WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka

The Portuguese in Sri Lanka (1505-1658)

(@The Lakdiva Books E-text) On November 15, 1505, the Island was first visited by Dom Lourenco de Almeida, who set up the usual padrao at Colombo: this, a rock carved with the arms of Portugal, was in the Customs premises until removed td the Gordon Gardens at the side of Queen's House. The Portuguese made a great impression on the inhabitants of Colombo and according to the Rajavaliya their report to the king ran thus"There is in our harbour of Colombo a race of people fair of skin and comely withal. They don jackets of iron and hats of iron: they rest not a minute in one place: they walk here and there; they eat hunks of stone and drink blood, they give two or three pieces of gold and silver for one fish or one lime; the report their cannon is louder than thunder when it bursts upon the rock Yugandhara. Their cannon balls fly many a gawwa and shatter fortresses of granite.' The Portuguese envoys were conducted to the court by a circuitous way by which they took three days to reach Kotte, lying only six miles from Colombo: this has passed into a proverb in Sinhala, though the Portuguese were not taken in by the trick. In spite of the intrigues of the Muhammadans the so called Moors who had most to lose by the arrival of the foreigners, Dom Lourenco took the king under the protection of Portugal, with a promise of cinnamon as tribute.

Parakrama Bahu had constant trouble with his relatives; civil war was the besetting sin of the dynasty and led to its downfall. In the later months of 1508 he had been very ill, and as Dharma Parakrama Bahu IX and his brother Vijaya Bahu VII both reckon their reigns from 1509, it would appear that he made his sons co-regents with him in that year. In 1513 the king was reported to be dead, leaving his two sons quarrelling over the succession; but it is stated by De Queyroz that in 1518 he was an old man with a white beard, and that Vijaya Bahu, impatient of his father's prolonged life and incapacity to rule, dethroned and subsequently poisoned him. Though he must have been about eighty at his death, it seems likely that his reign actually extended till 1518, when Parakrama Bahu IX. (A.D. 1509-1528 at least) succeeded as senior king. This monarch was of little importance, as he is omitted altogether by certain chronicles, and Vijaya Bahu, whose first grant issued at Kotte is dated in 15 19/20, and his successors apparently ignored his existence. He is given a reign of twenty or twenty-two years in the Rajavaliya, and perhaps spent his last years at Kelaniya.

In 1518, as we have seen, Vijaya Bahu VII. (A.D. 1509-1521) seized the government, and, instigated by the Moors lost no time in sending to the Samorin of Calicut, the suzerain of Malabar, then at war with Portugal, for help to enable him to attack the Portuguese fort of Colombo, which had been erected shortly before. The Sinhala were beaten off, and the king, losing prestige in the war that ensued, ultimately lost his throne and his life in the sacking of Vijaya Bahu' in 1521, at the hands of they sons of himself and his brother Rajasinha by a common wife, the eldest of whom became king as Bhuvanaika Bahu VII. (A.D. 1521-1550). According to other accounts Vijaya Bahu's fall was due to his intention of disinheriting the sons in favour of a young prince whom he had adopted.. The fort was demolished on orders from Portugal in 1524 though a factor was still left in charge of Portuguese interests.

In 1521 the country had been divided between the three brothers,Mayadunne taking practically the modern Province of Sabaragamuwa, with his capital at Sitawaka {Avissawella while Rayigam Bandara received the Walallawiti, Pasdun, and Rayigam Korales in the Galle and Kalutara Districts, the seaports being reserved to t Bhuvanaika Bahu. The hill-country was in the hands of c another king, who asserted complete independence whenever possible. Mayadunne aspired to the throne of Kotte and the overlordship of the Island, and in the years following 1526 an almost continual conflict was waged between himself, aided by the Samorin on the one hand, and Bhuvanaika Bahu supported by the Portuguese on the other. In 1539, however, Mayadunne was forced to make peace, which lasted until 1547.

Bhuvanaika Bahu's daughter had been married to one Vidiye Bandara, and, with the object of making his position more secure against Mayadunne, an embassy was dispatched in 1540 to Lisbon with a golden image of their infant son Dharmapala, requesting that the prince should be installed by the king of Portugal as the heir apparent of the kingdom of Kotte. This settlement of the succession brought Mayadunne into the field, but the claims of a son and nephew of Bhuvanaika Bahu led to a reconciliation for a time. The king of Kandy, under the pretence of conversion, had asked the Portuguese for help against Sitawaka; in 1547 a force set out, but finding the king's sincerity doubtful retired on Colombo, and, to their surprise, were well received by Mayadunne. The two brothers were at war again in 1548, the Portuguese now favouring Mayadunne. This policy did not last. In 1550 the Kotto forces took Sitawaka, but in vain as their Portuguese allies made a disastrous attack on Kandy.In November the new Viceroy Dom Alfonco de Noronha arrived in Colombo, having been driven out of his course on his way to Goa. He was ill-disposed of Bhuvanaika Bahu, suspecting his good faith, and before leaving Lanka directed the king and his brother to keep the peace and to send envoys to Goa. But in the middle of 1551 the king was shot while looking out of a window in his palace in Kelaniya. There are good grounds for suspecting that it was done at Mayadunne's instigation though the crime commonly is attributed to the Viceroy. The death of Bhuvanaika Bahu proved disastrous to the Portuguese, as within a few years the kingdom of Kotte practically was confined to the capital and its neighbour hood: Mayadunne was the real sovereign.

Thus ended the first phase of the Portuguese connection with Lanka. At first trade was their chief concern and the establishment was a factory or trading-station under a factor. The civil strife between the king of Kotte and his brother drove the former into close alliance with Portugal and led to the frequent presence of Portuguese troops. In the second phase the fortress of Colombo with its captain and garrison, maintained for the protection of Dharmapala of Kotte, comes into prominence; the hostility of Mayadunne and his son rendered the new king more and more dependent on foreign help. The third and last phase began when the Portuguese, heirs designato of Kotte, on the crumbling of the Sitawaka realm, annexed the rival capital without trouble and then embarked on a career of conquest. The chief official of this period is the the `Captain General of the Conquest.'

