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Home » History of Kerala » Arrival Of Dutch In Kerala

Arrival Of Dutch In Kerala

Arrival Of Dutch In Kerala

The Portuguese finally met their match in the Dutch. The Dutch known locally as Lanthakar, was in the race for evicting the Portuguese from the lucrative Eastern spices trade. Strategic alliance with the Samuthiri helped the Dutch to drive out the Portuguese once and for all by 1663.

They proclaimed the Kochi Maharaja as the titular head and drove the Portuguese out. With aim of total control over the Eastern Spices trade, the Dutch East India Company was set up in 1602. Stefan Van Hegena set sail with 13 ships and reached Kannur (Cannanore) in 1604.

But from then on it was the same old story of the former allies falling out. This phase ended with the Dutch gaining undue advantages and gaining foothold over most of the coastal areas and towns, prominent being Kannur and Kochi. By 1717 a treaty was established.

But it could not save the Dutch from defeat in 1741 at the hands of a resurgent king of Thiruvithanmkur, Marthanda Varma in the battle of Kolachel. By 1795, the Dutch were so weakened, that the British did not have much trouble evicting them permanently from the Kerala landscape once and for all.

The Portuguese and the Dutch introduced many novel agricultural crops to Kerala, notable among them being pineapple, papaya, tapioca, rubber and scientific farming methods for coconuts.

To this day, the Kerala farmers are critically dependent on these crops for survival in the agrarian economy of the state.

The Bolgatty palace at Kochi, the Dutch Governor's mansion (later the British Resident's mansion) and the Dutch Palace at Mattancherry, Kochi are some of the reminder of Dutch conquest on India soil.

During this time, the most famous ruler was Marthanda Varma, King of Thiruvithamkur. His success started with the subjugation of the local warlords and Dutch.

Later he expanded his rule by subjugating all principalities of the southern tip of Kerala up to Kodungalloor up in the North.

He was a great warrior and administrator. He carried out revolutionary reforms in his kingdom like converting the captured lands into state lands, centralising foreign trade to generate government incomes, improving living conditions of farmers, and most importantly reducing the powers of the government servants who till then were exclusively from certain castes and families.

He took an unusual step of employing competent people from all castes and for the first time recognised competence over birthright.