Volume 2, Chapter 6 -- History of the Discovery and Conquest of India by the Portuguese, between the years 1497 and 1505, from the original Portuguese of Hernan Lopez de Castaneda: *section index*

Volume 2, Chapter 6, Section 6 -- Transactions of the Portuguese in India, from the departure of De Gama in December 1502, to the arrival of Alonzo de Albuquerque in 1503.

As soon as the Zamorin was assured of the departure of De Gama for Europe, he determined on putting his threats in execution against the rajah of Cochin, for which purpose he gathered an army at the village of Panani, not far from Cochin.[1] This was soon known to the inhabitants of Cochin, who were exceedingly afraid of the great power of the Zamorin, and were much dissatisfied with their sovereign for incurring the displeasure of that prince out of respect to the Christians, whom they inveighed against with much bitterness on all occasions, and openly insulted wherever they were seen. Some that were in high credit with the rajah said openly, that as the Zamorin was much more powerful than their state, our men ought to be delivered up to him, as the war was entirely on our account, for whom the kingdom ought not to be put in hazard. But the rajah, much offended at these people, declared that he was resolved to defend the Portuguese against the Zamorin, trusting that God would favour him in so just a cause. Yet many of his subjects were much inclined to have seized the Portuguese belonging to the factory, but durst not, as the rajah gave them a place of considerable strength to dwell in, and appointed a guard for their security.

At this time Vincente Sodre arrived with his squadron in the bay of Cochin, after having done much damage on the coast of Calicut, both by land and sea. The Portuguese head factor sent Laurenzo Moreno to inform Sodre of the preparations which were making by the Zamorin for the attack of Cochin, and requiring him in the name of the king of Portugal to land with his men for its defence. But Sodre answered, that his orders were to defend the sea and not the land; for which reason, if the Zamorin had prepared to attack Cochin by sea, he would certainly have defended it; but as the war was to be carried on by land, he could not interfere, and the rajah must defend himself. The factor sent a second message, entreating him, in the name of God and on his allegiance to the king of Portugal, not to abandon the factory in this state of danger, as the power of the rajah was inadequate to defend Cochin against the zamorin; and as the sole object of the war was for the destruction of the factory and the ruin of the Portuguese trade, it certainly was his duty, as captain-general for the king of Portugal in these seas, both to defend the factory and to give every assistance in his power to the rajah. But Sodre was immoveable, pretending that he had been ordered to discover the Red Sea, where he expected to make many rich prizes, and set sail from Cochin for Cape Guardafui, preferring the hope of riches to his duty in defending the factory of Cochin.

The Zamorin collected his army, as already mentioned, at the village of Panani, where, besides his own subjects and allies, several of the principal subjects of the rajah of Cochin joined his standard, deserting their own sovereign, and carrying along with them all the power they were able to muster: Among these were the Caimalls or governors of Chirapipil and Cambalane, and of the large island which is opposite to the city of Cochin. At this place, the Zamorin made a long speech to his assembled chiefs, in which he endeavoured to justify his enmity to the Portuguese, whom he represented as thieves, robbers, and pirates, and as having first commenced hostilities against him without cause. He contrasted the quiet and friendly conduct of the Moors, who had traded for 600 years with Malabar, having never done injury to any in all that time, and had greatly enriched the country, and had raised his city of Calicut to be the greatest emporium in all the Indies; whereas the Portuguese had taken and destroyed his ships, made his ambassadors prisoners, insisted on having their ships laden before those belonging to the Moors, had taken a ship of the Moors, had burnt ten of his ships in his own harbour, had destroyed his city and forced him to escape for safety from his palace; taking law and vengeance for pretended grievances into their own hands, instead of applying regularly to him for redress. And since the rajah of Cochin was fully informed of all these things, yet persisted in favouring the Portuguese in despite of all remonstrances, he had resolved to make war upon him, to deprive him of his dominions, and to drive these Christian intruders out of India.

