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THE Portuguese at the Maldives
from Excerpta Maldiviana, H. C. P. BELL, C.C.S. (Retired)
Ceylon Royal Archaeological Society Journal, 1931 VOL. XXXII

These fall into three broad periods.
Indexed links below:

First Period: 1500-1550
Second Period: 1550-1700
Third Period: 1700-1930


'Lead, 0 God, the Maldive Race
Along Thy Prophet's way,
Ever staunch to Muslim Faith,
Until the Judgment Day.'

The purpose of the present Paper is to bring into one concentrated focus all known references of any moment, or their gist, on the above subject occurring in European and Maldivian records. Such references have been made available - and that often but partially up to the present - only in scattered writings more or less difficult of access.

The main authorities, from the European point of view, are to be found in (a) the Portuguese Archives and Histories relating to the East, (b) in Pyrard's Voyage to the East Indies, together with notices summarised in (c) Ceylon Sessional Paper XLIII, 1881, and in (d), the Hakluyt Society Pyrard, 1888, Vol.11., Appendices A, B; whilst on the Oriental side the sole source of information is furnished by the 'Tarikh', or State Chronicle of the Maldive Sultans, which still remains unpublished.

By way of comparison and contrast in the narratives, it will be most convenient to group accounts by Portuguese, French, and other Western writers, separately from the particulars derivable from the Maldive Chronicle.

First Period: 1500-1550

Portuguese references

East Indian Trade
The Portuguese first showed their flag in the East at the very close of the Fifteenth Century. When Vasco da Gama, rounding the Cape in 1498 reached Calicut (Kallikkoddai), he found Oriental trade and commerce well mapped out and established.

Vessels from Further India and China bound for Aden and the Red Sea touched at Ceylon, the Maldives, or Malabar ports (Calicut in particular) before striking across the Indian Ocean, and up the Red Sea to Jeddah, or on to Suez for delivery to merchants at Cairo. As a second route the ships made, by way of Calicut and other ports on the West Coast of India, for Cambay, and thence to Ormuz; from which great emporium, their cargoes were transported by caravan routes to Baghdad, Damascus, and ultimately to Europe. Everywhere free trade prevailed, united with commercial security and at least rough justice.

It was upon such inexhaustibly rich prey that the Portuguese 'swooped' greedily.

  Calicut in sixteenth century
Calicut in sixteenth century

Upon the arrival the second Portuguese Expedition to the East Indies, under P. Alvares Cabral, off Malabar in 1500, owing to 'the bitter rivalry' existing between the Zamorin of Calicut and the Raja of Cochin, the latter, eager for Portuguese support, allowed them to establish a Factory.

From Cochin, that 'coign of vantage,' the Portuguese first commenced - and long continued - to harry the seas of Western India, until, 'by conduct not to be distinguished from'common piracy, they broke up link by link, the commercial chain which had hitherto extended from Genoa and Venice to Malacca and Pekin.' The Muhammadans - the 'Moros' (Moors) of Portuguese writers - held most of the carrying trade at the time; and to every one of them, when seized, confiscation of goods, slavery, and even death, were meted out inexorably, 'albeit engaged on 'lawful occasions' of immemorial Eastern commerce.

Portuguese encounter Maldivians
In 1503 the Maldive Islanders learnt their initial cruel lesson from Christian hands. Four Maldive gundras [dhoanis or odis] were sighted by Vicente Sodre, off Calicut, laden with dried fish (peixes seccos bonitos), coir (cairo), and cowry shells (caury), - the last then in great request in Bengal as currency. In addition, these vessels contained 'great store of silks, coloured and white, and many brilliant tissues of gold, made by, the Islanders themselves, from thread obtained from Moor ships which visited the Islands by bartering for salt, earthenware, rice and silver.'

The Maldivians of the gundras lost all their goods, 'which were sent to the Factory at Cannanore, (Kannanur) whose Ruler, Ali Raja ('Sea King'), the Portuguese, under Vasco da Gama in 1502,, had got to agree to, a fixed scale of prices, whilst ensuring, by the issue of passes, a safe passage to all Cannanore merchants - and were warned imperatively against further such trading; as for the Calicut Moors one hundred (cem) were fettered and burnt in one of the vessels incontinently.

Mamalle, Lord of the Maldive Islands
Seven years later, in 1510, the great Alfonso d'Albuquerque, second Viceroy at Goa, peremptorily dealt with Mamalle (Mammali Marakkar), a predominant Mapilla merchant who lived at Cannanore and was styled 'Lord of the Maldive Islands' (0 Senhor das Illas de Maldiua).

The monopoly of trade with the Maldives was held by this man - the 'Saracenus quidam Mamelles nomine' of Osorius - under an agreement with their King, - whereby Maldive goods (dry fish, coir, cowries and fine silks) were obtained at definite prices in exchange for rice and earthenware to such a degree that Marmalle virtually supplied all the coir for the use of India. To counteract the influence of this Moor, the Maldive Ruler sought the alliance of the Portuguese, undertaking to render them tribute on condition that they would compel Mamalle to renounce his pretensions.

Albuquerque ordered Mamalle forthwith to remove his Factors, and to cease trading with the Islands, 'as these belonged to the King of Portugal, who would hinder no one from trading there'; naively insisting, further, that Mamalle should in no way hamper the Portuguese if they visited the Maldives for trade purposes. Against appeal by the Moor for retention of his monopoly, 'the Viceroy was obdurate, fixing the tale of annual delivery to the Portuguese, free of expenses, at one thousand (1,000) bares of fine, and one thousand (1,000), of coarse, coir, each bar to weigh four quintales and a half.

