
it, Portugal became the new power to be reckoned with in Europe. About Melaka,
a Portuguese had once said, “Whosoever holds Malacca, had his hands on the
throat of Venice, for the goods that were transacted in Melaka had very high values
in Europe.” They were also keen to spread their Catholic religion against the Muslims
who were ﬁ ghting against them in the wars of the Crusades."
"In the 17th Century other European traders were actively plying the sea
routes between India and China through the Straits of Melaka. Two of the most
important traders were the Dutch and the British. The Portuguese inﬂ uence at
this juncture had begun to decline. Its empire had become too large and their
home base was too far away. Melaka had repeatedly been attacked by the Malay
neighbours, such as the former Melaka Malay sultans who had settled in Johor
in the south of Melaka, the upcoming Acenese (Achenese) rulers who were
contending as the new heir to the Malay Muslim power in the archipelago, and the
Dutch who had succeeded in subjugating Java. Between the Dutch and the British,
the former were more advanced as they were able to ally with the local rulers. In
the attack of Melaka, the Dutch received support from the Malays in Johor. After
a ﬁ ve-month siege, the Portuguese surrendered in 1641, 130 years after they
had forever removed the Malay sultanate from Melaka."
"After the conquest of Melaka, the Dutch merely took over the infrastructure left
behind by the Portuguese. They occupied the fortress, A Famosa and renamed it
Porta de Santiago. The coat of arms of the Dutch East India Company and the
date 1670 were engraved on the gate. St. Paul’s College was used as part of the
fortress and later as a burial ground for high ranking Dutch ofﬁ cials. The Dutch
later built their own fortress on St. John’s Hill which was armed with eight cannons.
In 1650 the former Governor’s residence was converted into the red terracotta
Stadthuys (Government House) for the Dutch Governor and his retinue."
"Events in Europe also changed the history in Melaka. Holland was defeated
by Napoleon and the Dutch king had to take refuge in England. The monarch then
agreed to hand over Melaka and other possessions in the East to the British for
protection until the Napoleonic wars were over. Thus, Melaka came into British
hands between 1795-1818. By this time (1786) the British had already occupied
Penang which was named the Prince of Wales Island."
"Melaka began as a ﬁsherman’s village along the Melaka River. The rise of the Malay Sultanate marked the beginning of Melaka as an important regional empire. A bridge was built on the river to accommodate the inﬂ ux of migrants from its surroundings. The river, together with the hill forms two important geographical elements deﬁ ning the town of Melaka. Upon the colonisation by the Portuguese, the A Famosa was constructed at the foot of St. Paul’s Hill. During the Dutch era, the urban structure of Melaka town became more planned. Streets were clearly deﬁned and it was also during this period that the construction of brick shophouses and townhouses began. When the town of Melaka and its fortress was temporarily handed over to the British in 1795, the demolition of the fort under the directive of William Farquhar took place."
"Today, the Porta Santiago remains the only standing physical reminder of the fort of Melaka. Under the Straits Settlements, Melaka rapidly expanded during the early 19th Century. The streets became linear and wider to accommodate the rise of private vehicles, and consequently the blocks of shophouses have also become increasingly orthogonal. Today, Melaka continues to grow as a series of reclamations ensued, causing the historic city to lose its original relationship to the sea."
"1980s had brought rapid changes to Melaka’s urban fabric. Emphasis was given to tourists’ related development, as it was clear that Melaka offers a signiﬁcant attraction to both domestic and foreign visitors. A large area at Ayer Keroh next to the new highway became the focus of hotels, theme parks, restaurants and anything that can persuade the tourism industry to attract tourists instead of just relying on one source of attraction that was generally focused on Melaka’s rich heritage resources. The city centre’s role as seat of administration and most of the government department around St. Paul’s Hill for over 500 years came to an end when they moved to another administrative centre at Jalan Hang Tuah in 1980’s and later in the 21st Century to Ayer Keroh. In 2010 this administrative centre was hived off to form the heart of a new administrative municipality called Hang Tuah Jaya and thereby effectively ending the historic ties with the old trading port as an administrative centre."
Upeh: the Historic Residential and Commercial Precinct of Melaka
"The settlement on the right bank of the river roughly encircle by the river and the sea and what is Jalan Kubu today was known as Upeh in the Portuguese period. The area roughly correspond with the part of the Core Zone on the right bank of the river. This was the area that was used during the Sultanate era as a market place as well as residence for the transitory inhabitants."
"The name Upeh was ﬁ rst used during the Portuguese period to refer to this part of the WHS. Eredia identiﬁ ed four ethnic quarters in Upeh, namely Kampung Java in approximately the same location as the square in Jalan Kampung Pantai today up to the river bank at Lorong Hang Jebat, a Kampung China just north of this area, and a Kampung Keling running parallel with the coast. At the northern end of what is Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock today was the Bendahara residence and in the triangle between Kampung China, Kampung Keling and the earthen ramparts (tranqueira -Portuguese ) lies the Malay settlement or Kampung Bendahara."
"While Upeh is to a lesser extent fortiﬁed, the fortiﬁ cations are far from satisfactory. It had been recorded that during some of the sieges by more powerful forces the residents of Upeh was ﬂ ed to ﬁnd refuge within the Fortaleza da Malaca."
"Upeh reemerged as Bandar Melaka during the Dutch period and became the place as Governor Bort described in his report of 1678 “where the richest inhabitants and foreigners lived”. Francis Valentijn’s view of Melaka for the sea circa 1720 appears to conﬁrm his report. The street pattern of Bandar Melaka is by now quite recognisable. The Dutch burghers had settled in what used to be Kampung Keling and Heeren Street (Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock) and Jonker Street (Jalan Hang Jebat) had been laid out and the area including the occupationally specialised lanes behind Jonker Street Goldsmith Street, Blacksmith Street and Kampung Kuli came to be known as Kampung Belanda. The Indian Muslims relocate further inland to the area known as Kampung Pali roughly corresponds with Kampung Kekek today. The Javanese had been displaced by the Kelings or south Indians and relocated themselves across the river just north of Jalan Bunga Raya today. To date the northern end of Lorong Hang Jebat is dominated by the Indian community and the local Chinese refer to this street as “Keling Road” No mention was made of a Kampung China although it is recorded that Chinese burials were beginning to spread over Bukit China. By 1678 it was recorded that there were no less than 310 buildings of which no less than 128 were made of bricks in Bandar Melaka."