Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Foreign Allies and Popularity Campaign across the Narrow Sea: What Daenerys Targaryen Can Learn from a 17th Century Exiled Prince from East Indies

Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen: First of her name; Queen of the Andals and the First Men; Protector of the Seven Kingdom; Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea; Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons; Queen of Mereen, are just a few of titles that belong to (and claimed by) the daughter of Aerys ‘Mad King’ Targaryen. She is currently on her way to claim her birth right in Westeros. We are thrilled as the Season 7 begins with a scene where the Targaryen’s dauphine – after her long and uneasy adventures in Essos – finally reach the shore of Dragonstone; a home that ironically is foreign for her. The last time Daenerys there it was stormy and Baratheon’s assassins were haunting her and Viserys’ (an older brother) life.

She was fortunate though: a Targaryen’ trustee named Ser Willem took both of them to Braavos, maybe with hopes that the war will soon be over and some old loyalists will raise against Baratheon the Usurper. Unluckily, it did not happened. The little lady lost almost everything when Ser Willem died; she was just nine. After marrying a big hairy Dothraki clan leader, losing her brother and experiencing harsh Essosian cultural and geographical landscapes, she managed to gather her own army. Just like Queen Nymeria of Rhoynar hundreds of years ago, she makes it to the shore of Essos gazing at the ocean with thousands of Dothraki horsemen and Unsullied soldiers behind her back. And just like her ancestor Aegon Targaryen, she is accompanied by three grown up dragons with breath of fire that ready to fly and bite some heads off for their mother.

The drama involving Daenerys’ claim over the Iron Throne as the descendant of a divine king who rode flying mythical beasts and how she gathers a huge amount of armies to attack Westeros -which is so jaw-dropping even according GoT universe standard – is not entirely new. Nope, even in our very own world. George R. R. Martin admits that he was inspired by The War of Roses that took place 600 years ago in England. Daenerys clearly depicts the life of Henry VII of Tudor who left England and lived in France as an exile since a very young age. When two English royal houses (York and Lancaster, obviously, Stark and Lannister) fought each other over the throne, supported by the French king, Scottish force and old Tudor loyalists Henry sailed the ocean blue and claimed the title king by “the right of conquest”.

Daenerys Targaryen
Pattern repetition has been found many times in world history. An epic about a boy that was thrown into the river by his biological mother, for example, is an exact copy of the origin story of Sargon the Akkad that happen one millennia before the birth of Moses. The Romans have somewhat another version of this story, but still revealing the same main theme: it opens with a mother abandoning her own children in the wilderness, continues with the struggle of the exiled princes to find out their identity then ends with a paradox when the exiled children become the victorious one. History (and folktales) repeats itself. A similar event or character popped up every now and then in a different era with distinct political, social and geographical context.

While Henry VII becomes the inspiration for her character, far in the East Indies an identical pattern of the life and adventure of Daenerys Targaryen can be found. The life of an exiled Bugis prince from the kingdom of Bone (read: Boh-nay) in Celebes Island resembles what she experiences with striking similarity. Despite several differences that occur in the life of these two characters, their fate is pretty much alike. In this article, I will show the likeness of Prince La Tenritata of Bone with Daenerys Targaryens based on their life history as well as their idea of revenge, justice, and power. I will also elaborate further on the strategy of La Tenritata during his conquest in South Celebes peninsula and what can Daenerys learn from his success and failure.

An Exiled Prince with Army of Foreign Allies
La Tenritata (“He who cannot be conquered”) Daeng Serang Datuk Mario ri Wawo Arung Palakka was just 9 years old when he saw his uncle, La Maddarammeng the king of Bone was attacked by the army of Gowa Empire. La Maddarammeng was labelled “mad” by his Bonean nobilities for his desire to entirely reform the practice of Islam within his realm. His obsession towards the orthodox interpretation of Islam led to the abolishment of slavery (that was common, good for business and was the zeilgeest or the spirit of that century) and the application of strict sharia practices, which threatened the old tradition. Protests were expressed by Aruppitu (literally, the seven lords) as his royal councils, but he just... ignored them. This is of course intolerable. In Bone, Aruppitu is the highest authority that responsible for watching over the king’s power and act as the judicial authority. Neglecting Aruppitu as the representative of people equals with offending Bone as a nation.

