Funday Times - Our History

The sudden change of the King of Kandy

This article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa,’ the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history
By Halaliye Karunathilake, Edited and translated by Kamala Silva, Illustrated by Saman Kalubowila

1. The envoy who came to Jaffna, from Kandy met Souza. He requested Souza to go to Kandy to meet the king. Souza sent half of his crowd to Kandy and he stayed back in Jaffna. He rested for a few days. Later on, he felt he should go to Kandy. He collected the crowd to go with him. The trip from Jaffna to Kandy was a tedious one. But still, they set off on their journey and passed through hills and dales. This journey took a couple of days.

2. Fully exhausted, they reached the city of Kandy. They arrived a little too late and all Souza's hopes were dashed. The King of Kandy had already made friends with the King of Sitawaka. Souza realized the truth of what the Prince of Jaffna told him. The fault was theirs. He could never fight Kotte and Sitawaka together. He did not have enough men and that is why he sought Portuguese help.

3. Assistance was needed immediately. The Portuguese were unable to supply help. There was nothing that King Vikramabahu did not do to get their help. At one stage he got a Portuguese national to the palace and tried to get help through him. The king followed the advice given by him. He also got down a Portguguese priest who was in Kotte, to Kandy.

4. In the palace, all of them embraced Christianity. They were given valuable gifts. This was made known to the Viceroy in Goa. This too did not serve the intended purpose. They did not bother even to send an army. King Vikramabahu was rendered helpless. The kings of Kotte and Sitawaka who heard of these developments got angry and demanded tribute from the King of Kandy. They got ready for battle. The tribute demanded was a big one. It was about 24 thousand 'Panams'.

5. A 'panama' was four 'thuttus', which was equivalent to six cents. A 'thuttuwa' was about 1 ½ cents in value. That was the value of these coins then. In addition to this money, the royal elephant and two other
elephants, plus gems were demanded. On top of all this, the King of Kotte reminded Vikramabahu of a promise made some time ago. That was to give the daughter of King Vikramabahu, in
marriage to Prince Dharmapala.

6. The King of Kandy, agreed to these requests. So the kings of Kotte and Sitawaka abandoned their idea of going to war. In the meantime, Souza, once again tried to change things. But he did not succeed. It was just a small contingent of soldiers that was brought and that too quite later in the day. There were only about 30 soldiers in number. The king took it as an attempt on the part of the Portuguese to deceive him.

7. Souza too did not give up his plan. He wanted somehow to turn the king to their side. "Until either the Viceroy or his son brought a huge army, nothing could be done," said the king. If they were to come equipped like that, the king would permit the people of Kandy to embrace Christianity. Souza kept on insisting that it should not be done that way and asked the king to be true to his word.

8. Somehow, King Vikramabahu did not agree to all this. The Christian priest, who was with Souza, acted
immediately. He mentioned all these details and sent a message to Goa. By this time, heavy fighting had broken out in India. The Viceroy could not act according to the message received by him. The Christian priests who were there too got to know all this and they started creating trouble for the Viceroy.

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