Lanerolle’s behaviour prevented Lanka becoming French colony

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By 2018-02-11

An infamous individual who changed the course of history of Sri Lanka (SL) is Francois Caron a French national who was born in Holland and was employed in the Dutch East India Company. Caron became notorious for helping the Dutch to capture Negombo town in 1644 AC. Caron subsequently left the Dutch East India Company.

The French colonialists with the aim of conquering the Eastern States commenced the French East India Company. The Headquarters of the Company was established in India and Caron was appointed as the overall Director.
Caron wrote a letter from Cochin, India to King Rajasinghe II of Kandy. That letter indicated that the great French Emperor is expecting to give full freedom and provide relief to the country. With this in view a new Company has been established in Paris, France, and planned to create permanent friendly ties between the two countries via an agreement, it stated. "Our aim is to contribute to the prosperity of your people and yourself. Therefore, our envoy will be arriving to meet you with gifts and goods," the letter mentioned.

With the permission of Louis the XIV, the French delegation led by Admiral De La Haye arrived at the Trincomalee Port on 22 March 1672. After the vessel was anchored, the French Ambassador Laisne de Nanclairs de Lanerolle headed for Kandy with the gifts. This delegation included Gascoin Roche, Dilan, Bloom, Plassey and Alexandra. They were fetched by a VIP of King Rajasinghe II.

Lanerolle travelling on horseback entered the Kandy town. The VIPs who saw this pointed out entering the environs of the Maligawa on horseback is against revered traditions. But this was ignored, and travelling on horseback was continued in the vicinity of the gate of the Maligawa. Though this was wrong committed against the King, the latter did not take it amiss. The visitor who dismounted from the horse, and got ready with the gifts, was granted permission to enter the Maligawa, and a traditional cordial welcome too was accorded. However, even after two hours had elapsed in the night, there was no invitation from the King. Lanerolle who flew into a rage over this began walking towards the place where their gifts and goods were kept.

Many who saw this moved the elephants across the gate through which Lanerolle tried to enter and blocked it. When Lanerolle tried to lay his hand on the sword, the King who heard about this was infuriated. He instructed to put the group in shackles. The prisoners were released only after 6 months. By that time their ship had left the Trincomalee Port. When the prisoners were brought before the King, Robert Knox was also present there. Lanerolle married a Sinhala national, and it is after that the Lanerolle lineage originated in Sri Lanka. Plassey and Blum who were also arrested were made to look after the horses in the Maligawa. Others secured opportunities of employment. Liquor stalls were started by the French. Gascoin served in the King's palace, and Dascon Adikaram was his son, which is of course well known. Dascon had an illicit love affair with the King's concubine. When a picture of the concubine of the King was being drawn by him using the painter's brush, he made a mark on an unseen part of the anatomy of hers. The King who noticed this picture declared him as a suspicious individual and jailed him to be finally decapitated.

However, it is because of Lanerolle's impulsive and uncalled for rash conduct, Sri Lanka was saved from becoming another colony under the French.

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