Won't there be an end in sight of this sea....?
It is going to be nearly a year since the journey has started.
How long has it still to be awaited to catch sight of the seashore?
It had been months since they were hankering after to see the sandy seashores and the beings stomping around there and the sunlight filtering in through the green trees. Spreading the printed fabrics before them the navigators racked their brains. They took a firm pledge to stick on their resolution - either terrestrial exit or triumph. From the start of their voyage from the Netherlands in December 1603, the group of Dutch navigators have confronted many an impediment. How many times have they fought off sea-creatures and sea-rats? The fleet itself spun around many a time in heavy storms in the turbulent waters. Their escape from the hostile fleets of Spain and the Portuguese was miraculous. It is Malabar (Kerala) lying in the southern most India that triggers in them the enthusiasm to advance ahead enduring all the obstacles. It is the land of spices where pepper, corns, cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmegs and all grow ripe in profusion. The main aim and intention of the voyage is to land there as fast as possible and reach agreements for the trade in spices with native rulers.
In 1581, Holland declared its independence from Spain and started the attempts to establish colonies. The Republic of United Netherlands granted freedom to the Dutch people to find out colonies. They became the most enterprising people in Europe prepared to live on the ocean with a piece of bread, salted meat and even salt water.
It was Captain Houtman who formed the United Dutch East India Company in 1595 to trade with India and later other trade companies came into being and amalgamating all of them on March 1602, the United Dutch East India Company was brought into being.
The Fleet, captained by Admiral Steven Vander Haghen, now is on the move aiming towards Malabar under the auspices of the new Company. Two years prior to the formation of the United Dutch East India Company, Queen Elizabeth of England gave recognition to the English East India Company, but till 1802 hardly any representative of it had reached Malabar.
It has been a centuries-old dream of the kings of the European countries to reach India and other eastern countries through sea-routes. Turk's capture of Constantinople in 1453, which closed the doors of trade to Europe, acting as the most important event, paved the way for it. The halt of spices from the South Indian territories to the markets of Europe through sea and land routes affected adversely the life and living of people there. This tempted the Europeans to find out a way to reach India, not through land route, but sea-route. While the European nations like Spain, Portugal, France and England gave help and encouragement to the navigators with this end in view, it was the first two that romped success.
The Portuguese had the Malabar at their beck and call by means of taking sides with the local kings who engaged themselves in mutual fratricidal wars, trade agreements, erecting Fortresses and Factories and of raising mercenary forces. To the kings of Malabar who were accustomed to a warfare weaponry consisting of swords, shields, arrows, bows and spears, the Portuguese forces, being trained to modern techniques in the use of cannons and rifles, became a nightmare. They erected a big fortress in Cochin for the protection of factories and christened it as Fort Manual in honour of their king. It is the first fort, whose foundation stone was laid on 27 September 1503, that has ever been built by the Europeans in India. Later they built fortresses at different parts of Malabar including Fort Anjalo at Cannannore. They also seized maritime superiority from the Arabs replacing them from the trade they practised time after time. They murdered the maritime forces that opposed them at Malabar including its captain Kunjali Marakkar. Having taken roots in Malabar the Portuguese power started to spread different parts of India including Goa. But the people of Malabar, fed up with their misrule, turned against them owing mainly to their acts of corruption and religious fanaticism. A group of Dutch in the meanwhile from the Netherland set their foot in Malabar in the backdrop of such an environment of anti-Portuguese feeling sweeping through the land.
The Dutch fleet anchored first by the extreme south of Malabar by the shores of Cannannore,
also known as Kolathunadu In Dutch records, Kolathiri is mentioned as Coppastry. (the land under the Raja of Kolathiri).
A hundred and six years have passed now since the arrival of Vasco de Gama in Malabar. When he arrived, the big kingdoms in Kerala were the Kolathiri in the north, the Zamorin of Calicut close by it, Cochin at the centre and Venad at far south. Besides them there were numerous little Rajas and feudatories toowho were ruling in Kerala at that time.