'The foregoing agreement,' adds Correa, 'was duly observed during the government of Alfonso d'Albuquerque; but his successors, understanding how 'to profit themselves by the trade, gave it over to their servants and friends, and violated the contract. The ships and armadas sent by the Factor of the King of Portugal reduced his profit to nothing, and did much robbery and mischief at the Islands.' After the departure of Albuquerque the Maldives became the 'happy hunting ground' of Portuguese first-hand pirates; and equally so for those sent to capture the filabusters.

Portuguese obtain Factory at Male'
Ultimately on the information given by the ex-Viceroy to the Court of Portugal regarding the Maldive Islands, and the advantages to be derived from them, Lopo Soares, Albuquerque's successor in the Government of India, on orders from home, despatched Don Juan de Silveira in 1517 to come to terms with the King of the Maldives and to form a solid establishment in his Kingdom. 'He had been instructed to promise all that was desired, and obtained what was wished.'

Portuguese Garrison at Male' annihilated
portuguese caravella_1500s

In further pursuance of this project a Flotilla was despatched to the Islands in 1519 by the Viceroy, Diogo Lopes da Sequeira, under Joao Gomes Cheiradinheiro. It consisted of four vessels, a carevella (three-masted galley-rigged barque), a catur (smaller vessel) and two fustas, (pinnaces), furnished with artillery and all necessaries, and carrying one hundred and twenty men. After roving to harry and rob the Islanders and others according to fancy, Joao Gomes landed at the principal Island Mafacalou (Male') where the King of the Islands dwelt. Settling himself on part of the Island, he fortified it well by strong palisades, with shelter inside for men and guns. The place was very strong, and adjoined deep harbourage for the Portuguese vessels, whence they used to emerge to rob what they could: on shore, much Maldive produce - coir, cloth and dry fish - was taken from the inhabitants, but paid for at the pleasure of the Portuguese.

The actions of the foreign garrison became so intolerable that the Maldivians sought urgent intervention from Baleacem, a great Moor merchant and noted corsair of Calicut; and, in his absence, successfully invoked the aid of Patemarcar (Pata Marakkar), another powerful Moor and Chief merchant at Cochin, who, after Portuguese seizure of some of his ships, had turned to buccaneering. Twelve Malabar paraos, well manned, sailed for Male' and fell suddenly, with fire-bombs, upon the Portuguese ships lying unaware in harbour. Six paraos attacked the fustas and catur, the other six the carevella, speedily killing all those on board. They then assaulted the Fort, which was undefended on the seaside, and kil1ed and wounded many: the remainder, who fled through the thickets, were slain by the Islanders in revenge for the many misdeeds committed by the Portuguese.

In this assault Joao Gomes and all his men were killed, the carevella burnt, and the other vessels seized, with all the artillery and rich booty accumulated by the Portuguese. The King of the Islands eagerly participated in the spoil, including two large cannon (dous tiros grossos) which the Moors could not carry off in their paraos.

Thus the Maldivians regained their freedom from partial thraldom to the Portuguese; but retained it for but three decades. During the ensuing thirty years no further assault was made by the Portuguese on Male' itself; but notices occur in their Histories of the continuance of quasi-legalised piratical raids by them among the Islands.

Mamalle captured and killed
Mamalle, the most honoured Moor in India, a titular King of the Maldives - was chased in 1525 by Vicente Sodre with four vessels, captured and put to death.

The fame of this noted Muslim corsair of the Sixteenth century was such that, on maps of even two centuries later, it gave his name, in 'the Channel of Mamalle (Canal de Mamale), to the present day 'Nine Degrees Channel' between the Lakkadives and Minicoy Island.

In 1540 Gonzale Vaz, going to the Maldive Islands on his own account, seized a 'Moor' (Maldivian) who had robbed and killed some Portuguese a few days previously. Gonzale Vaz took prompt revenge upon the particular Island where the Portuguese had met their death. Its headman, was seized, put in chains, tortured and heavily mulcted before being released.

Cojezemecadim Corsair
An offer made in 1545 by the Viceroy, through Belchior da Sousa, of the title and advantages of 'Lord of the Maldive Islands' to Pocoralle, regedor and general factotum at Cannanore, and brother of Mamalle, on his effective aid in capturing the notorious and elusive Moor Cojezemecadim (Koya Shamsuddin) - the special bete noir of the Portuguese at the time - came to nothing, owing to native mistrust and tergiversation.

Maldivian references

The limelight bearing on Portuguese connection with the Islands can now be switched on appropriately to Maldivian recorded history - albeit lamentably meagre, as told in its Tarikh covering approximately the first half of the sixteenth century.


Kalu Mohamed
A.H. 807 1491-2
He (S. Ibrahim II, 49) was succeeded by Sultan Mohamed, son of Sultan Umar (II, 45) Maha Radun, son of Sultan Yusuf (II, 38), son of Sultan Hilali Hasan (I, 29).

Yusuf III
A.H. 807-8 1491-3
When he (S. Kalu Mohamed) had occupied the throne for nine months, Yusuf, the brother of Sultan Mohamed (50), son of Umar (II, 45), seized the throne by force. He called himself Sultan Umar. After reigning for two and a half months, he died in the year 808 of the Hijra era.

Ali IV
A.H. 898-900 1492-5
Then Ali, son of Kai-Ulanna Kilege, son of Mafat Kilege, son of S. Husain (I, 31) ascended the throne.

Kalu Mohamed
A.H. 900-915 1494-1510
After he (S. Ali IV, 52) had held the throne for two years and four months, Sultan Hilali Mohamed (50), who had previously ruled for only nine months, seized the Sultanate in the Hijra year 900, with the assistance of Ali Raja of Kannanur.

Hasan VII
A.H. 915-16 1509-11
When he (S. Kalu Mohamed) had reigned for fifteen years, Sultan Hasan (VII), son of Sultan Yusuf (51), took possession of the throne. He died in Hijra 915, after ruling for two years.

