- Historical event
- 16 December 1515
- The great Admiral Albuquerque had the nicknames “Caesar of the East”, “Lion of the Seas”, and “The Portuguese Mars”. It was actually the first time since the time of Alexander the Great that one European managed to dominate a large part of Asia.
On this day the famous Portuguese sailor and army commander – Admiral Afonso de Albuquerque – died. His role in world history was very important because he founded the first European colonial empire in general in Asia. It was actually the first time since the time of Alexander the Great that a European managed to dominate a large part of Asia.
Small Portugal was actually the first European country that started the colonization across the world’s seas. In this it surpassed even Spain, its much larger neighbor. Unlike the Spaniards, who focused on the American continent, the Portuguese chose Africa and Asia for colonization. Later, even an official agreement on the division was made – the western hemisphere was left to Spain, and Portugal got the east (by chance Portugal also got a hold of Brazil in South America). Trade with Asia across the south of Africa fell into the hands of the Portuguese, and was immensely important because it supplied Europe with highly sought-after and expensive spices.
Afonso de Albuquerque aggressively competed in the Indian Ocean and managed to attain many important ports for Portugal. At the entrance to the Persian Gulf he conquered the highly strategic Hormuz Island, defeating a 50 times larger Persian Army. The possession of this island enabled the Portuguese to control the entire trade between India and Europe through the Persian Gulf.
In India, Albuquerque took the famous city of Goa and placed there the seat of Portugal’s Indian empire. Goa remained the seat of the mighty Portuguese Viceroys of India for hundreds of years. In the area of present-day Malaysia, Albuquerque captured the city of Malacca, through which the trade between China and India could be controlled.
Due to his success, the Portuguese king awarded Albuquerque with highest aristocratic title. Namely, he made him Duke of Goa (Duque de Goa), which was the first ducal title in Portugal for someone who was not from the royal dynasty. Albuquerque had the nicknames “Caesar of the East”, “Lion of the Seas”, and “The Portuguese Mars”. He died precisely in the mentioned Goa, on this day in 1515.