The English got strengthened.
The mission of the Dutch gathered momentum.
The Attingal revolt.
The French acquired Mahi by force.
Marthanda Varma came to the throne.

The Dutch for Extension of Their Sway; The English for Enhancing Their Influence

The Dutch took control over the fort of Chettuva on10 April 1717. Christened as Fort William, the fort had its commander, Heer Wihem Blasser, whose dead body was buried in the premises of the guest house on his death after ten years of his being at its helm of affairs.

The Dutch's victory at Chettuva and the influence they had on the Zamorin consequent on it created in them an ambition to keep the entire Kerala at their beck and call. They wanted to have political powers in other countries as in Cochin, whose main reason was the emergence of English East India Company as a power in the north and south of Kerala. They, with the setting up of the fort at Tellichery, established trade relations with other countries. The Anjengo fort in Attingal turned out to be an important trade centre. At Vizhinjam the English had a trade centre. Another thing that affrighted the Dutch was the attempts of the French to sneak in to Kerala.

The Dutch, after their victory over Chettuva, sent emissary groups to the princely states of Purakkad and Quilon with a perception that they could drive out the French from Kerala and crush attempts of the French longing to sneak into it, only if the length and breadth of Kerala was brought under their flag.

A view of Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple

The disputes between the king of Venad, the princely state lying in the far south of Kerala, and the Yogakkars and Pillamars became harsh. It was in the meantime that a revolt (Attingal Revolt) took place in Attingal against the English East India Company. While the local people were infuriated at the deeds of Gyffort, the head of Anjengo fort ,the British kept the queen of Attingal in good humour by sending to her annual gifts with a display of pomp and pageantry.Giffort rejected the demand of the Pillamars who were bitterly opposed to the king of Venad that the gifts to the queen should be presented to her only through them.As a result of this the group that went to present the gifts were attacked by a group consisting of local people and the Pillamars causing loss of life.The fort of Anjengo was under the siege of the rebels. Peace was restored only with the intervention of troops from the fort of Tellichery. Gifford was succeeded by Midford as the head of the fort of Anjengo who again was by Alexander Orme, the father of the renowed historian, Robert Orme. Though the revolt of Attintgal resulted in heavy loss of life to the English, it provided to them gains and advantages. The treaty signed between the English and the queen of Attingal was the most important in that there were provisions in it to compensate for the losses, besides punishing the rioters and providing the monopoly of the trade of pepper to them. Furthermore, the British were given permission to establish trade centres anywhere in Attingal.The British were also given the timber needed to reconstruct the church destroyed in the revolt.They also got help and support from the countries,Venad (Travancore) and Desinganadu (Kollam or Quilon).


The Attingal revolt of 1721 was the first organised uprising against the English East India Company in Kerala. But, there is an opinion among a group of historians that the revolt took place with the prior permission of the queen. Whatever it may be, it is an indisputable fact that local people hated Gyffort. The British used to send to the Queen costly gifts from the Fort of Anjengo annually. In 1721, around 140 Britons started their journey from Anjengo to the palace of Attingal. In the meanwhile, the Pillamars, the local rulers, demanded that the gifts were to be presented to the Queen through them only. But Gyffort was not ready to accept it. The people became furious and they attacked and killed the Britons. Then the local people laid siege to the fort and it was said that the sige continued for about 6 months. The English troops from the Fort of Tellichery came to Anjengo and suppressed the revolt. Eventhough the revolt was the first uprising against the British supremacy, it is an indisputable fact that it helped the English East India Company to strengthen their authority and power in Kerala. The Company completed the completion of the fort at Anjengo in 1695.

NB: For more details- "Early Resistance to Colonialism in South Kerala"- Leela More and "Maritime Malabar and the Europeans" edited by K.S Mathew.

Marthanda Varma became the
King of Travancore (Venad)

When the English strengthened in the south of Kerala in the north the French had already stepped in.At last what the Dutch feared happened.In1725 the French forces, under the orders of the Govt: of Pondichery seized Mayyazhy of Kadathanadu located at a little distance away from Tellichery and rechristened it as Mahi. During the revolt of Attingal, it was Adhitya Varma who ruled over Venad. After his death, Rama Varma (1721-29) became the king. It was during this tumultus period that the King of Venad signed a treaty with the English East India Company. The treaty, aimed at suppressing the insurrection of Yogakkar and Pillamar, gave the English the permission to construct a fort at Kulachal The treaty was signed by the heir-apparent Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma for and on behalf of the king reaching at the fort of Anjengo.Sharp witted and steel-hearted the heir-apparent was for making use of any means, fair or foul, to supress insurrection of the Yogakkars and the Pillamars. It was because of his advice that Rama Varma, the King, signed the treaty with the British in 1729. After his death, Marthanda Varma became the King of Travancore (Venad) and there began an era in the history of Kerala.

