On to Calicut

The fleet tracked along South America's east coast as Cabral became convinced he had found a continent. Then around 5 May, the fleet veered towards Africa. Two and a half weeks later, somewhere in the South Atlantic, they encountered a storm that scattered the fleet. Three of the naus and Bartolomeu Dias' caravel foundered, and nearly four hundred men were lost.

The remaining vessels rounded the Cape of Good Hope, reassembled off the coast of East Africa, and spent ten days near Sofala ten days carrying out running repairs. From there, the main body continued north to Kilwa (26 May), where negotiations failed to deliver a treaty. When they moved on to Malindi (2 August), the talks were more successful, and Cabral was able to recruits pilots to guide them the rest of the way.

After making landfall on the Indian coast, e the ships were beached, recaulked and repainted on the island of Anjediva. They arrived off Calicut on 13 September, and while Cabral's negotiations with the Zamorin delivered permission to establish a factory and warehouse, the Portuguese facility came under attack in mid-December by a crowd allegedly stirred up by their commercial rivals. More than fifty Portuguese were killed, but the rest of the shore party managed to retreat to the ships anchored offshore.

Cabral waited offshore for a day, expecting an explanation from the Zamorin. When it failed to arrive, he retaliated by seizing ten merchant ships in the harbour, confiscating their cargoes, massacring the crews and setting the vessels alight. 

Around the Cape

© Ian Hughes 2017