The account of the political divisions of Lanka sented by the schedule attached to Dharmapala's Donation must refer to a period long anterior to 1580, the date of the execution of this document, and so may find a place in this chapter. The states over which the king of Kotte claimed suzerainty were the kingdoms of Sitawaka, of the {Seven) Korales, of Candea or the hill-country, and of Jaffna, and also the principality of the Four Korales There also were various Vanniyarships, who were bound bo by tribute to the king of Kotte. These were the two Panamas; Yala; Wellewaya Kosgama; Wellassa; Palugama; Batticaloa; Kottiyar; Trincomalee: and Puttalam. This last and Yala were held by several Vanniyars, Palugama by two, the others by one each. In the kingdom of Kotte itself were three Disawas, one over Matara, one over the Adikariya of Denawaka with the Agras or gem-pits of Sabaragamuwa. and one over the Adikariya of Nuwarakalawiya, the country forming the western half of the present North Central Province and stretching according to our document from Puttalam to Mannar. Apart from this last Adikariya or jurisdiction, the immediate possessions of Kotte are given as 221 korales, which included the south-west corner of the North-Western Province, with a small exception the whole of the Western and Southern Provinces as far as the Walawe River, and that part of the Ratnapura District to the south of the Kalu-ganga with the great villages Gilimale and Bambarabotuwa. The small exception referred to is the half of Hewagam Korale, which belonged to Sitawaka.

The young Dharmapala (1550-1597) now was set on the throne of Kotte by his father Vidiye Bandara News of his grandfather's death and the rapid defection of his people reached Goa, and the Viceroy hastened to Colombo, more with a view to extortion than to assisting the new ruler. The unfortunate king and his courtiers were robbed of their valuables, and the palace and city systematically plundered. This scandalous action, the more abominable as the victim was under the protection of Portugal, met with strong disapproval at home; restitution was ordered, but with the law's delays little of the stolen property never was recovered by the owners. The Viceroy next set out with Dharmapala for Sitawaka, where he sacked the temple, Berendikovil, the remains of which still exist, but refused to press matters to a conclusion with Mayadunne, when he had the opportunity. The subsequent destruction of Kotte and the loss of the kingdom in a large degree is due to this man. He then sailed from Colombo, leaving secret instructions for the kidnapping of the king's father. This was carried out in 1552, but Vidiye Bandara succeeded in escaping from his prison, and henceforth was the bitter enemy of the Portuguese. At first he allied himself with Mayadunne, whose daughter he married, but soon was the object of attack at his fortress of Pelenda in Kalutara District both by Rajasinha, son of Mayadunne, and by the Portuguese Rajasinha is said by the Sinhala chronicle only to have been eleven years old at the time. His military fame speedily grew, and lie was soon to become the terror of the Portuguese. Vidiye Bandara, after taking ref age in the hill-country, fled to Mundakondapola in Kurunegala District, where he repaid his host by taking his life and usurping his principality. Elected thence by Rajasinha and the Portuguese he fled to Jafnna, where he was murdered in a quarrel, and his treasures fell into the hands of the king of that place. Among these was a relic which the Portuguese were told was Buddha's tooth.

About 1557 Dharmapala received baptism, taking the name of John, with the result that many of his subjects abandoned him. After besieging Kotte Rajasiinha continued the war, and in 1561 defeated the Portuguese in the hard contested battle of Mulleriyawa. Colombo as well as Kotte were invested in 1563, and, though they were relieved; the capital again was besieged in 1564 with such strictness that the garrison was in a precarious condition by the beginning of the following year. The siege was raised once more, but Rajasinha in reality had the advantage, as the Portuguese abandoned Kotte and retired on Colombo, taking Dharmapala with them. Hostilities continued and in 1579-80 Colombo was besieged for one and a half years.. About 1580 Rajasinha turned his attention to Kandy and succeeded in annexing that kingdom, expelling the royal family. The deposed king fled to Trincomalee, but shortly afterwards died of smallpox, designating his nephew, later baptized as Dom Philip, as his successor durirtg the minority of his infant daughter Dona Catharina. Virasundara, a scion of the Peradernya branch of the royal house, had betrayed his own sovereign and joined Rajasinha.But he soon conspired against his new master, who did him to death by treachery; his son Konappu fled to Colombo. In 1581 Mayadunne died, poisoned it was alleged by his son, and Rajasinha thus became master of all Lanka with: the exception of Colombo and the north

The kingdom of Jaffna had not then disturbed by the Portuguese until Christian converts in the Isle and of Mannar were massacred by the king in 1544. Vengeance was not exacted until 1560, when the; Viceroy Dom Constantino De Braganza invaded the peninsula and drove the king into the jungles of the mainland. Tendering his submission, the king took advantage of his return to organize a rising and the Portuguese were compelled to retire. They did not regain their hold on Jaffna until 1591, though Mannar remained in theft hands. It was in the expedition of 1560 that the Portuguese obtained possession of the treasure of Vidiye Bandara and with it of the supposed Tooth Relic. A large sum was offered for its ransom by the king of Pegu, bitt was refused, and the Relic was burnt by the Viceroy at Goa.

