The De Lanerolles and Sri Lanka

Item in Sunday Times, 7 July 2019, with this title

“Tale of a French ambassador in the time of the Kandyan Kingdom

Author Yasmin Rajapakse

The story of the ambassador from the French imperial court who became a naturalized subject in Kandy, producing progeny who were to make their mark on the island’s history, is an adventure told against the backdrop of an Indian Ocean made dark and stormy with colonial battles and a mountain kingdom at its edge. “The Odyssey and Living Legacy of Monsieur de La Nérolle, The French Lieutenant of the Expedition Escadre de Perse to Ceylon in 1672” by Yasmin Rajapakse was launched last month in the presence of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Eric Levertu, Ambassador of France to Sri Lanka.

The book traces the saga of the ambassador from his antecedents in France to his imprisonment by Rajasinghe II and later integration and ascension into the Kandyan court. While evoking vividly a sense of the political intrigues and complex diplomatic relations between the competing imperial powers in the Indian Ocean at the time, the book contains fascinating accounts of Trincomalee and its surroundings, and the first ever publication of maps drawn by French naval officers.

The De Lanerolle Brothers, who belong to the 11th generation springing from the Ambassador’s family, set off the evening with their rendition of La Mer by Charles Trenet. Historian and writer Dr SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda gave his perspective of the work while Rohan Ponniah’s interpretation in the readings brought parts of the story to life.

An interested audience at the BMICH
Some Scenes from SINHALA CONSCIOUSNESS in the KANDYAN PERIOD (Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2006) presented here to evoke a sense of place and class

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Filed under authoritarian regimes, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, Kandyan kingdom, landscape wondrous, life stories, military strategy, modernity & modernization, power politics, sri lankan society, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

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