Shariff Ahmad
A.H. 910-18 1510-13
Then the throne was filled by As-Sharif Ahmad of Mekka. He died in Hijra 918, after reigning for two years and nine months.

Ali V
A.H. 918 1512-13
Thereupon Ali, son of Hirratu (Mava Kilege) of Nellaidu Island, (Tiladummati Atol), ascended the throne. When he had been reigning for nine months, the twice deposed Sultan Hilali Mohamed (50, 53) went to Kannanur on the Malabar Coast, and signed a Treaty with Ali Raja, in which he agreed to pay him yearly a substantial sum for his aid. He (S. Mohamed) was given a large force of soldiers, with whom he sailed for the Maldives. But, on leaving Kannanur Harbour, they were met by several Portuguese vessels, which prevented them from continuing their voyage, and held them as prisoners until (annual) payment of a large sum of money was agreed to. On this being guaranteed, they were released by the Portuguese; who then accompanied them to the Islands. Both fleets anchored in Male Harbour; and (forcibly) secured the throne for this said Sultan Mohamed. The combat was fought in Hijra 919.

Kalu Mohamed
A.H. 919-35 1513-14
Annual Tribute to Ali Raja
After he recovered the throne the Sultan, in accordance with his compact, began to pay yearly the amount agreed upon. This Tribute was continued by the Sultans who succeeded him, until the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar I, 1648- 87, son of Sultan Mohamed Imad-ud-din I, 1620.

The Sultan (Ibrahim Iskandar I), deeming that such payment to two foreign nations was made through ignorance, and was humiliating to Maldivians, enjoined on his son and his successor - and, indeed, all future Rulers (of the Maldive Islands) - not to continue this Tribute, which was forbidden by their Religion and would bring a curse on their country. Sultan (Kalu) Mohamed was a selfish, heartless, and deceitful tyrant, who had no love for his subjects, caring for them not at all, but ruling with an iron hand. When he had resumed the throne, this Sultan imagined that he would have a long and peaceful reign. He gave no thought to the hidden future, or deemed that, when on his death-bed, there would be no one to help him.

Verily not long was it before the Messenger of Death appeared before him, and summoned him from the pomp and glory of his throne. His useless, emaciated body was consigned to the earth to rot. Persons avoided even the mention of his name. 'For God, it is not difficult to do whatsoever seemeth good unto Him.'

This Sultan's (full) reign lasted thirty years and nine months, covering the three periods of his occupation of the throne. His death occurred in Hijra 935.

Hasan Shirazi VIII
A.H. 931-55 1528-1549
He was succeeded by his son, Hasan (VIII), born to a woman whom his father had brought as a concubine from Shiraz in Persia. For this reason, Hasan assumed the title of 'As-Sultan Hasan As-Shirazi.'
He died in Hijra 955, after reigning for 21 years.

A.H. 955-51 1548-51
Then Mohamed, son of the half-brother of the Sultan last mentioned (Hasan VIII, 58), ascended the throne. His father was Umar Mafat Kilege, son of Sultan Kalu Mohamed (50, 53, 57), son of Sultan Umar (45), son of Sultan Yusuf (38), son of Sultan Hilali Hasan (29).

Second Period: 1550-1700

Portuguese references

The opening of the second half of the Sixteenth Century was to usher in at the Maldives perhaps the greatest revolution that has marred their fitful history - a debacle culminating in the flight from the Islands of the last Sultan, caitiff, fratricide and apostate alike, of the Hilali Dynasty which had occupied the throne, with little intermission, for more than a century and a half. Let FRANCOIS Pyrard de Laval (one of the survivors of the ill-fated French ship Corbin wrecked on the Group in 1602, and captive at Male' for five years) tell, in his own intriguing fashion, the story - as he learnt it on the spot less than fifty years afterward - of the abandonment of his Kingdom by Sultan Hasan (IX) - that brother slayer and renegade, 'inspired of God' - to find refuge at Cochin, and baptisement there as a Christian; followed by some account of the bouleversement which shortly ensued, and continued during the Portuguese occupation of the Islands for fifteen years and upwards from 1558.


Hasan IX
Titular Christian King
About fifty years before this time the King of these Islands (S. Hasan IX), who was of noble and ancient lineage, seeing that he was but ill-obeyed, and was unable to withstand a formidable rival who wished to depose him, was inspired of God with a resolve to quit all. He departed secretly with his wife and some of his family, without saying a word of his destination to anyone, and went straight to Cochin; where he became a Christian, along with his wife and some of his followers; sending back such as would not be baptized. For this cause his rival, who was his near relative, was at once accepted as King. The name of the latter was Haly (Ali) of the other Assan (Hasan).

This former King, then, when he became a Christian at Cochin wrote word to all his subjects that they should become Christians and pay him their wonted tribute; otherwise he would come and see to it with a large army of Portuguese, who had promised him their aid. The new King and the Maldive people made answer that they would no longer acknowledge him; that if aught was due to him he might come and get it; and that if he preferred to be a Christian he should remain where he was - as for them, they would sooner die than change their faith.

Hearing this, he asked the aid of the Viceroy of the Indies at Goa; who promised it; but on terms that he should not go in person, as it was feared that he would not agree with his people, or might bring the Portuguese into difficulties. The Portuguese armed force set out, but was not able to effect anything, losing a galley with three ships, and a goodly number of men; and so were constrained to retire.

Ali VI
Portuguese Capture Male'
The following year they returned with a stronger force and better pilots, and the new King went out bravely to meet them, though he knew himself lost; he might perhaps have escaped but he preferred to die in battle rather than to retreat with shame. He was vanquished and put to death, and the Portuguese made themselves masters of Me'; where they built a Fortress, and thence sallied forth to compel the submission of the other Islands, and put many of the inhabitants to the sword.

