The Conquest of Goa
It was on November 5, 1509, almost a year after he had reached India from his campaign in the Arabian seas, that Affonso de Albuquerque took up office as Governor and Captain-General of the Portuguese possessions in Asia. King Emmanuel had not conferred upon him the title of Viceroy, which had been held by his predecessor—probably because he had no right to the prefix Dom, or Lord. His powers, however, were as great as those exercised by Dom Francisco de Almeida, and he received a special patent granting him authority to confer Moradias, or palace pensions, for services rendered. There can be no doubt that during the months in which he had been kept out of his office by the intrigues of his enemies with the Viceroy Almeida, Albuquerque had carefully considered the state of affairs in India, for he struck the keynotes of his future policy immediately after taking up office.
The state of Southern India, and especially of the Malabar coast, was at this time very favourable to the aspirations of the Portuguese. The Hindu Rajas, with the exception of the Zamorin of Calicut, were greatly opposed to the monopoly by the Moplas of the commerce of their dominions. These Arab traders were as completely foreigners to the races of Southern India as the Portuguese themselves. They made proselytes to their religion, as the Portuguese afterwards endeavoured to do, but the Muhammadan converts were not favourably regarded either by the Rajas or their Brahman ministers.
The most important ruler in Southern India was the Raja of Vijayanagar or Narsingha. His power was still great, but it was threatened by the Muhammadan dynasties established in the Deccan, which eventually destroyed the power of the Vijayanagar kingdom at the battle of Talikot in 1565. But when Albuquerque took up his office the Hindu kingdom was still powerful, and it might have been able with the assistance of the Portuguese to resist the advance of the Muhammadans.
The Portuguese felt none of the hatred which they showed to the disciples of Islam towards the Hindus. They had found to their great delight that the Christian religion flourished on the Malabar coast, and that the native Christians were a prosperous and thriving community. They inclined to believe that the Hindus or Krishna-worshippers believed in a form of Christianity. The grounds for their belief were very slight, but sufficient to impress ardent Christians like Albuquerque himself. One of the first designs of the great Governor was to strike up a cordial alliance with the Hindu rulers. The friendship which the Raja of Cochin had consistently shown to the Europeans gave him confidence, and one of his earliest measures was to send a Franciscan friar, Frei Luis, on a special embassy to the Raja of Vijayanagar. The aim of this embassy was to induce the Raja to attack the Zamorin of Calicut by land while the Portuguese attacked him by sea, but there was also a general desire expressed to make an alliance with the Raja.
Frei Luis was directed to state in the name of Albuquerque:
“The King of Portugal commands me to render honour and willing service to all the Gentile Kings of this land and of the whole of Malabar, and that they are to be well treated by me, neither am I to take their ships nor their merchandise; but I am to destroy the Moors [Muhammadans], with whom I wage incessant war, as I know he also does; wherefore I am prepared and ready to help him with the fleets and armies of the King, my Lord, whensoever and as often as he shall desire me to do so; and I likewise, for my part, expect that he will help us with his army, towns, harbours, and munitions, and with everything that I may require from his kingdom; and the ships which navigate to his ports may pass safely throughout all the Indian sea, and receive honour and good treatment at the hands of the fleets and fortresses of the King of Portugal.”
Albuquerque goes on to say
“And so I intend to drive out of Calicut the Moors, who are the people that furnish the Zamorin with all the revenue that he requires for the expenses of war, and after this is over I shall give my attention forthwith to the affairs of Goa, wherein I can help in the war against the King of the Deccan.”
Albuquerque then adds that Ormuz now belongs to the King of Portugal, and that—
“the horses of Ormuz shall not be consigned except to Baticala [Bhatkal] or to any other port he [the Raja of Vijayanagar] pleases to point out where he can have them, and shall not go to the King of the Deccan, who is a Moor and his enemy:
These instructions make evident the attitude of Albuquerque, his desire to earn the friendship of Hindu rulers and his unrelenting enmity to all Muhammadans. He had not the absurd notion which Almeida attributed to him of desiring to establish a direct Portuguese rule all over India. He wished rather to pose as the destroyer of Muhammadanism and the liberator of the natives. In return for this service Portugal was to control the commerce of India with Europe. The attitude is not very different from that adopted by the English 300 years later, and it is a remarkable conception for a statesman at the very beginning of the sixteenth century.
