Of the Local rulers of Yapanaya, information is scarce but a few;
The 1st Century AD, Gold Plate(Written in Old Sinhala) of a minister, found at Vallipuram, is possibly the most famous and because of the Portuguese, Sankili is too.
The most detailed account of Sankili, is found in the 'The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon' by Rev Fernao De Queyroz.
One version that is near enough confirmed by Portuguese sorces, is that when Prince Sapumal left Jaffna to become King of Kotte as Bhuvaneka Bahu VI, he left as his proxy one ‘Pararasa Sekaran’ a Mudliyar of the Pandya line to administer Jaffna. The annual tribute he had to pay to Kotte was ten tusker elephants for the Esala Perahera.
It is said that, Pararasa Sekaran had a Tamil concubine in addition to his high caste wife from Madura. This illegitimate son from that Tamil concubine was called Sankili. In 1519 Sankili killed his father and assumed power as the Sub-King of Jaffna, forcing the legitimate son and successor to flee to the Portuguese in Goa.
Therefore, Sankili appears to have been the first Tamil Sub-King of Jaffna. He was as much an enemy of the Portuguese as Mayadunne of Sitawaka, or Vidiye Bandara (father of Don Juan Dharmapala), who became the regent of Kotte after the death of Bhuvaneka Bahu in 1551.
Then, after the massacre of the Christians. Upon the orders of the Queen of Portugal, they declared war on him. Another reason for the Portuguese dislike of Sankili, it is that he had a very close relationship with Maha-Nuwara. Again a very strange marriage, if Sankili was the ruler of an Independant Tamil Kiingdom, external of Sinhale?
The events that followed are as such and please note that we have only picked out the key events that lead to his demise.
With this declaration of war, Sankili sent a Sinhala messenger to the Portuguese making them aware that all ports are well fortified and that they the Portuguese would be foolish to try anything. This led to the Sinhala messenger been arrested but just to check on the accuracy of the message though, two sailors Pero Travacos and Braz de Couto were sent to check out the defences. It is said they landed at Nallur using a Malayalam Dyonie (type of South Indian boat). It is interesting to note that, when they landed they were arrested by a Sinhala army!
Cankili then had sent word to the Portuguese, warning them that these two captives would be killed if his Sinhala messenger was harmed. Shortly after these events, all out war began.
After war had broken out, it is said that Cankili's father the King, stayed in the palace upon the advice of Cankili. Not listening though, he decides to leave in the morning. It is said that his palace retinue consisted of Sinhalese, Bedagaz(Vaduka) and Moors....(Listed in this order).
Upon dawn break the Portuguese attacked the palace the next day, it was found empty. Except for 12 Sinhala advisers who were found beheaded for advising to surrender to the Portuguese.
Also with the Kings escape it is said that his Sinhala commander known as Urasinhe, left him and joined the Portuguese. This is turning point of the downfall of the Sankili. Urasinhe is a Sinhalese prince of Mannar and thus, Mannar is lost to the Portuguse.
Finally in 1634, Cankili was captured and sent to Goa. His nephew Migapule Arache, whose christian name was D. Luis, escaped with two princesses to Mannar. From here he escapes with the Princesses to Tanjore for assistance in retaking Jaffna. After gaining their support, he returns to Mannar, then heads to Kandy, while leaving the two Princesses with the Nayque of Tanjore.
The King of Kandy agrees to help(Odd thing for the Kandian King to do, if this was an Independent Kingdom) and the two princesses left in Tanjour arrive in Kandy in 1626. After this, Migapule returns back to Jaffna. Where he is captured and last record states he was put in shackles and given to the church.
This did not end the plot though, in 1627 the King of Kandy wanted the Portuguese ousted and with knowledge of reinforcements arriving from Tanjore, a Sinhala officer named Attapattu leading an army of 10,000 from Kandy, was sent to deal the blow against the Portuguese but this failed and he was caught near Alimankada and beheaded.
So the Portuguese finally entered Jaffna, not just as an invader but as its conqueror. It was said that, they are welcomed by the many thousands of Sinhalese lined all along Broad Street.
So says the most accurate account of that period 'The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon' by Rev Fernao De Queyroz.
Even during the time of Sankili, the Dutch were invited to help evict the Portuguese and Sankili promissed lands for the Dutch and the Malabar forces that came.
With the arrival of the Dutch, it is reported that many of the upper ruling class families left for Kandy....Link
Their are attempts by Eelamists, to suggest that the Tamils left for Ramanathapuram in India and the Vanni regions. This is a load of baseless lie, as in the later 1600's, once the Dutch conquers Jaffna. It is stated that beyond, Alimankada are the Kandian Buddhsits and with because of fear, they built a fort to safe guard their new acquisition.
*The peace treaty signed by Sankili and Portuguese to cease the fighting, was written in Portuguese and Sinhala. Then if Jaffna was in fact a Tamil Kingdom, as eelamists claim, then why write such an important document in Sinhala?
We have found details on eg Wikipedia, that state that the languages of the Kingdom were Tamil & Sanskrit...So its quite funny, how the only document from the so called Tamil Kingdom, is in Sinhala!
*However even after this treaty is signed between the Portuguese and Sankili, various negative incidents happen between the him and the Portuguese.
In one such incident a Portuguese captain is attacked by 200 men and we are told that they were Sinhalese;
Vincente Carvalho. Captain of a foist, seeing himself attacked by 200 men who sought to kill him, said to them: ‘Take me to your King, for I have some tings to communicate to him on which depends his safety.’ The delighted Chingalaz made their way to the fortalice where he was; and as they had to pass by the Broad street where D. Antonio……
*The Portuguese, who give the most accurate historical account of this period, states that his wife was a Buddhist. Could she have been a Sinhalese?
*The Portuguese say also that the emblem of the Royal house of Jaffna is a Lion, which is certainly not a Dravidian symbol but of an Aryan.
*He had to submit to the Viceroy of Goa in 1560, and agreed to become a vassal of the King of Portugal. He also undertook to send to the Portuguese the annual tribute of 10 tuskers, which were earlier paid as tribute to the King of Kotte. He also surrendered most of the treasure that he seized after killing Vidiye Bandara and (that replica of) the Tooth Relic. "These terms written in the Portuguese and Chingala languages were signed and authenticated." (Queyroz p.371)
Note: Sinhala, the language of the ruling monarch, was used for this purpose instead of Tamil, because it had to be sanctioned by the King of Kotte who owned Jaffna, to become a legal document. This proved that Sankili’s claim to be the King of Jaffna was baseless.
*Although Sankili was a Tamil on his mother's side, he did not make Tamil the official language of Jaffna. For all purposes, Sinhala was considered to be the official language throughout the island, including the Jaffna Peninsula. When Sankili's conduct became intolerable, the people of Jaffna (mostly Sinhalese) petitioned the Portuguese Viceroy in Goa, asking him to replace Sankili with a Sinhalese Prince 'because Jaffna belonged to the Kingdom of Kotte'. This led to the genocide of the Sinhalese inhabitants of Jaffna by Sankili. "After the massacre of the Christians, Sankili's, insane fury longed for more victims and he fell upon the Buddhists of Jaffna who were all Sinhalese. He expelled them beyond the limits of the country and destroyed their numerous places of worship," says Rasanayagam, quoting Yalpana Vaipava Malai."