This address gave much satisfaction to all the assembled chiefs, and most especially to the lord of Repelim, who entertained a rooted enmity against the rajah of Cochin, who had dispossessed him of an island called Arrnuul. The only person who opposed the Zamorin on this occasion was Nambeadarin,[2] who was brother and next heir to the Zamorin. He strongly urged the impolicy of driving the Christians from Malabar, to which merchants resorted from all places of the world, seeing that the Portuguese had made richer presents to the Zamorin, than he had ever received before, and had brought much gold and silver into the country for the purchase of commodities, which was not usually done by such as came to make war. He represented the attempt of the hostages to escape who had been given for the safety of the Portuguese chief, and whom the Zamorin was pleased to call ambassadors, as the first cause of jealousy and distrust; yet they were afterwards reconciled, and took the large Moorish ship at the desire of the Zamorin, to whom they presented the great elephant. He said their conduct in trade and otherwise while in Calicut was quite satisfactory to all except the Moors, who were envious against them for interfering in their trade, and accused them falsely of taking pepper against the will of the owners, which in fact they had done themselves to prevent the Christians from loading their ships; nay that this was so evident that even the Zamorin had licensed the Portuguese to take the pepper from the Moorish vessels. After which the Moors had risen against them, slaying their men and seizing all their goods. Yet, after all these outrages, they had given the Zamorin a whole day in which to offer reparation, and had not sought revenge of their injuries treacherously like the Moors. That he saw no cause of going to war against the rajah of Cochin for receiving the Portuguese into his city like any other merchants who might frequent his harbour, as had likewise been done by the rajahs of Cananor and Koulan, who would not have done so if they had been robbers and pirates. And if the Zamorin meant to drive the Portuguese from the Indies, besides making war on Cochin, it would be necessary for him to do the same against Canauor and all the other princes on the coast.

The Zamorin was a good deal staggered by the discourse of Nambeadarin, who had much credit and authority with him; insomuch that it is thought he would have desisted from prosecuting the war, if it had not been for the Moors and the Caymals, who represented that it would be a great disgrace to his character to recede after the assemblage of so great an army, and that it was to be expected the rajah of Cochin might now agree from fear to do what the Zamorin had desired him. The Zamorin then desired his sorcerers to point out a fortunate day for marching forward with his army; which they did accordingly, and promised him an assured victory. With this assurance, on which he placed great reliance, the Zamorin departed from Panani, and took possession of Repelim, which is four leagues from Cochin.

The rajah of Cochin had regular intelligence of all that passed in the camp of the zamorin by means of spies, and was in great trouble respecting the event, not having sufficient force for his defence, as many on whom he most relied had gone over to the enemy. Even those who remained served against their inclination, more especially the inhabitants of Cochin, who abhorred our people, and said openly that it were proper the rajah should either deliver them up to the Zamorin or send them away from Cochin, to avoid the impending war. Many of the inhabitants of Cochin deserted the place for fear of the consequences. The members of the Portuguese factory were much alarmed by all these circumstances, and requested permission from the rajah to withdraw to Cananor, where they might remain in safety till the arrival of the next fleet from Portugal; hoping by this means to remove the cause of war, and to satisfy the subjects of the rajah.

Trimumpara was displeased at this request, as not reposing sufficient confidence in his word, and declared he would rather forfeit his kingdom, and even his life, than deliver them up to the Zamorin or any other who sought to injure them; and that, although he might lose Cochin in the war, there still were places of sufficient strength in which to keep them safe till reinforcements should arrive from Portugal. That although the Zamorin had a great army, yet victory did not always follow numbers, as a few valiant men were often victorious over great odds, especially having justice on their side. He therefore desired the factory to remain, and to pray God to give him the victory. The Portuguese now offered to give him such aid as their small number would allow; but he declined allowing them to expose themselves to any danger on the present occasion, as his credit depended upon the preservation of their lives, that they might witness, for his faithful adherence to the treaty of amity which he had formed with their nation. Upon this he placed them under the safeguard of certain Nayres in whom he had confidence. After this, the rajah called all his nobles into his presence, together with the chief Nayres, who were the cause of all the murmurs against the Portuguese, and addressed the assemblage to the following effect:

