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Samoothiri (Zamorin) of Kozhikode
c. 1124 AD–1806 AD
Chera king's Sword given to the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. Engraved from an original sketch.
Chera king's Sword given to the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. Engraved from an original sketch.
The Samoothiri of Kozhikode (1495–1500) on his throne as painted by Veloso Salgado in 1898
The Samoothiri of Kozhikode (1495–1500) on his throne as painted by Veloso Salgado in 1898
Status Kingdom
Capital Kozhikode
Common languages Malayalam
Religion Hinduism
Government Feudal Monarchy
History  
• Dissolution of the Cheras of Cranganore[1]
c. 1124 AD
1806 AD
Currency Kozhikode Fanam
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Chera dynasty
Company rule in India
Today part of Republic of India

Samoothiri of Kozhikode (anglicised as Zamorin of Calicut; Portuguese: Samorim, Dutch: Samorijn, Chinese: Shamitihsi[2]) is the hereditary title of the Hindu monarch of the Kingdom of Kozhikode (Kozhikode) on Malabar Coast, India. The Samoothiris were based at the city of Kozhikode, one of the important trading ports on the south-western coast of India. At the peak of their reign, the Samoothiri's ruled over a region from Kollam (Quilon) to Panthalayini Kollam (Koyilandy).[3][4]

It was after the dissolution of the kingdom of Cheras of Cranganore (Kodungallur) in the early 12th century, the Samoothiris – originally Eradi governors of Nediyirippu (Eralanadu) – demonstrated their political independence. The chiefs maintained elaborate trade relations with the Muslim Middle-Eastern sailors in the Indian Ocean, the primary spice traders on the Malabar Coast in the Middle Ages.[1]

The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama visited the Kozhikode in 1498, opening the sailing route directly from Europe to Asia. Kozhikode was then the most important trading entrepôt of southern India.[5] The Portuguese efforts to lay the foundations to Estado da Índia, and to take complete control over the commerce was repeatedly hampered by the forces of Samoothiri of Kozhikode. The Kunjali Marakkars, the famous Muslim warriors, were the naval chiefs of Kozhikode. By the end of the 16th century the Portuguese – now commanding the spice traffic on the Malabar Coast – had succeeded in replacing the Muslim merchants in the Arabian Sea. The Dutch supplanted the Portuguese in the 17th century, only to be followed by the English.[6]

In 1766 Haider Ali of Mysore defeated the Samoothiri of Kozhikode – an English East India Company dependant at the time – and absorbed Kozhikode to his state.[4] [7] After the Third Mysore War (1790–1792), Malabar was placed under the control of the Company. Later the status of the Samoothiri as independent rulers was changed to that of pensioners of the Company (1806).[4][8]

Etymology[edit]

Major locations associated with the history of the Kingdom of Kozhikode
Thali Temple (1951), Kozhikode
Thali Temple, present day, Kozhikode

The term "Samoothiri" appears in sources only after the c. 15th century, first time in the writings of the Persian envoy Abd-ur-Razzaq. Ibn Batutah visited Kozhikode in the 14th century (1342–1347), but only refers to the rulers as "Punthureshan Kunnalakkonathiri". It is safe to assume that the Eradis of Nediyirippu assumed the title of "Samoothiri" in a later period.

The Samoothiris used these titles – such as "Punthurakon" and "Kunnalakkon" – in the palace records, and in official treaties with the the English and the Dutch. No records indicate the actual personal name of the ruler.[4] Punthura may be the place of their origin, or a battle-field, or a port of great fame.[9]

Seats of power[edit]

Thrikkavil Kovilakam in Ponnani served as a second home for the Samoothiris of Kozhikode.[4][10] Secondary seats of the Samoothiri of Kozhikode, all established at much later time, were Ponnani Thrikkavil, Trichur (Thrissur) and Cranganore (Kodungallur). [4]

The chief Kerala ports under control of the Samoothiris in the late 15th century were Panthalayini Kollam and Kozhikode. The Samoothiri of Kozhikode derived greater part of his revenues by taxing the spice trade through his ports. Smaller ports in the kingdom were Puthuppattanam, Parappanangadi, Tanur (Tanore), Ponnani (Ponani), Chetuva (Chetwai) and Kodungallur (Cranganore). The port of Beypore served as a ship building center. [4][10]

Kozhikode[edit]

  • The port at Kozhikode held the superior economic and political position in Kerala, while Kollam (Quilon), Kochi and Kannur (Cannanore) were commercially confined to secondary roles.[11] Travellers have called the city by different names – variations of the Malayalam name. The travellers from Middle-East called it "Kalikooth", Tamils called the city "Kallikkottai", for the Chinese it was "Kalifo" or "Quli".[12]
  • In the Middle Ages, Kozhikode was dubbed the "City of Spices" for its role as the major trading point of eastern spices.[13] The Chinese and Middle-Eastern interests in Malabar, the political ambition of the newly emergent rulers, i.e., the Samoothiris, and the decline of port Kodungallur (c. 1341 AD[11]), etc. boosted the prosperity of the port.[8] The rise of the Kozhikode, both the port and the state, seems to have taken place only after the 13th century AD.[12]
  • Kozhikode, despite being located at a geographically inconvenient spot, owed much of its prosperity of the Samoothiris of Kozhikode.[12][14]
  • Trade at port Kozhikode was managed by the Muslim port commissioner known as the Shah Bandar Koya. The port commissioner supervised the customs on the behalf of the king, fixed the prices of the commodities and collected the share to the Kozhikode treasury.[10]
  • The name of the famous fine variety of cotton cloth called calico is also thought to have derived from Kozhikode.[15]

Panthalayini Kollam[edit]

  • Also known as "Fandarina" (Ibn Batutah), and "Shaojunan" (Daoyi Zgilue).[16]
  • Located north of Kozhikode, close to a bay. The geographical location is ideal for the wintering of ships during the annual monsoon rains.[17]
  • Presence of Chetti, Arab and Jewish merchants among others.[18]

Caste and line of succession[edit]

According to K. V. Krishna Iyer, the court historian in Kozhikode, the members of the royal house of Samoothiri belonged the Samanta community.[4] The Samantas claimed a status higher than the rest of the Nairs.[4] The Hindu theological formula that the rulers must be of Kshatriya varna may have been a complication for the Nair Samantas of the Kodungallur Chera monarch. So the Samantas – already crystallized as a distinctive social group, something of a "sub-caste" – began to style themselves as "Samanta Ksatriyas". [8]

The Samoothiris of Kozhikode, in spite of their orthodox believes in Hinduism, patronised Middle Eastern Muslims.[9]

In the royal family, thalis of the princesses were usually tied by Kshatriyas from Kodungallur chief's family, which the Samoothiri recognised as more ancient and therefore higher rank. The majority of the women's sambandham partners were Nambudiri Brahmins.[4][19]

The family of chieftains that ruled the polities in premodern Kerala was known as the swaroopam. The rulers of Kozhikode belonged to "Nediyirippu swaroopam" and followed matriliny system of inheritance. The eldest male member of Nediyirippu swaroopam became the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. There was a set pattern of succession, indicated by sthanams in the royal line. Five sthanams were defined in Kozhikode. These positions were based on the chronological seniority of the incumbent in the different thavazhis of the swaroopam and constituted what is called in the records as "kuruvazhcha". Unlike in the case of Cochin (Kochi), there was no rotation of position among the thavazhis. Thus no particular thavazhi enjoyed any privilege or precedence in the matter of succession, as the only criterion for succession was seniority of age.[8]

Five sthanams existed in Kozhikode, each with its own separate property enjoyed in succession by the senior members of the three kovilakams of the family.[4]

      • 1st sthanam: The Samoothiri of Kozhikode
      • 2nd sthanam: The second in line successor to the throne was known as the Eralppadu (the Eranadu Ilamkur Nambiyathiri Thirumulpadu). Eralppadu's seat was in Karimpuzha (in the northeastern region of the present-day Palakkad district). This area of Malabar was annexed from Valluvanadu in the leadership of the then Eralppadu.
      • 3rd sthanam: Eranadu Moonnamkur Nambiyathiri Thirumulpad (the Munalpadu)
      • 4th sthanam: Edattaranadu Nambiyathiri Thirumulpadu (the Etatralpadu) - mentioned in the Manjeri Pulapatta inscription as the overlord of the "Three Hundred".[9] Used to reside in a palace at Edattara near Manjeri.[9]
      • 5th sthanam: Nediyiruppu Mootta Eradi Thirumulpadu (the Naduralpadu). Naduralpadu was the former head of the house (Eranadu Utaiyer under the Cheras of Kodungallur[4]).

The three thavazhis were:

      • Kizhakke Kovilakam (Eastern Branch)
      • Padinhare Kovilakam (Western Branch)
      • Puthiya Kovilakam (New Branch)

The senior female member of the whole Samoothiri family, the Valiya Thamburatti, also enjoyed a sthanam with separate property known as the Ambadi Kovilakam.[4] Women were not allowed to be the ruler of Kozhikode, and the oldest male member traced the female becomes the next Samoothiri .[4]

A panorama of port Kozhikode, shows several types of ships, shipbuilding, net fishing, dinghy traffic and a rugged, sparsely populated interior (Georg Braun and Franz Hogenbergs atlas Civitates orbis terrarum, 1572).

Early history[edit]

The Chera king granted the Eradi warrior, as a mark of favour, a small tract of land. The Eradis subsequently moved their seat to the coastal marshy lands and established the city of Kozhikode.

Brahmnic legends such as the "Cheraman Perumal tradition" in the Origin of Kerala recount the events leading to establishment of the state of Kozhikode.[4]

There were two brothers belonging to a Nair Eradi clan from a local ruling family at Nediyiruppu. The brothers Manichan and Vikraman were the most trusted warriors in the militia of the Kodungallur Cheras.[20][21] The two brothers distinguished themselves in the fight against the foreigners. However, during the partition of Chera Kingdom, the Chera monarch failed to allocate any land to these two brothers. Filled with guilt, the king later gave his personal sword and his favourite prayer conch – both broken – to his warrior and told him to occupy as much as land as he could with all his might.