Before however Albuquerque was able to combine operations with the Hindu Raja of Narsingha he was forced, against his better judgment, to make an immediate attack unaided upon Calicut. Dom Fernao de Coutinho, the Marshal, insisted on this expedition against the Zomorin, on the ground that the King had ordered him to destroy Calicut before he returned to Portugal. The prudent Albuquerque endeavored to dissuade the Marshal, but the headstrong young nobleman insisted on having his way. The entire military force of the Portuguese in India sailed for Calicut, and on Jan. 4, 1510, a landing was effected in front of the city. Albuquerque desired that a halt should then be made, as the men were very wearied, and couldn’t not bear the weight of their arms by reason of the great heat,—but in vain. He found himself forced to comply with the wishes of his impetuous relative, but he did his best to assure a safe retreat from the disaster, which he foresaw, by ordering Dom Antonio de Noronha, after burning the ships in the port, to remain in reserve with 300 men. Albuquerque then proceeded to follow the Marshal, who was rapidly making his way towards the Zamorin’s palace. As the Marshal moved forward—
“There came against him twenty or thirty Nairs, armed with swords and shields, shouting aloud in their accustomed manner. When he caught sight of them coming against him, he began to chuckle, and said to Gasper Pereira, who was close beside him:—”Is this your Calicut that you terrify us all with in Portugal?” Gaspar Pereira replied that he would think differently before long; for he would wager that, if they could that day penetrate to the houses of the Zamorin, those little naked blacks would give them trouble enough. The Marshal replied:—”this is not the kind of people who will give me any trouble.”
The Portuguese vanguard under the Marshal managed to reach the Zomorin’s palace, but the men soon scattered to plunder and got into disorder. They burnt the palace, but were hotly attacked by the Nairs when they endeavored to retreat. More than eighty of the Portuguese were killed as they retired, including the Marshal and ten or twelve of the principal officers. Albuquerque himself was wounded, and all the invaders would probably have been cut to pieces but for the gallant conduct of the reserve under the command of Dom Antonio de Noronha. After this repulse, which was the most serious the Portuguese had sustained in India, Albuquerque returned to Cochin.
It is interesting to compare the account of this attck on Calicut, as given by Sheikh Zin-ud-din in his historical work called the Tohfut-ul-mujahideen, which was written in the sixteenth century:—
“Now on Thursday, the 22nd day of the month of Ramaza, in the year of the Hejira 915, the Franks made a descent upon Calicut, committing great devastation and burning the Jama Mosque which was built by Nakuz Miscal; and they attacked also the palace of the Zaomorin, hoping to obtain possession of it, as that prince was absent, being engaged in war in a distant part of his dominions. But the Nairs that had been left behind at Calicut, having united against theses invaders, made an assault upon them, and succeeded in ejecting them from the palace, killing at the same time nearly 500 of their party; a great number also were drowned, and the few that escaped were saved by flying on board their vessels; having been entirely defeated in their designs by the permission of God Most High. Now both before this time and after it, they made various descents upon the dominions of the Zamorin, burning in these attacks in all nearly fifty vessels that were lying near his shores, and conferring martyrdom upon upwards of seventy of the faithful.”
After this serious disaster, which seemed an evil omen for Albuquerque’s governorship, the great captain returned to Cochin to be healed of his wounds. Sickness however could not repress his energies, and he soon equipped his fleet afresh and took on board 1000 Portuguese soldiers. With this fleet he intended to sail to the Red Sea. Duarte de Lemos, who had succeeded him as Captain of the Ethiopian and Arabian Seas, earnestly implored the Governor to bring him help at once, alleging that his ships were rotten and unable to defend the island and fortress of Socotra. Albuquerque was well acquainted with King Emmanuel’s desire to put an end to the Muhammadan commerce by way of the Red Sea. It was the notion which he had himself advocated to the King, and its execution was one of the principal aims of his policy. He desired also to return to Ormuz in order to punish the Minister, Cogeatar, and firmly establish Portuguese influence in the Persian Gulf. He therefore left Cochin with twenty-three ships on Feb. 10, 1510, and on his way to the island of Anchediva [Anjidiv], whence he intended to start for Arabia, he anchored off the port of Mergeu [Miljan]. He there considered an alternative scheme of campaign, namely, to attack Goa, for it was suggested to him by a native pirate or corsair captain, named Timoja or Timmaya, that it was a particularly suitable time for a sudden attack upon that central port.
This man played a most important part in the history of Portuguese conquest in India. He is reported to have been a Muhammadan by Correa, and, more correctly, a Hindu in the Commentaries of Albuquerque. The first Portuguese captain who had relations with this pirate was Dom Vasco da Gama during his second voyage to India in 1502. Correa says that certain ships—
“were fustas of thieves, which, with oars and sails, got into a river called Onor (Honawar), where there was a Moor who equipped them, named Timoja. . . . This Moor committed great robberies at sea upon all that he fell in with, and this Moor was a foreigner and paid part of the plunder to the King of Gersoppa, who was ruler of the country.”
