Albuquerque: Rulers of India - Morse Stephens

Internal Policy

The relations of Portugal with Asia were in their origin, and throughout the reign of King Emmanuel, based on the desire to monopolise the commerce of the East with Europe. The idea of the universal conversion of the heathen to Christianity did not develope itself until the reign of King John III, Emmanuel's eldest son and successor. The idea of empire preceded that of proselytism, and was first enunciated by Albuquerque. The three conceptions are all closely united in the later history of the Portuguese in India, but they were evolved separately, had separate origins and distinct aims.

The establishment of direct commerce after the voyage of Vasco da Gama, led inevitably to the imperial notions of Albuquerque. The history of the Dutch and English power in the East followed the same lines, and the parallels which can be drawn are numerous and striking. But the idea of universal conversion to Christianity was a purely Portuguese and sixteenth-century idea. The Dutch and the English East India Companies discouraged Christian missionaries; the Portuguese, on the other hand, in the later days of their ascendancy, made their whole system of government subservient to the propagation of the Christian faith. It is not necessary here to draw deductions from this striking contrast. It is purely a matter of speculation whether this difference was due to religious causes or to the idiosyncrasies of the different nations; but the fact remains, and gives a peculiar interest to the history of the Portuguese in the East, as connected with the history of the extension of Christianity.

The voyage of Vasco da Gama, as well as the explorations of Prince Henry the Navigator, was dictated by commercial causes alone. Incidentally the Portuguese were interested in the discovery of native Christians on the Malabar coast and of a Christian Empire in Abyssinia. But it cannot be too strongly insisted upon that the primary aim of the Portuguese was commercial and not religious. The idea of empire was forced on the Portuguese by the opposition they met with in the establishment of their commerce. Vasco da Gama had no idea of conquering the cities he touched at on the Malabar coast; he merely wished to open up trade relations. Cabral, who followed him, gave evidence of his peaceful intentions by sending the first Portuguese factor, Correa, ashore at Calicut with only a few clerks. But the murder of Correa and the subsequent attacks on the Portuguese factories at Cochin and Quilon showed that peaceful trade could not possibly be established in the then condition of the Malabar coast. It was necessary to supplement factories by fortresses, and it is significant that the first fortress built was founded by Albuquerque during his first voyage to India.

Here Dom Francisco de Almeida wished to stop. He considered it enough if the Portuguese had a few fortresses to protect their factors, and commanded the sea to protect their trading ships. Albuquerque went a step further. He held it to be inadequate for the Portuguese to possess only fortresses, and argued that they must rule directly over the cities and islands which were the principal seats of trade. The history of the Dutch and English in the East shows exactly the same progression. The merchants of those countries originally desired only to establish trade. They next found it necessary to build fortresses to protect their factors or agents. And finally they found it necessary to build up, much against the will of their employers at home, the Dutch Empire in Java, Sumatra, and the Spice Islands, and the English Empire in India. The growth of the latter is traced in other volumes of this series, in which the progress of the English from traders to rulers is exhibited.

But the causes which led to the erection of the Dutch and English empires in Asia differ in one point from those which led to the establishment of the Portuguese power. The former originated in the necessity for breaking the Portuguese monopoly of Asiatic commerce; the latter in the necessity for overthrowing the Muhammadan monopoly. And it may be noted incidentally that the Portuguese had the more difficult task. They had to break the Muhammadan connection with the whole of the East, with Persia and the Spice Islands as well as with India. Their means were not so adequate as those of the English and the Dutch, for they had to make the difficult passage round the Cape of Good Hope with smaller ships, and their appliances for war were weaker than those of their successors.

Indeed, had not the Portuguese connection with Asia been carried out by the whole of the royal power of Portugal, it may be doubted whether it could ever have attained its full development. The Crown of Portugal kept the trade with the East in its own hands as a royal monopoly, and was able to despatch great fleets with armies, in some instances, of 1500 soldiers on board. Whereas the Dutch and English merchant adventurers were unable to act on such a large scale. The existence of the Royal monopoly may have, in the end, affected the Portuguese development in the East prejudicially, but in the commencement it was absolutely necessary, for the whole strength of the little kingdom was needed to bear the strain of the continual despatch of men to Asia.

