Robert Kerr.

A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a online

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on the king of Ormuz, and were actually building a fortress to keep the
capital under subjection. - E.]

While the fort of Ormuz was building, or rather finishing, Albuquerque
persuaded the king that it would contribute to the safety of the city to
put all their cannon into the fort to defend them against their enemies,
but in reality to disable them from resisting the Portuguese domination.
Security is a powerful argument with those who are in fear, so that the
king and his governor reluctantly consented to this demand. Thus the
rich and powerful kingdom of Ormuz was completely subjected to the
Portuguese dominion, yet more to the advantage than detriment of its
native princes; who were more oppressed before by the tyranny of their
ministers, than afterwards by the tribute they had to pay to the
Portuguese, besides the security they enjoyed under protection of the
Portuguese arms. Yet liberty is sweeter than all other conveniences.

Albuquerque dispatched his nephew Don Garcia de Noronha with most of the
fleet to Cochin, with orders to send home the ships of the season with
the trade to Portugal, remaining behind to conclude such arrangements as
seemed to require his presence. He soon afterwards fell sick, and was
persuaded by his attendants to return to India for the recovery of his
health, which he consented to, and left Pedro de Albuquerque in the
command of the fort at Ormuz. His departure gave great concern to the
king, who loved him as a father. While on the voyage to Goa, he got
notice that 12 ships were arrived in India from Portugal with orders for
his return to Europe, Lope Soarez who commanded that fleet being
appointed his successor. He was likewise informed that Diego Mendez and
Diego Pereyra, both of whom he had sent home as prisoners for heinous
crimes, had come back to India, the one as governor of Cochin and the
other as secretary to the new viceroy. These news gave him much
dissatisfaction, and he is reported to have vented his distress on the
occasion to the following purpose. "It is now time for me to take
sanctuary in the church, having incurred the kings displeasure for the
sake of his subjects, and their anger for the sake of the king. Old man!
fly to the church! Your honour requires that you should die, and you
have never yet omitted any thing in which your honour was concerned!"
Then raising his hands and eyes to heaven, he gave God thanks that a
governor had come out so opportunely, not doubting that he should soon
die. He fell into a profound melancholy, and arrived at Dabul almost in
the arms of death, at which place he wrote the following letter to the
king. "This, Sir! is the last letter your highness will receive from me,
who am now under the pangs of death. I have formerly written many to
your highness full of life and vigour, being then free from the dread
thought of this last hour, and actively employed in your service. I
leave a son behind me, _Blas de Albuquerque_, whom I entreat your
highness to promote in recompence of my services. The affairs of India
will answer for themselves and me."

Having arrived on the bar of Goa, which he called his _Land of Promise_,
he expired on the 16th of December, 1515, in the sixty-third year of his
age, retaining his senses to the last, and dying as became a good
Christian. Alfonso de Albuquerque was second son to Gonzalo de
Albuquerque lord of Villaverde, by Donna Leonora de Menezes, daughter of
Alvaro Gonzalez de Atayde, first count of Atouguia. He had been master
of the horse to King John the Second. He was of moderate stature, having
a fair and pleasing countenance, with a venerable beard reaching below
his girdle to which he wore it knotted. When angry his looks were
terrible; but when pleased his manners were merry, pleasant, and witty.
He was buried in a chapel which he built near the gate of the city of
Goa, dedicated to _Our Lady of the Mountain_, but, after a long
resistance from the inhabitants of Goa, his bones were transferred to
the church of _Our Lady of Grace_ at Lisbon.

The dominion of the Portuguese in India was founded by three great men,
Duarte Pacheco, Francisco de Almeyda, and Alfonso de Albuquerque; after
whom scarcely was there a single successor who did not decline from
their great character, having either a mixture of timidity with their
valour, or of covetousness with their moderation, in which the vices
predominated. In gaining this Indian crown, Pacheco alone acted with
that fiery heat which melted the arms and riches of the zamorin; only
_Almeyda_ could have filed and polished it, by his own and his sons
sword, bringing it into form by humbling the pride of the Egyptian
Soldan while _Albuquerque_ gave a finish to its ornaments, by adorning
it with three precious jewels, _Goa, Malacca_ and _Ormuz_[138].

[Footnote 138: Portuguese Asia, II. vii. This rhetorical flourish by De
Faria, gives a specimen of what was perhaps considered fine writing in
those days; but it strongly marks the important services of Albuquerque,
and is therefore here inserted. - E.]


