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Venad

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Vēṇāṭu

c. 8/9th century CE/12th century CE[1]–1729
Flag of Quilon (Kollam)
Flag
CapitalKollam (Quilon)
Common languages
Religion
History 
• Formation of Venad[1]
c. 8/9th century CE/12th century CE[1]
• Dissolution of the Kodungullur Chera Kingdom[1]
c. 1124 CE[1]
• Raids of Ravi Varma Kulasekhara
c. 1312–1316 CE
• Formation of Travancore
1729
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Vels (related to the Ays)
Travancore

Venad (Malayalam/Tamil: Vēṇāṭu) was a medieval kingdom lying between the Western Ghat mountains and the Arabian Sea on the south-western tip of India with its headquarters at the port city of Kollam/Quilon.[2][1] It was one of the major principalities of Kerala, along with kingdoms of Kannur (Kolathunadu), Kozhikode and Kochi (Perumpadappu) in medieval and early modern period.[2][3]

Rulers of Venad trace their ancestry to the Vel chieftains related to the Ay lineage of the early historic south India (c. 1st – 4th century CE).[4][5] Venad – ruled by hereditary "Venad Adikal" – appears as an autonomous chiefdom in the kingdom of the Chera/Perumals of Kodungallur from around 8th – 9th century CE.[4] It came to occupy a position of pre-eminent importance in the structuring of the Perumal kingdom.[6] The country was intermittently and partially subject to the Pandya kingdom and the Chola empire among others in the medieval period.[1][7]

Venad outlasted the Chera/Perumal kingdom, gradually developed as an independent principality, known as the Chera kingdom[8], and grew later into modern Travancore (18th century CE).[2][1] Ravi Varma Kulasekhara, most ambitious ruler of Venad, carried out a successful military expedition to Pandya and Chola lands in the early 14th century CE.[9][6]

The rulers of Venad, known in the medieval period as Venad Cheras[8] or the Kulasekharas, claimed their ancestry from the Chera/Perumals.[6] Venad ruler Vira Udaya Marthanda Varma (1516–1535) acknowledged the supremacy of the Vijayanagara rulers. Minor battles with Vijayanagara forces in the subsequent period are also recorded.[10] In the 17th century, the rulers of Venad paid an annual tribute to the Nayaks of Madurai.[11][12] English East India Company established a factory at Vizhinjam in 1664 and a fort was built at Ajengo in 1695.[10] The medieval feudal relations and political authority were dismantled Marthanda Varma (1729–1758), often credited as "the Maker of Travancore".[13][3]

Trivandrum Museum Stone Inscription of Pandya ruler Maran Chadayan (latter half of the 8th century)

Etymology

The name Venad is believed to be derived from Vēḷ+nāṭu meaning the territory of the Vel chieftains. The earliest preserved Tamil compositions - datable to c. 1st – 4th century CE – attests presence of hill chiefs[13] such as the "Vels" in southern Kerala.[1][14][15]

Ruling family

Medieval Ay kings claimed that they belonged to the Yadava or Vrishni lineage and this claim was advanced by the rulers of Venad and Travancore.[5][11] As early as the 10th century, the powerful chiefs of Venad used the surname suffix "Varma", denoting the Kshatriya status of the ruling line.[5][16][11] Panankavil Palace, whose location remains a mystery, was the royal residence of the Venad rulers at Kollam.[6]

Venad had a kind of chiefly rule with principles of succession, indicated by the term kuru, that is, the rights of the chief and the order of succession within the chief's household.[4] Rulers of the extended Venad royal family lived at different locations in the kingdom. Migrations and setting up new palaces continued into the early modern period. Political authority of a complex nature was followed by the Kerala joint families. Trippappur, Desinganad, Chiravay and Elayadam branches of the family were called "swaroopams".[16] The swaroopams were further divided into matrilineal descent groups (the thavazhis).[13][17]

