The Kingdom of Kandy
Located in the central and eastern part of the island, the Kingdom of Kandy known in Sinhalese as Mahanuwara Rajadhaniya, was an independent monarchy founded in the late 15th century. It was initially a dependent kingdom of the Kingdom of Kotte. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Kingdom of Kandy established itself as an independent monarchy. To ensure its survival the Kingdom at various times allied itself with the Jaffna Kingdom, the Madurai Nayak Dynasty of South India, Kingdom of Sitawaka, the Portuguese and finally the Dutch.
The capital of the Kingdom of Kandy has been known by various names. Some scholars suggest that the original name was Katubulu Nuwara. However, the more popular historical name officially is Senkadagala Siriwardhana Mahanuwara (meaning ‘the great city of Senkadagala of growing resplendence’). This long name is generally shortened to ‘Mahanuwara‘ (meaning ‘Great City’ or ‘Capital’) or simply as “‘Nuwara‘.
The Sinhalese called the region “Kanda Uda Rata” (“the land on the mountain”) and “Kanda Uda Pas Rata” (“the five counties/countries on the mountain”). The Portuguese shortened this to ‘Candea‘ and used it as the name for both the kingdom and its capital. The English transformed the Portuguese word to ‘Kandy’.
Through the thick jungles and the many mountains only a few paths led to the capital of the Kingdom of Kandy. Due to the mountainous terrain was easy to defend the few roads. The subjects of the kingdom kept these routes secret, and they were aware that revealing any paths to a foreigner was an offense punishable by death.
The mountains and the thick forests hindered commerce with neighbouring kingdoms and movement of goods to and from ports and harbours. But this encumbrance proved to be an invaluable asset in guaranteeing the safety of the Kingdom of Kandy from attacks by its neighbours and by the marauding foreign colonialists.
The English East India Company
The English were first of the major European maritime powers of the 17th century to enter the East India trade. The English East India Company was founded in 1600 as The Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies. It gained a foothold in India in 1612 after the fourth Mughal Emperor Nur-ud-din Mohammad Salim, known by his imperial name Jahangir, granted it the rights to establish a factory or trading post, in the port of Surat on the western coast.
The Dutch East India Company
In 1602, the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company or the United East India Company (Dutch: Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC). The States-General of the Netherlands granted the chartered company a 21-year monopoly to carry out trade activities in Asia.
France was the last of the major European maritime powers of the 17th century to enter the East India trade. Six decades after founding the English and Dutch East India companies, and at a time when both companies were multiplying factories on the shores of India, the French still did not have a viable trading company or a single permanent establishment in the East.
In 1642, to revive commercial intercourse with the East, Cardinal Richelieu formed a new Company named “La Compagnie des Indes” for the sole purpose of trading in the Indies. Letters patent, dated June 24, 1642, accorded it privileges for 20 years. On December 4, 1642 Cardinal Richelieu died.
In 1664, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the Minister of Finances, restructured the Company and designated it as La Compagnie française des Indes Orientales (The French East India Company) to compete with the English (later British) and Dutch East India companies in the East Indies. He sent an expedition to Madagascar, discovered by Marco Polo in 1298, and then forgotten.
In 1667, the French East India Company sent out another expedition, under the command of François Caron. The French reached Surat in 1668 and established the first French factory in India. In 1673, the French acquired the area of Pondicherry from the Kiladar of Valikondapuram under the Sultan of Bijapur and thus laid the foundation of Pondichéry.
The French in Ceylon
François Caron had spent 30 years working for the Dutch East India Company, including more than 20 years in Japan. He suggested to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the Minister of Finances that set a firm foot in India, it was necessary to capture some land and hold it in absolute possession. The captured place he said should be unassailable by the natives. Then they could use it as a stronghold for commercial operations with the inhabitants of the mainland. For this purpose, like Albuquerque, he favoured the occupation of the island of Ceylon, then partly occupied by the Dutch. He also pointed out the commercial advantages which France would gain by participating in the spice trade.
The war between King Louis XIV and Holland served as a pretext for the French to attack the Dutch in India and to make an attempt to get for themselves a slice of the wrecked Portuguese Empire.
When Colbert approved Caron’s project, a fleet under the command of Admiral de la Haye, a man with a bad reputation who had quit high civil employment to gratify his passion for warlike operations, was placed at the disposal of Caron to carry out his design.
French Capture Trincomalee
On March 21, 1672, Admiral de la Haye appeared before Batticaloa with a squadron of 14 ships. Seeing Batticaloa Fort well defended, he did not stop there. After saluting the Dutch flag, which salute was returned from the fort, he set sail for Trincomalee.
Having cast anchor in the Bay of Kottyar, Admiral de la Haye landed his troops there because he knew that Trincomalee belonged to the King of Kandy and not to the Dutch.