_Portuguese Transactions in India, under several governors, from the
close of 1515, to the year 1526_.

While the great Alfonso de Albuquerque was drawing towards the last
period of his life, Manuel, as if he had foreseen that event, sent out
Don Lope Soarez de Albergaria to succeed him in the government, with a
fleet of 13 ships, carrying a force of 1500 soldiers, many of whom were
gentlemen by birth, and still more so by their actions. Among them was
Duarte Galvam, a person of learning and judgment, who was sent
ambassador to Abyssinia with considerable presents, some for _Prester
John_, and some for the church. On his arrival at Cochin, the new
governor offended many by the reservedness of his carriage and manners,
and became particularly disagreeable to the rajah, who had been
accustomed to the discreet and easy civility of Albuquerque. Don Garcia
de Noronha took charge of the homeward bound ships, and went away after
no small disagreement with Soarez. Till this time, the Portuguese
gentlemen in India had followed the dictates of honour, esteeming arms
their greatest riches; but henceforwards they gave themselves entirely
up to trade, those who had been captains becoming merchants; insomuch
that command became a shame, honour a scandal, and reputation a
reproach. Having entered upon the exercise of his government, he visited
the forts, in which he placed new captains, gave out orders, and
transacted other affairs of small moment, which serve rather to fill the
page than to advance the dignity of history.

In the year 1515, five ships sailed from Lisbon under the command of
Juan de Sylveira, three of which arrived in Lisbon, and the other two
were lost on the sands of St Lazarus. By orders from the king,
proceeding on information that the Soldan was fitting out a great fleet
at Suez, Soarez sailed from Goa on the 8th of February 1516, with 27
sail of vessels of various sizes and descriptions, having 1200
Portuguese and 800 Malabar soldiers on board, besides 800 native seamen,
and directed his course for the Red Sea in order to oppose the Mameluke
fleet. On arriving at Aden, Miramirzan the governor immediately offered
to surrender the place, declaring he would have done so to Albuquerque
if that officer had not at the very first proceeded to hostility. The
real state of the matter was that the place was indefensible, as Reis,
Soliman, the admiral of the Egyptian fleet of which Soarez was in search
had beaten down a part of the wall so that the town was defenceless.
Lope Soarez was so much pleased by this flattering offer that he trusted
Miramirzan and declined taking possession of the city till his return
from the Red Sea, and went away in search of Reis Soliman; but he
neither met with him, nor did he take Aden on his return. While on his
voyage up the Red Sea, Don Alvaro do Castro with forty men was lost
through covetousness, as he so overloaded his ship with goods from some
captured vessels that she became water-logged and went to the bottom.
Some other ships of the fleet received damage during this part of the
voyage. Hearing that Soliman was driven by stress of weather to Jiddah,
where he had no means of defence, Soarez determined to sail to that

Jiddah or Juddah, the sea-port of Mecca, is a town and harbour of Arabia
on the eastern shore of the Red Sea in about 22° of north latitude,
situated in a most barren soil composed of deep loose sand, being more
calculated for commerce than delight. The buildings are good, but the
harbour very bad, and its inhabitants consist partly of native Arabs and
partly of foreign merchants. It was fortified by Mir Husseyn after his
defeat by Almeyda, under pretence, of defending the sepulchre of
Mahomet, but in reality for his own security as he was afraid to return
defeated to the Soldan. While he was occupied in constructing the
fortifications, Reis Soliman a low born Turk of Mitylene in the
Archipelago, but a bold and successful corsair, offered his services to
the Soldan, and was appointed admiral of the Suez fleet of 27 sail,
which was fitting out for the attack of Aden. Mir Husseyn was
accordingly discarded and Soliman appointed in his place. After the
failure of his attempt on Aden, where he lost a considerable number of
men, Soliman made a descent on Zobeid in the Tehamah near the island of
Kamaran, where he acquired a considerable booty, from whence he
proceeded to Jiddah, where he slew Mir Husseyn: And learning that the
emperor of the Turks had slain the Soldan in battle, and subverted the
sovereignty of the Mamelukes in Egypt, he surrendered the Egyptian fleet
and the port of Jiddah to the conqueror.