Sources refer to the ruler of Venad as controlling parts of Trivandrum district, Kollam and presumably parts of Alleppey and Kottayam districts (and Kanyakumari district in later times).[13] The autonomous chiefdom ("nadu") of Venad came to occupy pre-eminent importance in the structuring of the Chera/Perumal kingdom.[4] The rulers of Venad owed their importance to exchange of spices and other products with the Middle Eastern and Chinese merchants.[18][7][6][19] Venetian adventurer Marco Polo claimed to have visited Venad capital Kollam, a major centre of commerce and trade with East and West Asia. European colonisers arrived at Kollam the late fifteenth century, primarily in pursuit of the Indian spices and textiles.[19][12][20]

Political history

It would appear that the whole region of medieval Venad was part of the Ay country in early historic south India (c. 1st – 4th century CE).[6][1][2] Veliyans belonging to the Ay family were the hill chiefs of the "Vel country". Towards the close of the early historic period the Pandya supremacy might have extended to the Ay territory (through it is likely that the Ays gained their independence from the Pandyas during the so-called Kalabhra period).[6]

Development of Venad

In the middle of the 8th century CE, the Pandya sacked port Vizhinjam, and took possession the Ay Vel country. This foray brought the Chera-Perumal kings of Kodungallur (Makotai) into the conflict and a prolonged Pandya-Ay/Chera struggle followed.[6][21] By the middle of the 9th century CE, as a result of the encroachment of the Pandyas and Cheras, the ancient Ay country was partitioned into two portions.[1][6][5] Venad (Vel+natu = the country of the Vel people) with its base at Kollam came under influence of the Cheras while the Ay country, or what was left of it, came under the influence of the Pandyas.[6][1][22]

A new calendar was known as the "Kollam Era", was established in 825 CE at port Kollam. The exact events that lead to the foundation of the era is still matter of scholarly debate.[15] According to historians, it commemorated the foundation of Kollam harbour city after the liberation of Venad from the Pandya rule (and hence beginning of Chera influence).[23] The Kollam Syrian plates (c. 849 CE and c. 883 CE) of Venad chieftain Ayyan Adikal, does mention the then Chera king Sthanu Ravi.[6] The chief was providing land and other provisions to the Christian merchant Mar Sapir Iso at the port of Kollam.[4][1][6] The rulers of Venad, known as "Venad Adikal", owed their importance to exchange of spices and other products with the Middle Eastern and Chinese merchants.[18][7][6][19]

The chiefs of Venad were always determined to extend their sway into the Ay territory. There is a possibilty that chieftains captured the whole region down to Kottar (Kanyakumari) by 10th century CE.[6][21][22] In general, the influence of the Kerala rulers spread into the ancient Ay territory in the 10th century CE.[24]

The region to the south of present-day Trivandrum – former Ay country – came under the control of the Cholas of Tanjore (under king Raja Raja I) during early 11th century CE. There is a possibility that the Venad chieftains tried to recapture the old Ay region after the raids by Rajaraja I. Chola prince Rajadhiraja claims to have "confined the undaunted king of Venadu [back] to the Chera kingdom [from the Ay country]...and liberated the [Ay] king of Kupaka" (this event is dated c. 1018-19 CE[25]).[26] Eventually the Chera-Perumal kingdom also submitted to the Chola rule (early 11th century CE).[25]

Cherar ruler Rama Kulasekhara, a contemporary of Chola Kulothunga (1070 -1120 CE), is seen organising the defence against the Cholas at Kollam in early 12th century CE.[21]

Venad in late medieval period

The prosecution of the Pandya-Chola wars necessitated long residence of Chera/Perumal king of Kodungallur Rama Kulasekhara at Kollam.[27] There is a tradition that Vira Kerala, a ruler of Kollam in early 12th century, was a son of the last Chera king.[28]

Kollam, capital of the Venad rulers, in 17th century CE

After the dissolution of the Chera/Perumal kingdom (c. 12th century), Venad survived, and emerged as a powerful principality in southern India, as result of the wars of conquest and well as the Indian Ocean spice trade.[5][1] Venad, now known as the kingdom of the Cheras[8] or the Kulasekharas, was intermittently subject to the Pandyas during this period.[29] Possibly with the decline of Chola power after Kulothunga, Venad Cheras gradually extended their control over the present Kanyakumari district.[13] In the early 14th century, "Sangramadhira" Ravi Varma carried out military raids to northern edges of south India (1312–1316). His inscriptions can be found as north as Poonamallee, a suburb of Chennai.[30][14][31]

