Sunday, February 22, 2009


Before his death he wrote a letter to the king in dignified and affecting terms, vindicating his conduct and claiming for his son the honours and rewards that were justly due to himself. His body was buried at Goa in the Church of our Lady. The king of Portugal was convinced too late of his fidelity, and endeavoured to atone for the ingratitude with which he had treated him by heaping honours upon his natural son Brás de Albuquerque (1500—1580). In 1576, the latter published a selection from his father's papers under the title Commentarios do Grande Affonso d'Alboquerque which had been gathered in 1557.

{Albuquerque, in 4 vols., by his son   --copied from internet}

Western India at the period when the Portuguese broke ground
upon it. Except the names of a few towns which dot the ittoral, and which the Portuguese conquered, the whole land is enveloped in a cloud of mist, through the rifts of which we catch a glimpse of such shadowy forms as Zamorin, Hadalcai,Balagat, Narsinga, Sheikh Ismail, and Cambay.
Yet these names represent the masters of this portion of Asia. Occasion ally we catch a glimpse of hosts of swarthy warriors armed with buckler, spear, and bow, emerging from the passes of the Western Ghauts to the plains below, but of the powers that sent them there we have only the faintest indications.Bijapur had already its citadel, or Arkila, and was bulging out its ground plan of magnificent distances . Mahomed Bigarra  at amid the glories of Ahmedabad or Champanir , and Krishna Deva, greatest of its sovereigns, ruled at Vizyanagar on tlie Tongabudra.

Bombay(May it is called), or what existed of it,stood at the junction of the two empires which had borne
the brunt of war for a century — that is, the land on which her huts were built was the King of Cambay's
(Sultan of Ahmeda bad), and the men who occupied them were his subjects.

Across the harbour all that magnificent scene we now cast our eyes upon from Malabar Hill was the Zamorin's.If we understandthe matter aright,the boundary of these two kingdoms was the Bombay Harbour and the Tanna Creek.All north of this inlet belonged to Cambay ;all south (Goa excepted) to the Zamorin.
We now crave the attention of our readers to the following : —The Commentaries state that the Zamorin offered Chaul (thirty miles from Bombay) to Albuquerque as a site for a fort.In fact, Chaul

