Thursday, September 22, 2011

Donna Catherina of Ceylon, Black Widow Serial Killer - 1613


Kusumasana Devi was Donna (or Dona) Catherina's name before converting to Catholicsm. She ruled the Kingdom of Kandy (the eastern half of Ceylon) in the year 1581.

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She poisoned her husband, Mahatissa, surnamed The Robber [Cora-Niiga, or Niiga the rebel, or robber], and ascended the throne. In the course of five years she married and killed five husbands and was finally put to death by her step-son. Donna Catherina is not acknowledged as a queen by the Sinhalese chroniclers.

[Bella Sidney Woolf, How to see Ceylon, The Times of Ceylon Co. Ltd., 1924, p. 27]

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Source for illustration: Louis Le Comte. Beschryvinge van het Machtige Keyseryk China, 1698, Engelbrecht Boucquet‘s-Gravenhage (The Hague)

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This case, described here in a brief 1924 text, requires further investigation, it goes without saying. For the moment the text quoted here does indeed definitely establish the fact of an alleged (or perhaps legendary) female serial killer case. Yet, with all cases involving political figures, it must be remembered that propaganda slurs and myths do in deed frequently enter the historical record, and can only be sorted out by detailed objective scholarship that looks closely at all sources. Lucretia Borgia provides the obvious exemplification of this sort of politically influenced myth. In cases such as this one, it is valuable to open up the veracity of the claims found in our sources to open discussion, and, when appropriate, to reclassify the case as a "legend," or an unlikely allegation (lists which are necessary to the study of the subject).

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2011/12/champion-black-widow-serial-killers.html

More: Champion Black Widow Serial Killers

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2014/07/female-serial-killers-of-asia.html

MORE Female Serial Killers of Asia

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For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.

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3 comments:

  1. DONA CATHERINA OR KUSUMASANA DEVI.
    Dona Catherina was a child survivor of a smallpox epidemic which effectively wiped out her entire family, the royal family of king Karaliyadde Bandara. As an orphan she was brought up by the nuns of the convent in Mannar. Wimaladharmasuriya the 1st, later on married Dona Catherina and by him, she begot three children, namely a son Mahastanne (the legal heir to the throne), two daughters Sunya Mahadasin and Cathan Adsain and lived in the old Palace. The Palace Complex was within the inner Fortress as indicated in Old Portuguese Maps. After the death of Wimaladharmasuriya 1st, his step-brother (cousin?) Senarat became king and married Dona Catherina. Through this marriage was born three sons one of whom was the great Rajasinha the 2nd, the warrior king.

    On 23rd August 1612 the senior Prince Mahastanne, next in line to the throne, died suddenly and reportedly under mysterious circumstances. Not much is recorded regards the death/murder of the prince. Cremation Scene of Mahastanne at Mahiyyawa is shown in one of the photos herein. It is said that the ashes of Mahastanne was brought by Dona Catherina to her Welimannatota palace in Kegalle where the urn was said to have been kept within the precincts of the Palace. (It is believed that the Archaeology Dept. had found this urn while excavating the Palace premises.) During her visits to Kandy she is said to have stayed in the Guest House in the Center of the Present Kandy Lake (in the days of Senarat it was a paddy field).

    Subsequently Dona Catherina left the palace in Kandy, abandoning Senarat, because she firmly believed that he had a hand in poisoning her beloved eldest son, Prince Maha Asthana. She withdrew to her palace at Welimannatota, where she lived with her children for the rest of her days. Broken hearted and often unwell, she soon fell very ill and never recovered from her son’s untimely demise. Dona Catherina during the final phase of her illness is said to have traveled to close by Hettimulla in her Royal palanquin from her palace at Welimannatota to visit her Royal Vedarala (physician) undoubtedly for further treatment. In time Prince Rajasinha ascended the throne as Rajasinha the 2nd or Rasin Deiyo.

    Donna Catherina died on 21st July 1613 and was buried with Roman Catholic rites and all royal honors, in her Palace Premises at Welimannatota. It is believed that she was buried dressed in all her Royal Regalia including a Pearl Rosary wound around her hands and a Bible by her side. She was 35 years old. A Mausoleum was built by the Prince of Uva (Kuruwita rala) entombing the site. An oil lamp was lit perpetually in her memory until recently.
    Source: The World Wide Web and Virtual Library - Sri Lanka (slight modifications in syntax were effected)

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  2. There is NO HISTORICAL EVIDENCE whatsoever, that Queen Dona Catherina (1581) or Kusumasana Devi was a serial killer of husbands. This is one big misnomer, labeling an innocent woman of crimes she would never have committed. She was forced by circumstances into the care of the Portuguese as an infant and into two marriages of convenience at an early age and was a helpless victim of circumstances. A pawn in the devious machinations of managing state affairs between the marauding Portuguese invaders and the local royals. The Portuguese came to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to loot, dominate and plunder the land. She was dead by age 35 having borne 6 children for the royal lineage serving two kings.

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