"I am much concerned to find that truth and loyalty should be wanting among men of your quality. I do not wonder at the present misconduct of the lower orders, who are often constrained by their poverty and wretchedness to commit all manner of wickedness. But that Nayres, who have always been noted for fidelity, should desire me to forfeit the promise which I have made, to the captain-general in behalf of the Portuguese, to defend them to the utmost of my power against all violence as my own subjects, astonishes and distresses me beyond measure. Under these assurances of protection, which were given with your consent, these men were left in my city; and yet, because you see the Zamorin coming against me with more men than I have, you would have me to break my promise. Were I so unjust, you of all men ought to abhor me. If you dwelt with any sovereign on the assurance of his word, how would you conceive of him, if he were to treat you as you would now have me to act by these Christians? Is it because you are afraid of the great power of the Zamorin? Be assured it were better for us all to die in the discharge of our duty, and the preservation of our promise, than to live dishonoured. To me no evil can be greater than to break my word, nor can there be a greater dishonour to yourselves than to be the subjects of a false and treacherous king. These Christians have brought much profit to me and my country, and the Zamorin might have kept them in his own city, if he had permitted their factory to settle there in peace. Were it his intention to drive the Christians out of India, and to make war on all who receive them into their dominions, he ought to have begun this war with the rajah of Cananor: But his cause of war is the envy he has conceived at seeing me benefited by the trade which he has lost through his own misconduct, and because he believes in his pride that I am unable to withstand. But I trust in God and the justness of my cause, that with your assistance, I shall obtain the victory, and shall be able to protect the Christians, and preserve my honour inviolate."
This speech had great effect upon the assembled Nayres, who were astonished at the constancy and resolution of the rajah. They all therefore craved pardon for the fears they had entertained, and promised to live and die in his service. The rajah immediately called the factor and the rest of the Portuguese into his presence, to whom he gave an account of all that had taken place between him and the Nayres; and named before them the prince Naramuhin,[3] his brother and next heir, as general of the army which was destined to act against the forces of the Zamorin, commanding every one to obey him in every respect as if he were himself present. Naramuhin accordingly marched with 5500 Nayres, and entrenched himself at the ford which forms the only entry by land into the island of Cochin, and which is only knee-deep at low water.

When the Zamorin received notice of the army of Cochin having taken post at this ford, he was somewhat afraid, more especially as he knew Naramuhin was considered to be the bravest and most fortunate warrior in Malabar. He therefore made a fresh attempt to induce the rajah of Cochin to accede to his demands, of delivering up the Portuguese and their goods, otherwise threatening to conquer his dominions, and to put all the inhabitants to the sword. Although the rajah of Cochin was quite sensible of the inferiority of his military force, and was convinced what the Zamorin threatened might readily happen, he yet determined to remain firm to his engagements, and sent the following answer:

"If you had required with civility what you have proudly commanded me, I should not have esteemed your valour lessened by your courtesy: For with men of wisdom and power there is no need for insolent vaunts. I have not as yet so sinned against God, that I should humble myself to vain boasting, or think that he should grant you the victory over me and those brave men who fight on my side. In spite of all your pride, I trust even with the small number I have to defend me in my just quarrel, that I shall be enabled to overcome you and all my enemies. However much you may have practised deceit and injustice, it has ever been my rule to avoid shame and dishonour, and I will never consent to deliver up the Christians or their goods, which I have engaged to defend."
The Zamorin was much offended by this answer from the rajah of Cochin, and vowed to destroy his whole country in revenge: Leaving, therefore, the isle of Repelim on the last day of March, he entered on the territories of Cochin, yet refrained from doing any injury, as he now occupied those parts which belonged to the chieftains who had joined him against their own sovereign.

On the 2d of March, the army of the Zamorin made an attempt to force a passage by the ford which was defended by prince Naramuhin; yet, in spite of all his prodigious superiority of numbers, he was forced to retire with considerable loss. Disappointed in this first essay, the Zamorin encamped close by the ford, and sent the lord of Repelim next day with a still stronger force than had been employed in the first assault, to attempt forcing the passage. He even joined several armed paraws in this attack; but Naramuhin made a resolute defence, in which he was bravely seconded by Laurenzo Moreno and several other Portuguese, and effectually resisted every effort of the Zamorin's troops, who were obliged to retreat with much loss. Several such assaults were made on the ford, in all of which the Zamorin lost many men, and was constantly repulsed, insomuch that he became fearful of a sinister end to his unjust enterprise, and even repented of having begun the war. He sent, however, a fresh message to the rajah, requiring him to deliver up the Christians as a preliminary of peace.

