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Free «The Portuguese in India» Essay Sample

For more than three centuries, good quality colossal ships and cannons from the small country developed enterprise in Asia. The small country, Portugal, transcended beyond what other nations were doing with gunnery due to its increased artillery capability of their ships. No wonder, they offered training to German and Flemish decent gunners. They only had the Egyptians and their Venetian Allies to contend with at sea (Butler, 20007). However, their intent of gaining monopoly over the spice trade kept alive within them.

In the beginning, they were interested in establishing commercial relations with the wealthy Mali Empire. Little did they know that the journey at the tip of this region would change their focus on the expansion of the Indian Ocean trade and spice trade (Unknown Author, 2012). They embarked on exploration of the west coast of Africa and South Atlantic was explored in the entire fifteenth century.

Southwest Asia was the main source of spices, which had become valuable commodities in Europe. The spices were used as medicine, preservatives, and to enhance a balanced diet. The Portuguese were interested in controlling the trade. It should also be noted that Muslim rulers took effective control of the over-land routes to Asia. This raises speculations on the possibility of religious motives behind the Portuguese voyages. They ignored the Muslim intermediaries in a bid to maximize their profits and inflict harm to their longtime enemies.   

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The Portuguese had an interest in conquering the region in the coast of Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. In fact, the Portuguese conquered most coastal towns within the region. The Asian civilization was too vast and powerful to conquer and colonize. The Portuguese military was small compared to the Asian military. Therefore, despite their military superiority at sea, they were unable to establish an empire in Asia. However, the voyages to India were a success against the Chinese and Muslim warships. The technology of construction of the searing ships originated from the Muslims and Chinese. The Portuguese adapted the technology and improved the warships into vessels that were superior to the old historical warships. In 1509, the Portuguese conquered a Muslim fleet in a naval war off the northwest coast of India. A year later, they had conquered Goa, which is located along the Indian western coast; the region is rich in horse trade (Richard, 2011). Goa was the only place along the Asian coast that had adequate dockyard facilities.

The Portuguese were interested in securing their ability to trade. No wonder, they seized most ports along the coast of Africa. They also built fortifications to secure the shore route to the East. Most Portuguese leaders had aristocratic spirit with a sense of aggression and interest in military escapades. The daring military leaders were lead by Afonso de Albuquerque. In fact, Afonso de Albuquerque was a chivalrous leader and often employed punitive methods in punishing his enemies. At times, he cut off their noses or ears and tore down mosques.

The Portuguese also navigated the region for exploration. In 1419, most of the Portuguese sailors visited the East African coast. This was facilitated by the improvements in cartography, navigation, and maritime technology such as the use of caravel in an effort to establish a sea route to the cradle of the lucrative spice trade. This began in 1488, when Bartolomeu Dias toured the Cape of Good Hope. Later on in 1498, Vasco da Gama arrived in India. This was the beginning of Portuguese exploration of the East Africa. It consequently facilitated the establishment of the Portuguese interest in the East. This is evident in 1500 when a Portuguese national, Pedro Alvares Cabral, discovers Brazil in the South American Coast through the crown’s secret design (The Applied History Research Group, 1997). In the subsequent years, the Portuguese sailors continued in the exploration of the coasts and highlands of East Asia. The Portuguese often established forts to facilitate effective control of the region. This establishment of the Portuguese in the East Asian region was facilitated by the connection of the Lisbon to Nagasaki along the coasts of Africa, Asia, India, and Middle East. This commercial was crucial towards contribution of the Portuguese wealth.

The Portuguese had interests in revenging on their enemies. No wonder, between 1580 and 1640 Portugal collaborated with Spain in a personal union (Hammond, 1966). The two empires continued to administer separately. The Portuguese territory experienced frequent attacks from the three rival European powers, that is, Britain, Netherlands, and France. However, Portugal was unable to sustain the attacks since the small Portugal Empire could not stretch to defend the network of its trading posts. This marked the beginning of the eventual decline of the Portuguese rule. The establishment of Portuguese rule was aimed at reconstruction of the Portuguese influence in east coast of Asia.

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The Portuguese wanted to revitalize their influence on the Indian Ocean trade. This was occasioned by the losses inflicted by the Dutch in Southwest Asia and Portuguese India at the heart of the 17th century (Diffie & Winius, 1977). This resulted to the involvement of other European powers in the Indian Ocean trade. This consequently deprived the Portuguese monopoly over the Indian Ocean. The establishment of the Portuguese rule in the east coast of Asia was geared towards revitalizing their position in the Indian Ocean Trade. The competition from other European powers was enhanced by the wind of independence movements that was evident in America in the course of the early 19th Century. In fact, Brazil broke way from being part of Portuguese colony in 1822. This was a major blow to the Portuguese Empire since Brazil was Portuguese’ most valuable colony. The Portuguese empire reduced considerably since most of its inland colonies on the African coastline. Most of the Portuguese colonies had been liberated. It was imperative for the Portuguese to seek alternative strategies in reclaiming their position in the world trade. The Asian coast was a convenient region since most European states had not established effective control in the region. Therefore, the Portuguese were driven by the goal to establish a Portuguese Empire in the east coast of Asia. The most convenient way for realizing their goal would be to establish a strong fort that would help them in facilitating their control over the region (Kenyalogy, 2012).

The Portuguese also had the interest of spreading Christianity in the Iberian Peninsula that had greatly been influenced by the control of Arabs from Persia (Thomas, 1974). The Arabs had widely spread Islam and most of the regions within the east coast and the African coast practiced the Islamic culture extensively. Most of the inhabitants of the coastal region often dressed in Islamic clothing and ate the Islamic delicacies. The influence of Muslim was immensely established in the Iberian Peninsula. The immense influence of the Islamic religion occasioned the Portuguese to develop preferential interest in the east coast. The Portuguese were interested in countering the spread of Islamic religion in the region. One explorer, Infante Dom Henry the Navigator, stirred this interest. Henry devoted most of his time in financing and promoting maritime development to enhance exploration until his death in 1460. Henry craved the knowledge of the Muslim influence on the African territories. Among his interests too, was the desire to locate the famous Christian Kingdom of John Prester (History World, 2012). The Christian Kingdom had become famous and its existence was rumored in Europe. The Kingdom was speculated to exist somewhere in the “indies,” Henry the Navigator wanted to trace the Kingdom and access the possibility of establishing a credible partnership to avert the spread of Islam.

The Portuguese wanted to access the possibility of developing a sea route to India. Infante Dom Henry the Navigator championed the idea. Henry the Navigator believed on the existence of a possible sea route that would lead to India. This kind of exploration was crucial in realizing their dream of establishing effective control over the Indian Ocean trade. This would provide a link between the colony and the Portugal. The exploration was facilitated by the myriad naval inventions that were evident in the 14th Century. Henry the Navigator also contributed in the establishment of the maritime technologies. Inventions such as the maps that helped the Portuguese sailors at sea facilitated the exploration. Christopher Columbus also facilitated the idea. Christopher Columbus suggested on the possibility of reaching India from the west.

The exploratory effort commenced in 1418, with Henry the Navigator, Joao Goncalves Zarco and Tristao Vaz Teixeira. However, the three explorers were driven by storm to a secluded Madeira Island. In the process of their rescue, the Portuguese discover the territory and later on come to colonize it. These uninhabited islands of Azorean and Madeira were colonized in 1445. The Portuguese exploration of Africa was marked by Gil Eanes’ visit to south Morocco. Before the trip, the European continent had little information about the African continent. Within the demise of the 13th century and the onset of the 14th century, the explorers who ventured in exploration of Africa often got lost. This is why most explorers who ventured in treading the African continent were referred to as the ‘legends of the sea monster.’ Later on in 1448, a small island known as Arguim was discovered by the Portuguese (Hebbar, 2008). The island was situated in Mauritania. The Portuguese established a trading post and a castle to facilitate their control over the region. The region helped the Portuguese establish trade relations with the interior parts of the African continent. Then again, this contributed in the incessant urge to establish trade relations with the entire coastal strip of the African continent. This exploration was a crucial goal in the Portuguese administration since it helped them realize their economic interests.

Some of the Portuguese explorers navigated the east coast Asia out of sheer joy. Most of the information provided about the east African coast and Asia spurred the urge of exploration among most Portuguese nationals. This marked the onset of various Portuguese explorers in the coasts of Africa and Asia. Some of the early explorers included Vasco Da Gama, Pedro de Alvres Fransisco de Almeida among other explorers. In history, the Portuguese explorers have contributed in the realization of the east coast of Asia and Africa (Lal, 2011). The Portuguese rule developed imperative historical landmarks such as the Vasco Da Gama pillar in the coastal strip of eastern Africa. The Portuguese leaders had been compelled by the urge to realize the activities of the regions that, little and often mysterious, information was provided about them.