Rajasinha I. (A.D. 1581-1593), though a stout warrior, has a somewhat sinister reputation, due among the Portuguese to his persistent hostility and among the Buddhists to his rejection of their faith and his adoption of Hinduism; Having destroyed Kotte, he aimed at the capture of Colombo and the total expulsion; of the Portuguese. The fortress was besieged from 1587 to 1588, early in which year it was relieved. It was at this juncture that the Portuguese ravaged the coast and destroyed the famous Vishnu temple at Dondra. In 1590 Rajasinha again was threatening Colombo. Virasundara's son, Konappu Bandara, known to the Portuguese as Dom John of Austria, had greatly distinguished himself in the late siege; he had no love for Rajasinha, who had murdered his father, and now offered his, services to create a diversion in the Kandyan kingdom. Accordingly he went thither, taking with him the claimant of the throne of the hill-country and his son as well as a Portuguese force. Dom Philip was duly placed upon the throne, and a fort at Gannoruwa built for his protection against Rajasinha. But the new king died suddenly, not without suspicion of treachery; and Konappu, turning upon the Portuguese at Gannoruwa, defeated them and proclaimed himself king wider the name of Vimala Dharma Surya I. {A.D. 1590-1604). In 1592 Rajasinha attacked his new rival, but was defeated; in retiring a bamboo splinter pierced his foot and he died of blood poisoning early in 1593. As he was only eleven years old in 1555 he was under fifty at the time of his death, and the story that he was a centenarian is a myth. With Rajasinha's demise his kingdom collapsed. His favourite general Manamperi deserted to Dharmapala, and with his help the Portuguese soon annexed the Sitawaka dominions and captured the royal princes; among them was Nikapitiye Bandara, who was removed to Portugal and died at Coimbra in 1608.

In 1591 the king of Jafnna was unwise enough to attack Mannar, and in consequence lost his life and throne at the hands of the Portuguese under Andre Furtado. His successor, whose rescue from death by Simao Pinhao is depicted on the mural tablet at the Saman Dewale near Ratnapura, was the creature of Portugal, and from 1593 there were only two powers in the island, the Kandyans under Vimala Dharma Surya and the Portuguese notninally fighting for Dharmapala;. the latter, as we have seen, had taken Sitawaka and recovered most of the old dominions of Kotte with such ease that in.. 1594 they proposed to annex the highland kingdom and place on the throne Dona Catharina, the daughter, of the king expelled by Rajasinha. Pedro Lopes De Sousa, the first `Captain General of the Conquest,' succeeded in entering Kandy, and enthroned the princess. But he alienated the people by surrounding the young queen with Portuguese. Further, Manamperi was suspected of treason and slain; his levies thereupon deserted, and the expedition ended in disaster in the neighbourhood of Gannoruwa. The general was killed and Dona Catharina fell into the hands of Vimala Dharma Surya, who perfected his title by marrying the heiress of Kandy. The `Apostate of Candea' treated the captive Portuguese with great cruelty, mutilating fifty of them and sending these to Colombo `with one eye for each five.'

The Portuguese concentrated at Colombo, awaiting a general rising of the Sinhala. This, however, did not take place, Sitawaka alone revolting, and Dom Jeronimo de Azevedo, who was entrusted as Captain General with orders to retrieve the reputation of Portugal, and arrived in December of this year 1594, lost no time in setting out in company with the. infirm Dharmapala against the rebels. They were crushed, and stockades erected at Menilekadawara and Ruwanwella, as well as at Galle on the site of the later fortress. In 1595, however, a serious rebellion was raised by Domingos Correa, a Sinhala subject of Dharmapala aided by Vimala Dharma Surya, and the old king was compelled, to leave Sitawaka and to fight his way back to Colombo in company with the Portuguese army. For the moment Colombo and Galle alone were left to Dharmapala. But the tables were turned by the arrival of reinforcements, and Correa was defeated, captured and executed in the middle of 1596 The revolt, however, was continued in a less serious form by Simao Correa, the so-called `King of Sitawaka.'

On May 27, 1597, Dharmapala died. His health had been seriously impaired by poison administered by Mayadunne; he was childless, and by his Donation, dated August 12, 1580, had bequeathed his dominions and the overlordship of Lanka to the king of Portugal. Accordingly Philip I. of Portugal and II. of Spain was proclaimed by Dom Jeronimo De Azevedo. The oath of allegiance to the new monarch was taken at Colombo, and thereafter delegates from various divisions of the kingdom were summoned to Malwana to decide whether they would be governed by the laws of Portugal or by those of Lanka the latter were adopted, and the General agreed to maintain them, insisting however on liberty for Christianity. The theory sometimes put forward that the Sinhala accepted the king of Portugal on condition that their custonis were observed is incorrect.

By January 1599 the fortification of Menikkadawara was complete, and this post now became the chief military centre of the Portuguese, and the seat of the Captain Major of the army. The war with Kandy continued with varying fortunes, the difficulties of the Portuguese being increased by rebellions fomented in different parts of the country by Vimala Dharma Surya. Once the king offered peace, but the Portuguese who well knew the `Apostate of Candea,' did not trust him, and hostilities continued waged by either party with incredible ferocity. Tim Portuguese ultimately succeeded in reducing the low country. In 1602 the king attempted to win over Simao Pinhao, the Portuguese commander-in-chief of the lascorins or native levies. On the instructions of De Azevedo, Pinhao pretended to enter into the plot with the object of securing Balane, the stronghold on the Kadugannawa range commanding the old road to Kandy; but his intentions were revealed to the king by a renegade, and, though Balane was stormed in February 1603 the Portuguese found themselves deserted by their native troops and were forced to evacuate the place. The Great Retreat' was conducted by the General, with skill, but the position of the Portuguese in a country in full revolt for a time was precarious: it had improved somewhat by the death of the king in 1604.

In 1602 the Dutchman Joris Spilbergen arrived at Batticaloa and entered into negotiations with Vimala Dharma Surya. He was the forerunner of the Admiral Sebald De Weert, who later in the year also put in at the same port and visited the king. The mission, however, came to nothing, as Vimala Dharma Surya who was pressed to go on board the flagship, was suspicious of De Weert's intentions, and the Admiral, being drunk, insulted the king and was killed, all the Dutchmen on whom he could lay his hands also being massacred. This took: place in June 1603. Such was the inauspicious beginning of the alliance between the Kandyans and the Dutch.

