This is one of those interesting stories, mainly because it has been written into history books in differing ways, some flippant and others very serious. It is difficult to figure out exactly what happened. But let us come to conclusions after we check out the various versions. This is a story that takes you back some centuries back, to 4th Jan 1510 to be precise when the senior most officer of
Many of versions relied fully or partly on the commentaries of
KV Krishna Iyer – A History of Kerala (pg 243) Informed by the Koya Pakki of the absence of the Zamorin at Chetway (Chettuva) and of his ministers at Palghat, Coutinho attacked the capital. Early morning on Jan 4th 1510, he (Albuquerque accompanied by Francisco Coutinho) landed on the Northern bank of the Kallayi river. Burning the Jamiat mosque, his men slowly advanced through the narrow streets, guided by the Koya Pakki and at last penetrated the outhouses and offices of the Zamorin’s palace. But the ‘Akampatijanam’ known as the 10,000 Nair’s whom the Zamorin had left behind drove back the intruders killing Marshall Coutinho who had boasted before his master, the king of Portugal that he would capture the Zamorin’s capital.
Sheikh Zainuddin – Tuhfat Al-Mujahidin (Translation - SMH Nainar) – Clarifies that the Kuttichira mosque is the Mitqual mosque built by the Arab Nakhuda. Also that 500 Portuguese soldiers were killed in this battle. Many drowned (wearing heavy chain armor) while fleeing to the ships. Clarifications & comments provided by Nainar add that Koyapakki who was the local Portuguese trade agent had requested this confrontation to be avoided but had been overruled and put into prison. This enraged Koyapakki who subsequently went against the Portuguese.
Malabar & the Portuguese – KM Panikkar (pg 75-76) explains roughly as follows - The Marcheal F Coutinho was a rash & reckless warrior. He insisted on war whereas
The English writers added more flavor –
Other writers such as Egerton (Indian & Oriental Amour) state that the Palace guard uttered a cry that drew in over 30,000 well armed Nair’s in the defense of the palace. Apparently they fired arrows from roof tops. Stephens in his book on
Some writers mention that Coutinho had the filed gun and thus was slowed in the retreat and bore the brunt of the nair retaliation, to be killed. This contradicts the versions that mention
Diffie & Winus – Foundations of Portuguese empire - however provides the juicy tidbits – Had
The commentaries of De Albuquerque themselves provide a wealth of Information – Volume 2 confirms that Coutinho was using Periera to sound out Albuqurque, and Periera states that Albuquerque himself had always fancied destroying Calicut.
Koya pakki is summoned and imprisoned in the ship and asked to show them around
Hearing about the attack,
The Zamorin hearing about all this a day or two later stopped his fight (with presumably the Valluva Konathiri (at Chettuva – near Trichur) the hill king) and hastened back, with the konathiri hot on his heels taking advantage of the situation. By the time he reached
So this is the tale of that attack – Was it just a tale of a person who stole the Zamorin’s highly ornate palace doors and found it a tough task fleeing with it (due to the immense weight of the teak, rose wood or whatever it was plus the overlay of brass and gold), was avarice just the reason for Coutinho’s death or was it his impudence and arrogance or was it his ill fated decision to spend time setting the palace on fire instead of fleeing with Albuquerque? The reader can decide. I have led you to the battle scene.
The gauntlet was laid. The Portuguese war with Malabar had started in right earnest. The Moppilah’s, the Kolathiri’s, the Zamorin’s, and the Kochi Varma’s were all now being ably manipulated by the foreigners.
Krishna Iyer adds - Later
Marshall Manual Fernando De Coutinho - Cousin of
Dom Manuel 1 - 14th king of
Koyapakki (Cosabequim) – Portuguese trading contact & informant in
Afonso DAlbuquerque- Generally considered a world conquest military genius due to his successful ocean strategy; Governor/Viceroy of
Zamorin – The suzerain of
Eralpad – Heir apparent to the
Timoja – Or Timmaya possibly a moor, who was befriended by Almeida and who had been in contact with Gama as well in 1502 and later became an ally of the Portuguese in conquering
Notes – Magellan was also around in the fleet when this happened, but what he did is not clear- See my previous blog on Magellan. One of the survivors of this attack, Antonio Correo who was at that time a small boy was involved in later expeditions.
Malabar manual –
Malabar & the Portuguese – KM Panickkar
Tuhfat Al-Mujahidin - Sheikh Zainuddin