King Mayadunne

House of Siri Sanga Bo | Sitawaka - (1521 - 1581)

Mayadunne (Sinhala: මායාදුන්නේ) (1501–1581) was a king of the Kingdom of Sitawaka, who ruled for 60 years between 1521 and 1581. Mayadunne was a fierce opponent of the Portuguese, who had arrived on the Island in 1505. 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 1501 in Kotte of the Kingdom of Kotte. He was the son of Vijaya Bahu VII who reigned as king from 1509 to 1521. Mayadunne was the youngest child born to Vijaya Bahu VII and his main Queen. He had two full brothers, Bhuvanekabahu and Raigama Bandara, Bhuvanekabahu who was also king of Kotte from 1521 to 1551.
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 (1517). Before long Mayadunne got popular support from the local chiefs and population who didn't like Bhuvanekabahu VII collaborating with Portuguese. Mayadunne led several invasions against Kotte but Bhuvanekabahu VII was able to drive Sitawakan forces back with the help of Portuguese. During the first phase of these 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 here on. By this time the Buddhist monks in Kotte who were responsible of the Dantha Dhathuwa, the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha, secretly smuggled it into Sitawaka and placed it under the protection of Mayadunne since they saw Portuguese as hostile towards Buddhism. According to the local tradition if someone has the ownership of the 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 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.
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.
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