Battle of Colachel [1741]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 7, 2022, 10:21

The battle fought between the Dutch East India Company and the Travancore empire of India in 1741 is known as the Battle of Colachel.

During this fierce Travancore-Dutch War, the army of King Marthanda Varma (1729-1758) vanquished the Dutch East India Company army guided by Admiral Eustachius de Lanoy on 10th August 1741.

Historical Background of the Battle of Colachel

  • In the 1730s, Marthanda Varma, the ruler of Travancore, embraced an imperialist policy that menaced the stakes of the command of the Dutch East India Company in Malabar, whose trade counted on the purchase of spices from several provinces.
  • The king and his vassal states denied the Dutch monopoly treaties with the kingdoms linked to Travancore, causing the Dutch trade to suffer in the Malabar region.
  • Ceylon's Dutch governor, Gustaf Willem van Imhof, visited Kochi in January 1739. Van Imhoff met with Marthanda Varma for peace talks. But Marthanda Verma flatly refused his terms.
  • Then, Van Imhoff advised military action to save the Dutch occupation in Malabar.

Timeline of the Battle of Colachel

  • In the latter part of 1739, the Dutch regime in Malabar proclaimed war on Travancore without acquiring consent or waiting for support from Batavia, Indonesia. However, he and his allies made several military triumphs in the initial crusade.
  • The Allies compelled the Travancore army positioned nearby Kollam to pull back in November and marched further than Tangasseri.
  • The Dutch command in Malabar launched a second campaign against Travancore. As a consequence, the two armies engaged in the Battle of Colachel.
  • On 5th August, a cannonball fired by the Travancore forces fell into a barrel of gunpowder inside the Dutch garrison, and the resulting fire destroyed the stockpile's entire supply of rice.
  • On 10th August 1741, the army of Travancore won a decisive victory over the Dutch in the Battle of Colachel, capturing a large number of Dutch soldiers; In addition to the base, 24 officers were captured along with stored goods.
  • As a result, the Dutch were forced to surrender on 10th August.

The Aftermath of the Battle of Colachel

  • The Dutch conquered Indonesia and much of the Far East, eventually being defeated by Marthanda Varma of Travancore at the Battle of Colachel. This was Asia's first victory against a European power.
  • Captain Eustachius de Lannoy was taken prisoner at the Battle of Colachel. Marthanda Varma spared his life on the condition that the Captain would train his soldiers in West Dutch techniques.
  • Eustachius De Lannoy led the Travancore troops in the decisive Battle of Ambhapuz, in which Kochi and the Dutch were later defeated, forcing them to sign a peace treaty that gave Marthanda Varma control of all the forts up to Nedumkotta, north of Travancore.

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The Battle of Colachel triggered a cascade of events that resulted in the termination of Dutch trade in Kerala. It lowered the morale of the Dutch army since the native chiefs recognised that the Dutch force was vulnerable to defeat. One notable effect was that the Dutch convicts provided their services, and the Travancore army was modernised with European principles.

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FAQs on Battle of Colachel

Q1. How long did the Battle of Colachel last?

The major events of the Battle of Colachel began on 31st July and ended with the surrender of the Dutch battalion on 10th August 1741.

Q2. How many troops did the Duch and Travancore armies have at the Battle of Colachel?

A force of 300-400 Dutch soldiers faced 12000-15000 Travancore soldiers at the Battle of Colachel.

Q3. What caused the Dutch to surrender in the decisive Battle of Colachel?

On 5th August 1741, a cannonball shot by Travancore's troops struck a gunpowder keg inside the Dutch camp, destroying an ammunition depot and groceries and forcing the Dutch to surrender the Battle of Colachel.

Q4. What was the impact of the Battle of Colachel?

During Marthanda Varma's battle against neighbouring Kerala kingdoms, the newly trained Travancore army emerged to be brutally effective. The Travancore troops, which had been educated by the Dutch after the Battle of Colachel, went on to conquer the majority of modern-day Kerala.