Finding the port dangerous, Soarez came to anchor about a league from
the city of Jiddah, yet so excellent were some of the cannon of the
place, that three or four pieces were able to carry that prodigious
distance. Soliman sent a message to the Christian fleet offering a
single combat man to man, which Gaspar de Silva and Antonio de Menezes
both offered to accept, but Soarez would not allow the combat. Soarez
now caused the channel leading up to Jiddah to be sounded, and at this
time the inhabitants were much alarmed by the fire of one of the
Portuguese vessels; but Soliman appeased the tumult, and made his
appearance without the walls with some of his men, while the walls were
filled by vast multitudes of the infidels, who rent the air with loud
cries. After two days of inaction, the Portuguese began to complain of
the delay; but Soarez appeased his officers by shewing his instructions,
in which he was ordered to fight the fleet of the Mamelukes, which could
not be accomplished, and not to attack the city, where there might be
much danger and little chance of profit. Though the votes differed in
the council of war, it was resolved by a majority to desist from the
enterprise against Jiddah, and accordingly Soarez and his armament
retired to Kamaran, whence he detached several ships to different parts
of the Red Sea. At this place died Duarte Galvam, a learned and
ingenious man, who had been employed in several embassies in Europe, and
though above seventy years of age was now going ambassador to _Prester
John_. At the time of his death, he told his attendants that his son
George and all his men had been cast away in their vessel, and that the
inhabitants of the island of Dalac had cut off the heads of Lorenzo de
Cosme and others that had been sent to that place. All this was
afterwards found true, yet it was utterly impossible that the
intelligence could have reached Duarte at Kamaran before his death.

After suffering much distress from famine, of which several men died,
and losing seventeen Portuguese who were made prisoners by the Arabs,
and carried to Jiddah, Soarez set sail from Kamaran and appeared before
Zeyla in the kingdom of Adel, on the north-east coast of Africa, a
little way out from the mouth of the Red Sea. This place was called
_Emporium Avalite_ by Ptolemy, who describes it as a great mart in
ancient times. On the present occasion Zeyla was taken with little
opposition, being unprepared for defence, and was reduced to ashes. From
Zeyla, Soarez went to Aden on the coast of Arabia, but soon found he had
been to blame for not taking possession when formerly offered it; as
Miramirzan had repaired the wall, and now procrastinated the surrender
of his city by various affected delays. Soarez fearing to lose the
season of the trade winds for returning to India, set sail for Barbora
on the same coast with Zeyla, which he meant likewise to destroy; but
the fleet was dispersed in a storm, and on its being afterwards
collected, it was found that more than eight hundred men had perished,
from famine, disease, and shipwreck, in this disastrous and
ill-conducted expedition.

While these disasters attended Soarez, the city of Goa, where Monroy
commanded, was threatened with destruction. According to orders from
Soarez, some ships had been taken from the enemy, but with more profit
than reputation, though not without danger. One Alvaro Madureira, who
had married at Goa, fled to the enemy and turned Mahometan. He
afterwards repented and returned to Goa; but again fled to the Moors and
brought them to attack the Portuguese ships, which were in imminent
danger of being captured. About this time likewise, one Ferdinando
Caldera, who was also married at Goa, fled from that city to avoid
punishment for some crime he had committed, and joined the Moors; though
some say that he was forced to desert by Monroy, who was in love with
his wife. However this may have been, Caldera went to serve under
_Ancostan_ an officer of the king of Bisnagar. Don Gutierre de Monroy
demanded of Ancostan to deliver him up, which was refused; after which
Monroy suborned another person to go over to the enemy to assassinate
Caldera; which was done, but the assassin was instantly slain by the
Moors. On the return of Soarez to Goa, being informed of these
incidents, he left Monroy to take what satisfaction he thought proper
from Ancostan. Monroy accordingly sent out his brother Don Fernando at
the head of 150 Portuguese, 80 of whom were horse, and a considerable
body of natives, to attack Ancostan. Fernando defeated the Moors at
_Ponda_; but the Moors having rallied defeated him in his turn, and
obliged him to retire with the loss of 200 men killed and taken
prisoners. On these hostilities, the whole country was up in arms, and
Adel Khan the king of Bisnagar ordered his general _Sujo Lari_ to
besiege Goa. Lari accordingly endeavoured to cross over into the island
at the head of 4000 horse and 26,000 foot, but was repulsed. In the mean
time, as all intercourse was cut off between the island and the
continent, the besieged became distressed by want of provisions; but on
the arrival of three ships, one from Portugal, one from Quiloa, and the
third from China, Lari raised the blockade and the former peace was

Similar misfortunes took place at Malacca, through the misrule of George
de Brito and others, which occasioned all the native inhabitants to
desert the city to avoid oppression. In this situation, Mahomet, the
exiled king, sent a considerable force to attempt recovering his
capital, under the command of _Cerilege Rajah_ his general. Cerilege
intrenched his army, and so pressed the besieged that the Portuguese had
assuredly been driven from Malacca, had not Don Alexius de Menezes
arrived to assume the government with a reinforcement of 300 men.

