This paper focuses on the south-central Javanese state of Mataram and its late seventeenth- and mid-eighteenth-century successors—Kartasura (1680–1746), and Surakarta (founded 1746) and Yogyakarta (founded 1749). It concentrates principally on the administrative, military and cultural trends of the period, looking at the ways in which Mataram and its heirs imported their cultural styles from the defeated east Javanese and pasisir (north-east coast) kingdoms, while developing a Spartan polity dominated by the exigencies of war and military expansion. The disastrous reign of Sultan Agung's successor, Sunan Amangkurat I (r. 1646–77), and the emergence of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a major political force in Java led to the rapid eclipse of Mataram/Kartasura's military influence duringJava's ‘Eighty Years War’ (1675–1755) when the heritage of the great early Mataram rulers was squandered. This period of turmoil ended in the permanent division (paliyan) of south-central Java between the courts of Surakarta (Kasunanan, founded 1746, and Mangkunegaran, founded 1757) and Sultan Mangkubumi's new kingdom of Yogyakarta, which, in terms of its martial traditions, was the principal inheritor of the early Mataram polity. At the same time, the political authority of the courts continued to face challenges from regional power centres, not least the powerful administrators of Yogyakarta's eastern outlying provinces (mancanagara)based in Madiun and Maospati, and the networks of Islamic schools (pesantrèn) and tax-free religious villages (perdikan), which drew their strength both from court patronage and the piety of local communities.