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Encyclopedia > Portuguese Ceylon

The first Portuguese visiting Ceylon was Dom Lourenço de Almeida in 1505 or 1506. Accidentally, after a storm, adverse winds drove him to the island’s coast near Galle. In the last months of the years 1505 or 1506 Dom Lourenço’s fleet anchored off Colombo. A memorial of this first landing was erected on a boulder overlooking the Bay of Colombo. The Portuguese called it a "Padrao" and a cross above the Royal Arms of Portugal surmounted it. This landmark was still seen in 1920 (now?) bearing the inexplicable date of 1501.

A treaty was concluded with the King of Kotte, than residing in the city of Kotte, about two hours by foot from Colombo. The Island was divided in four Kingdoms: Kotte, the most important, Sitawaka, Kandy, in the mountains, and Jaffna in the North. In 1518, the Viceroy Lopo Soares de Albergaria landed at Colombo with a large fleet. Here the Portuguese began to build a small fort named "Nossa Senhora das Virtudes" or "Santa Barbara". This first fort was a triangular in shape surmounted by a central tower. Sinhalese soon besieged the fort, and around 1524 the Portuguese dismantle it. The Portuguese kept an Agent in the Island under the protection of the Sinhalese King at Kotte. Giving up of Colombo was a mistake. The colony of Muslims merchants immediately attempted to win back their supremacy in the Kingdon of Kotte and to re-conquer the cinnamon trade. However, they were to be defeated by the few Portuguese still presents in the Island. The Mappillas (Malabar Muslims) that up to 1539 nourished a dynastic conflict in the Kingdoms of Sitavaka and Kotte, opposed the Portuguese presence in Ceylon. Martin Afonso de Sousa, at Vedelai in 1538, and Miguel Ferreira, at Negombo in 1539 would definitely defeat the Mappillas. Also in these years, and with encouragement from the King of Kotte, the missionaries began the work of converting the peoples of Ceylon to Christianity. Churches were erected in the fishing village of the southwestern coast. Sadly, in 1544, the King of Jaffna massacred more than 600 Christians in the island of Mannar. However in 1545 the King of Jaffna submitted and paid tribute to the Portuguese. In October 1550, the Viceroy Afonso de Noronha arrived in Ceylon with 500 Portuguese soldiers that occupied Kotte, and sacked Sitawaka. But the Viceroy lost a good opportunity of establishing the supremacy of Portugal over the entire island. In November 1554, Duarte de Eca with 500 soldiers built a new fortress in Colombo. By 1556 the communities of fishermen occupying the sea coast south of Colombo (70.000 people) were converted to the Christianity. The King of Kotte, Dharmapala (re-christened as Dom Joao Perya Bandara) and the Queen (re-christened as Dona Catherina) were converted to Christianity. Following the King example, a few nobles, adopted the Portuguese title of Dom (Sir), the Portuguese manners and language. These conversions were a serious mistake for the King and his entourage because they alienated the majority of the Sinhalese population.


End of the Kotte Kingdom and the Transfer of the Capital to Colombo

In July 1565, the Portuguese decided to transfer the Court and the capital to Colombo, thus Kotte was abandoned. The Portuguese at Colombo were surrounded, the Sinhalese had three strong garrisons around Colombo at Wattala, at Nagalagama and Mapane. Only in 1574 did the Portuguese take the offensive. They plundered Negombo, Kalutara and Beruwela, drove out the garrisons at Nagalagama and Mapane and ravaged the districts of Weligama and Chilaw. In August 1587, Raja Sinha, the King of Kandy and Sitawaka, began the siege of Colombo. The Portuguese town was protected by fortifications with 12 bastions, that the Sinhalese assaulted many times but always failed. In February 1588 they abandoned the siege. Till the very end of XVII century the Portuguese were masters of the coast forts of Colombo, Galle, Kalutara and Negombo. In 1591 Andre Furtado de Mendoça invaded Jaffna and set up a new king at Nallur. The Portuguese occupied Kandy for a brief time in 1592, but, after a few weeks, they were forced to withdraw. They were also masters of the Kingdoms of Kotte and Sitawaka, but several attempts to occupy Kandy were met with failure. In 1597 the Portuguese had begun to fortify Galle. On 27 May 1597, King Dom Joao Dharmapala died at Colombo without heirs and, in accordance with his will, his Kingdom was donated to the King of Portugal. Thus, as King Philip of the then United Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal was proclaimed King of Ceylon, the whole of the territory of the Kingdom of Kotte was thus under the control of the Portuguese, only Kandy was still not under Portuguese rule.