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The Portuguese wanted to establish colonial rule over the east coast region for social prestige. Portugal was a small country but struggled for identity among the great European powers such as Britain and Spain. This nationalistic compulsion influenced the Portuguese to establish control over the east coast region of Asia (Unknown Author, 2012). It was through economic achievements and the acquisition of more colonies that facilitated the realization of the small country among the great European powers. Therefore, Portugal was constantly striving to achieve recognition in Europe through the establishment of strong commercial links with the east coast of Asia. Portugal had established strong naval forces and had developed realization among the world powers. This was also enhanced by their considerable contribution in exploration.

Lastly, the Portuguese had interests in promoting economic prosperity of their country. The east coast of Asia would provide a reliable market for the manufactured commodities from Portugal. Portugal would enhance its economic growth by trading with the east coast region through providing market for the manufactured goods coming from Portugal. In as much way, the east coast of Asia would provide raw materials for the cottage industries back in Portugal. Most products such as spices were needed in Europe. The provision of such commodities to Europe would help the country realize immense profits. In fact, economic reasons are the paramount goals for the establishment of the Portuguese rule along the east coast of Asia.

Alfonso de Albuquerque’s Speech

The consideration of the Portuguese forces to launch an attack on the city of Malacca is bound to elicit a response from the men. It would be noted that in the speech, the men changed their opinion on the attack. Alfonso de Albuquerque takes responsibility solely and master minds the offensive. It is evident that the men had various opinions on the launch of the offensive. Alfonso instructs them to establish a military fort at the center of the conquered state. It is obvious that such a confrontation would not be an easy task. More so, the Portuguese military were outnumbered considering that Portugal was a small country. The Portuguese often relied on punitive military back from other countries. Most of its support stemmed from the coastal African countries. It was almost impractical to launch an offensive on a city that had a renowned military prowess within the region. Furthermore, Alfonso grants them an opportunity to present the divergent views they withheld with regard to the offensive. Most men are bound to raise reactions with regard to the strategy behind the attack. However, it is mindful to note that it would not elicit the strongest of responses from the men.

Then again, the speech identifies that the Portuguese had given an ultimatum to the king of the city of Malacca. However, within the sixteen days, the king had failed to give feedback with regard to the matter. Therefore, Alfonso cites the delay as a considerable reason to stage an attack against the city. It is possible that among the men there is a possibility of the existence of men who consider discussions to enhance trade with the region. This is bound to evoke the strongest of responses. There are diverse reasons to support the argument.

First, the Portuguese were staging an attack to the region in a bid to realize economic prosperity. It is obvious that the face of war is always accompanied by physical ruins. In the course of the war, it possible that the substantial resources the city is endowed with will be ruined. This implies that the Portuguese will be left with minimal or dilapidated resources if they succeeded in overthrowing the original inhabitants of the city. This would not help them realize the prime objective of their attack. On the other hand, if they had accommodated discussions, they would probably have to venture into a beneficial partnership that is bound to benefit both the city and the Portuguese. However, such a partnership would not grant absolute control to the Portuguese on the region. The king is bound to administer in consultation with the Portuguese rule.

Secondly, some of the men might consider on granting the king of the city yet a considerable time to decide and assess the possibility of discussions. The Portuguese should also consider sending representatives to the kings who would facilitate discussions. Such a move is bound to maintain a peaceful relationship between the city and the Portuguese. A peaceful relation is a paramount aspect in enhancing financial relation. If the Portuguese would peacefully confront the city of Malacca, they would be able to maintain a strong commercial relation. Such a relation is paramount since it may foster social and military relations between the city and the Portuguese. The Portuguese had small military front. A peaceful confrontation may elicit military support from the kingdom. This would be imperative in helping the Portuguese rule to expand their territorial boundaries within the east coast of Asia. The military reinforcement would also help them to confront other rival European powers.

In conclusion, it would be mindful to consider that the attack was launched successfully. This was one of the successful military offensives launched by the Portuguese on the east coast of Asia. However, the military prowess and economic prosperity of the Portuguese rule was short-lived. The demise of the Portuguese was occasioned by the loss of colonies due to the rise other European powers such as Spain. Despite the imperial decline of the Portuguese rule, the small European country takes credit for the immense exploration and maritime development. The impact of the Portuguese rule is still felt in India today. The Portuguese are also accredited with the introduction of cosmopolitanism in India. Other developments include cultural amalgamation in India’s cities like Goa (History of Goa, 2005).


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