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Venad

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Vēṇāṭu

c. 8/9th century CE/12th century CE[1]–1729
CapitalKollam (Quilon)
Common languages
Religion
History 
• Formation of Venad[1]
c. 8/9th century CE/12th century CE[1]
• Dissolution of the Kodungullur Chera Kingdom[1]
c. 1124 CE[1]
• Raids of Ravi Varma Kulasekhara
c. 1312-1316 CE
• Formation of Travancore
1729
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Ays and Vels
Travancore

Venad (Malayalam/Tamil: Vēṇāṭu) was a medieval kingdom lying between the Western Ghat mountains and the Arabian Sea on the south-western tip of India with its headquarters at the port of Kollam/Quilon.[2][1] It was one of the major principalities of Kerala, along with kingdoms of Kannur (Kolathunadu), Kozhikode (Zamorin) and Kochi (Perumpadappu) in medieval and early modern period.[2][3]

Rulers of Venad trace their ancestry to the Ay Vel chieftains of the early historic south India (c. 1st - 4th century CE).[4][5] Venad - ruled by hereditary "Venad Atikal" - appears as an autonomous entity in the state of the Chera Perumals (Kulasekharas) of Kodungallur from around 8th-9th century CE.[4] It came to occupy pre-eminent importance in the structuring of the Kodungallur Chera kingdom.[6] The country was intermittently and partially subject to the Pandya kingdom and the Chola empire among others in the medieval period.[1][7]

Venad outlasted the Kodungallur Chera kingdom, gradually developed as an independent principality, and grew later into modern Travancore (18th century CE).[2][1][3] Ravi Varma Kulasekhara, most ambitious ruler of Venad, carried out a successful military expedition to Pandya and Chola lands in the early 14th century CE.[8][6][9]

The rulers of Venad, known in the medieval period as Venad Cheras, claimed their ancestry from the Kodungallur Cheras (Kulasekharas).[6] The medieval feudal relations and political authority were dismantled Marthanda Varma (1729-1758), often credited as "the Maker of Travancore".[10][3]

Etymology

The name Venad is believed to be derived from Vēḷ+nāṭu meaning the territory of the Vel chieftains. Sangam literature - the earliest preserved Tamil compositions datable to c. 1st - 4th century CE - attests presence of hill chiefs[10] such as the "Vels" in southern Kerala.[1][11][12]

Ruling family

Ay clan claimed that they belonged to the Yadava or Vrishni lineage and this claim was advanced by the rulers of Venad and Travancore.[5][13] As early as the 10th century, the powerful chiefs of Venad used the surname suffix "Varma", denoting the Kshatriya status of the ruling line.[5][14][13]

Venad had a kind of chiefly rule with principles of succession, indicated by the term kuru, that is, the rights of the chief and the order of succession within the chief's household.[4] Rulers of the extended Venad royal family lived at different locations in the kingdom. Migrations and setting up new palaces continued into the early modern period. Political authority of a complex nature was followed by the joint families. Trippappur, Desinganad, Chiravay and Elayadam branches of the family were called "swaroopams".[14] The swaroopams were further divided into matrilineal descent groups (the thavazhis).[10][9]

Sources refer to the ruler of Venad as controlling parts of Trivandrum district, Kollam and presumably parts of Alleppey and Kottayam districts, and Kanyakumari district in later times.[10] The autonomous chiefdom ("nadu") of Venad came to occupy pre-eminent importance in the structuring of the Kodungallur Chera kingdom. "Nadu" in medieval Kerala can be roughly equated with the rashtra under the Rashtrakutas and padi under the Cholas. It was basically an agricultural region - generally controlled by non-Brahmins - with a mixed character of the topography.[4] The rulers of Venad owed their importance to exchange of spices and other products with the Middle Eastern and Chinese merchants.[15][7][6][16] Venetian adventurer Marco Polo claimed to have visited Venad capital Kollam, a major centre of commerce and trade with East and West Asia. European colonisers arrived at Kollam the late fifteenth century, primarily in pursuit of the Indian spices and textiles.[16][17][18]

Political history

Ay Vel chiefs of the early historic south India

It would appear that the whole region of medieval Venad was part of the Ay Vel territory in early historic south India (c. 1st - 4th century CE).[1][9][2] Persons belonging to the Ay clan were the hill chiefs of the "Vel country". Along with the Cheras of central Kerala and the Musakas of Ezhimalai the Ays formed the three major chiefdoms of ancient Kerala.[5][1][19][11]