La Maddarammeng did not just stop that; he stepped beyond his sovereignty by forcing the kingdom of Wajo, Soppeng, Massepe, Sawitto, and Bacukiki to follow this form of orthodox Islam. Open conflicts were clearly up in the air. He was no longer unstoppable, hence La Maddarammeng’s mother, the dowager princess Datu Pattiro together with several nobilities decided to leave Bone for Gowa, a mighty trading empire on the west that has been an old rival of Bone. She angrily thought that her son had acted not in accordance with adat (customary law) and consequently abused the power that was trusted to him. In short, Datu Pattiro requested the Emperor of Gowa to stabilize the situation. Gowa was not just the mightiest kingdom in Celebes but also in the entire eastern part of the Indies on that century; they also loved to act like regional police. The Gowanese army then marched to Bone, waged a war that ended with the fall of La Maddarammeng.

At first, peace prevailed. Gowa let the Boneans to choose their own leader under her supervision. The adat of Bone was respected and the local nobilities were let to keep their lands and possessions. However, within weeks a rebellion was started by La Maddarammeng’s brother against Gowa, which unfortunately seen as an act of hostility. Gowa won the second battle, this time the mighty Empire decided to claim the whole Bone as her “slave”. Not just the kingdom itself that officially under the “colonization” of Gowa, the status of her people was downgraded to slave-level. Many Bonean nobilities were also brought to Gowa as prisons of war to avoid further rebellion. Among this group, the kid La Tenritata followed his family to Sombaopu (“The Worshipped Lord”), capital of Gowa, leaving Bone in ruins.

In Gowa, La Tenritata witnessed Gowanese hostile treatment toward his people. Approximately 10,000 Boneans were forced to dig canals around the fortified camps along the shore. Although the little prince was treated with respect in the court but it did not change the fact that he is a hostage. He was chosen to be the “saliva cup” bearer by the prime minister of Gowa. During royal procession, he would walk behind him holding a bronze bowl that is used by nobilities to spit out leftovers of their chewed betelpeper. After years of living in Gowa, the teenage prince had it enough when he saw his relative was punished to death by the ruthless Karaeng Karunrung, the son of prime minister of Gowa. In one royal harvest ceremony, together with several Bonean followers La Tenritata fled Sombaopu and planned for rebellion.
Ilustrasi La Tenritata Arung Palakka oleh pelukis Belanda
Gowa soldiers chased him everywhere until he then decided to sail east, just like Daenerys, to the land of Buton with a promise that he will return to free his people from slavery and claim his right at Bone. La Tenritata was also accompanied by three runaway princes from Soppeng namely Arung Bila, Arung Appanang and Datu Citta. La Tenritata was secretly supported by Buton, an old ally of Bone as well as the kingdom of Ternate in the Moluccas. The Sultanate of Ternate, for more political and economic reason, could not wait to be free from the influence of Gowa. Several Ternatean colonies such as Manado and Selayar Island were currently under the sovereignty of Gowa. Apparently, due to the influence of Gowa on the eastern part of the Indies, these two kingdoms did not dare to openly strike that empire. Instead of supporting him in that way, these two rulers provided gold and ships for La Tenritata and his followers to sail to Batavia in order to seek help from Gowa’s main enemy and a potential ally that might equal the empire in term of power: the Dutch powerful company.

After La Tenritata arrived in Batavia, he was not immediately trusted as an ally. The Dutch are traders; they do not want to gamble with empty hopes. They did not care with La Tenritata’s pride or the fate of Boneans in Celebes. All they want was to be the sole controller of the profitable commerce in the Indies, and Gowa with her port towns is the key to Island of Spices. In order to test his leadership, ability, and military skills, Dutch governor General Maetsuycker sent La Tenritata with his loyal Bugis soldiers that were known as Toangke (literally, people of Angke) together with 400 Dutch soldiers on an expedition to Pariaman, an important trading point in West Sumatera. Pariaman was under the influence of Aceh and Portuguese on that time. La Tenritata gloriously won the battle; he cut the long centuries of dependency between Pariaman and Aceh. General Maetsuycker was very happy. He agreed to collaborate with La Tenritata attacking the Gowa Empire with massive fleets as well as trained soldiers. Thus on November 1666, under the command of Admiral Cornelis Speelman, La Tenritata brought 21 Dutch war ships loaded with 1,870 soldiers sailed to Gowa.