gave its name to the south side of our harbour down to the end of the seventeenth century {Bombay Gazetteer).
Maim (Bombay) to Albuquerque for the same purpose. We place our contention before our readers and leave each to settle the question for himself. A few miles here or there in a thousand do not matter much. The facts as they are stated seem to us perfectly conclusive as to the political division of the coast line of Western India in or about 1510.
If we are correct in this,Bombay was Mahomedan And and across the water the Hindoo kingdom of the Zamorin.
There is one fact brought into bold relief by the Commentaries of Albuquerque, and it is this —that the Guzerattees held naval supremacy from the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb and the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Malacca. They were the great carriers all over the Indian Ocean.
The Hindoos are not generally credited with being a maritime people ; but it is expressly said of those
of Goa (1506) "they were a maritime race, and more inured to the hardships of the sea than all other nations, built ships of great burden, and navigated the coasts."
And, again, in regard to Ceylon and the Far East —"The Guzerattees understand the navigation of those parts much more thoroughly than any other nation on account of the great commerce they carry on in these
" We accept these statements as we find them,but there is no getting over the fact that, wherever Albuquerque
engaged pilots on the coasts of Africa, Arabia, or India, they were Moors,and we are driven to the conclusion that the captains who navigated these ships were Arabs of Hindoostan,while the crews may have been lascars or Hindoos.
This much is certain,that on the Asiatic side — say, from Malacca to Calicut, and from Calicut to Jeddah,
the bulk of the overland traffic was carried on by the people of Guzerat all through the Middle Ages,
whence their cargoes were transhipped on Arab buggalows to Cosseir, and thence by caravan to the Nile, which bore them on its flood to Kosetta.
Here follows a strange story of Albuquerque : —" He was a man of the strictest veracity, and so pure in the justice he administered that the Hindoos and Moors, after his death,whenever they received any affront from the Governors of India, used to go to Goa to his tomb and make offerings of choice flowers and oil for his lamp, praying him to do them justice" — so say the Commentaries.
That the Moors placed offerings of flowers and sought justice at the tomb of Albuquerque we do not believe
The Moors were not fools. There was a great deal of human nature in the Moors. You might as soon
expect a Covenanter to worship Claverhouse or a Hollander the Duke of Alva.
The Moors have never worshipped Albuquerque,nor will they ever do so as long as the Black Stone remains at Mecca or pilgrims make the Haj.
If the Moors had bespattered Albuquerque's tomb with mud it would have been much more to their liking.
At Cochin, at Cannanore, at Calicut, at Goa he came down upon them like the destroying angel : everywhere
his course was written in blood. At every port he touched,from Muscat to Malacca, he cut off their ears and noses and let them go.
At Panjim he shut up 150 of them in a mosque and burned them to ashes. At Kishim he gave no quarter, but put men, women, and children to the sword.He sent fifteen blind kings from Ormuz, so that they and
their seed might never have a chance of reigning in these parts for evermore. Some of these ports he could never have reached without the help of Moorish- pilots.
If I remember right, it was a Moorish pilot who conducted him all the way from Africa to India, kidnapped, no doubt.
Another led him to Ormuz, and those waters which no European fleet had ever visited since that of Nearchus.
He picked up a third at Bab-el-Mandeb, to guide his prow through the sinuosities and treacherous reefs of
the Red Sea. Strange, is it not, that these were the very men whose race he had sworn to exterminate. " Here I am," said Luther, " I can do no otherwise. God help me. Amen."
" Albuquerque went straight to his chamber, cast his eyes up to heaven, and besought God to forgive his sins." I wonder whether this sin was among them, but God pity the poor piloT who were forcibly abducted on such an errand and cozened to lay open their maps and plans to the gaze of this great navigator,so that he might plough his way to scenes of guilt and rapine,and the murder of their friends
He rose from his knees with " The Lord is on my side : I will not fear what man can do unto me." These are some of the flowers the Moors might have placed on the tomb of Albuquerque.
You see that Albuquerque hated the Mahomedans with a fierce and implacable hatred.
I am sure he loathed them to such an extent that he wished they had all one neck that he could at once make an end of them.
This feeling was born of the Iberian Peninsula. He detested the Moors in Spain,and as much the Moors out of Spain. This was the pivot upon which his creed revolved, and all else was subordinate to it. And I do not wonder at it, for he must have drank in this hatred with his mother's milk.
The Crusaders were dead, but as long as he was alive there was a great Crusader, a Crusader of no half measures, but one as bloody as Richard, determined to solve that question which had worried Europe for centuries by exterminating the hated race, root and branch.
For this there was nothing he would not do.
He would divert the Nile into the Red Sea and desiccate Egypt He would capture the body of Mahomed at Medina and exchange it for the Holy Sepulchre.
This was the everlasting question that presented itself to his mind, and which he revolved under the weird shadows of the Peak of Aden, by the palm-fringed islands of Goa, as well as at Ormuz, with its visions of Nearchus.
(It was there,I think, that a Moor brought on board a Life of Alexander,written in Persian, bound in crimson velvet, and presented it to Albuquerque.
In the audacity of his schemes he was quite a match for Alexander.)
Here is his solution of the question,
for he had quite made up his mind what he should do to effect this stupendous cowp. He would land 300 horsemen at Yembo, capture the garrisons of Mecca and Medina, and in six weeks disembark with the body of the Prophet before reinforcements could reach his enemies from the grand Soldan of Egypt. He
would search out the Soldan's fleet in the Eed Sea, and if he did not find it he would go on to Suez and burn it — for him a magnificent conception, the beauty of which consists in its simplicity.
But he did not live to carry it out, as he died at the bar of Goa, December 16th, 1515.

Such a deed would   havft changed the face of the world, from Delhi to Vienna, and would have constituted a world-wide revolution.

But one thing he did though he left the other undone.He diverted the commerce of the East from the channels in which it had flowed for a thousand years to the Tagus,from the Adriatic and the Bospliorus.

