Funday Times - Our History

The struggle of the Tamil people

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

The viceroy Braganza agreed to the terms of King Sangkili. Till such time as an agreement was drafted regarding this matter, the king was asked to send his son as surety. That too was done. But the missionaries who accompanied the viceroy to Jaffna, frequented the area, converting the people to Christianity. The Portuguese soldiers started to ignore the orders of the viceroy. They were upto all the immoral activities. They started to break the kovils.

The people were very angry over these violent acts and they began to revolt. King Sangkili realised that the Portuguese army was a very small one. He gave up the idea of coming to an agreement and thought of entering into battle – suddenly. The viceroy who was ignorant of all this, was enjoying his days, hunting. The people of the area, who were also greatly angered, began killing the Portuguese.

The rebels entered the city. They pounced upon the meagre army of the Portuguese and went on attacking them. It was with greatest difficulty that the Portuguese soldiers escaped death. They jumped on to their ships to escape. Thus the attempt to capture Jaffna was a failure. The viceroy was so saddened to realize that the Portuguese soldiers were just a few in number. The Portuguese who were in Jintupitiya, who were happily waiting to go to Jaffna were also sad. So the viceroy understood that even if they were to capture Jaffna, it would be difficult to maintain their power there, for long.

Meanwhile Jaffna became independent. But King Sangkili was unhappy because his son, who was sent away as surety, was taken away by the Portuguese viceroy. The king blamed his people for all these sad
happenings. He said that he was not to be blamed at all and requested Braganza to send his son back. But the viceroy did not pay any attention to his request.The prince, who was taken by the Portuguese viceroy, was taken to Mannar. The Portuguese captured Mannar and erected a fortress there. A crowd of Christians were brought from the coastal areas of South India and they were settled in Mannar. The viceroy left for India. King Sangkili attacked the fort in Mannar. But it proved unsuccessful. When the viceroy was in Jaffna, the King of Sitawaka attacked Kotte.

This battle had been led by the father and the son – King Mayadunne and Prince Rajasinghe. As a result of this battle, a number of areas that belonged to the Kotte kingdom were destroyed. These two, then wanted to attack the Portuguese.

The father, King Mayadunne attacked the fort in Colombo. The son, Prince Rajasinghe fought to prevent the Portuguese army getting together. Because of these fights, people living in and around the city of Kotte had to undergo many hardships.

These people were crushed between two armies. They sought the permission of the Portuguese provincial leader to leave the Kingdom of Kotte. Thinking that it would be easy to attack Rajasinghe if they left the city, he gave them permission to leave. They were caught by the soldiers of both King Mayadunne and Prince Rajasinghe. Bearing losses, they had to retreat. Meanwhile, Prince Rajasinghe once again got ready to besiege Kotte.

By this time, Balthazar Guydes de Souza had taken up duties as the new Captain in Colombo. He brought with him supplementary armies. He began to fight very carefully and extremely systematically to
protect the city of Kotte. He fought and won a couple of battles. Whilst all this was going on, Prince Rajasinghe made arrangements to get down an army from Malabar.

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