In his well-known 1940 essay reviewing Volume IV of Godee Molsbergen’s History o f the Dutch East Indies covering the eighteenth century, Jacob van Leur put forth the unexceptionable proposition that it was not possible to write the history of Indonesia in that century in terms of the history of the Dutch East India Company. He then widened the canvas from Indonesia to Asia as a whole, put forth a case for the autonomy of Asian history in relation to that of Europe, and argued that the ‘unbroken unity’ of Asian history from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century ‘makes the category Eighteenth Century useless as an instrument for ordering the facts in that historic landscape’.1 While there probably is a certain amount of validity in this argument in relation to Indonesia, it certainly is far too sweeping when considered with reference to individual major Asian regions. Indeed, given the large size and the enormous diversity that characterized the Asian continent, it would be unrealistic to expect that over any given period of time, similar developments would characterize the history of the various major segments of the continent.