Members of the Ay Vel family were closely related to the early historic Cheras. Nallini of the Vel country, daughter of Veliyan, was the consort of the Chera chief Uthiyan. Eyinan of the Vel country, son of Veliyan, was the leader of the Chera warriors against Ezhimalai Nannan.[6] Ay chief Andiran is praised by early Tamil poets Mudamochiyar, Odakizhar, and Kiranar in Purananuru. Ay Thithiyan is praised by Paranar and Bhootha Pandya - the Pandya chief - in Akananuru. It seems that Ay Thithiyan was a vassal of Bhootha Pandya. Ay Athiyan, successor to Ay Thithiyan, is mentioned by Paranar and Madurai Kanakkayanar in Akananuru. Paranar and Kanakkayanar also mentions Pothiyil Mala, the base of the Ays, as the property of Pachupun Pandya (Azhakiya Pandya), the successor to Bhootha Pandya.[6]

Towards the close of the early historic period the Pandya supremacy might have extended to the Ay territory (through it is likely that the Ays gained their independence during the so-called Kalabhra period).[6]

Development of Venad

Earliest known chiefs of Venad
  • "Vel Mannan of Vizhinjam[20]" - Madras Museum Inscription & Trivandrum Museum

Inscription of Maran Chadaiyan

  • Ayyan Atikal Tiruvatikal - Donor of Kollam Syrian plates (c. 849 AD and c. 883 AD)[6]
    • Rama Tiruvatikal - Junior chief of Venad[6] (c. 883 AD)
  • Srivallavan Goda Varma - Donor of Mamapalli copper plates (974 AD)[6]
  • Govardhana Marthanda - Successor of Srivallavan Goda Varma (c. 976 - 1000 AD)
  • Kumaran Udaya Varma - Mentioned in the inscription by Chera king Rama Kulasekhara (c. 1102 AD)[6]
  • Vira Kerala - son of Rama Kulasekhara (?)[6] (c. 1126, Cholapuram)

In the middle of the 8th century CE, the Pandyas of Madurai sacked port Vizhinjam, conquered the chieftain of Ays and took possession the Ay country. This foray brought the Chera kings of Kodungallur into the conflict and a prolonged Pandya-Ay/Chera struggle followed[6] A chieftain called Vel Mannan - probably a member of the Ay family - is seen leading the Chera warriors against the Pandyas at Vizhinjam.[20]

It is a possibility that the chieftain of the Vels - Vel Mannan - was or came under over-lordship of the Cheras by early 9th century CE (and the medieval ruling family of Venad arose from this chief).[20]

By the middle of the 9th century CE, as a result of the encroachment of the Pandyas and Cheras, the old Ay kingdom was partitioned into two portions.[1][6][5] Venad with its base at Kollam became one of the autonomous chiefdoms[20] of the Chera country while the Ay (Kupaka) country, or what is left of it, with its base at Vizhinjam came under the influence of the Pandyas.[6][1][21] The Kollam Syrian plates (c. 849 CE and c. 883 CE) of Venad chieftain Ayyan Adikal, does mention the then Chera king Sthanu Ravi.[6] The chief was providing land and other provisions to the Christian merchant Mar Sapir Iso for building a church and a "nagara" at Kollam.[4][1][6]

The rulers of Venad, known as "Venattadikal", owed their importance to exchange of spices and other products with the Middle Eastern and Chinese merchants.[15][7][6][16] A new calendar was known as the "Kollam Era", was established in 825 CE at port Kollam. The exact events that lead to the foundation of the era is still matter of scholarly debate.[12] According to historian Noburu Karashima, it commemorated the foundation of Kollam harbour city after the "liberation" of Venad (from the Pandya rule, and hence beginning of Chera influence).[22] Panankavil Palace, whose location remains a mystery, was a royal residence of the Chera Perumals in Kollam.[6]

The Chera influence on the Ay (under Pandya influence) rulers gradually developed in the late-9th century CE.[6] It is possible that the after the Chola victory over the Pandyas (910 CE) the chiefs of Venad were determined on extending their sway into the Ay territory.[6] Their opportunity might have came in the disorder following the Chola defeat at the battle of Takkolam (949 CE). There is possibility that after the defeat of the Cholas at Takkolam the Ays revived their autonomy with Chera/Venad support, and organised resistance to the Cholas. The Vel chiefs, owning allegiance to the Cheras, might have captured the whole region down to Kottar (Kanyakumari).[6] In general, the control of the Cheras might have spread into the Ay territory in the 10th century CE.[20] It is known that the territory covering the present Kanyakumari district was controlled by the Ay chieftains until the end of the 10th century CE.[21]

