The Sultanate of Ternate is one of the oldest Muslim kingdoms in Indonesia, established by Baab Mashur Malamo in 1257. It reached its Golden Age during the reign of Sultan Baabullah (1570–1583) and encompassed most of the eastern part of Indonesia and a part of southern Philippines. Ternate was a world producer of cloves and a major power in the region from the 15th to 17th centuries.
Palace of Sultan Ternate Ca. 1920
The sultanate was originally named the Kingdom of Gapi, but later change the name base of its capital,Ternate. Ternate and neighbouring Tidore were the world's single major producer of cloves, upon which their rulers became among the wealthiest and most powerful sultans in the Indonesian region. Much of their wealth, however, was wasted fighting each other. Up until the Dutch completed the colonization of Maluku in the 19th century, the Sultans of Ternate ruled empires that claimed at least nominal influence as far as Ambon, Sulawesi and Papua.
In part as a result of its trade-dependent culture, Ternate was one of the earliest places in the region to which Islam spread, probably coming fromJava in the late 15th century. Initially, the faith was restricted to Ternate's small ruling family, and spread only slowly to the rest of the population.
The Sultan's guard (1900-1920)
Street at Ternate Ca. 1910
The royal family of Ternate converted to Islam during the reign of King Marhum (1465–1486); his son and successor, Zainal Abidin (1486–1500) enacted Islamic Law and transformed the kingdom into an Islamic Sultanate; the title Kolano (king) was then replaced with Sultan.
The peak of Ternate's power came near the end of the sixteenth century, under Sultan Baabullah (1570–1583), when it had influence over most of the eastern part of Sulawesi, the Ambon and Seram area, Timor island, parts of southern Mindanao and as well as parts of Papua. It frequently engaged in fierce competition for control of its periphery with the nearby Sultanate of Tidore. According to historian Leonard Andaya, Ternate's "dualistic" rivalry with Tidore is a dominant theme in the early history of the Maluku Islands.