Sinhalese–Portuguese War

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Sinhalese–Portuguese War
Princess Dona Catherina is welcomed in Kandy.png
The Portuguese army at Kandy during the campaign of Danture, by Philippus Baldaeus
Date 1527–1658
Location Sri Lanka
  • End of the Portuguese colonial rule in Sri Lanka.
  • End of the Kotte, Sitawaka and Jaffna kingdoms
  • Incorporation of principalities of Kotte and Sitawaka kingdoms to the Kingdom of Kandy
  • Capture of Colombo,Galle and Jaffna divisions by the Dutch and the establishment of Dutch Governorate of Ceylon.
 Kingdom of Sitawaka
 Kingdom of Kandy
Supported by:
Kingdom of Jaffna
 Dutch East India Company
Zamorin of Calicut

 Portuguese Empire

Supported by:
Flag of Kotte.jpg Kingdom of Kotte
Flag Portugal (1578).svg Lascarins
Casualties and losses
High High

The Sinhalese–Portuguese War was a series of conflicts waged from 1527 to 1658 between Sinhalese kingdoms and their allies against the Portuguese Empire[1] as an indigenous resistance to the Portuguese expansion in Sri Lanka.

Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka in 1505[2] and established trade relations with the Kotte kingdom.[3] During the early 16th century their intentions were directed towards defending their trading interests.[4] However, with time this policy gradually changed to territorial ambitions with the objective of outright conquest.[5] Island resources, Sri Lanka's strategic location for both trade and naval security and rise of Mughal empire in India were influencing this change.[6][note 1]

In 1521, tripartite division of the Kotte kingdom during the “Spoiling of Vijayabahu” and the subsequent rivalries among these new kingdoms gave the Portuguese an opportunity to get involved in internal politics.[7][8] During the initial encounters, the Portuguese lend their assistance to the Bhuvanekabahu VII of Kotte to defend against the attacks from Sitawaka.[9] Their influence over the Kotte grew with the military aid they provided.[4] In 1551, this uneasy alliance came to an end with the death of Bhuvanekabahu VII as a result of a shot fired by a Portuguese soldier which claimed to be an accidental discharge of the weapon.[10][11] Following his death his young grandson was established on the Kotte throne under the protection of the Portuguese. Later his conversion to Christianity and becoming a vassal of Portuguese emperor[12] sparked a series of campaigns between the Portuguese and the Sinhalese[13] who were led first by the kingdom Sitawaka and then by the kingdom of Kandy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rise of Mughal empire led to an increase in efforts on Sri Lanka by the Portuguese, as evident by a claim made by Lisbon. "If someday India should be lost it could be recovered from Ceylon.."[5]


  1. ^ Ring, Trudy (1996). International Dictionary of Historic Places: Asia and Oceania. Taylor & Francis. p. 443. 
  2. ^ S.G. Perera p 8.
  3. ^ S.G. Perera p 11.
  4. ^ a b Gaston Perera p 144.
  5. ^ a b Gaston Perera p 145.
  6. ^ Gaston Perera p 145 - 146.
  7. ^ Rajavaliya p 77.
  8. ^ S.G. Perera p 20.
  9. ^ S.G. Perera p 18 - 23.
  10. ^ Paul E. Peiris p 115 - 116.
  11. ^ Rajavaliya p 79.
  12. ^ S.G. Perera p 37 - 44.
  13. ^ Queyroz p 326 - 341.


  • B. Gunasekara, The Rajavaliya. AES reprint. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1995. ISBN 81-206-1029-6
  • C. Gaston Perera, Kandy Fights the Portuguese – A Military History of Kandyan Resistance. Vijithayapa Publications: Sri Lanka, June 2007. ISBN 978-955-1266-77-6
  • Paul E. Peiris, Ceylon the Portuguese Era: Being a History of the Island for the Period, 1505–1658, Volume 2. Tisara Publishers: Sri Lanka, 1992. (Link). OCLC 12552979. 
  • da Silva, O. M. (1990). Fidalgos in the kingdom of Kotte, Sri Lanka, 1505-1656: the Portuguese in Sri Lanka. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Harwoods Publishers. 
  • S.G. Perera, A History of Ceylon For Schools – The Portuguese and Dutch period. The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon: Sri Lanka, 1942. (Link). OCLC 10531673. 
  • Winius, George D. (1971). The fatal history of Portuguese Ceylon; transition to Dutch rule. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-29510-0.