2 A Portuguese attempt to invade Sri Lanka 106


Description: A Portuguese attempt to invade Sri Lanka

Rebelion de Ceylan, y los progressos de su conquista en el gobierno de Constantino de Saa, y Noroña.

Lisbon, Antonio Craesbeeck de Mello, 1681. 4to. Contemporary limp vellum, spine lettered in ink, red sprinkled edges. With several woodcut head- and tailpieces. (20), 243 pp.

First edition of this interesting work on the struggle between Portugal and the kingdom of Kandy on Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka), during the rule of the Portuguese Governor-General Constantino de Saa y Noroña, who represented the Habsburg king on the island from 1623 to 1630. During this period, Portugal possessed the coastal areas of Ceylon, whereas the central part of the island was controlled by the independent Sinhalese kingdom of Kandy. In 1630, however, the Portuguese tried to invade Kandy as well, but this campaign turned out to be ill-fated and ended with the rout of the Portuguese forces and the death of Constantino de Saa y Noroña.
As Portugal was hoping for a complete victory on Ceylon, the events on the island were closely watched, and Constantino was severely criticised. He was held personally responsible for the failure of the Portuguese actions, and for his own death. His son, Juan Rodriguez de Saa de Menezes, tried to rehabilitate his father's reputation, collected material and wrote the present work already before 1640. The book didn't appear, however, until long after its author's death: in 1681, in Lisbon. As in most such biographies, it exaggerates Constantino's victories, and minimises his losses. He is being depicted as a man who knew about the weakness of his own army, but was nevertheless demanded to conquer Kandy by the viceroy Conde de Linhares. As Constantino subsequently tried to make the best out of this distressful situation, he lost his own life on the battlefield.
Juan Rodriguez de Saa de Menezes was with his writings successful in rehabilitating his father's reputation, and in later times the latter was even celebrated for his humanitarian attitude towards the Sinhalese. After the dedication to the Virgin on p. (3), 10 sonnets, and 2 poems consisting of 10 lines, called 'decimals', can be found, all in honour of Constantino de Saa y Noroña. The approbation, on pp. (17)-(20), is followed by the relation on Constantino's life and actions.

Good copy.
Lach-Van der Kley, pp. 951-2; Palau 274944; Mattos, Manual Bibliogr. Potugues, p. 499.
  • Number: 1060794
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum