Cankili II

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Cankili II
King of Jaffna
Predecessor Ethirimana Cinkam (Parasasekaran VIII)
SuccessorPortuguese conquest
Died1619 (1620)
Tamil சங்கிலி குமாரன்
Sinhala සංකිලි
House Aryacakravarti dynasty

Cankili II (Tamil : சங்கிலி குமாரன், translit. Caṅkili Kumāraṉ; died 1619) was the self-proclaimed last king of the Jaffna kingdom and was a usurper who came to throne with a palace massacre of the royal princess and the regent Arasakesari in 1617. His regency was rejected by the Portuguese colonials in Colombo, Sri Lanka. His reign was secured with military forces from the Thanjavur Nayaks and Karaiyar captains. He was defeated by the Portuguese in 1619 and was taken to Goa and hanged. With his death the Aryacakravarti line of Kings who had ruled the kingdom for over 300 years came to an end. [1]

Tamil language language

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of two countries: Sri Lanka and Singapore and official language of the Indian state Tamil Nadu. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

Palace grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state

A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence, or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop.

Massacre incident where some group is killed by another

A massacre is a killing, typically of multiple victims, considered morally unacceptable, especially when perpetrated by a group of political actors against defenseless victims. The word is a loan of a French term for "butchery" or "carnage".


Usurping the throne

With the death of Ethirimana Cinkam in 1617, there were three claimants to the throne. One was Cankili II, a nephew of the king. The other two claimants were the king’s brother Arasakesari and a powerful chieftain Periye Pillai Arachchi. Ethirimana Cinkam's son, a minor was proclaimed as king with Arasakesari as regent. [2] Cankili II killed the claimants to the throne and other princes of royal blood and usurped the throne. [1]

Ethirimanna Cinkam was the penultimate ruler of the Aryacakravarti line of Kings of the Jaffna Kingdom in northern Sri Lanka. He came to power due to the second Portuguese expedition led by André Furtado de Mendonça in 1591. In that expedition, the King of Jaffna, Puviraja Pandaram and the father of Ethirimnna Cinkam was killed.

In law, a minor is a person under a certain age, usually the age of majority, which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood. The age of majority depends upon jurisdiction and application, but it is generally 18. Minor may also be used in contexts that are unconnected to the overall age of majority. For example, the drinking age in the United States is usually 21, and younger people are sometimes called minors in the context of alcohol law, even if they are at least 18. The term underage often refers to those under the age of majority, but it may also refer to persons under a certain age limit, such as the drinking age, smoking age, age of consent, marriageable age, driving age, voting age, etc. Such age limits are often different from the age of majority.

Cankili II was under the Portuguese made the governor of Jaffna in 1617 and paid tribute to them on the promise that he had no contact with the Karaiyar captains. [3] [4]

Karaiyar is a Sri Lankan Tamil caste found mainly on the northern and eastern coastal areas of Sri Lanka, and globally among the Tamil diaspora.

Local uprising

Cankilian Thoppu - Facade of the palace belonging to the last king Cankili II. Sangili Toppu.jpg
Cankilian Thoppu - Facade of the palace belonging to the last king Cankili II.

The palace massacre created unrest among the people of the Jaffna kingdom. Migapulle Arachchi, son of Periye Pillai Arachchi, with the aid of the Portuguese and drove Cankili to Kayts in August-September 1618. Cankili had to seek aid to Raghunatha Nayak, king of Thanjavur Nayak kingdom, who sent an army of 5000 men under the command of Khem Nayak (also known as Varunakulattan) to put down the uprising. [6]

Migapulle Arachchi also known as Chinna Migapillai, was a feudal lord from the Jaffna Kingdom who became a rebel leader just after its annexation by the Portuguese Empire in 1619. His title Arachchi, is a title given to the commanders of Lascarins or native military forces.

Kayts Village in Sri Lanka

Kayts, is one of the important villages in Velanai Island which is a small island off the coast of the Jaffna Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka. There are number of other villages within the Velanai Islands such as Allaippiddi, Mankumpan, Velanai, Saravanai, Puliyankoodal, Suruvil, Naranthanai, Karampon and Melinchimunai.

Raghunatha Nayak was the third ruler of Thanjavur, southern India, from the Nayak dynasty. He ruled from 1600 to 1634 and is considered to be the greatest of the Thanjavur Nayak kings. His reign is noted for the attainments of Thanjavur in literature, art and Carnatic music.


By June 1619, there were two Portuguese military expeditions to the Jaffna kingdom: a naval expedition that was repulsed by Khem Nayak and his troops, and a land expedition by Filipe de Oliveira and his army of 50,00, which was able to defeat Cankili. [7]

Varunakulattan was a 17th-century feudal lord and military commander from the Jaffna Kingdom. He led a rebellion as the military commander of Thanjavur Nayak force against the Portuguese in their conquest of the Jaffna kingdom in 1619. Although the nominal king was Cankili II, Varunakulattan was described as the king of Karaiyars, and was the one wielding the real power in the Jaffna Peninsula under this period.

