The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like an incubus upon the brain of the living. — Karl Marx

Albuquerque: Rulers of India - Morse Stephens

The Predecessors of Albuquerque

The period of the growth and domination of the Portuguese power in India is marked by many deeds of bloodshed and by many feats of heroism; it is illustrated by many great names, among which the greatest without doubt is that of Affonso de Albuquerque. But the general and administrator, to whom his countrymen have given the well-deserved title of The Great, was only one of many famous heroes, and it is impossible to understand the greatness of his conceptions and of his deeds without having some idea of the general history of the Portuguese in India.

The importance to Europe of the successful establishment of the Portuguese in the East was manifested in two widely different directions. On the one hand, it checked the rapid advance of Muhammadanism as represented by the Turks. In the sixteenth century the advance of the Turks was still a terror to Europe; Popes still found it necessary to preach the necessity of a new Crusade; the kings of Christendom occasionally forgot their own feuds to unite against the common enemy of the Christian religion; and the Turks were then a progressive and a conquering and not, as they are now, a decaying power. It was at this epoch of advancing Muhammadanism that the Portuguese struck a great blow at Moslem influence in Asia which tended to check its progress in Europe.

Of equal importance to this great service to the cause of humanity was the fact that the Portuguese by establishing themselves in Asia introduced Western ideas into the Eastern world, and paved the way for that close connection which now subsists between the nations of the East and of the West. That connection was in its origin commercial, but other results have followed, and the influence of Asia upon Europe and of Europe upon Asia has extended indefinitely into all departments of human knowledge and of human endeavour.

A wide contrast must be drawn between the Portuguese connection with Asia and between the English and Spanish connection with America. In the latter case the exploring and conquering Europeans had to deal with savage tribes, and in many instances with an uncultivated country; in the former the Portuguese found themselves confronted with a civilisation older than that of Europe, with men more highly educated and more deeply learned than their own priests and men of letters, and with religions and customs and institutions whose wisdom equalled their antiquity.

The India which was reached by Vasco da Gama, and with which the Portuguese monopolised the direct communication for more than a century, was very different to the India with which the Dutch and English merchants sought concessions to trade. The power of the Muhammadans in India was not yet concentrated in the hands of the great Mughals; there were Moslem kingdoms in the North of India and in the Deccan, but the South had not yet felt the heavy hand of Musalman conquerors, and the Hindu Raja of Vijayanagar or Narsingha was the most powerful potentate in the South of India. The monarchs and chieftains whom the Portuguese first encountered were Hindus. Muhammadan merchants indeed controlled the commerce of their dominions, but they had no share in the government; and one of the ruling and military classes consisted, on the Malabar coast, where the Portuguese first touched, of Nestorian Christians.

The concentration of all commerce in the hands of the believers in the Prophet was not favourably regarded by the wisest of the Hindu rulers, who were therefore inclined to heartily welcome any competitors for their trade. The condition of the Malabar coast at the time of the arrival of the Portuguese was particularly favourable to the Portuguese endeavours, and, had they been inspired with nineteenth-century instead of with sixteenth-century ideas of religion and morality, a prosperous and peaceful commerce might easily have sprung up between the East and the West.

But if the India which Vasco da Gama reached was favourably inclined to open relations with the nation to which he belonged, Portugal was also at that time singularly well fitted by circumstances to send forth men of daring and enterprise to undertake the task. The Portuguese nation had grown strong and war-like from its constant conflict with the Moors in the Peninsula, and the country attained its European limits in 1263. Since that time it had become both rich and populous, and a succession of internal troubles had led to the establishment of a famous dynasty upon the throne of Portugal.