In Venad royal family, like most of other royal houses in Kerala, law of succession followed was based on matrilineal inheritance. The eldest son of the sister of the ruling king, not his own son, had the legal right to ascend the throne after the death of the king.[14][32][2]

Aditya Varma (1376–83) seems to have resisted some "Muslim invaders" on the borders of Venad. His successor Chera Udaya Marthanda Varma (1383–1444) is credited for the extent of the rule of Venad into interior Tirunelveli region. Vira Udaya Marthanda Varma (1516–1535) acknowledged the supremacy of the Vijayanagara rulers. Minor battles with Vijayanagara forces in the subsequent period are also recorded.[10]

Well into the modern period, Venad remained one of the chief monarchies of Kerala, along with Kingdoms of Kannur (Kolathunadu), Kozhikode (Zamorin) and Kochi (Perumpadappu).[2][33][3][17] Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum was the major temple in the region.[34] In the 17th century, the rulers of Venad paid an annual tribute to the Nayaks of Madurai.[11][12] By this time, the old state of Venad was divided into several autonomous collateral branches such as Trippappoor, Elayadathu, (Kottarakara), Desinganad (Kallada, Kollam), and Peraka Thavazhi (Nedumangad).[16][35][36]

During the "regency" of Umayamma (1677–1864), southern Venad was famously overrun by a Muslim adventurer.[10] English East India Company established a factory at Vizhinjam in 1664 and a fort was built at Ajengo in 1695.[10] Around 150 Company men from the Anjengo Factory, proceeding for an audience with the queen-mother, were lynched by a mob in "the Attingal Outbreak" of 1721.[10] Ravi Varma, ruling from 1721 to 1729, entered into formal agreements with the Company and the Nayaks of Madurai.[10] The primary objective of the submission was to strengthen the position of the king against the regional nobles (such as "the Ettuvittil Pillamar") and other "hostile elements" in Venad.[10]

Rise of Travancore

Marthanda Varma (1729–1758), of the Trippappoor, is often hailed by historians as "the Maker of Travancore".[10] Marthanda Varma – at the end of whose rule Travancore was one of the first modern states of south India – is usually credited with the following "achievements".[3][13]

  • Successfully developed the centralised state of Travancore (from Tiruvitamkur/Tiruvitamcode[22]). Dismantling of existing feudal relations.[13]
  • Routed all of major Nair nobles and other "hostile elements" in Travancore.[13]
  • Organised a standing army, and defeated most of the chiefdoms in central Kerala.[13]
  • Entered into strategic alliances with Europeans.[13]
  • Supported Kerala merchants (Syrian Christian) in the place of the Europeans.[3][13]

Rulers of Venad (till 16th century)[37]

Earliest known chiefs/royals of Venad

Venad insignia from Syrian copper plates - Plate 5
  • Vel Mannan of Vizhinjam (latter half of the 8th century CE) – Seen in Madras Museum Inscription of Maran Chadaiyan[21]
  • Venattadikal the Nayanar – author of Venattadikal Thiruvichaippa (early 9th century AD)[38]
  • Ayyan Adikal Tiru Adikal – Donor of Quilon Syrian copper plates (mid-9th century CE)[6]
    • Rama Tiru Adikal – Junior chief of Venad[6] (mid-9th century CE)
  • Kandiyur Vel Kula Sundara – a warrior in the Chola army under Vellan Kumaran (c. 949 CE)[6]
  • Sri Vallava Goda Varma – Donor of Mamapalli copper plates (c. 973 CE)[6]
  • Govardhana Marthanda – Successor of Srivallavan Goda Varma (c. 976 – 1000 CE)
  • Kumara Udaya Varma – mentioned in the inscription by Chera Perumal king Rama Kulasekhara (c. 1102 CE)[6]
  • Vira Kerala – son of Rama Kulasekhara[6] (c. 1126, Cholapuram)