Vimala Dharma Surya showed his zeal for the Buddhist religion, which he had again professed on seizing the Kandyan kingdom, by building a two-storied temple for the Tooth Relic. This he had brought from Delgamuwa, close to Kuruwita in Sabaragamuwa, where it is said to have been kept concealed after its removal from Kotte: its detention there requires further investigation. The king also sent an embassy to Aracan for the purpose of renewing the priestly succession, which once more had failed, and in A.B. 2146 (A.D. 1603/4) held a great Ordination festival at Getambe near Kandy.

Vimala Dharma Surya died in 1604, leaving his kingdom to his first cousin Senarat (1604-1635), a priest, who threw off his robes and married, his predecessor's widow, Dona Catharina. His accession is dated by Sinhala authorities in A.B. 2147 (A.D. 1604) and in A.B. 2152 (A.D. 1609/10), the succession having been disputed by Mayadunne of Uva. The Portuguese naturally took advantage of the civil war to improve their position, and in 1611 advanced to Balane and burnt Kandy. This campaign was followed by a truce.

On `March 8, 1612, the Dutchman Marcellus De Bosehouwer arrived at the Sinhala capital, and on May 11 entered into an agreement with the king, undertaking to secure help from the Netherlands East India Company': his stay in Lanka however, was prolonged for three years.

In December 1612 Dom Jeronimo de Azevedo became Viceroy. In eighteen years he had reduced all the districts below Balano: his most famous exploit was the `Great Retreat.' His character is stained by the atrocious cruelty with which he carried On the' war with' Kandy and suppressed the revolts, `in Portuguese territory. De Queyroz definitely states `that' no accusation of the kind was made against him during his administration elsewhere, and that he resorted to these excesses in retaliation for those perpetrated by Vimala Dharma Surya, to oust whom was his dream. Stern measures doubtless were necessary in dealing with the situation, but nothing can excuse Be Azevedo's actions. His methods did not meet with the approval of the authorities in Portugal, and his imprisonment in Lisbon, though on another account, was thought' by some to be a retribution for his brutalities in Lanka,

His successor was Dom Francisco de Meneses. The king, holding that he was no longer bound by the truce now that De Azevedo had departed, broke the peace. The Captain General retaliated by invading the Kandyan territory, but on retiring was attacked at Balane whence on being re]ieved he went to his. headquarters at Malwana. His place was taken in May 1614 byManuel Mascarenhas Homem, who arrived with minute instructions from the Viceroy for the reform of the army and of the native levies, and for the putting down of eppressiop and rapine by the soldiers and others. The War was to be prosecuted without mercy, no male over fourteen years of age being spared, and the king waste be cut off from his commerce at Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Jaffna, which last kingdom Was to be reduced to the position of a Portuguese dependency. The impotence of Senarat was shown by three expeditions, undertaken by the. General in 1615: in January the Portuguese overran Gampola, Maturata and Badulla, returning to Malwana by way of Sabaragamuwa; in August, Tumpane, Harispattu and Matale were plundered; and a third campaign ensued towards the end of the year. The same policy was continued byNuno Alvares Pereira, who became Captain General in 1616.

The good fortune of the Portuguese, however, received a severe check by the appearance. of a pretender claiming to be the Sitawaka prince Nikapitiye Bandara. The revolt began in the Seven Korales, and with assistance from Kandy soon became general. The Portuguese were in straits, but in 1617 luckily the pretender quarrelled with Senarat, one `of whose queens he had asked to wife. Meanwhile one Barreto, a Sinhala, rebelled in Sabaragamuwa both against the king and against the Portuguese, and secured possession of this province as well as that of Matara, thus holding the greater part of the south-west of the Island. The self-styled Nikapitiyo Bandara, however, was defeated and fled, and in July the Four and Seven Korales had made their submission. Senarat already had sued for peace,. but the removal of the pretender encouraged him, and by the treaty of August 24, 1617, he secured Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Panama, paying the king of Portugal two elephants yearly. The Portuguese now were free to turn against Barreto. Nikapitiye, however, reappeared in the Seven Korales, but was soon beheaded after a battle by the Portuguese commander. Barreto seems to have been left alone, as when Constantino De Sa de Noronha succeeded in 1618 he found the army a lawless rabble in consequence of the peace.

The new Captain General set about the restoration of discipline, built a stronghold at Sabaragamuwa and laid the foundations of the fortress of S. Cruz at Galle, which was completed in 1625. Mayadunne, who had fled to India, now returned and, supported by Barreto, came to an open rupture with Senarat; he was attacked by De Sa and his capital Meddegama burnt. Jaffna now occupied the General's attention. The king set up by Furtado died in 1615, and the royal power was wielded in the name of his infant son by one Sanga. The regent's attitude `towards the Portuguese was equivocal: he had given an asylum to Nikapitiye Bandara and was about to be supported by a Malabar fleet. De Sa, therefore, in spite of the danger of dividing his forces, in 1619 dispatched his Captain Major Philippe de Oliveira to deal with Jaffna: the kingdom was reduced to subjection, the native dynasty deposed, and Sangili himself captured and sent to Goa, where he was tried and executed. Attempts to recover the country were made in the two. following years by the Naik of Tanjore, who claimed to be the suzerain, but without success. The fort of Our Lady of Miracles was built at Jaffna, and the kingdom remained a Portuguese province until its capture by the Dutch in. 1658.

About this time a new European power appeared in Lanka. Marcellus do Boschouwer had left the Kandyan Court in 1615, and after trying to get the Dutch at Batavia to come to Senarat's assistance, sailed for Holland. Here. he quarrelled with the Company and in 1617 went to Denmark. In that country an East India Company had been formed, and King Christian, after concluding a treaty with the Kandyan plenipotentiary, fitted out a squadron under the command of Ove Giedde. Do Boschouwer died on the voyage. The Danes on their arrival in Lanka in 1620 were mortified at finding that the document purporting to be the appointment of the Dutchman as the Kandyan envoy was a forgery, and that Senarat refused to confirm the treaty of 1618. A new engagement, however, was concluded at Bintenna on August 22, 1620, by which the king ceded to, Denmark the territory of Trincomalee with permission to build a fort. But this fort was never finished, and the newcomers were expelled by the Portuguese. About this time Barreto was killed and Mayadunne, who had stirred' up the Seven Korales once more fled to India.

