Portuguese and the Dutch Period
Da Gama landed at Calicut in May 1498 and put Kerala on the map
of the modern world. At first the Zamorin treated the new-comers
with traditional hospitality. Later, when the Zamorin refused
the Portuguese monopoly on pepper trade--the local Arabs vehemently
opposed the new competitors in trade--the Portuguse went to Cochin
and entered into an alliance with the Raja of Cochin. Soon
war broke out between the Arabs and the Portuguese on land and
sea; the Zamorin supported the Arabs. He declared war also
on Cochin because that state refused to expel the Portuguese.
In one battle with the Portuguese (1504), the Zamorin lost 19,000
men. The Portuguese captured the town of Cannanore and fortified
it. The hostilities between the Zamorin and the Portuguese
went unabated during the campaigns of Kunjali Marakkars who supported
the Zamorin. Later the Zamorin made an unholy alliance (1540)
with the Portuguese and turned against his former allies, the
Kunjalis. He destroyed the Kunjali fortress and arrested
Kunjali and turned him over to the Portuguese, who later executed
him in Goa. The Portuguese decline, however, began with
the arrival of the Dutch.
Portuguese contact affected not only the political landscape of
Kerala but also its cultural life. The Portuguese ended
the Arab and Chinese monopoly of the spice trade. They introduced
the Latin rite Roman Catholic Church through their missionaries.
European fashions and luxuries also came with them. The
church architecture and house construction were also influenced
by the Portuguese style. The Portuguese introduced into
India the following agricultural products: cashew nut, tobacco,
the custard apple, guava, the pineapple, and the papaya, and an
improved variety of coconut seeds. They opened theological
schools and colleges at Cochin, Cranganore, Ankamally, and Vaipicotta;
they also set up printing presses at Cochin and Vaipicotta. The
Chavittunatakam, the Christian dance-drama, originated
with the Portuguese missionaries. They also Latinized the
of Kerala, but in this process they alienated many local Christians
who broke away from communion with Rome with the "oath of the
Dutch East India Company, formed in 1592, sent Admiral Van der
Hagen to India in 1603; the admiral entered into a commercial
and political treaty with the Zamorin of Calicut who wanted to
expel the Portuguese from Kerala. In 1662 the Dutch captured
Cranganore from the Portuguese and in 1663 they captured the Fort
of Cochin and installed their partisan as King of Cochin. In 1664
they acquired monopoly of pepper trade in Cannanore. In
1613 the Dutch brought the state of Cochin under their effective
political control. The Mysore invasions of Hyder All and the coming
of the British spelled the doom of Dutch power in Kerala.
In 1795 a British force under Major Petrie from Calicut marched
against Cochin and forced the surrender of the Dutch fort of Cochin.
Marthanda Varma (1729-1758) of Travancore also crippled the Dutch
power is a series of encounters, especially in the battle of Koiachel.
The Dutch sued for peace, withdrew from Kerala, and left for the
the Portuguese, the Dutch also introduced new agricultural products
and scientific techniques of cultivation. They improved
the agricultural economy of Kerala; they cultivated coconut, rice,
and indigo on extensive scale. They are most remembered
for the celebrated botanical work on the medicinal value of Kerala
plants, Hortus Malabaricus.