From 12th century onwards

  • Kotha Varma Martanda (1102–1125)
  • Vira Kerala Varma I (1125–1145)
  • Kodai Kerala Varma (1145–1150)
  • Vira Ravi Varma (1161–1164)
  • Vira Kerala Varma II (1164–1167)
  • Vira Aditya Varma (1167–1173)
  • Vira Udaya Martanda Varma (1173–1192)
  • Devadaram Vira Kerala Varma III (1192–1195)
  • Vira Manikantha Rama Varma Tiruvadi (1195– ?)
  • Vira Rama Kerala Varma Tiruvadi (1209–1214)
  • Vira Ravi Kerala Varma Tiruvadi (1214–1240)
  • Vira Padmanabha Martanda Varma Tiruvadi (1240–1252)
  • Jayasimha Deva (1266–1267
  • Ravi Varma (1299–1313)
  • Vira Udaya Martanda Varma (1313–1333)
  • Aditya Varma Tiruvadi (1333–1335)
  • Vira Rama Udaya Martanda Varma Tiruvadi (1335–1342)
  • Vira Kerala Varma Tiruvadi (1342–1363)
  • Vira Martanda Varma III (1363–1366)
  • Vira Rama Martanda Varma (1366–1382)
  • Vira Ravi Varma (1383–1416)
  • Vira Ravi Ravi Varma (1416–1417)
  • Vira Kerala Martanda Varma (1383)
  • Chera Udaya Martanda Varma (1383–1444)
  • Vira Ravi Varma, (1444–1458)
  • Sankhara Sri Vira Rama Martanda Varma (1458–1468)
  • Vira Kodai Sri Aditya Varma (1468–1484)
  • Vira Ravi Ravi Varma (1484–1503)
  • Martanda Varma, Kulasekhara Perumal (1503–1504)
  • Vira Ravi Kerala Varma, Kulasekhara Perumal (1504–1528)

