Chris Baker

Independent Scholar

Paper Abstract

Melaka in the Long 15th Century Conference

2-4 AUG 19

Leonard Andaya

University of Hawai'i


Leonard Andaya is Professor of Southeast Asian History at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and was the Yusof Ishak Professor in the Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore. His concentration is in the early modern history of Southeast Asia, particularly that of Malaysia, Indonesia, the southern Philippines, and southern Thailand.


Chris Baker has a PhD in Asian History from the University of Cambridge and has lived in Thailand for over 30 years. With Pasuk Phongpaichit, he has written on Thailand’s history, political economy, culture, and literature including A History of Thailand (3rd ed., CUP, 2014), and A History of Ayutthaya: Siam in the Early Modern World (CUP, 2017). He is currently translating classics of early Thai literature.

Melaka in the 15th Century Conference


Reassessing Melaka’s Role in Trade in the Long 15th Century

Our present essay suggests that Melaka’s status as an emporium was not only due to its ability to create a favourable environment for the exchange of goods between traders from east and west, which has been clearly described in previous studies.  It was also a result of its participation in a successful economic network consisting of collectors of commodities from the seas, the forests, and the soils of Southeast Asia, to redistribution points in local and sub-regional ports, and the delivery by land and sea to the final destination in Melaka.  Often subordinated to the central story of Melaka is the role played by three of its major economic and political competitors in this period: Majapahit, Pasai, and Ayutthaya.  By including these polities in the discussion of Melaka’s heyday, it is possible to provide a more realistic assessment of Melaka’s achievements in the long 15th century.