Wednesday, October 15, 2008

King Manuel I letter to Governor Lopo Soares de Albergaria 1516

Manuel I (1461-1521)

Lopo Soarez, friend, we, the king, send you our hearty greeting. Because not many days past news has reached us that the Grand Sultan is preparing a fleet in Suez for his service in India, we hereby acquaint you of the manner in which you must proceed in case the fleet of the Sultan shall have passed into Indian waters, though we trust in Our Lord that this is not the case ; for we ought to provide against and counteract a thing so prejudicial to our service, and one calculated, as we fear, to bring about the complete subversion of Portuguese influence in that part of the world.
And in consideration of that which should result in the greatest security, and give the best grounds of success, it has seemed best for our service, in case the said fleet of the Sultan shall have entered into Indian seas and Afonso Dalboquerque still be there, to order him not to make any new arrangements for his return to these kingdoms as we had ordered him, but to remain with you in our service, and that you—because Cochim and Calicut are places of such great and manifest importance, and inseparably bound up with the preservation of our estate in India — remain therein (in India) as captain major and governor, Malaca being also subject to your command; and that you take command of four hundred of the men who went out with you, choosing those whom you prefer, to keep them with you, over and above those going on service in the said fortresses, and all the fleet on duty at Malaca and Cochim, and that you take up residence in whichever of the said fortresses of Cochim and Calicut that you prefer, and in which you perceive it most advantageous to the security and good of our service. And we hold it good that the lading of the vessels going to India every year, and returning with spices, be under your control without the intervention of any one therein except only the factor and officers of the factory.
And we will that all the other fortresses, soldiers, fleets, and forces, as well of sea as of land, remain under the command of Afonso Dalboquerque for our service and in expectation of eventualities, and in order to render aid by reinforcements when required at any place where difficulties may arise in respect of the said fleet of the Sultan ; and he is to labour to destroy it (as we trust in the Lord he will destroy it); and we have written to him at length to this effect.
And although we repose entire confidence in you, that you will serve us in this business with the great bravery and with the knightly deeds which you are accustomed to perform, yet in an affair so new and untried, and of so great a need, it does not appear to us that you would be able to cope with it unassisted, if the Sultan's fleet were once to gain an entry into India; for it is impossible that you should be endowed with qualities such as we know are possessed by Afonso Dalboquerque, for the advancement and security of our state in those parts of the world, because of his experience during many years, and because of his acquaintance with the kings and lords who are our true friends and servants, and also because of his knowledge of those who are not so, but opposed to us, and of his knowing the heart and disposition of each one, having been so long among them, and had dealings with them and made trial of them, and also because of the matters in which he can exercise his care, and his ability to destroy those combinations in which he dare not hope to find perfect fidelity of action towards our service, so as thereby to prevent the enemy from combining with one another against us. And for all these reasons and others which may arise, it is expedient that we take advantage of the especial as well as of the general experience which he possesses not only in naval but also in military matters ; and principally we regard the great victories with which Our Lord has ever favoured him in those parts, in all the things to which he has set his hand and which he has undertaken : for we trust in His mercy that He will give him the victory even in this enterprise ; for albeit that many men are available for many things, and in him we ought to have entire confidence, as we have in you, not only for this matter but even greater matters, (although it may turn out to be nothing after all but an idle rumour), by making use of his services, whom Our Lord has already assisted in these very enterprises, it seems likely that the business may thereby be better carried and completed, especially when one knows the method of carrying them on as Afonso Dalboquerque does.
And because this is a matter which so closely appertains to, and is involved in, our service, honour, and estate, as you will easily perceive, we recommend you and command you by especial orders in no wise to resist this which we desire you to do, but to assist us in the manner herein described.
And because the military operations which ensue upon the entry of the Sultan's fleet into India will undoubtedly entail upon us considerable expenditure, we command the officials of Cochim, Calicut, and Malaca, in case Afonso Dalboquerque requires any money or supplies from our stores, to send them to him immediately without the least delay in accordance with the provision which we have on this behalf dispatched to the said Afonso Dalboquerque. We do also notify this to you that you may know in what way we order it, and that you may not prevent it, but rather we desire you heartily to exercise in this matter all the attention possible, in order that all that Afonso Dalboquerque may require in respect of this matter may be thoroughly performed.
Done at Almeirim, the twentieth day of March, in the year 1516.

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