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The Travancore-Dutch War was a war between the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the Indianmarker state of Travancore (also known as Tiruvitamkur), culminating in the Battle of Colachel in 1741.


The seeds for the war were laid when the Raja of Travancore began expanding his small kingdom by entering into territorial disputes with his neighbours, the Kingdoms of Kayamkulammarker and Kollammarker in 1731. These disputes began impacting the Dutch East India Company since they had factories for exporting pepper in these areas.

The destruction of crops in the war made it difficult for the Kollam merchants to fulfill their agreements with the Dutch. By 1733, VOC pepper exports dropped to less than half the quantities of 1730-31.

To help the three Kingdoms mediate the VOC deputed their emissaries, William Feling, Abraham Van De Welle, Ezechiel Rhabbi and Brouwer to Kayamkulam in May, 1734 to negotiate with the Raja, though they were unsuccessful.[362836]

The annexation of Eleyadathu Swarupam, the largest pepper producing area in southern Kerala, by the Raja during 1737 made a confrontation between him and the VOC inevitable. The advent of Britishmarker traders in this market also made the price of pepper soar. All of this forced the VOC to engage the Raja and thus began, in 1739, the Travancore–Dutch war that led to the Battle of Colachel.


A pillar of victory which gives details about the war still stands near the coast of Colachel. There are some folk tales among the local Mukkuvar people about this war. The tale says among other things that the local Mukkuvar fishermen were asked to stand along the beach in multiple rows with their oars kept along the shoulders so that it would appear like soldiers standing with their guns. This might have been a trick meant to create a psychological fear for the Dutch navy.

The local fishermen, who were all Roman Catholics (converted in the 16th century en-masse) cooperated extensively with the Raja's guards during this war.

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