It has already been said more than once that the Eastern trade with Europe was in the hands, until the commodities reached the Levant, of Muhammadan traders. These traders were chiefly of Arab origin, especially on the Malabar coast, but the Arab immigrants were supported in nearly every place by native converts to the religion of Islam. Such Moslem merchants did not try to establish direct rule in the cities in which they settled. It is an instructive tradition which makes the Raja Perumal, who ruled over the whole Malabar coast, retire to Mecca after his conversion to Islam. The Arab traders on the Indian coasts did not resemble the Muhammadan invaders from the north-west. Conversion was not with them a main incentive; but, as the Muhammadan historians show, they took good care that native Muhammadan converts should not be prejudiced by their change of religion. The sort of imperium in imperio  of the Arab or Mopla merchants in the Malabar cities is fully described in the Tohfut-ul-mujahideen, which shows how the Muhammadan communities were bound together and preserved their independence with regard to the Hindu sovereigns. Such a situation would have entirely agreed with the first notions of the Portuguese visitors to India. But the natural jealousy of the Muhammadan merchants would not permit a new trading community to spring up side by side with them.

King Emmanuel with great sagacity perceived the true meaning of the rivalry between the Portuguese and the Muhammadans in the East. He grasped the fact that he had not to deal with the merchants alone; he understood that the whole force of Egypt and the Turks would be arrayed against him. No division of trade could in those days be expected. He therefore resolved to cut off entirely the mid-way connection between the Levant and the chief markets of Asia. For this purpose he directed the building of a fortress in the island of Socotra; for this purpose he continually urged his commanders to seize Aden and close the Red Sea to commerce; for this purpose he was willing to receive ambassadors from the Hindu princes of India, but would hear of nothing but war against the Muhammadans. His captains carried out his instructions to the letter. The atrocious acts of cruelty committed by all of them against Muhammadans may have been in part due to religious animosity and to their Portuguese origin, but they were not discouraged by the Portuguese monarch, who was inspired more by his anxiety to destroy their trade than their faith.

The despatch of the Egyptian fleet, which was defeated by Almeida, was a proof that King Emmanuel's fears were justified. The internal wars of the principal Muhammadan rulers alone prevented that fleet from being followed at once by others still more formidable. Fortunately for the Portuguese, however, at this very period the Sultan Selim I of Constantinople was engaged in fierce war with the Mameluke Sultan of Egypt, and Ismail Shah of Persia was at open issue with both dynasties. But the necessity for closing the former trade routes would not have led to the ruin and slaughter of Muhammadans settled in India itself, had they not systematically opposed the Portuguese.

Albuquerque, after his first conquest of Goa and after that of Malacca, showed himself ready to treat the Moslems with clemency. In both instances that clemency was abused. The Muhammadans of Goa undoubtedly favoured the advancing army of Yusaf Adil Shah; and the Muhammadans of Malacca began to plot against the Portuguese supremacy as soon as it was firmly established. It was for these reasons that he ordered the indiscriminate slaughter of the Muhammadans of Goa on his second conquest of that city, and that he directed the execution of Utemuta Raja at Malacca. It was impossible that the two rival trading nationalities could co-exist; the one was inevitably led to destroy the other.

The first means devised for the overthrow of Muhammadan commerce was the system of licenses. Before Albuquerque's arrival the Portuguese arrogated to themselves the right of seizing any ship which did not carry a license granted by the Portuguese authorities. When this custom had been thoroughly established, it was followed by the complete prohibition of all licenses to trade with the Red Sea. Even when such a powerful ruler as the king of Gujarat asked permission to send ships to Aden, Albuquerque refused, and every vessel carrying merchandise in that direction was regarded as legitimate prey. The next step to closing the sea by means of the superiority of the Portuguese vessels was to build fortresses in spots commanding the trade routes. This was why Albuquerque laid such weight on the necessity of building a fortress at Ormuz, and of endeavouring to capture Aden.

