The formidable ‘Amazon’ of Venad: Umayamma Rani, the Queen Ashure
Updated: Apr 6
Aswathy Thirunal Umayamma was the first woman administrator of Venad (earliest dame of Travancore).
She was not only the queen of Attingal Kingdom, but also the head of a confederacy of semi-independent states such as Travancore, Nedumangad, Kottarakkara, Kollam, Karunagappalli and Kayamkulam.
The minor prince Ravi Varma was the rightful heir to the throne of Travancore after the death of King Aditya Varma in 1677. At the time when other princes staked a claim to the throne Umayamma rose to the challenge and took the title of regent. Her reign continued till her nephew ascended the throne in 1692.
Dubbed as 'her Black Majesty' by the British, Umayamma was known for her 'noble and manly conduct.' She fearlessly breached an old injunction that prohibited Attingal Ranis from crossing the Karamana river into the southern territories of Travancore and marched into Travancore proper with her armies.
Umayamma was a bold queen and within no time she defeated all the other contenders to the throne. Her tact for diplomacy can be seen from the fact that she gave trade concessions to the British to balance out the Dutch threat.
The English secured the permission to construct a fort at Anjengo from the queen in 1694.
Later in 1721, Anjengo became the epicentre for the first organised revolt against British authority in Kerala.
The decline of the Attingal Ranis began with the death of Umayamma in 1698 at Valiyathura. When Marthanda Varma ascended the throne in 1729, the Attingal Ranis were moved to Trivandrum where they were allotted a royal estate under the close watch of the king.