Portuguese Colonialism in India | Civil Services Exam

Discovery of sea route to India and arrival of Portuguese: Although European travelers had been coming to India many centuries before Vasco-da-Gama's arrival in India in the 15th century, but when Vasco-da-Gama passed through the Cape of Good Hope on May 17, 1498

Portuguese Colonialism in India | Civil Services Exam

Portuguese The Portuguese Invasion

, When it reached Calicut in 1800, it deeply influenced the course of Indian history. Unlike the Americas in the West, European powers in the East could not begin direct colonization. It took some time for them to do this but due to their developed sea power, technology and weapons (gunpowder etc.) they quickly established themselves as a sea power and established control over sea trade.

a man from portugal, background:ship
Intention of the Portuguese: The clear intention of the Portuguese was that they had come to India to do business but their hidden agenda was to convert Indians to Christianity by propagating Christianity and to drive out their competitors, especially the Arabs, from the vastly profitable Eastern To establish monopoly on trade. Till that time the Indian Ocean trade was monopolized by Arab traders. In the next fifteen years the Portuguese completely destroyed the Arab ships. They looted their ships, attacked them, plundered sailors and took other oppressive actions. In view of the strong position of the Portuguese, the ruler of Portugal, Manuel I, declared himself the master of trade with Arabia, Persia and India in 1501.

Situation in India at the time of the arrival of the Portuguese: The time when the Portuguese arrived in India helped them immensely in gaining eastern trade. The British also got similar good conditions. Except for Gujarat, where the powerful Mahmud Begada ruled, all of North India was divided among many small powers. In the Deccan, the Bahmani Empire disintegrated into smaller kingdoms. There was no power that had naval power, nor did they think of developing their naval power. In the Far East, the executive decree of the Chinese ruler limited only the navigable reach of Chinese ships. As for the Arab traders and shipowners, who had dominated the Indian Ocean trade before the arrival of the Portuguese, they could not match the Portuguese organization and unity.

Motivations for coming to India: In fact, in the 15th century the Portuguese became jealous of the prosperity of Venice (a kingdom in Italy) and started making every possible effort to get a share in their profitable trade. As the Arabs conquered Egypt and Persia in the seventh century, direct lines of communication between Europe and India were closed. Goods from the East started reaching European markets through Muslim middlemen. Venice maintained a monopoly on this trade since ancient times and as a result acquired immense wealth and influence. Prince Henry, the Portuguese navigator, devoted his entire life to the search for a sea route to India. In 1487 AD, a Portuguese named Bartholomeo Diaz reached the southern tip of Africa and called this place Cape of Good Hope. Although he returned to Lisbon in 1488 and after a gap of about 10 years, Vasco-da-Gama reached India in 1498. Upon Vasco-da-Gama's triumphant return to Lisbon, the Emperor of Portugal sent a much larger fleet of 13 ships and 1200 men, led by Pedro Álvarez Cabrerale (explorer of Brazil), accompanied by Bartholomew Diaz. But Cabrell had to fight the Arabs in Calicut to defeat the Zamorin. Cabrell left Calicut to secure trade in Cochin and Cannaur. He returned to Lisbon with a huge profit.
Portuguese and Zamorin
Battle of Cochin (1504)

portugals indian king zamorin
Vasco-da-Gama arrived in Calicut in October, 1502. A large well-equipped fleet was sent under his leadership for trade and conquest. His relations with the Zamorin were not friendly. In their ambition to gain exclusive commercial dominance in the eastern seas, the Portuguese began to deprive other countries, especially Arab traders, of the benefits of trade and even oppress them. The Portuguese wanted to maintain their naval supremacy by capturing important trading posts or bases in Asia (Fitoria) and were determined to develop it. Fitoria were such trading posts or bases from where support was provided to naval fleets. The Portuguese used similar bases for their overseas expansion, particularly on the African coast. Within a few days, they realized that capturing these bases in India would not be easy and they would have to struggle for it.

The Hindu ruler of Calicut, the Zamorin, however, was not concerned with the intentions of the Portuguese. When the Zamorin refused to remove Muslim traders from his port, the Portuguese opened fire there. Thereafter, the Portuguese very cleverly took advantage of the hostility between Cochin and Calicut and built the first fort in the Malabar region of the Raja of Cochin. In 1509 AD, the Portuguese defeated the fleet sent by the Egyptian ruler Mamluk and took control of Diu. He captured Goa in 1510 and made it his administrative centre. After the Spanish Emperor Charles V announced that he was renouncing his interests in the Indian Ocean and limiting himself to the Philippines in the Far East, the Portuguese became sole rulers of the eastern seaboard, known as the Estado de India.

Beginning of the Portuguese Empire in India A new history of Portuguese India began in the year 1505 when the Emperor of Portugal appointed a Governor in India for three years and he was provided with adequate facilities and forces to protect Portuguese interests.