In 1622 De Sa was replaced for a short time byJorge de Albuquerque, who built a fort at Kalutara, but resumed the government in the following year. During this period of administration he built forts at Trincomalee (1624), and later at Batticaloa (1628), with the objective of controlling the Kandyan trade, and improved the fortifications at Colombo, Galle (1625) and Menikkadawara (1627). He also attempted to reform the civil government, and put a stop to the sale of munitions to and private trade with the Kandyan king on the part of the Portuguese officials. It was in 1626 that on the orders of King Philip be expelled the Moors, the inveterate enemies of the Portuguese; a large number were settled by the Kandyan Court in the neighbourhood of Batticaloa, where their descendants are still to be found.

De Sa had orders to preserve the peace but to be ready for war should it become necessary to break off relations with Kandy. The building of the stronghold at Batticaloa in 1628 led to hostilities on the part of the king, who found himself encircled by a ring of fortresses on the coast. This he attempted to stop, and encouraged by the death of De Oliveira sent troops to cause a diversion at Jaffna. But De Sa took the opportunity afforded by the division of the enemy forces and invaded the Kandyan territory. In 1629 the Captain General again invaded and succeeded in burning Kandy; Senarat, or rather his son Rajasinha, claimed to have inflicted a reverse on the Portuguese at Ambatenna, but its date is uncertain. Both sides were exhausted, and the king sued for peace, pending, according to De Queyroz, the maturing of the plot to entrap the Captain General with his army in Uva, and to seize Colombo behind his back, in which Dom Theodosio and three other Sinhala chiefs in the Portuguese service were engaged. De Sa was ready to agree, but received orders from the Viceroy to reduce Kandy once and for all, and against his better judgment prepared to carry out his instructions.It was about this time that Rajasinha II., who in a letter to the Dutch in 1636 dates his accession, seven years before, was made co-regent with his father. The plot was now ready and Rajasinha's half brother Kumarasinha made two incursions into Portuguese territory, retiring into Uva. On the entreaties of the conspirators De Sa advanced to punish the prince. Badulla was burnt, but the Portuguese army, deserted by the native levies, fell into a trap and was annihilated at Randeniwela in Lower Uva, the General himself losing his life, on August 24, 1630. The defeat was disastrous to the Portuguese arms: the whole country few into the king's hands, and Colombo itself was first closely besieged and then blockaded for three months. In 1631 a new plot to kill the new Captain General, Dom Philippe Mascarenhas, and to seize Colombo was discovered. He was succeeded in October of this year by Dom Jorge de Almeida, who arrived with instructions to treat with the king for the recovery of the Portuguese prisoners. He had been in hopes of recovering the Portuguese territories without war in. view of the king's known desire for peace, but on the failure of his negotiations advanced in January 1632 and carried the `Great Stockade' at Gurubebile (Hanwella), where one of the slain was an English mastergunner in the Kandyan service. Born Theodosio, one of the Sinhala conspirators against De Sa, now quarrelled with the king and made his peace with the Portuguese, and an almost general submission ensued. The king, who was more afraid of Dom Theodosio than of De Alameida, soon sued for peace, and a treaty was signed at Goa on April 15, 1633. By this the rights of the three sons of Bona Catharina were recognized, the king paid an annual tribute of one elephant, and the Portuguese were confirmed in the possession of Batticaloa and recovered their prisoners. But the king, on the execution of Dom Theodosio by the Portuguese, refused to ratify the treaty, rejecting the stipulation of vassalage. Diogo de Mello de Castro (1633-1635, 1636-1638), the new Captain General, prepared to fight, but in January 1634, at the very last moment, the king changed his mind and decided to adhere to the Goa treaty. De Mello's government was interrupted for a short period by the restoration of De Almeida (1635-1636), whose rule was only signalized by a successful mutiny of the troops.

SENARAT had divided his kingdom between his own son Rajasinha, to whom were allotted the `Five Countries above the mountains,' practically the modem Kandy District, with the title of king, and the other sons of Dona Catharina, Kumarasinha and Vijayapala, who obtained Uva and Matale respectively. Kumarasinha was poisoned by Rajasinha before Senarat's death, which took place in 1635, and the youngest prince became sole king as Rajasinha II. (A.D. 1635-1687). The treaty of 1634 was not very strictly observed, and the new sovereign speedily called in the assistance of the Dutch in 1636, offering them a fort at Kottiyar or Batticaloa and guaranteeing the expenses of the fleet. The authorities of the East India Company at Batavia, who already had their eyes on the Lanka cinnamon trade, seized the opportunity and instructed their Admiral, Adam Westerwold, who was setting out to blockade Goa, to call at Lanka on his return voyage. Meanwhile envoys were sent to Rajasinha, at whose court they arrived in 1637. After some negotiations they in company with three Sinhala went on to join Westerwold off Goa, and were witnesses of an action between the Dutch and Portuguese fleets, in which the latter was worsted in January 4, 1638. The Admiral then decided to send in advance of himself the Vice-Commandeur Coster with a small squadron, which arrived at Trincomalee on April 3.

Meanwhile the Captain General Diogo de Mello was indignant at what he termed Rajasinha's treachery in dealing, with the Dutch, to prevent which he intrigued with the Prince of Matale; he was further incensed by a private quarrel with the king, and invaded his dominions. Randy was burnt, but the Portuguese were cut up and the General himself killed at Gannoruwa on March 28, 1638. As usual a widespread revolt ensued, and the king reduced all the Portuguese territory but did not attack the fortressesDom Antonio Mascarenhas arrived in May as Captain General (1638-1640), but remained inactive until the end of the year, when on receiving reinforcements he set out to recover the low-country for the Crown of Portugal, in which he succeeded early in 1639.

