Cannanore or Kannur is a city and a Municipal Corporation in Kannur district, Kerala, India. This city was once the capital of the Kolattiri Raja who was the chief rival of Zamorin. Cannanore became an important emporium of trade with Persia and Arabia during the 12th and 13th centuries. This era marked the rise of the family of the Ali Rajas or the Sea Kings of Cannanore. Their origin is uncertain but tradition assigns the foundation of the family to a Nayar minister of Kolattiri Raja, who converted to Islam in the beginning of the 12th century.
Towards the end of the century the family appears to have obtained the port and town of Old Cannanore as a grant from the Kolattiri Raja. The Ali Raja became his chief admiral and the head to Cannanore Mappillas. His power gradually increased by 18th century and he later became an independent of his suzerain.
Cannanore was one of the earliest Portuguese settlements. In 1498 Vasco da Gama touched there, by invitation of the Kolattiri Raja on his way from Calicut. Three years after Cabral founded a factory. In 1502 Da Gama on his second voyage to India concluded a treaty with the Raja and left 200 Portuguese in Cannanore. The factory continued to flourish and in 1505 Almeyda was allowed to build a fort. In the next year he won a great naval victory in Cannanore bay over the Zamorin and his Mappillas, which finally established the Portuguese naval supremacy. The fort and factory continued in possession of the Portuguese till they were conquered by the Dutch in the middle of the 17th century. The Dutch held the fort till 1771, when they sold it to the Ali Raja whose power had considerably increased during Haidar Ali’s first invasion.