The fall of Melaka in 1511 and its aftermath led to a reshaping of the Malay world. Though Johor appeared as the logical successor, its claims were challenged by other Malay polities and the regicide of 1699 fundamentally ruptured its prestigious dynastic line. The implications were far-reaching, since the door was opened for Bugis migrants to establish themselves as effective rulers of Johor. Intermarriages did not resolve the resulting tensions, for questions of ethnic identity and loyalty acquired a new complexity. In the absence of an acknowledged leader of the Malay world, individual Malay states had greater freedom in seeking their political and economic goals and the period covered in this chapter saw a marked increase in the number of Chinese arriving in the region. The northern Malay states enjoyed considerable independence because of the internal problems of their overlord Ayutthaya, but in the seventeenth century a new dynasty and the resumption of Thai-Burmese conflicts once more brought Thai pressure on their Malay vassals. Meanwhile, increased Anglo-Dutch rivalry introduced further shifts in the regional power balance. By the early nineteenth century the British had established their dominance of Asian waters, most obviously represented by their new settlement on the island of Singapore, which bore all the hallmarks of the traditional Straits entrepôt but lacked the fundamental element of Malay leadership.
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