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 Post subject: Sinhalese – Portuguese War: The Battle of Danthure
 Post Posted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:26 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 12:54 pm
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Sinhalese – Portuguese War: The Battle of Danthure (1594)

@ Source: SO, 18 Aug 2011 / By Amal HEWAVISSENTI

By May 1594, the Portuguese were launching the massive operation previously mapped out, to conquer the whole of Sri Lanka. Accordingly, an army of thousands of Portuguese warriors commanded by General Lopez de Suzas left Colombo while another Portuguese army headed by Dona Kathrina left Mannar for the Kandyan Kingdom. The two armies combined at the outskirts of the Kandyan Kingdom and with the least resistance reached Balana. At Balana, the Portuguese and Sinhalese engaged in a fierce battle in which the army commanded by Lopez de Suzas easily defeated the king's army.

Absolutely confident of the victory, the Portuguese army proceeded to Kandy in the following morning. When they reached Kandy, captain Lopez was enthralled to see a depopulated city under a conflagration as the king had set fire to the city and had withdrawn. After arranging a grand banquet for the army in the Kandy palace, Captain Lopez de Suzas promptly informed the king of Portugal of the effortless but momentous conquest of Ceylon.'

While the king was taking refuge in Wellassa with his supporters on tactful withdrawal, the Portuguese ceremonially crowned Dona Kathrina the Fourteen year old queen
in the King's Palace in Kandy. Captain General Lopez offered security for this child queen and she was kept away from the sight of people.

In October 1594, the Portuguese army decided to withdraw to Balana and they were encamped in Gannoruwa on the way. faced with an acute shortage of food, Captain General Lopez sent his men to the village of Halloluwa (Kandy) to plunder and set fire to the temples and the village. While they were busy setting the whole village ablaze, King Wimaladharma Suriya tactfully encircled the Lopez's warriors. In the fierce battle that ensued, the king's warriors (around 7,000) saw all Portuguese soldiers dead and only a few managed to return to Gannoruwa Camp uninjured.

Enraged by the flagrant insolence, the Portuguese army with Lopez de Zuzas, Queen Dona Kathrina and Don Gastan in the vanguard, marched ferociously towards Kandy for the final decisive battle (on October 8). Here, King Wimaladharma Suriya felt that the historic moment which he had been anticipating, was drawing near. By this time Lopez was proceeding victoriously with Asia's largest army in one place with the prime objective of killing the king and capturing the Kandyan Kingdom.

So confident did Lopez feel of the military victory in Kandy that he had even brought his seven year son to the battle field.

King Wimaladharma Suriya's army unexpectedly encircled the Portuguese army at Danthure which witnessed one of the history's fiercest battles being fought. Though surrounded by an enormous Sinhala army, the Portuguese displayed a surprisingly aggressive fighting and an undaunted perseverance. The despondency of Lopez de Zuzas' army redoubled when the best fighters such as Francisku Britu, Don Gastan and Semon Pereira fell dead under the king's attack.

The Portuguese soldiers plunged themselves into a doomsday scenario when they mindlessly entered a vast stretch of paddy fields of Danthure which exposed them to the surrounding Sinhala army. A three hour terrifying engagement left best captains such as Herric Pintu and Diogi Boji dead and soon the army fought under starvation, they managed to kill a large number of Sinhala people and they finally fought with spears throughout the night knowing very well that they had no way out.

In the morning, the Portuguese army commanded by Lopez de Zuzas and Dona Kathrina had to surrender to King Wimaladharma Suriya as there were only 93 who emerged unscathed in the battle fought nightlong. Having taken Lopez and Dona Kathrina into custody, the king marched triumphantly with the surrendered soldiers towards the city of Kandy.

Under the king's command, Captain General Lopez de Zuzas who had sustained serious injuries, was put under special medical supervision. Yet a three days medical treatment could not save him.

He left the guardianship of his son to the king who sent the child to Colombo as promised. Subsequently here the king employed surviving Portuguese fighters in the restoration work in the city of Kandy and others were sent to Colombo.

Having surveyed the security of the princess of Dona Kathrina and the Kandyan Kingdom King Wimaladharma Suriya married her. Yet the strong opposition to the king by the Portuguese never ceased because of the utter humiliation they were thrown into by the unexpected body blow of Danthure defeat.

Methiers de Ulberk, the viceroy of Gova was enraged by the news that the whole army commanded by Lopez ran to havoc and instantly appointed Don Jeromino Azavedu, the new Captain General for Ceylon. He was strongly instructed to take revenge on Konappu Bandara (King Wimaladharma Suriya) and make Sri Lanka surrender to the Portuguese crown.

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