La Tenritata and Daenerys: Even More Alikes
Now let’s talk about the similarities between Daenerys Targaryen with La Tenritata. Both of them face unique challenges but the major theme of their life story mirrors each other. Here I’ll explain you why. First of all, Daenerys claims to be the descendant of the dragon, a long story that is kept by Targaryen Dynasty and their followers since the time of Valeryan Empire. Blood legitimacy is important for her; she emphasizes her ‘divine’ origin repeatedly in front of her followers. The same reference can be found in the life of the Bonean prince too. La Tenritata that was altogether nephew and grandson of the king of Bone could trace his ancestry back to a mythical figure named Manurung ri Matajang. Manurung ri Matajang is the founder of the Bone royal house and believed to be descended from heaven. In South Celebes pre-Islamic culture, people believe that after a certain period of chaos, a god will descend from heaven and lead the human as their guide. He/she is known as Tomanurung, or he/she who descended from heaven. Once he/she complete the duty, this mythical figure will disappear unannounced. Many kings in Celebes derived their lineage to these divine founders. The descendant of this tomanurung is believed to be semi-divine with white as the color of their blood. As one of the perks of having celestial ancestors, just like Daenerys that miraculously fire-proof, La Tenritata also possesses some magical quality. According to local folklore, he is believed to be bulletproof and immune from sharp objects.

Secondly, both of them chose the direction of east as place for exile. This choice has to do with cultural as well as political history that once the Bone royal house and the Targaryen dynasty had in the past. La Tenritata headed east when he ran away from Gowanese soldiers. In the east, the old ally of Bone, the Sultan of Buton welcomed La Tenritata and provided him with ships and army. The sphere of Bone’s influence in Buton was still eminent although that kingdom is currently under Gowa. Culturally, Bone was called by the Butonese as Buton ri Ajaq (Buton on the west) while Buton is known by the Bonean as Bone ri Lauq (Bone on the east). Its also the same with Daenerys: although the Valeryan Empire fell hundreds of years ago, the Essosians still remember the heyday of that mighty freehold when they saw Daenerys. Her ancestral origin always makes a certain impression for the people of Essos. Hence, only in Essos she can expect support to gain the Targaryen throne across the sea.

During her journey, Daenerys set many Essosian free from slavery. At one point after conquering the slave masters, she was crowned as the queen of Mereen. La Tenritata on his mission to Sumatera with his loyal Toangke soldiers freed Pariaman from Aceh. Just like Daenerys, he was also crowned as Raja Ulakan, the king at Ulakan by the locals. In Daenerys case, her traditional status as Khaleesi and the Khals-slayer makes the Dothraki hordes submit to her. Strength is above all for this tribal horseman. The Unsullied in another hand follows her because she liberated them from the masters. Toangke soldiers show similarity with the Dothrakians and the Unsullied in this sense; they obey La Tenritata due to his traditional title as an “arung” or prince and they fight along his side for their freedom.

Another similar connection between Daenerys and La Tenritata can be seen from the motivations of their allies to join them. Daenerys is allied with the Ironborn navy to sail the Narrow Sea. The Greyjoys siblings are pretty clear with their motivation providing help for the foreign queen: they want Daenerys to support their claim over the Iron Islands. La Tenritata sailed back to Celebes with Dutch ships. As already mentioned above, the Dutch company’s motive to support La Tenritata is also crystal clear: they want to take over the spice trade from the Gowa Empire. Daenerys who care more about King’s Landing does not bother by the Greyjoys’ desires, hence she agrees with the term. La Tenritata’s sole purpose was to free the Boneans and rule over his own land; hence he did not find any trouble with what the Dutch wanted.

Finally, just like Daenerys who is accompanied by despised nobilities and military men such as Jorah Mormont, Dario Naharis, and Lord Barriston, La Terintata had Arung Bila, Arung Appanang and Datu Citta on his side. These three young fugitive princes swore to protect him everywhere he goes. Daenerys assembles a team of trustees and allies, including Lady Olenna Tyrell from High Garden, Ellaria Sand from Dorne and the two Greyjoy siblings, all with different motives. La Tenritata was surrounded by Admiral Speelman, the Sultan of Ternate and Buton in his side, also with various reasons. These allies provided not just troops and armada but also financial support as well as political bargain.

La Tenritata’s Strategy and what can Daenerys Learn from Him
Looking at the almost similar fate as well as the geography of both world, there are several things that Daenerys can actually learn from La Tenritata. This includes how to attack King’s Landing from the sea and how to trap it from the land not just through military strategy but also through political and psychological tactics. But first, let’s see how La Tenritata dealt with his allies and managed to win the war with popularity support.