Overjoyed at the news of the landing of the French, King Rajasinghe II, conceived the plan of an alliance with them to drive out the Dutch.
On March 25, 1672, three days after the French landed in the Bay of Kottyar, King sent a high dignitary of his Court to Trincomalee to welcome Admiral de la Haye and enter into friendly relations with him.
Admiral de La Haye returned the compliment by sending to Kandy three officers, Dorgeret, de La Garde and Fontaine. King Rajasinghe II received them cordially. During the audience, he placed on the neck of each a rich chain of gold and presented them with swords and muskets of the finest Kandyan workmanship. Two of the officers remained in Kandy, the third returned to Trincomalee, accompanied by an ambassador who had full power of concluding with de la Haye a treaty to expel the Dutch from Ceylon.
The King’s ambassador was closely followed by a messenger bearing a Charter by which King Rajasinghe II gifted the Bay of Kottyar and of the surrounding territories to the French.
On May 17, 1672 they planted the French flag both at Kottyar and in Trincomalee taking possession of those places in the name of Louis XIV King of France and of Navarre.
Just when the French finished landing the guns necessary to defend the fortress, a Dutch fleet of 14 vessels under Commodore Rylackoffe van Goens, came in sight. The Dutch officer asked the French to evacuate Ceylon. Admiral de La Haye refused and prepared to defend Trincomalee and Kottyar, and he waited for King Rajasinghe’s army to arrive to help him fight the Dutch. Thus, three weeks passed.
Meanwhile, the position of the French admiral was becoming more and more difficult. He did not have enough troops. Four hundred soldiers and sailors had become invalids. From some skirmishes with the Dutch, the admiral had already seen how little he could rely on the badly armed Kandyan troops.
The Dutch received reinforcements from Colombo. , Under these circumstances the French admiral deemed it more prudent to give up the contest, at least for the time being.
When the King requested Admiral de la Haye to remain in Ceylon, he replied that he would return soon with a larger army and in the meantime he was sending to Kandy, Monsieur de Laisne Nauclairs de Lanerolle who would stay at the King’s Court as ambassador of King Louis XIV, the King of France.
Admiral de la Haye weighed anchor on July 9, 1672, and the Dutch fleet positioned in battle order, saluted the French flag. Admiral de la Haye set sail for Mylapore, then known as St Thomé or San Thome, on the Coromandel coast. He left behind a few soldiers to guard the garrison at Trincomalee. The French soldiers who had been left behind, had no other alternative than to cede Trincomalee and the garrison to the Dutch fleet.
Monsieur de Laisne Nauclairs de Lanerolle
Nauclairs de Lanerolle was a worthless person. He was a Huguenot, a rabid protestantprotestant
Lanerolle’s conduct from the very beginning clearly showed that he had been ill-chosen to represent the interests of France in the Kingdom of Kandy. He made himself obnoxious to all by his stupid vanity.
It was the custom in Kandy that no one could pass in front of the royal palace except on foot. There was certainly nothing disparaging in it, a simple show of respect to the King. Lanerolle and his suite had to pass through that street to reach the quarters, which the King had allotted for him and his men. When asked, Lanerolle refused to dismount. Uttering profanity (words of contempt), he rode under the balcony of the King’s apartment. The rascal had forgotten that the French fleet was no longer in Trincomalee and that he was at the absolute mercy of the King of Kandy. The King was much embittered by the Frenchman’s attitude, but pretended to ignore his bravado.
A few days later, Lanerolle and his men arrived at the palace. The Court dignitaries received them. It was the custom that every foreign envoy should await the royal audience for two hours.
Even though Lanerolle knew of this strange etiquette, yet after a few minutes expressed his surprise that the King did not appear. After having waited for about fifteen minutes, he exclaimed that it was an insult to leave him waiting so long, and left the hall. All the entreaties from the gentlemen of his suite had no effect. Some officials of the Court, wishing to avoid a scandal, tried to stop him. But when the vain Frenchman drew his sword, they let him go, and he returned to his quarters without having seen the King.
The King felt much offended, ordered Lanerolle to be seized and flogged until he fainted. After the flogging was over, Lanerolle and his men were put in chains and cast into prison.
The gentlemen of Lanerolle’s suite managed to explain that they did not approve the conduct of their Ambassador. They said that they had done all they could to prevent this stupid conduct of their Chief. When the Court officials corroborated to this fact, they were set free of the chains, but Lanerolle had to spend six months in prison in chains. After that, there was no more chance of their return to France, and they were kept prisoners in Kandy.
They were supposed to be maintained at the King’s expense, but in reality they were so neglected that in order not to starve, they distilled arrack and sold it to the natives. They bitterly reproached to Lanerolle to have been the cause of their distress, and scandalous quarrels arose among them.distilled arrack and sold it to the natives. They bitterly reproached to Lanerolle to have been the cause of their distress, and scandalous quarrels arose among them.