It was a period of intense internal conflicts in south Kerala and mid-Kerala when Marthanda Varma was enthroned in 1729 in Travancore (Venad). He had to confront the opposition of chieftains besides the disputations of right of succession among the members of the royal family. Because of internal conflicts he could not, initially, rule over the kingdom. The king, who spent his life in hiding or in the open met at different times face to face with death. He saved his life either in disguise or keeping his eyes peeled for the enemies. But the Dutch commander Stein Van Gollenesse recorded that Marthanda Varma was a cruel, audacious, greedy, unkind but efficient person who wanted to rule the entire Kerala. This opinion may be true when we compare his deeds later. His mind was harder than steel. To achieve his aims he did not take in to consideration moral obligation and not ready to examine kindness and truth. He started confronting the enemies by creating an armed force of his own and by procuring gun powder and war equipment with the help of the British at Anjengo. He tightened his grip on the administration by brutally suppressing the revolt in the royal family by murdering his own kin and by killing mercilessly the Madambis and Pillamars. He confiscated the properties of Madambis and Pillamars and brought all of them under the control of the Government. This ultimately led to the collapse of the feudal system that existed in Travancore kingdom. His advancement became a threat to the neighbouring countries. The Dutch were also in confusion. He was going to attack the countries with which they had trade of pepper or other goods.


The internal feuds, that had been raging in Venad for about six decades before the assumption of power by Marthanda Varma, created problems even to the European powers who came here for trade. Their trade centres were subjected to aggression. The squabbles continued with the king on one side and the Yogakkars and Pillamars on the opposite sides. The reason for the feud was on the income with regard to the Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple and its properties. The administration of the temple was carried out by a body called Ettarayogam, consisting of eight Potties (Brahmin priests) and the king who attended the meeting of the body once in a blue moon (there is difference of opinion among the historians about it).

Ettu Veettil Pillamars

The king had no authority either to challenge the decisions taken at the meeting of the Ettarayogam or interfere in the temple affairs. The eight 'madambies' were given the authority to have supervision and to collect tax over the properties of the temple which were divided into eight sections. They were called Ettuveettil Pillamars (nairs of eight houses). They hailed from the families of Kulathoor, Kazhakkoottam, Chempazhanthy, Ramanamadom, Kudamon, Pallichal and Marthandamadom. But there are differences among historians about the names of the Pillamars. When the coalition among the Yogakars and Pillamars became a threat to the royal authority, the king started to interfere in the administration of the temple. This later became internal feud. But there is another version which stated that the internal feuds cropped up on account of the king's efforts to seize the democratic administration of the temple and to arrogate to take over the power. When the problematique became severe, the temple was closed many times. There have been records to prove this. The first step Marthanda Varma took after coming to power in 1729 was to suppress the Yogakars and Pillamars. He resorted to brutal steps for this.

The Mughal Empire is tottering.
Karnataka (Badanur) attacks north Kerala.
Kolathiri is against the Dutch.
The English tightens the grip.

Karnataka Invasion in North Kerala; Preparations of Marthanda Varma in South Kerala

Internal feuds set in motion in the Mughal Empire. The indications of the great empire tottering became visible. The neighbouring countries and the European powers that came to India for trade were waiting to conquer India.

The Dutch had been dreaming to bring the entire Kerala under their flag. The Zamorin started clandestine moves against the Dutch. Marthanda Varma became a knightmare of all in south Kerala (Venad). In northern Kerala, clashes broke out by that time especially again between Chirakkal (Kolathiri) and Arakkal. Tellichery and the nearby Mahi the Dutch and the French were looking askance at each other. In the meanwhile there was the Carnatic power (Badanaur) that led troops eyeing at Kolathunadu (Cannannore). The political condition in Cochin was also not so different. The conflict and flare-up among the royal families there disturbed the peace of the Dutch.

The Zamorin was very busy in forging an alliance against the Dutch prior to which he pondered over adopting a princess from a southern country in Kerala. He sent messengers to different countries. It is said that the ministers of the principalities, Paravur, Thekkankoore, Vadakkankoore and Kayamkulam congregated at Ponnani and racked their brains against the Dutch. During this period, the Dutch Governor in Ceylon Van Imoff sorted out a plan to expand the power of the Dutch. His activities were based upon his understanding that there would be a likelihood of English being rooted in Kerala. The frequent clashes, taking place between the French and the English in northern Kerala, gave some releief to the Dutch. But taken aback all the European forces and kings of the Malabar, Rajah of Badanaur (Karnataka) invaded Kolathunadu. The Badanaur kings were chieftains of Ikkaril or Keladi cropped up as a result of the following the collapse of the Vijayanagara Empire at Battle of Talikota (1564). During the period of the King Sivappa Nayak (1649-1671), the 9th in the lineage of Badanaur kings, a strip of land between Canara and Kasaragod was conquered. Coming to know of the internal feud in the country of Kolathiri, Somashekhara Nayaka, the 13th in the lineage, started attacking it.

When the attack took place Ali Raja and Kolathiri signed an agreement while the Zamorin and the English came to help Kolathiri. The Dutch too helped the Kolathiri. But the things reached to a dead end where at last Kolathiri became a chieftain under the Badanuar king. When Badanuar readied itself to launch an attack against Cannanore after having crossed Valapatanam the English and the Dutch came to the scenario for a truce. Later Badanuar stopped the attack. Highly satisfied of it the Kolathiri agreed to give off the Dutch pepper measuring a thousand Kandi. But after a while Carnatic attacked the Malabar again. The attempts of the Dutch to ward off the war fell flat. But the war came to an end under the mediatorship of the English with the result that the territories conquered were ceded to the Carnatic.

The Zamorin was totally disturbed. He came to know that all his schemes were crumbled one by one. In the mean while the news reached at the Dutch fort in Cochin. It was the news that Marthanda Varma was on preparations to attack Kayamkulam.