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Mysorean Invasion of Kerala

  • Since 1750s to 1790, Kerala was invaded many times by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu. The history of Mysorean invasion is described in this post.

Kerala in the 18th Century

  • In the 18th century, most parts of Kerala was under the rule of the three large kingdoms namely;

  1. Kingdom of Calicut (in northern Kerala)

  2. Kingdom of Cochin (south of Calicut)

  3. Kingdom of Travancore (in southern Kerala)

    • There were numerous small kingdoms also.

  • Calicut was the strongest Kingdom. It's ruler was known as Zamorin.

  • Because of the foreign trade with the Arabs and the Europeans, Calicut amassed large wealth. Zamorin used this wealth to make an efficient army.

  • He had ambitions to invade the neighbouring kingdoms including Cochin.

First Invasion of Hyder Ali (1757)

  • Hyder Ali was a faujdar in the Mysore army.

  • He had his eyes on the treasury of Calicut.

  • He got a chance to invade Calicut when Zamorin tried to invade the Kingdom of Palghat (South of Calicut).

  • The Raja of Palghat asked the help of Hyder Ali.

  • Hyder Ali entered southern Malabar through the Palghat pass in 1757.

  • With the help of the Raja of Palghat, he defeated the army of Zamorin.

  • Zamorin came to a treaty with Hyder. According to this treaty Zamorin had to pay a huge sum to Hyder.

  • At this time, Hyder was not the ruler of the Mysore. So he was not interested in the territorial occupation of Malabar. He was only interested in the treasury of Zamorin.

  • After getting the money, Hyder withdrew to Mysore.

  • The Calicut army failed because Hyder's troops were organised, armed and trained in the most modern fashion whereas Calicut army was old fashioned which relied on feudal levies.

  • Zamorin, despite the invasion, did not modernise his army– a neglect for which he paid nine years later.

Second Invasion of Hyder Ali (1766)- Invasion of Malabar

  • By 1760s, Hyder Ali became the de-facto ruler of Mysore.

  • There were constant tensions between Mysore and the British.

  • The French were the allies of Hyder. They agreed to supply modern weapons for the Mysore army.

  • But the nearest French settlement to Mysore was at Mahe which is situated on western side of Malabar.

  • In order to transport the weapons from Mahe to Mysore, Hyder had to invade Malabar which was under the rule of Zamorin.

  • He got the opportunity for an invasion, when the Zamorin threatened the Ali Raja of Canannore with an invasion.

  • Following the request of Ali Raja, Hyder invaded Malabar in 1766.

  • This time, he entered Malabar through Manglore (Earlier, he entered through Palghat Pass).

  • He defeated the Kingdoms of Kolathunadu, Kottayam (in northern Malabar), Kadathanadu and Calicut.

  • Thus the whole region of Malabar became under the rule of Hyder.

  • Malabar was made a new province in the Kingdom of Mysore. Ali Raja became the military governor and Madanna became the civil governor of the Malabar province.

Third Invasion of Hyder Ali (1774)- Invasion of Cochin

  • After occupying Malabar, Hyder's eye fell on the southern kingdoms of Cochin and Travancore.

  • Hyder Ali asked the rulers of Cochin and of Travancore to pay tribute as vassal states.

  • The Raja of Cochin agreed to pay the amount and accepted the Mysore's superiority.

  • The King of Travancore (Dharma Raja), who was under the protection of the East India Company, refused to pay the tribute. He started the construction of Nedumkotta Fort along the northern border of Travancore as a defence against the Mysorean army.

  • Hyder decided to attack Travancore. For that purpose he first invaded Cochin even though Cochin had already accepted Mysore's superiority.

  • He reached till the northern border of Travancore. The Travancore army resisted Hyder's invasion. In these battles, Travancore was helped by the English and the Dutch.

  • There were also numerous small battles throughout the northern Kerala with the Mysore and the French on one side and the Travancore, the Dutch, the British and the local Nair groups on the other side. In these battles, Hyder suffered huge setbacks.

  • Finally, Hyder decided to retreat to Mysore.

Second Anglo- Mysore War (1780-84)

  • In 1799, the British captured the French settlement at Mahe. The French were the allies of Mysore.

  • In 1780, Hyder declared war against the British.

  • There were numerous battles in the Malabar region between the Mysorean army and the British.

  • In these battles, Mysorean army was led by Tipu, the son of Hyder Ali.

    • In the battle of Tiroorangadi, more than 400 Mysorean soldiers were killed.

  • Mysore lost many of these battles. As a result, northern Malabar came under the rule of the British and southern Malabar remained under the rule of Mysore.

Tipu's Attack on Travancore (1789-90)

  • In 1782, Hyder Ali died of cancer and his son Tipu became the Sultan of Mysore.

  • Tipu was attracted to the vast wealth of Travancore.

  • Travancore had given political asylum to many people of Malabar and Cochin from Mysorean invasion. This was also a reason for Tipu's attack.

  • Initially, Tipu tried to attack Travancore with the help of Cochin. Even though Cochin was a tributary state of Mysore, the Raja of Cochin did not side with Tipu.

  • In December 1789, Tippu attacked Nedumkotta Fort. In the battle of Nedumkotta, Tipu suffered huge setbacks.

  • In the meantime, the British declared war on Tipu in favour of their allies, Travancore (Third Anglo- Mysore war).

  • Tipu retreated to Mysore to defend his capital.

  • Third Anglo- Mysore war was ended by the Treaty of Seringapatam. According to this treaty, Malabar was ceded to the British and it became a district of the Madras Presidency.

  • Thus the history of Mysorean invasion on Kerala ends with the Treaty of Seringapatam.

The Impacts of Mysorean Invasion


Communal Tensions

  • Mysore army was mainly consisted of Muslim soldiers.

  • When the Mysore army invaded Malabar, they were assisted by the Muslim dynasty of Canannore.

  • So the invasion of Mysore on Malabar was depicted as invasion of the Muslims on the Hindus.

  • There were numerous rebellions against the Mysore army by the local Hindu Nair warriors. The native Muslims supported the Mysore army.

  • There were also allegations of forcible conversions and destruction of temples by the Mysore army.

  • During the Mysorean invasion, many local Hindu rulers and big landlords fled to Cochin and Travancore. Their lands were occupied by the native muslims.

  • After the Treaty of Seringapatam, Malabar came under the British rule. Only then the Hindu landlords came back to Malabar.

  • The lands occupied by the native Muslims were returned to the Hindu landlords by the British. The Muslims became the tenants of the Hindu landlords.

  • Thereafter, the Hindu landlords became the supporters of the British and the Muslim peasants became opposed to the British rule.

  • All these events caused communal tensions in Malabar which finally led to the 'Mappilla Revolt' of 1921.

Redistribution of Land

  • When the Nair landlords fled to Travancore and Cochin, their land was redistributed.

  • Even though many landlords returned to Malabar after the Treaty of Seringapatam, many of them preferred to stay in Travancore and Cochin.

  • The land of the landlords who came back to Malabar was returned to them by the British.

  • The land of the landlords who stayed in Travancore and Cochin remained in the possession of the new cultivators.

  • Therefore, there emerged a new class of landlords.

New Land Revenue System

  • Tipu introduced the "Jamabandi" system to collect taxes directly from peasants.

  • Until then, the taxes were collected by the landlords who demanded exorbitant money from the peasants.

  • The Jamabandi system lessened the tax burden on the peasants.

Infrastructure Development

  • The roads developed by Tipu for military purposes were helpful for the development of trade.




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