King John I, the founder of the house of Aviz, and surnamed The Great, had won his throne by preserving the independence of the Portuguese nation against the power of Castile, with the help of the English, and rested his foreign policy upon a close friendship with the English nation. He married an English princess, a daughter of John of Gaunt, and by her became the father of five sons, whose valour and talents were famous throughout Europe. There being no more Moors to fight in the Peninsula, the Portuguese, led by their gallant princes, went to fight Moors in Morocco. The duty of fighting Moors had from their history sunk deep into the hearts of the Portuguese people. Their history had been one long struggle with Muhammadans, and the Christian religion had therefore taken with them a fiercer and more warlike complexion than in any other country. This feeling was fostered by King Affonso V, the grandson of John the Great, who ruled in Portugal from 1438 to 1481, and who, from his many expeditions to Morocco, obtained the surname of The African. His perpetual wars both with the Spaniards and the Moors continued to keep the Portuguese a nation of soldiers; and when the conquest of the East demanded the services of daring men, there was never any lack of soldiers to go upon the most distant expeditions. It was fortunate for the great enterprises of Vasco da Gama and of Affonso de Albuquerque that they had no difficulty in obtaining plenty of brave and experienced warriors; but it is to be deplored that these soldiers were possessed by a spirit of fanaticism against the religion of Islam which stained their victories with cruel deeds. Such fanaticism is indeed deplorable, but considering the past history of the Portuguese nation and the century in which they performed their great feats of arms it was not unnatural.

Commerce with the East sprang up in Europe with civilisation. As soon as any nation became rich it began to desire luxuries which could not be procured at home. The Romans in the days of their greatness knew of the products of Asia, and attained them at a great price. Throughout the Middle Ages the commodities of Asia were known and valued, and as civilisation progressed and Europe emerged from barbarism the demand for pepper and ginger, for spices and silks and brocades increased.

The original trade routes for the products of India were overland. The goods were borne in caravans from the north-west frontier of India across Persia to Aleppo and thence by ship to Italy and to whatever other country was rich enough to purchase them. But after the growth of Muhammadanism and of the power of the Turks, the caravan routes across Central Asia became unsafe. Two new routes then came into use, the one by the Persian Gulf, and the other by the Red Sea. Goods which went by the Persian Gulf were carried overland to Aleppo and other ports in the Levant; goods that went by the Red Sea were carried across Egypt from Suez. to Alexandria. From these two entrepôts of Eastern and especially of Indian trade the articles of commerce were fetched by Venetian ships, and from Venice were distributed throughout Europe.

In the days of the Renaissance the products of the East passed through the hands of Muhammadan merchants from India to the Mediterranean, and the large profits they made were commensurate with the risks they undertook. With the rapid growth of civilisation the value of this trade became enormous: every city through which it passed was enriched; Venice became the wealthiest State in Europe; and the cost of all Indian luxuries and spices was extravagantly high.

All wise kings envied the prosperity of Venice, and schemed to secure a share of the Eastern trade for their subjects. Mention has been made of the five illustrious princes, the sons of John the Great and Eleanor of Lancaster. One of them is known in history as Prince Henry the Navigator. This prince devoted his life to the discovery of a direct sea route from Portugal to India. He established himself on the promontory of Sines, and collected around him the most learned geographers and mathematicians of the age. With them he discussed the probability of its being possible to sail round the continent of Africa and thus reach India. Year after year he sent forth expeditions to explore the African coast. Many and important discoveries were made by his navigators, and a generation of skilful pilots and adventurous sailors was formed by his wise encouragement.

Among the earliest discoveries by the sailors of Prince Henry were the islands of Madeira and the Azores, and at the time of his death, in 1460, the Portuguese navigators had learned the way past the River Senegal. What Prince Henry the Navigator began was continued by the enterprise of the Portuguese merchants. These men were not actuated by the high aims of Prince Henry; they were rather inclined to mock at his belief in the existence of a direct sea route to India. But with his discoveries along the African coast began the slave trade. It was found to be excessively profitable to import negroes from the Guinea coast, and the Portuguese captains and pilots soon mastered the difficulties of the navigation of the north-west shoulder of Africa from the frequent voyages which they made in search of slaves.