Kozhikode and its suburbs formed part of Polanadu ruled by Polarthiri. The Eradi marched with his Nairs towards Panniyankara and besieged the Polarthiri at his base, resulting in a 48-year-long standoff. The Eradi was unsuccessful, and then he propitiated the Bhagavati, bribed the followers of Polarthiri and even the consort of the ruler of Polanadu and won them to his side. Learning of this treachery Polarthiri fled from Kozhikode. The Eradi emerged victorious and shifted his seat from Nediyiruppu to Kozhikode - then also called "Thrivikramapuram". The Eradis built a fort (Koyil Kotta) at a place called "Velapuram" (port) to safeguard their new interests.[22][4]

So the young warrior conquered neighbouring polities and created a powerful state for himself. As a token of his respect to the Chera king, he adopted the logo of two crossed swords, with a broken conch in the middle and a lighted lamp above it.[4]

Durate Barbosa, in the early 16th century, mentions the Cheraman sword among the three swords and other royal emblems of the Samoothiri usually taken out in ceremonial processions. The sword was worshipped by the Samoothiris in their private temple everyday and especially at the time of the coronation. The Cheraman sword was burnt in a surprise attack by the Dutch at Kodungallur (1670) while the Samoothiri was residing with Velutha Nambiyar. A new sword was made in 1672 out of the fragments of the old. The broken parts of the 1672 sword, kept in a fully sealed copper sheath, are still worshipped daily in the Bhagavathi temple attached to the palace of the Samoothiris at Thiruvachira.[9]

Historical records regarding the origin of the Samoothiri of Kozhikode are obscure. However, it is generally agreed among historians that the Samoothiris, known as the "Eradis", were originally the "hereditary governors" of Eralnadu region of the Kodungallur Chera kingdom (c. 9th–12th century AD). On the basis of the strength of the "Hundred Organisation" of the senior prince of Eranadu, which was Six Hundred, it has been suggested that Eranadu be of about the same size as Ramavalanadu, Valluvanadu, Kizhmalanadu, Venadu etc. during the Kodungallur Chera period. One comes across only one nadu in this period with a stronger force, namely Kurumpuranadu, with a force of Seven Hundred although many lesser ones with Five Hundred, Three Hundred, etc., are available.[4][1]

Inscription [23] Year Notes
Cochin Jewish copper plate of Kodungallur Chera king Bhaskara Ravi (c. 962-1021) c. 1000 AD An old Malayalam royal charter in Vattezhuthu and Grantha scripts. The governor of Eralanadu, Eralanadu Utaya "Manavepala Mana Viyatan", is a witness to the charter.[9]
Kollam Rameshwaram temple inscription of Kodungallur Chera king Ramavarma Kulasekhara (c. 1089 - 1122) AD 1102 An old Malayalam royal order in Vattezhuthu and Grantha scripts. "Manavikrama alias Punthurakkon, the governor of Eranadu"[9]
Anandapuram temple inscription, Thrissur Immediate post-Chera Period "Protection by Eranadu Nizhal"
Trichambaram temple inscription Undated

(c. 11th century AD)

An old Malayalam inscription in Vattezhuthu and Grantha scripts.[9]

"...Eranadutaya Mana[vepala Mana] Viyatan..."[9]

Pulpatta temple inscription, Manjeri Undated (c.11th century AD) An old Malayalam temple inscription in Vattezhuthu and Grantha scripts.[9]

"...Aranuttavar of Eralanadu and Munnuttuvar of Etattirai Nadu..."

Syrian Christian copper plate of Viraraghava AD 1225 "Issued with the knowledge of Venadu, Odanadu, Eranadu and Valluvanadu"
Muchundi mosque inscription of Punthurakkon 13th century Stone inscription. Earliest known instance of the use of the title "Punthurakkon"[9]
Pepper
Ginger
Cardamom

Although there is no solid basis for the famous partition legend (the Cheraman Perumal tradition) surrounding the end of Kodungallur Cheras, it is a possibility that following the mysterious disappearance of the ruler, the land was "partitioned" and that the governors of different nadus asserted independence, proclaiming it as their gift from the last overlord.[4][1]

There is some ambiguity regarding the exact course of events that led to the establishment of Eradi's rule over Kozhikode, their later seat. Some historians are of the view that the Eradi was in fact a favourite of the last Kodungallur Chera king as he was at the forefront of the battles with the CholaPandya forces [in south Kerala]. The Eradi seems to have led the Chera army to victory. The king therefore granted him, as a mark of favour, a small tract of land on the sea-coast in addition to his hereditary possessions [Eralnadu province]. The Eradis subsequently moved their seat to the coastal "marshy lands" and established the city of Kozhikode.[9]

To corroborate his assertion that Eradi prince was a member of the inner circle of the last Chera king Rama Kulasekhara (c. 1089 - 1122), scholars cites an old Malayalam inscription (AD 1102) found on a granite pillar set up in the courtyard of the Ramashwaram temple, Kollam. The Vattezhuthu-Grantha inscription mentions date in Kollam Era and the regnal year of "Chakravartikal" Rama Kulasekhara. The king, residing at Panainkavu Palace at Kurakkeni Kollam, sitting in council with Arya Brahmins, the Four Brahmin Ministers, the leader of the Thousand Nairs, the leader of the Six Hundred Nairs, Punthurakkon Manavikrama - the governor of Eranadu, and other feudatories, made prayaschittam for (some) offence against the Arya Brahmins by donating paddy for daily feeding the Brahmins and leasing out a Cherikkal for that purpose to Venadu governor Kumaran Udaya Varma. The king also made provision for Koothu and offering at Tirukkunavay Jain temple.[24][25][9]

Expansions to central Kerala[edit]

The power balance in Kerala changed as Eralnadu rulers developed the port at Kozhikode. The Samoothiri became one of the most powerful chiefs in Kerala.[4] In some of his military campigns – such as that into Valluvanadu – the ruler received unambiguous assistance from the Muslim Middle Eastern sailors.[8] It seems that the qadi of Kozhikode offered all help in "money and material" to the Samoothiri to strike at Thirunavaya.[4]

Smaller chiefdoms south of Kozhikode – Beypore, Chaliyam, Parappanadu and Tanur (Vettam) – soon had to submit and became their feudatories one by one. The rulers of Payyormala, Kurumbranadu, and other Nair chiefs on the suburbs of Kozhikode also acknowledged the supremacy of Kozhikode. There were battles between Kozhikode and Kurumbranadu for a coastal region called Payyanadu. Payyanadu was a part of Kurumbranadu in early times, and was eventually given as a "royal gift" to Kozhikode. Kozhikode easily overran the Kurumbranadu warriors in the battle and Kurumbranadu had to sue for peace by surrendering Valisseri.[4]

Modern replica of the stele installed at Kozhikode by Zheng He. Seen along with other steles in the Stele Pavilion of the Treasure Boat Shipyard in Nanjing.
Muccunti Mosque Inscription. Inscription specifically mentions the word "Punturakkon"

The ruler of Kozhikode next turned his attention to the valley of Perar. Large parts of the valley was then ruled by Valluvakkonathiri, the hereditary chief of Valluvanadu. The principal objective of Kozhikode was the capture the sacred settlement of Thirunavaya. Soon they found themselves intervened in the so-called kurmatsaram between Nambudiris of Panniyurkur and Chovvarakur. In the most recent event, the Nambudiris from Thirumanasseri Nadu had assaulted and burned the nearby rival village. The rulers of Valluvanadu and Perumpadappu came to help the Chovvaram and raided Panniyur simultaneously. Thirumanasseri Nadu was overran by its neighbours on south and east. The Thirumanasseri Nambudiri appealed to the ruler of Kozhikode for help, and promised to cede Ponnani to Kozhikode as the price for his protection. Kozhikode, looking for such an opportunity, gladly accepted the offer.[4]

Assisted by the combined corps of their subordinate chiefs (the chiefs of Chalium, Beypore, Tanur and Kodungallur) and the Muslim naval fleet under the port commissioner (the Koya) of Kozhikode, the Samoothiri's fighters advanced by both land and sea.[4] The main force under the command of Samoothiri himself attacked, encamping at Thripangodu, an allied force of Valluvanadu and Perumpadappu from the north. Meanwhile, another force under the Eralppadu (crown prince) commanded a fleet across the sea and landed at Ponnani and later moved to Thirumanasseri, with intention to descend on Thirunavaya from the south with help of the warriors of the Thirumanasseri Brahmins. Eralppadu also prevented the warriors of Perumpadappu joining Valluvanadu forces. The Muslim naval merchants and commanders at Ponnani supported the Kozhikode force with food, transport and provisions. The warriors of the Eralppadu moved north and crossed the River Perar and took up position on the northern side of the river.[4] The commissioner marched at the head of a large column, and stormed Thirunavaya. In spite of the fact that the warriors of Valluvanadu did not get the timely help of Perumpadappu, they fought vigorously and the battle dragged on. In the meantime, the Kozhikode minister Mangattachan was also successful in turning Kadannamanna Elavakayil Vellodi (junior branch of Kadannamanna) to their side. Finally, two Valluvanadu princes were killed in the battles, the Nairs abandoned the settlement and Kozhikode infested Thirunavaya.[4]

The capture of Thirunavaya was not the end of Kozhikode's expansion into Valluvanadu. The Samoothiri continued surges over on Valluvanadu. Malappuram, Nilambur, Vallappanattukara and Manjeri were easily occupied. He encountered stiff resistance in some places and the fights went on in a protracted and sporadic fashion for a long time. Further assaults in the east against Valluvanadu were neither prolonged nor difficult for Kozhikode. Moreover, Samoothiri successfully followed a policy of appeasing the feudatories/governors of Valluvanadu and conferring upon them the areas they originally held under Valluvanadu.[4]

The battles along the western borders of Valluvanadu were bitter, for they were marked by treachery and crime. Panthalur and Ten Kalams came under Kozhikode only after a protracted struggle. The assassination of a minister of Kozhikode by the Chief Minister of Valluvanadu while visiting Venkatakkotta in Valluvanadu sparked the battle, which dragged on for almost a decade. At last the Valluvanadu minister was captured by Samoothiri's warriors and executed at Padapparambu, and his province (Ten Kalams, including Kottakkal and Panthalur) were occupied by the Samoothiri. The Kizhakke Kovilakam Munalappadu, who took a leading part in this campaign, received half of the newly captured province from Samoothiri as a gift. The loss of this fiercely loyal Chief Minister was the greatest blow to Valluvanadu after the loss of Tirunavaya and Ponnani.[4]

Expansions to Kochi[edit]

Kozhikode faced defeat in their next assault on Perumpadappu swaroopam. The combined forces of Perumpadappu and Valluvanadu resisted Kozhikode warriors and a vicious battle ensued for three days, at the end of which Kozhikode forces was on the retreat.[4]

