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Vimala Dharma Suriya I of Kandy

Reception of Admiral Joris Spilbergh (left) at the court of the Maharaja of Candia  (Ceylon) ( Center with hat in hand ) July 1602
(Museum voor Land en Volkenkunde
Rotterdam)

In 1582 Virasundara Bandara a Kandyan Chief assisted Rajasinha I of Sitavaka (Sitavaka Rajasinha, it was at his hands that the Portuguese suffered their first major military defeat in Asia, and later he beseiged the Portuguese in their Fort in Colombo) in his successful war against the Kandyans. Later as a result of an uprising by the Kandyans in favour of Virasundara Bandara he was put to death by Rajasinha.

Virasundara Bandara's son Konappu Bandara escaped to the Portuguese and was baptised a christian and renamed Don Juan. In 1592 the Portuguese marched on Kandy with Don Juan and occupied it. The same year Don Juan who was a Kandyan was approached by the Kandyan chiefs and turned tables on the Portuguese, ordering them to quit their posts or expect no quarter. They had no option and capitulated.

In 1592 Konappu Bandara baptised as Don Juan, abandoned Christianity and was crowned by the Kandyans, Vimala Dharma Suriya I of Kandy. He married Princess Kusumasana ( who had also been baptised as Dona Catherina) the daughter of the former king of Kandy, Karaliadde Bandara.

Vimala Dharma Suriya I as all the other Kandyan rulers controlled the East Coast with Trincomalee and Batticaloa the chief ports of the Kandyan Kingdom.

On 2nd June 1602 Admiral Joris van Spilbergen came on land at Santhamuruthu in the East coast and was met by the Kings Dissawa. In July the above meeting took place between the Admiral and Vimala Dharma Suriya I of Kandy. The king and the Kandyan court spoke Portuguese and Spilbergen records that he was welcomed the Portuguese, not Sinhalese fashion.

In November 1602 three Dutch ships came to anchor in Batticaloa. These were part of the combined fleet of fourteen ships under the command of Admiral Wijbrand van Waarwijk. The Vice Admiral, Sebald de Weert, went ashore at Batticaloa where he was well received by the local King and from whence he proceeded to Kandy to see the King who greeted him with much honour and friendship.

The Vice Admiral, Sebald de Weert, returned to Ceylon in April 1603. The Kings ambassador, Mudaliyar Emanuel Dias who had accompanied the Vice Admiral from 1602 to 1603 informed the King that Sebald de Weert had, against his advice released some Portuguese who had been captured when the dutch had seized four Portuguese vessels. The King who was in Bintenne at the time, was furious and made his way to Batticaloa.

During a meeting between the King and De Weert in Batticaloa, De Weert's behaviour was seen to be insulting to the King. The King rose immediately and seething with anger called to his men " Bandapan Mae Balla " ( bind this Dog ). In the ensuing struggle the Prince of Uva gashed the Vice Admirals Head with his sword, killing him instantly.

Extract from Dr. R.K.De Silva's "Illustrations and views of Dutch Ceylon 1602 - 1796"

WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka