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GoaCentral > History of Goa > Alfonso de Albuquerque

Alfonso de Albuquerque

Early years

Alfonso de Albuquerque was born at Allandra , near Lisbon in Portugal in 1453. He was the second son of Gonzallo de Albuquerque, the Lord (Senhor) of Villa Verde. His family, both on his maternal and paternal sides had served the Kings of Portugal with distinction. Coming of age, he served for about 10 years in North Africa gaining valuable experience fighting the Muslims under King Afonso V. He was soon made "Master of the Horse" by King John II. After Vasco da Gama's discovery of a sea route to India around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498, saw the race to create new trading opportunities and to colonize and to convert.

The first Voyage to India

King Manuel, sent Pedro Clavares to begin trade with the Indian king Zamorin in Calicut. The muslim traders resented the Portuguese but the neighboring Hindu kingdom of Cochin invited the Portuguese and the first step to conduct trade was established. Alfonso de Albuquerque made his first voyage to India in 1503 along with his cousin Dom Francisco da Alameda to create the first Portuguese fortress cum trading post at Cochin and then Quilon. He returned to Lisbon 1504. In 1505 King Manuel then appointed Dom Francisco Alameda , the first Portuguese governor of India with a rank of Viceroy. 

In 1506 Alfonso de Albuquerque sailed with Tristan de Cunha to India; his job was to secure the sea route for the Portuguese to monopolize trade with India. For that purpose he captured the Island of Socotra, and then the Island of Ormuz at the mouth of the Red Sea landing there on 10 October, 1507.He subsequently built a fortress there, the aim being to control the mouth of the Red Sea, the gateway to all sea trade at that time. By the time he arrived in India in 1508, his cousin Francisco Alameda had defeated the Kingdom of Calicut in a sea battle. When the Viceroy of India, Francisco de Almeida, returned to Portugal, 1509, Albuquerque was appointed in his place, without the rank of the Viceroy. Albuquerque, in an attempt to secure a stronger hold , fought and lost to the Kingdom of Cochin in January, 1510. He then decided to go north along the coast and decided on Goa, then ruled by Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur.

Capture of Goa

With the help of an Indian sea captain called Timoja and with 23 ships, he attacked Goa in March 1510. He had to abandon it two months later after being pushed out by Adil Shah's forces. He returned again and on November 25th (St. Catherine's Day ) he took the place again, and it thereafter remained under the Portuguese until 1961. His conquest of Goa saw wanton death and destruction of its muslim institutions and people. Securing Goa, Albuquerque then turned his attention to the Far East and took Malacca in July, 1511. To prevent other nations from trading with India, he created a licensing system and also attempted unsuccessfully to take over Aden, on the Red Sea in March 1513. He then returned to India and finally defeated the Kingdom of Calicut, his then main opposition in India.

The betrayal

In 1515 he left Goa again for the straits of Ormuz, but had to return back to Goa due to ill health. Meanwhile King Emmanuel of Portugal had other ideas for him. For reasons not very clear, the King appointed Lopes Suarez to supersede him. Learning this news on the ship of what he considered an act of betrayal by his King pained him immensely. Heartbroken, sick and on his death bed he pined and died just as his ship "Flor de Rosa" reached the shores of Goa, on 16 December, 1515.

Fifty-one years later his remains were transported to Lisbon for a final more worthy resting place.

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