Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/68

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

embassy from Portugal, headed by Tristao da Cunha, under whom Albuquerque had seen his first service in the East. The presents of gold, jewels, and oriental embroidery, an earnest of the future wealth to be drawn by the Holy See from the East, were borne in triumphal procession. They were followed by richly caparisoned Persian horses, leopards, a panther, and a gigantic elephant, which knelt thrice before the Holy Father; and in reply to an address Leo X delivered a Latin oration, in which he praised the maintenance of peace by the Christian powers, and spoke hopefully of the union of their forces against the Muslim. Meanwhile Albuquerque, having almost swept the Turkish and Arab ships from the Indian sea, was preparing to carry the war into their own waters. Early in 1513 he sailed from Goa with twenty vessels, and after an unsuccessful attack on Aden entered the Red Sea. His successes had filled his mind with the wildest expectations. By an alliance with the Christian sovereign of Abyssinia he dreamed of establishing himself on the Upper Nile, cutting a canal through the mountains separating it from the Red Sea, diverting the river, and thus turning into a desert the most flourishing of the Muslim countries. Another project was to land a force in the harbour of Yembo, plunder the temple of Medina, and carry away Mohammad's coffin, to be held until the holy places of Jerusalem should be surrendered in exchange for it. A fiery cross, seen over the African coast as he waited for a wind, was hailed as an omen of success; but prudence and the affairs of Goa suggested his return, and after a very limited reconnaissance of the Red Sea coasts he returned to India. The voyage confirmed his belief in the capture and fortification of Aden as the necessary means of effecting a junction with Abyssinia at the port of Massowah. This once accomplished, Suez, Jiddah, and Mecca itself would be practically at the invader's mercy.

At another important point Albuquerque strengthened the Portuguese position. Before succeeding to the chief command he had set up a small Portuguese factory at the ancient port of Hormuz, near the entrance of the Persian Gulf. From this the Portuguese had advanced to obtaining control of the customs payable on Persian exports to India. Albuquerque now obtained the surrender of the fort of Hormuz, with the command of the entire import trade from India to Persia, as well as. through Mesopotamia to Aleppo, and Beyrut on the Mediterranean. At the time of his death he was preparing an expedition for the conquest of Aden, the only thing which seemed still undone in order to give Portugal complete control of the eastern seas, being, in his own words, " the closing of the gates of the Straits." He died at Goa, habited as a. commendador of the Order of Santiago. By his will he desired that his bones should be carried to Portugal. This was strenuously opposed by the settlers of Goa, who believed their city to be only safe so long as the bones of the great commander remained among them; nor was it until