Afonso de Albuquerque

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AlbuquerqueThe second viceroy of Portuguese India, Afonso de Albuquerque (1453-1515) was a strategist who understood the value of sea power, established the Portuguese empire in Asia. 

Between 1505 and 1515, Almeida and Albuquerque set out to break the Muslim monopoly of the spice trade by capturing strategic ports dominating the trade routes. 

In 1504 Almeida sacked Mozambique and Mombasa, massacred the inhabitants, and built fortresses on the sites. In 1506 da Cunha exterminated the population of Socotra. In 1507 Albuquerque destroyed an Arab fleet off Hormuz and purloined tribute from the sultan. 

The destruction of a Turkish-Egyptian fleet off Diu in 1509 gave Portugal naval supremacy in the Indian Ocean for the next century. In 1510 Albuquerque’s men landed at Goa, seized the city from the Sultan of Bijapur and his soldiers set fire to the mosques after crowding the townspeople into them. Albuquerque made it the capital of the eastern empire. He launched assaults on Aden and Hormuz, the keys to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, and in 1511 captured Malacca.

From 1506 Albuquerque also explored Madagascar and the East African coast. Albuquerque differed from his predecessor Almeida as to the best tactics to follow, believing that sea power alone without strategic bases commanding the trade routes, would be insufficient. 


© Ian Hughes 2017