Vasco da Gama had on this information burnt various ships belonging to Timoja. But the native chieftain seems to have borne the Portuguese no ill feeling for this, and entered into very friendly relations with Dom Francisco de Almeida, the Viceroy. He had written to Albuquerque before the ill-fated attack upon Calicut, begging the Governor to direct his fleet against Goa, and while Albuquerque was on his way on this occasion to the Red Sea, Timoja arrived to parley with him at Mergeu.
“This man,” it is said in the Commentaries of Albuquerque, was a Hindu by birth, very obedient to the interests of the King of Portugal; and being a man of low origin had, as a corsair, raised himself to a position of great honour.”
He informed Albuquerque that the Lord of Goa was dead, and that great dissensions had arisen among his nobles, which left a very favourable opportunity for an attack on the city. The Governor called a council of his captains, and after considering Timoja’s arguments it was unanimously resolved to put off the expedition to the Red Sea and to attack Goa.
The capture of Goa is perhaps the most important event of Albuquerque’s administration, and the reasons which led to it deserve special consideration. The island of Goa was situated upon the Malabar coast about half way between Bombay and Cape Comorin. It was formed by the mouths of two rivers and was thus easily fitted for defence. At the time of its capture there was a bar at the mouth of the harbour, allowing in full flood ships drawing three fathoms of water to enter, and the anchorage inside was absolutely safe. It had always been the centre of an important trade, and was visited by merchants of many nationalities. By some authorities its trade is represented as larger than that of Calicut, and at any rate it was but slightly inferior. From its situation, and the ease with which it could be fortified, it was well fitted to become the capital of the Portuguese in India.
Albuquerque’s ideas, as has already been said, differed from those of Almeida in one important particular. Albuquerque wished to establish a real Portuguese empire, which should rest upon the possession of Portuguese colonies owning the direct sway of the King of Portugal. Almeida thought it sufficient to command the sea, and that the only land stations should be a few factories in commercial cities, defended by fortifications against all assaults. Almeida therefore was quite satisfied that the fortresses he had built at Cannanore, Cochin, and Quilon were all that was needed; but Albuquerque considered it derogatory for the Portuguese to have their headquarters on sufferance in the capitals of native rulers. He felt it would be impolitic to attack the Rajas who had been friendly with the Portuguese, and he therefore resolved to establish a Portuguese capital in another part of the Malabar coast quite independent of the existing factories. Geographically also he considered Cochin as too far south for the effective maintenance of the Portuguese power in India, and he therefore looked out for a more central situation. Goa seemed to offer just what he wanted, a good harbour and a central situation, while its capture would not offend any of the native allies of the Portuguese.
There was another political consideration which also weighed with Albuquerque. Hitherto the chief enemies of the Portuguese had been Muhammadan merchants, who had, in the instance of Calicut, induced the Hindu ruler to take the offensive. But Goa was the actual possession of a Muhammadan ruler, and its conquest would strike a direct blow at the growing Muhammadan power in India.
Goa belonged to various Hindu dynasties until the early part of the fourteenth century, when it was conquered by the Muhammadan Nawab of Honawar. In 1367, however, the Hindu minister of Harihara, Raja of Vijayanagar, reconquered the city, and it remained a part of the great Hindu kingdom of Southern India for more than seventy years. In 1440 the inhabitants of the old city of Goa attained their independence, and soon after founded the new city of Goa in another part of the island. Its trade, especially in horses, imported from Ormuz, grew rapidly, and in 1470 it was conquered by the Muhammadan King of the Deccan, Muhammad Shah II. So great was the monarch’s joy at the conquest, that it is stated in Ferishta that he ordered “the march of triumph to be beaten for seven days.”
In 1472 the Hindu Raja of Belgium, and in 1481 the Raja of Vijayanagar made unsuccessful attacks upon Goa. Amid the later troubles of the great Bahmani kingdom of the Deccan, which occurred on the death of Muhammad Shah II, Goa fell to the lot of the Muhammadan kingdom of Bijapur. The founder of this kingdom was Yusaf Adil Shah, a son of Amurad II, Sultan of the Ottoman Turks. That prince had a most romantic history. He was rescued by his mother from being put to death with his brothers on the accession to the throne of Muhammad II. He was secretly delivered over to a merchant of Sava in Persia who educated him. He took the name of Savai from the place of his education, and is always called by the Portuguese historians the Sabaio or Qabaio, or the Hidalcao, a version of Adil Khan. He came to India as a slave, but he rose rapidly from a simple soldier to the command of the royal body-guard of the Bahmani kings, and was eventually made Governor of Bijapur. In 1489 he was crowned King of Bijapur, and under his rule Goa, which formed part of his dominions, greatly increased in wealth.
