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DOM FRANCISCO DE ALMEIDA (c. 1450-1510)

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Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 713 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DOM FRANCISCO DE ALMEIDA (c. 1450-1510), the first viceroy of Portuguese India, was born at Lisbon about the middle of the 15th century. He was the seventh son of the second count of Abrantes, and thus belonged to one of the most distinguished families in Portugal. In his youth he took part under Ferdinand of Aragon in the wars against the Moors (1485-1492). In March 1505, having received from Emmanuel I. the appointment of viceroy of the newly conquered territory in India, he set sail from Lisbon in command of a large and powerful fleet, and arrived in July at Quiloa (Kilwa), which yielded to him almost without a struggle. A much more vigorous resistance was offered by the Moors of Mombasa, but the town was taken and destroyed, and its large treasures went to strengthen the resources of Almeida. At other places on his way, such as the island of Angediva, near Goa, and Cannanore, he built forts, and adopted measures to secure the Portuguese supremacy. On his arrival in India he took up his residence at Cochin, where a Portuguese fort had been built by Alphonso d'Albuquerque in 1503. The most important events of Almeida's brief but vigorous administration were the conclusion of a commercial treaty with Malacca, and the discoveries made by his son Lorenzo, who acted as his lieutenant. Lorenzo was probably the first Portuguese who visited Ceylon, where he established a settlement, and Fernando Soares, a captain commanding a squadron of his fleet, appears to have been the first European to sight Madagascar. In 1508 he was killed at Dabul in a naval engagement with the Egyptians, who at this time endeavoured to dispute Portuguese supremacy in the Indian Ocean. His father was preparing to avenge his death when Albuquerque (q.v.) arrived in Cochin, and presented a commission empowering him to supersede Almeida in the government. It was probably Almeida's unwillingness to be thwarted in his scheme of vengeance that chiefly induced him to refuse to recognize Albuquerque's commission, and to cast him into prison. The punishment he inflicted on the Arabs and their Egyptian allies was speedy and terrible. Sailing along the coast he pillaged and burned various ports, including Goa and Dabul, and finally, encountering the enemy's combined fleet off Diu in February 1509, he completely destroyed it. Returning immediately to Cochin, he held out for a few months against the claims of Albuquerque, but in November 1509 he was compelled to yield. On the 1st of December he set sail for Europe with an escort of three vessels. On the voyage the fleet called at Table Bay, then known as Saldanha Bay, to procure water, and here Almeida was killed (on the 1st of March 151-0) in an attack upon the Hottentot natives, during which he showed great personal courage. In this fight, which took place on the site of Cape Town, 65 Portuguese perished, including 12 captains. Almeida's body was recovered on the following day and buried on the spot where he fell.
End of Article: DOM FRANCISCO DE ALMEIDA (c. 1450-1510)
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