ADVENT OF EUROPEANS () 09Z OS 7
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PORTUGUESE STATE . The general tendency is to underestimate the Portuguese hold in India. However, the Estado Portugues da India (State of the Portuguese India) was in fact a larger element in Indian history tharn it is given credit for. Many of the coastal parts had come under Portuguese power within fifty years of Vasco da Gama's arrival. . The Portuguese had occupied some sixty miles of coast around Goa. On the west coast from Mumbai to Daman and Diu to the approaches to Gujarat, they controlled a narrow tract with four important ports and hundreds of towns and villages.
In the south, they had under them a chain of seaport fortresses and trading-posts like Mangalore, Cannanore, Cochin, and Calicut. .Though their power in Malabar was not consolidated, it was enough to ensure influence or control over the local rulers who held the spice growing land. The Portuguese established further military posts and settlements on the east coast at San Thome (in Chennai) and Nagapatnam (in Andhra). Towards the end of the sixteenth century, a wealthy settlement had grown at Hooghly in West Bengal.
. Treaties were signed between Goa and the Deccan sultans in 1570 which were regularly renewed as long as their kingdoms lasted. The Portuguese always had a role to play in the successive battles for the balance of power between Vijayanagara and the Deccan sultans, between the Deccanis and the Mughals, and between the Mughals and the Marathas. . Interestingly, the Portuguese, the first Europeans to come to India were also the last to leave this land. It was 1961 before the Government of India recaptured Goa, Daman and Diu from them.
RELIGIOUS POLICY OF THE PORTUGUESE The Moors were the bitter enemies of the Portuguese in North Africa. So were the Arabs. Arriving in the East, the Portuguese brought with them the same zeal to promote Christianity and the wish to persecute all Muslims. . Intolerant towards the Muslims, the Portuguese were initially quite tolerant towards the Hindus. However, over time, after the introduction of the Inquisition in Goa, there was a change and Hindus were also persecuted. But, in spite of this intolerant behaviour, the Jesuits made a good impression at the court of Akbar, mainly due to the Mughal emperor's interest in questions of theology.
. In September 1579, Akbar forwarded a letter to the authorities at Goa requesting them to send two learned priests. The Church authorities in Goa eagerly accepted the invitation, seeing in it a chance to convert the emperor to Christianity, and with him his court and the people. . Jesuit fathers, Rodolfo Aquaviva and Antonio Monserrate were selected for the purpose. . When they reached Fatehpur Sikri on February 28, 1580, they were received with honour. Aquaviva and Monserrate went back in 1583, belying the hopes the Portuguese entertained of Akbar's conversion to the Christian faith. 7
The second mission called by Akbar in 1590 also ended on a similar note in 1592 . The third mission, again invited by Akbar, arrived in 1595 at Lahore (where the court was then residing) and continued as a sort of permanent institution, thereby extending its influence on secular politics. . Fathers Jerome Xavier and Emanuel Pinheiro were the leaders of the mission, and their letters from the court became very widely known for the information they provided on the latter part of Akbar's reign. . Prince Salim, on ascending the throne as Jahangir, assuaged the Muslims by neglecting the Jesuit fathers.
Gradually, however, his temporary estrangement from the Jesuits ended, and in 1606 he again renewed his favours to them. The elegant and spacious church at Lahore was allowed to be retained by them along with the collegium or thepriests' residence. In 1608, twenty baptisms were carried out in Agra, the priests publicly acting with as much liberty as in Portugal . Jahangir's conduct was such that the Jesuit priests became hopeful of bringing him within the Christian fold. However, these hopes were belied. Moreover, arrogant actions on the part of the Portuguese viceroys created a rift with the Mughal emperor.
PORTUGUESE LOSE FAVOUR WITH THE MUGHALS In 1608, Captain William Hawkins with his ship Hector reached Surat. He brought with him a letter from James I, King of England, to the Mughal court of Jahangir requesting permission to do business in India. . Father Pinheiro and the Portuguese authorities did their best to prevent Hawkins from reaching the Mughal court, but did not succeed . Jahangir accepted the gifts Hawkins brought for him and gave Hawkins a very favourable reception in 1609. As Hawkins knew the Turki language well, he conversed with the emperor in that language without the aid of an interpreter. 7
. A baffled Hawkins left the Mughal court in 1611, unable to counter the Portuguese intrigues or check the vacillating Mughal policies. However, in November 1612, the English ship Dragon under Captain Best along with a little ship, the Osiander, successfully fought a Portuguese fleet. Jahangir, who had no navy worth its name, learnt of the English success and was greatly impressed.
DECLINE OF THE PORTUGUESE . By the 18th century, the Portuguese in India lost their commercial influence, though some of them still carried on trade in their individual capacity and many took to piracy and robbery. In fact, Hooghly was used by some Portuguese as a base for piracy in the Bay of Bengal. The decline of the Portuguese was brought about by several factors. . The local advantages gained by the Portuguese in India were reduced with the emergence of powerful dynasties in Egypt, Persia and North India and the rise of the turbulent Marathas as their immediate neighbours. (The Marathas captured Salsette and Bassein in 1739 from the Portuguese.)
. One by one, the Portuguese possessions fell to its opponents. Goa which remained with the Portuguese had lost its importance as a port after the fall of the Vijayanagara empire and soon it did not matter in whose possession it was. The spice trade came under the control of the Dutch, and Goa was superseded by Brazil as the economic centre of the overseas empire of Portugal. In 1683, after two naval assaults, the Marathas invaded Goa
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