Alfonso de Albuquerque


Afonso de Albuqueque was an exceedingly energetic commander of Portuguese India, who greatly expanded Western influence in the area. Although his predecessor Almeida had done much to establish Portuguese posts and forts on land, and had bravely fought Arab fleets at sea, he had merely disrupted, and not destroyed Arab influence in the region. Albuquerque, on the other hand, sought to destroy all Arab trading in the region, and put all commerce in the hands of Christian governments. Having spent much of his youth fighting the Moors in Spain, he perceived of Moslems as a threat to Christian civilization, and knew that cutting off Arab trade in Indo-China would greatly weaken the Ottoman Turks, who were at the time, threatening all of Europe.

From the beginning Albuqueque sought to establish a dominante Portuguese empire in the east, and to destoy Moslem power, even in its native lands. On his initial voyage to India, he established a Portuguese fort at Chochin. On his next voyage, he attacked Arab cities in the Persian Gulf and built a fort at Hormuz, in the heart of Moslem territory. As soon as he succeeded Almeida as viceroy of India, he set about expanding Portuguese territory by conquering Goa, the most important trading post on the Malabar coast. He used political treachery and force to accomplish his ends, and wherever possible turned local native chieftains against their Arab masters. At every turn he pressed forward, and accomplished more in his six years as governor than anyone expected or thought possible.

Fresh from his victories in Goa and western India, he embarked on a voyage to Malacca, then the most important trading post in the Spice Islands. He conquered the region and destroyed the Moslem population, in order to prevent a rebellion. Fresh from his victories in Malacca, he put down a rebellion in Goa, built more forts in the region, and set off on his final expedition to the Red Sea, the heart of the Arab merchant force. There he laid siege to Aden, but by this time the Moslems were thoroughly aroused, and defended their home lands so ferociously that Albuquerque was compelled to raise the siege. By this time his political enemies in Portugal had planned his demise. They convinced the king of Portugal to relieve him of his duties. Albuquerque was shocked and dismayed by this treacherous cowardice, and was too old to recover from this blow. He died at sea in 1515 after writing a long letter assuring the king of his loyalty.

None of the Portuguese governors who followed Albuquerque had his energy or foresight and within a century, much of the Portuguese Empire in the Far East fell into the hands of the Dutch.

Key events during the life of Afonso de Albuquerque:

Birth of Albuquerque in Portugal
Da Gama returns successfully from first voyage to India.
Embarks on first voyage to India. Helps establish a Portuguese fort at Cochin.
Almedia arrives in India and becomes first governor.
Embarks on second voyage to India. Attacks Arab cities in the Persian Gulf.
Conquers the island of Hormoz and builds a Portuguese Castle there.
Arrives in India and makes known his commision to supercede Almeida. Imprisoned by Almeida.
Becomes viceroy of Portuguese India.
Captured Goa, a vital trading port on the Malabar coast.
Set sail to Malacca. Captured the city and slaughtered the Moslem population.
Suppresses revolt in Goa.
Expedition to the Red Sea. Laid siege to Aden.
Deposed by his political enemies.
Died at sea.

Book Links
Albuquerque: Rulers of India  by  Morse Stephens

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Golden Goa  in  The Discovery of New Worlds  by  M. B. Synge
Discovery of the Spice Islands  in  A Book of Discovery  by  M. B. Synge

Image Links

Alfonso de Albuqurque
 in Albuquerque: Rulers of India

A Ship of Albuquerque's fleet
 in A Book of Discovery

Short Biography
Francisco de Almeida Portuguese general who served in the wars against Granada, and was appointed the first governor of Portuguese India.
Vasco da Gama Portuguese explorer who voyaged to Calicut, India by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Emanuel I of Portugal King of Portugal during years of Portuguese conquest of the Far East.