Yusaf Adil Shah erected many fine buildings, including a magnificent palace at Goa. He even thought, it is said, of making it his capital, and there can be no doubt that he vastly augmented its prosperity. But his government was oppressive to the Hindu population; he doubled the taxes, and by favouring his own creed made himself hated by all his Hindu subjects. When Timoja pressed Albuquerque to attack Goa, the Muhammadan Governor, whose name, Malik Yusaf Gurgi, is rendered by the Portuguese Melique Cufegurgij, had made himself especially obnoxious from the cruelties wreaked by his Turkish garrison on the citizens. Yusaf Adil Shah was not dead, as Timoja told Albuquerque, but was absent in the interior, and the time was really favourable for a sudden assault. A Jogi or Hindu ascetic had prophesied that a foreign people coming from a distant land would conquer Goa, and the inhabitants were therefore ready to surrender the city without much opposition to the Portuguese.
Influenced by these considerations, and the arguments of Timoja, Albuquerque altered the direction of his armament and cast anchor off Goa harbour. On March 1, 1510, Dom Antonio de Noronha, Albuquerque’s gallant nephew, crossed the bar with the ships’ boats of the Portuguese fleet, two galleys commanded by Diogo Fernandes de Beja and Simao de Andrade, and the fustas or native boats of Timoja, and stormed the fortress of Panjim, which is situated at the entrance to the harbour. The ships then entered, and on the 3rd of March the city of Goa surrendered without making any defence.
The Governor for the Muhammadan King and his soldiers had fled with such haste that many fugitives were drowned in crossing the rivers. Albuquerque entered the city in triumph, and proceeded to the palace of Yusaf Adil Shah, where his first measure was to appoint Dom Antonio de Noronha to be Captain of the city. He was hailed with shouts of welcome by the people, who showered on him flowers made of gold and silver. The Governor at once prepared to strengthen the defences of the city; the ships’ crews were brought ashore, and both Portuguese and natives were set to work to build a strong wall round the city, and a citadel.
Albuquerque was well aware of the effect his conquest would have upon the minds of other native sovereigns. He received ambassadors from the Raja of Vijayanagar, who plainly hinted that their master expected Goa would be made over to him. He also received ambassadors from the King of Ormuz and from Shah Ismail of Persia. These Muhammadan potentates had despatched their ambassadors to the King of Bijapur to incite him to join in a general war against the Portuguese. But when they found Albuquerque in possession of the city of Goa, they adroitly changed the purpose of their missions, and made overtures to him instead. Albuquerque received them with fair words. He had not abandoned his schemes against Ormuz, but he desired to stand well with Ismail Shah. He thoroughly understood the exact position of Ismail, the greatest of the Sufi Shahs of Persia, whom the Portuguese always called the Sophy, and that Ismail belonged to the Shiah sect of Muhammadans, and as such was the enemy of the Turks, who were orthodox Muhammadans.
Albuquerque nominated Ruy Gomes as ambassador to Ismail Shah, and the instructions which he took with him are very significant of Albuquerque’s wide range of policy. Ruy Gomes never reached the Persian Court, being poisoned upon the way at Ormuz, but part of his instructions deserve quotation:
“You shall tell Shah Ismail how my Lord the King will be pleased to come to an understanding and alliance with him, and will assist him in his war against the Sultan; and that I, in his name and on his behalf, offer him the fleet and army and artillery which I have with me, and the fortresses, towns, and lordships, which the King of Portugal holds in India, and I will give him all this same help against the Turk.”
In his letter to the Shah, Albuquerque lays weight also upon the advantages which might be derived from an alliance with the Portuguese:
“I believe that with small trouble,” he says, “you must gain the Lordship of the city of Cairo, and all his kingdom and dependencies. . . . If God grant that this intercourse and alliance be ratified, come you with all your power against the city of Cairo and the lands of the Grand Sultan which are on the borders of your own, and the King my Lord shall pass over to Jerusalem and gain from him all the land on that side”
These ideas deserve notice both as illustrating the grandiose conceptions of Albuquerque, and his skill in taking advantage of dissensions among the foes of the Christian religion. To him doubtless it mattered not whether the Muhammadans he attacked were Shiahs or Sunis—all alike were infidels; but he was perfectly ready to make use of the one sect against the other. He calmly put on one side the demand of the Persian ambassador that the Shiah form of Muhammadanism should be proclaimed in Goa, and that Ismail Shah’s money should pass current, but he nevertheless dismissed the ambassador with fair words.