See also

References

  • Travancore Archaeological Series, Vol. I – VII. Triandrum (Kerala): Government Press (Travancore). 1910–38. ISBN 81-86365-73-7
  • Buyers, Christopher. "Travancore." The Royal Ark, 2009. [19]
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Narayanan, M. G. S. 2002. ‘The State in the Era of the Ceraman Perumals of Kerala’, in State and Society in Premodern South India, eds R. Champakalakshmi, Kesavan Veluthat, and T. R. Venugopalan, pp.111–19. Thrissur, CosmoBooks.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014. 143-44.
  3. ^ a b c d e Menon, T. Madhava. A Handbook of Kerala. Vol 1. Trivandrum: Dravidian Linguistics Association, 2002. [1]
  4. ^ a b c d e Ganesh, K.N. (June 2009). "Historical Geography of Natu in South India with Special Reference to Kerala". Indian Historical Review. 36 (1): 3–21. doi:10.1177/037698360903600102. ISSN 0376-9836.
  5. ^ a b c d e Aiya, V. Nagam. The Travancore State Manual. Vol 1. Part 2. Trivandrum: The Travancore Government Press, 1906 [2]
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 191 – 193, 435 – 437. [3]
  7. ^ a b c "Travancore." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.
  8. ^ a b c Thapar, Romila, The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300. Penguin Books, 2002. 368.
  9. ^ Menon 2007, p. 118.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Menon, A Sreedhara, Kerala History and its Makers. Kottayam (Kerala): DC Books, 1987. 74–75.
  11. ^ a b c d Menon, T. Madhava. A Handbook of Kerala. Vol 1. Trivandrum: Dravidian Linguistics Association, 2002. 143. [4]
  12. ^ a b c Singh, Anjana. Fort Cochin in Kerala, 1750–1830. Leiden: Brill, 2010 [5]
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ganesh, K.N. (February 1990). "The Process of State Formation in Travancore". Studies in History. 6 (1): 15–33. doi:10.1177/025764309000600102. ISSN 0257-6430.
  14. ^ a b c Aiya, V. Nagam. The Travancore State Manual. Vol 1. Part 2. Trivandrum: The Travancore Government Press, 1906 [6]
  15. ^ a b Pillai Elamkulam, P. N. Kunhan. Keralam Ancum Arum Nurrantukalil. Kottayam (Kerala), 1961.
  16. ^ a b c Journal of The Madras University (Section A Humanities) 33–36. (1961): 188.[7]
  17. ^ a b Menon, V. K. R, Rathi Ramachandran, et al. eds. History of Medieval Kerala. Pragati Publications, 2006. 81. [8]
  18. ^ a b "Classical Indo-Roman Trade". Economic and Political Weekly. 48 (26–27). 5 June 2015.
  19. ^ a b c Mailaparambil, Binu John. Lords of the Sea: The Ali Rajs of Cannanore and the Political Economy of Malabar (1663–1723). Leiden: Brill: Leiden, 2012 [9]
  20. ^ Alexander, P. C. The Dutch in Malabar. Annamalai Nagar (Tamil Nadu): Annamalai University, 1946 [10]
  21. ^ a b c d Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300–1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987. 22–25.
  22. ^ a b c Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300–1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987. 21–25.
  23. ^ Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014. 89.
  24. ^ Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300-1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987. 22-25.
  25. ^ a b Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 191 - 193, 435 - 437. [11]
  26. ^ Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300-1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987. 22-25.
  27. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 154.
  28. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 171.
  29. ^ Menon. A. Sreedhara. A Survey of Kerala History. Kottayam (Kerala): DC Books, 2007. [12]
  30. ^ Menon, A. Sreedhara, editor. District Gazetteer of Trivandrum. Trivandrum (Kerala): Gazetteer Department, Government of Kerala, 1962 [13]
  31. ^ Menon, A. Sreedhara, editor. District Gazetteer of Trivandrum. Trivandrum (Kerala): Gazetteer Department, Government of Kerala, 1962. 146. [14]
  32. ^ Menon, T. Madhava. A Handbook of Kerala. Vol I. Trivandrum: Dravidian Linguistics Association, 2002. 147. [15]
  33. ^ Balasubramanian, V. "On an Epic Journey." The Hindu 07 April 2017: www.thehindu.com. Web. Accessed 07 April 2017. [16]
  34. ^ Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300–1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987. 291.
  35. ^ Alexander, P. C. The Dutch in Malabar. Annamalai Nagar (Tamil Nadu): Annamalai University, 1946. 4. [17]
  36. ^ Buyers, Christopher. "Travancore." The Royal Ark, 2009
  37. ^ Buyers, Christopher. "Travancore." The Royal Ark, 2009
  38. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 383. [18]

Further reading

  • State and Society in Premodern South India, eds R. Champakalakshmi, Kesavan Veluthat, and T. R. Venugopalan. Thrissur, CosmoBooks, 2012.
  • Noburu Karashima (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014
  • Ganesh, K. N. Agrarian Relations and Political Authority in Medieval Travancore (A. D. 1300–1750). Doctoral Thesis. Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1987.
  • Ganesh, K.N. (1990-02). "The Process of State Formation in Travancore". Studies in History. 6 (1).
  • Ganesh, K.N. (2009-06). "Historical Geography of Natu in South India with Special Reference to Kerala". Indian Historical Review. 36 (1): 3–21.
  • Veluthat, Kesavan, The Political Structure of Early Medieval South India, (New Delhi, Orient Longman, 1993; second revised edition, New Delhi, Orient Blackswan, 2012)
  • Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumaḷs of Kerala: Brahmin Oligarchy and Ritual Monarchy: Political and Social Conditions of Kerala Under the Cera Perumaḷs of Makotai (c. AD 800 – AD 1124). Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013.
  • Mailaparambil, Binu John. Lords of the Sea: The Ali Rajs of Cannanore and the Political Economy of Malabar (1663–1723). Leiden: Brill: Leiden, 2012
  • Cherian, P. J., editor. Perspectives on Kerala History – The Second Millennium. Trivandrum (Kerala): Kerala Gazetteers Department, 1999.