The advent of Portuguese in India

There was a need for a sea route to India for trade as European countries grew rapidly and they needed a market for supply and for spices. The Portuguese were first followed by the Dutch, English, Danes, and French respectively to reach India.

Arival of Vasco-Da-Gama

Portuguese navigator, Vasco-Da-Gama arrived at Calicut in May 1498, on that time the Hindu ruler of Calicut was Zamorin (Samuthiri), who welcomed him very friendly.

  • Vasco da Gama stayed in India for three months. At the time of returning to Portugal, he carried it back with Cargo and by selling it in his region got a huge profit. After watching this, other profit-seeking merchants of Europe were tempted to come to India for trade and benefit.
  • Pedro Alvarez Cabral arrived in September 1500, for the trade of spices, negotiated, and established a factory at Calicut.
  • Vasco da Gama came again to India in 1501 and set up a trading factory at Cannanore. Calicut, Cannanore, and Cochin became the important trade centers of the Portugues.
  • In 1505, the King of Portugal appointed Francisco De Almeida as governor of India for a three-year term and he was asked to consolidate the position of the Portuguese in India and to destroy Muslim trade by seizing Aden, Ormuz, and Malacca.
  • Almeida’s vision was to make the Portuguese the master of the Indian Ocean. His policy was known as the Blue Water Policy (cartaze system).
  • after Almeida, Alfonso de Albuquerque came as the Portuguese governor in India and he was the real founder of the Portuguese power in the East, He secured Portugal’s strategic control of the Indian Ocean by establishing bases overlooking all the entrances to the sea.
  • Albuquerque acquired Goa from the Sultan of Bijapur in 1510.
  • The bitter persecution of Muslims was one serious drawback of Albuquerque’s policy.
  • Nino da Cunha the Portuguese governor in India in November 1529 shifted the headquarters of the Portuguese government from Cochin to Goa in India.

The Portuguese States in India:

The Portuguese only wanted to increase their influence and trade in India. Within 50 years of Vasco Da Gama’s arrival, many coastal parts were under Portuguese power.

  • They occupied sixty 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 and hundreds of towns and villages. In the south chain of seaport fortresses and trading posts like Mangalore, Cannanore, Cochin, and Calicut. And though their power in Malabar was not consolidated and on the east coast at San Thome (in Chennai) and Nagapatnam (in Andhra).
  • Towards the end of the sixteenth century, they have grown, a wealthy settlement at Hooghly in West Bengal.
  • The Portuguese were the first Europeans to come to India and were the last to leave. In 1961 the Government of India recaptured Goa, Daman, and Diu from them.

Portuguese Administration in India

  • The head of the administration was the viceroy who served for three years, his secretary, and a council.
  • Vedor da Fazenda, employed for revenues and the cargoes and dispatch of fleets.

Religious Policy of the Portuguese

They were Intolerant of Muslims and the Portuguese were initially quite tolerant towards the Hindus but after the Inquisition in Goa there was a change and Hindus were also persecuted. They tried many times to convert Akbar’s religion to Christianity.

Mughals lost faith in the Portuguese

  • In 1608, Captain William Hawkins with his ship Hector reached Surat, with a letter from James I, the king of England to the Mughal court of Jahangir, requesting permission to do business in India.
  • In November 1612, the English ship Dragon under Captain Best along with a little ship, the Osiander, successfully fought a Portuguese fleet.
  • Portuguese also started a cruel slave trade by purchasing or seizing Hindu and Muslim children, whom they brought up as Christians. On June 24, 1632, the Mughal siege of Hooghly began, captured totally after three months. Shah Jahan ordered the Bengal governor Qasim Khan to take action against the Portuguese.

Factors for the Decline of the Portuguese

The Portuguese lost their commercial influence in India by the 18th century. The religious policies of the Portuguese, such as the activities of the Jesuits, gave rise to political fears.

  • A strong reaction was also evoked by their dishonest trade practices.
  • The discovery of Brazil diverted the colonizing activities of Portugal to the West.
  • The union of the two kingdoms of Spain and Portugal in 1580-81, had a war with England and Holland, which badly affected the Portuguese monopoly of trade in India.
  • The monopoly of knowledge of the sea route to India held by the Portuguese ended, Dutch and English also get these skills.
  • The spices trade was under the control of the Dutch, and Goa was superseded by Brazil as the economic center of the overseas empire of Portugal.
  • In 1683, after two naval assaults, the Marathas invaded Goa.

Portuguese in India

Chronology: Rise and Fall of Portuguese
1498 Vasco-da-Gama arrived at Calicut and his grand reception by the local king, Zamorin.
1503: Establishment of the first Portuguese fort at Cochin.
1505: Establishment of the second Portuguese fort at Cannanore
1509 The defeat of the combined fleet of Gujarat, Egypt, and Zamorin by the Portuguese governor Francisco Almeida
1510: Alfonso Albuquerque, the Portuguese governor, captures Goa from Bijapur
1530 Declaration of Goa as the Portuguese capital
1535 The subjugation of Diu.
1559 The Portuguese captured Daman
1596: The ouster of the Portuguese by the Dutch from Southeast Asia.
1612: Loss of Surat to the English
1663: The Dutch won all Portuguese forts on the Malabar coast to oust the Portuguese

The Dutch in India

Houtman was the first Dutchman to reach Sumatra and Bantam in 1596.

The Dutch founded their first factory in Masulipatnam (in Andhra) in 1605. They captured Nagapatam near Madras (Chennai) from the Portuguese.

  • They established factories on the Coromandel coast, in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, and Bihar.
  • They opened a factory in Pulicat, north of Madras in 1609.
  • Other principal factories in India were at Surat (1616), Bimlipatam (1641), Karaikal (1645), Chinsura (1653), Baranagar, Kasimbazar (near Murshidabad), Balasore, Patna, Nagapatam (1658), and Cochin (1663).
  • In the battle of Hooghly (November 1759), the Dutch were defeated by the English, and it crushed the Dutch’s ambition of trade in India as they were not interested in empire-building in India.

Their main trade was:           


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