After a period of uneasy calm in Kerala, Kozhikode occupied Nedunganadu, a small polity between Valluvanadu and Palakkad (Palghat). Nedunganadu was overran without striking even a single blow. The chief of Nedunganadu surrendered to the Kozhikode forces at a place called Kodikkuni. Then the Kozhikode warriors captured a number of smaller villages around Thirunavaya – such as Thiruvegappuram – from Valluvanadu. The Valluvanadu governor tried to overcome the Kozhikode prince's advance at Kolakkadu. Near Karimpuzha in Valluvanadu, the untouchables – the Cherumas and Panans of Kotta – resisted the advancing Kozhikode forces. The Kozhikode won their affection by gifts and presents. Kozhikode prince was met by an ancestor of Kavalappara Nair, a vassal of Valluvanadu, at Karakkadu. The chiefs under Palakkad surrendered to Kozhikode at Vengotri, Nellayi and Kakkathodu. Samoothiri of Kozhikode appointed the Eralppadu as the governor of southern Malabar region during this time. The provincial seat was at Karimpuzha. Talappilli (present day taluk of the same name and coastal regions from Ponnani to Chetwai) and Chengazhinadu submitted to Kozhikode without any resistance.[4]

Portuguese fort at Kozhikode

Kozhikode then completed the subjugation Ponnani taluk from Valluvanadu and captured Vannerinadu from Perumpadappu. The Perumpadappu ruler was forced to shift their base further south to Thiruvanchikkulam.[4] When Thrikkanamathilakam near Thiruvanchikkulam came under the Kozhikode control and Perumpadappu ruler again shifted their base further south to Kochi (Cochin, in 1405 AD[11]).[4]

Kozhikode subjugated large parts of the state of Kochi in the subsequent years. The family feud between the elder and younger branches of the ruling family of Kochi was exploited by the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. The intervention was initiated as Kozhikode’s help was sought against the ruling younger branch. The rulers of Kodungallur, Idappalli, Airur, Sarkkara, Patinjattedam [Thrissur] and Chittur supported or joined Kozhikode forces in this occupation of Kochi . Some of these were the vassals of Kochi. The Kochi chief was defeated in a battle at Thrissur and his palace was occupied. But, the defeated chief escaped to further south. Pursuing the chief to south, the Kozhikode forces under Samoothiri penetrated and occupied the town of Kochi. Unable to withstand the attacks, Kochi finally accepted Kozhikode's rule. The prince from the elder branch was installed on the throne of Kochi as vassal.[4]

The battles against Kochi were followed by a battle against Palakkad and the expansion to Naduvattom by a Kozhikode prince. Kollengode of Venganadu Nambitis was also put under the sway of Kozhikode during the time. The severe and frequent battles with Valluvanadu by Kozhikode continued. But even after the loss of his superior ally Kochi, Valluvanadu did not submit to Kozhikode. The ruler of Kozhikode followed a custom of settling Muslim families and the families of other Hindu generals who had allegiance to him, in the captured areas of Valluvanadu. Kozhikode occupied Valluvanadu (now shrunk to Attappadi valley, parts of Mannarkkad, Ottappalam and Perinthalmanna) but could not make much progress into its hinterland.[4]

Kozhikode was also successful in bringing the polity of Kolathunadu (Cannanore) under their control. During his expansions, the Samoothiri occupied Pantalayini Kollam as a preliminary advance to Kolathunadu. Kolathiri immediately sent ambassadors to submit to whatever terms Kozhikode might dictate. Kolathunadu transferred the regions already occupied to Kozhikode and certain Hindu temple rights. The stories about the origin of the Kadathanadu ruling family (Vatakara) are associated with battle of the Eradis with Polanadu. When the Samoothiri swarmed over Polanadu, he exiled a Polarthiri royal princess and she was welcomed in Kolathunadu (Cannanore) – one of the Samoothiri's rivals polities. After the marriage of a Kolathu prince with this princess the Kadathanadu ruling family was born. The name Kadathanadu refers to as the passing way between Kolathunadu and Kozhikode.[26] [26] Some land and Hindu temple rights were transferred to Kozhikode during a visit to Kollam by a ruler of the Kozhikode.[27]

Vijayanagara conquests[edit]

Large boats built in Kozhikode

Deva Raya II (1424–1446 AD), king of the Vijayanagara Empire, conquered the whole of present-day Kerala state in the 15th century. He defeated (1443) rulers of Venadu (Kollam, Quilon), as well as Kozhikode. Fernão Nunes says that the Samoothiri and even the kings of Burma ruling at Pegu and Tenasserim paid tribute to the king of Vijayanagara Empire. Later Kozhikode and Venadu seems to have rebelled against their Vijayanagara overlords, but Deva Raya II quelled the rebellion.

As the Vijayanagara power diminished over the next fifty years, Samoothiri of Kozhikode again rose to prominence in Kerala. Samoothiri built a fort at Ponnani in 1498.[4]

An embassy from the Samoothiri of Kozhikode, in which the chief envoy was a Persian-speaking Muslim, came to the Timurid court of Mirza Shahrukh at Herat in the 15th century. Some Herat officials had, some years earlier, on their return journey from the Sultanate of Bengal, been stranded at port Kozhikode, and on this occasion had been received by the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. Impressed by the description of the Timurid influence, the Samoothiri decided to send his own embassy to Herat. Abdur Razzaq, an employ of Shahrukh, was soon engaged on a mission to Kozhikode (November 1442 – April 1443). He carried a series of presents from Herat, including a horse, a pelisse, headgear and ceremonial robes. "As for duties [at Kozhikode], at one-fortieth, and that too, only on sales, they are even lower that at Hormuz [in the Persian Gulf]", says Abdur Razzaq. While in Kozhikode, he was invited by the Vijayanagara ruler Deva Raya II to his court. The envoy arrived from the Vijayanagara king had "asked" the Samoothiri to send the Herat envoy on to his court. He also says the king of Vijayanagara does not possess "jurisdiction" over the kingdom of Kozhikode, but the Samoothiri was apparently "still in great awe of the Vijayanagar king".[28]

Relations with Yuan and Ming China[edit]

"In the fifth year of the Yongle emperor [1407], the court ordered the principal envoy ... Zheng He ... to deliver an imperial mandate [a statement of formal investiture] to the king of [Kozhikode] and to bestow him a patent conferring a title of honour ... Zheng He went these in command of a large fleet of treasure-ships, and he erected a tablet with a pavilion over it and set up a stone which said:

"Though the journey from this country [Kingdom of Kozhikode] to the Middle Kingdom is more than a hundred thousand li, yet people are very similar, happy, and prosperous, with identical customs."

Account of the members of Zheng He's entourage[29]

From the 13th century, Kozhikode developed into the major trading centre where the Middle-Eastern and Chinese sailors met to exchange their products. Marco Polo visited Kozhikode in 1293– 1294. Ibn Batutah refers to the brisk Chinese trade at Kozhikode. Wang Ta-yuan – during the Yuan period – describes the pepper trade in Kozhikode in his work "Tao-i-Chih". Zheng He (Cheng Ho), the renowned Ming Chinese admiral, visited Kozhikode in 1407, 1409, and in 1431–1433 etc.[12] Zheng most probably died at Kozhikode in 1433 AD during his seventh voyage to the West.[30][31]

The principle objective of the first expedition (1405–1407) was the kingdom of Kozhikode. Historians presume that the fleet stayed from December 1406 to April 1407 at Kozhikode. Ambassadors from Kozhikode, among envoys from other states, accompanied the returning (first expedition) fleet bringing articles of "tribute" to Nanking in 1407. The envoys in the second expedition (1407–1409) carried out the formal "investiture" of the Samoothiri of Kozhikode "Mana Piehchialaman". Zheng did not actually accompanied the expedition, and it was directed by his associates. A memorial inscription was erected in Kozhikode to commemorate the investiture. The Chinese titles and gifts (brocades and gauzes) were given to the Samoothiri and his retinue by the Chinese envoys. Presumably a stay of about four months was made at Kozhikode, possibly from December 1408 to April 1409. The third expedition (1409–1411) also visited Kozhikode. The fleet sailed on from Kozhikode to Ceylon in 1411. The fourth (1413–1415, Ma Huan's first voyage under Zheng), fifth (1417–1419) and sixth fleets also visited Kozhikode.[32][2] A number of tribute delegations – in 1421, 1423, and 1433, among others – were dispatched by the Kozhikode rulers to Nanking and Peking. Presents from Kozhikode included horses and black pepper. Some representatives of the Kozhikode reached the Ming court in the years 1403–1433.[12] Brocades of several types were presented to the some of the Kozhikode envoys.[33] Ma Huan visited Kozhikode all the seven times, and describes the trade in the region. Fei-Hsin also notices the brisk trade at Kozhikode. Abd-ur-Razzaq visited Kozhikode in 1443 AD.[12][29][34][35][36]

The few remnants of the Chinese trade can be seen in and around the present city of Kozhikode. This include a Silk Street, Chinese Fort ("Chinakotta"), Chinese Settlement ("Chinachery" in Kappad), and Chinese Mosque ("Chinapalli" in Panthalayini Kollam). It seems that Chinese merchants were replaced by Middle Eastern sailors in a later period. This group included from Muslims from Arabia, Cairo (the Kareme/Karimi merchants linked with the Mamluks), Turkey, Iraq and Persia.[12][29][37]

Relations with the Portuguese[edit]

"No one has tried to clear that misconception [that Vasco da Gama landed at Kappad]. The government has even installed a memorial stone at the Kappad beach. Actually [Vasco da] Gama landed at Panthalayini near Kollam in the [Kozhikode] district because there was a port there and Kozhikode did not have one. It does not have a port even now."[38]

M. G. S. Narayanan

"He [possibly an ex-convict called João Nunes] was taken to a place where there were two Moors from Tunis, who knew how to speak Castilian and Genoese. And the first greeting that they give him was the following:

"What the Devil! What brought you here?"

