Rani Abbakkadevi was the only woman in history to confront, and repeatedly defeat the Portuguese

Rani Abbakkadevi Was The Only Woman In History To Confront, And Repeatedly Defeat The Portuguese

Rani Abbakkadevi, the only woman in history to confront, fight and repeatedly defeat the Portuguese. The Mangalorean Queen whom Portuguese feared. Her unflagging courage and indomitable spirit are at par with legendary Rani Laxmi Bai and Rani Chennamma of Kittur.

The year was 1555. Portuguese colonial power was at its peak in 1500’s. They destroyed Zamorins of Calicut, defeated Sultan of Bijapur, took away Daman from Sultan of Gujarat, established a colony in Mylapore, captured Bombay and made Goa their headquarters. They even ruined the ancient Kapaleeswarar Temple to build a Church over it. Their next target, the super profitable port of Mangalore. Their only bad luck, just 14 km south of Mangalore was the small settlement of Ullal – ruled by a feisty 30-year-old woman-Abbakka Chowta. Initially, they took her lightly and sent few boats/soldiers to capture and bring her back to Goa. Those boats never came back. Shocked and enraged, they sent huge fleet of ships under the command of Admiral Dom Álvaro da Silveira – The admiral returned, badly injured,empty handed.

Thereafter, another Portuguese fleet was sent – only a few injured from the crew managed to make it back. Then the Portuguese went on to capture the Mangalore port and the fort anyways, perhaps planning to tackle Abbakka Chowta from the convenient distance of the Mangalore fort.

After the successful capture of Mangalore, a huge army under João Peixoto, an experienced Portuguese General was sent to Ullal. The brief was simple: Subjugate Ullal and capture Abbakka Chowta. The plan was foolproof- there was no way a 30-year-old with a few men could withstand the might of an army of thousands with advanced weapons.The Portuguese reached Ullal and found it deserted. Abbakka was nowhere in sight. They roamed around, relaxed and thanked their stars. Just when they were about to call it a victory, Chowta attacked with 200 of her chosen men. There was chaos all around and many portuguese lost their lives even without a fight. General João Peixoto was assassinated, 70 portuguese were captured and the rest just ran away.

So if you’re Abbakka Chowta, who’s just defeated a large army of aggressors, killed a general, captured fighters and defended her city, what will you do? Rest, enjoy the moment. Right? No! She rode with her men towards Mangalore that same night and laid a siege of the Mangalore fort. She not just broke inside the fort successfully, but assassinated Admiral Mascarenhas, Chief of Portuguese, forced remaining Portuguese to vacate fort. She didn’t just stop at this but went on to capture Portuguese settlement at Kundapura,100 kms north of Mangalore, to make a point.

The Portuguese managed to get back at her by convincing her estranged husband to betray for money. She was arrested, put in prison where she revolted again and was killed while trying to escape. She was a brave queen who fought against Portuguese 300 yrs before 1st War in 1857.

Sadly, Indians are not aware of the warrior, a symbol of courage and strength Rani Abbaka Devi was. Children don’t know of her triumphs, victories, and not even her name.

If you’re an Indian, you need to ask yourself “were you aware of Rani Abbakka Devi until now?”If not, why?  

Featured image: Madras Courier

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