Letters to Daniel
A Short Chronology of Tharangampadi (Tranquebar) up to 1845
14th century A.D: Kulasekhara Pandian established the town of Shadanganpadi - later to become Tharangampadi.
1618: Christian IV of Denmark sent an expedition consisting of four ships under the leadership of Ove Gedde to Ceylon. Persuaded by a Dutch merchant, Marchelis de Boshouwer, Christian IV wanted to establish a treaty with the Emperor of Kandy. The expedition left Denmark on November 14, 1618. Already during August 1618, Roelant Crappe, another Dutch merchant, left Copenhagen on the ship 'Øresund', for East-India, to pave the way for Ove Gedde's mission.
1620: Roelant Crappé (as he signed his name in the archival documents), having reached Ceylon during December 1619 captured small Portuguese vessels carrying areca nuts and rice. The Portuguese, however, lay in wait, and wrecked 'Øresund' outside Nagapattinam. Crappé along with 12 others managed to swim ashore, and was given asylum by Raghunatha Nayak. During April 1620, Raghunatha Nayak wrote a letter on a gold foil giving permission to Danes to settle down at the newly established port of Tharangampadi (see Gold Foil). (There are two more letters on golden foils, but these were written much later. One of them can be seen under Treaties). Ove Gedde reached Ceylon on May 18, 1620 and found that Boshouwer had cheated him. Boshouwer and his son, Christian had died on the way. Ove Gedde contacted Roelant Crappé, who invited him to visit the Nayak at Thanjavur (Tanjore). This resulted in a treaty between Raghunatha Nayak and Christian IV. One original of this treaty in Portuguese with Raghunatha Nayak's signature in Telugu is preserved at the National Archives in Copenhagen (see Treaties). Ove Gedde left Tranquebar on February 13, 1621 and reached Copenhagen on March 4, 1622. He served as an Admiral in the Danish Navy, and died on December 19, 1660 and is buried at the Cathedral in Roskilde. Roelant Crappé became the first 'Governor' of Tranquebar and had this position from 1620 to 1636.
1637-1643: Bernt Pessart was the governor during this period. He was described as "intelligent, but most unreliable".
1643-1648: Willem Leyel was the new Governor. Two chaplains attained notoriety during this period due to their irresponsible drunken behaviour. Both of them were sentenced to death by drowning. While the sentence was carried out on Christen Petersen Storm, the other, Niels Andersen Udbyneder was sentenced to exile. Documents from this period can be seen under Leyel.
1655-1669: The colony survived under the leadership of Eskild Andersen Kongsbakke. Kongsbakke came along as a constable with Willem Leyel. At times, the only Dane on the Colony was Kongsbakke. He married a native lady. However, not much is known about the family.
1705: The first Protestant mission established.
1706: Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg (1682-1718) and Heinrich Plütschau (1677-1752) arrived at Tranquebar on July 9, 1706. Their successful Mission continues to this day. The first printing press in Tamilnadu was established by Ziegenbalg. There are several documents, letters and diaries from the Missionaries which can be seen online at http://www.francke-halle.de. There are also several documents, some of them in Tamil, at the National Archives in Copenhagen, which are displayed under Mission.
1759-1790: Several members of Moravian Brethren came to Tranquebar. Their history can be seen at http://www.trankebar.net/history/garden/salomon/list.htm
1781-?: Fighting between castes plagued the Colony for several years. The disputes between the Right Hand (வலங்கை) castes dominated by the Vellalar ( வெள்ளாளர்) agricultural community and the Left Hand (இடங்கை) Panchalar (பாஞ்சாலர்) or Kammalar (கம்மாளர்) handicraft community consisted mainly of rights to carry out religious and wedding processions, status symbols etc., As the Danish Government did not want to get involved in this process, they appointed a "Black Court" consisting of six Indian Assessors (Two Hindus, Two Muslims and Two Christians) to settle the disputes. There is a whole foolscap size book consisting of almost 600 pages with the proceedings of the Black Court in Tamil at the National Archives in Copenhagen. Some of them are shown under Black Court. Since most of the Danes did not acquire a sufficient working knowledge of Tamil, they appointed Dubashes. Gradually the Dubashes acquired more power. The Governor during this period, Peter Hermann Abbestee, was extremely lenient and allowed his subordinates (and their dubashes) to accumulate private wealth and power. Daniel Pullei was one of them. There are more than a hundred letters written by Daniel Pullei in Tamil at the Archives addressed to Piragasam Pullei. Both Viraraghava Ayyangar and Gulam Muhammad served as intermediaries between the Raja of Tanjore and the Danish Government, as well as assessors at the Black Court. Their letters also document local history, such as the invasion by Tippu Sultan.
1787-1791: Henning Munch Engelhardt established an astronomical observatory at the Zion's Church in Tranquebar. Tragically, he died in 1791 of Malaria, when making a survey of the Nicobar islands.
1788-1806: Peter Anker, a Norwegian by birth was appointed Governor of Tranquebar. Peter Anker spent his early years in England, and thus was favourable to the English. One of his subordinates, Franz von Lichtenstein was inclined towards France. This created a lot of tension in the Colony. Daniel Pullei became unfriendly with Piragasam Pullei as well as Peter Anker. One fascinating result was that an Indian from Tranquebar, Chinnayya Naik, landed at Copenhagen in 1795 to complain about Peter Anker to the King of Denmark. He was allowed to stay until his complaints were investigated. Unfortunately for him, Peter Anker's brother - Carsten Anker - had a high position in the East India Company. Chinnayya Naik acquired expensive habits, and borrowed heavily from the citizens of Copenhagen promising to repay them in diamonds. He also got married to a Dane and got a daughter. Chinnayya Naik lost his case, and was ordered to leave the country. He disappeared in South Africa on the way back to East India in 1803. Several hundred documents on this case exist at the Archives, and some of them reproduced under Chinnayya. Peter Anker was also an artist and many of his paintings can be seen in Oslo (http://www.khm.uio.no/utstillinger/peteranker/). He returned to Norway to his farm outside Oslo, where he died in 1832.
1808-1815: British occupation of Tranquebar.
1845: Denmark was losing its trade in India, and the English were taking over. The Government decided to sell the Colony to the English in 1845, when Peter Hansen was the Governor. The Colony was sold for 1,125,000 Rigsdaler. Peter Hansen had started writing the history of the Colony. The documents are exhibited under Peder Hansen.