Velho 1987: 54–55[39]

Vasco da Gama landing in Kozhikode – a modern depiction (1911) by Allan Stewart
Portuguese coin issued to commemorate Vasco da Gama's landing in Kozhikode
Duarte Pacheco's victory at the Battle of Cochin (1504)
The sword used by Kunjali Marakkar, preserved at Kottakkal Mosque, Vadakara

The landing of Vasco da Gama in Kozhikode in 1498 has often been considered as the beginning of a new phase in Indian history during which the control of the Indian Ocean passed into the hands of the Europeans from Middle Eastern Muslims. The strong colony of merchants – mostly Arabs – settled in Kozhikode was hostile, but Samoothiri welcomed the Portuguese and allowed them to take spices on board. In Portugal, the goods brought by da Gama from India were computed at sixty times the cost of the entire Asia expedition.[40] The Portuguese set about breaking the monopoly which Venetians and the Egyptians had so long enjoyed in the trade with India. The Egyptians and the Ottoman Turks realised the danger, but internal complications between them gave the Portuguese an opportunity.[41]

The Portuguese entered into conflictual relations with the Samoothiri of Kozhikode and his Middle Eastern Muslim merchants. As per Harold V. Livermore, it was the (Middle Eastern) Muslim financiers and magnates at Kozhikode who persuaded Samoothiri of Kozhikode to turn against the Portuguese. However, the procurement of spices and textiles also saw them entering into some type of amicable relations with Mappila and Syrian Christian traders, whom they used as brokers and intermediaries in purchase and sale. But this did not last long, the Estado da Índia soon entered into conflict with several principle Mappila trading families. This was partly due to their policies, and partly on account of the brutal acts they carried out, such as the killing of a relative of the Mammali of Kannur and the assassination of the qazi of Kannur. Mappila traders actively worked even in the kingdoms of Ceylon to oppose the Portuguese, and in the kingdom of Kozhikode declared a jihad against the Estado.[42]

Kunjali Marakkars were the famous admirals of Kozhikode and organised a powerful navy to fight the Portuguese.[43] Francisco de Almeida (1505–1509) and Afonso de Albuquerque (1509–1515), who followed da Gama to India, were instrumental in establishing the Império Colonial Português in Asia.[40] By the mid-16th century, the Portuguese managed to curtail the vital trade between Kozhikode and the Middle East. In the end of the century, Kochi was the dominant seaport in Kerala, having surpassed both Kannur and Kozhikode.[42]

Date Event
May 1498 Vasco da Gama lands in Kozhikode, and is welcomed by the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. Much to the delight of the discontented Middle Eastern merchants, da Gama's trade goods were hardly suitable for trade in India, and he fails to conclude a treaty of any substance with Kozhikode. The trade goods he carried – no gold and copper, or silver – only came handy in the trade on the West African coast.[40]

However, the Samoothiri of Kozhikode gave his "sanction" for opening spice trade, and allowed to erect a small feitoria in Kozhikode.[44] After some confusion – the feitoria was robbed once – the fleet leaves Kozhikode in November. The fleet took with them five or six Hindus (without the consent of the Samoothiri).[44]

It is also known that da Gama erected a padrão in the kingdom of Kozhikode.[5].

November 1498 The fleet makes interactions – and trade – with Samoothiri's rival chief, the Kolathiri (Cannanore)[44]
September 1500 Pedro Alvares Cabral reaches Kozhikode, rich presents were exchanged, and a treaty of friendship, "as long as the sun and moon should endure", was entered upon. He manages obtain the permission to construct a "fortified trading post". At the request of the Samoothiri, Cabral captures a Kochi vessel passing the port. The vessel is subsequently restored to the chief of Kochi.[44][45]
December 1500 The Muslims of Kozhikode appear to have effectually prevented the Portuguese from obtaining any large supply of spices. Cabral attacks and seizes a Muslim vessel. Soon around 50 Portuguese sailors at the depot are massacred by the Muslims and the depot is razed. The Portuguese seize ten of the Samoothiri's Muslim vessels, execute their crews and leave Kozhikode by bombarding it in retaliation. Around 600 Malabarians are killed.[44][45]
24 December 1500 The Portuguese, led by Pedro Álvares Cabral, reach the port of Kochi.[44] Kochi Raja, a chieftain at the time, was subordinate to the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. The Portuguese encouraged the port and chief of Kochi in both commercial and military senses to develop as a rival to Kozhikode.[42]
January 1501 The Portuguese conclude a treaty with the chief of Kochi "Tirumumpara" (Tirumalpadu); an alliance of friendship was signed, allowing them to open a factory (trading depot). He is permitted to trade for spices, with which he loads his six remaining ships.[45]

A Kozhikode fleet, carrying 1500 men, appears off the harbour of Kochi. The Kozhikode fleet holds off. Cabral chases them, but is overtaken by a violent storm which carries him to the sea. He later sails to Kannur, and from there proceeds to Europe.[44]

March 1501 John de Nueva is despatched from Portugal to India. He anchors at Anjediva in November and from there sails to Kannur. While travelling from Kannur to Kochi the fleet attacks and captures a Muslim vessel opposite to the Kozhikode.[44]
December 1501 About 180 Kozhikode vessels filled with Muslims arrive at Kochi from Kozhikode, for the purpose of attacking the Portuguese. John de Nueva fires cannon at them, sinking a large number of vessels.[44]

The Muslims persuade native merchants all of over Kerala to refuse to trade their spices and textiles with the Portuguese.[44]

Owing to the generosity of the chief of Kochi alone, his ships are soon loaded with spices and textiles, and the fleet departs for Europe.[44]

August 1502 Vasco da Gama returns to India to try to control Kozhikode. He burns a ship full of Muslim pilgrims – around 700 – from Mecca off the coast of Madayi. The ship also carried a chief merchant from Kozhikode. This individual – fairly rich – was the brother of Khoja Kasim, the Factor of the Sea to the Samoothiri of Kozhikode.[46] However, the burning and sinking of the ship is not related by any contemporary and reliable sources. Some assume that the description may be "legendary or at least exaggerated".[5]

He is warmly welcomed by Kolathiri (ruler of Kannur), and arranges a treaty of commerce with the ruler of Kolathiri. He next divides his fleet; one portion of it is to wage war on all native vessels except those of Kannur (Kolathunadu), Kochi (Permpatappu) and Quilon (Kollam, Venadu), which are to be protected by "passes" (cartazes) obtained from the factors at Kannur and Kochi respectively.[44]

Vincent de Sodre mistreats Khoja Muhammed Marakkar – a wealthy Muslim from Cairo – who had insulted the Kolathiri.[44]

Sailing southwards, da Gama is informed by a Brahmin messenger that the Samoothiri have arrested the Muslims who were guilty of the outrage on the trading depot. Da Gama was offered a large sum to pay for the factory goods. He sent back word to say that he did not want money, and also mistreated the Brahmin messenger. Some historians assume that this was an attempt to lure da Gama to Kozhikode, and then to apprehend him. Da Gama – who certainly thought so – fires cannon at the port Kozhikode, and kills around 40 natives.[44][5]

November 1502 Da Gama reaches Kochi and signs a treaty of commerce with the rulers of Kochi and Kollam. A factory is set up at Kochi by da Gama; its first factor is Diogo Fernandes Correia.[39] The fleet sails to Kannur, defeating two squadrons of a Kozhikode Arab[5] Muslim fleet on the way, and then for Europe on 28th December.[44]

While at Kochi (1502), da Gama was visited by a deputation of Christians from Kodungallur .

Samoothiri of Kozhikode, after the departure of the Armada, demands to the ruler of Kochi the Portuguese factors left at Kochi should be given to him. The demand is refused by the ruler of Kochi.[44]

1503 The Portuguese crown the new ruler of Kochi, effectively making him a vassal of the King of Portugal.
March–April 1503 Kozhikode forces of more than 50,000 Nairs attack Kochi to foil the growing Portuguese influence. The forces enter the Kochi territory, and occupy Edappalli in March. The Kozhikode forces defeat 5,500 Kochi Nairs lead by Narayanan, the heir apparent of Kochi, near Kodungallur . The Kochi prince is slain in the battle. The Kochi chief escapes to the island of Vypin. The Kozhikode forces burn Kochi. As the monsoon has begun, the Kozhikode forces, leaving a strong detachment at Kochi, retreat to Kodungallur.[44]

Two Italians desert to the side of the Kozhikode forces. These men later construct five big guns for the Kozhikode forces. [44]

September 1503 Francisco de Albuquerque, sailing from Kannur, reaches Kochi. The Kozhikode forces are easily defeated at Vypin island, and are driven back to Kodungallur. The Portuguese take Edappalli (Repelim).[44]

Albuquerque obtains permission to build a fort – Fort Manuel, the first Portuguese fort in Asia – at Kochi. Soon, Afonso de Albuquerque, his relative, arrives at Kochi with three more ships.[44]

The Portuguese are starved of spices and textiles at Kochi by the Kozhikode and the Muslims. Their fleet moves south to Quilon, and with aid of local Christian merchants easily procure the spices, and obtain permission to open a factory from Govardhana Marthanda.[44]

January 1504 Albuquerque leaves Malabar, his ships laden with spices. Before doing so he concludes a short-lived treaty with the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. The peace is broken by the murder of six Malabairs by the Portuguese.[44]
March–July 1504 Pacheco and a small garrison of 150 men guard Fort Manuel. 57,000 Nairs from all over the kingdom of Kozhikode, assisted by 5 cannon guns and 160 boats, attack Pacheco at the Edappally ferry. He manages to drive back the enemy several times. The Kochi Nairs provide little help in opposing the Kozhikode forces. As the monsoon sets in, cholera breaks out among the Kozhikode forces. The Samoothiri of Kozhikode at last gives up the attempt in despair.[44]
July 1504 Pacheco quells a partial outbreak at Kollam.[44]
August 1504 Pacheco defeats the Kozhikode troops at Chetwye.[44]
September 1504 Suarez de Menezes arrives in Kannur. He unsuccessfully tries to rescue some of the prisoners taken at Kozhikode in Cabral's time. He cannons the city of Kozhikode and sails to Kochi.[44]

The fleet raids and burns the city of Kodungallur, held by Patinjattedam chief under the Kozhikode. The Portuguese spare the Christian houses, shops and churches, but they loot those of the Jews and Muslims.[44]

March 1505 A large Muslim fleet at Pantalayini Kollam in the kingdom of Kozhikode is destroyed. It had assembled there to take back a large number of Muslims to Arabia and Egypt, who were leaving the kingdom of Kozhikode disappointed at the trade losses caused to them recently. De Menezes captures 17 vessels and kills 2,000 men.[47][44]
September 1505 Francisco de Almeyda commences building of Anjediva Fort.[44]
October 1505 Building of St. Angelo Fort, Kannur commences. De Almeyda is visited by a Vijayanagara delegation. Francisco de Almeyda arrives at Kochi.[44]
November 1505 Murder of the Portuguese factor António de Sá and his 12 men by a mob in Kollam. Lorenzo de Almeyda, finding 27 Kozhikode vessels at Kollam, engages and sinks them all. Francisco de Almeyda is crowned the new chief in Kochi.[44]
February 1506 The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt sends a fleet, commanded by Amir Hussain al-Kurdi al-Askar, into the Indian Ocean. The Ottomans help in the construction of the fleet. The fleet leaves Jiddah only in August/September 1507 and sets sail to Diu (ruled by Malik Ayaz).[48]
March 1506 Lorenz de Almeyda intercepts an armada of 210 large vessels of Turks (Ottoman) and Muslims whom the Samoothiri had launched against Kannur. Around 3,000 Muslims are killed in the assault and the Portuguese loss is very trifling.[44]
April 1507 Joined forces of Kannur and Kozhikode attack St. Angelo Fort. The old Kolathiri – the original friend of Vasco da Gama – has died and the new ruler is already displeased with the Portuguese for harming prominent Muslims merchants at Kannur. Combined forces, including around 60,000 Nairs, lay siege to the St. Angelo Fort. Brito, the Cannanore Commandant, resists the Malabaris for four months.[44]
August 1507 The Portuguese, assisted by eleven ship under da Cunha freshly arrived from Europe, break the blockade. The ruler of Kannur is forced to accede to the sailors.[44]
November 1507 The Portuguese under Almeyda attack Ponnani, destroying the town and shipping. 18 Portuguese are killed in the assault on the place. A number of Muslims take an oath to die as "matrys" on this occasion.[44]