By blocking up the Gulf at Ormuz and the Red Sea at Aden, and placing an embargo on Calicut and Malacca,he threw the commerce of the East round the Cape to Lisbon.After Albuquerque's time a deep silence fell on the wharves of Venice, The camel caravans ceased to come from Cossier to Cairo.
Indian spices no longer perfumed the painted chambers of Rosetta, and Alexandria was reduced to the white heap of ashes which it remained till the time of Volney,
" God help me " he found graven in Latin on some old Crusader's swords which had found their way to Socotra,and no doubt he girded one of them on himself, as we may see in a picture of this grim and bearded warrior of the North.
And God helped him, or history is belied.Portugal and India were thence to be riveted together until Portugal ceased to respect herself, and India prepared the way for other invaders.
The reader does not now require to ask why Albuquerque courted and coquetted with the Hindoo sovereigns of Western India.It was to compass his own ends, for whoever were his allies they must fight the Mussulman.
This is the key to all his Hindoo alliances, and explains his league with Honore and
by whose assistance he entered Go.a.The biggest Hindoo kingdom in Southern India at this time (it stretched
from sea to sea) was Vizyanagar, so Albuquerque speedily enlisted its sympathy and assistance to make war on Bijapur and the other Mussulman Kings of the Dekhan. Western India was about to change owners, and already in the throes of a new birth, and Vizyanagar was nothing loss ;for Bijapur,Bedur, Nagar, and olconda, Muslim sovereignties of the Dekhan, were already on the war-path,and one of them was to raze her empire to the ground.
The Hindoo dynasties, in fact, were all quaking with a great fear.Not only here, but in the north, the elements were seething and prognosticating mighty revolutions.The sound of Baber's- raids came down the Khyber Pass like the roll of distant thunder.Cabul and Kandahar were at. his feet, and in October 1511 Baber was
proclaimed King of Samarcand, then one of the richest and most populous cities in the world.
Then there was the King of Ormuz.
Here is his portrait, as he sits on his throne, and you may read it along with Milton's Wealth of Ormuz and
of Ind : " He is fifteen years of age, dressed in a petticoat of crimson satin and a cloth girded around him, a golden dagger and a sceptre of gold in his hand, with the head of crystal set in gold.

" Albuquerque built palaces and churches, coined money and abolished Sati, and founded Goa, which has been Portuguese for years, all which redounds to his fame.
He encouraged marriages between the Portuguese and the natives. In 1510 there were 450 Portuguese married to native ladies, daughters of the principal men of the land. His views,we are told, were not shared by everybody, for there were men, even then, who looked ahead and had grave doubts on the wisdom of his policy.
" Many disapproved of his permission to the Portuguese to marry natives, and several leading men even wrote to the King of Portugal on the subject Albuquerque was a man of grim humour.Somebody asked for tribute to the King of Ormuz after his conquest by the Portuguese. Albuquerque sent him a parcel of cannon-balls, and told him that was the only tribute his King paid on account of states under his mastery.
Once when his cash-box was empty a lascar importuned him for his wages. Plucking two hairs from his
beard, "Take these hairs of my beard, and go and put them in pawn.
" At Ormuz he ordered three stone anchors to be taken from the King of Cambay's big ship, the Meri, and
built them into the foundations of a new fort.
His captains sent him a remonstrance, which he put under the portal,henceforth named for ever, "The Doorway of remonstrance."
Some renegades were in the hands of the enemy, who knew full well that if they were given up they would at once be killed. A stipulation was exhorted from him for their lives.Albuquerque signed it. They little knew their man. Once in his power he ordered their right hands and the thumbs of their left hands, and their ears and noses to be cut off, and the hair of their heads and beards torn out.Death would have been preferable. But then, you see, " he kept his word," honourable man.
Not like our Richard, who broke his oath at the siege of Acre (1191), when he hanged the 2,700 Turkish hostages.After his death he was immediately shrouded and clothed in habit of Santiago (St. James), buskin, spurs, sword and belt, on his neck a stole, on his head a velvet cap. " Go to now," says St. James the Apostle (not he of Costello), " and howl ... ye have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
" Goa was conquered by Albuquerque on November 2oth (St. Catherine's Day), 1510 It was a bloody conquest.
No quarter was given.Men and women and children were put to the sword.This was Albuquerque's order, and the blood of 6,000, young and old, ran into that sea which we see to-day fringed with palm trees.
This was Albuquerque's "day of slaughter," which rises in judgment against him, not forgetting Euy Dias, hanged for visiting a Moorish woman, and which Camoens does not neglect to notice in the Lusiad.
I take it that Albuquerque was a man of an iron will,and had not much of the milk of human kindness about him, and that he was deaf to the wails of the widow and the orphan — he must have made thousands of them. And yet his appearance was prepossessing. His massive beard, even at sixty-three, came down to his waist, his stature was middle size, his nose long.
The Ambassador of Sheikh Ismail was so much struck with the view he had of him that he requested him to allow a full length portrait of him to be taken, so that he might carry it to his master in the Arabian desert. Behold the fine arts of 1510 !
He was reticent to a degree, especially when his captains mutinied, when his King frowned, when the viceroy, Almeida,who preceded him, gave him the cold shoulder, razed his house to the ground, and immured him in the tower of Cannanore.
But when he ascended from the dungeon to the Viceregal throne he again found his tongue. His last words were written to the King of Portugal.
" As for the aftairs of India, they will speak for themselves and for me."
Yes, India can speak for itself,more particularly the Mahomedan portion of it, and  for me
"the verdict in 1893 is somewhat different from, that of 1515.
His friends inscribed on his tomb, " Let him that excels take the precedence."In his particular line I suppose many have excelled him.Alexander at Persepolis, Titus at Jerusalem, Alaric at Rome,or coming nearer home, Nadir Shah at Delhi, or Napoleon

