Sri Lankan history:
King Mayadunne of Sitawaka
Mayadunne was a king of the Kingdom of Sitawaka.He ruled for 60 years
from 1521 to 1581. Mayadunne was a fierce opponent of the Portuguese who
had arrived on the island in1505. He devoted his whole life attempting
to oust his brother Bhuvanekabahu, the king of Kotte and thereby
preserve the independence of Lanka, which was being undermined by the
Portuguese intrigue. He constantly invaded the territory of
Bhuvanekabahu of Kotte.
Mayadunne was born in Kotte in 1501. He was the son of Vijayabahu VII
who reigned from 1509 to 1521. Mayadunne was the youngest child born to
Vijayabahu VII and his main Queen. He had two full brothers,
Bhuvanekabahu and Raigama Bandara. Bhuvanekabahu was also the king of
Kotte from 1521 to 1551.
In 1521 together with his two full brothers Bhuvanekabahu and Raigama
Bandara, who were born to the main queen of Vijayabahu,he revolted
against his father, suspecting him of planning to pass the throne of
Kotte to one of Vijayabahu VII's other queen's sons (Devaraja) after his
Although Mayadunne was the youngest of the three brothers he was the
mastermind behind the revolt which ended in the death of their father
Vijayabahu VII (he was assassinated by a hired foreigner) and the Kotte
Kingdom was divided between the three brothers.
The incident is known as Wijayaba Kollaya and can roughly be
translated as the "Spoiling of Vijayabahu". Bhuvanekabahu came to power
as BhuvanekabahuVII of Sri Lanka and he got established in a region
roughly including present day Colombo and Gampaha districts, North
Western Province and Southern province coastline.
Raigam Bandara got established in Raigama with his control roughly
over present day Kalutara District and Southern province except the
coastline (which was under Kotte Kingdom).Mayadunne got established in
the Kingdom of Sitawaka (Present day Avissawella) controlling roughly
the modern day Sabaragamuwa province.
Since Mayadunne was the main actor during the rebellion against their
father, Bhuvanekabahu VII was from the beginning suspicious of him and
developed close ties with the Portuguese who had established a fort in
Colombo in 1517. Before long Mayadunne got popular support from the
local chiefs and population who didn't like BhuvanekabahuVII
collaborating with the Portuguese.
Mayadunne led several invasions against Kotte but BhuvanekabahuVII
drove Sitawake forces back with the help of the Portuguese.During the
first phase of the battles Mayadunne was helped by an anti-Portuguese
Kingdom in Calicut, India. The Portuguese wanted to kill Mayadunne
fearing one day he would become a greater threat to their foothold on
the island but Bhuvanekabahu VII didn't let them to conduct an all out
invasion against Sitawaka.
Several years later after Raigam Bandara died in 1538, Mayadunne
annexed the Kingdom of Raigama to Sitawaka. The all out rivalry between
Sitawaka and Kotte started to unroll. By this time the Bhikkhus in Kotte
who were responsible for the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, secretly
smuggled it into Sitawaka and placed it under the protection of
Mayadunne since they saw the Portuguese as hostile towards Buddhism.
According to the local tradition, if someone has the ownership of the
Sacred Tooth Relic he can claim the throne of all the Kingdoms within
Sri Lanka. Mayadunne's popularity grew rapidly among locals and
similarly Bhuvanekabahu VII of Kotte and later Dharmapala of Kotte had
to rely more and more on the Portuguese for help. Mayadunne started
frequent attacks against the Kotte Kingdom and more and more of the
lands of Kotte became part of Sitawaka.
Since Kotte lacked local support the Portuguese automatically became
the protectors of that Kingdom. Hence the rivalry between Kotte and
Sitawaka turned into a rivalry between Sitawaka and Portuguese.
Mayadunne and the Kingdom of Sitawaka were a part of the Sinhalese
Portuguese war which was an effort to get rid of the occupying
Portuguese forces and stop them from colonising the island. At the time,
it was the worst ever defeat by a colonial power on the eastern soil.
Mayadunne and his son Rajasinghe fought the Portuguese in the Battle of
Mulleriyawe and won, where the Kingdom of Sitawaka emerged all-powerful,
able to challenge the Portuguese, who lost the opportunity to ensure
their total control of the island. Due to the fact that he stood against
Portuguese invaders and stopping them from conquering the whole island,
Mayadunne is considered one of the greatest kings of Sri Lanka. He died
at the ripe age of 80 years in 1581.