The family of Kunjali Marakkars – a title conferred to them only later – relocates to Puthupattanam in North Malabar from Ponnani. The Samoothiri of Kozhikode appoints Marakkar I as his admiral. Kutti Ali serves under Marakkar I as a captain.[49]

March 1508 Albuquerque is imprisoned by Almeyda. The Egyptian navy, under the command of Admiral Amir Hussain and supported by the forces of Mahmud Begarha (Sultan of Gujarat), defeat the Portuguese at the Battle of Chaul, killing Lorenzo de Almeyda in the process. The Egyptian force of 1500 Mamluks also includes Kozhikode's ambassador to Cairo, Mayimama Marakkar. Marakkar is also killed in the action.[44][43] The alliance between Amir Hussain and Malik Ayaz begins to fall apart. Ayaz enters into secret negotiations with de Amleyda.[48]
November 1508 De Almeyda – with a fleet carrying 1300 Europeans, among others – sails to Kannur.[44]
February 1509 De Almeyda counter-attacks and defeats the Egyptian navy, which is assisted by Kozhikode forces, at the Battle of Diu.[44] The defeat off Diu is a major blow to the Muslims.[50] Amir Hussain, though wounded, flees to the Gujarat capital. He eventually reaches Cairo in December 1512.[48]
November 1509 A new fleet arrives from Europe. Albuquerque takes charge as Capitão-Mor.[43]
1510 Fernando Coutinho arrives at Kannur. He brings instruction from Lisbon that Kozhikode should be destroyed. Such had been, it is said, the counsel sent to Europe by the Kolathiri and by the chief of Kochi.[44]

Governor Albuquerque and Fernando Coutinho lands in the city of Kozhikode. Fernando Coutinho and his men are slain in this misguided adventure, Albuquerque is shot, and the Mananchira palace is sacked and set on fire.[44]

September 1510 The Chief of Kochi decides to relinquish the throne. Albuquerque eventually succeeds in preventing the abdication.[44]
November 1510 Governor Albuquerque takes Goa – Adil Khan is absent from the place – and it finally supplants Kochi as the chief Portuguese settlement in India. Among others he is assisted by the 300 hand-picked Nairs from Kannur.[40][44]
July 1511 Albuquerque takes Malacca in the East Indies.[40]
February 1511 Albuquerque establishes schools for the benefit of 400 natives who have converted to Christianity in Kochi.[44]
1513 Albuquerque lands at Kozhikode and has an interview with the Samoothiri. Kozhikode and the Portuguese sign a treaty giving the Portuguese the right trade as "they pleased", and to erect a fort in the kingdom of Kozhikode.[44][43]
1514–15 Fort Calicut is built on the right bank of the Kallayi river near the city of Kozhikode.[44] Albuquerque grants the Samoothiri a certain number of cartazes for the merchants based at Kozhikode, enabling them to resume trade with Aden, Jiddah and Gujarat.[42][41] The Samoothiri sends envoys to the King of Portugal with a letter expressing his readiness to supply goods.[4]
1515 Albuquerque takes Hormuz (Ormus) in the Persian Gulf.[40]
1515–17 Lopo Saores demands that the Samoothiri should repair to Fort Kozhikode and wait upon him. Hostilities are averted only by the good sense of the captains posted in the fort.[4]
1517 Assassination attempt on the Samoothiri. The Portuguese invite the Samoothiri to a house within their fort under the pretext of presenting the king with some gifts. The Samoothiri, with the help of a Portuguese officer, escapes from the fort. The officer is later banished with all kin to Kannur.[4]
1519 One of Kochi chief's nobles invades some lands belonging to one of the Samoothiri's barons. This leads to a general battle, and the Kochi chief suffers a defeat.[4]
1521 Kochi Nairs, assisted by some men sent by Governor Sequeiro, invade Chetwai. But the Kochi chief is soon outnumbered, and is pursued right up to his capital.[4]
1523 The Muslims, under the leadership of Kutti Ali, capture ten Portuguese vessels, and raid Kochi and Kodungallur harbours. The Muslims later insult the Governor Duarte de Menezes. In 1524 he bombards Fort Kozhikode.[4]
1524 Duarte de Menezes comes to Fort Kozhikode. The Samoothiri is dead and his successor (1522–1531) does not favour the Portuguese alliance. Kutti Ali anchors his fleet of 200 vessels at Kozhikode, to load eight ships with spices, and to dispatch them with a convoy of 40 vessels to the Red Sea before the very eyes of the Portuguese.[44]
1524 The King of Portugal sends Vasco Da Gama again to India. His mission is to reform the abuses which had crept into the administration in India. The ruler of Kannur (Kolathiri) surrenders a "pirate" chief called Bala Hassan to da Gama, who is thereupon thrown into a dungeon in Cannanore Fort. This man is related to the family of the Arakkal chief. Martu Alfonso de Souza under his orders relieves Kozhikode, engages the famous Kutti Ali's fleet and drives it to Kannur. Kutti Ali finally abandons his ships.[44][41]
December 1524 The Muslims, with Kozhikode's approval, make an onslaught on the Kodungallur Jews and Christians. They kill many Jews and drive out the rest to a village to the east. When the fleet attacks Christians, the Nairs of the place retaliate, and drive all Muslims out of Kodungallur.[44]
1525 Henry de Menezes reaches Kannur and executes Bala Hassan. The Kolathiri asks the Viceroy to punish those Muslims who have taken refuge at Dharmapattanam Island. An expedition is organised, and the towns, bazaars and shipping at Dharmapattanam and at Mahe are destroyed.[44]
February– March 1525 A Portuguese navy led by new Viceroy Henry Menezes raids Ponnani and Pantalayini Kollam, and burns the towns. Pantalayini Kollam is defended by 20,000 Nairs and Muslims. On reaching Kozhikode, he earlier found that the place had been attacked by the Kozhikode forces.[44] Kutti Ali in retaliation storms the port of Kochi, sets fire to the Portuguese ships, and manages to get away unhindered.[41][44]

The Nairs of the chief of Kurumbranad and Kozhikode forces invest Fort Kozhikode (Siege of Kozhikode). They are helped by a band of Muslims under the command of a European engineer. Kutti Ali's ships blockade the port. Captain Lima, with 300 men, defends the fort.[44][41]

June 1525 The Samoothiri himself marches in with an additional force.[44]
October 1525 The Viceroy arrives with 20 ships and relieves the garrison; the besiegers are driven back. Around 2,000 Kozhikode men are killed in this effort. The fort is later abandoned and destroyed by the Portuguese.[44]
October 1528 Viceroy Sampayo attacks Purakkad, a Kozhikode ally, and obtains a very rich booty.[44]

Kutti Ali is taken prisoner after a battle off Barkur. The Samoothiri's fleet suffers severe reverses. Pachachi Marakkar and Ali Ibrahim Marakkar leads the Samoothiri's fleet. The first foray of the fleet is against the Portuguese settlement in Ceylon.[41]

At stake is the trade in Ceylon cinnamon and the high-volume trade in foodstuffs that passes through the Gulf of Mannar.[39]

1531 Thirty Portuguese ships blockade the Kozhikode coast. [41] A peace treaty is signed between Nunho de Acunha and the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. Fort Chaliyam, south of Kozhikode, is constructed. The fort is "like a pistol held at the Samoothiri's throat" as it is a strategic site, only 10 km south of Kozhikode.[44]

Kutti Ali Marakkar is killed. His place is taken up by Marakkar II.[41]

1532 Mass conversion of the Paravas of the Pearl Fishery Coast.[39]
1533 Marakkar raids the Nagipattinam settlement of the Portuguese.[49]
1535 The Portuguese fleet withdraw their forces to face Turkish admiral Suleiman Pasha.[41]
1537 The Portuguese kill Kutti Ibrahim Marakkar. Fort Cranganore is erected. [44]
1539 Kozhikode enters into an agreement with the Portuguese. The Malabarians again agree to accept the Portuguese "passes". The wedge between the Samoothiri and the Mappilas widens.[44]
1540 Pattu Marakkar leads the Kozhikode navy. He is assisted by captain Kutti Pokkar of Ponnani.[49] Chinna Kutti Ali sues for peace with the Portuguese. The defeat of Ibrahim and Pattu Marakkar at Vedalai and the killing in Ceylon of a third notable was one factor that forces Chinna Kutti Ali to this move.[39]
1545 The Portuguese assassinate Abu Bakr Ali, the qazi of Kannur.[42]
1550 Battles by Kozhikode near Kochi. The Portuguese make descents on the coastal towns, particularly on Pantalayini Kollam, destroying mosques and houses, and killing one-third of the inhabitants.[44]

The Portuguese manage to reach an accommodation with some Middle Eastern merchants, such as Khoja Shams ud-Din Gilani of Kannur.[42]

1552 The Samoothiri receive assistance in heavy guns landed at Ponnani, brought there by Yoosuf, a Turk who sailed against the monsoon.[44]
1555 Peace between the Samoothiri and the Portuguese on the condition that "passes" should be taken by traders.[44]
1557–1559 Muslims of North Malabar begin hostilities, and then make the usual submission and agree to take out the "passes". The Muslim sailors come under enormous pressure under these stringent measures. The Muslims organise in small fleets of boats to engange with the Portuguese shipping. The Portuguese continue hostilities against the Samoothiri and the Malabarians. Emergence of the Kunjali Marakkar.[44]
1560 The Inquisition is established at Goa.[40]
1564 The Portuguese are besieged in their fort at Kannur, but the attack is repulsed.[44]
1564 The Samoothiri and his Muslim allies attack the Kochi chief at or near Kodungallur. Two Kochi princes are killed in the engagement. The Portuguese enlarge and strengthen the Fort Cranganore. Jews finally desert Anchuvannam and migrate to Kochi. They reside within the fort limits.[44]
1566 Kutti Poker of Ponnani captures a Portuguese ship.[44]
1567 Jew's Town is built, and the Jews in a body moved into the town from the Kochi fort limits.[44]
1569 Kutti Poker of Ponnani captures a second Portuguese ship. Around 1000 Portuguese sailors from these ships are killed.[44]
1569 Kutti Poker makes a successful raid on Mangalore Fort. His fleet falls in with a Portuguese fleet as he is returning south off Cannnanore, and he and all his sailors are killed.[44]

