The Epic Story of Sultan Nuku from Tidore: Giving VOC and the Dutch the Jitters Just by His Name
9 mins read

The Epic Story of Sultan Nuku from Tidore: Giving VOC and the Dutch the Jitters Just by His Name

Sultan Nuku, the big shot ruling the Tidore Sultanate, is like a rockstar in Indonesian history, making the whole nation proud. What’s cool is that he’s the only national hero who never tasted defeat, especially against the Dutch. The Dutch heard his name and decided to pack up and leave North Maluku.

A movie producer, Ade Muhammad Nur, is even thinking of turning his story into a blockbuster. Ade thinks Sultan Nuku’s story is packed with heroism, a total inspiration for future generations. In an interview with JPNN, Ade Muhammad Nur spilled the beans that Sultan Nuku is the only hero who never got beat by the colonial powers.

All through the 18th century, for a solid 25 years, Sultan Nuku was giving the Dutch colonizers a hard time in North Maluku. Even before he got the sultan title, he was already causing trouble for the Dutch while chilling in exile. According to the stories, not once did the Dutch manage to push back Nuku and his crew.

They even call Sultan Nuku a guy blessed by the man upstairs. Some European historians go wild and call him “The Lord of Fortune” because of his insane victories. Dude had the gods on his side during his reign as the head honcho of the Tidore Sultanate until he kicked the bucket on November 14, 1805.

Standing Up for the Home Front from Exile

In his biographies, Nuku got some early life lessons from his pops, telling him to stand his ground against the Dutch. “If you’re gonna take on the Dutch, get your weapons ready first, and don’t let your emotions mess with you,” was the wisdom his old man dropped, as mentioned in Sultan Nuku’s bio.

Born around 1738, Nuku, originally named Muhammad Amiruddin, was the apple of Sultan Muhammad Mashud Jamaluddin’s eye. The Sultan was running the Tidore Sultanate show from 1757 onwards.

His pops, Sultan Jamaluddin, wasn’t vibing with the VOC or the Dutch from the get-go when they showed up in Maluku. According to the book “The World of Maluku” (1993) by Leonard Y. Andaya, Sultan Jamaluddin got caught up in May 1779 under the VOC’s orders.

They took his pops to Batavia, now known as DKI Jakarta, to cool off as a prisoner. After a stint in Batavia, Jamaluddin got shipped to the island of Ceylon, now part of Sri Lanka, where he kicked the bucket. Feeling all high and mighty after shipping Jamaluddin off, the Dutch started messing with the Tidore Sultanate’s family business. The VOC then pointed at Patra Alam, Sultan Jamaluddin’s younger brother, to be the new sultan.

Even though Patra Alam became the big boss, things were still tense. Prince Amiruddin, aka Nuku, and his bro Prince Kamaluddin were hanging around the royal crib, the legit heirs to the throne, making Sultan Patra Alam nervous about losing his spot when the princes grew up.

Sultan Patra Alam, backed by the VOC, was tight with the Dutch. He ordered the palace crew to grab Prince Nuku and his bro. But Nuku slipped through their fingers, while his bro, Prince Kamaluddin, got nabbed and locked up.

The Rise of a Rebel Leader in Tidore

In the book “Aroma Sejarah dan Budaya Ternate” (2001) by Abdul Hamid Hasan, it’s laid out that Prince Nuku made a run for it. He took off to the south of Halmahera and got his act together to kick off a rebellion against the Dutch. Of course, he also wanted to settle the score with his uncle, now the VOC-approved sultan.

Prince Nuku started sending his ride-or-die crew to different spots in the Tidore Sultanate, even hitting up the eastern part of Seram Island and the Raja Ampat Islands in Papua. Through his crew, he let everyone know he’s Prince Nuku, the crown prince, and the legit heir to the Tidore Sultanate throne.

The leaders in these spots, who technically under the Tidore Sultanate’s rule, hyped to hear that Prince Nuku slipped away. They were down to support the rebellion against the Dutch. Their beef wasn’t just with the Dutch but also with Sultan Patra Alam, who they thought was shady.