Coster appeared before Batticaloa on April. 8, 1638, and prepared for an attack on the fort. He was joined on May 10 by Westerwold, and a few days later Rajasinha made his appearance with an army. The repeated orders of the king of Portugal issued as early, as 1617 for the proper fortification of Trincomalee and Batticaloa had been ignored by the local Government, and as a result the garrison was compelled to surrender on May 18. Westerwold now entered into a treaty with the king. This was signed on the twenty-third and provided for a practical monopoly of the export trade of Lanka by the Dutch: in return for the assistance given by them to the king, who moreover bound himself to pay all expenses and to hold no communication with the Portuguese. By the third article, which later gave rise to much trouble, all Portu guese forts captured were to be garrisoned by the Dutch, provided that the king did not require them to be de molished. This proviso appeared in the Portuguese copy signed by him; it was absent, however, from the Dutch

Shortly afterwards Westerwold left for Batavia, leaving Coster behind at Batticaloa.Trincomalee capitulated on May 2, 1639, the royal forces only appearing after the Dutch had entered the fort. The king then desired that Colombo should be taken. The Council at Batavia, in spite of their unfavourable opinion of Rajasinha's trust worthiness decided to comply with his wishes, but held it necessary to enter into a more binding agreement, by which all forts taken should be held by the Dutch. The fleet dispatched for the purpose under the command of Philip Lucasz, with Coster as Vice-Admiral, arrived at Trincomalee in December, only to find that the garrison had been deliberately starved by Rajasinha. Early in January 1640 the fleet sailed for Colombo, but see that it was hopeless to carry the place owing to failure of Rajasinha to appear landed the troops near Negombo, where they were joined later on by the Sinhala. Negombo was taken on February 4, and was garrisoned by the Dutch, at which Rajasinha took umbrage and retired. Coster, however, succeeded in inducing the king to enter into a new agreement; in this it was settled that when the Portuguese had been completely expelled from Lanka the Dutch should retain only one fort, but that they should hold Negombo and the other forts until all the expenses, of the war had been paid, and that Colombo, when captured, should be demolished unless the king decided that it should be kept as a fortress, in which case it was to be garrisoned by the Dutch. The king's indebtedness in this year amounted to 310,790 pieces-of-eight.

The fleet now sailed southwards, and Galle was stormed on March 13, the Sinhala again arriving too late to take part in the fighting. The king was still dissatisfied with the Dutch, and Coster followed him to Kandy in the hope of bringing about a better understanding. Nothing came of the negotiations, and Coster leaving in disgust was murdered on his way back to Batticaloa by the Sinhala. The king, though he expressed his regret, clearly was better pleased to see the Dutch and Portuguese fight each other than to give the former loyal assistance and ensure the fall of Colombo, which was then feasible. The position of the Dutch in the Island between the Sinhala and the Portuguese was not happy.

The Captain General Dom Philippe Mascarenhas (1640-1645) arrived with reinforcements and retook Negombo on November 9, 1640. The Portuguese, thought not strong enough to besiege Galle, encamped in the neighbouring country and towards the end of the year reduced to obedience the Four and Seven Korales, while Rajasinha held Sabaragamuwa. Things went still better in their favour owing to the civil war, which broke onto in 1641 in the Kandyan territory between the king and Vijayapala. The latter, however, was compelled to fly to Colombo, but, instead of being kept as a weapon against Rajasinha, was sent to Goa in compliance with an old order of the king of Portugal that heathen princes were not to be restored unless converted to the Christian faith; he died in exile in 1654. His removal to Goa may have been due to his intrigues with the Dutch in 1643.

From June 1642 Galle was closely blockaded by land, Rajasinha giving his allies no assistance, until February 1643 when news was brought of the treaty of peace lasting ten years entered into between the Dutch and John IV., the first of the restored native dynasty of Portugal, which had thrown off the Spanish yoke in December 1640. But the Dutch under Jan Thyszoon (1640-1646) claimed the country round Galle as the appurtenance of the fortress, though they were not in possession. The matter was referred to Goa, and the Viceroy refusing to comply with the Dutch demands the war continued. Towards the end of the year the Dutch were reinforced; in January 1644 they retook Negombo and made an attempt on Colombo, but failed. Later on in the year orders were received from Portugal to give up all territories belonging exclusively to the forts held by the Dutch at the time of their publication at Goa; a truce to last for eight years was signed on November 10, 1644, and the agreement as to the details at Colombo on January 10 following. The Portuguese thus lost far more than they would have bad hostilities ended in 1643 for the Dutch now obtained part of the Seven Korales in the neighbourhood of Negombo as well as the whole of the Matara disavany or province south of the Bentota River. The boundary between the present Western and Southern Provinces dates from this treaty.

Rajasinha, from whom the Company had suffered more than from the avowed enemy, was most indignant at the partition of what he considered as his dominions between the two European powers, the more so as they had concluded on March 9, 1645, a treaty for mutual protection against the highlanders. The Dutch endeavoured to pacify him, but he demanded the withdrawal of their troops from the Seven Korales to Negombo. In May Thyszoon declared war, goaded to this step by Rajasinha's depredations, but did not enjoy much success. His action was disapproved of at Batavia, and he was superseded as Governor in 1646 by Joan Maatzuyker (1646-1650). Van der Stel was dispatched in May to withdraw the troops to Negombo, but unluckily coming into coffision with the royal forces, who had advanced so far with the connivance of the Portuguese, imprudently, provoked an encounter, in which he and almost all their men lost their lives. The Dutch' garrison in the Seven Kora]es surrendered and were taken prisoners to Kandy. The king now demanded the destruction of Negombo, regardless of Coster's treaty and of his own desire expressed the previous year that the place should be held by the Dutch. Maatzuyker took `a firm attitude and openly enquired whether Rajasinha wished peace or war: the former he declared to be impossible unless the prisoners were restored. In 1647 an ambassador was sent to the Court but without result; the Portuguese were negotiating with Rajasinha, who entered into an alliance with them in spite of Maatzuyker's threat that if the Dutch went to war with the Portuguese they would hold the fortresses taken in the flame of the States General and not in that of the king. In 1649, however, the king, who in order to prevent the collection of cinnamon by the Dutch had depopulated the Pitigal Kerale, had veered round once more, released the ambassador sent two years before, and negotiated a new treaty, which differed little from that of 1638 save that the Company no longer was to have the monopoly of cinnamon. In this instrument the treaty with Westerwold is rehearsed, with the missing words of the third article duly inserted in the Dutch. In 1650 Maatzuyker was succeeded by Van Kittensteyn (1650-1653). The Dutch felt no reliance in Rajasinha's good faith, and their position was made more difficult by the king's claim to appoint the Disawas or provincial governors in the territory held by them. As early as 1650 Rajasinha alleged a breach of the new treaty, and the relations between the two allies continued strained until 1652, when hostilities were recommenced with the Portuguese.

