The Sultanate of Pahang began during the reign of Sultan Mansur Shah of Melaka when His Majesty appointed his son Raja Muhammad as the first Sultan of Pahang reigning as Sultan Muhammad Shah. The Melakan dynasty in Pahang only lasted until the early 17th century when the state was invaded by Acheh. The ruler of Acheh who led the invasion was none other the the famous Sultan Iskandar Muda Mahkota Alam. However, when this Achenese Sultan died, he was succeeded by one Raja Mughal who reigned as Sultan Iskandar Thani. This Raja Mughal is a member of the Royal House of Pahang from the Melakan Dynasty.
After the death of Sultan Iskandar Thani, Acheh was ruled by Queens and since 1641, the power and influence of Acheh in the Malay Peninsula deteriorated significantly. As the power of Acheh declined, Johor – as the successor to the fallen Malay empire of Melaka increases its influence in Pahang by making it the official seat and territory of the Bendahara of Johor.
In 1699, Sultan Mahmud Shah II of Johor was killed and he was post-humously known as Sultan Mahmud Mangkat Di Julang. He was the last Sultan of Johor descended from the last Sultan of Melaka – Sultan Mahmud Shah Marhum Kampar. Upon the demise of Sultan Mahmud Mangkat Di Julang, the then Bendahara of Johor – Tun Abdul Jalil ascended the Johor Throne and ruled as Sultan Abdul Jalil Riayat Shah IV.
Over the years, the Kingdom of Johor has expanded throughout the Malay Archipelago with Pahang ruled by the Bendahara, Singapore ruled by the Temenggong, Riau ruled by the Yang Dipertuan Muda (descended from the Bugis Rajas). In 1812, Sultan Mahmud Shah III of Johor died and he left 2 sons – the eldest was Tengku Hussain and the younger was Tengku Abdul Rahman. When Sultan Mahmud Shah III died, Tengku Hussain was in Pahang. Only Tengku Abdul Rahman was around at the funeral of the late Sultan. Before the funeral, Tengku Abdul Rahman ascended the Johor throne and the appointment was made by the then Yang Dipertuan Muda Raja Jaafar.
In 1819, Raffles and Farquhar came to Singapore and signed a treaty with Temenggong Tun Daeng Abdul Rahman as ruler of Singapore, and Tengku Hussain as de facto ruler of Johor. After the signing of the treaty, Tengku Hussain is officially recognised as the lawful Sultan of Johor reigning as Sultan Hussain Muhammad Shah. Hence, after the 1819 treaty, there were two Sultans in Johor. The younger brother was backed by the Yang Dipertuan Muda and the Dutch; the elder brother was backed by the Temenggong and the British.
In 1824, the Anglo-Dutch treaty was signed and in this treaty, both the British and the Dutch agrees to limit their sphere of influence in the South East Asia. Territories to the South of the island of Singapore are under the influence of the Netherlands. Similarly, territories from Singapore northwards are under the British. Hence, upon the signing of this treaty, the Johor Sultanate was divided by the Western Powers which leads to the present-day geographical and political states.
When the power of Johor declined – with Singapore ceded to the British, Riau was under the influence of the Dutch, and the future of the descendants of Sultan Hussain Muhammad Shah was also uncertain, the Bendahara of Johor – who rules the territory of Pahang declares the indipendence of Pahang from Johor. Hence the Bendahara became the absolute ruler of Pahang. The first Bendahara of indipendent Pahang was Tun Ali.
However, after the death of Bendahara Tun Ali, there was a civil war between the sons of Bendahara Tun Ali. The successor of Bendahara Tun Ali was Bendahara Tun Mutahir and his rival was his younger brother – Tun Ahmad. A few years later, the civil war ended and Tun Ahmad became the new Bendahara of Pahang. The British later recognised Tun Ahmad as the lawful ruler of Pahang. Subsequently, the title Bendahara of Pahang was changed to Sultan and the former Bendahara Tun Ahmad became the new Sultan of Pahang reigning as Sultan Ahmad Al-Muazzam Shah.
The present-day Sultans of Pahang are descendants of this Sultan Ahmad Al-Muazzam Shah who ruled Pahang until 1915. A separate entry for the descendants of Sultan Ahmad Al-Muazzam Shah of Pahang will written later.