So far the policy of King Emmanuel, of Almeida, and of Albuquerque agreed. But the latter advanced beyond the notions of his sovereign and his predecessor in his endeavour to found a Portuguese empire in the East. His system rested on four main bases. He desired to conquer certain important points for trading purposes, and to rule them directly; he desired to colonise the selected districts by encouraging mixed marriages with the native inhabitants; where he could not conquer or colonise he desired to build fortresses; and where this was impracticable he desired to induce the native monarchs to recognise the supremacy of the king of Portugal and to pay him tribute. It is not necessary to illustrate Albuquerque's policy on all these points at greater length than has already been done. His building of fortresses has been shown in the instances of Calicut, Malacca, and Ormuz; much has been said of his policy of conquest with regard to Goa; and his effort to induce native monarchs to become tributary has been related with regard to the King of Ormuz, the Zamorin of Calicut, and the Raja of Cochin.

But Albuquerque's policy of colonisation is unique in the history of the Europeans in India; it has been far-reaching in its results, and has profoundly influenced the present condition of the Portuguese in India. His notion of an Eastern empire differed entirely from that taken in subsequent centuries by the English. He had no horror of mixed marriages, no dislike of half-castes. On the contrary, he did all in his power to create a race of half-caste Portuguese. When Goa was taken for the second time he tried to induce as many Portuguese as possible to marry native women, and especially the wives of the Muhammadans he had killed. He presided at these marriages himself, and gave dowries to couples married as he desired. The class he particularly encouraged were the artisans, who had been sent out from Portugal as ship-builders, rope-makers, and workmen in the arsenals and dockyards. He was also urgent in inducing his gunners to marry.

His aim in this policy was to form a population which should be at once loyal to Portugal and satisfied to remain in India for life. Officers indeed might expect to return to the fatherland, but Europeans of inferior ranks were too valuable to be allowed to escape. In all it is narrated that about 450 Portuguese were married to native women before he left Goa for Malacca. A quaint account of Albuquerque's colonising policy is given in the Commentaries:

"Those who desired to marry were so numerous, that Affonso de Albuquerque could hardly grant their requests, for he did not give permission, except for men of proved character, to marry. But in order to favour this work, as it was entirely of his own idea, and also because they were men of good character and had deserved by their good services that this privilege should be granted to them, he extended the permission to marry far beyond the powers which had been assigned by the King Emmanuel, for the women with whom they married were the daughters of the principal men of the land. And he granted this favour, among other reasons, in order that when the Hindus observed what he did for their daughters and nieces and sisters they might with better willingness turn Christians; and for this reason he would not suffer any of the women to be enslaved, but ordered that they should be all taken away from the masters who had possession of them; and he divided among the married ones the lands, houses, and cattle and everything else that there was, to give them a start in life; and if the women whom he thus gave in marriage asked for the houses which had been in possession of their fathers or their husbands, he ordered that these should be so given, and therein they found many jewels and gold pieces which had been hidden underground and abandoned when the city was captured."

This colonising policy was carried out by Albuquerque both for moral and political reasons, but it was not approved by all the other Portuguese officers in India. Some of the Catholic clergy objected, in spite of his making baptism a preliminary to marriage, and Diogo Mendes, when Captain of Goa, did all he could to discourage the married men. Albuquerque dwells at length on this subject in the long despatch which he wrote to the king on April 1st, 1512, after his return from Malacca. It was one of his favorite schemes, and was well suited to the inclinations of the Portuguese people. Possibly no other nation is so willing to intermarry with alien races as the Portuguese. In Portugal itself there remain many traces in the physiognomy of the people of the intermarriage of the original stock with descendants of the Moors and even of the negro slaves, who were largely imported; in Brazil, an important division of the population is descended from mixed marriages between the Portuguese settlers and the aboriginal tribes; and in India the number of Portuguese half-castes forms a recognised section of the Christian population. These men and women resemble natives more than Europeans, and often appear to have only a very small amount of European blood.

But however desirous Albuquerque might be to create a body of Portuguese colonists and half-castes, he knew he could not establish a complete power in India by this means alone. The proportion of Europeans must inevitably be small, and some means had to be devised for governing the natives. This was one of the arguments employed by the school of Almeida for abandoning Goa. At Cochin, for instance, the Portuguese authority was only supreme within the limits of the fortress, and the task of governing the city was left to the Hindu Raja. But the conquest of the island and city of Goa produced a new set of conditions, and for the first time a civilised European state had to provide for the government of Hindus. Albuquerque boldly faced the difficulty. He declared that the expenses of government must be met out of revenue, and that the ownership of Goa should not cause any drain on the king's finances. He did not at first design to administer the island by Portuguese officials, but resolved to farm out its revenues to native chiefs.