The Captain General, Manoel Mascarenhas Homem, who had succeeded Philippe Mascarenhas in 1645, wished to concentrate his forces at Colombo and abandoned Kalutara, which the Dutch at once occupied. The army was suspicious that he intended betraying them to the Dutch, and mutinied at Menikkadawara; it then advanced on Colombo, pursued by the king's forces, and under Gaspar Figucira deposed the Captain General and kept him in custody. Figucira, who held the real power and was a man of energy, attacked the Dutch towards Negombo, on January 8, 1653, defeated them at Anguruwatota in Kalutara District, and then turned on the king in the Four Korales, stationing his forces at Arandara. On May 10 Francisco de Mello de Castro (1653-1655) arrived to succeed Homem, whom he released; he brought a pardon for the mutineers which they refused to accept, holding that they had saved the Portuguese possessions in the Island. The war continued, generally in favour of the Portuguese, Kalutara falling into their hands after a blockade lasting from July 1653 to March 1654. But the Dutch were only awaiting reinforcements, which at length arrived under Gerard Hulft, Director General of the land and sea forces, in September 1655. The days of the Portuguese were numbered. On October 14 Kalutara surrendered. The Dutch at once closed on Colombo, and after a desperate resistance, in which the garrison was reduced to famine, Antonio de Sousa Coutinho (1655-1656), was obliged to capitulate on May 12, 1656, after a siege lasting six months and twenty-seven days, to the Governor Van der Meyden (1653-1662), Hulft having been killed on April 10. Rajasinha had only appeared early in 1656. The Dutch clearly were anxious not to have the shifty king too near during the operations; his presence with his army actually contributed little or nothing to the issue of the siege. The defence of Colombo against overwhelming odds was the most gallant feat of the Portuguese in Lanka

THE PORTUGUESE ADMINISTRATION, 1597-1656

The Portuguese Government of Lanka was subject to the Viceroy at Goa. At its head was the Captain General, with his residence at Malwana he was spoken of by the natives as the king of Malwana, with the title of Highness He was assisted by a Vedor da Fazenda, in charge of the revenue, and by an Ouvidor or judge. The `City of St. Lawrence' or Colombo was administered by a Chamber or municipal body.

The country. was divided into four disavanies or pro vinces; each under a Disawa or governor, who possessed much greater powers than under the native kings. These provinces were Matara, including the whole of the pre\esent Southern Province and the Kolonna Korale, the Kalutara District and the Salpiti Korale; the Four Korales, comprising the northern part of the Kegalla District with the Siyane and Hapitigam Korales; the Seven Korales, or the Alutkuru Korale, the whole of the North Western Province, and in theory much of the North Central; and Sabaragamuwa, that is the Three Korales and Bulatgama of Kegalla District, the Howagam Korale, and the Ratnapura District less Kolonna Korale. The disavanies thus radiated from Kotte. A Disawa of Negombo appears in 1640. Each Korale or division of a disavany was under an Adigar, the later Korale Vidane or Korala, each pattu or subdivision was under an Atukorala, while in each village were mayorals or kariyakaranno, supervised by a Vidane in the case of the royal villages and those granted during pleasure or for a life or term of lives to Portuguese and others. All or almost all the land was held by service tenure, often military in character; there was little revenue in cash. Royal monopolies were:
Cinnamon, first collected by the Balagama people under Rajasinha I. They were organized under the Captain of the Mahabadda;
Areca and pepper, which the owners were compelled to sell to the Government at a fixed price;
Precious stones, in Sabaragamuwa;
Elephants, which were sold in India; and, lastly, the Pearl Fishery.

The Disawas possessed civil, including judicial, as well as military jurisdiction over the natives of the country. Further, a tribunal of the Captain General's `banacas' (banneka or basnayaka) or secretaries assisted him in the disposal of such cases as came before him. Every year what may be called assizes were held in the country, for the primary purpose of collecting the marala or death duty, one maralleiro for each disavany appointed by the Bandigerala, originally perhaps a treasury officer, visiting his province, assisted by two interpreters of the laws, a sheriff and a secretary. Under the native kings, if there were no male heir to a service holding, the whole eseheated to the Crown; otherwise it was heritable on payment of one-third of the movables of the deceased. This last share was that taken by the Portuguese in the former ease also, Christians being exempted from this impost. The assizes dealt not, only with the estates of deceased persons, but also with civil and criminal matters, such as debt, theft, and murder. If the murderer was arrested within sixty days the General or Disawa condemned him to death offhand, but had no power to do so after the elapse of that period, when the criminal could confess at the assizes and compound. No such privilege, however, existed where a low caste man had killed one of high caste. Questions of caste such as irregular marriages also came before the assizes, and the ordeals of oil, red hot iron, and the like were in use. A sanctuary existed. at Galle for all crimes save treason, false coining, and murder of a sheriff or judge. The system of criminal jurisprudence should be compared with that prevailing in the tenth century.

