Following Gajah Mada's return in 1331 AD from suppressing a rebellion in Sadeng (eastern Java), it wasn't long before he launched his campaigns to conquer the neighboring islands of the Indonesian archipelago, beginning with Bali and Lombok in 1343. One by one he captured kingdoms and cities, states and provinces, all for the glory of his people. These included the Buddhist kingdom of Sriwijaya in Palembang and small kingdoms in West Sumatra, where Gajah Mada installed a Majapahit prince as a vassal ruler. The Elephant General then conquered Samudra Pasai in Sumatra, the first Muslim sultanate in Indonesia. Following this victory, in the span of two years Majapahit forces overran another half-dozen independent cities and kingdoms, including Temesek (now known as Singapore) across the straits.
Tribhuwana abdicated the Majapahit throne in 1350 AD in favor of her son Hayam Wuruk, considered the greatest of the kings of the Majapahit. During his reign the empire reached its greatest extent, encompassing the whole of the Indonesian archipelago. Trade and the arts flourished under the king. The new king was content to leave the affairs of the nation to his prime minister, while he himself patronized the arts and sciences. With the tacit support of the king, Gajah Mada proceeded to add two dozen kingdoms to the empire, some as far away as modern-day Malaysia and the southern Philippines.
Having conquered more than a dozen islands within the archipelago by 1357, Gajah Mada found himself in a difficult position, with one of the last remaining independent kingdoms being the Sunda in West Java. Although plans had been laid for the princess of the Sunda to marry the Hayam Wuruk, forming an alliance, Gajah Mada sought to press the Sunda further. By denying that the Sunda princess would become Queen Consort of Majapahit and instead be only a concubine, Gajah Mada enraged Sunda sensibilities. In meeting the wedding party at the town of Bubat, the negoiations degenerated into open hostility, and a skirmish ensued. Gajah Mada and his forces massacred the entire Sunda royal family and its bodyguard.
The incident marred the legacy of Gajah Mada as his actions were seen as reckless and heavy-handed. Majapahit ministers and courtiers condemned him as bloodthirsty and brutal. The king stripped Gajah Mada of his titles, authority and honors. The once most-powerful man in the empire would spend the rest of his days in relative solitude at his remaining estate in East Java. Gajah Mada would die in relative obscurity in 1363 AD.