Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom: The Sultanahs of Aceh, 1641−1699

$38.00 SGD

Forthcoming May 2017

By Sher Banu A.L. Khan

The Islamic kingdom of Aceh was ruled by queens for half of the 17th century. Was female rule an aberration? Unnatural? A violation of nature, comparable to hens instead of roosters crowing at dawn? Indigenous texts and European sources offer different evaluations. Drawing on both sets of sources, this book shows that female rule was legitimised both by Islam and adat (indigenous customary laws), and provides original insights on the Sultanah’s leadership, their relations with male elites, and their encounters with European envoys who visited their court. The book challenges received views on kingship in the Malay world and the response of indigenous polities to east-west encounters in Southeast Asia’s Age of Commerce.


"The author is to be congratulated on a book that makes a significant contribution both to the history of Southeast Asia and to comparative studies on women in early modern Asia."
Barbara Watson Andaya and Leonard Y. Andaya, University of Hawai‘i 


Sher Banu A.L. Khan is assistant professor at the Malay Studies Department, National University of Singapore.


Publication Year: 2017
336 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-981-4722-20-9, Paperback
3 b/w illustrations, 1 map

NUS Press