Bornean Wars







European withdrawal



Lanfang Republic
Sumatran and Javanese guerrillas

Casualties and Losses

The Bornean Wars were a series of conflicts fought between European expeditions from Albion, Lyonesse and Aquitaine, each trying to conquer and colonise the island for their respective country, and the native states of Brunei and Lanfang. Throughout the 19th century the great European powers expanded rapidly overseas, overcoming Cambodia, Siam, Malaya, Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi, until only Borneo was left of the independent countries of south-east Asia.

By this point China was greatly concerned about its loss of influence in the area, which had formerly paid tribute. When in 1824 Albion issued an ultimatum to Brunei concerning some minor trade disputes, the latter appealed for assistance from all its neighbours. By the time Albion actually invaded and occupied the Bruneian capital, naval  convoys full of money and weapons were already on their way from China, and half of the Lanfang army was marching north along the coast.

With the extra help, the remaining Bruneian troops were able to keep Albion from breaking out of Bandar Brunei. When the Chinese ships arrived, bearing with them thousands of automatic rifles, heavy artillery and expert gunners, they set about blockading the harbour and cutting off the Albic supply route. Within a year the besieged Albic troops were forced to surrender.

In 1830 a second Albic invasion was launched. This time they were more prepared in terms of both numbers and equipment, and succeeded in conquering Brunei and much of the rest of the northern half of the island. However, an attempted march through the jungle was defeated by the Lanfang Republic at the Battle of Sintang, and a punitive raid the next year also failed.

The status quo lasted until 1856, when a third and final attempt by Albion to conquer the whole of Borneo began with a combined land and sea mass invasion of Lanfang. Despite several early victories, Lanfang's outdated weapons and poorly disciplined troops proved to be no match for the power of the Albic East India Company, and the army was destroyed at the 1857 Battle of Sukadana. Following this defeat, Lanfang's capital of Pontianak was occupied and a puppet sultanate set up.

Nevertheless, the new sultan was never able to control much of the country. The countryside remained in full rebellion and Albion, faced with simultaneous uprisings in Aceh and Java, was unable to provide any reinforcements to quell the unrest. Former President Kuang Zhaodi of Lanfang managed to organize the various independence movements into one, and after receiving support from China the restored Lanfang Republic forced Albion to withdraw once more.

In 1861 Lanfang invaded Brunei. Tired and demoralised by years of continual guerrilla attacks and ambushes, the Albic troops did not put up much of a fight and began the slow retreat to Bandar Brunei. Finally, in 1865, the Treaty of Manila was signed, in which Albion agreed to withdraw all troops from and renounce all sovereignty over the island, in return for trade rights and a pact of non-aggression. For the first time in centuries, all Borneo was united under one state - the Lanfang Republic.

Lyonesse later tried to extract an unequal treaty from the Borneans, and Aquitaine would come to have a claim following the 1885 Aachen Conference. But never again would Bornean independence be seriously threatened, and Borneo survives to this day as a semi-developed republic with an influential voice in Asian affairs.

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