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Sir James Brooke

(1803—1868) army officer and first raja of Sarawak


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(1803–68)

British adventurer and ruler of Sarawak (now in Malaysia) (1841–68). Arriving in Borneo in 1839 he helped one of the Brunei princes to put down a revolt and was rewarded with the governorship of Kuching in 1841. He established himself as an independent ruler (the ‘White Raja’) governing as a benevolent autocrat and extending his rule over much of Sarawak. Renowned for his legal reforms (which successfully adapted local custom) he resisted external attacks by Chinese opponents in 1857. Sarawak was effectively ruled by the Brooke family until the Japanese occupation of 1942–45.

Subjects: British History — World History.


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