|Johan Nieuhof's audience with the Queen of Quilonen.wikipedia.org/|
Venad or Travancore was, at that time, in a state of political uncertainty and turbulence with respect to legal successor to the throne. The adoption of the two predecessors of Umayamma Rani, Rama Varma and Aditya Varma, from the Vellarapally branch of the Cochin Royal Family in 1630, became a serious legal tangle , a sort of convoluted plot of a TV soap opera, offending the legitimate claims of the collateral branches (same genealogy, but different lines) of the Venad royal family to the musnud. These collateral factions, therefore, had begun exercising independent authority in their domains such as Elayadathu Swaroopam of Kottarakara, etc., On top of it, even within the limited domains of the kingdom remaining with the chief branch, factions were to the forefront due to stubborn and rebellious nobles or Madempis, most famous of whom were the members of Ettuveetil Pillamar.
|Location map. Hamlet in Monsoon|
It is quite true that the two collateral groups, emerging from the same genealogical stock had been at loggerheads for a long time and both sides indulging in all kinds of accusations and counter accusations. That the story of Umayamma had six sons and out of them five were killed except her eldest son Ravi Varma by a radical group called ettara yogam with support from Ettuveetil Pillamar and her husband Aditya Verma was poisoned to death was a subject of discussion. It is believed that it was not true based on the temple records of Padmanabha Swami, Tiruvanthapuram along with other credible sources and the studies by historians. They point out that Rani Umayamma had no children and her husband Aditya Varma died a natural death in 1677 at Darpakulangara Palace. It was in 1862, upon the death of senior Rani (queen) Attangal, Umayamma legally succeeded as the principal queen of Venad.
In the state of Kerala, including the royal families, matrilineal system of inheritance and family had been in vogue for centuries and this system does exit among some communities. So, it was quite natural the Royal family followed Marumakkathayam or matrilineal system of inheritance and family. This allowed the presence of females in the royal family. In 1682 Umayamma Rani's adoption of one male, Aditya Varma, and two females from the related Kolathunad Royal family angered already enraged Kerala Varma of Nedumangad and this led to a war that turned in
favor of the Rani and the claims of the Nedumangad family
were found to be unacceptable. In the year in 1684, she was instrumental in setting up an English trading post in Travancore. Van Rheed, the Dutch governor of Cylon, had left an
account of her rule. In the same same year Umayamma Rani also adopted Kottayam Kerala Verma, a member of the related
Royal family of Malabar, a branch of the Kolathunad house.
Kerala Verma was bestowed with the title of 'Prince of Hiranyasimhallur' (Eraniel). No sooner had he taken the mantle of the kingdom than he asserted full power and set aside and silenced the collateral branches, thus becoming the sole power of the main branch (of genealogy). Soon after defeating the Muslim invasion of Venad in 1684 with his powerful army near Thuckalay. Kerala Verma went ahead with much assertion and in 1695 abolished certain repulsive customs known as Pulappedi, Mannapedi etc. In the wake of it, the nobles of the land and the temple trustees (Ettara Yogam) not only lost the hold on the land but also their political clout. Unfortunately, it led to the murder of Kerala Verma in 1695. Ultimately. Ravi Varma became the Rajah and in 1688 adopted two males, Unni Kerala Varma and Rajah Rama Varma from Kolathunad, and two princesses from Kolathunad. The royal succession continued on these lines including adoptions in 1705, 1718 and so on.