Dharmapala of Kotte

Dharmapala or Dom João Dharmapala Peria Bandara (1541 – 27 May 1597) was last king of the Kingdom of Kotte, in present-day Sri Lanka, from 1551 until 27 May 1597. He is also known as Dom João Dharmapala, the first Christian king in Sri Lankan history.[1][2] He is widely known as the last true King and ruler of the capital city Kotte; under Portuguese military occupation, he attempted to reorganise his military and pursue a treaty with the Portuguese to save the Sinhalese Kingdom.

King of Kotte
Reign1551 – 27 May 1597
PredecessorBhuvanekabahu VII
SuccessorRajasinha I
Royal Palace, Kotte
Died27 May 1597 (aged 55/56)
Portuguese Fort, Colombo
St. Francis Shrine, Colombo 01. (now - President's House)
ConsortDona Isabella
Dona Margarida
Dona Catherina
IssuePrincess Siriputara
Dom João Dharmapala Peria Bandara
HouseHouse of Siri Sanga Bo
DynastyKingdom of Kotte
FatherLord Veediya Bandara
MotherCrown Princess Samudra Devi
ReligionRoman Catholicism prev. Theravada Buddhism
SignatureDharmapala's signature


Dom João Dharmapala (Don John Dharmapala) was born as the eldest child of Weediye Bandara, a Prince from Madampe and his wife Samudra Devi, daughter of King Bhuvanekabãhu VII the King of Kotte. His exact date of birth is unknown, but the year is commonly regarded as 1541. A golden statue was sent to Portugal to be crowned by the Portuguese. It was sent by his predecessor King Bhuvanekabahu VII.

Dharmapala's descendants include the Goonewardene & Rodrigo families of Kalutara who are of the Karava caste.

Personal lifeEdit

He had a younger brother, Prince Wijayapala. And a younger half-brother Prince Sooriyabandara from his father's second marriage. His mother was murdered by his father when he was young, so his maternal grandfather King Bhuvanekabahu VII raised him under the supervision of the Portuguese.

First, he married Princess Isabella of Kandy, daughter of King Jayaweera Wickramabahu of Kandy. After she died, he married Queen Dona Isabella's niece, Princess Margarida of Kandy, who was the eldest daughter of King Karaliyadde Bandara of Kandy.

After his grandfather's death, he used to reside in the Colombo fortress instead of the Kotte Royal Palace.

After his conversion from Buddhism to Catholicism in 1565[3] he would bequeath (in 1580) his entire realm to the King of Portugal. The Portuguese takeover of Kotte, however, was resisted and would only be completed during the captaincy of Dom Jerónimo de Azevedo (1594 - 1612).[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Fernando, Mario (2007). Spiritual Leadership in the Entrepreneurial Business: A Multifaith Study. Edward Elgar Publishing. ISBN 9781847208613. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  2. ^ "Portuguese encounter with King of Kotte in 1517". Denis N. Fernando. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  3. ^ Thomaz, Luís Filipe (2018). L'expansion portugaise dans le monde, XIV-XVIIIe siècles : les multiples facettes d'un prisme (in French) (2e édition révisée et augmentée ed.). Paris: Chandeigne. p. 181. ISBN 978-2-36732-175-2. OCLC 1081316746.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  4. ^ Disney, A. R. (2009). A history of Portugal and the Portuguese empire : from beginnings to 1807. Volume 2, The Portuguese empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-511-65024-6. OCLC 558951192.

External linksEdit

Dharmapala of Kotte
Born: ? ? Died: 27 May 1597
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Kotte
Succeeded by