Funday Times - Our History

Prince Don Phillip – the new King of Kandy

This article is part of a continuing series on the ‘Mahavamsa,’ the recorded chronicle of Sri Lankan history

The ancestors of Prince Yamasinghe were heirs to the throne of Kandy. Due to the troubles created by King Rajasinghe, the prince’s last surviving relation Karaliyadde had to leave the kingdom and seek refuge with the Portuguese.

He left Kandy, taking the heir apparent, Prince Yamasinghe, along with him. The Portuguese saw to it that they converted this prince to Christianity. He was sent to Goa – under the new name, Don Phillip. This prince got an allowance from the King of Portugal.

After a while, this prince came back to Mannar and lived with the Portuguese. He entertained the hope that he would, one day ascend the throne, which was his due. The officials in Goa did not approve of the attempt to get the throne for him. But the Franciscan priests were happy about the fact that Prince Phillip would be made king. They supported this attempt.

They went to the extent of appealing to the Viceroy in Goa, to assist them in this connection. Meanwhile, Konappu Bandara – who became Don Juan of Austria, and had been sent to Goa, for some offence – had arrived in Colombo. He is one who had displayed his power, even in Goa. As such he was a warrior who had won fame, both in Goa and Sri Lanka. He was a sturdy young man.

The Portuguese thought of sending Don Juan to Kandy, accompanied by a small army of soldiers. That was done to arouse the people in Kandy, against King Rajasinghe and instigate them to rise in revolt.
It was by responding to the request of the clergy, that the army was sent. Don Juan thought that he was being made use of to create a favourable atmosphere for someone else to become king. This in his opinion was a low act.

He was dissatisfied and disappointed with the Portguese over this act, but did not show his
disapproval immediately. By this time, Prince Phillip had a son. The Portuguese had got him to sign a deed of consent, that both Prince Phillip and his son, during their period of kingship in Kandy, would continue to abide by the rules of the King of Portugal. In the event of there being no legal heir to the throne, after them, the King of Portugal would claim the Kingdom of Kandy.

After all these preliminary agreements, Prince Phillip was sent to Kandy along with an army. On their way, they were welcomed by Don Francisco and celebrations were held. The people of Kandy liked the new king. They put up a fortress in Gannoruwa and the Portuguese soldiers were stationed there to guard it. Meanwhile, Don Juan of Austria and the Commander-in-Chief of Prince Phillip, marched in search of the enemy army.

They were able to defeat the army of King Rajasinghe, at Gannoruwa. They then returned to Kandy. They kept only one battalion of soldiers in Gannoruwa. The rest went to Mannar. This defeat of the army of King Rajasinghe, strengthened the security of Prince Don Phillip. But this affected the fame of Prince Juan of Austria.

The clergy who accompanied Prince Don Phillip, built a church in Kandy, once again. They made every attempt to convert the people to Catholicism. The people of Kandy, were disgusted over this. They were very unhappy. This gave Prince Don Juan a chance to create suspicion and a feeling of no confidence about the Portuguese, in the minds of the people of Kandy.

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