The region to the south of Trivandrum - former Ay territory - came under the control of the Cholas of Tanjore during 11th century CE. The Cholas raided ports such as Kodungallur in the early decades of the century, but never tried to annex the proper Chera country. They seem to be satisfied with the submission of the king at Kodungallur.[20] There is a possibility that the Venad chieftains tried to recapture the old Ay country after the raids by Raja Raja I. Chola ruler Rajadhiraja (1044-1054 CE) claims to have "confined the undaunted king of Venadu [back] to the Chera country [from the former Ay country]". Kodungallur ruler Rama Kulasekhara, a contemporary of Chola Kulothunga (1070 -1118 CE), is seen organising the defence against the Cholas at Kollam in early 12th century CE.[20]

Kollam, capital of the Venad rulers, in 17th century AD

Venad in late medieval period

After the dissolution of the Kulasekhara/Kodungallur Chera kingdom (c. 12th century), Venad survived, and emerged as a powerful principality in southern India, as result of the wars of conquest and well as the Indian Ocean spice trade.[5][1] Venad was intermittently subject to the Pandyas during this period.[23] Possibly with the decline of Chola power after Kulothunga, Venad chiefs gradually extended their control over the present Kanyakumari district.[10] In the early 14th century, "Sangamadhira" Ravi Varma carried out military raids to northern edges of south India (1312 – 1316). His inscriptions can be found as north as Poonamallee, a suburb of Chennai.[19][11][24]

In Venad royal family, like most of other royal houses in Kerala, law of succession followed was based on matrilineal inheritance. The eldest son of the sister of the ruling king, not his own son, had the legal right to ascend the throne after the death of the king.[11][25][2]

Aditya Varma (1376-83) seems to have resisted some "Muslim invaders" on the borders of Venad. His successor Chera Udaya Marthanda Varma (1383-1444) is credited for the extent of the rule of Venad into interior Tirunelveli region. Vira Udaya Marthanda Varma (1516-1535) acknowledged the supremacy of the Vijayanagara rulers. Minor battles with Vijayanagara forces in the subsequent period are also recorded.[26]

Well into the modern period, Venad remained one of the chief monarchies of Kerala, along with Kingdoms of Kannur (Kolathunadu), Kozhikode (Zamorin) and Kochi (Perumpadappu).[2][27][3][9] Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum was the major temple in the region.[28] In the 17th century, the rulers of Venad paid an annual tribute to the Nayaks of Madurai.[13][17] By this time, the old state of Venad was divided into several autonomous collateral branches such as Trippappoor, Elayadathu, (Kottarakara), Desinganad (Kallada, Kollam), and Peraka Thavazhi (Nedumangad).[14][29][30]

During the "regency" of Umayamma (1677-1864), southern Venad was famously overrun by a Muslim adventurer.[26] English East India Company established a factory at Vizhinjam in 1664 and a fort was built at Ajengo in 1695.[26] Around 150 Company men from the Anjego Factory, proceeding for an audience with the queen-mother, were lynched by a mob in "the Attingal Outbreak" of 1721.[26] Ravi Varma, ruling from 1721 to 1729, entered into formal agreements with the Company and the Nayaks of Madurai.[26] The primary objective of the submission was to strengthen the position of the king against the regional nobles (such as "the Ettuvittil Pillamar") and other "hostile elements" in Venad.[26]

Rise of Travancore

Marthanda Varma (1729–1758), of the Trippappoor, is often hailed by historians as "the Maker of Travancore".[26] Marthanda Varma - at the end of whose rule Travancroe was one of the first modern states of south India - is usually credited with the following "achievements".[3][10]

  • Successfully developed the centralised state of Travancore (from Tiruvitamkur > Tiruvitamcode[21]). Dismantling of existing feudal relations.[10]
  • Routed all of major Nair nobles and other "hostile elements" in Travancore.[10]
  • Organised a standing army, and defeated most of the chiefdoms in central Kerala.[10]
  • Entered into strategic alliances with Europeans.[10]
  • Supported Kerala merchants (Syrian Christian) in the place of the Europeans.[3][10]

Rulers of Venad (till 16th century)[31]

