The Rise of Portuguese in India

Multiple European companies are being set-up by Portuguese ad other European nations followed by Portuguese exploration. After the successful exploration of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese proposed the setup of a company in India so that they can conduct trade directly and could create a monopoly in the trade of Indian products and spices.

East India Company,,
Timeline of Europeans Companies in India

The arrival of Portuguese in India

Timeline of portuguese event in India

It was the Portuguese who first discovered a direct sea route to India. Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut an important seaport located in South-West India on May 20, 1498 AD. King Zamorin, the local rule received him and bestowed on him certain privileges. After staying in India for three months Vasco da Gama returned with a rich cargo which he sold in the European market at an exorbitant price- 60 times the cost of his voyage.

But soon Vasco da Gama came back to India for the second time in 1501 AD. He set up a trading factory at Cannanore. With the establishment of trade links, Calicut, Cannanore, and Cochin emerged the significant Portuguese centers in India. Arab traders became jealous of the rise and success of the Portuguese and hence caused enmity bred between the Portuguese and the local king Zamorin. The hostilities grew and led to a full-fledged military face-off between them. King Zamorin was defeated by the Portuguese. With the victory over Zamorin, the military superiority of the Portuguese was established.

Rise of Portuguese Power in India

In 1505 AD, Francisco de Almeida was appointed as the first Portuguese governor in India. His policy being centric to controlling the Indian Ocean was known as the Blue Water Policy. Alfonso de Albuquerque who replaced Almeida as the governor in 1509 AD, and captured Goa from the Sultan of Bijapur in 1510 AD is considered the real founder of the Portuguese power in India. Goa subsequently became the headquarters of the Portuguese settlements in India.

Portuguese hold over the coastal areas and superiority in naval power helped them significantly. By the end of the 16th century, the Portuguese captured not only Goa, Daman, Diu, and Salsette but also vast stretches along the Indian coast.

The decline of Portuguese Power

But the Portuguese rise in Indian had a short life as the new rival trading communities from Europe posed a big challenge to them. Struggle among various rival trading blocs ensued in which the Portuguese had to give way to the more powerful and enterprising competitors gradually rendering them an atrophied entity.

Major Reasons for Decline of Portuguese Power

Among the many reasons for the decline of Portuguese power in India include Portugal being too small a country to maintain the huge burden of a trading colony located in a far off land, their image as notorious sea pirates created enmity in the minds of the native rulers and last but not the least Portuguese rigid religious policy made them the unpopular among the Muslims as well as Hindus of India. Besides the arrival of the Dutch and the British in India finally became the nemesis of the Portuguese. Ironically, the Portuguese, who first arrived in India, were the last to withdraw from here in 1961 AD when the Government of India recaptured Goa, Daman, and Diu from them.

Cartaz System

Cartaz System By Portuguese
Cartaz System

Cartaz refers to permit or pass, this system was developed by the Portuguese to maintain their monopoly over Indian external trade begins practiced through the sea. First Cartage was issued in 1502. Portuguese enjoyed naval supremacy by using their superior naval power. Portuguese could seize any ship to regulate the ships involved in the Indian extension trade & to ensure the Portuguese monopoly oversea trade Cartage system development.

This system required non-Portuguese ships to visit parts controlled by Portuguese purchase permits by paying a fee before venturing into the sea. If any ship entered into the water without purchasing Cartage, it was seized & goods were confiscated. The Portuguese were so powerful on the sea that even Mughal ship had to purchase Cartage from them.

Cartage mentioned that ship was not carrying spices, pepper, horses & saltpeter (potassium nitrate). These items were only traded by Portuguese. Cartage System remained effective till the early decade of the 17th Century when the Portuguese monopoly shattered by Dutch, English & other European company.