The first casualty of the Portuguese colonialism was all the indigenous religions. The Viharas and Temples were destroyed and erased to the ground. The famous Sivan Temples of Galle and Trincomalee were erased to the ground and the remnants were used to build the Portuguese forts in Galle and Trincomalee, only 4 Buddhist priests were left alive in the Kotte Kingdom.

As religious wars were raging around in Europe with Martin Luther creating a new Protestant movement the Ceylonese were trying to liberate their country with the help of the neighbouring rulers. The Dutch were forthcoming with their military assistance and started one of the longest battles waged for the liberation of the island from a foreign occupier by another foreign power.

The Dutch landed in Batticaloa as they came from Batavia in Java and expanded their liberation. They had an accord with the Kandyan King for the future of Ceylon. People cooperated with the new comer as he was more civilised and liberal minded. More than that Batticaloa was a land too far. There is no way the meagre Potuguese can fight against a North European power with a superior technology.

The arrival of the first colonial power, the Portuguese, in 1505, brought about the deterioration of Buddhist activities. Further, the disturbances in the ruling power, missionary activities of the Colonial powers of the Portuguese and the Dutch and other calamitous situations resulted in the Tooth Relic being secretly carried away by the faithful monks to safer locations. Thus, the Relic was shifted to the next kingdom, Sitawaka ruled by Mayadunne. According to Dathadhatuvamsa, prior to the bringing of the Tooth Relic to Ratnapura, it was taken as far south as the Mulgirigala Vihara and then to the Ridivihara in the Kurunegala District. The Tooth Relic was finally hidden in a coirn located in the Delgamuva Vihara in Ratnapura, and it was from this temple that the Tooth Relic was brought to its final and present resting place in Kandy by Vimaladharmasuriya I (1592-1603).

Annexure of the Jaffna Kingdom

In 1560, Viceroy Dom Costantino de Bragança with 1.200 men conquered the town of Nallur, the capital city of the Kingdom of Jaffna, and soon afterwards the Viceroy proceeded to the island of Mannar where a fort was built. Jaffna Kingdom was a historically important regional power in medieval Sri Lanka. ...

Portuguese invaded several times to Jaffna and finally they have to do away with the Tamil King as he was very anti-catholic and carried out massmurders in Mannar and elsewhere. Jaffna was not a land of economic or colonial interest except for religious activities.

After lasting for over 400 years the Dravidian influenced Jaffna Kingdom finally lost its independence to the Portuguese in 1621. The Portuguese captured the King of Jaffna Sangili Kumaran and had took him to Goa in India along with his sons. After trial, the Portuguese found him guilty of treason and hanged him along with his sons. With the Jaffna Kingdom’s demise, the only indigenous independent political entity that was not Sinhalese and Buddhist in character came to an end in the Island. The Portuguese built the Jaffna Fort and the moat around it. Jaffna Kingdom was a historically important regional power in medieval Sri Lanka. ... For other uses, see Goa (disambiguation). ... Traitor redirects here. ... The moated manor house of Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire, England Moats (also known as a Fosse) were deep and wide water-filled trenches, excavated to provide a barrier against attack upon castle ramparts or other fortifications. ...

