ALBUQUERQUE, ALFONSO DE

(ca. 1460-1515), admiral in the Indian Ocean (1504, 1506-08), second governor of Portuguese India (1509-15), a great conqueror, and the real founder of the Portuguese empire in the Orient.

 

ALBUQUERQUE, ALFONSO DE (ca. 1460-1515), admiral in the Indian Ocean (1504, 1506-08), second governor of Portuguese India (1509-15), a great conqueror, and the real founder of the Portuguese empire in the Orient. Appointed head of the “fleet of the Arabian and Persian sea” in 1506, Albuquerque resolved to conquer the island of Hormoz, a great international market; the conquest would permit control of an important commercial route, while Hormoz’s treasure would provide the sums necessary to maintain Portuguese forces in the Indian Ocean. Arriving in front of Jarūn at the end of September, 1507, Albuquerque, thanks to his artillery, conquered the superior forces of Ḵᵛāǰa ʿAṭāʾ, the Bengali eunuch who governed the kingdom. By the treaty of 10 October 1507, the inhabitants of Hormoz recognized the sovereignty of Manuel I, undertook to pay an annual tribute of 15,000 ašrafī, and contributed to the construction of a Portuguese fort adjacent to the royal palace. While the fort was being constructed lively disagreement broke out between Albuquerque and four of his captains, who finally abandoned him (early February, 1508). He then left for Socotra, but reappeared in front of Hormoz in September, 1508. In the meantime Ḵᵛāǰa ʿAṭāʾ had received the aid of the viceroy, Francisco de Almeida, a supporter of commercial relations and friendship. Repudiated, Albuquerque proceeded to Malabar, where Almeida refused to transfer to him the governorship of Portuguese India. He was only able to take office at the end of 1509.

Albuquerque continued to dream of subduing Hormoz, but he also hoped to foster relations with Shah Esmāʿīl I (r. 907-30/1501-24); he was authorized to extend to the latter offers of an alliance for a combined Iranian-Portuguese offensive against the Mamlūk state and for a division of the Near East. The ambassador whom he sent to Iran in 1510 was poisoned in Hormoz by Ḵᵛāǰa ʿAṭāʾ, who feared the consequences of an agreement between the two great soldiers for his small kingdom. Shah Esmāʿīl, not impressed by Albuquerque’s unsuccessful attacks on Hormoz in 1507 and 1508, showed no favor for such an alliance, but instead sought Venice’s participation in his projects in the Mediterranean area. Nevertheless, a second ambassador went to Persia in 1513.

In the Deccan, where Persian mercenaries and merchants played an important part, Albuquerque became more and more aware of the necessity of settling the question of Hormoz; but he was detained by other campaigns until the spring of 921/1515. With Ḵᵛāǰa ʿAṭāʾ dead and the old vizier, Nūr-al-dīn Fālī, outflanked, the establishment of Portuguese rule, which was to last 107 years, was simplified. Remaining in Hormoz until November, Albuquerque sent a third ambassador, Fernão Gomes de Lemos, to Shah Esmāʿīl. The Shah’s dreams had been shattered at Čālderān in Raǰab 920/August, 1514, by the cannons of the Ottoman sultan, Selim I. The shah hoped to obtain firearms from the Portuguese, who could not furnish them, and the proclamation of Manuel’s rule over Hormoz and the Persian Gulf islands associated with it (including Bahrain) was unacceptable to him. Albuquerque, however, did not learn of the collapse of his plans. Before the ambassador could return, he had been forced to depart for India. With his health ruined by the summer in Hormoz, he died before reaching Goa.

 

Bibliography:

The major records are: Albuquerque, Comentários (edited by his son); the Portuguese ed. of 1774 was tr. into English for the Hakluyt Society: Commentaries, 4 vols., London, 1875-84.

Cartas de Alfonso de Albuquerque seguidas de documentos que as elucidam, 7 vols., Lisbon, 1883-85.

Gaspar Correa (Albuquerque’s long-time secretary, on whom see Aubrey F. G. Bell, Gaspar Corrêa, Oxford, 1924), Lendas de India, 8 vols., Lisbon, 1858-66.

Fernão Lopes de Castanheda, Historia do descobrimento e conquista da India pelos portugueses, Coimbra, 1552-6l.

João de Barros, Asia, 6th ed. with historical notes, 4 vols., Lisbon, 1945-46.

Damião de Gois, Crónica do felícissimo rei D. Manuel, new ed. (from the 1566 printing), 4 vols., Coimbra, 1949-55.

There are numerous modern biographies in Portuguese and some in English and French, but none is critical.

On relations between Hormoz and Iran, see J. Aubin, “Cojeatar et Albuquerque,” Mare Luso-indicum 1, 1971, pp. 99-134 (to be continued in the same journal).

See also J. Qāʾem-maqāmī, “Mohrhā, tawšīḥhā va ṭoḡrāhā-ye molūk-e Hormūz,” Barrasīhā-ye tārīḵī 8/3, 1352 Š./1973, pp. 43-58.

Idem, “Masʾala-ye Hormūz dar rawābeṭ-e Īrān va Portoḡāl,” ibid., 9/3, 1353 Š./1974, pp. 211-80.

(J. Aubin)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: July 29, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, pp. 823-824

Cite this entry:

J. Aubin, “ALBUQUERQUE, ALFONSO DE,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, 1982, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/albuquerque-alfonso-de-ca