history/The Dutch Period in Ceylon 1602–1796


Despite all the bickering, relations between the Dutch and the Kandyan Court gradually improved. The Court was especially gratified when the VOC placeda vessel at the disposal of the King to transport a Chapter of Buddhist priests from Arakan in Siam to the island. The cinnamon collection flourished and the arecanut trade, was also booming. Good relations between the Dutch Governors and the King were maintained until his death in 1707.

Initially, the relations with his successor King Nahendra Singha also remained cordial. Over the years, the trade restrictions imposed by the Dutch increasingly caused dissatisfaction at the Kandyan Court. During the first thirty years of the 18th Century the profits from the VOC were very satisfactory, despite various problems including minor military skirmishes.

By 1734 the problems increased as a result of malpractices and corruption of some Dutch VOC officials. The regulation for the protection of wild cinnamon, a major money maker for the Company, seriously conflicted with the chena cultivation on which the villagers largely depended for food. This caused major discontent among the local population in the Dutch territories. The Dutch Governor Baron Gustaf Willem van Imhoff, who arrived on the island in 1736, did what he could to cure the situation but had to ask for military assistance from the VOC headquarters in Batavia, Dutch East Indies. The cinnamon peelers and the rest of the population were eventually pacified when Van Imhoff yielded to most of their demands and the King officially disavowed of any sympathy with the rebels.