The Majapahit Empire was based in eastern Java and ruled much of the southern Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and Bali from about 1293 to around 1500. Its greatest ruler was Hayam Wuruk, whose reign from 1350 to 1389 marked the empire's peak.
The Majapahit was the last of the great Hindu empires of the Malay archipelago. It was preceded by the Srivijayan kingdom, based in Palembang on the island of Sumatra.
The founder of the Majapahit Empire, Kertarajasa, was the son-in-law of the ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, also based in Java. After Singhasari drove Srivijaya out of Java altogether in 1290, the rising power of Singhasari came to the attention of Kublai Khan in China and he sent emissaries demanding tribute. Kertanagara, ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, refused to pay tribute and the Khan sent a punitive expedition which arrived off the coast of Java in 1293.
By that time, a rebel from Kediri, Jayakatwang, had killed Kertanagara. The Majapahit founder allied himself with the Mongols against Jayakatwang and, once the Singhasari kingdom was destroyed, turned and forced his Mongol allies to withdraw in confusion.
Gajah Mada, an ambitious Majapahit prime minister and regent from 1331 to 1364, extended the empire's rule to the surrounding islands. A few years after Gajah Madah's death, the Majapahit navy captured Palembang, putting an end to the Srivijayan kingdom.
Although the Majapahit rulers extended their power over other islands and destroyed neighboring kingdoms, their focus seems to have been on controlling and gaining a larger share of the commercial trade that passed through the archipelago. About the time Majapahit was founded, Muslim traders and proselytizers began entering the area.
After peaking the 1300s, Majapahit power began to decline with a war over succession that started in 1401 and went on for four years. Majapahit found itself unable to control the rising power of the Sultanate of Malacca. Dates for the end of the Majapahit Empire range from 1478 to 1520. A large number of courtiers, artisans, priests, and members of the royalty moved east to the island of Bali at the end of Majapahit's existence, where they remained isolated until the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the Dutch colonials mounted a military expedition to take control of the island.
Indonesian nationalists of the 1920s and 1930s made use of the historical memory of the Majapahit Empire as evidence that the peoples of the archipelago had once been united under a single government, and so could be again, in modern Indonesia.
- Murni's in Bali: Balinese History (http://www.murnis.com/culture/articlebalinesehistoryprehistorytotheeuropeans.htm)