Young World

On the warpath

An artist's impression of Vasco da Gama sailing into Calicut.   | Photo Credit: Library of Congress

On October 30, 1502, Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut on the Malabar coast for the second time. This time he had come in war. He came to seek revenge for the treatment meted out to Pedro Alvares Cabral who had come to Calicut earlier.

Pedro Alvares Cabral, was a Portuguese nobleman, military commander, navigator and explorer. He had come to make a treaty with the Zamorin of Calicut and to set up a Portuguese factory in the city. But he was not successful and there was conflict between the local Arab merchant guilds. The Portuguese factory was overrun in a riot and almost 70 Portuguese were killed. Cabral blamed the Zamorin and bombarded the city. War broke out between Portugal and Calicut.

Vasco da Gama invoked his royal letter and took command of the armada. He set sail with 15 heavily armed ships and 800 men.

Da Gama opened contact with the East Africa gold trading port of Sofala and took away a substantial sum of gold. Once he reached India, he set about capturing any Arab vessel he came across on the Indian waters. He also captured Miri, a pilgrim ship from Meeca and he massacred all the passengers.

At war

He then landed in Calicut and demanded redress from the Zamorin. The Portuguese fleet then began to bombard the city. It continued for two days, and severely damaged the unfortified city. He also captured several rice vessels and cut off the crew’s hands, ears and noses and sent them off to the Zamorin with an insulting note from him.

The Zamorin refused to submit to the Portuguese and hired a fleet of warships to challenge da Gama’s armada. However, he was defeated and da Gama loaded up with spices from Cochin and Cannanore. He left behind a small squadron of caravels or small ships.

Da Gama arrived back in Portugal in September 1503 having failed to subdue the Zamorin. This failure and the subsequent failure to protect the Portuguese factory in Cochin stopped him from further rewards.

Finally, when Manuel I of Portugal decided to appoint the first Governor and viceroy of Portuguese India in 1505, he overlooked da Gama and appointed Francisco de Almeida.

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 3:51:18 PM |

Next Story