Early life
Born in Alhandra in the year of 1453, near Lisbon, Portugal, he was for some time known as The Great, The Caesar of the East, Lion of the Seas and as The Portuguese Mars. Through his father, Gonçalo de Albuquerque, Lord of Vila Verde dos Francos (married to Dona Leonor de Menezes), who held an important position at court, he was connected by remote illegitimate descent with the royal family of Portugal. He was educated in mathematics and classical Latin at the court of Afonso V of Portugal, and served ten years in North Africa, where he acquired military experience. He was present at Afonso V's conquest of Arzila and Tangier in Morocco in 1471. On his return he was appointed estribeiro-mor (chief equerry) to John II. He took part in the expedition against the Turkish invasion of Italy that culminated in a Christian victory in 1481.In 1489 he again served in North Africa.
Expeditions to the East
First Expedition, 1503-1504
In 1503 he set out on his first expedition to the East, which was to be the scene of his future triumphs. In company with his kinsman Francisco he sailed round the Cape of Good Hope to India, and succeeded in establishing the king of Cochin securely on his throne, obtaining in return for this service permission to build a Portuguese fort at Cochin, and thus laying the foundation of his country's empire in the East.
Operations in the Persian Gulf and Malabar, 1504-1508
Albuquerque returned home in July 1504, and was well received by King Manuel I of Portugal, who entrusted him with the command of a squadron of five vessels in the fleet of sixteen which sailed for India in 1506 under Tristão da Cunha. After a series of successful attacks on the Arab cities on the east coast of Africa, Albuquerque separated from Tristão, and sailed with his squadron against the island of Hormuz, in the Persian Gulf, which was then one of the chief centers of commerce in the East. He arrived on September 25, 1507, and soon obtained possession of the island, though he was unable to maintain his position for long. He was responsible for building the Fort of Our Lady of the Conception on Hormoz Island

