Posted by: lrrp | October 3, 2005

THE ASCENDENCY OF SITAWAKA AND OF PORTUGAL (1550-1635)

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 by Manuel 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 by Nuno 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 comm
ander. 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 by Jorge 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.

AUTHORITIES

For general history see under Chapter VI.; also, Ribeiro, Fatalidade Historica da Ilha de Ceilao, and Joao Rodriguez do Sa e Menezes, Rebellion de Ceylan{J.R.A.S., C.B. xi. No. 41). For the plunder of Kotte and Sitawaka see S. Boteiho’s Thesouro do Rd de Ceildo, Lisbon, Academia Real das Sciencias, 1904. For the Saman Dewale mural tablet see J.R.A.S., C.B; xvi. No. 50, p. 84; the episode of the Jaffna prince was only known on the publication of De Q. p. 367 (Rev. S. 0. Perera, C.A. viii. pp. 1 ff.).
For the `Convention’ of Malwana, see Ribeiro, book i. chap. 9; the better imformed De Q. relates the oath of fealty and the proclamation at Colombo, p. #30, and the Convention arid its objects on pp. 833,834. He also gives the text of the petition of 1636, which mentions the Convention on p. 834. For the embassy to Aracan and the restoration of the Upasampada succession see Rajavansaya (Colombo Museum MS.). The Sinhala dates for t
he accession of Senarat appear in Rajavansaya and the Dambulla Vihara tudupata {Lawrie’s Gazetteer 1. p. 126).
For Be Azevedo’s cruelties see De Q. pp. 400, 401, 488. For the Danish expedition see the ` Diary of Ove Giedde,’ in A Selection from Danish History, Numismatology, Economics, and Language, Johann Heinrich Schiegel, Copenhagen, 1771. The Ambatenna engagement is mentioned in the Parangi Hatane ; the Jornada do Reino de Huua speaks of it as a Portuguese success.
The date of Rajasinha’s accession as co-regent is deduced from his letter to the Governor of Pulicat (J.R.A.S., C.B. xviii. No. 55, p. 169).
For the later kings of Jaffna see Rev. S. Gnana Prakasar, The Kings of Jaffna, Jaffna, 1920.
For De Sa’s disastrous expedition into Uva see Jornada do Reino de Huua, Codice 51, iv. 32, in the Bibliotheca da Ajuda, Lisbon; this account is by an eyewitness.

(From Lakdiva Books Etext prepared by Rhajiv Ratnatunga)

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