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Ceitauaca / Sitawaka Kingdom - 1521-1593

If the rise of Sitawaka had been meteoric, its fall was no less so. The historical importance of Sitawaka is inseparable from the name of Mayadunne, who was given the kingdom by his brother, the King of Kotte, in 1534.

The earliest recorded Portuguese Encounter with Sri Lanka is presented through a letter written by King Manuel I in 1507, in combination with three accounts by later Portuguese chroniclers (João de Barros, Gaspar Correia, Fernão de Queiroz) and three Sinhalese versions of the story (taken from the Rajavaliya, the Sitawaka Hatana, and the Maha Hatana). Taken together, these texts provide a complex and richly textured narrative of the first encounter.

In 1521 the country had been divided between the three brothers, Mayadunne taking practically the modern Province of Sabaragamuwa, with his capital at Sitawaka {Avissawella while Rayigam Bandara received the Walallawiti, Pasdun, and Rayigam Korales in the Galle and Kalutara Districts, the seaports being reserved to Bhuvanaika Bahu. The hill-country was in the hands of another king, who asserted complete independence whenever possible. Kandy's independence suffered a setback towards the end of the 16th Century when Rajasinghe, the ambitious ruler of Sitawaka - a low-country power center rivalling Kotte - subdued Kandy and added it to his Sitawaka kingdom.

Mayadunne aspired to the throne of Kotte and the overlordship of the Island, and in the years following 1526 an almost continual conflict was waged between himself, aided by the Samorin on the one hand, and Bhuvanaika Bahu supported by the Portuguese on the other. In 1539, however, Mayadunne was forced to make peace, which lasted until 1547.

The king of Kandy, under the pretence of conversion, had asked the Portuguese for help against Sitawaka; in 1547 a force set out, but finding the king's sincerity doubtful retired on Colombo, and, to their surprise, were well received by Mayadunne. The two brothers were at war again in 1548, the Portuguese now favoring Mayadunne. This policy did not last. In 1550 the Kotto forces took Sitawaka. The kingdom of Sitawaka, which had been ruled over first by Mayadunne and then by Rajasinha, ceased to exist.

The Portuguese soon annexed the Sitawaka dominions and captured the royal princes; among them was Nikapitiye Bandara, who was removed to Portugal and died at Coimbra in 1608. The protection offered by Sitawaka did not last long and when Sitawaka fell to the Portuguese in 1593, the Muslims had again to flee to Kandy, -the lone Sinhalese kingdom of the day. About 4000 Muslims fled to Kandy.

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Page last modified: 05-05-2012 19:19:32 ZULU