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By Schrikker, A.

This learn of Dutch and British colonial intervention on Sri Lanka within the interval 178 1815 presents a brand new over-all characterisation of the functioning and progress of the colonial kingdom in a interval of transition.

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Extra info for Dutch and British colonial intervention in Sri Lanka, 1780-1815: expansion and reform

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This king’s affiliation with the sangha may well have served a political purpose because it created a power block against the Sinhalese nobles. Dewaraja points out however that if this was the king’s goal, he greatly failed. In the 1760s the main priests and monks were all of noble, radala, background and consequently had strong family ties with the Sinhalese aristocracy. These families monopolized the high positions in the temples and made sure that no one of lower caste than radala could enter the higher orders.

The conflict lasted nearly a century, but finally in 1593 the Portuguese helped Kotte to defeat Sitavaka. 54 At about the time of Sitavaka’s fall, the Jaffna kingdom also came under Portuguese sway. Though commercial opportunities had attracted the Portuguese to the Jaffna peninsula, the Portuguese and the king of Jaffna were in conflict over religious matters. In 1544 Portuguese missionaries had arrived from South India and were successful in the conversion of fishermen in Mannar and Jaffna. The Hindu ruler of Jaffna reacted violently against these conversions and killed a large number of the new Catholics.

Their department, called mahabadda, was put under control of a Dutch officer, the captain of cinnamon (kapitein der kaneel). Because cinnamon grew wild throughout these districts, it was important to keep a check on lands that were cleared for cultivation. In fact, though ch¯ena (shifting cultivation) had always been an important element of indigenous subsistence agriculture, the Dutch tried to restrict this to the forestlands where not one cinnamon tree was to be found. 85 The strong emphasis on cinnamon collection and the mobilization of one particular social group in its collection and production led to irreversible social changes.

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