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The Oldest Dynasty of Timor


The Nisnoni, one of the oldest dynasties of Timor, whose origins are found in the Sonbai Empire and the ancient Wehali Kingdom. They were the most important of a noble lineage of warriors that gradually conquered various territories until they became important landowners throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. From the seventeenth century their economic and military power allowed them to enter the political conjuncture of fighting for the conquest of a Kingdom. Thus, they became Sovereign of the Kupang Throne in 1718. Due to their links concerning the Sonbai Empire, the Raja also holds the title of Liurai of Sonbai Kecil.

Don Leopold was born on the 20th March 1936 in Kupang, during the Dutch Colonel Rule to the 13th Raja and his wife. In 1948, Don Leopold Isu Nisnoni, embarked for the Kingdom of the Netherlands to complete his formal education in Europe. It was the first time that a member of the Kupang Royal Family had traveled to Europe.

During his stay in the Kingdom of the Netherlands Don Leopold learned the Dutch, English and French languages and had the opportunity to meet the four Princesses, daughters of H.M. Queen Juliana of The Netherlands; Beatrix (later The Queen of The Netherlands), Irene, Margarita and Cristina.

Don Leopold lived in The Netherlands during many momentous events in the history of his country. He left a complex geo-political situation in Timor, consumed by war and occupation, and the struggles between independence fighters and the colonial administration. At the close of 1949, Don Leopold witnessed the declaration of independence of the Republic of Indonesia, signed in The Hague by Queen Juliana and the Indonesian Vice President Mohammed Hatta.

At the beginning of 1951, Don Leopold returned to Indonesia, not directly to Kupang, but to Java, where he continued his studies. The following year, he received the news of the death of his grandfather, the Raja Don Nicolaas Nisnoni. Don Nicolas would be succeeded by Don Alfonsus Nisnoni and therefore Don Leopold became Prince of the Crown of Kupang. He returned to Kupang in 1960.

His European experience had convinced Don Leopold of the need for modernization and infrastructure development for any advanced society. The difficult time that The Netherlands went through in the immediate postwar period, awakened Don Leopold’s awareness of the importance of innovation and modernization that were necessary in Kupang.

On his return he married a Princess Dona Frederika Lino, of the Termanu Dynasty, of the neighboring island of Flores. The couple have two children: Don Alfonso Nisnoni, Prince of the Crown of Kupang and Dona Connie Nisnoni.

Upon the death of his father on November 14, 1992, Don Leopold Isu Nisnoni became the fourteenth Raja of Kupang and Liurai of Sonbai Kecil.

Since becoming head of the Royal House of Kupang, the Raja's primarily concern, as he was convinced in his years in Europe, is the modernization and development of Kupang, as well as the welfare of his people.


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