In many local sources, La Tenritata is seen not just as the legitimate heir of Bone but also someone who has upe’ or luck. The story of his bravery in Sumatera was spread throughout Celebes, making him popular among the commoners. For the Boneans, this type of story gave hopes and ignited spirits to rebel against Gowa. For the other, especially the Gowanese, this story thrilled them. A runaway prince which has close to nothing in his pocket suddenly leading foreign armies against the mighty empire? Gossips over La Tenritata soon spread like wild fire, making Gowanese nobilities worried. Even before Speelman’s armada visible from the shore, La Tenritata has launched psychological warfare across the sea.

When La Tenritata’s army finally landed on the island, they were immediately joined by many supporters. These people were mostly commoners; some were led by local lords that voluntarily submit to the exiled prince. Some of them crying when they saw La Tenritata, believing that he is a Savior sent down from heaven. Many people including Gowa nobilities themselves believe that La Tenritata already dead in Sumatera. Now that he is still alive after many years of exile and return with massive soldiers for revenge, only God can let such thing happened. As they marched to Gowa, more and more people decided to be on his side, believing in his upe’. When Gowanese emissaries arrived at Speelman’s ship to negotiate, they were thrilled upon seeing the exiled prince in person. La Tenritata created intimidation to them by wearing Dutch military uniform with an enormous gold medallion on his neck, a gift from General Maetsuycker for his great achievement in Sumatera. Arung Belo who stood next to him wore beautiful breast plate made of copper trimmed with expensive red satin. The Gowanese emissaries returned to their lords in fear upon seeing La Tenritata physically and his war preparations.

            La Tenritata and Speelman began their expedition by launching an attack on a region south of Sombaopu known as Bantaeng. Bantaeng was an important rice-supplier for the empire. Considering the importance of Bantaeng to Gowa, La Tenritata’s soldiers burned down fields and villages, cutting Gowa from her main source of food. Approximately 100 ships on docks loaded with 6,000 tons of rice waiting to be delivered to Sombaopu vanished. The armada continued went down south, to the island of Selayar where their old ally, the Butonese already waited. Several Bugis nobilities that belong to houses under the kingdom of Bone joined La Tenritata along the way. More and more people joined him after hearing the story that he survived the death and might be the one with upe’ to win the war against Gowa. In less than a month, 1,500 extra Bugis soldiers from all over places plead their allegiance to La Tenritata. 

Map of Gowa and the surrounding area. aken from Leonard Andaya's Heritage of Arung Palakka

The unexpected thing happened when suddenly Maradia (king) of Balannipa, one of the strongest allies of Gowa came to see La Tenritata and swore his allegiance to him. La Tenritata welcomed him open heartedly, knowing that the Balannipa soldiers have reputation as great penyumpit (poisonous blowpiper) in the region. Just a day after receiving the king of Balannipa, the Sultan of Bima and the Datu of Luwu, another two important allies of Gowa, surrendered to La Tenritata. His reputation traveled so fast that local princedoms and principalities across South Celebes peninsula began to believe in his upe’. La Tenritata opened his arms widely to these local rulers. With more people in his armies, La Tenritata then launched a successful attack to expel the Gowanese armada that patrolled around the island of Buton. This war terrified everyone; it seems like La Tenritata could not be defeated.

After establishing a firm stronghold in Buton, La Tenritata sent emissaries to Bone, commanding the people to spark rebellions. He asked the Boneans to be ready by the time his soldiers set their foot on the ground of Celebes. In short, La Tenritata managed to control the situation not just through active military strategy but also by gaining popularity among the people of South Celebes. Several local lords revolted against Gowa, creating internal frictions even before the war with La Tenritata started. Many of them that already depressed with the never-ending war in the region and the dominance of Gowa in political matters decided to choose La Tenritata’s side. La Tenritata fought for his siri’ or pride as well as for the sake of common people. This motivation gave him confidence and readiness to suffer until the very last drop of blood. Gowa in another hand fought for her glory only, which making them willing to sacrifice others just to maintain their status quo.

            Daenerys should learn from La Tenritata in term of his tactics. First, she should let stories about her spread between her enemies, old allies of the Targaryens, as well as among the common people. Let her reputations as the dragon queen and her justice in Essos become the main discussions on the streets of King’s Landing. Her idea to attack and burn Highgarden as the main food source of King’s Landing as seen in episode four of Season 7 was a perfect move, mimicking La Tenritata’s attack on Bantaeng. Both Highgarden and Bantaeng are located in the south of their enemies’ capital. By continuing his campaign to south, La Tenritata gained unexpected supports from the old loyalists of his family. Daenerys is suggested to do the same, march to Dorne, and here is why.

