This should be, seriously, included in all text books. Again, and again, and again, they prove that they are nothing more than pirates and barbarians.
And Aflonso Albuquerque, who succeeded Almeida in October, resolved to destroy Calicut itself. He had conceived this idea as early as 1503. But, then he had neither the means nor the authority to do it. Now that he was the head of the empire in the east, he hastened to carryout his project, he invited the enemies of the Zamorin to join him in this grand enterprise, Timoja, however, declined to co-operate as Calicut was too far away. The Cochin Rajah pleaded poverty as an excuse for not taking an active part. Nevertheless, Albuquerque pushed on with his scheme, and sent Brahmin spies to Calicut to foment discontent among the Zamorin’s subjects and report on the defences of the city.
Within a fortnight the Brahmins returned with Koya Pakki. They told him that the Zamorin had gone to Chetwai, and his ministers inland to the hills; the defences of the city were weak; the jetty at Kallayi was defended by a stockade with six bombards; the beach was rendered dangerous for landing by pits dug to catch the unwary; but along the bank of the river stood the fishermen’s huts, where a landing could be effected. The Governor then summoned his captains, and ordered them to be ready with all their men to set ouy on the last day of December.
According to plan, the invading fleet, consisting of 20 ships, besides numerous paraos furnished by the Cochin Rajah, carrying 2,000 Europeans, set sail from Cochin on the 31st of December, and anchored off Calicut on the 3rd of January, 1610, Koya Pakki accompanied them to act as their guide through the labyrinths of the city. Taking into account the condition of the coast and of the tides, they decided to land in front of the fishermen’s huts, where water was smoothest. Orders were issued by Marshal Coutinho, a cousin of Albuquerque, who, as senior officer in the navy, was in formal command of the expedition, to the effect that the soldiers were all to land at the same time and not to plunder or set fire to the city without his permission.
Next morning, the Portuguese stepped out into the boats which were to take them to the land. But the tide, which had begun to ebb, upset the plans that had been so carefully laid down. In spite of the vigorous efforts of the oarsmen the boats could not reach the chosen point. No order or method could be observed, each party effecting its landing as best as it could. The marshal himself was carried down by the force of the current to where the sea broke roughly, |and obliged to land on the sandy beach. Before he could come up with the main body Albuquerque had stormed the jetty. The more impetuous of those who landed first made for the stockade, led by an impulse to capture it. Albuquerque, who knew that man to man the Moplahs were superior to his men, rushed forward to lead them. The bombards were captured and the Moplahs driven into the city.
The marshal was none too pleased with the success of his cousin, for he felt that he had robbed him of his laurels. Not to be outdone by Albuquerque, Coutinho ordered an advance against the palace, though he was tired by the long march through the sandy shore under the sun growing hot every moment, himself overburdened with the weight of his own arms. The irate marshal swore that be would destroy Calicut before he ate or drank anything. He took the place of honour leading the vanguard, while his cousin brought up the rear.
Burning the Jumma mosque, which stood at the entrance of the city, the Portuguese entered the bazaar. At the sight of a hand of half-clad Nayars, accoutred in the usual fashion with sword and shield only, the marshal remarked that he would take the Zamorin’s palace with nothing but a cane in his hand and a skull cap on his head.
With 200 Nayars who were then on duty the commandant of the palace guard tried to oppose them at the gate. But they were overpowered, and Coutinho and his men entered the “courtyard which contained the houses”. The lure of plunder, in spite of all the orders that might be issued against it, proved too strong to be resisted. And the soldiers scattered to help themselves to whatever they could find. Overcome by fatigue, the marshal laid himself down to rest on a large block of stone and it is said that he even slept for two hours unconscious of the danger that was fast coming upon him.
While the soldiers were busy rummaging the rooms, a large body of Nayars entered the palace by the back-door. They attacked the Portuguese, dispersed about the palace in search of loot, and drove them back to the courtyard. The noise and tumult of battle roused the marshal from his slumber, and he tried to rally his men. To divert the attention of the Nayars he set fire to the palace. It did not, however, save him. The Nayars closed in on himt and a desperate fight ensued.
Just then Albuquerque came up with the rearguard, and opened fire on the Nayars with the small field gun he had brought with him. But this was powerless to stop those who rushed on him. The contest was keen. Many were killed or wounded. At the same time the Nayars seemed to increase in numbers every moment. Albuquerque’s eye took in the situation at a single glance; it was impossible to retrieve the fortunes of the day or to save the marshal. To preserve the safety of the men under his command, he ordered them to retire to the ships by the most direct route.
Every semblance of order was lost. The retreat became a rout. The Portuguese did not even once look behind. From the shelter of the embankments and stockades the Nayars threw stones and hand-darts on the fleeing crowd. Albuquerque himself was wounded. “To him”, writes his son ‘‘they gave a lance-thrust with a short lance from the top of the palisade in the left shoulder which made him fall down”. He had but a narrow escape, his flag-bearer and captain were killed. Even the advance of the reserve which he had wisely kept at the jetty could not inspire courage in the minds of the flying fugitives. Their one thought was to save their skin. “Our men”, says Albuquerque ‘‘were so throughly beside themselves that on reaching the beach they threw their arms and got into the water, intending to take refuge in the boats”.
Meanwhile, in the palace. Coulinho and his men were cut down. Overwhelmed on all sides, they were like rats caught in a trap. The marshal died fighting. Those who were still scattered about the rooms, unaware of the fate that had overcome their comrades, were sought out and killed, while, many, cut off from the rest, perished in the flames which they themselves had kindled.
Next day, Albuquerque sailed for Cochin. According to the Portuguese accounts, the Nayars lost in killed over a thousand, including the Kutwal and the two nobles who died at the entrance, while their own loss did not exceed eighty, including the marshal and ten or twelve of their principal men. The circumstances of the fight and the flight, however, bring the Muhamadan historian’s estimate nearer the truth. According to him, five hundred Portuguese were killed in fighting and a great number were drowned.