Samoothiri of Kozhikode forms alliances with rulers of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur.[44]

1571 Siege of Fort Chaliyam.[44] The Samoothiri is assisted by the naval forces of Marakkar III.[49]
September 1571 Fort Chaliyam surrenders to Kozhikode. The Samoothiri destroys the fort.[44]
1572 Chaliyam is burnt by the Portuguese.[44]
1573 Parappanangadi town is burnt by the Portuguese.[44] Pattu Marakkar (Marakkar III) obtains permission from Samoothiri to build a fortress and dockyard at Puthupattanam. This fort later came to be called "Fort Marakkar".[49]
1577 The fleet of Muslim ships, carrying rice, is seized by the Portuguese and 3000 sailors are killed.[44]
1578 Peace negotiations between Kozhikode and the Portuguese. The Samoothiri refuses to agree to construct a fort at Ponnani.[44]
1579 The Samoothiri visits Kodungallur. The Portuguese continue hostilities against the Samoothiri and the Malabarians. The rice embargo results in the Famine of 1579.[44]
1584 Kozhikode shifts policy towards the Portuguese because of his estrangement with the Marakkar who begins to defy the Samoothiri. Treaty of peace with Viceroy Mascarenhas.[44] He sanctions the Portuguese to build a factory at Ponnani. The decision is much resented by the Marakkars, and they strengthen Fort Marakkar.[49]
1591 Samoothiri allows the Portuguese to build a factory at Kozhikode. He lays the foundation of the church, granting them the necessary land and building materials.
1595 Possible date of the succession of Marakkar IV. Another date in the 1570s a few years after the erection Fort Marakkar is also proposed.[49]
1597 The Samoothiri has grown nervous about the royal pretensions of the Marakkar.[39] The Marakkar has styled himself "King of Muslims" and "Lord of the Indian Seas".[49] Father Franciso de Costa is sent to Kozhikode. Agreement between the Samoothiri and the Portuguese on Marakkar IV. The allies decide to proceed together against Fort Marakkar – the Kozhikode forces by land the Portuguese by sea.[49]
1599 Forcible subjection of the Syrian church to Rome at the Synod of Diamper.[40] The Archbishop of Goa, Alexis Menezis, visits Kottakkal in 1599.[41]

Siege of Fort Kottakkal (Fort Marakkar) from land by the Kozhikode forces alone. The siege ends in a frustrating defeat of the Kozhikode forces. Marakkar IV calls himself "Defender of Islam" and the "Expeller of the Portuguese".[49]

Treaty between the Samoothiri of Kozhikode and the Portuguese. He declares that he would from then on cease persecuting Christians, permit the erection of churches in the kingdom of Kozhikode, support the Synod of Diamper, release all Christian prisoners, and provide spices for the ships of the Portuguese at the usual prices. In return the Portuguese agree to grant him "cartazes" every year for ships bound for Jiddah, Bengal, Aceh and the Canara. Most importantly the Samoothiri anticipate their help in a joint attack on Kunjali Marakkar's fort at Ponnani.[42]

1600 Siege of Fort Marakkar by the combined forces of the Portuguese (under Andre Furtado) and the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. The assault on the fort is begun by the Nair force consisting 6,000 men.[49]

The Portuguese execute Kunjali Marakkar IV, who surrendered in person to the Samoothiri, at Goa.[49] The Samoothiri took over Fort Marakkar and the town of Kottakkal.[49]

The relations between the Samoothiri and the Portuguese again reverts back.[42]

Relations with the Dutch and English[edit]

In 1602, the Samoothiri sent messages to Aceh, where the Verenigde Zeeuwsche Compagnie had a factory, promising the Dutch a fort at Kozhikode if they would come and trade there. Two factors, Hans de Wolff and Lafer, were sent on an Asian ship from Aceh, but the two were captured by the chief of Tanur, and handed over to the Portuguese. These men were later hanged in Goa.[42]

A Dutch fleet under Admiral Steven van der Hagen arrived in Kozhikode in November 1604. It marked the beginning of the Dutch presence in Kerala and they concluded a treaty with Kozhikode on 11 November 1604. By this time the kingdom and the port of Kozhikode was much reduced in importance.[42] The treaty provided for a mutual alliance between the two to expel the Portuguese from Malabar. In return the Dutch East India Company was given facilities for trade at Kozhikode and Ponnani, including spacious storehouses.

In 1610, Cornelis Jacobsz van Breekvelt and Hans Bullardm arrived at Kozhikode and re-promulgated the old treaty. In 1617, Pieter van den Broecke was asked by a Samoothiri prince to aid them in a battle against Kochi. The Dutch refused to help the Kozhikode rulers.[42]

The Dutch, some fifteen years after the Samoothiri first asked for help, had promised much and delivered almost nothing. The Samoothiri finally turned to the English.[42] In September 1610, the English factors at Mocha were approached by the head of the Mappilas there to their shipping in the region from the Portuguese fleets.[42] The English reached Kozhikode under Captain William Keeling and concluded a treaty of trade (1616) under which, among others, the English were to assist Kozhikode in expelling the Portuguese from Fort Kochi and Fort Cranganore. The English set up a factory at Kozhikode, and a factor, George Woolman, is sent there with a stock of presents. But the Samoothiri soon found the English as unreliable as the Dutch where military aid was concerned. The factory was wound up in March, 1617.[26][42]

Later in 1661, Kozhikode joined a coalition led by the Dutch to defeat the Portuguese and Kochi and conducted a number of successful campaigns. As a result of the Kew Letters, the Dutch settlements on the Malabar Coast were surrendered to the British in 1795 in order to prevent them being overrun by the French. Dutch Malabar remained with the British after the conclusion of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, which traded the colony with Bangka Island.

Mysore occupation and settlement negotiations[edit]

Palghat Fort
Kozhikode Railway Station was established during the Colonial rule

It was in 1732, at the invitation of the chief of Palakkad, that Mysore forces marched to Kerala for the first time. They appeared again in 1735, and in 1737 they raided the Samoothiri's frontier outposts. In 1745, the Mysore forces fought three battles with the Kozhikode warriors.[4][8] In 1756 they invaded Kozhikode for the fifth time. The chief of Palakkad had placed himself under the protection of the King of Mysore, agreeing to pay an annual tribute of 12,000 fanams. The Faujdar of Dindigul, Hyder Ali, sent Mukhdam Sahib, with 2000 cavalry, 5,000 infantry, and 5 guns to Kerala. The Samoothiri tried to buy off the enemy by promising (Treaty, 1756) to refrain from molesting Palakkad and pay 12 lakh rupees for the expenses of the expedition. However the Samoothiri was unable pay anything to Hyder Ali.[4] In 1766, 12,000 Mysore forces under Hyder Ali marched to Malabar from Mangalore. Mysore's intentions were made easy by the help they received from the Muslims in Malabar. Ali Raja of Kannur, a Muslim ruler in northern Kerala, also helped the invading forces. The Mysore army conquered northern Kerala up to Kochi with relative ease. Hyder Ali inflicted a major setback on the Kozhikode warriors at Perinkolam Ferry on the Kotta River.[4] As Mysore edged closer to the outer reaches of the city of Kozhikode, the Samoothiri sent most of his relatives to safe haven in Ponnani, and from there to Travancore, and to avoid the humiliation of surrender committed self-immolation by setting fire to his palace at Mananchira (27 April). Hyder Ali absorbed Malabar district to his state.[51][8]

But as soon as the Haider Ali marched to Coimbatore, Nair rebellions broke out in Malabar. Some members of the Samoothiri family rebelled against the Muslim occupiers. This included the Eralpadu Krishna Varma with his nephew Ravi Varma. The princes were aided by the British East India Company.[52] In 1768 the Samoothiri prince was restored in Kozhikode, agreeing to pay an annual tribute to Mysore. For nearly six years till 1774 nothing was heard about Hyder Ali.[4] In 1774, Mysore forces under Srinivasa Rao occupied the city of Kozhikode. The prince retired to Travancore in a native vessel. The baton of resistance now passed to his nephew Ravi Varma. Ravi Varma helped the Company occupy Kozhikode in 1782.[4] By the Treaty of Mangalore, concluded in 1784, Malabar was restored to Mysore. In 1785 the oppression of revenue officers led to a rebellion by the Mappilas of Manjeri. As a reward for aiding to put down the rebels, and partly as an incentive, Tipu Sultan settled upon Ravi Varma a pension and a jaghir in 1786. The peace was soon broken and Tipu sent 6,000 troops under Mon. Lally to Kerala.[4]

Lord Cornwallis invited the Kerala chiefs to join him in 1790, promising to render them in future entirely independent of Mysore and to retain them upon reasonable terms under the protection of the Company. Prince Ravi Varma met General Meadows at Trichinopoly and settled with him the terms of the Kozhikode's cooperation. After the Third Mysore War (1790–1792), Malabar was placed under the control of the Company by the Treaty of Seringapatam.[8]

In the settlement negotiations with the Joint Commission in 1792, the Samoothiri proved recalcitrant. To pressure him, a portion of his former territories (Payyanadu, Payyormala, Kizhakkumpuram, Vadakkampuram and Pulavayi) was leased to the ruler of Kurumburanadu as manager for the East India Company. Finally, after prolonged negotiations, the hereditary territory of the Samoothiri, together with the coin mint and the sea customs, was leased back to him. He was also temporarily given jurisdiction over the petty rulers and, as a mark of the Samoothiri's exceptional position in Malabar, the revenue fixed for Beypore, Parappanadu and Vettattunadu was to be paid through him. As previously noted, these tax-payment and jurisdictional arrangements were terminated later and the Samoothiri of Kozhikode became a mere pensioned landlord receiving the "malikhana". On 1 July 1800, Malabar was transferred to the Madras Presidency. On 15 November 1806 the agreement upon which rested the future political relations between the Samoothiri of Kozhikode and the English was executed.[4][8]

Governance[edit]

The Palace of the Samoothiri of Kozhikode in 17th century - from Dutch archives

According to historian M. G. Raghava Varier, at the peak of their reign, the Samoothiri's ruled over a region from Kollam to Panthalayini Kollam (Koyilandy).[3][42][8]