In 1481 King John II succeeded his father Affonso V upon the throne of Portugal. He was one of the wisest monarchs of his age, and was surnamed by his people John "the Perfect." ,By his internal policy he, like his contemporaries Louis XI of France and Henry VII of England, broke the power of his nobility. His people aided him, for they were wearied of the pressure of feudalism, and he concentrated the whole power of the realm in his own hands. He took up the projects which had been left untouched since the death of his great-uncle, Prince Henry the Navigator. The dream of his life was to find the direct sea route to India. To achieve this end he collected at his Court all the learned men he could attract; he improved the methods of shipbuilding, and began to build full-decked ships of 100 tons; he did much to perfect the knowledge of navigation; and exploration became his favourite hobby.

John II dismissed Columbus as a visionary, and thus left it to Spain to acquire the fame and the profit of discovering the new world of America. But he was diligent in making enquiries, with regard to the East. He sent two of his equerries, Joao Peres de Covilhao and Affonso de Paiva, overland to India, and the former of these two travellers accompanied the caravans to the East and visited the Malabar coast. He was refused a passage from Calicut to Africa by the jealous Muhammadan merchants, but he managed to find his way through Arabia to Abyssinia, where he died. More important than these overland expeditions were those which John II sent on the tracks of Prince Henry's sailors along the African coast. One of his captains, Diogo Cao or Cam, discovered the Congo in 1484, and in 1486 Bartholomeu Dias and Joao Infante for the first time doubled the Cape of Good Hope and reached Algoa Bay. John II, like Prince Henry, was fated not to see the fulfilment of his dearest hopes; but he it was who designed the expedition which, under the command of Vasco da Gama, reached India, and who trained the great captains and governors who were to make illustrious with their valour the name of the Portuguese in Asiatic seas.

It was in the month of July, 1497, that a fleet of three ships was placed under the command of Vasco da Gama to follow the route taken by Bartholomeu Dias and find the way to India. Vasco da Gama was the third son of Estevao da Gama, who is said to have been the captain nominated by John II for the command of the expedition. Other accounts give to King Emmanuel, the successor of John II, the credit of choosing the successful admiral. Whoever selected him made a wise choice, for Vasco da Gama showed himself during his eventful voyage possessed of the highest qualities of constancy and daring. The two ships which sailed under his command, in addition to his own, were placed under his elder brother Paulo da Gama and his intimate friend Nicolas Coelho, who proved themselves worthy of their chief. The fleet, of which the crews did not number more than 160 men, nor the tonnage of any ship more than 120 tons, experienced terrific storms in doubling the Cape of Good Hope, but eventually Vasco da Gama struck the south-east coast of Africa. He met with opposition from the rulers of Mozambique and Quiloa (Kilwa), where he first touched, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that he suppressed an incipient mutiny among his sailors.

In April, 1498, he reached Melinda, a port situated 200 miles to the north of Zanzibar, where he was kindly received by the ruling chief. The passage across the Indian Ocean was well known to the navigators of the south-east coast of Africa, for there was a considerable amount controlled by Muhammadans. At Melinda, Vasco da Gama was able to obtain experienced pilots, and after a stay there of one month according to most authorities, and of three months according to Correa, Vasco da Gama pursued his way to India.

The Portuguese ships arrived off Calicut in June or August, 1498. The powerful Hindu ruler on the Malabar coast, who was known as the Zamorin, had his capital in that city. His body-guard and most of his aristocracy consisted of Nairs and Nestorian Christians, but all commerce was in the hands of the Muhammadan merchants. These Muhammadans were Moplas, or descendants of Arab traders who had long settled upon the Malabar coast. They quickly perceived that if Vasco da Gama could make his way direct from Portugal to India other Portuguese ships could do the same, and that then their lucrative monopoly of the Indian trade with Europe by way of the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf, would be at an end. They therefore intrigued with the Hindu ministers of the Zamorin to repulse the endeavours of Vasco da Gama to procure a cargo of Indian commodities for his ships, and it was only after much difficulty and some danger that he was able to take on board an inadequate amount of merchandise. On leaving Calicut the Portuguese Admiral visited Cannanore, and he eventually reached Melinda on his way home in January, 1499. He had a long and difficult passage back to Europe; in the island of Terceira his beloved brother Paulo da Gama died, and when he got safely to Lisbon at the end of August, 1499, he had with him but fifty-five of the companions who had started with him on his adventurous voyage.

