BPSC Pre: Modern Indian History; Portuguese in India

Advent of the Portuguese in India



  • Roman Empire declined in 7th century .The Arabs had established their domination in Egypt and Persia.



  • In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottomon Turk who were on the ascendent.



  • The red sea trade route was a state monopoly from which Islamic rulers earned tremendous revenues.



  • 15th century Europe was gripped by the spirit of Renaissance with its call for exploration.



  • Venice and Genova which had earlier prospered through trade in oriental goods.



  • The north Europeans were ready to aid Portugal and Spain with money and men.



  • Portugal had assumed the leadership Christendom resistance to Islam.


BPSC Pre: Modern Indian History; Portuguese in India

  • The idea of findings an ocean route to india had become an obsession for prince Henry of Portugal who was nicknamed the Navigator.



  • Pope Nicholas V gave prince Henry a bull in 1454 conferring on him the right. to navigate the sea to the distant shores of the Orient.



  • Treaty of Tordesillas: In 1497 under the treaty of Tordesillas the rulers of Portugal and Spain devided the non Christian world by an imaginary line in Atlantic, some 1300 miles west of cape Verde Islands. Under this treaty Portugal would claim and occupy everything to the east of the line while Spain could claim everything to the west.



  • Thus it was in 1487 the Portuguese Navigator , Bartholomew Diaz rounded the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and sailed up the eastern coast. He was well convinced, that India had been found.



  • After 10 years in 1497- 1498 (around less than 11 months) under Vasco de Gama led by Gujarati pilot Abdul Majid, reached India at Calicut in May 1498.



  • Vasco de Gama reached India with three ships.



  • The Hindu ruler of Calicut Raja Jamorin welcomed Vasco de Gama .



  • Vasco de Gama stayed in India for three months.



  • Earlier europeans had to spend 10 times amount to purchase for the same amount of pepper because of muslim middleman that is Arabs.



  • A voyage was undertaken by Pedro Alvarez Cabral to trade for the spices establishing a factory at Calicut where he arrived in sep. 1500.



  • An incident of conflict between portuguese and locals resulting in death of several portuguese.



  • In retaliation Cabral seized a no. of Cargo of Arab merchant ships.



  • Later Cabral succeeded in making advantageous treaties with local rulers of Cochin and Cannnore.



  • Vasco de Gama once again came to India in 1501.The Zamorin declined to exclude the Arab merchants in favour of the Portuguese . His rupture with the Zamorin thus became total and complete.




  • Vasco de Gama set up a trading factory at cannanore , Gradually , Calicut, Cannanore and Cochin became the important trade centres of the Portuguese.


Francisco De Almeda



  • In 1505 the king of Portugal appointed Francisco de Almeda as a Governor in India for a 3 year  term.



  • He was asked to consolidate the position of the Portuguese in India and to destroy Muslim trade by seizing Aden , Ormuz and Malacca.



  • He was advised to build fortresses at Anjanidiva, Cochin , Cannanore and Kilwa.



  • In 1507 Portuguese squadron was defeated in naval battle of Diu by the combined Egyptian and Gujrat navies and Almeida's son was killed.



  • Next year Almeida avenged his defeat by totally crushing the two navies.



  • Almeida's vision was to make the Portuguese the master of the Indian Ocean .His policy was known as the Blue water policy ( Cartaz system ).


Statement .
"As long as you may be powerful at sea you will hold India as yours and if you do not possess this power little will avail you a fortress on shore" ...

This statement was made by Francisco de Almeda.


  • Next governor was Alfonso de Albuquerque.
  • He was the real founder of the Portuguese power in the east.



  • There were Portuguese strongfold in East Africa off the Red sea at Ormuz in Malabar and Malacca.



  • Albuquerque bolstered their stranglehold by introducing permit system for other ships and exercising control over major ship building centres in the region.



  • Albuquerque acquired Goa from the Sultan of Bijapur.



  • An interesting features of his rule was the abolition of Sati.



  • Albuquerque encouraged Portuguese to take local wives.


Nino da Cunha 



  • Nino da cunha was the next Governor of Portuguese. He assumed office in November 1529.



  • He shifted the headquarters of the Portuguese government from Cochin to Goa.



  • Bahadur Shah of Gujarat during his conflict with the Mughal Emperor Humayun secured help from the Portuguese by ceding them in 1504, the island of Bassein . He also promised them a base in Diu.



  • When Humayun withdrew from Gujarat in 1536, Bahadur Shah relation with Portuguese became sour .so he decided to raise wall of partition .



  • Opposing them, Bahadur Shah was invited to a Portuguese ship and killed in 1537.


Q. What were the favourable conditions for Portuguese in India?

Ans : (1) In India excepting Gujarat ruled by the powerful Mahmud Begarha the northern part was much divided among many small powers.

(2) In Deccan , the Bahmani kingdom was breaking up into smaller kingdom.

Q.what were the Portuguese state ?


  • Many of the coastal parts of India had come under Portuguese power  within 50 years of Vasco da gama arrival.



  • They occupied some 60 miles of coast around Goa. On the west coast from Mumbai to Daman and Diu to the approaches to Gujarat .They controlled a narrow tract with four important ports Mangalore, Cannanore, Cochin and Calicut.



  • On the east coast at San Thome ( Chennai) and Nagapattnam ( Andhra Pradesh).



  • At the end of 16th century wealthy settlement had grown at Hoogly in West Bengal.



  • Treaties were signed between Goa and Deccan Sooltaans in 1570.



  • Portuguese were the first Europeans to come to India and were last to leave this land in 1961.


Q.Discuss about the Portuguese administration in India?


  • The head of the Portuguese administration was the viceroy who served for three years with his secretary.



  • Vedor the Fazenda responsible for revenue collection and Cargoes dispatch of the fleet.



  • Fortresses from Africa and China were under Captains assisted by factors.


Q.What were the religious policy of the Portuguese?


  • The Moors were the bitter enemies of North Africa and so were the Arabs .



  • Arriving in the east there were very intolerant towards Muslims while tolerant towards Hindus initially. later they started persecuting them also.



  • Inspite of this , Jesuits made good impression at the court of Akbar.



  • In September 1579, Akbar forwarded a letter to the authorities requesting them to send two learned priest.



  • Seeing this great opportunity to convert the emperor to Christianity. Jesuits father Rodolfo Aquaviva and Antonio Monserrate reached Fatehpur sikri on Feb 28, 1580 and went back in 1583.



  • The second mission called by Akbar in 1590 and on a similar note in 1592.



  • The third mission again invited by Akbar arrived in 1595 at Lahore where the court was then residing.



  • Father Emanuel Ponheiro and Jerome Xavier were the leaders of the mission.

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