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The failed attempt of French in Sri Lanka

The failed attempt of French in Sri Lanka

In France, as in Holland and England, companies were formed from trade in the East. In 1664 the earlier companies were merged into an East India Company with royal support.  Francois Caron, the Frenchman who had served the Dutch Company and had recaptured Negombo in 1644, offered his service to his own countrymen and persuade them to seek a port in Ceylon.  Caron was made director-general in India and set out to make the venture. He founded a French factory at surat and communicated with Rajasinghe through a Portuguese merchant.

Admiral de la Haye

A French royal squadron under Admiral de la Haye soon followed. Taking Caron on board it set out for Ceylon and arrived at Trincomalee in March 1672. The Dutch at once abandoned the fort of Kottiyar, and betook themselves to Trincomalee. De la Haye and Caron chose the two islands in the bay of Trincomalee. De La Haye and Caron chose the two islands in the bay of Trincomalee for their fort and factory and sent envoys to Rajasingha to announce their arrival. A spy sent by the Dutch came to assure the French that the king was at peace with the Dutch and needed no help from the French, but the admiral took no notice of him. Thereupon the Dutch sent a peremptory order to the admiral to quit the bay, which the Frenchman treated with contempt.

Treaty with the French

Meanwhile, the nevoy sent to Kandy returned with two chiefs and a numerous suite, and on 6th may a treaty was drawn up between the French and Rajasinghe, giving the French the ports of Trincomalee, Kottiyar, and Batticaloa. But the king’s men did not bring provisions for the French fleet, and the admiral sent a man named de la Nerolle to Kandy to press for provisions. The messenger, unaccustomed to diplomacy, acted so arrogantly ay court that the king beat him and clapped him in chains. Meanwhile, the fleet was badly in need of victual and set sail for India, leaving a garrison in the fort. As soon as the fleet sailed away, the Dutch besieged the fort, and though a general of Rajasinghe routed the first advance of the Dutch troops, the garrison had to surrender on the explicit understanding that the capitulation was not to effect their rights to the fort. The Dutch took the French captives for exhibition from port to port as the miserable remnants of the French fleet.

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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

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