After the first capture of Goa, Albuquerque selected Timoja; after the second conquest, Malhar Rao; and when the latter became Raja of Honawar, he received an offer for the situation from the Raja of the neighbouring Hindu state of Vengapur. He was informed after the first conquest that the King of Bijapur had doubled the amount of the taxes levied by the Hindu Raja of Vijayanagar. A petition was made that the latter amount should be exacted in future, and Albuquerque consented. Various sums are given as the value of these taxes, but perhaps the best and most trustworthy sum is 150,000 xerafins, a sum equivalent to about 9375. But at the same time, Albuquerque stated that if ever the payment of the taxes should fall into arrears the amount should be raised to that paid to Yusaf Adil Shah.

The particular form of administration adopted by the first European rulers of an Indian District is of peculiar interest to Englishmen, who now administer nearly the whole of India. Unfortunately, the Commentaries  give but a very few lines to this subject, and the contemporary Portuguese historians are practically silent. It will be as well therefore to give in full the description of the Commentaries.

157 "Timoja and the others received, in the name of the people, the lands, with these conditions that Affonso de Albuquerque laid down [this refers to the reduction in the amount of the taxes]; but it had also to be stipulated that he should appoint over them a Tanadar, and Hindus to govern them. Affonso de Albuquerque told them that he would promise not to appoint any Muhammadan to the office of Tanadar, and that he would give orders that the taxes should be collected by Portuguese in combination with certain Hindus of the land to be appointed by Timoja, in order that everything should be done with the least oppression of the people. And after having thus arranged the matter for them, Affonso de Albuquerque commanded that an oath should be administered to them, according to their heathen manner, that they would account for these taxes with him or the Governor of India for the time being; and he ordered that two pacharins should be given to each one, for it was an ancient custom in the land to give these to these Hindus.

"On the conclusion of this business, Affonso de Albuquerque gave them permission to return to their houses and to commence the collection of the taxes, according to the local registers of the lands. And they desired him to appoint over them certain Tanadars, who have the same office as our Almoxarifes [Receivers of the Customs], to collect the revenue and to dispense justice amongst them. In order to content them, Affonso de Albuquerque nominated Braz Vieira over them as Tanadar of Cintacora, and Gaspar Chanoca to act as his Secretary, and over all the other offices of Tanadar he appointed for them as Tanadars a number of honourable men, servants of the King, in whom he had complete confidence, to execute justice among them. And he ordered Timoja to appoint to each of these officers a Hindu clerk, in order to show them the method to be pursued in collecting the revenue; and to each Tanadar he told off 200 peons of the country to accompany them and carry out the instructions of their masters in the collection of the revenue. And he sent Joao Alvares de Caminha, who was a very honourable man and possessed great authority, in order to set those things in action as they should be carried on; and to put them into working order; and to repose in him a confidence with regard to other greater matters; and to be his clerk Antonio Fragoso was appointed; and a Hindu servant of Timoja to show him the register-books of the lands, how they were held in separate occupation, in order that there should be no dishonesty. And Joao Alvares de Caminha managed everything in such a manner that everybody was well pleased. The Hindus who had fled out of Goa returned to their original dwelling-places in the land immediately that they perceived that Affonso de Albuquerque had remitted to them a moiety of the dues, which they had been accustomed to pay to the Sabaio (Yusaf Adil Shah), and had appointed natives over them to govern them."

