To the West

An envoy from Ethiopia arrived in Goa in December 1512 seeking a coalition to help counter growing Ottoman influence. Albuquerque forwarded the ambassador to Portugal and headed towards the Red Sea in February 1513, with around a thousand Portuguese and four hundred Malabaris. 

Since the island of Socotra had proved unsuitable as a base to control the entrance to the Red Sea entrance, Albuquerque attempted to besiege the fortified city of Aden, but after a fierce battle, he was forced to retreat. 

An attempt to reach Jeddah, the port for the Muslim holy city of Mecca encountered unfavourable winds, and while he was able to shelter on an island, sickness and lack of fresh water forced him out of the Red Sea. 

A second attempt to capture Aden was unsuccessful, and he was back in India by August 1513, without achieving anything substantial. 

He was not, however, afraid to envisage ambitious undertakings. He reputedly entertained notions of diverting the course of the Nile to render all of Egypt barren and stealing the body of the prophet, Muhammad, holding it for ransom until the Muslims had vacated the Holy Land.

In the meantime, Albuquerque devoted himself to governing the new Portuguese realm, concluding peace with Calicut, receiving embassies from other significant centres, strengthening Goa and encouraging Portuguese men to marry local women since Portuguese women were barred from travelling to the East. 

To Hormuz; Albuquerque's Death

© Ian Hughes 2017