Thus the world witnessed new trade relations and the battles waged by the European powers that reached Asian-American continents to capture new countries through the sea-routes opened by Christopher Columbus and Vasco de Gama. While the spices taken from India made the Portuguese rich, the gold and silver from America made Spain the same making the other European nations jealous of them. The merchants of other European nations set about preparations for trade with eastern countries.
The main responsibility of Admiral Van der Haghen who signed the first trade agreement with Zamorin representing the Dutch government was to liberate Kerala from the clutches of the Portuguese .The Zamorin had many expectations on the Dutch in this regard.
What gave the Zamorin the expectation was the fact that the Dutch was also in possession of advanced war weaponry and trained warriors on a scale at par with the Portuguese. Even though he was mentioned as the emperor of Malabar in trade treaties, the reality was that the Zamorin, who had been pining for 'the emperor of Kerala' could not materialise that aim with the arrival, first of the Portuguese and then Dutch at the Malabar Coast. Furthermore, it was unlikely that his pining would materialise in near future, since the existing political environment was totally against him. On one side there was the more powerful Portuguese and the principalities which had in the palm of their hand; the other principalities trying to be powerful were quite unwilling to accept the suzerainty of the Zamorin.
The Zamorin was able to snatch away for himself from Valluvakkonathiri Valluvakonathiri is the generic term that stands for the ruler of the minor principality, Valluvanad which embraced Ponnani, Perunthalmanna, Ponnani and Tirur of the present Malappuram district and Ottapalam in Palghat district. He used to preside over Mamankam festival held on the banks of the river Bharathapuzha. But the Zamorin snatched away from Valluvakonathiri the privilege of presidentship and made him flee. the presidentship of Mamankam Mamankam was a ritualistic assemblage of erudite held once in twelve years on the banks of the river Bharathappuza. With his defeat at the hands of Zamorin, Valluvakkonathiri used to send Chavers, the suicide squad at the venue of Mamankom presided over by the Zamorin in an attempt to kill him. The Mamankam ritual continued even when the Portuguese and the Dutch came over here. The English officers also recorded the event. the assemblage of the erudite held on the banks of the sacred river Bharathapuzha Bharathappuzha: Believed to be a holy river, Bharatappuzha is the second largest river in Kerala. It flows through the districts of Malappuram, Trichur and Palaghat. It was on the place Thirunavai, situated on the shores of the river that Mamankam was held. once in every twelve years where all the kings of Kerala took part. Then he became the virtual president of the Mamankom. While all the kings of Kerala send flags at this assemblage as a mark of respect Valluvakkonathiri sent suicide squads which fought off the soldiers of the Zamorin on the banks of the river. But never did were suicide squads able to defeat the Zamorin forces. Thus with the arrival of the Dutch, the Zamorin, who was already enjoying the presidentship of the Mamankam, had his pining to become the emperor of Kerala enhanced.
With the arrival of the Dutch the number of the European powers in Kerala became two. There took place great changes in the politico-social-commercial domains during the course of one hundred and six year period that elapsed between the arrival of the Portuguese and the trade treaty entered in to with the Zamorin by Vander Haghen, the Dutch Admiral. With the advancement of the Portuguese, the commercial relations of Kerala extended to Europe helping to get higher prices for the trade goods. Along with it goods and things of Europe started to be circulated in Kerala. The Portuguese constructed their churches and palaces following their own mode of architecture which finally helped to spread the European mode of architecture in Kerala. It was in war arena that big changes took place. The kings of Kerala were accustomed to a warfare where arrows, spears, elephants and infantry were freely used. With the arrival of the Portuguese, the kings found that the guns, cannons and horses were more powerful than that of their weaponry and hence they started to make guns, besides imparting training to their soldiers.
The Seminaries instituted by the Portuguese for religious instruction became instrumental in establishing Malayalam's contact with Portuguese-Latin languages. It was the Portuguese who brought to Kerala the agricultural crops including cashew-nut, custard, guava, pine-apple, papaya and tobacco. But the religious policies of the Portuguese and the schisms emanated from them and the corruption of the officials made people contemptuous of and hateful to them. The Dutch's arrival here was coincided with the fury of all the mutually hostile kings of Kerala towards the Portuguese.