Such was the state of things when Robert Knox came to Kandy.
Nauclairs de Lanerolle, remained in Kandy. He married and settled there and later gained some influence at the King’s Court. He tried to influence some Catholics to embrace Calvinism, among them being the family of the relative of Antonio Sottomayor who had befriended Joseph Vaz.
Joseph Vaz arrested at Weuda
Joseph Vaz hoped to make Maha Nuwara, the capital of the Kingdom of Kandy, the centre of his future missionary activities.
In August 1692 after his apostolate of one year and nine months in the Puttalam area, Joseph Vaz along with his servant John and his new acquaintance Antonio Sottomayor left for Maha Nuwara, the capital of the Kingdom of Kandy, ruled by King Vimaladharmasurya II, who had succeeded his father, King Rajasinghe II.
The distance between Puttalam and Kandy is about 82 miles (132 km). On their way, they had to pass through the village named Weuda situated 18 miles from Kandy. Weuda was an important check-post before entering the capital. In this village, Antonio Sottomayor had a house and was staying there with his family. It took them about eight days to walk from Puttalam to Weuda.
Leaving Joseph Vaz and John with his family, Sottomayor went to Kandy to get the visa for the priest to enter the city. Meanwhile, Vaz started preaching to Sottomayor’s family and their neighbors.
Antonio Sottomayor was not aware that Nauclairs de Lanerolle had converted his relative to Calvinism. As soon as the French Huguenot, learned that Sottomayor wanted to bring a Catholic priest into Kandy he went to the King’s court. He told the king that Antonio Sottomayor was trying to help a Portuguese spy to enter Kandy in the garb of a Priest.
The king directed his soldiers to arrest Sottomayor first and then go to Weuda and bring the priest and his servant staying in his house.
Joseph Vaz and John bound in chains were taken to the Capital by the king’s soldiers. Charged as Portuguese spies, they were incarcerated along with Sottomayor in the “Maha Hiragé” (“Great prison”).
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 1 – THE EARLY YEARS
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 2 – THE CONFLICT BETWEEN PADROADO REAL AND PROPAGANDA FIDE (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 3 – THE APOSTLE OF KANARA
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 4 – PERSECUTION OF CATHOLICS IN CEYLON BY THE DUTCH (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 5 – TRAVEL TO CEYLON (SRI LANKA) tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 6 – THE APOSTLE OF SRI LANKA IN JAFFNAPATTINAM (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 7 – THE APOSTLE OF SRI LANKA IN PUTTALAM (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 9 – THE APOSTLE OF SRI LANKA IN PRISON IN KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 10 – BEGINNING OF THE APOSTLATE IN KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 11 – THE MIRACLE OF RAIN IN KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 12 – THE APOSTLE VISITS DUTCH COLOMBO (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 13 – MISSIONARIES ARRIVE FROM GOA (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 14 – SMALLPOX EPIDEMIC IN KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 15 – SIX MORE MISSIONARIES COME FROM INDIA (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 16 – THE RETURN OF THE APOSTATE SPARKS ACCUSATION OF BAPTISM WITH BLOOD (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 17 – THE APOSTLE OF CEYLON AND THE NEW KING OF KANDY (tvaraj.com)
- BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ: PART 18 – THE LAST DAYS AND THE DEATH OF THE APOSTLE (tvaraj.com)
- “Without the Blessed Vaz, there would be no priest on the island”(asianews.it)
- The relevance of Blessed Joseph Vaz to the evangelization of Asia today (oratoriosanfilippo.org)
- Bl. Joseph Va, first saint to Sri Lanka (en.radiovaticana.va)
- The Apostle of Sri Lanka: Blessed Joseph Vaz (1651-1711)
- Kingdom of Kandy (en.wikipedia.org)
- APOSTOLATE IN KANDY (blessedjosephvaz.org)
- THE DUTCH PERIOD (1658-1796) (xoomer.virgilio.it)
- East India Company (en.wikipedia.org)
- Dutch East India Company (en.wikipedia.org)
- French East India Company (en.wikipedia.org)
- Jean-Baptiste Colbert (en.wikipedia.org)
- KANDY AND ITS STRUGGLE WITH EUROPEAN POWERS
- History of Ceylon: An Abridged Translation of Professor Peter Courtenay’s Work (books.google.co.in)
- History of the French in India: From the Founding of Pondichery in 1674 to the Capture of that Place in 1761 (Google eBook)
- Pope Francis lauds first Sri Lankan saint’s ‘undivided love for God’ (catholicnewsagency.com)Joseph Vaz (en.wikipedia.org)BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ (josephnaikvaz.org)Blessed Joseph Vaz (newadvent.org)