Phillippe de Oliveira or Filipe de Oliveira was the conqueror of the Jaffna Kingdom in northern modern day Sri Lanka on behalf of the Portuguese Empire in 1619. He stayed behind as the captain-major of the conquered kingdom until his death in 1627. His instructions were to collect the tribute due from the last indigenous king of the Kingdom Cankili II but a chance encounter lead to a sharp but brief battle that led to the defeat of Cankili II. By his order, Cankili II was killed by Hanging and Cankili's remaining soldiers were executed by decapitation. His rule over the Jaffna Kingdom is remembered both for the destruction of over 500 Hindu temples and the forced conversion of the natives to the Roman Catholic religion as well as for his efforts in controlling and moderating the desire of colonial officials in Colombo and Goa to incessantly increase taxes on the local population. After his death, the taxation policy followed by the Portuguese colonial rulers led to the de-population of the Jaffna peninsula.

Cankili's remaining soldiers were beheaded by Portuguese, and Cankili himself was taken to Goa and was sentenced to death. Before his decapitation in 1623, he was converted and baptised as Dom Felipe. [8] The surviving members of the royal family were also taken to Goa and asked to become monks or nuns in the holy orders. Most obliged, and their celibacy avoided the production of further claimants to the Jaffna throne. [9] [10]

Goa State in India

Goa is a state considered to be part of western as well as southern India, within the coastal region known as the Konkan, separated from the Deccan highlands of the state of Karnataka by the Western Ghats. It is bounded by Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south, with the Arabian Sea forming its western coast. It is India's smallest state by area and the fourth-smallest by population. Goa has the highest GDP per capita among all Indian states, two and a half times that of the country. It was ranked the best-placed state by the Eleventh Finance Commission for its infrastructure and ranked on top for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission on Population based on the 12 Indicators.

Decapitation separation of the head from the body

Decapitation is the complete separation of the head from the body. Such an injury is fatal to humans and most animals, since it deprives all other organs of the involuntary functions that are needed for the body to function, while the brain is deprived of oxygenated blood and blood pressure.

See also


  1. 1 2 Vriddhagirisan, V. (1942). The Nayaks of Tanjore. Annamalai University: Annamalai University Historical Series. pp. 77, 80, 81, 91. ISBN   9788120609969.
  2. Amātyāṃśaya, Ceylon Adhyāpana saha Saṃskr̥tika Kaṭayutu pil̥ibanda (1969). Education in Ceylon: a centenary volume. Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs. p. 320.
  3. Rambukwelle, P. B. (1996). The Period of Eight Kings. P.B. Rambukwelle. p. 96. ISBN   9789559556527.
  4. DeSilva, Chandra Richard (1972). The Portuguese in Ceylon, 1617-1638. University of London: School of Oriental and African Studies. p. 95.
  5. Kunarasa, K The Jaffna Dynasty, P4
  6. DeSilva, Chandra Richard (1972). The Portuguese in Ceylon, 1617-1638. University of London: School of Oriental and African Studies. p. 73.
  7. Vriddhagirisan, V. (1942). The Nayaks of Tanjore. Annamalai University: Annamalai University Historical Series. pp. 80, 81, 91. ISBN   9788120609969.
  8. Aldrich, Robert (2018-01-18). Banished Potentates: dethroning and exiling indigenous monarchs under British and French colonial rule, 1815-1955. Oxford University Press. p. 25. ISBN   9781526135315.
  9. Abeysinghe, T Jaffna Under the Portuguese, p.58-63
  10. Gnanaprakasar, S A critical history of Jaffna, p.153-172

Related Research Articles

Jaffna Kingdom former country

The Jaffna Kingdom, also known as Kingdom of Aryachakravarti, of modern northern Sri Lanka was a historic monarchy that came into existence around the town of Jaffna on the Jaffna peninsula traditionally thought to be established after the invasion of Magha, who is credited with the founding of the Jaffna kingdom and is said to have been from Kalinga, in India. Established as a powerful force in the north, north east and west of the island, it eventually became a tribute paying feudatory of the Pandyan Empire in modern South India in 1258, gaining independence in 1323, when the last Pandyan ruler of Madurai was defeated and expelled in 1323 by Malik Kafur, the army general of the Muslim Delhi Sultanate. For a brief period, in the early to mid-14th century, it was an ascendant power in the island of Sri Lanka when all regional kingdoms accepted subordination. However, the kingdom was eventually overpowered by the rival Kotte Kingdom, around 1450 when it was invaded by Prince Sapumal under the Kotte Kingdom's directive.