Francisco de Almeida, the newly appointed governor, was asked to reinforce Portuguese positions in India and destroy Muslim trade by seizing Aden, Ormuz and Malacca. He was also advised to build fortifications at Anjadiva, Cochin, Kennor and Kilwa. Keeping an eye on the declining trade of Venice, whose lucrative trade was under threat due to Portuguese interference, Egypt increased its vigil in the Red Sea to deter the Portuguese. De Almeida, who had to battle the Moors in North Africa, soon overcame the challenge. However, in 1507, the Portuguese squadron was defeated by the combined Egyptian and Gujarati navies in a sea battle off Diu, and Almeida's son was killed. The following year, Almeida avenged the defeat by completely destroying the navies of both.

Strategy of Expansion: Alfonso de Albuquerque, who replaced Almeida as the Portuguese governor in India, had a larger and broader strategy. He wanted to complete the establishment of the Portuguese Empire in the East before his death. He established bases at all entrances to the sea to gain strategic control of the Indian Ocean for Portugal. The second Governor Alfonso de Albuquerque played a decisive role in the establishment of Portuguese power in India.

Albuquerque came to India in 1503 AD as a squadron commander. In 1509 AD he was appointed Viceroy and by 1515 AD he played a special role in the establishment of Portuguese power in India. He made a solid start by snatching Goa from Bijapur in 1510 AD. Goa was a natural port and also a strategic location. From here the Portuguese controlled the Malabar trade and also supervised the policy of the kings of the south. On this basis, the Portuguese succeeded in capturing the mainland opposite Goa, and the ports of Daman, Rajouri and Dabhol. Alburquerque adopted the policy of marriage with Hindu women. In 1515 AD, Portuguese dominance was established over Malacca and Kurmus (Iran). At the time of Albuquerque, the Portuguese had established themselves as a strong naval power in India. 
Capture of Goa: In 1510, Albuquerque easily captured Goa, the major port of the Sultan of Bijapur, the first Indian territory to fall under European control since Alexander.

Portuguese dominance was established over Malacca as early as 1511 AD. New forts were established in Socotra Island at the mouth of the Red Sea, Sachin Fort in Sumatra, Colombo in Sri Lanka, etc. Contacts were also established with Java, Thailand, Pegu etc. From 1518 AD, the Portuguese started settling on Sanchao Island in China.

The Portuguese established their dominance over various areas of Western India. By capturing Chaul in 1531 AD, Diu in 1532 AD, Salcete and Bassein in 1534 AD, Ganor in 1536 AD and areas like Mangalore, Honavar, Bhatkal, Cannaur, Quilon, Bhavnagar etc., they established their factories in some of these areas. Opened. He started fortifying the factories. The highest officer of the factories was appointed by the Portuguese Emperor.

Portuguese dominance over trade: The Portuguese tried to establish direct contact with the east coast. They used to collect clothes etc. from the cities like Masulipatam, Pulicat etc. situated on the Coromandel coast. Nagapattinam was a major port for the Portuguese to trade with East Asian regions like Malacca, Manila etc. There was a Portuguese settlement at Santhome (Mylapur), north of Nagapattinam. Mahmud Shah, the ruler of Bengal, allowed the Portuguese to open factories in Chittagong and Satgaon in 1536 AD. With the permission of Akbar, factories were opened in Hooghly and by the orders of Shahjahan also in Bundel. The east coast was not fortified during the 16th century.

The Portuguese continued to dominate Asian trade until the early sixteenth century. In 1506 AD, the king took control of the profitable spice trade and on the other hand, the Portuguese fought tooth and nail to secure their rights. Sometimes it became difficult to differentiate between trade and plunder. Money was collected from Indian ships in many ways, the main one being the “cartage system”. Under this system, captains of Indian ships had to obtain a license or pass from the Viceroy of Goa, so that the Portuguese did not attack Indian ships, otherwise they would loot them. An important reason for the Portuguese dominance at sea was that the Mughal rulers never tried to prepare a strong navy and the Mughals did not have direct control in the far south.
The Portuguese did not have any such thing with which trade could be done through barter. Therefore, they used to bring gold, silver and other precious stones from the West for the goods of the East. Most of the black pepper was exported from Malabar and Konkan coast. Ginger, cinnamon, myrobalan, sandalwood, turmeric, indigo etc. were exported from Malabar. The Portuguese used to import taffeta (a type of cloth), chintz etc. from north-western India. Spikenard was brought from Bengal. Lac, cloves, musk etc. were collected from South-East Asia. The Portuguese trade with India had increased so much that the joint trade union had decided to send 1,70,000 cruzados to India every year just for the purchase of black pepper.

The Portuguese brought rose water, coral, copper, mercury, vermilion etc. to India from areas like Flanders, Germany, England etc. Minted coins were also brought to Cochin and Goa ports.

Thus the Portuguese not only earned profits from the spice trade but also from the transportation of goods between different Asian countries.

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