The Madurese people preserve a number of myths explaining their origins, among them the story of Raden (Prince) Segoro. It is told that long time ago the Javanese kingdom of Medang Kamulan was ruled by one Prabu Gilingwesi, whose daughter, Dewi Bendoro Gung, became pregnant as the gods had willed.
The king, however, became angered and ordered one of his ministers, Patih Pragulang, to kill her. Obeying the command, Patih Pragulang sailed the princess out to sea on a raft, but at the last moment was unable to carry out the deed. Eventually the raft came to rest on the land which was to be called Madura, which is said to stem from the words 'Madu' meaning honey, and 'oro', open Country. Dewi Bendoro Gung later gave birth to a handsome boy who was to be called Raden Segoro.
At the age of three the child encountered two sea-serpents which, through the intervention of Empu Polleng (Patih Pragulang disguised) changed their forms and became the pusaka (heirlooms) named Alugoro and Nenggolo. On becoming an adult, Raden Segoro served the king of Medang Kamolan and on one occasion successfully repelled a Chinese invasion. Returning to Madura he asked his mother about the identity of his father.
Enraged by her son's question, Dewi Bendoro Gung turned his dwelling place into what is now the forest of Nepa and a haven for monkeys which according to local belief are descended from the soldiers of Raden Segoro. Nepa can be found in the district of Banyuates, 42 km north of Sampang.
Another legend recounts the story of Jokotole, son of the Putri (princess) Kuning, who was a grandchild of Pangeran Bukabu of Sumenep. Jokotole and his brother Jokowedi had been conceived by way of a dream encounter between Putri Kuning and their father Adipoday. While journeying to Majapahit to assist his stepfather named Empu Kelleng, Jokotole met with his uncle, Adirasa, who gave him the flying horse Si Mega and a whip, both of which had been entrusted to him by Adipoday.
To this day the horse Si Mega continues to live as the Regional Emblem of Sumenep. The whip, too, is one of Madura's well known souvenirs, and the names Jokotole and Putri Kuning (Madurese 'Pottre Koneng') can be found on the ferry boats which run between
Surabaya and the Madurese port of Kamal.
Epigraphi evidence helps to reveal the role played by Madura in the general history of Indonesia, as well as the island's relationship with the ancient rulers of Java. For instance, it is known that during the period of Singosari (1222 - 1292 A.D.), the Regent of Sumenep, one Aria Wiraraja, ruled over the whole of Madura and, together with Raden Wijaya, helped to establish the Javanese kingdom of Majapahit after successfully repelling the punitive force sent to Java by the Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan in 1292 - 1293 A.D.
At the beginning of the Islamic period, the new religion was introduced into the Madurese court circle by a crown prince of the kingdom of Palakaran (Arosbaya, Bangkalan) named Pratanu, son of Prince Pragalbo. A century later, during the golden period of Mataram under the leadership of Sultan Agung, a grandson of Pratanu named Raden Praseno was given authority over the whole of Madura, with the title Pangeran Cakraningrat I. His seat of power was at
Sampang. He in turn was succeeded by his son Raden undakan, who became Pangeran Cakraningrat II. During this period the recently established Dutch East India Company (VOC) began to exploit Mataram' s internal political strife, which resulted in the rebellion of Trunojoyo and the forced exile of Cakraningrat II to Lodaya. When the rebellion was finally put down, Cakraningrat II returned to rule over western Madura, with a new seat of power at Tonjung (Bangkalan).
Cakraningrat II was succeeded by his son Cakraningrat III, whose rule was ended abruptly by a rebellion incited by his younger brother R.T. Suroadiningrat, who became Cakraningrat IV. However, because he opposed the Dutch East India Company he was forced into exile in Tanjung Harapan and his son, R.A. Secoadiningrat (Cakraningrat V) took power. The seat of government was moved again at this time to Sembilangan.
Cakraningrat V was succeeded by his grandson, Panembahan Adipati Cakraningrat VI, who in turn was succeeded by his uncle, Adipati Cakraningrat VII. Since the time of the setting up of a capital at Arosbaya in 1528, the religion of Islam spread eastward across the island and had a profound effect upon Madurese social and political life.
From that time until today the main historical events can be noted down as follows: 1624 The forces of Mataram under Sultan Agung occupied Madura. 1672 Trunojoyo rebelled and succeeded in ousting Sultan Agung's forces. 1680 With the help of the Dutch East India Company, Mataram succeeded in re-occupying the eastern part of Madura, with seats of Government at Sumenep and Pamekasan.
This part of the island, however, was eventually ceded to the Dutch (VOC). Western Madura (Bangkalan, Sampang) was restored to the descendants of Prince Cakraningrat. For a further two and a half Centuries the Dutch colonial administration increased its hold on Madura This bitter situation turned even worse under the forced labour introduced by the Japanese, who occupied Indonesia in 1942, until the declaration of Independence in 1945.