Situating Histories

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Calicut and the two battles of 1503 and 1790, Dr Noone’s new book

Some years ago, I wrote about the famous sea battle of Calicut fought during the early months of 1503, preparations having been made for it by Vasco Da Gama of Portugal, as he sailed into Malabar during 1502.  A showdown was expected and as the Zamorin was preparing his flotilla, the Portuguese armada of 5 light caravels and 15 heavy ships, including the flag Ship San Jeronimo sailed in with Gama in command. After their arrival and restocking at Cochin and Cannanore, they started enforcing the blockade of all Malabar ports. The Zamorin had in the meanwhile prepared and re-equipped his fleet, two flotillas had already been fitted out. The first flotilla consisted of comparatively heavy ships, about a hundred in number, mostly Sambuks, under the command of Khoja Ambar, and the second flotilla was placed under the command of Khoja Kasim.

T. H. Baber and the Cochin Jews

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The White and the Black Jews of Cochin

Several books and papers feature the white and the Black Jewish community which lived in Cochin. Many of the descendants have since taken up their Aliyah and moved to Israel and there is hardly a family or two left in Cochin. Interestingly, though early accounts from the East India Company officials do mention the community and provide copies of some of their ancient documents, starting with Hamilton Buchanan, most accounts fail to mention the role played by the righteous T.H. Baber, who used to be a magistrate and collector at Tellicherry. His accounts provide an interesting and slightly differing aside from what we already know.