The Kandyan Convention 1815: Consolidating the British Empire in Colonial Ceylon
Abstract:The Kandyan Convention (1815) was definitive in consolidating British sovereignty over colonial Ceylon. The Convention and later legal instruments reflect a shift in British colonial policy regarding the acquisition of territories of Empire. Previously, British Government policy had favoured indirect rule through mercantile interests. Seizing opportunities provided by Kandyan power struggles, Governor Brownrigg, at the far reaches of Empire, implemented direct British rule. The Convention, however, straddled an emerging sense of 'rights' by making a specific commitment to 'protect' Buddhist faith and authority. The centrality of Buddhism to Sinhalese society made these provisions a powerful inducement for the Kandyan ruling elite. Nevertheless, as subsequent events revealed, the protection of these rights proved to be less important than the establishment of full British colonial control through forceful administrative measures. The Convention was, therefore, an early precursor to the modes of governance pursued by the British Government as its formal Empire expanded over the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: December 1, 2013
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