But the rajah replied, that as he had refused to do so unjust an action when he had some reason to dread the superior power of the Zamorin, it was absurd to expect any such thing now, when the advantage in the war was evidently of his side. He then advised the Zamorin to beware of continuing the war, as he would not now satisfy himself with defence, but even hoped to give him a signal overthrow. And this certainly had been the case, if the subjects of the rajah had not shamefully deserted him in this war and given assistance to the enemy. The Zamorin almost despaired of success, and would have given over the enterprize, if he had not been advised by some of his chiefs to assail several other towns belonging to the dominions of Cochin, so as to distract the attention of Naramuhin, and to weaken his force by obliging him to send detachments for their defence. But that brave prince provided against every emergency, and made so judicious a disposition of his forces, that he repulsed every effort of the enemy, and slew many of their men.

Foiled in every attempt with severe loss, by the bravery and excellent dispositions of Prince Naramuhin, the Zamorin corrupted the paymaster of the troops of Cochin, who changed the usual order of payment which had been daily made in the camp, and obliged the soldiers to come up to Cochin for that purpose. Naramuhin was obliged to submit to this arrangement, by giving leave to the Nayres to go for their wages, yet charged them punctually to return to the camp before day. But the treacherous paymaster kept them waiting till after day-light, by which means the prince was left with very few troops to defend the ford. Taking advantage of this concerted stratagem, the Zamorin made an assault upon the ford with his whole force by sea and land, and constrained Naramuhin to retire with his small band into a grove of palm trees, where he was surrounded by the whole army of Calicut, yet fought the whole day against such terrible odds with the utmost resolution, several times throwing his enemies into disorder, of whom many were slain. But at length, overpowered by numbers, he and two of his cousins who fought along with him were slain, together with most of his faithful followers.

When this melancholy event was announced to the rajah of Cochin, he fainted from extreme grief, and was for some time thought to have actually expired. At this time, the Nayres were much exasperated against our men, to whom they attributed the overthrow and death of prince Naramuhin, and the desperate situation of their country, and seemed much inclined to have put the Portuguese to death, or to have delivered them up to the Zamorin. On the recovery of the rajah, and learning the designs of his people against our men, he called the Portuguese into his presence; he gave them assurance that even this reverse of his affairs should not alter his resolution of protecting them, both against the Zamorin and his own subjects. He then addressed his assembled Nayres, urging them not to stain his honour and their own by injuring the Portuguese, whom he and they had sworn to protect. He exhorted them to persevere honourably and bravely in defending their country and preserving their honour inviolate to the Christians, and comforted them with the assurance that the Portuguese fleet would soon arrive with sufficient reinforcements to drive out the Zamorin and to restore him to his dominions. In the meantime, he proposed that they should retire with what force remained, into the isle of Vaipi, which was of difficult access; and where they could defend themselves till the arrival of the Portuguese fleet, more especially as the winter was at hand, which would stop the progress of the war for some time. The Nayres were astonished at the resolution of their sovereign, and promised faithfully to obey his commands in all things.

The Zamorin made a new attempt to shake the resolution of the rajah in his present adversity, by offering peace on condition of delivering up the Portuguese and their goods; which the rajah rejected with disdain, as he had done all his former overtures. On this the Zamorin gave orders to destroy the whole country with fire and sword, on which intelligence most of the inhabitants of Cochin withdrew to other places. There were at this time in Cochin two Milanese lapidaries belonging to the factory, named John Maria and Pedro Antonio, who had been brought to India by Vasco de Gama. These men deserted to the Zamorin, to whom they conveyed intelligence of the consternation which reigned among the inhabitants of Cochin, and of the small number of men that remained with the rajah. These men also made offer to the Zamorin to make ordnance for him resembling those of the Portuguese, which they afterwards did, as will appear in the sequel of this history, and for which service they were highly rewarded.

