Sri Lanka

Map of the Jaffna and surrounding kingdoms (1520s). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The region of Sri Lanka has been the site of several dynasties in its history, arguably starting with the kingdom of Tambapanni in 543 BC. The Anuradhapura kingdom was established in 380BC, and lasted for nearly 1400 years until invasions by the Chola Empire. After the collapse, the kingdom of Polonnaruwa was established, though later captured by Kalinga, the founder of the Jaffna kingdom, in 1215. Over the next three centuries the kingdoms and capitals were in a continuous state of flux. By the seventeenth century Sri Lanka was subject to Dutch and Portuguese explorers, the latter of which brought the Jaffna kingdom to an end. During the early modern period the kingdom of Kandy, the last independent Lankan monarchy, was in existence, but fell to the British and the last monarch exiled in 1815.

During the period of monarchical rule, several Lankan kingdoms were ruled over by women as regnants and consorts, though their history is much understudied (see forthcoming work by Bruno M. Shirley, who wrote a blog on the topic here). You can find out more about one of the Lankan queens, Līlāvatī, below!


Amirell, Stefan. “Female Rule in the Indian Ocean World (1300-1900).” Journal of World History 26. 3 (2015): 443–89

Silva, K. M. de. History of Sri Lanka. Berkley: University of California Press, 1982

Shirley, Bruno M. “The Age of Queens in Medieval Lanka.” on Team Queens, accessed 1 December 2022.

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