Dutch-Portuguese War

From 1580 to 1640, the throne of Portugal was held by the Habsburg kings of Spain resulting in the biggest colonial empire until then (see Iberian Union). In 1583 Philip I of Portugal, II of Spain, sent his combined Iberian fleet to clear the French traders from the Azores, decisively hanging his prisoners-of-war from the yardarms and contributing to the "Black Legend". The Azores were the last part of Portugal to resist Philip's reign over Portugal. Combatants ° Kingdom of Portugal (under Spanish Crown) ° Kingdom of Spain ° Kingdom of Cochin ° Maranhao Tupis ° Republic of the Seven United Provinces ° Kingdom of England ° Sultanate of Johore ° Kandyan Kingdom ° Kingdom of Kongo ° Kingdom of Ndongo-Matamba ° Rio Grande Tupis ° Nhandui Tarairiu Tribe ° Potiguar Tribe Commanders * Viceroy Pedro da Silva * High... Events March 1 - Michel de Montaigne signs the preface to his most significant work, Essays. ... Events December 1 - Portugal regains its independence from Spain and João IV of Portugal becomes king. ... Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy; also used as the flag of the Austrian Empire until the Ausgleich of 1867. ... Iberian Union - modern day term that refers to the historical political unit that governed all of the Iberian peninsula south of the Pyrenees from 1580-1640. ... 1583 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. ... Philip II of Spain. ... Geneva Convention definition A prisoner of war (POW) is a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine who is imprisoned by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict. ... The Black Legend (Spanish: La Leyenda Negra) is the depiction of Spain and Spaniards as bloodthirsty and cruel, intolerant, greedy and fanatical. ...

With two global empires to rule, and with the competition of the Dutch, English and French, the Habsburg kings neglected the protection of some of the portuguese possessions around the world. In this period Portugal lost a great number of lands to the new colonial rivals.

In the Americas, the Portuguese expansion continue beyond the west side by the meridian set by the Treaty of Tordesillas. Portugal was able to mount a military expedition, which defeated and expelled the French colonists of France Équinoxiale in 1615, less than four years after their arrival in the land. On April 30th of 1625, the fleet under the command of Fadrique de Toledo recovered the city of Salvador de Bahia to the Dutch. The square was composed by 22 Portuguese ships, 34 Spanish ships and 12,500 men (three quarters were Spanish and the rest were Portuguese). Equinoxial France was the contemporary name given to the colonization efforts of France in the 17th century in South America, around the line of Equator, before tropical had fully gained its modern meaning: Equinoctial means in Latin of equal nights, i. ... Events June 2 - First Récollet missionaries arrive at Quebec City, from Rouen, France. ... Events March 27 - Prince Charles Stuart becomes King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland. ... Flag of Bahia See other Brazilian States Capital Salvador Largest City Salvador Area 564 273 km² Population   - Total   - Density 13 070 250 23. ...

A map of the lands of the Habsburg kings in the period of personal union of Portugal (violet) and Spain (red/pink/brown) (1580-1640)
A map of the lands of the Habsburg kings in the period of personal union of Portugal (violet) and Spain (red/pink/brown) (1580-1640)

However, 1627 saw the collapse of the Castilian economy. The Dutch, who during the Twelve Years’ Truce had made their navy a priority, devastated Spanish maritime trade after the resumption of war, on which Spain was wholly dependent after the economic collapse. Even with a number of victories Spanish resources were now fully stretched across Europe and also at sea protecting their vital shipping against the greatly improved Dutch fleet. Spain's enemies, such as the Netherlands and England, coveted its overseas wealth, and in many cases found it easier to attack poorly-defended Portuguese outposts than Spanish ones. The Spanish were simply no longer able to cope with naval threats. Thus the Dutch-Portuguese War came into being. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1357x628, 38 KB) // Summary Map of the Spanish Empire from Image:BlankMap-World. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1357x628, 38 KB) // Summary Map of the Spanish Empire from Image:BlankMap-World. ... Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy; also used as the flag of the Austrian Empire until the Ausgleich of 1867. ... A personal union is a relationship of two or more entities that are considered separate, sovereign states, which, through established law, share the same person as their respective head of state. ... Events A Dutch ship makes the first recorded sighting of the coast of South Australia. ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: God Save the King/Queen Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq mi  Population    - 2006 est. ... Combatants ° Kingdom of Portugal (under Spanish Crown) ° Kingdom of Spain ° Kingdom of Cochin ° Maranhao Tupis ° Republic of the Seven United Provinces ° Kingdom of England ° Sultanate of Johore ° Kandyan Kingdom ° Kingdom of Kongo ° Kingdom of Ndongo-Matamba ° Rio Grande Tupis ° Nhandui Tarairiu Tribe ° Potiguar Tribe Commanders * Viceroy Pedro da Silva * High...