Albuquerque was soon distracted from questions of general policy by the advance of the King of Bijapur upon the island of Goa with 60,000 men. As had happened at Ormuz, his captains did not share his views. They declared it to be impossible to defend Goa, and strongly resented being engaged in the hard work of building walls instead of in the more lucrative business of collecting cargoes for Portugal. The news of the advance of Yusaf Adil Shah increased the reluctance of the captains to remain, but Albuquerque nevertheless refused to evacuate Goa. The Muhammadan king made overtures to him and promised to cede to the Portuguese any other port in his dominions except Goa, and it was even hinted that Goa itself would be given up, if Albuquerque would surrender Timoja, who was looked on as a traitor to his country. This proposition it need hardly be said was rejected with scorn. Eventually, whether from the unwillingness of the Portuguese captains or from sheer impossibility of defence, Yusaf Adil Shah’s army made its way into the island of Goa on May 17, 1510. The Portuguese at first hoped to hold the citadel of Goa; but finding the position untenable, Albuquerque withdrew his men to their ships, after setting fire to the arsenal and beheading 150 of the principal Muhammadan prisoners whom he had in his possession.
He then dropped down the river with his fleet, but was unable to cross the bar owing to the state of the weather. For nearly three months the Portuguese fleet remained at anchor at the mouth of the harbour of Goa. It was one of the most critical periods in Albuquerque’s life, and during it he exhibited the highest qualities of a commander. At their anchorage, the Portuguese found themselves exposed to the fire of the King of Bijapur’s artillery, mounted in the castle of Panjim, which had been abandoned after the capture of Goa. Albuquerque therefore decided to make a night attack upon this position. The fight was a fierce one. Several of the Portuguese were killed, and it was with difficulty that the garrison was expelled on June 14, 1510.
This successful expedition was followed by another, marred only by the death of the young hero of the fleet, Dom Antonio de Noronha. News had reached Albuquerque that Yusaf Adil Shah had prepared a number of fire-ships, which he intended to send down the river to set fire to the Portuguese fleet. He therefore sent his boats to reconnoitre. They reached the dockyard, but in endeavouring to cut out one of the enemy’s ships, which was still on the stocks, Dom Antonio de Noronha was mortally wounded. He died on July 8, and, in the words of the Commentaries,
“There was not a single person in the whole of the fleet who was not deeply affected, but especially his uncle, in that he had been deprived of him at a season when he most needed his personal assistance, his advice, and his knightly example. . . . He was a very brave cavalier, and never found himself placed in any position which caused him any fear. He was very virtuous, very godfearing, and very truthful. He was found side by side with Affonso de Albuquerque in every one of the troubles which up to the hour of his death had come upon him. He died at the age of twenty-four years, four having elapsed since he set out from Portugal with his uncle in the fleet of Tristao da Cunha”.
At no time indeed was Albuquerque more in need of help and advice; his fleet was blockaded in the harbour and stricken with famine; his men deserted in numbers and became renegades; and his captains were in almost open mutiny. It was at this time that he ordered the execution of one of his soldiers, a young Portuguese fidalgo named Ruy Dias, which is treated by the poet Camoens as the chief blot upon the great commander’s fame. It was reported to Albuquerque that Ruy Dias had been in the habit of visiting the Muhammadan women whom he had brought with him as hostages from Goa. There is no doubt that through these women information was conveyed to the enemy of the state of affairs in the Portuguese fleet, and Albuquerque therefore directed Pedro de Alpoem, the Ouvidor—that is, the Auditor of Portuguese India, who performed the duties of Chief Magistrate—to try Ruy Dias, and he was condemned to be hanged. While the execution was being carried out, certain of the captains rowed up and down among the ships crying “Murder,” and one of them, Francisco de Sa, went so far as to cut through the rope with which Ruy Dias was being hanged, with his sword. Albuquerque at once determined to maintain discipline. The execution of Ruy Dias was completed, and Francisco de Sá, with three captains, Jorge Fogaga, Fernao Peres de Andrade and Simao de Andrade, were put in irons.
The extent of the suffering from sickness and starvation in the fleet was made known to Yusaf Adil Shah by deserters, and that monarch, with true chivalry, offered to send provisions to the Portuguese, stating that he wished to conquer them not by starvation but by the sword. Albuquerque resolved to receive no such assistance from his enemies. He collected on board his own ship all the wine and food that was left, which was being kept for the use of the sick, and displayed it to the messengers of the King of Bijapur. Throughout this difficult period the two generals vied with each other in generosity. One fact is particularly worthy of notice. Yusaf Adil Shah at the request of Albuquerque refused to allow the Portuguese deserters, who had joined him, to continue going down to the banks of the harbour to incite other soldiers and sailors to desert. At last in August, 1510, the weather changed; it became once more possible to cross the bar, and the Portuguese fleet sailed away from Goa. But Albuquerque was not a man to be depressed by one failure. He had resolved that Goa should be the capital of Portuguese India, and he never rested until he had attained his end.