King Emmanuel of Portugal, and his people, received Vasco da Gama with the utmost enthusiasm. The dreams of Prince Henry the Navigator and of King John II were fulfilled. King Emmanuel took the title of "Lord of the Conquest, Navigation and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India," which was confirmed to him by a Bull of Pope Alexander VI in 1502, and he commenced the erection of the superb church at Belem as a token of his gratitude to Heaven. On Vasco da Gama the King conferred well deserved honours. He was granted the use of the prefix of Dom  or Lord, then but rarely conferred; he was permitted to quarter the Royal Arms with his own; he was given the office of Admiral of the Indian Seas; and in the following reign, when the importance of his voyage became more manifest, he was created Count of Vidigueira.

King Emmanuel determined to take immediate advantage of the trade route opened to him by Dom Vasco da Gama's voyage. On March 9, 1500, a fine fleet of thirteen ships was despatched under the command of Pedro Alvares Cabral, well laden with merchandise, to trade with India. On his way out this Portuguese fleet was driven far to the westward, and to Cabral belongs the honour of discovering Brazil, which was eventually to become far more valuable to Portugal than the Indian trade. On leaving Brazil, Cabral followed the course taken by Dom Vasco da Gama, and with the help of pilots from Melinda anchored safely in the port of Calicut. At that place he established a factory or agency for the sale of the merchandise he had brought with him and for the purchase of Indian commodities, and then sailed for Cochin.

But the Mopla merchants were still the declared enemies of the Portuguese. They raised a riot in the city of Calicut, and Ayres Correa, the Portuguese agent, was killed with several of his associates. It is worthy of remark that this murderous attack was entirely the work of the Arab Moplas. The Hindu Zamorin showed no disinclination to trade with the Europeans; the Malabar Muhammadans, that is the natives who had been converted to Islam, did not share in the outrage, and one of their principal merchants even interfered to save the lives of Correa's children and of some of the Portuguese clerks.

Cabral then loaded his ships at Cannanore and Cochin, where Hindu Rajas, inferior in power to the Zamorin, but not so much subject to Mopla influence, ruled, and after burning some of the Indian ships in the harbour of Calicut he returned to Lisbon in July, 1501. Cabral had not been so fortunate as Vasco da Gama, for he only brought back five out of the thirteen ships which he had taken with him. But, on the other hand, he did what Vasco da Gama had feared to do, and in spite of the fate of Ayres Correa and his associates, Cabral left a Portuguese factor with a considerable staff at Cochin to purchase goods for despatch to Portugal by the next fleet which should arrive.

On the return of Cabral from India, King Emmanuel resolved to send once more to the East the famous captain who had discovered the direct sea route to India. It was obvious to the king that large profits were to be made by the Eastern trade, but at this early period he had formed no distinct idea as to the policy he would pursue. On one point only he was resolved. It was quite certain that Portuguese agents would have to be left at the places of export if a prosperous trade was to be developed, and it was therefore necessary to give a severe lesson to the Zamorin of Calicut for the murder of the Portuguese factor at his capital. Adequate protection to Portuguese agents could only be given by maintaining a strong force in the Indian Seas. Vasco da Gama was therefore ordered to punish the Zamorin and to leave a squadron of ships for the defence of the Portuguese factors.

