Portuguese Ceylon

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Portuguese Ceylon
Ceilão Português (Portuguese)
පෘතුගීසි ලංකාව (Sinhalese)
போர்த்துகீசியம் இலங்கை (Tamil)
Flag of Ceilão Português
of Ceilão Português
Coat of arms
Extent of Portuguese rule in Ceylon
Extent of Portuguese rule in Ceylon
Status Portuguese colony
Capital Colombo
Common languages Portuguese
Religion Roman Catholicism
King of Portugal  
• 1597–1598
Philip I
• 1598–1621
Philip II
• 1621–1640
Philip III
• 1640–1656
John IV
• 1656–1658
Afonso VI
• 1597–1614
Jerónimo de Azevedo
• 1656–1658
António de Amaral de Meneses
Historical era Colonialism
• Portuguese arrival
• Death of Dharmapala of Kotte
27 May 1597
• Surrender of Jaffna
June 1658
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Kotte
Kingdom of Jaffna
Dutch Ceylon
Today part of  Sri Lanka

Portuguese Ceylon (Portuguese: Ceilão Português, Sinhala: පෘතුගීසි ලංකාව Puruthugisi Lankawa) was the control of the Kingdom of Kotte by the Portuguese Empire, in present-day Sri Lanka, after the country's Crisis of the Sixteenth Century and into the Kandyan period.

The Portuguese presence in the island lasted from 1505 to 1658. Their arrival was largely accidental, as they sought control of commerce, rather than territory. Their appearance coincided with the political upheaval of the Wijayaba Kollaya, and they were drawn into the internal politics of the island as they sought to establish control over the lucrative cinnamon trade that originated there. The Portuguese used these internal divisions to their advantage during the Sinhalese–Portuguese War. Direct Portuguese rule inside the island did not begin until after the death of Dharmapala of Kotte, who died without an heir. He bequeathed the Kingdom of Kotte to the Portuguese monarch in 1580.[1] That allowed the Portuguese sufficient claim to the Kingdom of Kotte upon Dharmapala's death in 1597. Portuguese rule began with much resistance by the local population.[2]

Eventually, the Kingdom of Kandy sought help from the Dutch Empire in their efforts to rid the island of the Portuguese. The Dutch Empire initially entered into agreement with the Kingdom of Kandy. After the collapse of the Iberian economy in 1627, the Dutch–Portuguese War saw the Dutch conquest of most of Portugal's Asian colonies. Eventually, Portugal's Ceylonese territories were ceded to the Netherlands. Nevertheless, elements of Portuguese culture from this colonial period remain to this day, in Sri Lanka.

Part of a series on the
History of Kandy
Temple of the Tooth, Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy (1469–1815)
Colonial Kandy (1815–1948)
Kandy (1948–present)
See also
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg Sri Lanka portal


The first contact between Sri Lanka and the Portuguese happened in 1505-6. It was largely accidental and it wasn't until 12 years later that the Portuguese sought to establish a fortified trading settlement.[3]

Jaffna kingdom–Portuguese War[edit]

Sinhalese–Portuguese War[edit]

Portuguese rule[edit]

Direct Portuguese rule began after the death of Dharmapala of Kotte who bequeathed the Kingdom of Kotte to the Portuguese monarch.[4] By 1600 the Portuguese had consolidated the main centers of rebellion, the Kelani and Kalu ganga basins, leaving the border regions to Sinhalese resistance.[5]


In the two decades after the establishment of Portuguese rule there were four major revolts:[6]

Dutch–Portuguese War[edit]


Portuguese Captains (1518–1551)[edit]

Portuguese Captain-majors (1551–1594)[edit]

Portuguese Captain-generals (1594–1658)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ De Silva (1981), p. 114
  2. ^ De Silva (1981), p. 100
  3. ^ De Silva (1981), p. 100
  4. ^ De Silva (1981), p. 114
  5. ^ De Silva (1981), p. 115
  6. ^ De Silva (1981), p. 114


External links[edit]