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Arrival of Europeans

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 24, Nov 2022
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The coming of Europeans to India|


Commercial contacts between India and Europeans were very old via the land route but there were various shortcomings of Land-based routes like multiple taxations, theft, conflicts with tribes/kingdoms etc.

Therefore in 1494, Columbus of Spain started for India in search of a Sea Route and discovered America instead. In 1498, Vasco da Gama of Portugal discovered a new sea route from Europe to India.

He reached Calicut by sailing around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope. This was the first arrival of European in India by Sea route.





Europeans in India


Sequence of an establishment of European Companies
1. Portuguese (1498)
2. English East India Company (1600)
3. Dutch East India Company (1602)
4. Danish East India Company (1616)
5. French East India Company (1664)







Why Europeans came to India?


Trade in Agro-based product like Cotton and handicrafts was the major reason which led to the advent of Europeans.

India was the major source of the spices. Some spices have antibiotic properties and they were also used to preserve the food.

Sea routes were discovered in order to reduce conflicts, taxation etc. which were generally faced during land-based journey.





Portuguese in India - Brief History


Fast Facts
Portuguese Presence in India: 1505 – 1961
Portuguese East India Company: 1628 – 1633
Portuguese Capitals in India: Cochin (1505 – 1530), Old Goa (1530 – 1843), Nova Goa (1843 – 1961)

   Arrival of Portuguese in India

• The Arrival of Vasco-da-gama, at The port of Calicut in South West India on 20 May 1498.
• This date 20 May 1498 inaugurated New chapter in Indian History.
• Vasco-da-gama was helped by Gujrati Trade Abdul-Manid Kadir.
• On Coast of Calicut he was welcomed by Zamorin
• After staying in India for a period of 3month Vasco-da-gama returned with Rich Cargo, which he sold in European market with huge profit.
• In March 1500 another navigator Pedro-Alvaves-Cabrol came India with 13 ships.
• Portuguese establish trading stations at Calicut, Cannanore and Cochin.
• Initially Coachin was capital of Portuguese in India, but later Goa replaced it.
Francisco-de-Almeda was the first Portuguese governor of India.
• He is credited for Introduction of "Blue water policy"
• The founder of Portuguese power in India was Alfanso-de-Albuquerque.
• Albuquerque was second governor of Portuguese in India.
• He introduced Policy of Imperialism
In 1510, he captures Goa from the ruler of Bijapur, since then Goa became the capital of Portuguese settlement in India.
Albuquerque built a fort at Cochin.
• He also encouraged the people of his country to marry Indian Women.
• He also captured Malacca and Ceylon.
Martin Alfonso D’Souza became Portuguese governor in 1542.
Portuguese Power began to decline by end of 1631.
• In 1661, Bombay was given in dowry to Charles II of England.
• Portuguese left India in 1961. (From Daman & Diu)







Portuguese Trade in India


• Initially Portuguese were interested with trade of spices likes cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, turmeric. 
• The Portuguese Trade in India is known as "Estado-da-India".
• Cartaz was naval trade license or pass issued by Portuguese in Indian Ocean.
• Indo-Japan trade Relations was started with help of Portuguese. - The Introduced Gothic Art in India.
• Alfanso Mango, Tobacco, Hukkah, vegetative propagation method was introduced by Portuguese in India.
• Various words like Almari, Kamra, Kunji, Lalten are portuguese words, now common in our language.
• Tobacco introduced in India in 1604 (In reign of Akbar) and production started in End of 1605 (In Reign of Jahangir)
• In 1617, Jahangir banned production of Tobacco.
Crusado an early Portuguese coin of gold or silver
• In 1565, Portuguese started first printing press (Goa). and first published book on Topic of "Medicinal Plants".

Political Structure: Colony

1505–1509 Francisco de Almeida (first)
1896 Afonso, Duke of Porto (last)


In 1498, Vasco da Gama of Portugal discovered a new and all-sea route from Europe to India.

He sailed around Africa via the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) and reached Calicut (as shown in the map given below).

On May 20th, 1498, da Gama reached Kappad, near Kozhikode, which was then part of the Kingdom of the Zamorin (Samuthiri Raja) of Calicut.

Although the foreigners were welcomed with hospitality which included a grand procession, the Zamorin, Manavikraman Raja was unimpressed with the gifts brought by da Gama which included some clothes, hats, corals, sugar, oil and other things.

The Indians wondered why there was no gold or silver!

Vasco da Gama returned with a cargo, which sold for 60 times the cost of his voyage.

Columbus and Vasco da Gama’s sea routes along with other navigational discoveries opened a new chapter in the history of the world.

Adam Smith wrote later that the discovery of America and the Cape route to India were “the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind.”

In the beginning, gold and ivory of Africa had attracted the foreigner. Very soon, however, trade with Africa concentrated on the slave trade.

In the 16th century, this trade was a monopoly of Spain and Portugal; later it was dominated by Dutch, French, and British merchants.

Year after year (particularly after 1650), thousands of Africans were sold as slaves in the West Indies and in North and South America.

The slave ships carried manufactured goods from Europe to Africa, exchanged them on the coast of Africa for Negroes, took these slaves across the Atlantic

and exchanged them for the colonial produce of plantations or mines, and finally brought back and sold this produce in Europe.

While no exact record of the number of Africans sold into slavery exists, historians’ estimate, ranged between 15 and 50 million



Slavery was later abolished in the 19th century

Portugal had a monopoly of the highly profitable Eastern trade for nearly a century. In India, Portugal established her trading settlements at Cochin, Goa, Diu, and Daman.

From the beginning, the Portuguese combined the use of force with trade and they were helped by the superiority of their armed ships which enabled them to dominate the seas.

Portuguese also saw that they could take advantage of the mutual rivalries of the Indian princes to strengthen their position

Portuguese intervened in the conflict between the rulers of Calicut and Cochin to establish their trading centres and forts on the Malabar Coast. Likewise, they attacked and destroyed Arab shipping, brutally killing hundreds of Arab merchants and seamen.

By threatening Mughal shipping, they also succeeded in securing many trading concessions from the Mughal Emperors.

Under the viceroyalty of Alfanso d’ Albuquerque, who captured Goa in 1510, the Portuguese established their domination over the entire Asian land from Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to Malacca in Malaya and the Spice Islands in Indonesia.

Portuguese seized Indian territories on the coast and waged constant war to expand their trade and dominions and safeguard their trade monopoly from their European rivals.

The Portuguese were intolerant and fanatical in religious matters. They indulged in forcible conversion offering people the alternative of Christianity or sword.

Portuguese approach was particularly hateful to people of India (where the religious tolerance was the rule). They also indulged in inhuman cruelties and lawlessness.

In spite of their barbaric behavior, Portuguese possessions in India survived for a century because −
They (Portuguese) enjoyed control over the high seas;
Their soldiers and administrators maintained strict discipline; and They did not have to face the fight of the Mughal Empire as South India was outside Mughal influence.
Portuguese clashed with the Mughal power in Bengal in 1631 and were driven out of their settlement at Hugli.


Decline of Portuguese


Portugal was, however, incapable of maintaining for long its trade monopoly or its dominion in the East because of − Its population was less than a million;

Its Court was autocratic and decadent;
Its merchants enjoyed much less power and prestige than its landed aristocrats;
It lagged behind in the development of shipping, and It followed a polity of religious intolerance.
It became a Spanish dependency in 1530.
In 1588, the English defeated the Spanish fleet called the Armada and shattered Spanish naval supremacy forever.