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Ruler of Java
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Ruler of Java
Gender male
Death 1293
The details

Jayakatwang (died 1293) was the king of short lived second Kingdom of Kediri (also known as Gelang-gelang Kingdom) of Java, after his overthrow of Kertanegara, the last king of Singhasari. He was eventually defeated by Raden Wijaya, Kertanegara's son-in-law using the troops of the Mongol Yuan dynasty that were invading Java. Raden Wijaya would later turn against the Mongols and found Majapahit, the greatest empire in Java.


Since 1271, Jayakatwang was viceroy (or governor) of Kediri, a vassal state of Singhasari. Kediri was formerly the dominant kingdom in Java until overthrown in 1222 by Ken Arok, the first king of Singhasari. Jayakatwang was probably a descendant of the Kediri royal line, and thus held ambition to restore his line to power and rulership of Java.

His name is derived from Sanskrit Jaya (victory) and Javanese ketawang, (rising, or appearing).

Kediri is located in fertile rice-producing area in Brantas River banks, approximately 80 km to the west of Singhasari, but separated from it by the Arjuno-Welirang volcanoes and Mount Kawi.

Rebellion against Singhasari

Kertanegara, the fifth ruler of Singhasari, was an ambitious man. In 1289, Mongol emissary came to Java to demand his submission to the Great Khan of the Yuan dynasty. Kertanegara rejected, cut their ears and sent them back to China. Anticipating Mongolian revenge, he prepared to thwart the forthcoming invasion by conquering important ports and kingdoms in Maritime Southeast Asia. His most important expedition was the Pamalayu expedition to Sumatra in 1292, where he sent the Javanese army to conquer Sumatra from various successor states of Srivijaya.

With the bulk of the Javanese army overseas, Jayakatwang seized his chance and launched a coup against Singhasari. He launched a diversionary attack to the northern Java, where his troops drew the remaining Singhasari troops left in the island. With Singhasari defenseless he attacked the capital city.

Kertanegara was killed in his palace. Jayakatwang then declared himself ruler of Java and king of the restored Kediri.

Among few surviving relatives of Kertanegara was Raden Wijaya, who fled to Madura where he was sheltered by its regent, Arya Wiraraja. Following Wiraraja's plea, Jayakatwang pardoned Wijaya, who in return submitted himself to Jayakatwang. Jayakatwang gave Wijaya land in the Tarik forest in Brantas delta, to build a village that was later called Majapahit, named from the sour beal tree that grow in the area.

Mongol invasion

Mongol expedition of the Yuan dynasty sent by Kublai Khan finally arrived in Java. Sailing from Quanzhou, and after journey from China through Champa and Karimata, landing at the port of Tuban in early 1293. Raden Wijaya seeing this event as opportunity to revenge Kertanegara's death and claim the throne of Java. He soon offered submission and allied himself with the Mongol, who wasn't aware on the recent political change in Java.

The Mongolian expedition consisted of 20.000 army with 1.000 boats and a year of grain provision. The expedition consisted mostly of southern Chinese conscript. They arrived at port of Tuban and soon preparing their fleet to enter the rivers of Java.

With Wijaya as guide, Mongol troop declared war against Jayakatwang. Wijaya's and his Mongol allies defeated captured Jayakatwang's navy in Surabaya at delta of Brantas river. Following the victory they easily marched along Brantas to Kediri in Java's interior. After heavy fight, they besieged and conquered Kediri. Jayakatwang was captured and then executed, in March 1293.

Thus the troops sent to Java that with the intention to punish the king who insulted the Mongols (Kertanegara), ended up revenging his death and killing his usurper (Jayakatwang).


Jayakatwang restoration of Kediri was short-lived, but the event that happened during his reign played important part in the history of Java and Indonesia, especially in the rise of Majapahit under Raden Wijaya.

In disguise of returning to his domain in Majapahit to prepare tribute for the Mongol, Raden Wijaya would go on to betray his Mongol allies, who were exhausted after the war with Jayakatwang. He would drive them from Java and establishing Majapahit as the one of the greatest empire that rise from modern territory of Indonesia.

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