It was on August 15 that Albuquerque sailed out of Goa harbour, and to his great joy the first sight he saw was a Portuguese squadron of four ships which had just arrived from Portugal under the command of Diogo Mendes de Vasconcellos. The Governor stopped for a time at the anchorage of Anchediva Island, and then proceeded to Honawar (Onor), where he had an interview with Tiinoja, who had been able to leave Goa harbour with his light native galleys before the larger Portuguese ships. Timoja gave him information that Yusaf Adil Shah had left Goa for Bijapur three days after the departure of the Portuguese fleet, and also that directly the main Muhammadan army had gone the people in the neighbourhood of Goa had risen in insurrection. Timoja therefore pressed Albuquerque to make a second attack on Goa as soon as possible, which was exactly what the Portuguese commander had determined to do. Albuquerque then sailed south to Cannanore, where he was met by Duarte de Lemos, who had succeeded him as Captain of the Arabian Seas.
Duarte de Lemos told Albuquerque that his nephew, Dom Affonso de Noronha, had left Socotra in the previous April, and had never been heard of again, and the news of this loss increased his sorrow for the loss of his other nephew, Dom Antonio. Duarte de Lemos took advantage of his position as a Chief Captain to entreat Albuquerque to release the captains and other gentlemen whom he had imprisoned for insubordination in the harbour of Goa. Albuquerque accordingly released all except Jorge Fogaca, whom he regarded as the ringleader, and some of those to whom he showed clemency, notably the brothers Andrade, afterwards did him good service, and showed themselves worthy of his forgiveness.
While he was at Cannanore, Albuquerque received an ambassador from Mahmud Shah Begara, the> Muhammadan King of Ahmadabad, informing him that Dom Affonso de Noronha’s ship had been wrecked off the coast of Gujarat, and that, though Dom Affonso was drowned, most of his men were saved and were detained in custody. The mere fact that such an embassy was sent showed how far the fame of the great Portuguese captain had already extended.
During this period of waiting, two other squadrons joined Albuquerque under the command of Goncalo de Sequeira and Joao Serrao, making the amount of reinforcements which had reached him during the year fourteen ships and 1500 Portuguese warriors. But his difficulties were not yet over. Two of these squadrons, those of Diogo Mendes and Joao Serrao, had been sent for the express purpose, the former of going to Malacca, the latter of exploring the Red Sea. These captains wished to depart at once on their several missions, and desired not to co-operate in a second attack on Goa. Gongalo de Sequeira, on his part, declared that his ships were ships of burden and that it was his duty to load them with cargo for Portugal.
Albuquerque knew how eagerly King Emmanuel expected his merchant-ships, and, like Warren Hastings in later times, he was forced to subordinate his political aims to the commercial objects of his employer. He therefore sailed to Cochin, where he invested a new Raja in the place of his deceased uncle and got ready the cargo for Portugal. But, though he yielded to Sequeira’s representations, he insisted upon being accompanied to Goa by the squadrons of Diogo Mendes and Joao Serrao. Duarte de Lemos was greatly disgusted with this decision, and demanded leave to return to Portugal instead of to his station at the mouth of the Red Sea. Albuquerque acceded to his request, and placed him in command of the squadron of cargo-ships which was about to return to Portugal.
The combined Portuguese war-fleet then sailed to Honawar, where Albuquerque was present at the marriage of his ally Timoja to a daughter of the Raja of Gersoppa. Timoja pressed the Portuguese Governor to attack Goa as soon as possible. He informed him that Yusaf Adil Shah had now gone so far into the interior that he would be unable to relieve the city, and also that the garrison of Goa consisted not of more than 4000 Turks and Persians under the command of a general named Rasul Khan, whom the Portuguese called Rocralcao. Under these circumstances the Portuguese Governor resolved to attack, and in the beginning of November he sailed once more into the harbour of Goa with twenty-eight ships carrying 1700 soldiers, accompanied by a large number of native troops belonging to Timoja and the Raja of Gersoppa.
