The Majapahit Empire was the largest empire in Southeast Asia & the centre of the world-famous Spice Trade that stretched from China to Europe. Host Peter Lee starts off on the island of Java to see why it was so suited to cultivating rice, used to make exchanges with merchants from the Spice Islands. As demand for spices took off around the world, geography and timing of seasonal sailing winds saw Java grow into the centre for the global spice trade, which enriched Majapahit with luxury trade goods from all over the world.
With increased riches, the empire is said to have unified Indonesia’s islands into one nation. Peter travels to Sulawesi to see why the relationship between Majapahit Java and its outer islands was more nuanced than conqueror and subject. Today, the legacy of a united Indonesia under the Majapahit still looms large, where different groups hark back to the era in the face of increasing intolerance and conflict within the island state.