Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/65

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1500]
29
Successes of Cabral de Nueva.

much less of manoeuvring and combined action for attack, defence, pursuit, and co-operation with troops on land. Eastern vessels, indeed, were scarcely capable of being so employed. The hard woods used in constructing them forbade the use of iron nails, and their heavy planks were rudely made fast with cocoa-nut cordage and wooden pins. Steering gear and ground-tackle were of a rudimentary sort: even a moderate gale rendered the ship scarcely manageable, and the guns were useless except at close quarters. The Portuguese, who inherited the naval experience of two thousand years, had become through their African voyages the best seamen in Europe, possessed ships of the newest type, and attacked the Arabian vessels with the confidence begotten of their maritime successes against the Barbary Moors.

The treachery experienced by Da Gama from the Zamorin of Calicut made it still more necessary for the Portuguese to be strong enough to punish, as well as to invade, the enemy; and when Pedro Alvarez Cabral sailed in 1500 in command of the second expedition to India his vessels were formidably armed with artillery. By way of demonstrating his strength Cabral shortly after his arrival captured a large Moorish vessel as it passed the roadstead and presented her to the Zamorin. Suspecting the Moors of obstructing him in procuring lading for his fleet, he attacked and captured a Moorish vessel in the roadstead itself. In reprisal the Moors on shore destroyed the Portuguese factory and massacred its inhabitants. Cabral seized and destroyed ten large Moorish ships, and bombarded the town. He then sailed for Cochin, burning two more ships of Calicut on the way. Cochin, the seat of a Rajah hostile to the Zamorin, was also a port frequented by the Moors, and a few of them resided there permanently. Cabral was amicably received, completed his lading, and promised the Rajah to add Calicut to his dominions, his design in this being to gain the Rajah's assistance in conquering Calicut for the Portuguese. Being now ready to return, Cabral declined invitations from the Rajahs of Cananor and Quilon, and sailed for Europe. Having encountered a storm, he put into Cananor, where the Rajah promised free trade to the Portuguese, and sent on board an envoy with presents for the Portuguese king. Before his return João de Nueva had sailed from Lisbon for India, with four ships and four hundred men. In view of the hostile attitude of the Zamorin, De Nueva made for Cananor, where he learned that the Indian King was ready to attack him with forty ships. Leaving his factors at Cananor, De Nueva sailed at once to attack the enemy in their own waters, and inflicted on them a signal defeat. Successful though the Portuguese had been, the tidings of this continued hostility on the part of the Rajah who dominated the principal emporium of India gave rise at home to grave misgivings. Some counselled the abandonment of an enterprise to which the strength of a small European power seemed unequal. Even if the resistance of Calicut were broken, what would be