The establishment of commerce was at this time the chief aim of the Portuguese in the East, as it was in the succeeding century the chief aim of the Dutch and the English. But in the same way that the Dutch and English East India Companies were compelled to become military powers in order to defend their local agents, so King Emmanuel of Portugal was obliged to provide for the military defence of the first Portuguese factors. It was the fierce enmity of the Muhammadan merchants which caused the early European traders to take the attitude of invaders. The original Portuguese visitors had no more idea of establishing a Portuguese power in the East than the original English adventurers of the reign of Elizabeth foresaw that their successors would become the rulers of India. The position of a military and ruling power was forced on the Portuguese as it was afterwards on the Dutch and the English.

In February, 1502, Dom Vasco da Gama, Admiral of the Indian Seas, set sail from Lisbon with twenty ships, of which five were lateen-rigged caravels or lightly built warships which he was directed to leave behind him in the East. The Admiral followed his previous course, and after renewing his friendship with the Chief of Melinda he reached the Indian coast in safety. He found that the Portuguese factor at Cochin and his clerks had laid in a good store of Indian commodities, and that they had been kindly treated by the Raja of that city in spite of the threats of the Moplas of Calicut. He then proceeded to repeat the lesson which Cabral had given to the Zamorin, and after destroying, under circumstances of atrocious cruelty, the crew of a large ship belonging to a wealthy and important Muhammadan owner, he bombarded the city of Calicut.

The Rani of Quilon, an important pepper port, sent a message requesting that the Portuguese would come to her port also to obtain goods. But Dom Vasco da Gama feared to offend the Raja of Cochin by trading elsewhere, and it was only after receiving the express consent of the latter monarch that he took two ship-loads of pepper from Quilon. Having taken on board a lucrative cargo Dom Vasco da Gama returned once more to Portugal, leaving behind him the squadron designed for that purpose under the command of one of his relations, Vicente Sodre.

The Admiral also made a treaty with the Raja of Cannanore, a ruler nearly as powerful as the Raja of Cochin, which provided that the former should never make war on the Raja of Cochin, and should refuse to assist the Zamorin in case that powerful ruler undertook such an attack, and he also established a factory at Cannanore. Vicente Sodre cruised for some time on the Malabar coast, as he had been directed to do, and then sailed for the coast of Arabia in order to intercept the ships of Muhammadan merchants trading between India and Egypt. He had, however, but small success; for in the summer of 1503 his squadron was wrecked on the Abd-el-Khuri rocks off Socotra, three of his ships were lost, and Sodre himself was drowned.

In 1503 three separate squadrons were despatched to the East from Portugal under the command respectively of Affonso de Albuquerque, the future Governor, Francisco de Albuquerque, his cousin, and Antonio de Saldanha, the last of whom was ordered to explore the African coast and gave his name to Saldanha Bay. Francisco de Albuquerque, who arrived first in India, was only just in time to succour the Raja of Cochin. The Zamorin of Calicut, as Vasco da Gama had foreseen, had attacked the Raja of Cochin in force, at the instigation of the Moplas, as soon as Sodre's squadron had left the Malabar coast. The situation of the Cochin Raja was one of peril. He had been driven from his capital and was being besieged in the island of Vypin, and he welcomed the arrival of the ships of Francisco de Albuquerque with cries of joy.

The Portuguese met with little difficulty in defeating the army of the Zamorin and in restoring their ally, the Raja of Cochin, to his dominions. But the extremity of the danger had been such that the two Albuquerques built a strong fort of wood and mud, mounted with artillery, at Cochin; and when they departed they left behind them not only a squadron of war-ships, as Vasco da Gama had done in the previous year, but also a garrison of trained soldiers for the new fort, both under the command of Duarte Pacheco. The two cousins Albuquerque had more than one difference of opinion, and Affonso, after sailing to Quilon, where he made a treaty with the Rani and established a factory, returned to Portugal with his squadron, without waiting for Francisco.