On November 25, 1510, the Portuguese assaulted the city of Goa in three columns. Each was entirely successful; the Turks fought desperately, and at least half of them, or 2,000 men, were killed. The Portuguese lost forty killed and 150 wounded. Many feats of valour on the part of the Portuguese warriors are related by different chroniclers, two of which deserve mention here, as they illustrate the chivalrous conduct of the Portuguese in those days. Perhaps the most striking is the story of Dom Jeronymo de Lima, a young nobleman, who had accompanied Almeida to India, and remained to serve under Albuquerque. He was mortally wounded at the storming of the gate of the fortress.
“And while he lay on the ground so severely struck that he could not survive, his brother, Dom Joao de Lima, who was wheeling round with others, came upon him; and when he beheld him in such a condition, with his head leaning against the wall, he exclaimed, with many tears, ‘What is this, brother? How art thou?’ Dom Jeronymo replied, ‘I am on the point of finishing this journey, and I am glad, as it has pleased Our Lord to require this service of me, that it has been completed here in His service, and in that of the King of Portugal.’ Dom Joao de Lima desired to remain in company with him; but he said, ‘Brother, there is no time for you to remain with me; go and perform what is required of you. I will remain here and finish my days, for I have no longer any strength left.’ So Dom Joao de Lima left him and went on, following after the Moors; and when the fortress had been captured and the Moors driven out, he returned to seek after his brother, and found him already dead. I should be very glad to have been either one of the two brothers [the chronicler quaintly adds], but I know not how to decide which one of the two I most envy,—whether Dom Joao de Lima, because he went to fight where such another one as himself could be met with, or Dom Jeronymo de Lima, who did not desire to remedy his wounds, although they were mortal (it being a very natural thing for men to desire to live), but rather sought to advance his brother’s honour, and would not consent to his remaining behind with him at a time when the other fidalgos and cavaliers were carrying on the fight with the Turks within the fortress. The decision of this I leave to those who read the lessons of this history; let them judge which of these two brothers best performed his obligations.”
Another anecdote illustrates Albuquerque’s personal admiration of warlike prowess. Manoel de Lacerda was wounded in the face by an arrow; but nevertheless he killed a mounted Turk, seized his horse, and continued to fight with the broken arrow fixed in his face and his armour covered with blood. At this moment the Turks rallied and attacked Lacerda’s force with 500 men. Albuquerque, on receiving information of this resistance, came up with his reserve to the point of danger.
“As soon as Manoel de Lacerda beheld Affonso de Albuquerque, he dismounted his charger and presented it to him. When Affonso de Albuquerque saw him with his armour all smirched with blood, he embraced him and said, ‘Sir Manoel de Lacerda, I declare to you that I am greatly envious of you, and so would Alexander the Great have been, had he been here, for you look more gallant for an evening’s rendezvous than the Emperor Aurelian.'”
The moment the victory was won, Affonso de Albuquerque gave thanks to God, and promised to erect a church in honour of St. Catherine, whose feast day is the 25th November, on the site of the gate which had been so hardly won. He also conferred the honour of knighthood upon some of the most distinguished of the younger soldiers, among whom were Frederico Fernandes, who had been the first man to enter the city, and Manoel da Cunha, a younger son of his former commander, Tristao da Cunha.
As soon as the Portuguese were in entire possession of Goa, Albuquerque directed that the Muhammadan population, men, women and children, should be put to the sword. This cruel butchery is far more to Albuquerque’s discredit than the hanging of Ruy Dias, for which the poet Camoens so strongly condemns him. It is only partially justified by Albuquerque’s belief that the Muhammadans of Goa had behaved treacherously towards him in the spring and had admitted Yusaf Adil Shah into the island. It is more likely that it was mainly due to Albuquerque’s crusading hatred against the religion of the Prophet. He also gave up the city to plunder, and for three days his soldiers were occupied in the work of sacking it. He then set to work to repair the walls and ramparts, and especially to rebuild the citadel. His loss of the place in the spring made him particularly anxious to complete this work, and to set an example he himself did not hesitate to set his hands to it. When the citadel was completed he ordered a stone to be set up containing the names of all the captains who had served at the assault. But there was so much dissension as to the order in which the names should be engraved, every one desiring to be first, that eventually he placed on it only these words “Lapiden quern reprobaverunt aedificantes”—the stone which the builders rejected.
It is curious to compare with the real history of Albuquerque’s two occupations of Goa the account given by the Muhammadan historian in the Tohfut-ul-Mujahideen, but it need hardly be said that the bribery to which he refers had no foundation in fact.
