True Cinnamon monopoly falls to Europeans – Portuguese (1505-1658)


In the previous article, we talked about the history of true cinnamon and the role of Arab traders. There we bring you the Egyptian civilization and Arab traders. Then we talk about how the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British maintained this true cinnamon monopoly and their activities. 

True Cinnamon and Portuguese

Around 1505, a Portuguese naval vessel commanded by Captain Lourenco de Almeida capsized in the Indian Ocean off Ceylon’s southern coast, so they sailed to the nearest port and landed in Colombo. After that, they met the then King of Ceylon, King Weera Parakramabahu. It is also clear that they understand Sri Lankan cinnamon production and its commercial value. The far-sighted captain is said to have sent a long report with all this information to his motherland by ship. It also states the true economic value of cinnamon and its benefits to one’s country. It is also believed that the letter stated that he could build ties with this country and take over the cinnamon trade monopoly and that the necessary people should be sent to him immediately. 

It is clear from the historical information that he received a quick response to the relevant information and that he may have received what he needed immediately. It is said that the Portuguese built their first fort in Colombo in 1518 and obtained trade concessions from the king. By the 1600s, the Portuguese had gradually taken advantage of Ceylon’s internal anarchy and controlled most of Ceylon except the upcountry. It is said that cinnamon, pepper, and elephants were exported as major commodities and made huge profits. 

It is said that the Portuguese loved and protected the cultivation of true cinnamon, and at that time, enacted laws to impose the death penalty on those who harmed the cultivation of cinnamon.

The Cinnamon monopoly was maintained by the Portuguese for nearly a hundred years.  Their culture was gradually introduced to the natives.


Disgruntled with this situation, the then Kandyan native king fought with the Portuguese on several occasions and set fire to their cinnamon stores and plantations. 

But in the face of the naval power of the Portuguese, the Kandyan native king at that time could not drive them out of Ceylon completely. 

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