|Commanders and leaders|
|Admiral Zheng He||King Alakeshvara|
|2,000 troops in Kotte||50,000|
The Ming–Kotte War was a conflict between the expeditionary forces of the Chinese Ming empire and the Sinhalese Kotte kingdom, located in the southern territories of present-day Sri Lanka. It resulted in the overthrow of the Sinhalese ruling house.
On Ceylon, the Kotte kingdom was waging a war against the Jaffna kingdom. Alakeshvara had gained military prestige in the war. Eventually, he came to power and ruled Kotte under a puppet king from the previous royal dynasty. However, he eventually usurped the royal throne of the kingdom. During the treasure voyages, Admiral Zheng He and his fleet arrived in local water nearby to establish Chinese control and stability along the maritime routes in the waters of Ceylon and southern India. However, Alakeshvara posed a threat to the region by committing piracy and hostilities around the local waters.
Alakeshvara was hostile to the Chinese presence of the fleet on arrival to Ceylon during the first treasure voyage, thus Admiral Zheng He decided to leave Ceylon for the time being and traveled further to other destinations. During the third treasure voyage, the treasure fleet would return to the Kotte kingdom. However, this time they came to dispose Alakeshvara by military force. Dreyer (2007) states that the confrontation in Ceylon against Alakeshvara most-likely happened during the outward journey in 1410 rather than the homeward journey in 1411. However, he also notes that most authorities think that the confrontation happened during the homeward journey in 1411.
When the Chinese returned to Ceylon, they were acting overbearing and full of contempt. The Chinese considered the Sinhalese rude, disrespectful, and hostile. They also resented that the Sinhalese were committing hostilities towards neighboring countries who had diplomatic relations with Ming China. Admiral Zheng He and a few of his troops were traveling overland into Kotte, because Alakeshvara had lured them into his territory. Alakeshvara cut off Admiral Zheng He and his 2000 accompanying troops from the treasure fleet, who were anchored at Colombo. He also planned to launch a surprise attack on the treasure fleet. In response, Admiral Zheng He and his troops invaded Kotte, thus conquering its capital. They took Alakeshvara, his family, the rest of the leadership, and dependents captive. The Sinhalese army hastily returned and surrounded the capital, but they were repeatedly defeated in battle against the invading Chinese troops.
Eventually, the Yongle Emperor decided to free Alakeshvara and return him. He also requested the Ministry of Rites to recommend someone to serve as the new king. However, the previous legitimate dynasty had already re-established themselves in Kotte by the time the Chinese embassy arrived. From then on, the treasure fleet would stumble onto no hostilities and would make port on Ceylon during all subsequent treasure voyages.
- Dreyer, Edward L. (2007). Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405–1433. New York: Pearson Longman. ISBN 9780321084439.
- Levathes, Louise (1996). When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405–1433. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195112078.