Then they assembled all the Chiefs of the Islands and told them they desired to leave them at peace, and not to constrain them in any way, nor to change their religion, if only they would pay the (titular) King his dues. These terms being accepted, they left one of the Island Chiefs to govern, and to remain always at Male' with the Portuguese Commandant; on terms that he should take no political measure but after consulting the Portuguese and the Island Chiefs, and that all the trade should be in the hands of the Portuguese alone.

The Governor appointed by the Portuguese to rule under them as Viceroy was a Lord, a native of the Islands and of their religion; but he did everything in the name of the Christian King who lived in Portuguese territory.

In this way the Portuguese ruled the Islands in peace for the space of ten years; during which time the father of this King (presently reigning, Sultan Ibrahim III) and his (the former's) brother were Catibes (Khatib), each of his own Island, but, with the pride of their race, would never submit to the Portuguese yoke, nor obey the Governor whom they had left in power. On the contrary, they rebelled and levied a force of men and galleys for war, and retired to the Atollon (Atol) Ouadou (Huvadu) otherwise Souadou, at the Southern extremity of the Islands, where the Portuguese dared not follow them, nor cross the Candou (M. Kadu) or Channel, of the said Atollon; so that neither this Atollon and the Islands belonging thereto, nor any to the South of that Channel were ever subject to the Portuguese.

These two brothers then built a strong Fort; and being distant about eighty leagues from Male', where the Portuguese were, they became in time so strong in men, arms, and ammunition, that they, as it were, held Male' and the Portuguese in check, so that they durst not come out without daily experiencing a harassing war.

This lasted for eight years, at the end of which arrived four galleys of Malabar corsairs for the purpose of war and pillage, as was their wont. The two brothers accosted them, and agreed with them to make war upon the Portuguese on terms of half the booty.

Maldivians retake Male'
So one day, getting word that the Captain of the Fortress and Island of Male' was gone to Cochin with a goodly number of Portuguese soldiers, they could not miss the opportunity, and resolved to attack the Fortress: which project they carried out so well, that one night they surprised it by escalade, and made themselves masters of the place, putting to death upwards of three hundred men that were within, and taking prisoner the Native Governor who was set there by the Portuguese.

The place being taken and sacked, the Malabars, having got their agreed share of the spoil, were going home, leaving the two brothers masters of the town; but they, jealous to see so much of the riches of the Islands being carried off, resolved to attack the Malabars. This they did, and, after a long engagement, at length were left victorious, and got both the booty and the galleys, sending the men back to the Malabar coast; and thus repaid with treachery the good service they had of them.

In this manner the two brothers became Kings of the Islands, and equally shared the throne without any quarrel between them. They were both men of great valour, and were acknowledged as such by the people.

As for the Portuguese, they were indignant at the rebuff they had received at the Maldives, and were resolved to avenge it; so the next year they sent an army to the Islands, and carried on the war for a long time; but the two Kings defeated all their forces. This war lasted three years.

These Kings were very powerful, and possessed two Fortresses, that of Male' and the other at the Atoll of Souadou, or Ouadou, in an Island called Game (Gan).

At length both parties considered that it would be for the good of the country and of trade to come to some sort of understanding, rather than to continue this war to a doubtful issue.

Treaty between Portuguese and Maldivians
Accordingly, they made a Treaty, with these conditions, viz., that the Maldive Kings and their people should be left in peace to possess the Islands in like manner as their predecessors, save that they should give a certain pension to their Christian King, his successors and heirs, to be rendered at Cochin, but without acknowledging him in any other way: on the other hand, the Mahometan Kings at the Islands should not be allowed to take the title and name of King though they were to be absolute in all things, but only that of Prince, Duke, or the like; also, that those two (brothers) only should be entitled to this name, in their language Quilague (M. Kilege), and that they should be responsible for the payment of the pension of the Christian King; who, on his part, was allowed to have Factor there.

Furthermore, all natives of the Maldives desiring to traffic with other countries, were bound to take a passport from the Portuguese; as were all the other Indians that were at peace with them. Such were the terms of this Peace, which has endured to the present day [1619].

Maldivian references

The important events recorded by Pyrard, on the strength of oral tradition, appear set down by the compiler of the Tarikh with an unsophisticated charm, not free of that quaint romance and fervent religious tone so marked throughout this valuable, if strangely uneven, Muslim Chronicle.


Hasan IX
A.H. 957 1550
When he (S. Mohamed) had reigned for two years and four months, his brother Hasan seized the throne, after murdering him. Having ruled for two years and five months, he determined to change his religion, and proclaimed his intention publicly in the 959 year of the Hijra.

Titular Christian King
He then departed for Cochin, where he embraced the Infidels' Faith, and even adopted their mode of dress. After residing there for two years, he went to Goa; where, some time afterwards, he married a Christian lady of good birth, by whom he had several children.

Abu Bakr II
A.H. 962 1554-56
At the Maldives Abu Bakr (II), son of Ibrahim Farina Kilegefanu, ascended the throne after a while. The name of his mother was Sanfa Diyo. He reigned for four months, and died a martyr's death in Hijra 962.

Ali VI
A.H. 965 1557-58
He was succeeded by Ali (VI), son of Abd-ur-Rahman, Prime Minister. His mother's name was Sitti Kabadi Kilege of Feridu (Island Ari Atol). Ten months later he was killed in battle with the Christians.