K. V. Krishna Iyer, the court historian in Kozhikode, explains[4];

Apart from the southern half of Kurumburanadu, Payyanadu, Polanadu, Ponnani, Cheranadu, Venkatakkotta (Kottakkal), Malappuram, Kappul, Mannarakkadu, Karimpuzha, Nedunganadu, Naduvattom, Kollangodu, Kotuvayur, and Mankara the kingdom of Kozhikode included the following territories as "tributary polities" (in the during the late 15th century): Kottayam, Payyormala, Pulavayi, Tanore (Vettam), Chaliyam, Beypore, Parappanadu, Thirunavaya, Talapalli-Kakkad, Talapalli-Punnattur, Chittur, Chavakkad, Kavalappara, Edappally, Patinjattedam, Kodungallur (Cranganore), Kollengodu, Kochi (Cochin) and all of its vassal polities, Paravur, Purakkad, Vadakkumkur, Tekkumkur, Kayamkulam and Kollam (Quilon).[4]

The kingdom only included the following territories during the late 18th century[4]:

Payyanadu, Polanadu, Ponnani, Cheranadu, Venkattakkotta, Malappuram, Kappul, Mannarkkad, Karimpuzha, and Nedunganadu. The Samoothiri claimed to be – with more or less influence – the "paramount sovereign" over Payyormala, Pulavayi, Beypore, Parappanadu, Tanore (Vettam), Talapalli, Chavakkadu and Kavalappara. Kozhikode had also taken possession of the more full and immediate sovereignty over Kollangode (Venninnadu), Koduvayur and Mankara.[4]

The hereditary chiefs, more or less independent in their territory, acknowledged the over-lordship of the Samoothiri in Kozhikode. The "local magnates" were dependent on the Samoothiri of Kozhikode.[8] The Samoothiri was assisted in the work of government in Kozhikode by four hereditary chief ministers called "Sarvadhi Karyakkar" and number of ministers called "Karyakkar" and "Polttis". The Karyakkar were appointed and removed by the Samoothiri. Adhikaris, Thalachennavars, Achanmar and temple functionaries also belonged to the Polttis.[4] There were ritual specialists like Hindu priests of the palaces, astrologers etc. as well as various occupational groups like physicians, weavers, and militiamen all of whom were attached to the royal establishment.[4]

Sarvadhi Karyakkar[edit]

  • Mangattachan - the prime minister
  • Tinayancheri Elayatu
  • Dharmottu Panikkar - the instructor-in-arms who commanded the Kozhikode forces
  • Varakkal Paranambi - treasury and accounts

Shahbandar Koya[edit]

Shahbandar Koya (sometimes Khwaja, popularly known as the Koya of Kozhikode) was a privileged administrative position in Kozhikode.[41] The Shahbandar was the second most important official in most Asian polities after the ruler.[53] Trade at the port of Kozhikode was controlled by this Muslim merchant-cum-port commissioner. He supervised customs on the behalf of the king, fixed the prices of the commodities, and collected the share to the treasury. As the farmer of customs he also had right collect brokerage and poll tax at the port.[10]

According to tradition, it was a merchant from Muscat, Oman who induced to the Samoothiri to the conquer Valluvanadu. The Koya was subsequently appointed as the "Shahbandar" by the Samoothiri of Kozhikode. He is also given "all the privileges and dignities of a Nair chief, jurisdiction over all the Muslims residing in the bazaar of Kozhikode, the right to receive a present from the Ilavar (the Tiyyar), the Kammalar (the smiths, carpenters, stone workers etc.) and the Mukkuvar whenever the Samoothiri conferred any honours on them on ceremonial occasions".[10]

Revenue and trade[edit]

The major sources of revenue were:[4]

  • Taxing trade via ports
  • Cherikkal lands (royal estates, agricultural lands owned by the Zamorin)
  • Amkam (fee for permitting to hold a trial by battle)
  • Chunkam (tolls and duties)
  • Ela (proceeds of lands confiscated)
  • Kola (forced contribution for emergencies)
  • Tappu (mulets/unconditional offences)
  • Pizha (fines)
  • Purushantaram (vassal succession fee)
  • Pulyatta pennu (the proceeds from the sale of out-casted women) etc.
  • Tirumulkalcha (gifts on various occasions)
  • Virinnamittu panam (amount for the royal feast)
  • Kannukku panam (amount presented for the death rituals) etc.

The Samoothiri of Kozhikode derived greater part of his revenues by taxing spice trade.[39] [54] Trade – both coastal and overseas – was dominated the Muslims, though Jews, Chettis from Coromandel Coast, and Vanias from Gujarat all traded in and from Kozhikode. The Muslim traders included natives (Mappilas and Marakkars) as well as Muslims from the Middle East. The foreigners dominated the lucrative Indian Ocean spice trade.[42] The long-distance trade on the Malabar Coast was relatively centralised in the 15th century, the major port in this respect being Kozhikode. Kozhikode, despite being located at a geographically inconvenient spot, owed much of its prosperity of the Samoothiris of Kozhikode. The goods carried across the Arabian Sea included spices – pepper, ginger and cardamom – and trans-shipped textiles, and coconut products. The import into Kozhikode consisted of gold and copper, silver, horses (Kannur especially), silk, various aromatics, and other minor items.[42] The Indian coastal trade network encompassed commodities such as coconuts, coir, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and rice. Rice was a major import item into the kingdom of Kozhikode from Canara and Coromandel Coast.[42] Low-value but high-volume trade in foodstuffs that passed through the Gulf of Mannar was also handled by the native Muslims from Malabar Coast. The local people were suppliers and consumers of goods in Kozhikde ports. The merchant guilds also played an active role in the maritime activities.[55]

Maritime corridor Nature Dominant community
West Asia – Malabar Coast (Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf) International / overseas Muslims from the Middle East
East Asia – Malabar Coast (Pegu, Mergui, and Melaka in Myanmar and Malasia and points east) International / overseas Native Muslims (Mappilas and Marakkars)
East Coast of India – Malabar Coast (Canara, Coromandel Coast and Bay of Bengal shores) and Maldives, and Ceylon Domestic / coastal Native Muslims (Mappilas and Marakkars), and Chettis from Coromandel Coast [11]
Gujarat – Malabar Coast Domestic / coastal Muslims, and Vanias from Gujarat
Malabar coastal Domestic / coastal Muslims – Mappilas

The coins minted in Kozhikode included Panam (made of gold), Taram (made of silver) and Kasu (made of copper). The officer in-charge of the mint was called the "Goldsmith of Manavikraman". The royal mint was destroyed in 1766.[4]

  • 16 Kasu = 1 Taram[4]
  • 16 Tarams = 1 Panam[4]
Ma Haun's Table (1409)[11]
  • 1 Kochi Panam = 15 Tarams
Holzschuher's Table (1503)[11]
Gold coins:
  • Kozhikode/Kannur/Kochi Panam (15 carats gold)
    • 19 panams = 1 cruzado (Portuguese) or ducat (European)
  • Kollam Panam (19 carats gold)
    • 12 panams = 1 cruzado (Portuguese) or ducat (European)
Silver coins:
  • [All Malabar Coast] Taram
    • 16 Tarams = 1 Panam
Copper coins:
  • Kollam Kasu
    • 15 Kasus = 1 Panam

Coins in circulation in the pre-Portuguese kingdom of Kozhikode included gold coins called Pagoda/Pratapa, silver Tangas of Gujarat, of Bijapur, of Vijayanagara and the Larines of Persia, Xerafins of Cairo, the Venetian and the Genoan ducats.[11] Other coins in circulation in the kingdom of Kozhikode - in sometime or other - included Riyal ("Irayal"), Dirhma ("Drama"), Rupee ("Uruppika"), Rasi ("Rachi"), and Venadu Chakram. Venadu coins - it seems - came to circulation after the Mysorean interlude.[8]

Rasi later gave way to the Kaliyuga Rayan Panam. Of Kaliyuga Rayan Panam there were two varieties. One of these (issued by Kannur) was afterwards imitated by the Samoothiri called Virarayan Putiya Panam, to distinguish it from the coin of Kannur, which then became Pazhaya Panam. The four Pazhaya Panams made a Rupee while three and half Putiya Panams equalled a Rupee. [8]

Present day location of the Mananchira Palace. The Fort and Palace were destroyed by the Mysore army in 18th century

Military[edit]

Kozhikode's attitude towards the vanquished chiefs and European governors was generally marked by moderation. The whole conquered area was not ruled directly from Kozhikode but was ruled by a Kozhikode official (general, minister or Eradi prince). Sometimes, its former rulers allowed to rule as a vassal or feudatory.[4]

Kozhikode forces consisted mainly of feudal levies, brought by the vassal rulers and chiefs. The former were divided into five classes (Commanders of the Five Thousand, of the Thousand, of the Five Hundred, of the Three Hundred, and of the Hundred). Standing armies were kept at strategic locations like Kozhikode, Ponnani, Chavakkad, Chunganadu etc. Dharmottu Panikkar – the instructor in arms – commanded the warriors. The nominal cavalry was commanded by the Kuthiravattattu Nair. Nair militia was slow moving as compared to the cavalry, and always fought on foot. [4]

The use of firearms and balls had been known before the advent of the Portuguese. As gunpowder and shot made by the natives were poor quality, Kozhikode later employed the Europeans to manufacture them. The Mappilas formed the main corps of musketeers, led by Thinayancheri Elayathu.[4]

Kunjali Marakkars[edit]

The Kunjali Marakkars effectively functioned the naval commanders of the Kozhikode Samoothiri in the 16th century. The Mappila seamen were famous for their naval guerrilla warfare and hand-to-hand fighting on board. But the Mappila ships were smaller, inferior in artillery, and incapable of joint/organised operations.[4]

Scholars assume that the Marakkars, before the beginning of the hostilities with the Portuguese, were traders of rice from Konkan. One Ismail Marakkar seems to be a prominent rice trader in Kochi.[41] During the early years of Portuguese presence in Kerala (c. 1500-1515 AD) the Muslim merchants of Kochi - such as Cherina Marakkar, Mamale Marakkar, Mitos Marakkarm Nino Marakkar, etc. - acted as spice suppliers for them. [56]

Even after the execution of Marakkar IV in 1600 AD, the title of the Kunjali Marakkar continued to exist for almost century.[41]

The four key Kunjali Marakkars:[49]

Birth name Title Notes
Kutti Ahmed Ali (Muhammed of Kochi?[41]) Kunjali Marakkar I Admiral from 1507. Assisted by captain Kutti Ali.
Kutti Pokker Ali Kunjali Marakkar II Son of Kutti Ali, a captain who served under Marakkar I
Pattu (Pata) Kunjali Marakkar Kunjali Marakkar III Active from around 1540 AD, died c. 1575.[41] Assisted by captain Kutti Poker of Ponnani.

Instrumental in the Fall of Fort Chaliyam (1571). Erection Fort Marakkar (Kottakkal) in 1572–73.

