In 1521, Mayadunne and his two elder brothers revolted against the father Vijayabahu VII. The kingdom was divided among the three brothers. Bhuvanaikabahu VII resided in Kotte. Mayadunne got the Kingdom of Sitawaka (avissawela) today’s Sabaragamuwa Province. Mayadunne became the enemy his brother Bhuvenaikabahu of Kotte, who in return allied with the Portuguese, who had arrived on the Island in 1505. It is not clear whether in 1551 Bhuvenaikabahu of Kotte was killed on the orders of Mayadunne, or, what is more likely, by the Portuguese, after he refused to convert to Christianity. Mayadunne gained popular support due to his resistence against the cruel Christian invaders. Mayadunne and his son Rajasingha won the Battle of Mulleriyawa in 1559, preventing the Portuguese from conquering the whole island. In the 16th century it was the worst defeat of a Western colonial power in Asia. It is believed he came into posession of the Tooth Relic, because Buddhist priests in Kotte decided to safe it in the face of the Christian hostility to other religions and to smuggle it to Sitavake. Traditionally the ruler in posession of the Tooth Relic was regarded as the supreme king on the island.
Vimaladharmasurya was the person who eventually established the Kandy Kingdom remaining indepedent from colonial rule till 1815. His original name was Konappu Bandara. When his father Virasundara Bandara was killed by Rajasingha, King of Sitavaka, he escaped to the Portuguese and was baptised under the Portuguese name of Don João da Austria. When the Portuguese tried to install the baptized princess Donna Catharina, who was the legitimate heiress, on the throne of Kandy, Vimaladharmasuriya rose up against them, renouncing Christianity and embracing Buddhism. He managed to abduct Donna Catharina and forced her to marry him. The marriage made him the rightful heir to the throne. Vimaladharmasuriya repulsed two Portuguese attacks on Kandy, they suffered decisive defeats in the battle of Danture in 1694 and in the Battle of Balana in 1602. Vimaladharmasuriya gained the Tooth Relic and built the shrine for it within its palace compound in Kandy. In order to reestablish the monastic lineage in Sri Lanka, Vimladharmasuriya sent a minister to Lower Burma (Myanmar) to introduce the new undisputed lineage through higher ordination by Burmese monks.
Rajasingha II was engaged in a permant fight against European colonialism, by forming alliances with European enemies of the predominant colonial power at a time, first with the Dutch against the Portuguese, then with the French against the Dutch. He signed a treaty with the Dutch in 1638 in order to expel the Portuguese. But already during the period of joint struggle against the Portuguese, Sinhalese and Dutch forces were engaged in sporadic warfare with each other on different occasions. The Dutch first refused to hand over the harbour of Batticaloa to the Sinhalese kingdom and after conquering Galle with Sinhalese support agreed to a cease-fire with the Portuguese. In 1652 Dutch and Kandyan forces again allied and began attacks on the last Portuguese strongholds. After the fall of Colombo in 1656 the Dutch again refused to hand it over to their local allies, claiming to keep the lowlands as a security as long as King Rajasingha did not pay a bill at excessive prices for their military campaign. With the fall of Jaffna in 1658, the Portuguese colonial period in Sri Lanka came to an end, and the Dutch had established their rule along the coastlines for the one and a half centuries to come. Rajasingha was the king whose troops captured the Englishman Robert Knox. In 1664, he faced open rebellion from a noble known as Ambanwela Rala, and, unable in his fury to think of a suitable punishment, sent him to the Dutch, assuming they would execute him as a Kandyan noble.
When the “last Sinhalese King”, Vira Narendra Singha, who had married a Tamil princess from Southern India, died childless in 1739, his brother in law from Madurai in the Tamil heartland of India became his successor, Sri Viyaya Rajasingha, founder of the last dynasty, the Nayakars. His wife came from Southern India, too, and her brother, who came with her from India, was the next heit to the throne in Kandy. Kirthi Sri Rajasinha was just sixteen years old, when he ascended the throne. Kirthi Sri Rajasinha was the first king after Rajasinha II who managed to seize lowland territory occupied by the Dutch, namely Matara in the south. He also asked for British and later on for French assistance to get rid of the Dutch. When the Dutch seized Kandy two times but without lasting success, the king could escape and hide in the highlands. Kirti Sri Rajasinha was of Hindu origin, but became a fervant patron of Buddhism, this was strengthening Sinhalese loyalty to his rule effectively. By far his greatest achievement is the restoration of many neglected monastaries such as Dambulla and the introduction of a new monastic lineage from Siam (Thailand). The king gave the Malwatte and Asgiriya temples to this newly established Syam Nikaya (Siamese Order), these two temple were in charge of all other monasteries in his kingdom. Kirthi Sri Rajasingha also contributed significantly to developping the Kandy Perahera and to expanding the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.
Sri Vikrama Rajasingha was the last Kandyan King. Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was the nephew of his predecessor Sri Rajadhi Rajasingha. 1803 the British entered Kandy, the king having fled. The first Adigar (Prime Minister) Pilimatalawe massacred the British garrison and restored the King to the throne. But when the Adigar tried to gain the crown for himself, he was executed. The next first Adigar was his nephew, Ehelepola, who also plotted against the king, feld to the British in Colombo. With the help of the British he managed to overcome the King in Kandy, who had become increasingly hostile to the highland nobility. The King was eventually deposed by by the Kandyan Convention signed by the highland aristocrats and the British in 1815. 2300 years of Sinhalese monarchy came to an end. Sri Vikrama Rajasingha died in British captivity in South India in 1832. Tourists visiting Kandy will certainly see 2 attractions left by the last Kandy king, the octogonal library building dominating the front of the Tooth Temple and the Kandy Lake. The official flag of Sri Lanka with the yellow lion is inspired by the Royal Standard of the last Sinhalese king.
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