Sri Lanka with a written history extending up to 2,500 years has had many invasions and threats to its integrity. The most recent was the LTTE. Previous non-European ones included several invasions from South India. But these were from similar cultures and civilizations. The experience with three Western colonizers, the British, the Dutch and the Portuguese was with alien cultures. The most brutal of these - a true clash of civilizations - was with the Portuguese. The Portuguese went on their conquests armed with direct instructions from some of the Popes " to subjugate invade and conquer ... and to reduce to slavery" in "the divine name and exaltation of the Catholic Faith" the countries they encountered. In Asia, Sri Lanka faced the most consequences. The Portuguese engaged in a physical and cultural campaign of destruction - campaigns which when done under similar Papal instructions in the Latin Americas led to apologies by recent, more enlightened Popes. The Portuguese torched all the Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim centres. The Buddhist institutions destroyed included some of the world's oldest university type centres of learning and their collections of invaluable books. Portuguese records describe how those who would not convert had their babies publicly spiked. This book, a part of a large-scale research project of the Royal Asiatic Society on the Portuguese Encounter describes using contemporary perspectives on civilizational encounters which occurred, a social epistemology not explored by earlier writers.
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