Early Life

Albuquerque came from Portugal's provincial nobility, had been part of Afonso V’s 1471 North African crusade, served at court and in North Africa under João II and Manuel the Fortunate. 

In April  1503 Manuel sent him to India with Duarte Pacheco Pereira and Nicolau Coelho to consolidate the Portuguese presence in Cochin (present-day Kochi). After his return home in July 1504, he helped create an overall strategy for Portuguese activity in the Indies and thwart Muslim trade across the Indian Ocean. 

Capturing Aden would block trade through Alexandria. Business through Beirut could be cut at Hormuz, and if the Portuguese took Malacca, they would be able to control the sea route to China.

But the initial objective for the eighth Portuguese India Armada which left Lisbon on 6 April 1506 under the command of Tristão da Cunha was to capture the island of Socotra, which would deliver control of the entrance to the Red Sea. 

The main part of the fleet would then depart to relieve the Portuguese besieged at Cannanore, while a squadron under Albuquerque as "chief-captain for the Coast of Arabia" set about establishing a fortress on Socotra, From there, they were to proceed to Hormuz to block off the Persian Gulf. 

Once he had accomplished those objectives, Albuquerque was to proceed to India, where he was to replace Francisco de Almeida at the top of Portugal's East Indies enterprise.


© Ian Hughes 2017