During the 15th century, Melaka was the dominant Malay state, centred on its port, which controlled traffic through the straits of Malacca. The Portuguese took Melaka in 1511, doing away with the old Malay Sultanate, and making of the port a vital part of its worldwide sea-borne Empire. During the 15th century the Sultanate of Melaka controlled most of the central and southern parts of the Malay Peninsula. The history of Melaka during the 15th century is thus vital to the history of the Malay people: it was in this period that the peninsula finally accepted Islam, its language became a sophisticated medium for all forms of communication and Malay culture became stabilised. During this period, the city of Melaka was a major trading-port with residents from all the peoples who traded through the Straits of Malacca.
In 1612 a history of Melaka from around 1400 down to 1511 was written. This is the Sejarah Melayu. While somewhat romanticised, these Annals are the best account of this vital period in Malay history and culture. They are full of details on the history, politics, trade, religion, customs, life and economy of the city. The Annals contain notes about Admiral Hang Tuah, around whose name an entire cycle of epics (Hikayat Hang Tuah) has been produced. Twenty copies of these Annals are known and scattered in libraries around the world. The two oldest hand-written copies still existing in Malaysia were inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2001. Both are hand-written in Jawi script on paper.