Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles The History of Java (Royal Quarto)

First 1817 edition, two volumes (Royal Quarto) Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles The History of Java, was published in 1817 in two formats: Royal Quarto (large paper) in 250 copies and Quarto (ordinary paper) in 650 copies. The work describes the history of Java from ancient times and was very well documented and illustrated. But the work it is much more than a history since it provides a detailed account of all things Javanese including the geographical situation, natural resources, native inhabitants, agriculture, manufactures, commerce, ceremonies, languages and religion.

Raffles, lieutenant-governor of Java during British rule from 1811 to 1816 and founder of Singapore in 1819, is acknowledged as a man of great influence on the history of Southeast Asia. During his time on Java, a large number of ancient monuments were systematically catalogued for the first time. The first detailed English-language account of Prambanan was prepared by Colonel Colin Mackenzie, a Scottish soldier and orientalist in the employ of the East India Company who Raffles had seconded to Java, while Borobudur was surveyed and cleared of vegetation by his colleague H.C. Cornelius.

Raffles also attempted to reform the Dutch colonial land revenue system with an Indian-inspired system in which farmers paid cash rents to the state based on the innate value of their land rather than what they grew on it. Raffles placed some restrictions on the local slave trade in line with wider British policy across its Asian territories, although slavery remained widespread and Raffles himself was served by a large retinue of slaves at his official residences in Java.

Back in England he published his ‘ The History of Java ‘ in 1817 but it was not a great commercial success. While insufficiently valued at the time, it is now considered to be an extremely valuable set of books that provide a comprehensive window on the Java of 200 years ago. For its integrated completeness and detail, it has never been equaled.

London, printed for Black, Parbury, and Allen, booksellers to the Hon. East-India Company, and John Murray 1817, 1817. 2 volumes. 4to. [III]- XLVIII,479; [III]-VIII,288,[4],CCLXp, With 65 plates, including one folding, and 10 coloured aquatint costume plates, 9 engravings in the text, numerous tables including some folding, and a very large folding map of Java. (112 x 44 cm).

Stamford Raffles
The History of Java by Stamford Raffles
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London / 1817
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