In military matters the Captain Major of the Field was the chief Portuguese officer under the Captain General; his headquarters were at Menikkadawara. The principal fortresses were Colombo, Galle and Jaffna. The Portuguese troops wore either casados or married men, only called upon in an emergency, and the soldados, `whose. discipline practically disappeared in time of peace, all who then were little better than brigands. This is not surprising, `as at one time service in Lanka was an alternative to prison. The native levies or Lascarins were under the Disawa, and under the supreme command of the Vikramasinha, the Senevirad of earlier times.: He alone under the kings of Kotte with the exception of the royal family was allowed the use of a palanquin. The Lascarins, who served for fifteen days at a time, were armed with swords, bows and arrows, spears or muskets. The artilery attached to these levies consisted of gingals; these were light portable pieces of ordnance, somewhat after the fashion of an enormous pistol supported in front by two. legs and throwing a ball of some four to twelve ounces in weight, and were fired by the gunner in a sitting posture. The Portuguese do not seem to have employed elephants in warfare, though these beasts were used by Rajasinha I. in besieging Colombo, and, with swords and knives fastened to their trunks, were wont to lead the van of the Sinhala army.

Jaffna was under a separate administration, subject however to the Captain General, the chief officers being the Captain Major of the Kingdom, the Factor and the Ouvidor. Mannar was under a Captain, who lost much of his importance when Jaffna was conquered.

In ecclesiastical affairs the Island formed part of the diocese of Cochin, whose Bishop governed through a Vicar Genral. The first missionaries were Franciscans, but shortly after 1600 the Jesuits, the Dominicans, and the Augustinians came into the field in addition to the secular clergy. The Franciscans had been given the temple villages by Dharmapala in 1591, but were deprived of them by the civil authorities, whose indifference and opposition to the enterprise of the clergy was a matter of grievance. In the three Franciscan' Colleges,' attached to `the monasteries, there were taught religion, good manners (viores), reading, writing and arithmetic, singing, and Latin. There were also parish schools; of these in Jaffna the Franciscans had twenty-five and the Jesuits twelve. The latter Order also had colleges in Jaffna and Colombo for higher education. All education was free.

So much has been published as to the iniquities of the Portuguese that little remains to be said. Corruption and peculation prevailed in all departments of the administration. The Sinhala had chosen to abide by their own laws at the meeting at Malwana in 1597. These were never codified, and much of the tyranny and violence suffered by the people was due to the Portuguese under the influence of avarice carrying out the native system of government to its logical conclusion, regardless of the restraining influence of custom. For example, areca undoubtedly was a monopoly of the last Kandyan kings, and we have seen in the tenth century that fruit trees could be cut down in the villages: both these rights were carried to excess by the new lords to the total impoverishment of the people. Under the old government the chiefs had a wholesome fear of the king, who, if a strong ruler, suffered no tyrant but himself; under the Portuguese every lord of a village, nay, every petty headman, assumed powers which would not have been tolerated before. It must be remembered that the worst enemies of the villager often were his own fellow-countrymen; the Vidanes were as bad as any Portuguese village lord, and the Lascarins in 1636 actually prayed for Portuguese instead of Sinhala Mudaliyars and Arachchis, a prayer curiously reminiscent of a similar request by the people at Kandy in 1815.

In the army the total lack of discipline in time of peace and the peculation of their pay by their superiors turned soldiers into armed highway robbers. The constant wars added to the harassing of the people by perpetual services led to the depopulation of much of the country, and at the end of the Portuguese rule the Disavany of Matara could only supply 1500 Lascarins against 4000 under De Azevedo. The popular discontent was not allayed by the destruction of the temples, an unwise proceeding in the unsettled state of the country, though it is only fair to say that in certain cases, such as that of the Munnessaram. pagoda, the temples were destroyed in retaliation for the burning of churches.

But there is another side to the picture We must put a De Sa against a De Azevedo. The clergy, though they were keen on the service of His Majesty as well as on the service of God, usually were on the side of the people against their oppressors. The fact that their converts, as in Japan, retained the Christian religion in spite of lack of clergy and active persecution by the Dutch, speaks much in their favour, and such a result cannot have come from a nation wholly bad. In another sphere to the Portuguese is due the introduction of chillies, tobacco, and a number: of foreign fruit trees. And one cannot withhold admiration for the pluck and endurance with which a few hundred men, fighting in a tropical climate, succeeded in reducing so large a territory. It is interesting to speculate what the history of Lanka would have been had the Portuguese not ventured to India. There seems to be little doubt that the kingdom of Vijayanagar would have collapsed earlier than it did, and that the south of India and with it possibly Lanka would have fallen under Muhammadan rule.

We hear much of `Sinhala perfidy' in the Portuguese writers. Their complaint, however, does not seem to come into prominence until the reduction of the low-country by the Portuguese after the death of Rajasinha I., when the inhabitants, whose sympathies naturally lay with the native dynasty, were harried by the Kandyans if they remained faithful to Portugal, and by the Portuguese if they sided with Kandy. The charge is far more true in the case of the Kandyan Government, on whose word no reliance was to be placed; even here it may be held that treachery was the refuge of the weaker power. But this characteristic was evident in the Kandyan dealings with the Dutch, who put up with much for the sake of peace and is shown in its worst form in the massacre of the British troops in 1803

According to De Queyroz the kingdom of Kandy comprised the principalities of Uva, Matale, Gampola, Batticaloa, Panama, Kottiyar, and at one time Trincomalee, of which the last four were held by Vanniyars; the Disavanies of Tisrispattu, Pansiyapattu or Dumbara, Udunuwara and Yatinuwara, all in the neighbourhood of the capital; and the territories of Bintenna, Wellassa, and Maturata, administered by Vidanes.

(@The Lakdiva Books Etext prepared by Rhajiv Ratnatunga (rhajiv@lakdiva.net)


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