Dorne that is located in the southmost corner of Westeros is also an old ally of the Targaryens. In fact, Daenerys has Dornish blood. Her great-great grandfather, Daeron II Targaryen married with Myriah Martell, a Dornish princess. This marriage gave birth to king Maekor II Targaryen, Aerys ‘Mad King’ Targaryen’s grandfather. Although the faith of Ellaria Sand, the current leader of Dorne, is still unknown, Dorne still has well-trained soldiers and some weapons ready for the great war. Both of these two great houses were victims of the Baratheon’s rebellion since Elia Martell the wife of Rhaegal Targaryen and her babies were brutally murdered during the attack on King’s Landing. With this assumption, it should not be too difficult for Daenerys to claim loyalty from Dorne.

In the first episode of Season 7, she impatiently expressed her willingness to attack Westeros with her Dothraki riders and loyal Unsullied soldiers. Tyrion, who acts as her Hand calmed her and insisted that she should play smart. Attacking King’s Landing with Dothraki hordes and the Unsullied forces from Essos would make her look bad before the eyes of the Westerosi. He urged her to follow a strategy or ‘smart plan’ that Tyrion has carefully planned. I will stop here, in respect of them who has not watched it.

Tyrion does make a vital point there. If in the case of La Tenritata several of his soldiers were locals and his motivation to free the Boneans from Gowa already spred throughout the peninsula, Daenerys run the risk to be seen as foreign invader with the absence of indigenous soldiers in her army. The only strategy she can do to avoid being judged as colonizer is through avoiding unnecessary movement that might damage civilians as well as other peaceful houses. She has to consider persuasive action by sending emisarries to local houses and begin diplomatic talk to gain influence. After all, she is still unknown for the Westerosi. If La Tenritata and the story of his upe’ can miraculously attract so many attention, the story of Daenerys and her dragons will undoubtfully create similar impression for these people. By gaining support from local houses, she follows La Tenritata’s tactic: creating internal frictions in the opponent side. These local lords that now swear to be under her rule can initiate guerilla attacks against the Lannisters. Let King’s Landing busy with internal rebellion, after that a series of bombardment from the shore might help Daenerys climb the palace, just like what La Tenritata did.
Map of King's Landing. Source.

That lead us to the final element of what can Daenerys learn from La Tenritata. She cannot win the open war if she only focus on naval attack. The Greyjoys are reputable sea-based fighters, Euron might have something to surprise her too from his journey travelling around the world for the past few years. Massive land based battle can potentially be harmful toward the Westerosi, realising how barbaric the Dothrakians are. Daenerys must understand that La Tenritata won the war not just because he triggered internal rebellion within Gowa; cutting the food supply; gaining popularity among the opponent’s allies; his geographical strategy is the main determining factor in this war. La Tenritata’s main focus was to surround Gowa with fear by parading around the capital with his army. La Tenritata marched north to Soppeng, Tangka River and Bone, attacking Gowa soldiers’ positions every where he goes. From the south, Speelman with his soldiers occupied Bantaeng and marched to Turatea, mountaneous region just south of Gowa. When finally Speelman made his way to Sombaopu, La Tenritata and his soldiers headed to Bantaeng, therefore encircling Gowa with full soldiers. Leaving Gowa with no way to escape. La Tenritata’s knowledge on geographic and geopolitic in South Celebes peninsula brought him victory. By placing several soldiers around King’s Landing and marched north and south to secure the surrounding area, Daenerys might also win the war mimicking La Tenritata’s strategy.

Of course there are several technicalities that prevent Daenerys to precisely adopt La Tenritata’s strategy. Problem with the white walkers for example, is the main focus of the North right now. Asking their allegiance to support Daenerys’ claim for the throne would be difficult. Even requesting Dornish help might be tricky. What is best for her is to understand the geopolitic of Westeros and read the map of interest of the local houses. Cersei could not hide inside the Red Keep for long, she has no money and people are already tired of wars. At one point there will be a revolution, a perfect time for Daenerys to proof that she is better than her.

Finally, a good suggestion for Daenerys: change won’t be possible without affirmation from the people. Their desire for freedom was the main generator that moves every revolution. La Tenritata’s glorious victory was a compilation of personal interest of foreign allies, local houses and the people in South Celebes. The latter is the most crucial one. In this world we witnessed how Bastille was stormed during French Revolution and how the Israelites started great exodus out of Egypt. All of those because the commoners believe that enough is enough. When people begin to gather in unacountable crowd and together voice out their belief, even God can only validated it. Vox populi vox Dei, thus Daenerys the daughter of Aerys Targaryen must win the heart of her people to be the real queen of Westeros, just like La Tenritata.
22 August 2017