  • Rama Varma Kulashekhara, keezhperoor (1090–1102); mentioned in Rameswarathukoil Inscription as the founder of Venad as an independent state.
  • Kotha Varma Marthandam, keezhperoor (1102–1125); conquered Kottar and Nanjanad from the Pandya Dynasty.
  • Vira Kerala Varma I, keezhperoor (1125–1145); a great religious benefactor, responsible for the rebuilding of Padmanabhaswamy and the endowment of Suchindram Temples.
  • Kodai Kerala Varma, keezhperoor (1145–1150)
  • Vira Ravi Varma, keezhperoor (1161–1164)
  • Vira Kerala Varma II, keezhperoor (1164–1167)
  • Vira Aditya Varma, keezhperoor(1167–1173)
  • Vira Udaya Martanda Varma, keezhperoor (1173–1192); established his seat at Kulikkod and allied himself to the Pandya Kings.
  • Devadaram Vira Kerala Varma III, keezhperoor (1192–1195)
  • Vira Manikantha Rama Varma Tiruvadi, keezhperoor (1195– ?)
  • Vira Rama Kerala Varma Tiruvadi, keezhperoor (1209–1214)
  • Vira Ravi Kerala Varma Tiruvadi, keezhperoor (1214–1240)
  • Vira Padmanabha Martanda Varma Tiruvadi, keezhperoor (1240–1252); The Pandya kings asserted their dominance over Venad during his reign.
  • Jayasimha Deva, keezhperoor (1266–1267); succeeded in bringing the whole of present-day Kerala under his control. He established his seat at Kollam, the surrounding areas becoming known as Jayasimhanad (Desinganad). His wife Rani Umma Devi was probably a joint ruler with her husband. He died leaving several sons who quarrelled with his nephews over the succession, causing a long and disruptive civil war.
  • Ravi Varma, keezhperoor (1299–1313)
  • Vira Udaya Martanda Varma, keezhperoor (1313–1333)
  • Aditya Varma Tiruvadi, keezhperoor (1333–1335)
  • Vira Rama Udaya Martanda Varma Tiruvadi, keezhperoor (1335–1342)
  • Vira Kerala Varma Tiruvadi, keezhperoor (1342–1363)
  • Vira Martanda Varma III, keezhperoor (1363–1366)
  • Vira Rama Martanda Varma, keezhperoor (1366–1382)
  • Vira Ravi Varma, keezhperoor (1383–1416)
  • Vira Ravi Ravi Varma, keezhperoor (1416–1417)
  • Vira Kerala Martanda Varma, keezhperoor (1383)
  • Chera Udaya Martanda Varma, keezhperoor (1383–1444)
  • Vira Ravi Varma, keezhperoor (1444–1458)
  • Sankhara Sri Vira Rama Martanda Varma (1458–1468)
  • Vira Kodai Sri Aditya Varma (1468–1484); established his capital at Kallidaikurichi.
  • Vira Ravi Ravi Varma (1484–1503); established his capital at Padmanabhapuram.
  • Martanda Varma, Kulasekhara Perumal (1503–1504)
  • Vira Ravi Kerala Varma, Kulasekhara Perumal (1504–1528); succeeded as Trippappur Mutta Tiruvadi.