No more valiant warrior illustrated the glory of the Portuguese name than Pacheco. The Zamorin of Calicut, as soon as the Albuquerques had left the coast, advanced against Cochin with a more powerful army than he had set on foot in the previous year. Pacheco had only 150 Portuguese soldiers, but nevertheless he inspired perfect confidence into the mind of his ally, the Cochin Raja. That king, at the request of the Portuguese commander, abandoned his first idea of deserting his capital, and placed all his resources at the disposition of Pacheco, who repulsed every assault which the Zamorin made upon Cochin, and defeated his troops in four pitched battles beneath the walls of the city. The valour of the Portuguese greatly impressed the Zamorin, who witnessed the last of these battles, and the Hindu ruler soon repented his compliance with the demands of the Mopla merchants.

After defeating the Calicut troops on land Pacheco took the personal command of his squadron at sea, and defeated the Calicut fleet of fifty-two ships. The news of these battles spread abroad through India. Many Rajas in the interior sent envoys to the Portuguese commander, and the Zamorin himself earnestly sued for peace. The prestige of the Portuguese was assured by Pacheco's victories, and from this time forth for nearly a century the inhabitants of Southern India recognised that the Portuguese were stronger than themselves, and were eager to trade with them or to make alliances.

Pacheco increased his reputation by a daring march to Quilon, where he rescued the Portuguese factor from much danger; for at Quilon, as at all the ports along the coast, the Moplas showed an unrelenting hatred to the European agents. When Lopo Soares de Albergaria, son of the Chancellor of Portugal, who commanded the squadron sent from Portugal in 1504, reached the Malabar coast he found the Indian ports ringing with news of Pacheco's victories. He once more bombarded Calicut, and then returned to Portugal, bringing with him a rich cargo and also the gallant Portuguese commander. It is a lasting disgrace to King Emmanuel that he neglected to reward the hero of Cochin according to his merits. He gave his faithful servant a distinguished reception, and had sermons preached in his honour in every church of Portugal, but eventually, like Camoens and other famous Portuguese warriors, Pacheco was left to die in poverty and misery.

It was after the return of Pacheco, and probably owing to that brave man's advice, that King Emmanuel in 1505 inaugurated a new departure in the relations between Portugal and the East. Pacheco's victories made it evident that it was not only possible for Portuguese garrisons and local squadrons to defend the Portuguese factors, but that they could defeat and conquer powerful native monarchs. A conception of the ease by which a Portuguese empire could be established in the East was now grasped by King Emmanuel. His ideas were still mainly commercial, but he began to perceive also that the safe maintenance of trade and commerce would necessarily involve a regular war to the death with the Muhammadan powers who had reaped the greatest profit from the trade of the East with Europe. Hitherto the Portuguese in India had striven with the Muhammadan Moplas settled on the Malabar coast; but it now became apparent that the Muhammadans of Egypt, Persia, and Arabia would come to the help of their co-religionists. Emmanuel decided therefore to maintain a more powerful army and navy in Asia than he had yet despatched to the Eastern seas, and to replace annual expeditions by a local establishment.

Such a force had to be commanded by an experienced general, who should also be a man of rank, in order to exercise undisputed sway over the whole resources of Portugal in the East. For this important office the king first selected Tristao da Cunha, a daring and skilful commander and navigator. But Tristao da Cunha was struck with temporary blindness, and King Emmanuel then chose Dom Francisco de Almeida, a member of one of the most illustrious families of Portugal. Almeida when he sailed received only the title of Chief Captain, but on his arrival at Cannanore on September 12, 1505, he took the high-sounding title of Viceroy of Cochin, Cannanore, and Quilon.

The great Portuguese nobleman looked upon the situation of affairs in a different light to his predecessors. He was not satisfied with the idea of protecting the Portuguese trade which had been established, but considered it his duty to destroy the Muhammadan traders and to secure for his countrymen the entire command of the Eastern seas. Since it was necessary for the Portuguese fleets to have some safe ports at which they could refit before and after crossing the Indian Ocean, he built a strong fortress at Quiloa (Kilwa), about 200 miles south of Zanzibar, and made the Chief of Mombassa between Zanzibar and Melinda tributary. He also organised, for the first time, a regular Portuguese Indian pilot service, for he felt it to be a weakness to the Portuguese to be dependent on native pilots like the men who had shown Vasco da Gama the way across the Indian Ocean.

