Malabar Diaries – II Fort St.Angelo

Fort St Angelo is one of the most important seashore forts of kerala. It is situated by the side of Mapila Bay on a cliff protruding into the Arabian Sea about three kilometres from the town of Kannur. This fort is one of the earliest Portuguese establishments on the Malabar Coast.
For establishing commercial relation with the Portuguese, the king of Kolathunad offered a site to construct a factory at Kannur. The Portuguese navigator, Vasco da Gama first came to Malabar Coast in 1498 A.D and he strengthened more cordial relation with the Kolathiri Raja. The Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500 A.D made adjacent installations in the factory (ware house). Subsequently, in 1501 A.D Joan D’ Nova established a small factory at Kannur(Cannanore) and he returned back to Portugal. During the second visit Vasco da Gama in 1502 A.D, he built a palisade with the permission of Kolathiri Raja and two hundred of Portuguese soldiers were stationed at the factory.
In 1505 A.D, Dom Francisco d’ Almeida, the first Portuguese viceroy to India obtained permission from the Kolathiri Raja to construct a fort and it was completed in 1507 A.D. The fort was named as St.Angelo. Later on it became an important military station for the purpose of defence in the west coast.
As part of Colonial imperialism, Dutch were also competent to establish their supremacy on trade in peninsular India particularly in Kerala along with other European powers like Portuguese, English and the French. In 1663, the Dutch captured St.Angelo from the Portuguese and made fortifications in the fort. Then, it was sold to the Ali Rajas of Kannur in 1772 A.D. later the British seized the Fort in 1790 A.D. and enlarged to become the most important military station in the Malabar Coast.
The fort St.Angelo is a composite feature of the Portuguese, Dutch and the English architecture(colonial architecture) right from the early 16th century A.D. It is massive built of the laterite roughly triangular on plan with high ramparts on a rocky promontory, surrounded by sea all other sides, while a dry moat runs from the land side of the fortress on one side. During the period of Portuguese, in order to isolate the fort from the mainlands water moat(running east west). connecting Arabian Sea to the Mapila Bay was constructed. most of the buildings like chapels, house of mercy prison, offices and other amenities in this fort were built by the Portuguese. The Dutch people built the horse stable and the ammunition house inside the fort. The main gate is towards the land and is protected by bastions.
The epitaph of Susanna Weyerman, First wife of Dutch Governor Godfried Weyerman died on 28th March 1745 A.D. at the age of 17 years 7 months 16 days recalls teh possession and position of the Dutch on the fort. The cannons that are used by the Portuguese and the British were kept inside the fort. Presently, the cannons are fixed in the merlons and bastions of the fort well pointing towards the sea.

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