"The rise in Ponnani of Pattu Kunjali Marakkar appeared to have signalled a real threat to rulers
such as the Kolathiri and the Samoothiri as much as to the Portuguese." – Sanjay Subrahmanyam
in "The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India 1500–1650", Cambridge University Press (2002) [42]

Muhammad Kunjali Kunjali Marakkar IV Admiral from c. after 1573 or 1595, Nephew of Marakkar III. First (1599) and Second Siege (1600) of Fort Marakkar. Executed at Goa in 1600 AD.

List of Kozhikode Samoodiris[edit]

Samoothiri of Kozhikode (1868–1892). In 1766 Haider Ali of Mysore defeated the Samoothiri of Kozhikode – an English East India Company dependant at the time – and absorbed Malabar district to his state. After the Third Mysore War (1790–1792), Malabar was placed under the control of the Company. Later the status of the Samoothiris as independent rulers was changed to that of pensioners of the Company.
K. C. Manavedan Raja (1932–1937)

Historical documents rarely mentions the individual names of the Samoothiris of Kozhikode. Mana Vikrama, Mana Veda and Vira Raya were the only names given to male members in the royal family, the Samoothiri always being known as Manavikrama. Mana Veda might be a corruption of the Old Malayalam title "Mana Viyata".[9] Portuguese historian Diogo de Couto was the first to attempt the construction of chronological scheme.[57]

The following is a list of rulers of Kozhikode from "The Zamorins of Calicut" (1938) by K. V. Krishna Iyer. The first column (No.) gives the number of the Samoothiri reckoned from the founder of the ruling family, based upon de Couto's assumption that there had been 98 Samoothiris before the Samoothiri reigning in 1610.[57]

First dynasty[edit]

The original seat of the aristocratic clan was Nediyiruppu and the head of the house was known as Nediyiruppu Mutta Eradi, a title enjoyed by the fifth in rank from the Samoothiri. Under the Kodungallur Chera rulers the Mutta Eradi governed Ernad with the title of "Ernad Utaiyar". Later the clan abandoned its ancestral house and transferred its residence to the present day Kozhikode.[57]

No. of Samoothiri Name Reign Important events
1 Mana Vikrama (Manikkan) N/A The legendary founder of the ruling family.
27 8 years Kozhikode city is established
65 1339–1347 Ibn Battuta at Kozhikode (1342–1347)
73 1402–1410 Ma Huan at Kozhikode (1403)
78 1442–1450 The visits of Abdur Razzak (1442) and Niccolò de' Conti (1444)
81 Mana Vikrama the Great 1466–1474 Athanasius Nikitin (1468–1474) visits Kozhikode.
82 Mana Veda 1474–1482
84 1495–1500 The arrival of Vasco da Gama (1498)
85 1500–1513 The occupations of Kochi (1503–1504)
86 1513–1522 Treaty with Portuguese (1513), and the erection of the Portuguese fort at Kozhikode (1514)
87 1522–1529 The expulsion of Portuguese from Kozhikode
88 1529–1531 The building of Portuguese fort at Chaliyam (1531)
89 1531–1540 Battles with the Portuguese
90 1540–1548 Treaty with Portuguese (1540)
91 1548–1560 Adoption of the chief of Bardela (150) and the battles with the Portuguese.
92 Viraraya 1560–1562
93 Mana Vikrama 1572–1574 The expulsion of the Portuguese from Chaliyam (1571)
94 1574–1578 Battles with the Portuguese
95 1578–1588 The Portuguese allowed a factory at Ponnani (1584)
96 1588–1597 The settlement of the Portuguese at Kozhikode (1591)
97 1597–1599 Battles with Marakkar (1598–1599)
98 1599–1604 Capture of Marakkar's stronghold (1600)
99 1604–1617 Siege of Cannanore (1604–1617) and treaties with the Dutch (1604 and 1608) and the English (1615)
100 Mana Vikrama 1617–1627
101 1627–1630
102 1630–1637
103 Mana Vikrama (Saktan Tampuran) 1637–1648 The uncle of the author of the Krishnanatakam
104 Tiruvonam Tirunal 1648–1655
105 Mana Veda 1655–1658 The author of the Krishnanatakam
106 Asvati Tirunal 1658–1662 The expulsion of the Portuguese from Kodungallur (1662)
107 Puratam Tirunal 16621666 The expulsion of Portuguese from Kochi (1663)
108 1666–1668 Battles with the Dutch
109 1668–1671 The destruction of the Cheraman Sword
110 Uttrattati Tirunal 1671–1684 Cession of Chetwai to the Dutch
111 Bharani Tirunal Mana Vikrama[58] 1684–1705 The terror of the Dutch. Two Mamankams (1694 and 1695)
112 Nileswaram Tirunal 1705–1711 Adoptions from Nileswaram (1706 and 1707)
113 1711–1729 The Dutch War (1715–1718)
114 Mana Vikrama 1729–1741

Note: Italic names only indicate the asterism under which the Samoothiri is born

Second Dynasty[edit]

It seems that the original ruling family came to an end with the 114th Samoothiri of Kozhikode. The 115th Samoothiri, the first of the second ruling family, was the oldest of the princes adopted from Nileshwaram in 1706.[57]

No. of Samoothiri Name Reign Important events
115 Samoothiri from Kilakke Kovilakam 1741–1746
116 Putiya Kovilakam 1746–1758 The Dutch War (1753–1758)
117 Kilakke Kovilakam 1758–1766 Battles with Travancore and the invasion of Mysore, committed suicide. Annexed by Mysore.
118 Putiya Kovilakam 1766–1788
119 Kerala Varma Vikrama[58] (Putiya Kovilakam) 1788–1798 Treaty of Seringapatam (1792)
120 Krishna Varma[58] (Putiya Kovilakam) 1798–1806 Agreement of 1806 with EIC (died in 1816)

Samoothiri family today[edit]

"Kerala had many royal families which together may have more than 10,000 descendants. The Kochi family alone has more than 600. All these families had properties taken over by governments without compensation. Many of them are living in penury now. Shouldn't the state pay pensions to all of them then?"[59]

K. K. N. Kurup

Historians say any special treatment to the Zamorins would be against the [Indian] Constitution, which does not grant any privilege on the basis of birth. M. G. S. Narayanan says the Zamorins have not donated any property to the state. "The Zamorin's family had fled from Calicut when Hyder Ali from Mysore invaded Calicut in 1766. When defeat was imminent, the Zamorin committed suicide and set fire to the palace," he says. "That led to Calicut falling into the hands of [Hyder] Ali, his son Tipu Sultan and finally the British [Company] by 1792. The Zamorins had lost all their property by the time they were allowed to return to Calicut by 1800."[59]

M. G. S. Narayanan

The Samoothiris of Kozhikode returned to Kozhikode from Travancore by 1800. The Company reduced the Samoothiris to the position of "pensioned" landlord by giving them an annual payment called mali khana. Payments (mali khana) were taken over by the Government of India after independence in 1947.[59] The royal family has been trying to get a pension from the various governments over fifty years. The Kerala government decided to award a monthly pension to members of the royal family in 2013.[59]

At present the Samoothiri of Kozhikode is trustee to 46 Hindu temples (under Malabar Devaswom Board, as Madras H. R & C. E Act 1956) in northern Kerala, including five special grade temples, which generate a substantial revenue. The Samoothiri also has a permanent seat on the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple's managing committee. Zamorin’s High School – situated overlooking the Tali temple – was established in 1877 and the family manages the Zamorin’s Guruvayurappan College.[60][61]

The family has sought the government's help to preserve the artefacts in their private collection. This collection include palm leaf manuscripts, swords, shields and other valuables. [62] Malabar Devaswom Board Commissioner recently proposed to the Kerala state government that the temples under the hereditary (private) trustees – such as the Samoothiri – should be attached to the Board.[63]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d M. G. S. Narayanan, Perumals of Kerala: Brahmin Oligarchy and Ritual Monarchy—Political and Social Conditions of Kerala Under the Cera Perumals of Makotai (c. AD 800–AD 1124). Kerala. Calicut University Press, 1996, pp 512.
  2. ^ a b Ma Huan's Ying-yai Sheng-lan: 'The Overall Survey of the Ocean's Shores' [1433]. Translated and Edited by J. V. G. Mills. Cambridge University Press for the Hakluyt Society (1970).
  3. ^ a b Varier, M. R. Raghava. "Documents of Investiture Ceremonies" in K. K. N. Kurup, Edit., "India's Naval Traditions". Northern Book Centre, New Delhi, 1997
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj K. V. Krishna Iyer, Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938.
  5. ^ a b c d e Eila M.J. Campbell, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, "Vasco da Gama." Encyclopædia Britannica Online [1]
  6. ^ William A. Noble. "Kerala" Encyclopædia Britannica Online [2]
  7. ^ World States Men: Indian Princes Princely states of India
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m V. V., Haridas. "King court and culture in medieval Kerala – The Zamorins of Calicut (AD 1200 to AD 1767)". [3] Unpublished PhD Thesis. Mangalore University
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Narayanan, M. G. S. (1996). Perumals of Kerala: Political and Social Conditions of Kerala Under the Cēra Perumals of Makotai (c. 800 A.D.-1124 A.D.). Xavier Press.
  10. ^ a b c d e Kunhali. V. "Calicut in History" Publication Division, University of Calicut (Kerala), 2004
  11. ^ a b c d e f g The Portuguese, Indian Ocean and European Bridgeheads 1500–1800. Festschrift in Honour of Prof. K. S. Mathew (2001). Edited by: Pius Malekandathil and T. Jamal Mohammed. Fundacoa Oriente. Institute for Research in Social Sciences and Humanities of MESHAR (Kerala)
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Subairath C.T. "CALICUT: A CENTRI-PETAL FORCE IN THE CHINESE AND ARAB TRADE (1200–1500)". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. Vol. 72, PART-II (2011), pp. 1082-1089
  13. ^ "Lectures 26–27". Purdue University. Archived from the original on 2013-02-01. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  14. ^ Sanjay Subrahmanyam. The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India 1500–1650. Cambridge University Press, 2002
  15. ^ K. V. Krishna Iyer, Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938.
  16. ^ Aoyagi, Y., and Ogawa, H., 2004. "Chinese Trade Ceramics of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries in the Malabar Coast", in N. Karashima (Ed.), Search of Ceramic Sherds in Southern India and Sri Lanka, Taisho University Press, Tokyo: pp. 47–54.
  17. ^ Raghava Varier, M. R., 2003. "Pantalayani Kollam: A Medieval Port Town on the Malabar Coast", in Kesavan Veluthat and P. P. Sudhakaran (Eds.), Advances in History, Essays in Memory of Professor M. P. Sridharan, Professor M. P. Sridharan Memorial Trust, Calicut: 154–179.
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External links[edit]