Antonio de Saldanna arrived in India in 1517 with six ships. In this
fleet one Alcacova came out as surveyor of the king's revenue, invested
with such power as greatly curtailed the influence of Soarez, and having
the inclination to encroach still farther on his authority than he was
warranted. This occasioned great dissensions between the governor and
surveyor; who finding himself unable to prevail, returned into Portugal
where he made loud complaints against the administration of affairs in
India. Hence began the practice of listening to complaints at home
against the governors and commanders employed in India; and hence many
took more care in the sequel to amass riches than to acquire honour,
knowing that money is a never-failing protection from crimes. Soarez
sent Juan de Sylveira to the Maldive islands, Alexius de Menezes to
Malacca, Manuel de la Cerda to Diu, and Antonio de Saldanna with six
ships to the coast of Arabia by orders from the king. The only exploit
performed by Saldanna was the capture and destruction of Barbora, a town
near Zeyla but much smaller, whence the inhabitants fled. Saldanna then
returned to India, where he found Soarez about to sail for the island of

The island of Ceylon, the southernmost land in India, is to the east of
Cape Comorin. It is sixteen leagues distant from the continent[139], to
which some imagine that it was formerly joined. This island is about 80
leagues from north to south, and about 45 leagues from east to
west[140]. The most southerly point, or Dondra Head, is in lat. 5° 52' N.
The most northerly, or Point Pedro, in 9° 48'. In the sea belonging to
this island there is a fishery of the most precious pearls. By the
Persians and Arabs it is called _Serendib_[141]. It took the name of
_Ceylon_ from the sea by which it is surrounded, owing to the loss of a
great fleet of the Chinese, who therefore named that sea _Chilam_,
signifying danger, somewhat resembling _Scylla_; and this word was
corrupted to Ceylon. This island was the _Taprobana_ of the ancients,
and not Sumatra as some have imagined. Its productions are numerous and
valuable: Cinnamon of greatly finer quality than in any other place;
rubies, sapphires, and other precious stones; much pepper and cardamoms,
Brazil wood, and other dyes, great woods of palm-trees, numbers of
elephants which are more docile than those of other countries, and
abundance of cattle. It has many good ports, and several rivers of
excellent water. The mountains are covered with pleasant woods. One of
these mountains, which rises for the space of seven leagues, has a
circular plain on the top of about thirty paces diameter, in the middle
of which is a smooth rock about six spans high, upon which is the print
of a man's foot about two spans in length. This footstep is held in
great veneration, being supposed to have been impressed there by a holy
man from Delhi, who lived many years on that mountain, teaching the
inhabitants the belief in the one only God. This person returned
afterwards to his own country, whence he sent one of his teeth to the
king of the island as a token of remembrance, and it is still preserved
as a holy relick, on which they repose much confidence in time of
danger, and many pilgrims resort thither from places a thousand miles
distant. The island is divided into nine kingdoms, _Columbo_ on the west
being the chief of these. The others are _Gale_ on the south, _Jaula,
Tanavaca, Cande, Batecalon, Vilacem, Trinquinimale,_ and

[Footnote 139: The distance between Ceylon and the Carnatic across Palks
Bay is about 63 English miles; but at Jafnapatnam and Ramiseram, this
distance is lessened to 43, by two capes, at the former projecting from
the island, and at the latter from the continent. - E.]

[Footnote 140: From Point Pedro in the north to Dondra Head in the south
are 265 miles, and its widest part from Negombo in the west to Poukiri
Chene in the east is 143 statute miles. - E.]

[Footnote 141: More properly Selan-dib, or the Isle of Selan. The
derivation of the name of Ceylon in the text does not admit of
commentary. - E.]