It will be seen from the above quotation that the union of revenue and judicial functions, which is one of the principal features of the English administration of India, was adopted by Albuquerque in his settlement of Goa. So also was the co-operation of native with European officials, while Joao Alvares de Caminha was the first forerunner of the modern English Collectors of Districts. It will be observed that the native system of government was adopted, for mention is made of the land register which would contain the amount to be paid by each tenant in the form of rent. Albuquerque carefully maintained the constitution of the village communities, and shortly after his death, in 1526, a register called the Foral de Usos e Costumes, containing the peculiar usages and customs of the village communities, was compiled, which served as a guide-book to subsequent administrators. His use of Hindu clerks in the work of settlement is also noteworthy; he quickly perceived the adaptability of the natives, and desired to employ them not only in the collection of the revenue, but in the management of the Portuguese factories. To make this possible he understood the necessity of educating the future clerks in Western customs and languages. He established schools for the purpose, and in his famous despatch of April 1, 1512, he begged King Emmanuel to send out from Portugal a competent schoolmaster for the education of native clerks.

Albuquerque likewise understood the value of native troops. In his expedition to the Red Sea he employed 800 native soldiers, who are stated to have been enlisted from among the inhabitants of "Kanara and Malabar." These men did good service, and were employed in other important expeditions. It is nowhere stated, however, whether they were drilled and commanded by European officers. The natives who served in the second capture of Goa were commanded by Malhar Rao, and it seems most probable that the contingent in the Red Sea remained under their native officers.

In one thing only did Albuquerque venture to oppose the customs of the natives of India. He dared to prohibit in the island of Goa the practice of Sati  or widow-burning, which was not abolished in British India until the governorship of Lord William Bentinck in 1829. The mention of Albuquerque's abolition of Sati  in the Commentaries  is sufficiently quaint to deserve quotation.

"They had a custom that if any Hindu died, the wife had to burn herself of her own free will; and when she was proceeding to this self-sacrifice it was with great merry-making and blowing of music, saying that she desired to accompany her husband to the other world. But the wife who would not so burn herself was thrust out from among the others, and lived by gaining, by means of her body, support for the maintenance of the pagoda of which she was a votary. However, when Affonso de Albuquerque took the city of Goa, he forbad from that time forward, that any more women should be burned; and although to change one's customs is equal to death itself, nevertheless they were happy to save their lives, and spoke very highly of him because he had ordered that there should be no more burning."

Albuquerque, like Warren Hastings and other English governors-general, understood the importance of keeping his employer in a good temper by looking after his commercial interests. In all his despatches he always set forth the commercial advantages of his different conquests, and excused his imperial ideas by defending them on commercial grounds. Nothing more need be said here on the general question of the advantages and history of the direct trade route round the Cape of Good Hope, but some special instances of Albuquerque's sagacity in commercial matters deserve record. His establishment of a Portuguese factory at Malacca is a striking example of his sagacity. He perceived that though the pepper and ginger which was taken on board in the Malabar ports was grown in India, the cinnamon purchased there chiefly came from Ceylon, and the spices from the Malay Peninsula and the Spice Islands. He therefore took steps to open up a direct trade in cinnamon with Ceylon, and made his famous expedition to Malacca. By such measures he hoped to avoid having to pay the middleman's profits for conveying these commodities to India.

A smaller point also deserves notice. When the Portuguese factory was established at Cochin certain prices were fixed which had to be paid in gold to the Raja's officers for the commodities required. This necessitated a considerable export of bullion from Portugal or else the forced sale of European goods. When Albuquerque was able to dictate terms to the new ruler of Calicut, he bargained that the products of India should be exchanged for merchandise brought from Portugal, and not sold for ready money. This reform was very unwelcome to the Portuguese factors and officials, who had hitherto made large profits by selling the European goods and embezzling part of the price paid for them.

One interesting proceeding of Albuquerque was his establishment of a new coinage, both at Goa and at Malacca. After the first capture of the future capital of Portuguese India, Timoja, whom he had made governor of the island, came with the principal inhabitants of the city and begged Albuquerque to strike some new money. The Governor replied, after holding a council of his captains, that he could not venture to assume one of the chief prerogatives of royalty without first obtaining the permission of the King of Portugal. But the need of a new currency was so urgent that Timoja and the inhabitants made a fresh petition that, if the Governor would not issue coins of his own, he would allow those of the King of Bijapur to pass current. This argument was irresistible, and Albuquerque established a mint for the coinage of gold, silver, and copper, under the superintendence of Tristao de Ga. The new money was inaugurated with an imposing ceremony. A proclamation was issued that the King of Bijapur's coins should not be kept or passed under severe penalties, and that whoever had any was to exchange it at the mint for the new coins. Albuquerque did not invent new measures of value; he adopted the Hindu values and simply gave Portuguese names to coins which he minted of the size and weight of those then in circulation in the country I.