Having firmly established the Portuguese power on the African coast, Dom Francisco de Almeida continued on his way to India. His fleet consisted of fourteen ships and six caravels, and carried 1500 soldiers. On reaching the Malabar coast he first punished the Rajas of Honawar and Cannanore, and then established his seat of government at Cochin. The Viceroy next sent his son Dom Lourenco de Almeida, who had been appointed Chief Captain of the Indian Sea, to attack Quilon. The Moplas in that city, in spite of the lesson taught to them by Pacheco, had not ceased their intrigues against the Portuguese; and soon after Almeida's arrival they rose in insurrection and killed Antonio de Sá, the factor, and twelve other Portuguese subjects. Dom Lourenco, who was but eighteen years of age, and who soon made for himself a reputation for daring and valour unequalled in the East, bombarded and practically destroyed the city of Quilon. The young captain then visited the island of Ceylon, which had not yet been explored by the Europeans. The native prince on whose coasts he landed received Lourenco with great pomp, recognised the suzerainty of the King of Portugal and promised to provide the Portuguese ships with cargoes of cinnamon. From Ceylon also Dom Lourenco brought the first elephant ever sent to Portugal.

After his return to Cochin the Viceroy despatched his gallant son to meet a fresh fleet which had been prepared by the Zamorin of Calicut. On March 18, 1506, with but eleven ships of war under his command, Lourenco de Almeida attacked the Zamorin's fleet of eighty-four ships and a hundred and twenty prahs or galleys. The sea-fight which followed was chiefly an artillery combat; most of the Zamorin's ships were sunk, and it is said that 3000 Muhammadans perished and not more than six or eight Portuguese. The young captain sailed northward with his victorious fleet, but was repulsed in an attack on Dabhol, an important port belonging to the Muhammadan King of Bijapur. In the following year Dom Lourenco de Almeida continued his series of victories, and on November 23, 1507, with the assistance of Tristao da Cunha, who had just arrived in India, he sacked the port of Ponani, then, as it still is, a religious centre of the Mopla community.

Meanwhile the danger which King Emmanuel had foreseen was coming to pass. The Mameluke Sultan of Egypt perceived that his income from the passage of the Indian trade through Cairo was seriously diminishing, and he resolved to make a great effort to expel the daring European intruders from the Eastern seas. He therefore prepared a large fleet, which was placed under the command of the Emir Husain, an admiral of high reputation, whom the Portuguese chroniclers call Mir Hocem. This was the first regular war fleet which the Portuguese had yet met. The fleets of the Zamorin, which Pacheco and Dom Lourenco de Almeida had defeated, consisted only of merchant ships roughly adapted for war by the Mopla traders of Calicut. The fleet of the Emir Husain, on the other hand, was a regular war fleet; it was largely manned by sailors who had experience in fighting with Christian fleets in the Mediterranean, and who understood the use of artillery quite as well as the Portuguese.

The Egyptian admiral in 1508 sailed from the Red Sea for the coast of Gujarat, where the Muhammadan King of Ahmadabad and the Muhammadan Nawab of Diu, Malik Ayaz, had promised to receive and assist him. Dom Lourenco de Almeida was unable to prevent the junction of the Egyptian and the Diu fleets, and on their approach to his station in the port of Chaul he boldly sailed out and attacked them. His numbers were totally inadequate, but he had received express orders from his father to endeavour to prevent the allies from coming south to Calicut to join the Zamorin. For two days the Portuguese maintained a running fight, but Dom Lourenco de Almeida soon found that he had to deal with more experienced and warlike foes than the merchant captains he had so often defeated. His ship was surrounded on every side; his leg was broken by a cannon-ball at the commencement of the action; nevertheless he had himself placed upon a chair at the foot of the main-mast and gave his orders as coolly as ever. Shortly afterwards a second cannon-ball struck him in the breast, and the young hero, who was not yet twenty-one, expired, in the words of Camoens, without knowing what the word surrender meant. Malik Ayaz treated the Portuguese prisoners whom he took kindly. He wrote to the Viceroy regretting that he was unable to find Dom Lourenco's body to give it honourable burial, and congratulated the father on the glory the son had acquired in his last combat.