[Footnote 142: All of these except _Cande, Candi_, or _Kandi_, the
central mountainous region, still occupied by the native Hindoo race,
appear to have been small sovereignties of the Moors or Malays; and have
been long under European rule, having been conquered by the Portuguese,
Dutch; and British in succession. The topography of Ceylon will be
illustrated hereafter, and does not admit of being explained in the
compass of a note - E.]

Albuquerque had established a treaty of amity and commerce with the king
of Columbo, who furnished the Portuguese with cinnamon; and Soarez went
thither at this time, by order of the king of Portugal, to construct a
fort at Columbo, and to reduce the prince of that country to pay
tribute. On this occasion his fleet consisted of seven gallies, two
ships, and eight small vessels, carrying materials and workmen for
building the fort, and 700 Portuguese soldiers. At first the king
consented to have the fort built, but changed his mind at the
instigation of the Moors, and put Soarez to considerable difficulty; but
in the end the Moors were put to flight, the fort built, and the king
constrained to become a tributary vassal of Portugal, by the yearly
payment of 1200 quintals of cinnamon, twelve rings of rubies and
sapphires, and six elephants.

At this time Juan de Sylveira returned from the Maldives, where he had
taken two ships belonging to Cambaya, and had got permission of the king
of the Maldives to erect a fort at the principal harbour. Sylveira went
upon a similar mission to Bengal, where he was in great danger; as a
young man of Bengal who sailed there with him, gave notice of his having
taken these two ships, so that he was considered as a pirate. He had
fared worse than he did, but for the arrival of Juan Coello from Pisang,
sent by Andrada to the king of Bengal. After passing the winter in
Bengal with great difficulty on account of famine, Sylveira set sail,
being invited by the king of Aracan to come to his port of Chittagon by
a messenger who brought him a valuable present; but all this kindness
was only intended to decoy him to his ruin, at the instigation of the
king of Bengal. He escaped however from the snare, and arrived at Ceylon
as Soarez had finished the fort of Columbo, of which he appointed
Sylveira to the command, leaving Azevedo with four ships to guard the
sea in that neighbourhood.

About the same time Menezes secured the safety of Malacca, as mentioned
before, by supplying it with men and ammunition, and appointed Alfonso
Lopez de Costa to the government, in place of Brito who was dying.
Duarte de Melo was left there with a naval force; and Duarte Coello was
sent with an embassy and present to the King of Siam, to confirm a
treaty of peace and amity, and to request of him to send a colony of his
subjects to inhabit the city of Malacca, so that the Moors whom he hated
as much as the Portuguese, might be for ever excluded from that place.
All this was agreed to, and as a testimonial of his friendship to the
Christians, he caused a great cross, ornamented with the arms of
Portugal, to be erected in a conspicuous part of the city of Hudia,
where he then resided. Having thus succeeded in his mission, Coello was
forced by stress of weather upon the coast of Pahang, where he was
received in a friendly manner by the king, who voluntarily submitted to
become a vassal to the crown of Portugal, and to pay a cup of gold as an
annual tribute. This was done more from hatred to the king of Bintang,
than from love to the Portuguese.

The kingdom of Siam was at this time one of the greatest in the east,
the two others of greatest consequence being China and Bisnagar. The
great river _Menam_ runs through the middle of the kingdom of Siam from
north to south, having its source in the great lake of _Chiamay_ in lat.
30° N. and its mouth in 13°, so that the length of this kingdom is 330
leagues. On the west it joins Bengal, on the south Malacca, on the north
China, and on the east Cambodia. Its territory contains both mountains
and plains, and it is inhabited by many different races of people, some
of whom are extremely cruel and barbarous, and even feed on human flesh.
Among these the _Guei_ ornament themselves with figures impressed by hot
irons[143]. Siam abounds in elephants, cattle, and buffaloes. It has
many sea-ports and populous cities, _Hudia_ being the metropolis or
residence of the court. The religion of the Siamese agrees in many
considerable points with Christianity, as they believe in one God, in
heaven and hell, and in good and bad angels that attend upon every
person[144]. They build sumptuous temples, in which they have images of
vast size. They are very religious, sparing in their diet, much given to
divination, and addicted to the study of astrology. The country is
exceedingly fertile, and abounds in gold, silver, and other metals. The
memorable services of the subjects are recorded that they may be read to

Online LibraryRobert KerrA General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 06 Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea a → online text (page 17 of 51)