As per M. Adnan Amal in his book “Kepulauan Rempah-rempah” (2016), Patra Alam had no right to the sultan throne. He wasn’t a direct descendant of Tidore’s rulers. On the flip side, Prince Nuku, as the crown prince of Sultan Jamaluddin, the previous ruler of Tidore, was the real deal. So, on November 11, 1781, his crew gave Nuku the nod as their leader in exile. Nuku was reppin’ the title Sri Maha Tuan Sultan Amiruddin Syaifuddin Syah Kaicil Paparangan, meaning the ‘Warrior King,’ letting everyone know he’s ready to throw down to reclaim his rights and boot the colonizers from North Maluku.

The Lord of Fortune: Sultan Nuku Always Rolling with Lady Luck

Nuku’s crew first took a swing at the Dutch in Halmahera in 1783. It was a slam dunk – they wrecked the Dutch spot. The VOC got all riled up and tried to hit back, but Nuku had some killer naval strategies, making life hard for the Dutch and giving them some major Ls.

In the same year, the Dutch kicked Sultan Patra Alam off the Tidore throne and sent him packing to Java. They found out Patra Alam was doing some spice trade moves behind the VOC’s back. Now, the Dutch had no choice but to roll with Prince Kamaluddin, Nuku’s younger bro, as the next sultan. Meanwhile, Nuku was still giving the Dutch a run for their money from exile.

Elvianus Katoppo, a Bible expert, spilled the tea in his novel titled “Nuku: Sultan Saidul Jehad Muhammad el Mabus Amirudin Syah Kaicil Paparangan” (1984). He talked about one of the biggest battles in 1791. The Dutch got some backup from Ambon, trying to throw down against Nuku’s heavy-duty crew. But Nuku shut it down, and the Dutch get send packing again.

The battles kept going between Nuku’s squad and the Dutch in the following years. The Dutch kept trying to take down Nuku and his crew, but they just couldn’t hack it. That’s why Nuku got the title of Jou Barakati, meaning the ‘Lord who always blessed.’ Even the English, who have his back against the Dutch, call him The Lord of Fortune.

Sultan Nuku Reclaiming Tidore and Defying the Dutch

On April 12, 1797, Nuku’s naval crew, with 79 fleets and a massive English ship, pulled up in Tidore. They went all out, and Nuku got his rights and Tidore back. The Dutch bounced with Nuku’s bro, Sultan Kamaluddin, both dipping to Ternate. The next day, Prince Nuku officially got the crown as Sultan of Tidore, repping the title Sultan Syaidul Jehad Amiruddin Syaifuddin Syah Muhammad el Mab’us Kaicil Paparangan Jou Bakarati Nuku.

Even though he posted up in Ternate, the Dutch weren’t backing down and called for another hit on Tidore. On July 15, 1799, the Dutch wanted to grab Sultan Nuku and take back control. But, surprise surprise, the Dutch couldn’t pull it off and had to retreat. Two years later, Sultan Nuku hit back at Ternate. With over 100 boats and five thousand warriors, they surrounded the Dutch in Ternate, making them tap out and run to Ambon.

For a minute, North Maluku was living the good life without the colonizers all thanks to Sultan Nuku holding it down. During his time in charge, Tidore was ballin’ after a rough patch. His turf went beyond Tidore, covering Halmahera, East Seram, and the west and north edges of Papua, including Raja Ampat and its chill spots. In a chill and peaceful vibe, Sultan Nuku kicked the bucket on November 14, 1805, at 67. The Lord of Fortune left behind the golden era of the Tidore Sultanate, a place that kicked the Dutch to the curb.

For all the blood, sweat, and tears, Sultan Nuku got props as a national hero from the Indonesian government on August 7, 1995. Even if his name isn’t dropping everywhere, Sultan Nuku is probably gonna stay in the memory of the North Maluku crew.