Know the origin of this war
The Sultan Hasan, who had become a Christian, desiring to convert the Maldivian Ministers and Chiefs, sent a Portuguese vessel to bring them to Cochin. On arrival at Male', the Captain of the vessel informed the Ministers, etc., that he had come there to remove them to Cochin at the request of their Sultan. The inhabitants held a meeting, and decided not to go, or obey the orders of their infidel Ruler.. Then they fought the invaders, killing all of them, and seized their goods.

Those who took part in the fighting against these invaders were the aforesaid Sultans Abu Bakr (II) and Ali (VI) with their supporters. All this took place before they came to the throne.

Again those (the Portuguese) at Cochin sent a fresh force, which also was defeated, and all slain by the Maldivians, who seized the ship with its entire cargo and arms.

For the third time, a force, fully armed, was conveyed in a great fleet to Male', under the command of Captain Andiri Andiri. Sultan Ali had then been on the throne for two months and fifteen days.

Portuguese Capture Male' 1558
The enemy landed one night on the West beach of Male' with their cannon. Thereupon Sultan Ali accompanied by his soldiers, armed with swords, lances, bows and arrows, sallied forth to oppose the invaders. The Sultan, bearing sword and shield, marched at the head of his soldiers. He had gone as far as the Id Mosque when he found that the soldiers had all deserted him, with the exception of the Prime Minister and his personal attendant - the only two that remained with him. Then these three warriors, facing the enemy, charged them with the courage of lions. The foe astounded at their bravery ceased advancing, and, terror-stricken, began to fire on them from a distance, until they had killed all three.

Then, without much resistance, they (the Portuguese) seized the Kingdom. Sultan Ali died in Hijra 965, at the end of the month Shaban and Andiri Andiri ascended the throne. God knoweth better than we (men) what happened at that time.

A.H. 965-81 1558-73
After seizing the Kingdom, Andiri Andiri declared himself Sultan of the Maldives. He sent Christians to the different Atols to act as Headmen. Thereafter, the invaders, strengthening their position, ruled for several years. They were a treacherous, cruel and iniquitous people. The sea ran red with Muslim blood. Property was seized publicly, and the people harshly treated. (The Muslim) Religion was persecuted during their rule, causing the Maldive people great sorrow. Pious persons were put to death; looting and destruction became of common occurrence.

Then God took compassion on His people and decreed that they should be freed from the yoke of these foreigners. One of His servants, named Mohamed Khatib, son of Husain Khatib Takurufanu of Utimu Island, Tiladummati Atol, was inspired by God to fight against them. He was a brave and powerful man, styled Mohamed Bodu Takurufanu, a name now famous.

'0 God, grant us strength to preserve this Shrine,
making it always redolent of scent and fragrance of sweet-smelling flowers.
We pray God that He will keep our swords ever ready.'

God inspired him (Mohamed Khatib) to fight with these Infidels in order that the Maldives might be freed from tyrants, and the enemies of Islam destroyed; that peace might be spread amongst the inhabitants, the 'fire of injustice extinguished,' and the power of the Infidels be crushed. This keen-sighted and wise personage Mohamed Takurufanu, thus firmly resolved, earnestly prayed God to grant him the strength and will to accomplish what he planned. He took counsel with his brothers Ali Khatib Takurufanu, and Hasan Khatib Takurufanu who agreed to join him.

Getting together swords, guns, lances, bows and arrows, and accompanied by only a few friends, but trusting in God, they (the three brothers) ventured out on this great emprise. For the purpose they built a very fast-sailing vessel which they loaded with arms, food and clothing, and set sail for Maliku (Minicoy Island); where they placed their families for safety. Maliku belonged to Ali Raja of Kannanur.

When these men landed at Maliku they met two sage Maldivians named Haji Ali and Haji Hasan, brothers, who had been on pilgrimage to Mekka and Medina. These two men were masters of fence and javelin usage. They had gone the Hajj before the Christians invaded the Maldives. Mohamed Khatib acquainted them of the conquest of the Maldives by the Christians, of the cruel treatment of Maldivians, and of the plan to wage war against the Christians; whereupon they consented to unite with him. Unanimously they elected Mohamed Khatib as leader, and swore by God that these Idolators and enemies of Islam, should be once for all exterminated, and their heads severed from their bodies; that they (the conspirators) would not desist until they had achieved their object; and that they would abide by the orders of Mohamed Khatib Takurufanu, and never desert him.

Then they offered prayers to God, inspired with courage by two verses of the Quran -

'How often, by God's will, hath a small number
vanquished a numerous host. God is with the patient.
Then We gave punishment to those who were guilty:
To help Believers (Muslims) is ever incumbent on Us.'

Guerilla Warfare
Thereafter they started warfare, and began to kill the Christians wherever they found them. They would land at an Island at night, and after killing the Christians, load their vessels with provisions and water, and depart early in the morning by sea. During daytime they concealed their vessels from the enemy; when night fell, they acted as before.

Albeit Ali Khatib died the death of a martyr, the remaining (banded) four, in no wise disheartened, carried on the struggle successfully with renewed courage, under God's constant aid, until but few of their enemies were left alive.

When the Christians found their numbers dwindling, the remnant went to Male', where they began to keep watch on the movements of this warrior band; which would approach Male', sailing round it without finding a site to land, because the Island was so well guarded, sentinels being posted round the whole fortifications. They (the conspirators), therefore, left Male' for a while. The Christians at Male', thinking that they would never return, relaxed their watchfulness.

Meanwhile the band of Maldivians went to Kannanur, and obtained from Ali Raja a sufficient force of soldiers; with which they returned to Male' on the very day, on which the Infidels had decided to command all the Islanders to become Christians and worship their idols, under threat of death on refusal.