Aryacakravarti dynasty

The Aryacakravarti dynasty were kings of the Jaffna Kingdom in Sri Lanka. The earliest Sri Lankan sources, between 1277 and 1283, mention a military leader of this name as a minister in the services of the Pandyan Empire; he raided the western Sri Lankan coast and took the politically significant relic of the Buddha’s tooth from the Sinhalese capital city of Yapahuwa. Political and military leaders of the same family name left a number of inscriptions in the modern-day Tamil Nadu state, with dates ranging from 1272 to 1305, during the late Pandyan Empire. According to contemporary native literature, such as Cekaracecekaramalai, the family also claimed lineage from the Tamil Brahmins of the prominent Hindu pilgrimage temple of Rameswaram in the modern Ramanathapuram District of India. They ruled the Jaffna kingdom from the 13th until the 17th century, when the last of the dynasty, Cankili II, was ousted by the Portuguese.

Thanjavur Nayak kingdom

The Thanjavur Nayak kingdom or Thanjavur Nayak dynasty were the rulers of Thanjavur principality of Tamil Nadu in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Nayaks were originally appointed as provincial governors by the Vijayanagar Emperor in the 14th century, who divided the Tamil country into three Nayakships viz., Madurai, Tanjore and Gingee. In the mid 16th century they became an independent kingdom, although they continued their alliance with the Vijayanagagr Empire. The Thanjavur Nayaks were notable for their patronage of literature and the arts.

Cankili I King of Jaffna

Cankili I, also known as Segarasasekaram, is the most remembered Jaffna kingdom king in the Sri Lankan Tamil history. He was very active in resisting Portuguese colonial inroads into Sri Lanka. He also inherited his throne via palace intrigues in which number of heir apparent’s died under mysterious circumstances. At the end, he was removed from power by a local uprising that led to his son Puviraja Pandaram taking nominal power from him.

The following is a chronological overview of the history of the Karavas and Karaiyars caste of Sri Lanka and India. Both communities were historically also known as Kurukulam, meaning Kuru clan.

Puviraja Pandaram King of Jaffna

Puviraja Pandaram ruled the Jaffna kingdom during a period of chaos during and after the death of his father Cankili I in 1565. He became king in 1561 following a local uprising against Cankili I. Although he was the nominal king, Cankili I wielded real power behind the throne until his death in 1565. After Cankili's death, Puviraja Pandaram lost power to one Kasi Nainar and Periyapillai. After the death or abdication of Periyapillai in 1582, Puviraja Pandarm was nominated as the king for the second time.

Periyapillai was of one of the Aryacakravarti rulers of Jaffna kingdom who followed in the chaotic period after the death of Cankili I(1519–1561). Some sources claim that he deposed the Cankili I's son, Puviraja Pandaram as soon as Cankili I died. Others say that there was an intermediate ruler named Kasi Nainar between him and the death of Cankili I. He with the help of Thanjavur Nayak help mounted an attack on the Portuguese fort in the Mannar Island to regain territory lost during Cankili's rule but he was defeated. Due to a local uprising he lost power to Puviraja Pandaram. He is considered to be the father of the last king of the Kingdom, Cankili II and Migapulle Arachchi.

Portuguese conquest of the Jaffna kingdom

The Portuguese conquest of the Jaffna kingdom occurred after Portuguese traders arrived at the rival Kotte Kingdom in the southwest of modern Sri Lanka in 1505. Many kings of Jaffna, such as Cankili I, initially confronted the Portuguese in their attempts at converting the locals to Roman Catholicism, but eventually made peace with them.

Constantino of Braganza Portuguese statesman and military commander

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Portuguese Ceylon

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When to date the start of the history of the Jaffna kingdom is debated among historians.

Achuthappa Nayak was the Thanjavur Nayak king who ruled from 1560 to 1614. From 1560 to 1580, he was co-monarch along with his father and from 1580 to 1614, he ruled on his own. His reign is generally regarded as one of peace and stability.

Sinhalese–Portuguese War

The Sinhalese–Portuguese War was a series of conflicts waged from 1527 to 1658 between the indigenous Sinhalese kingdoms of Ceylon and their allies against the Portuguese Empire. The Portuguese were seeking to expand from their trading post at Colombo to incorporate Ceylon into their growing empire.

Portuguese invasion of Jaffna kingdom (1591)

Portuguese invasion of Jaffna kingdom in 1591 AD was the second expedition against the Jaffna kingdom by the Portuguese. The campaign, led by Captain André Furtado de Mendonça, started from Mannar and continued to Nallur, the capital of the Jaffna kingdom. The Portuguese captured the kingdom, killed the king, and installed Ethirimana Cinkam as the new ruler.


Preceded by
Ethirimana Cinkam
Jaffna Kingdom
Succeeded by
Filipe de Oliveira