Saturday, April 13, 2019

Fort Fredrick, Trincomalee

Fort Fredrick, Trincomalee
Fort Fredrick, popularly known as Trincomalee Fort is an old fort situated in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

History
Fort Fredrick, TrincomaleePortuguese were the first Europeans who maintained a garrison at Trincomalee (Esquire & de Silva, 1993). Constantino de Sa, the former captain general of Ceylon, built a fort at Trincomalee in 1623, by destroying the celebrated Hindu temple known as 'Ten thousand columns' at the Sami Rock (Esquire & de Silva, 1993).

In 1639, Portuguese were driven out from the fort by a Dutch force led by Admiral Westerword (Elliott, 1995). In 1672, French attacked the place and captured the fort at Kodiar (Esquire & de Silva, 1993). However, they were expelled by Dutch and the place was remained in their possession until 1782 (Esquire & de Silva, 1993).

In 1778, Great Britain declared hostility against France. At the time there was a squadron of French in the Indian Ocean and therefore, the need of a good harbor on the east coast of India (a place such as Trincomalee in Sri Lanka) was become an crucial factor (Esquire & de Silva, 1993). In the later half of 1781, a news reached to India that English had been declared a war against Holland. Lord Macartney, the then governor of Madras decided to capture the Dutch settlements especially Negapatam (in India) and Trincomalee [(in Sri Lanka) Esquire & de Silva, 1993]. On 11 November 1781, Britain successfully captured Negapatam under the command of Major General Sir Hector Munro assisted by Vice Admiral Sir Edward Hughes (Esquire & de Silva, 1993). In January 1782, Trincomalee was also conquered by them.

After conquering the Trincomalee, Hughes returned to Madras and taking the advantage of this French, led by Admiral Suffrein siege the fort (Elliott, 1995). The Dutch again took the control of Trincomalee fort and held it till on 23 August 1795 (Elliott, 1995). After a short siege, English regained the fort from Dutch.

Summary
1623 - Built by the Portuguese.
1639 - (2 May) Captured by the Dutch - Landing at Dutch Bay and breaching the western face.
1640 - Dismantled by the Dutch.
1658 - Expanded (as Pagoda Hill) by the Dutch.
1672 - Unsuccessfully attacked by the French.
1782 - (8 January) Captured by the British 98th, 78th and 42nd foot, 62 guns, 6 mortars.
1782 - (29 August) Captured by the French.
1783 - Coded by France to British and by Britain to Holland (Treaty of Paris).
1795 - (26-31 August) Captured by the British (71st, 72nd and 73rd foot) landing at Elizabeth Point.
1800 - (Xmas) Colonel Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) stayed at Wellesley Lodge.
1803 - Named Fort Fredrick (after Commander in Chief the Duke of York).
1842 - St. Stephen's Church reconstructed by Lt. Ogle, R. C. and handed over.
1905 - Defences dismantled.
1916 - Military forces withdrawn.
1923 - Permanent defences reorganised.
1942 - (9 April) Japanese air raid.
1945 - (August) Inter-services, Parade and Thanks-giving service.
1946 - Reservoir (1/2 million gallons) completed.

Tamil inscription
A Tamil inscription containing a prophecy is found on the right side of the main entrance to the fort (Codrington, 1927). This epigraph contains the word "Paranki" (Portuguese) signifying the influence of Portuguese in Sri Lanka (Dias et al., 2016).

Depending on its palaeography, the Madras Government epigraphist, H. Krishna Sastri has dated this inscription to the 16th century A.D. (Codrington, 1927). A reconstructed version of this inscription had been tentatively proposed by Mudaliyar C. Rasanayagam and it was published in 1927, by H.W. Codrington in his article as follows;

  • Tamil inscription at Fort Fredrick

    Period : 16th century A.D.
    Script  : Tamil
    Language : Tamil
    Transcript : Munne kulakkodan muddun tirup-paniyaippinne Paranki.........>>


    Translation : O King ! the Portuguese shall later break down the holy edifice built by Kulakkodan in ancient times; and it shall not be rebuilt nor will future Kings think of doing so
    Citation : Codrington, 1927. p. 451.
Fort Fredrick, Trincomalee Fort Fredrick, Trincomalee
Fort Fredrick, Trincomalee Fort Fredrick, Trincomalee
References
1) Codrington, H.W., 1927. The inscription at Fort Frederick, Trincomalee. The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 30(80), pp.448-451.
2) Dias, M.; Koralage, S.B.; Asanga, K., 2016. The archaeological heritage of Jaffna peninsula. Department of Archaeology. Colombo. p.30.
3) Elliott, C.B., 1995. The Real Ceylon. Asian educational services. p.80.
4) Esquire, H.N. and de Silva, D.G.B., 1993. Notes on Military History of Trincomalie. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 38, pp.35-38.

Location Map

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