“Moreover,” writes the Sheikh Zin-ud-din, “the Franks having commenced hostilities against the inhabitants of Goa and captured that place, proceeded to take possession of it. Now this port was one of those that belonged to Adil Shah (peace to his remains !); notwithstanding this, however, the Franks having seized upon it, made choice of it for their seat of government in India, proceeding to exercise rule over it. But Adil Shah attacking these intruders, repulsed them; he in turn making it a rallying-place for Islamism. Subsequently the Franks (the curse of God rest on them !) made preparations for a second attack upon Goa, and proceeding against it with a vast armament and assaulting it, they at last captured it. It is said, however, that they bribed over to their interests some of its principal inhabitants, in which case its capture was not a feat of much difficulty; and the Franks on thus re-obtaining possession of Goa, hastened to construct around it extensive fortifications of vast height. After their acquisition of this place, their power became greatly increased, every day bringing some accession to it: for the Lord as he wills, so indeed does he bring to pass.”
Albuquerque took Goa for the second time at a most favourable moment, for Yusaf Adil Shah, his gallant enemy of the previous spring, died on December 5, 1510. His son, Ismail Adil Shah, who succeeded him, was a mere lad, and the governors of the different provinces of his kingdom soon began to show signs of rebellion. Under these circumstances Kamal Khan, the principal general and minister of the State of Bijapur, made, according to the Muhammadan historian Ferishta, an arrangement with the Portuguese, and consented to their retaining possession of Goa, on condition that they would be satisfied with the island and would not molest the adjoining districts. Albuquerque’s Commentaries say nothing of this arrangement with Kamal Khan, but they contain a letter written by the Portuguese Governor to the youthful King of Bijapur directly after the second capture of Goa. The letter is both curious and characteristic.
“You must well know,” he wrote, “how the Sabaio, your father, used to take the ships of Malabar out of the ports and harbours of the King, my Lord; wherefore it was that I was constrained to go against Goa, and take the city, and there it is that I am now occupied in building a very strong fortress. I wish most sincerely that your father had been living, that he might know me to be a man of my word: out of regard for him I shall be ever your friend, and I will assist you against the King. of the Deccan and against your enemies; and I will cause all the horses that arrive here to be carried to your stations and your marts, in order that you may have possession of them. Fain would I that the merchants of your land would come with white stuffs and all manner of merchandize to this port, and take to yours in exchange merchandize of the sea, and of the land, and horses, and I will give them a safe conduct. If you wish for my friendship, let your messengers come to me with your communications, and I will send you others on my part, who shall convey to you my communications: if you will perform this which I write unto you, by my aid shall you be able to gain possession of much land, and become a great Lord among the Moors. Be desirous of performing this, for thus it shall be well with you, and you shall have great power; and for all that the Sabaio, your father, be dead, I will be your father and bring you up like a son.”
The conquest of Goa had an immense effect upon all the sovereigns on the western side of India. Not only did the Muhammadan King of Ahmadabad send ambassadors to Albuquerque asking to make an alliance with him, but the Hindu Zamorin of Calicut, hitherto the principal foe of the Portuguese, also sued for peace. Albuquerque took a high hand with the latter; too much Portuguese blood had been shed in Calicut for him to desire a treaty of alliance. The only terms he would accept were that he should have permission to build a fortress in the very heart of Calicut commanding the harbour. As the Zamorin would not accept these terms, which would leave his capital and his commerce at the mercy of the Portuguese, the negotiations were broken off. With Mahmud Shah Begara, King of Ahmadabad, communications were carried on in a more friendly tone. The King promised to release the men who had been wrecked with Dom Affonso de Noronha, and ordered the Emir Husain to leave his dominions at once. He even offered the island of Diu as a site for a Portuguese fortress, but Albuquerque had not sufficient strength in India at that moment to accept the offer.
The conquest of Goa, both in its immediate and in its ultimate results, was one of the greatest achievements of Albuquerque’s governorship. It gave the Portuguese a commercial and political capital; it showed the neighbouring rulers, both Hindu and Muhammadan, that the Portuguese intended to remain on the Malabar coast as a governing power, and not simply, like the Arab Moplas, as a commercial community; and the gallantry shown in the final assault, as well as during the sojourn of the fleet in the harbour of Goa, proved to the people of India that a new warrior race had come amongst them. Its ultimate results are quite as important. Goa, by the policy of the successors of Albuquerque, concentrated the whole trade of the Malabar coast. To increase the prosperity of Goa the earlier centres of trade, such as Calicut and Cochin and Quilon, were purposely deprived of their freedom to buy and sell; Goa became the seat of the Viceroys and Governors of Portuguese India; its wealth passed into a proverb; and though the glory of Golden Goa lasted but a century it was during that century one of the most splendid cities on the face of the earth.
Source: RULERS OF INDIA -ALBUQUERQUE BY H. MORSE STEPHENS-1892
Categories: INDIAN HISTORY