That very night the (Male') Islanders held a meeting at which they agreed to die in their Faith. They assembled in the house of the Qazi Abu Bakr, son of Don Kurali Fadiyaru Takurufanu, son of Sharaf-ud-din Ismail Famuderi Fadiyaru Takurfanu; and vowed not to obey Andiri Andiri's command to embrace his religion, but to fight to the death against those sent to compel them. They then collected knives, swords, lances, bows and arrows, and even clubs, and prepared to meet their enemies.

Then Mohamed Khatib made a vow that, if they succeeded in retaking Male' from the Christians, he would recite the Maulud to the Prophet every year near the Shrine of Shaikh Yusuf of Tabriz.

Maldivians retake Male' 1573
The same night, after offering prayers to the Omniscient God, when two-thirds of the night had passed, Mohamed Khatib Takurufanu anchored off Male', and landed when the Christians were making merry with song and carousal.

Andiri Andiri's supporters then emerged and began to fire on the Muslims, who returned the fire. The fusilade of the Christians was unavailing but the Muslim's fire began to take effect. The fighting continued until God weakened the Christians, and they offered to surrender. Many had already died, and the survivors were mortally wounded.

The calamity, fear and sorrow, which they (the Portuguese) suffered, were sympathised in neither by Heaven nor Earth, which wept not for them. Their rule and power proved as transcient as sunbeams. Their name was detested by the people, and their might had departed for ever. They had been masters of the Maldives for seventeen years.

This famous combat was fought, and won, in Hijra 981 on the 1st day of the month Rabi-ul-Awwal by Mohamed Khatib Takurufanu, the Great (who uttered this prayer):

'May God the All-knowing keep them (Maldivians)
ever in the True Religion of His gracious Prophet.'

Ghazi Mohamed Bodu Takurufanu
A.H. 981-93 1573-85
There was rejoicing then in all parts of the Maldive Islands; and, by the Grace of God, the Sultanate fell to Mohamed Khatib Takurufanu, the Great.

'God giveth power to whomsoever He pleaseth.
Of His creatures some He raiseth to high place;
others doth He beggar.
Heaven and Earth are subject unto God's rule,
for God is Almighty.'

The long-suffering Muslims, their faces radiating happiness, assembled before the Great Takurufanu, who came to meet them, his broad brow bright with light sufficient to fill the four corners of the world. They kissed his hands and offered prayers that his rule might long continue. He, in turn, offered prayers for the prosperity and health of his subjects. They (the Islanders) then took the oath of allegiance to him as Sultan.

Upon his Younger brother Hasan Khatib was bestowed the title of Ranna Baderi Kilegefanu with very responsible duties.

Other Portuguese etc. references

Of the Revolution at the Maldives in 1550, and its immediate aftermath, Bartoli, a Jesuit Historian, has written:

Hasan IX
'There sprang up, I know not why, between the Maldivians and their Lord, a youth of twenty years (S. Hasan IX), discord and war; and he, finding himself unable to stand the force of the conspiracy, saved his life, though he could not his Kingdom, by flight to Cochin, vhere he trusted to obtain his reinstatement by aid of the Portuguese arms. The Fathers received him into their House; and St. Francis Xavier (who opportunely arrived there), instructed him as far as needful, and solemnly baptised him.'

Regarding the subsequent fate of the exiled Sultan Hasan IX, and the titular Maldivian Royalties of his family during the century succeeding the Male' Revolution, Portuguese archives at Lisbon and Goa, supplemented by other authorities, afford casual glimpses - mostly of the abject mercenary side - of these rois en peintre.

Abandoning, after three years' abortive effort, all attempts to force a Christian King upon the Islanders, since their recapture of Male' in 1573, the Portuguese resorted to utilising Treaty claims of the banished family as justification for extracting needful supplies of produce (chiefly coir) for their own needs. On their part, the individual Princes eked out petty lives, wholly inglorious and at times sinking to lowest depths of moral turpitude, as half-caste pensioners in an alien land.

The sorry account, condensed and co-ordinated below, of Dom Manoel, ex-Maldive Sultan Hasan IX, and his ill-starred progeny living in India until extinguished finally in 1655, appears for the most part in Hakluyt Society Pyrard, II, Appendix B.

Maldivian lady m (married) Dom Manoel (ex-Sultan Hasan IX) m Portuguese lady.
Children of Dom Manoel and Portuguese lady were Dom Francisco, Dom Joao, Dom Pedro, and unnamed daughters.

Dom Joao married Dona Francisca Vasconelles. Their children were Dom Phillippe and Dona Inez.

Dona Inez married 'a fidalgo'. Their children were Dom Luis and (perhaps) Dom Malavis.

Dom Manoel
Dom Manoel's Maldivian wife became a professing Christian at Cochin; but he also married a young Portuguese lady of much virtue and noble blood. His family comprised three sons, (who adopted the Portuguese names Dom Francisco, Dom Joao, and Dom Pedro), besides one daughter at least.
In regard to his virtual tribute to Portugal, Don Manoel was treated not unfairly.

'As for the Christian King,' says Pyrard, 'he gave a third part of his revenue to the King of Portugal. This revenue consists of cowries and coir, which is rope made of the coco-tree... They (the Maldive Kings) send every year at their own expense four ships, of a hundred and fifty tons burthen each, laden with it; that is at the risk of the Mal divians until the ships get beyond the Banks at the (Northern) end of the Islands - beyond that point, the risk is with the Christian King.'

Dom Manoel was, however, permitted to exercise occasionally 'sovereign rights,' in addition to the extent of granting, at Cochin, 'Letters Patent' to Portuguese exploiters of 'voyages' (privilege of trade in the East to a private vessel) on their own account, subject to confirmation by the Viceroy at Goa. But repeated appeals made by him to the King of Portugal for reinstatement on the Maldive throne were studiously ignored. 'Ever hoping to regain his own, Dom Manoel lived and grew old in privacy at Cochin; and finally died in great affliction about 1583, when fifty years old and upwards.' His widowed Queen was granted proper provision for herself and her daughter.