In Malacca however he appeared as an originator. The only coins used there were made of pewter or tin; there was no gold or silver coinage, and trade was carried on by barter. Gold and silver was brought into the Peninsula from China and Siam, but it was used as merchandise and not as money. Albuquerque altered this, and established for the first time a gold and silver currency. But he was too wise to neglect the original native money. The tin mines of the peninsula were made crown property, and tin and pewter coins were struck of the old values. The new currency was inaugurated at Malacca as it had been at Goa, with a grand ceremony, which is fully described in the Commentaries, in which it is quaintly remarked that the people especially approved of the distribution among themselves of the new coins, which were scattered by the Portuguese officials from the back of an elephant.

It is important to grasp the fact that Albuquerque did not commence the policy of wholesale conversions to Christianity. Franciscan friars accompanied him to India, as they had accompanied his predecessors, but their principal duty was to look after the spiritual welfare of the Portuguese and not to convert the natives. These friars included men of different types. Some were employed in political capacities, as for instance, Frei Luis, who was sent as ambassador to the Raja of Vijayanagar. Some showed themselves men of the highest character, like Frei Francisco Loureiro, who was taken prisoner by the King of Gujarat on being wrecked on his coast with Dom Affonso de Noronha. The worthy priest was allowed to go to Cochin in order to procure a ransom for himself and his comrades in captivity. This occurred during Albuquerque's absence in Malacca, and the Portuguese officials at Cochin refused to furnish the money required. The friar at once returned to Gujarat to his imprisonment to the great admiration of the Muhammadan king. Some clerics, however, did not show themselves worthy of their profession. One in particular, a Dominican friar, embezzled the property of deceased Portuguese by declaring that they had signed wills in his favour This man was promptly sent back to Portugal in disgrace.

But though the making of converts did not at once become the principal occupation of the Catholic clergy in India, some baptisms on a large scale took place after the capture of Goa. These were principally of the Muhammadan women, whose husbands had been slain, and whom Albuquerque gave in marriage to his favourites. His marriage scheme itself was severely condemned by some of the friars, and but for his own strong will might have caused a schism. But though he did not make missionary effort a main aim of his policy, like some of his successors, Albuquerque was unfeignedly pious. He built churches at Goa, at Malacca, and in the island of Socotra, and he granted in these instances the whole of the property which had belonged to the Muhammadan mosques to the new foundations. The first Portuguese adventurers in India were too delighted to find Christians at all in India to have time to examine into the difference of their ritual from their own. They were overjoyed to find a cross in digging foundations for a church in Goa. They believed that Christianity would quickly spread over the East. And the religious persecutions which mar the later history of the Portuguese in India were not thought of in the days of the great governor.

The causes of Albuquerque's triumphant progress in Asia may be found in a consideration of certain special and general reasons as well as in his own character.

The chief general cause was the weakness and mutual enmity of the rulers with whom he came in contact. He had not to strive with the great Mughals; he did not come directly in contact with Ismail Shah, who favoured instead of opposing him; nor did he have cause to attack the powerful Emperor of China. The Hindu Zamorin of Calicut, the Muhammadan Nawab of Diu, the half savage Sultan of Malacca, the Arab King of Ormuz, were none of them great and powerful monarchs. All had external as well as internal enemies, and Albuquerque was quick to perceive and make use of this circumstance. The only great ruler he came into opposition with was Yusaf Adil Shah of Bijapur, who, fortunately for the Portuguese, died in 1510. The division of India into hostile kingdoms was especially favourable to the progress of the Portuguese. Albuquerque was able to play off Hindu Rajas against Muhammadan kings: nor were monarchs even of the same faith necessarily united in bonds of friendship. Thus the Raja of Cochin was the declared enemy of the Zamorin of Calicut, and the Muhammadan kings of the Deccan were too busy in fighting over the disruption of the great Bahmani kingdom to make a general effort against the new-comers. The existence of local jealousies and rivalries enabled Albuquerque, like later European rulers of India, to make good the position of his countrymen.