At this juncture Affonso de Albuquerque, who had been sent from Lisbon with a commission to succeed Dom Francisco de Almeida, at the close of the latter's three years tenure of office, made his claims known. The Viceroy, however, refused to surrender his office or to abandon the government until he had avenged his son's death. Albuquerque told the Viceroy that it was his privilege to fight the Egyptian fleet, but he felt for the father's feelings and allowed Francisco de Almeida to sail northwards without further pressing his rights. The Viceroy first relieved the fortress of Cannanore, which was being besieged by the Moplas and gallantly defended by Lourenco de Brito, and he then attacked Dabhol with a fleet of nineteen ships. He stormed Dabhol and wreaked a horrible vengeance, which passed into a proverb, on the inhabitants in December, 1508. On February 2, 1,509, Dom Francisco de Almeida came up with the united fleet of the Muhammadans under Emir Husain and Malik Ayaz off Diu, and after a battle which lasted the whole day a great victory was won, in which the Muhammadans are said to have lost 3000 men and the Portuguese only twenty-two.

After the victory the powerful Muhammadan King of Ahmadabad or Gujarat, Mahmud Shah Begara, disavowed the conduct of Malik Ayaz, his tributary, and made peace with the Portuguese. He refused to surrender the Emir, but he gave up the Portuguese prisoners who had been taken in the previous engagement as well as the remains of the Egyptian fleet. On his return to Cochin, Dom Francisco de Almeida again refused to hand over the government to Albuquerque, and imprisoned his destined successor in the fortress of Cannanore.

However, on the arrival of Dom Fermi o de Coutinho, Marshal of Portugal, the Viceroy was forced to abandon this attitude, and he left Cochin on November to, 1509. On his way home he was obliged to put in to refit at Saldanha Bay, where his sailors had a dispute with some Kaffirs whose sheep they had stolen. Dom Francisco de Almeida went to their help, but he was struck down and killed with an assegai. Thus died the first Viceroy of Portuguese India on March 1510, and it is a strange irony of fate that the famous conqueror of the Muhammadan fleet, who by his victory assured the power of the Portuguese in the East, should die by the hands of ignorant African savages.

The policy of the first Viceroy of India was not so grandiose as that of his successor. He did not believe in building many forts or attempting to establish direct government in the East. He argued that Portugal had not sufficient inhabitants to occupy many posts, and his view was that the Portuguese fleets should hold the sea and thus protect the factories on land. Any idea of establishing a Portuguese dominion in Asia seemed visionary to the first Portuguese Viceroy, and in this respect his policy differed entirely from that of his successor, Affonso de Albuquerque.

A letter from Francisco de Almeida to Emmanuel is published by Senhor Lopes de Mendonça in the Annaes etas Sciencias e Letteras  for April, 1858, and reveals the Viceroy's policy. In it he says:

"With respect to the fortress in Quilon, the greater the number of fortresses you hold, the weaker will be your power; let all our forces be on the sea; because if we should not be powerful at sea (which may the Lord forbid) everything will at once be against us; and if the King of Cochin should desire to be disloyal, he would be at once destroyed, because our past wars were waged with animals; now we have wars with the Venetians and the Turks of the Sultan. And as regards the King of Cochin, I have already written to your Highness that it would be well to have a strong castle in Cranganore on a passage of the river which goes to Calicut, because it would hinder the transport by that way of a single peck of pepper. With the force we have at sea we will discover what these new enemies may be, for I trust in the mercy of God that He will remember us, since all the rest is of little importance. Let it be known for certain that 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; and as to expelling the Moors (Muhammadans) from the country, I have found the right way to do it, but it is a long story, and it will be done when the Lord pleases and will thus be served."