The kingdom of Kandy in the central highlands of Sri lanka presents one of the finest examples of effective military resistance to European expansion by a small, economically backward state in the South Asian region, and perhaps, in the world. Kandy, a landlocked state with a subsistence economy, few material resources and a sparse population by regional standards, has the unique distinction of resisting European expansion for over two centuries. Between 1594 and 1818 Kandy battled against the armies of three European powers established in the coast: the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British and preserved its independence until the kingdom was betrayed by disgruntled nobles in 1815. From the perspective of small state resistance to European arms this was serious and significant resistance, perhaps the most significant of its kind in the region. Yet it has so far received little attention from scholars working on Asian military history or on Sri Lankan history. This study is the first serious attempt to fill this void.
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