Between 1638 and 1640 the Netherlands came to control part of Brazil's Northeast region, with their capital in Recife. The Portuguese won a significant victory in the Second Battle of Guararapes in 1649. By 1654, the Netherlands had surrendered and returned control of all Brazilian land to the Portuguese. Events March 29 - Swedish colonists establish first settlement in Delaware, called New Sweden. ... Events December 1 - Portugal regains its independence from Spain and João IV of Portugal becomes king. ... Nickname: Veneza Brasileira (Brazilian Venice) and Mauricéia (after the Dutch colonization) Motto: Ut luceat omnibus Latin: That it may shine on all (Matthew 5:15) Location in Brazil Founded March 12, 1537 Incorporated (as village) 1709 Incorporated (as city) 1823 Mayor João Paulo Lima e Silva (PT) Area... Battle of Guararapes Conflict Date February 18, 1649 Place Pernambuco, Brazil Result Portuguese victory The Second Battle of Guararapes was a conflict between Dutch and Portuguese forces in 1649 at Pernambuco that ended in a resounding Portuguese victory and was one of the final nails in the coffin of Dutch... // Events January 30 - King Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland is beheaded. ... Events April 5 - Signing of the Treaty of Westminster, ending the First Anglo-Dutch War. ...

Although Dutch colonies in Brazil were wiped out, during the course of the 17th century the Dutch were able to occupy Ceylon, the Cape of Good Hope, and the East Indies, and to take over the trade with Japan at Nagasaki. Portugal's Asiatic territories were reduced to bases at Macau, East Timor and Portuguese India. A map showing the territory that the Netherlands held at various points in history. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... The Cape of Good Hope; looking towards the west, from the coastal cliffs above Cape Point. ... The Indies, on the display globe of the Field Museum, Chicago The Indies or East Indies (or East India) is a term used to describe lands of South and South-East Asia, occupying all of the former British India, the present Indian Union, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and... Nagasaki (Japanese: 長崎市, Nagasaki-shi  , long peninsula) is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan. ... Portuguese India (Portuguese: or Estado da Índia) was the aggregate of Portugals colonial holdings in India. ...

The Kandyan Campaign and Defeat at the Hands of the Sinhalese

In 1598, the Portuguese occupied Etgala Tota which commanded the passage of the river Maha Oya. In 1599, a strong fort was erected at Menikkadawara (Manicavare) at the Kandian’s border. On 31 May 1602, the first Dutch expedition arrived in Ceylon. They dropped anchor at Batticaloa, an harbor which the Portuguese had never occupied, and established friendly relations with the King of Kandy against the Portuguese. In January 1603, Dom Jeronimo de Azevedo occupied the fort of Ganetenna and the abandoned fort of Balane, the key to Kandy. However, a few days later he was forced to withdraw and Menikkadawara was also lost. On 1611, De Azevedo marched with 700 Portuguese and many Lascarins to Kandy, taking also possession of the fort of Balane where he left a garrison. He was also successful in conquering the city of Kandy, which was taken and burnt. The King of Kandy submitted himself to the Portuguese. Although not destroyed, the Kingdom of Kandy had been neutralized. In 1624 the Portuguese occupied and fortified Trincomalee. In 1628, Dom Constantino de Sa after strengthening Menikkadawara, crossed the island and occupied and fortified Batticaloa. During the return march to Colombo he raided Kandy. In 1629, Uva (today Badulla) was also devastated. In 1630, Dom Constantino de Sa, under pressure from the Viceroy, decided to undertake an expedition against the King Senarat’s capital at Badulla. On 9 August 1630, a small Portuguese army of 400 Portuguese soldiers, 200 Portuguese Casados (married men of the reserve army), and about 4400 Lascarins, began the march from Sabaragamwa (near Ratnapura) to Uva across Ceylon’s jungles. On 18 August 1630 the Portuguese entered Badulla that was found deserted, and for two days sacked and burned the town down. On 21 August 1630, the Portuguese began the march to return to Colombo but were attacked by the Sinhalese army. Most of the Lascarins betrayed – only 500 remained loyal – and joined the enemy. For the Sinhalese this was an overwhelming victory: of the Portuguese expedition, only 130 men survived and surrendered. This defeat placed Portuguese Ceylon in danger. If the Sinhalese had the means of blockading Colombo by sea, the complete destruction of Portuguese power in Ceylon would have been assured. After this victory, King Senarat captured the fort of Saparagamuwa and set Colombo under siege. But after three months of siege the Sinhalese army was forced to withdraw.


Portuguese History in Ceylon



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