Francisco de Almeida


Almeida was the first governor of Portuguese India, and the predecessor of the more famous Albuquerque. Although the men were rivals, they both did great service to the cause of Portugal in India.

Almeida had established his reputation as a soldier and commander in the wars against the Moors of Granada. On the return of da Gama's second voyage, he was selected as the first Governor of Portuguese India, which was at first a very limited dominion. Instead of sailing directly to India, he spent a year sailing up the eastern coast of Africa, building forts, and conquering Arab trading towns along the way. This provided the ships which followed with safe ports and provisions on the long journey.

On his arrival in India, he established his base at Cochin, and with his son Lourenzo, explored the Malabar coast and the island of Sri Lanka. He fought Arab, Egyptian, and Indian united fleets at every opportunity. Lourenzo's fleet won several important battles and he established himself as a terrific naval hero before being killed. Shortly thereafter, Albuquerque, whose fleet had sailed several years after Almeida's and had spent much time battling Moslem merchants off the coast of Arabia, arrived in India. Almeida imprisoned his rival, but within a year, was officially relieved of his duties in favor of Albuquerque. He died en route to Portugal in a skirmish with natives at the southern tip of Africa.

Key events during the life of Francisco de Almeida:

Birth of Almeida in Portugal.
Fought in the Battle of Toro against Ferdinand and Isabella.
Fought under Ferdinand against the Moors during the Battle of Granada.
Da Gama returns successfully from first voyage to India.
Provided with a fleet and set sail to India.
Build a fort on the island of Mozambique to serve as a stopping post.
Battled with Arabs along African and Arabian coasts. Captured Zanzibar.
Arrived in India. Assumed post as governor of Portuguese India at Cochin.
Almeida's son Lourenzo victorious in sea battles and explores Sri Lanka.
Death of Almeida's son Lourenzo in a naval battle with Arabs.
Alfonso Albuquerque arrives at Cochin with commission to succeed Almeida.
Feb: Decisively defeats the Arabs at the naval Battle of Dui.
Nov: Forced to resign command in favor of Albuquerque.
Perished in a skirmish with natives off the coast of Africa on his return home.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Story of Almeida  in  South Africa  by  Ian D. Colvin
In the East Indies  in  Ferdinand Magellan  by  Frederick A. Ober
Predecessors of Albuquerque  in  Albuquerque: Rulers of India  by  Morse Stephens
Discovery of the Spice Islands  in  A Book of Discovery  by  M. B. Synge

Short Biography
Vasco da Gama Portuguese explorer who voyaged to Calicut, India by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Alfonso de Albuquerque Portuguese commander who won numerous naval conflicts in Asia and helped establish a colony in India at Goa.
Ferdinand Magellan Portuguese explorer who commanded the first fleet to circumnavigate the globe. Died in Philippines.
Emanuel I of Portugal King of Portugal during Portuguese conquest of the Far East.
Lourenzo Almeida Portuguese naval commander, who aided his father Francisco in his conquests in India.