The Zamorin now moved forwards with his army to take possession of Cochin, and was resisted for some time by the rajah, who was himself slightly wounded. But finding it impossible any farther to resist against such prodigious odds, he withdrew to the strong island of Vaipi, carrying all our men along with him and every thing belonging to our factory. The Zamorin, on taking possession of the deserted city of Cochin, ordered it to be set on fire. He then sent a part of his army against the isle of Vaipi, which was valiantly defended by the rajah and his men and in which defence the members of our factory contributed to the best of their ability. But the winter coming on, and bad weather setting in, the Zamorin was obliged to desist for the present season, and withdrew his army to Cranganor with a determination to renew the war in the ensuing spring, leaving a strong detachment in the island of Cochin, which he ordered to throw up entrenchments for their defence.

After his shameful desertion of Cochin, Vincente Sodre went with his fleet towards the kingdom of Cambaya; meaning to capture the rich ships of the Moors which trade to India from the Red Sea. He there took five ships, in which in ready money only was found to the value of 200,000 perdaos. Most of the Moors were slain in the battle, and the ships burnt. From Cambaya he sailed for Cape Guardafu; and as his ships were foul, he proposed to lay them aground to be careened at the islands of Curia Muria.[4] Sodre arrived there with his squadron on the 20th April 1503; and though these islands were well inhabited by Moors, he resolved to venture on land, considering that these islanders were by no means warlike, and stood in fear of our men. The islanders accordingly behaved in a peaceable manner, and sold our people such provisions as they had to spare. Sodre laid one of his caravels aground for repair, on which he was informed by the Moors that their coast was subject to violent storms in the month of May, during which no ships were able to keep the sea, but were unavoidably driven on shore and wrecked. Wherefore they advised him strenuously to remove to the other side of the island, which would then be a sure defence against the storm, after which had blown over he might return to their part of the coast.

Sodre made light of their advice, conceiving they meant him some harm; and told them that the ships of the Moors having only wooden anchors, might be easily driven ashore, whereas his anchors were of iron and would hold fast. Pedro Raphael, Hernan Rodriguez Badarsas, and Diego Perez were convinced of the council of the Moors being good, and therefore quitted these islands on the last day of April; but Sodre would not listen to their advice and remained with his brother at Curia Muria. According to the prediction of the Moors, a violent storm came on early in May, by which the two remaining ships were driven from their anchors and dashed to pieces. Vincente Sodre and his brother, with many others, lost their lives, and nothing whatever was saved out of these two ships. The loss of these two brothers was considered as a punishment of Providence, for basely abandoning the rajah of Cochin and the factory in their imminent danger.

Those who were saved returned towards Cochin to succour our people, and chose Pedro de Tayde[5] as their general. In their passage from Curia Muria towards Cochin, they encountered several severe storms, and were often in great danger of perishing. Being unable to reach Cochin on account of the winds, they were forced to take refuge in the island of Anchediva. A few days after their arrival, a ship came there from Portugal, commanded by Antonio del Campo, who had left Lisbon alone some time after Vasco de Gama, and had been much delayed on his voyage in consequence of the death of his pilot. He had encountered severe weather on the coast, and was forced after much trouble and danger to take refuge in Anchediva. The united squadron wintered in this island, where they suffered severe hardships from scarcity of provisions.

[1] This army is said to have amounted to 50,000 men. Panani is six leagues from Cochin.--Astl. I. 54.
[2] This person is named Naubea Daring by Astley, and is said to have been nephew to the zamorin.--Astl. I. 56.
[3] In Astley this prince is called the nephew of the rajah of Cochin.-- Astl. I. 55.
[4] These are a cluster of islands, otherwise called Chartan and Martan, on the coast of Yemen, between the latitudes of 17° and 18° north.--E.
[5] Of the four officers mentioned in the text, three are enumerated at the commencement of the former voyage of De Gama as commanders of separate vessels. The fourth, Badarsas, is not in that list of captains, and may have been appointed captain of Vincente Sodres flag- ship.--E.


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