1505 - 1655 - Ceilao

Portuguese Colonial Period

In 1505 Francisco de Almeida, newly appointed first Portuguese viceroy of the East, despatched his son to explore commercial prospects southwards from the Portuguese seat at Cochin. He returned in 1506 with a treaty from the King of Lanka who agreed to pay tribute in Cinnamon and Elephants. During 1509/10 Albuquerque established Portuguese maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean and sailed on eastwards to Malaccain 1511. In 1512 Lopo Soares established the first Portuguese factory in Lanka at Colombo. During ensuing years further factories were opened around the coast of Lanka and in 1597 the Portuguese King Philip I (1580-1598) was proclaimed sovereign of Ceilao, followed by Philip II (1598-1621), Philip III (1621-1640), and John IV (1640-1656).

In practice, however, the Portuguese only ruled the coast lands and the Sinhala Kings of Kandy remained paramount in the interior of the island. Portuguese coinage struck in, or for, Ceilao all appears to postdate the declaration of Philip's suzerainty in 1597. Subsequent Captains-general recorded to have issued money are D. Jeronymo de Azevedo (1594-1612) and D. Constantino de Sa (1619-1630). Local striking was ordered to cease in 1634, but had been resumed by 1640 when dated 'gridiron' tangas were being struck. Local minting continued until at least 1645, but from about 1642 most silver coin destined for use in Ceilao was struck at Goa. Circulation of St. John type silver coins was forbidden at Goa in 1650 when replaced by the 'Cross of Christ' type silver coin. The Goa mint continued strikings of St. John issues for use in Ceilao until 1653.

In 1638 the King of Kandy, Rajasinga II, called on the Dutch for help against the Portuguese and in 1655 the last Portuguese fortress on the island feil into Dutch hands.

Coins from outside Ceilao
  * 1520-1594 - Ottoman Empire gold Othmanli coins
  * 1570-1577 - Alvise Moceenigo Venetian gold Ducat coin

  * 1521-1527 Joao III : Bazaruco Eighth coin
  * 1598-1621 Filipe II : Bazaruco Half coin
  * 1621-1640 Filipe III : 163x D M : Xerafim A M coin - ½ M A coin - ¼ A M coin
  * 1640-1656 Joao IV : 1650 Cross Xerafim coin

Coins issued for or in Ceilao
  * 1598-1621 Filipe II : Copper Bazaruco Half coin - Silver Tanga GridIron coin
  * 1621-1640 Filipe III : Tutenag Bazaruco GridIron Half coin
   Silver 1631 SL Tanga coin - 1640 CLo Tanga coin
  * 1640-1656 Joao IV : Silver Goa D S Asia 1641 Tanga coin - Two Tanga coin
              1645 GridIron Tanga coin - St John Two Tanga coin

Please see saved copy of Late Uno Barner Jensen's website on Portuguese Coins of Ceilao

Text edited from
* Oriental Coins: Michael Mitchiner
  London, Hawkins Publications, 1978.