The special causes of the success of the Portuguese are to be found in the superiority of their ships, their artillery, and their soldiers. The Portuguese ships at the beginning of the sixteenth century, though much smaller than the great galleons which they afterwards built for the Indian trade, were much more efficient than the Arab vessels. They had to be both well built and well fitted to accomplish the long and perilous voyage round the Cape of Good Hope, whereas the Arab ships were only intended to sail across the Indian Ocean with the favourable monsoon and then up the quiet waters of the Red Sea or Persian Gulf. But the Portuguese did not depend on sailing vessels alone in their maritime battles; they built galleys in imitation of the native craft, and secured good sailors for them by offering increased pay.

The excellence of the Portuguese artillery and the skill of the gunners was another main cause of their victories. The natives, indeed, understood the use of powder and of cannon; as many as 300 pieces of ordnance were captured at Malacca; but the Portuguese guns were always better served than those of their opponents. It was noticed at the siege of Benastarim that one of Rasul Khan's guns did more damage than the rest, and it was soon discovered that it was being served by a Portuguese renegade. The arquebuses or clumsy muskets of the Portuguese also did them good service, though they cannot be compared to the more efficient arms of precision which came into use in the next century. Bows and arrows were the chief weapons on both sides, and the superiority of the Portuguese crossbowmen is constantly described in different engagements.

But neither ships nor arms would have effected much without brave hearts. And the Portuguese, in this their heroic period, gave evidence of a tried and adventurous courage which has seldom been equaled. Albuquerque's most serious repulse, at Aden, was due not to the reluctance but to the over impetuosity of his men. Again and again proofs of conspicuous gallantry were given, and many anecdotes might be quoted which testify to the bravery of both officers and men. But the discipline of the Portuguese was not equal to their courage. The soldiers and sailors were always ready to follow their officers, but the officers were apt to have ideas of their own with regard to the duty of obedience. The insubordination of Albuquerque's captains during his first expedition against Ormuz was imitated on many other occasions. Even the most severe examples failed to establish perfect discipline, and it was by no means the worst of the captains who were the most disobedient. But in spite of this defect the soldiers and the officers of Albuquerque were worthy of their leader. They had inherited their warlike disposition from their fathers; they had been trained to courage and endurance through centuries of fighting with the Moors both in the Peninsula and in Morocco; and their hideous cruelty to their conquered foes was as much a part of their nature as it was typical of the century in which they lived.

Albuquerque's own character counted for much in his success. He was comparatively an old man when he took up his governorship, and his scheme of policy was by that time carefully matured. To that policy he adhered unflinchingly from the beginning to the end of his career. His extraordinary tenacity of purpose was one of his most remarkable characteristics. He swore at the time of his first repulse at Ormuz that he would return, and he did. He insisted on the capture and retention of Goa, in spite of many varieties of opposition, and he gained his point. There can be little doubt that had he survived he would have succeeded in his cherished ambition of conquering Aden and closing the Red Sea to the commerce of the East.

With this tenacity of purpose went a wide and remarkable tolerance. The favourable countenance he showed to the Hindus was due to his nature as well as to his scheme of policy. With regard even to the Muhammadans, whom he hated, he could show a certain tolerance which would not have been found in a crusader. He sent embassies to Shah Ismail, and the Kings of Gujarat and Bijapur, and was ready to bear with the Moslems in Malacca and in India, until he grasped the irreconcilable nature of their enmity to the Portuguese. He possessed an intuitive knowledge of the best way to deal with Asiatic peoples. He understood the importance of pomp and ceremony, and the influence exerted by the possession of the prestige of victory.

Throughout there was something of the grandiose in his nature and his views. His project of establishing an empire in India naturally seemed absurd to his contemporaries. And the attempt to realise it exhausted the Portuguese nation. But the existence of the English empire in India has shown that Albuquerque's idea was not impracticable in itself; it was his nation which proved inadequate to the task. Albuquerque's courage and his cruelty, his piety and his cunning, were not peculiar to himself; they were shared by other men of his time and country. But his tenacity of purpose, his broadminded tolerance, and his statesmanlike views were absolutely unique, and helped to win for him his proud designation of Affonso de Albuquerque the Great.