Dom Francisco
Of the sons, Dom Francisco, the eldest, who had sailed for Europe with a returning Portuguese fleet, met a violent death in a brawl, 1584 at Lisbon; where he had gone to make representations at Court concerning the petitions of his father.

Dom Joao
The titular sovereignty thus passed to Dom Joao. This Prince proved a thorn in the side of the Portuguese, as testified by the Royal Despatches :-
'I am informed by you that the King of the Islands,' wrote the King of Spain (Philip II) to the Viceroy (Despatch, February 6th, 1589), 'that the King of the Islands has married a sister of Antonio Teixeira de Macedo, against your opinion. Owing to his excesses and misconduct in the married state, I think it well done on your part not to have delivered my Letter to him; and that you ought to endeavour to train this King, who, as you know, is very young, in all the affairs of my service; and also in those which will be serviceable to himself in order that he may know how to govern well.'

Request made by Dom Joao for assurance of 200 cruzados increase to his wife's pension, out of the Maldivian revenue accruing to him, was met by semi-refusal. 'I deem it undesirable to yield to his request,' runs the Despatch of March 8th, 1589, 'without information from you as to his present conduct.'

Dom Joao and his younger brother Dom Pedro seem to have paid no heed to Royal admonitions. For, two years later, a stern Despatch of January 12th, 1591, whilst waiving deserved death penalty closes with the definite order for their solitary incarcaration :-
'I approve that execution be suspended on the King and his brother, although their misdeeds merit natural death; but I ordain that they be kept in prison separately, and securely, until my further pleasure be known.'

But the pension of the King's wife was increased from 500 to 700 pardaos a year.

The two Princes were held in pseudo-honorary confinement for ten years at Goa, where they had been transferred. They constantly clamoured for freedom and permission to return to Cochin; but all appeals availed nothing, and they remained, by orders from Spain, under the immediate surveillance of the Viceroy: - 'the misdeeds committed by the brothers when at Cochin having been so outrageous, and so scandalised the whole of India, that it were better not to speak of them.'

There is an unfortunate hiatus in the Royal Despatches between 1598-1606.

Dom Philippe
The death of Dom Joao occurred during the Vice Royaltyship of Ayres de Saldana, 1601-04.

Pyrard was at Male' when Dom Adrian de Gouveia went there, about 1605-06, as Portuguese Ambassador of the exiled King Dom Philippe, a boy of thirteen, son and successor of Dom Joao.

In 1606, Dom Philippe complained to the King of Spain that the revenues from the Islands had dwindled to 5,000 from 18,000 xeraphins in the time of his grandfather Dom Manoel and his father Dom Joao, owing to the negligence of the Viceroys. He begged that he be granted: - (a) A salaried honorary office in order to maintain his position; (b) a suitable pension, with other assets for his staff; and (c), as virtual dowry to his sister Dona Inez, that her projected husband be made 'Captain' for three years of one of the Portuguese Fortresses; concluding, characteristically, with the modest requests that (d) orders be given that no Captain, Vedor da Fazenda, or other official, of Cochin or elsewhere in Malabar (under pain of chastisement and suspension from office) be permitted to enquire into the merchandise brought from the Islands by his vessels; and (e) that the Viceroy should equip an armada to bring the Islands into greater obedience, that so he (Don Filippe) might acquire a greater revenue - otherwise that he be excused from further payment of tribute under the Treaty.

To this 'nothing venture, nothing have' petition the King (Philip III) yielded concessions; but not till three years later (Despatch, November 4th, 1609):-
(a), (b) To Dom Philippe was granted one habit of Christ, and therewith a pension of 150 pardaos payable from Ceylon sources; (c) his sister Dona Inez might be married to a Fidalgo of standing and appointable to the 'Captaincy' of a Canara Fortress; (d) in regard to revenue, the Vedor da Fazenda at Cochin would be directed to take, from the Maldive consignments brought over, only so much coir as was needed for the public service; (e) Ali Raja (Adarrajao) of Kannanur was to be warned not to meddle with the Maldive Islands and Dom Philippe's property, and (f) finally, the pension of the Queen-Mother, Dona Francisca, might be raised from 700 pardoes to 1,000 a year, but without the grant of a 'voyage.' The not illiberal, if dilatory, terms accorded by the European Monarch did not satisfy the young Prince and his mother; who persisted in pressing for further concessions.

Again the King, some two years later (Despatch, March 28th, 1612), exercised a certain generosity :-
(a) Dom Philippe's allowance was increased to 200 milreis; (b) the Fortress of Daman, instead of Canara, was granted for three years to the husband of Dona Inez; (c) the pension of Dona Francisca might be paid in silk; (d) further pressure would be put upon the Raja of Kannanur not to interfere; also (e) a reliable Agent would be sent to the de facto Maldive Ruler threatening him with invasion, in failure of better fulfilment of the Treaty; and (f), lastly, the officials of Malabar would be debarred from issuing trade passports to the Maldives on their own account.

Interesting side-lights are cast on Dom Philippe by a few Europeans then in India.

Pyrard, who became acquainted with him and his mother whilst at Goa ( 1608-10), after the Frenchman's deliverance from captivity at the Maldives, records :-
'I have seen at Goa the grandson of that Christian King Dom Manoel, aged fifteen years, with his Portuguese mother. He is named Dom Philippe. The Portuguese gave him the title of Majesty calling him 'King of the Maldives', and honour and respect him greatly. The King of Spain gives a pension both to him and to his mother. They were lodged near the Jesuits' College, in a very handsome house. The little King has a suit against his uncle Dom Paulo (Pedro) who resides at Cochin, and is married there; for that he also calls himself 'King of the Maldives. This uncle is married to a Metice (half-caste) lady, nobly born and vastly rich, who maintains him in comfort; for without her he has only his pension from the King, which is small, and very often - indeed usually - but badly paid.'