See also

References

  • Travancore Archaeological Series, Vol. I - VII. Triandrum (Kerala): Government Press (Travancore). 1910-38. ISBN 81-86365-73-7
  • Buyers, Christopher. "Travancore." The Royal Ark, 2009. [17]
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Narayanan, M. G. S. 2002. ‘The State in the Era of the Ceraman Perumals of Kerala’, in State and Society in Premodern South India, eds R. Champakalakshmi, Kesavan Veluthat, and T. R. Venugopalan, pp.111–19. Thrissur, CosmoBooks.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014
  3. ^ a b c d e f Menon, T. Madhava. A Handbook of Kerala. Vol 1. Trivandrum: Dravidian Linguistics Association, 2002. [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e Ganesh, K.N. (June 2009). "Historical Geography of Natu in South India with Special Reference to Kerala". Indian Historical Review. 36 (1): 3–21. doi:10.1177/037698360903600102. ISSN 0376-9836.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Aiya, V. Nagam. The Travancore State Manual. Vol 1. Part 2. Trivandrum: The Travancore Government Press, 1906 [2]
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 191 - 193, 435 - 437. [3]
  7. ^ a b c "Travancore." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.
  8. ^ Menon 2007, p. 118.
  9. ^ a b c d Menon, V. K. R, Rathi Ramachandran, et al. eds. History of Medieval Kerala. Pragati Publications, 2006. 81. [4]
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ganesh, K.N. (February 1990). "The Process of State Formation in Travancore". Studies in History. 6 (1): 15–33. ISSN 0257-6430.
  11. ^ a b c d Aiya, V. Nagam. The Travancore State Manual. Vol 1. Part 2. Trivandrum: The Travancore Government Press, 1906 [5]
  12. ^ a b Pillai Elamkulam, P. N. Kunhan. Keralam Ancum Arum Nurrantukalil. Kottayam (Kerala), 1961.
  13. ^ a b c Menon, T. Madhava. A Handbook of Kerala. Vol 1. Trivandrum: Dravidian Linguistics Association, 2002. 143. [6]
  14. ^ a b c Journal of The Madras University (Section A Humanities) 33-36. (1961): 188.[7]
  15. ^ a b "Classical Indo-Roman Trade". Economic and Political Weekly. 48 (26–27). 2015-06-05.
  16. ^ a b c Mailaparambil, Binu John. Lords of the Sea: The Ali Rajs of Cannanore and the Political Economy of Malabar (1663-1723). Leiden: Brill: Leiden, 2012 [8]
  17. ^ a b Singh, Anjana. Fort Cochin in Kerala, 1750-1830. Leiden: Brill, 2010 [9]
  18. ^ Alexander, P. C. The Dutch in Malabar. Annamalai Nagar (Tamil Nadu): Annamalai University, 1946 [10]
  19. ^ a b Menon, A. Sreedhara, editor. District Gazetteer of Trivandrum. Trivandrum (Kerala): Gazetteer Department, Government of Kerala, 1962 [11]
  20. ^ a b c d e f g Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300-1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987. 22-25.
  21. ^ a b c Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300-1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987. 21-25.
  22. ^ Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014. 89.
  23. ^ Menon. A. Sreedhara. A Survey of Kerala History. Kottayam (Kerala): DC Books, 2007. [12]
  24. ^ Menon, A. Sreedhara, editor. District Gazetteer of Trivandrum. Trivandrum (Kerala): Gazetteer Department, Government of Kerala, 1962. 146. [13]
  25. ^ Menon, T. Madhava. A Handbook of Kerala. Vol I. Trivandrum: Dravidian Linguistics Association, 2002. 147. [14]
  26. ^ a b c d e f g Menon, A Sreedhara, Kerala History and its Makers. Kottayam (Kerala): DC Books, 1987. 74-75.
  27. ^ Balasubramanian, V. "On an Epic Journey." The Hindu 07 April 2017: www.thehindu.com. Web. Accessed 07 April 2017. [15]
  28. ^ Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300-1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987. 291.
  29. ^ Alexander, P. C. The Dutch in Malabar. Annamalai Nagar (Tamil Nadu): Annamalai University, 1946. 4. [16]
  30. ^ Buyers, Christopher. "Travancore." The Royal Ark, 2009
  31. ^ Buyers, Christopher. "Travancore." The Royal Ark, 2009

Further reading

  • State and Society in Premodern South India, eds R. Champakalakshmi, Kesavan Veluthat, and T. R. Venugopalan. Thrissur, CosmoBooks, 2012.
  • Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014
  • Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300-1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987.
  • Ganesh, K.N. (1990-02). "The Process of State Formation in Travancore". Studies in History. 6 (1).
  • Ganesh, K.N. (2009-06). "Historical Geography of Natu in South India with Special Reference to Kerala". Indian Historical Review. 36 (1): 3–21.
  • Veluthat, Kesavan, The Political Structure of Early Medieval South India, (New Delhi, Orient Longman, 1993; second revised edition, New Delhi, Orient Blackswan, 2012)
  • Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumaḷs of Kerala: Brahmin Oligarchy and Ritual Monarchy: Political and Social Conditions of Kerala Under the Cera Perumaḷs of Makotai (c. AD 800 - AD 1124). Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013.
  • Mailaparambil, Binu John. Lords of the Sea: The Ali Rajs of Cannanore and the Political Economy of Malabar (1663-1723). Leiden: Brill: Leiden, 2012
  • Cherian, P. J., editor. Perspectives on Kerala History - The Second Millennium. Trivandrum (Kerala): Kerala Gazetteers Department, 1999.