The partition of Kotte part 1

King Vijaya Bahu

Vijaya Bahu(1519-1521) was unwilling to be openly hostile to the Portuguese and therefore asked one of the principal opponents of the Portuguese in India to attack the fort. This was the raja of Calicut known as the Samorin, Lord of the Sea. The Samorin sent a Malabar force which, with the assistance of the Sinhalese, laid siege to the fort. Silveyra was short of provisions, which the townspeople of Colombo would not supply, and his garrison, moreover, was insufficient to give battle to the besiegers. He, therefore, tried a surprise sally.

One night with a small band of picked men he fell unexpectedly upon the besieging camp. Taken unawares at dead of night, the besiegers fled in confusion, leaving the stockade in the hands of the Portuguese, who forthwith demolished the fortification. Upon this Vijaya Bahu thought it best to pretend friendship and sent an envoy to Sylveya to offer congratulation on the success and excuses for not coming to his aid when he was attacked by the Malabars. As Sylveyra had no order to break with the king, he expressed himself satisfied.

The fortress re-built

In 1520 the new governor of India, Diego Lopes de Siqueyra sent Lopo de Brito as captain of Colombo (1520-1522) with a number of workmen to build a stronger fort. While this was being done, the townspeople refused to supply provisions to the fort, and Brito attacked the town and burnt the Muslim quarters. While the soldiers were busy sacking and plundering, they were suddenly attacked and driven back. The fort was scarcely finished when it was again besieged: Vijaya Bahu himself now openly declared against the fort. Brito sent appeals to Cochin for help, but two of the messengers fell into the hands of the king and betrayed how hard-pressed the garrison was for provisions. Another messenger, however, managed to reach Cochin and on the return of the Portuguese fleet from the Red Sea 50 men and provisions were dispatched to Colombo. With them, Brito attacked the besieger by land and sea and drove them from their entrenchments. They returned in larger numbers with twenty elephants of war and a force of Malabar cavalry but were again repulsed, and the victorious garrison again burnt the township of Colombo.

These repeated failures to oust the foreigner told against Vijaya Bahu. When he was raised to the throne, he married a princess of Kiravella who brought with her a little boy whom Vijaya Bahu adopted.

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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

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