Afonso de Albuquerque


Afonso de Albuquerque : biography

1453 – 1515

On February 3, 1509, Almeida fought the naval Battle of Diu against a joint fleet of Mamluks, Ottomans, the Zamorin of Calicut and the Sultan of Gujarat, regarding it as personal revenge for the death of his son. His victory was decisive: the Ottomans and Mamluks abandoned the Indian Ocean, easing the way for Portuguese rule there for over 100 years. In August, after a petition from Albuquerque’s former officers with the support of Diogo Lopes de Sequeira claiming him unfit for governance, he was sent in custody in an old ship to St. Angelo Fort in Cannanore. There he remained under what he considered to be imprisonment.

In September 1509, Sequeira tried to establish contact with the Sultan of Malacca but failed, leaving behind 19 Portuguese prisoners.


Afonso de Albuquerque had a bastard son with an unknown woman. He legitimized the boy in February 1506. Prior to his death, he asked King Manuel I to leave him all his wealth and that he take care of his education. When Albuquerque died, Manuel I renamed the child "Afonso" in his father’s memory. Brás Afonso de Albuquerque, or Braz in the old spelling, was born in 1500 and died in 1580.



Albuquerque Monument on [[Afonso de Albuquerque Square in Lisbon (1902).]]

King Manuel I of Portugal was convinced too late of Albuquerque’s loyalty, and endeavoured to atone for the ingratitude with which he had treated him by heaping honours upon his son, Brás de Albuquerque (1500–1580),Stier, Hans Erich (1942) Die Welt als Geschichte: Zeitschrift für Universalgeschichte "W. Kohlhammer". whom he renamed "Afonso" in memory of his father.

Afonso de Albuquerque was a prolific writer, having written numerous letters to the king reporting all kind of matters during his governorship, from minor issues to major strategies. In 1557, his son published a collection his letters under the title Commentarios do Grande Affonso d’Alboquerque.Forbes, Jack D. (1993) Africans and Native Americans "University of Illinois Press". 344 pages. ISBN 0-252-06321-X.- a clear reference to Caesar’s Commentaries- which he later reviewed and re-published in 1576. There Albuquerque was described as "a man of middle stature, with a long face, fresh colored, the nose somewhat large. He was a prudent man, and a Latin scholar, and spoke in elegant phrases; his conversation and writings showed his excellent education. He was of ready words, very authoritative in his commands, very circumspect in his dealings with the Moors, and greatly feared yet greatly loved by all, a quality rarely found united in one captain. He was very valiant and favored by fortune."Albuquerque, Brás, Commentaries, vol VI, p. 198

In 1572, Albuquerque’s feats were described in The Lusiads, the Portuguese main epic poem by Luís Vaz de Camões (Canto X, strophe 40 to 49). The poet praises his achievements, but has the muses frown upon the harsh rule of his men, of whom Camões was almost a contemporary fellow. In 1934, Albuquerque was celebrated by Fernando Pessoa in Mensagem, a symbolist epic. In the first part of this work, called "Brasão" (Coat-of-Arms), he relates Portuguese historical protagonists to each of the fields in the Portuguese coat-of-arms, Albuquerque being one of the wings of the griffin headed by Henry the Navigator, the other wing being King John II.

A variety of mango that he used to bring on his journeys to India has been named in his honour.

Numerous homages have been made to Albuquerque. He is featured in the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument. Additionally there is a square carrying his name in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, which also features a bronze statue. Two Portuguese Navy ships have been named in his honour: the sloop NRP Afonso de Albuquerque (1884) and the warship NRP Afonso de Albuquerque, the latter belonging to a sloop class named Albuquerque.

Global legacy

The fabled Spice Islands were always on the imagination of Europe since ancient times. In the 2nd century AD, Malaya was known, by Ptolemy the Greek geographer, who labelled it ‘Aurea Chersonesus"; and who said that it was believed the fabled area was rich in an abundance of gold. Even Indian traders who referred to the East Pacific region, as "Land of Gold" and made regular visits to Malaya in search of the precious metal, tin and sweet scented jungle woods.Lonely Planet Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei By Simon Richmond Lonely Planet, 2010. page. 30 But neither Ptolemy, nor Rome, nor Alexander would have the fortune of laying eyes upon the fabled regions of the East Pacific. Albuquerque became the first European to reach the Spice Islands. Upon discovering Malaysia, he proceeded in 1511 to conquer Malacca. Albuquerque then commissioned an expedition under the command of António de Abreu and Vice-Commander Francisco Serrão (the latter being a cousin of Magellan) to further explore the extremities of the region in east Indonesia.Cross-Cultural Alliance-Making and Local Resistance in Maluku during the Revolt of Prince Nuku, 1780-1810 BY Proefschrift ter verkrijging van de graad van Doctor aan de Universiteit Leiden, op gezag van de Rector Magnificus, prof. mr. P. F. van der Heijden, volgens besluit van het College voor Promoties te verdedigen op woensdag 12 september 2007 klokke 15.00 uur. Page 11 (online:;jsessionid=1AEA90AE76CCD0D4E0F4A3BB3F7D1F3C?sequence=6) As a result of these voyages of exploration by Albuquerque, the Portuguese became the first European’s to discover and to reach the fabled Spice Islands of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Indies in addition to the discovering their sea routes. He effectively found what had always evaded Columbus’ grasp – the wealth of the Orient. The great discovery of Albuquerque would not go unnoticed by the rest of Europe, and it did not take long for Magellan to arrive in the same region only several years later and discover the Phillipines for Spain, giving birth to the Papal Treaty of Zaragoza.