The VOC waged a long and fierce battle against the Portuguese for Negombo. When the Company overthrew the fort for the second time, the Portuguese soldiers refused to surrender, so they were all killed. The VOC was determined to drive all its European competitors out of Ceylon. Negombo played a strategically important role in the VOC's cinnamon trade. The local inhabitants themselves primarily made a living from fishing. Initially the VOC was dependent for its supply of cinnamon on the harvest from the jungles belonging to the king of Kandy
with whom the Company was at war during the second half of the 17th century. The king concentrated his attacks the VOC's economic interests by pillaging farms and forcing large numbers of people to move. One of the places he attacked was Negombo. The VOC posted soldiers to protect the cinnamon harvest.