(reigned 1197–1200, 1209–1210, 1211–1212), also known as Leelawathi
, was the second woman in Sri Lankan history to rule as sovereign in her own right. Lilavati rose to prominence as wife of Parakramabahu
the Great, king of Polonnaruwa
. Being of royal descent herself she then ruled as sole monarch on three different occasions in the near-anarchy following Parakramabahu's death, with the backing of various generals. The primary source for her life is the Culavamsa
, specifically chapter LXXX.
Birth and early life
Very little is known of Lilavati's birth and early life, but much of her youth would have been dominated by the fractured politics of Sri Lanka at the time. Vijayabahu I (1055–1100) had successfully driven the forces of the mighty Chola
empire from Sri Lanka at the beginning of his reign and resurrected the ancient Sinhalese
polity of Rajarata, shifting its capital to Pulatthinagara. Unity, however, was short-lived, and by the reign of Vikramabâhu I (1111–1132), the island was divided into three discrete areas – Rajarata, Dhakkinadesa, and Ruhuna. Vikramabahu was still regarded as the greatest in dignity as he possessed Rajarata with its sites of religious and historical importance. However in Manabharana, sub-king of Dhakkinadesa ('South Country'), and his brothers Sirivallabha and Kittisirimegha, join sub-kings of Ruhuna, he faced formidable rivals for the crown.
It is known that Lilavati was... Read More