With his squadron increased by three vessels, he reached the Malabar coast at the end of 1508, and immediately made known the commission he had received from the king empowering him to supersede the governor Dom Francisco de Almeida. The latter, however, refused to recognize Albuquerque's credentials and cast him into prison, from which he was only released, after three months' confinement, on the arrival of the grand-marshal of Portugal with a large fleet, in November 1509. Almeida having returned home, Albuquerque speedily showed the energy and determination of his character. On this date he became the second viceroy of the State of India, a position he would hold until his death
Operations in Goa and Malacca, 1510-1511
Afonso de AlbuquerqueAlbuquerque intended to dominate the Muslim world and control the spices' trading network. An unsuccessful attack upon Calicut (modern Kozhikode) in January 1510, in which the commander-in-chief received a severe wound, was immediately followed by the investment and capture of Goa. Albuquerque, finding himself unable to hold the town on his first occupation, abandoned it in August, to return with the reinforcements in November, when he obtained undisputed possession. In April 1511, he set sail from Goa to Malacca with a force of some 1200 men and seventeen or eighteen ships. He conquered Malacca by August 24, 1511 after a severe struggle throughout July. Albuquerque remained in Malacca until November 1511 preparing its defences against any Malay counterattack. He ordered the slaughter of all the Muslim population in an effort to reduce religious divergence hoping that it would force Hindus and Muslims to convert to Christianity. He also ordered the first Portuguese ships to sail east in search of the 'Spice Islands' of Maluku.
Various operations, 1512-1515
In 1512 he sailed for the coast of Malabar. On the voyage a violent storm arose, Albuquerque's vessel, the Flor De La Mar, which carried the treasure he had amassed in his conquests, was wrecked, and he himself barely escaped with his life.In September of the same year he arrived at Goa, where he quickly suppressed a serious revolt headed by Idalcan, and took such measures for the security and peace of the town that it became the most flourishing of the Portuguese settlements in India. Albuquerque had been for some time under orders from the home government to undertake an expedition to the Red Sea, in order to secure that channel of communication exclusively to Portugal. He accordingly laid siege to Aden in 1513, but was repulsed; and a voyage into the Red Sea, the first ever made by a European fleet, led to no substantial results. In order to destroy the power of Egypt, he is said to have entertained the idea of diverting the course of the Nile River and so rendering the whole country barren. His last warlike undertaking was a second attack upon Ormuz in 1515. The island yielded to him without resistance, and it remained in the possession of the Portuguese until 1622. Perhaps most tellingly, he intended to steal the body of the Prophet Muhammad, and hold it for ransom until all Muslims had left the Holy Land.
China expeditions, 1513
In early 1513, Jorge Álvares—sailing in a mission under Albuquerque—was allowed to land at Lintin Island in the Pearl River Delta of southern China, and soon after Albuquerque sent Rafael Perestrello to southern China to seek out trade relations with the Ming Dynasty of China. In ships from Portuguese Malacca, Rafael sailed to Canton (Guangzhou) in 1513 and again from 1515–1516 to trade with Chinese merchants there. These ventures, along with those of Tomé Pires and Fernão Pires de Andrade, were the first direct European diplomatic and commercial ties to China. However, after the death of the Chinese Zhengde Emperor on April 19, 1521, conservative factions at court seeking to limit eunuch influence rejected the new Portuguese embassy, fought sea battles with the Portuguese around Tuen Mun, and Tomé was forced to write letters to Malacca stating that he and other ambassadors would not be released from prison in China until the Portuguese relinquished their control of Malacca and returned it to the deposed Sultan of Malacca (who was previously a Ming tributary vassal). Nonetheless, Portuguese relations with China became normalized again by the 1540s and in 1557 a permanent Portuguese base at Macau in southern China was established with consent from the Ming court.
Political downfall and last years
Albuquerque Monument on Afonso de Albuquerque Square in Lisbon (1902).

Albuquerque's career had a painful and ignominious close. He had several enemies at the Portuguese court who lost no opportunity of stirring up the jealousy of King Manuel against him, and his own injudicious and arbitrary conduct on several occasions served their end only too well. On his return from Ormuz, at the entrance of the harbour of Goa, he met a vessel from Europe bearing dispatches announcing that he was superseded by his personal enemy Lopo Soares de Albergaria.
 The blow was too much for him and he died at sea on December 16, 1515.

Before his death he wrote a letter to the king in dignified and affecting terms, vindicating his conduct and claiming for his son the honours and rewards that were justly due to himself. His body was buried at Goa in the Church of our Lady.
 The king of Portugal was convinced too late of his fidelity, and endeavoured to atone for the ingratitude with which he had treated him by heaping honours upon his natural son Brás de Albuquerque (1500—1580). In 1576, the latter published a selection from his father's papers under the title Commentarios do Grande Affonso d'Alboquerque which had been gathered in 1557.

An exquisite and expensive variety of mango, that he used to bring on his journeys to India, has been named in his honour, and is today sold throughout the world as Alphonso


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