The next notice of Dom Philippe, as far as known, is found in the discursive Letters of the Roman Traveller, Pietro della Valle. In describing the Feast of St. John the Baptist, which he witnessed at Goa in 1623, he writes :-
'I went to see the sight in the Street of St. Paul, at the house of one whom they call the 'King of the Maldiva or Maladiva Islands. Of these Islands an ancestor of this man was actually King; but being driven from his country by his own people, he betook him to the Portuguese, and became a Christian, in the hope of getting back to his own country and regaining it with their aid. But the Portuguese taking no steps in his behalf, he and his descendants remained henceforth deprived of their Kingdom and with the empty title alone, which, the Portuguese, having formed connections with them, still preserve to them; and, since a number of merchant vessels come from these Islands to the Portuguese ports, they compel them to pay a little tribute, as it were, to their legitimate Lord, who thus (albeit the Harbour officials, through whom the transaction is necessarily conducted, appropriate more than one-half) draws at the present day about 3,000 crowns, and therewith supports himself.'

Portuguese Attack on Male' around 1631
So pressingly did Dom Philippe continue to pester the Government of Spain for active support towards securing full, and more punctual, payment of his Maldive revenues, that in 1631 or 1632 the Viceroy was ordered by the Spanish King (Philip III) to send an Expedition to the Islands. Fifteen ships, under the command of Domingos Ferreyra Belliago, Chief Captain of Canara, sailed direct for Male'.

'But the King of the Maldives was advised of the coming of the Armada, and when it arrived he was well fortified; The only entrance to the Island (Male') was blocked with ships; and it was more impossible to enter by any. other way, because the whole Island is encircled by rocks and reefs, as may be seen by the (accompanying) Plan, with the mode of the Fortification. For some days the said Armada fired upon it (Male') with cannon, and then seeing it was impossible to force an entrance, and that the time spent was all wasted, returned to Goa.'

The only other mention of Dom Philippe so far forth-coming is made by Philippus a Sancta Trinitate, Carmelite monk, who was at Goa, 1631-1639, and often interviewed him :-
'He was of a middling colour, that is somewhat dark and tanned, after the black skin of his father, with some of the whiteness of his mother. It was arranged that he should come to Europe with me, for he believed that by his presence he could obtain of the King of Spain what he failed to get by letters, seeing, as he saw, that either the commands were not efficacious or that he was mocked in India. As only some of the Islands persevered in acknowledging his sovereignty he had not much revenue. He died while yet young and unmarried, leaving as his successor (to the titular sovereignty of the Islands) a nephew on his sister's side; though his father's brother (Don Pedro), in reliance upon the laws and customs of the Maldive Kingdom and the acceptance by the people claimed the throne as rightfully his in a lawsuit still pending.'

The pitiable end of this ill-fated family of exiled Maldive Kings is given by Franciso de Sousa :-
'The last King of the Maldives was Dom Luis de Sousa, who on the 22nd October, 1653, attempted with other Fidalgos, (gentry) to depose the Viceroy, Dom Vasco Mascarenhas, Conde de Obidos. For this cause he was imprisoned at Mormugao until the 10th November, 1655, in the Viceroyalty of Dom Rodrigo Lobo da Silveyra, Conde de Sarzedas; and for the same cause was sent a prisoner to Portugal in the ship 'Nossa S. de Grava,' in the year 1656. The ship, dismasted in a storm off the Cape of Good Hope, put back to Mozambique, but, before reaching port, the King was dead. He left no legitimate successor; and named the King of Portugal as his heir to the Eleven Thousand Islands.'

Other Maldivian references

The only notices of contact with the Portuguese during this period occurring in Maldivian Chronicles relate to the two hostile Expeditions against the Maldives, despatched respectively, in (i) 1631 (or 1632), during the course of the reign of Sultan Mohamed Imad-ud-din I ( 1620-48), and that (ii) - the last effort of the Portuguese, already losing their hold in the East, to conquer the island - which his son Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar I ( 1648-87) had to meet in 1650, very shortly after mounting the throne.

Although not mentioned in the Tarikh, Pyrard's account, as that of a personal witness at Male' itself, circa 1606 of the Embassy sent to Sultan Ibrahim III by the titular boy King of the Maldives, may not unfitly find insertion here. A semi-Maldivian record, of historic interest, it throws additional light on the contemptible character of the Maldive Ruler of the day, who ere long met a deservedly tragic death at the hands of Malabar Mapillas.


Ibrahim III 1585-1609
Portuguese Embassy to Male' around 1606
'About a year before we left the Maldives, there came to the King (Sultan Ibrahim III) an Ambassador from the Christian King of these Islands, who lived at Goa; of whom I have already spoken. This Ambassador was a Portuguese, and told me he had been at Rochelle in France. He was about fifty years of age, and was named Dom Adrien de Gouia. He came in considerable state, accompanied by some other Portuguese and Christian Indians.

The subject of his visit was a certain dispute which existed between that young Christian King and his uncle, Dom Paulo (Dom Pedro), who resided at Cochin, the latter wanting to take part of the tribute coming to the said King.

A suit was pending about it in the Parliament at Goa for a long time, during which this Dom Paulo enjoyed the receipt of it for - under the Treaty of Peace, the Maldivians were not obliged to pay the tribute elsewhere than at Cochin, where the uncle was. At length, the Parliament of Goa having ordained that the Christian King, Dom Philippe, should have of the Maldive King and all the Chiefs of the country a certificate to the effect that they recognized him as the King, he therefore sent this Embassy with a quantity of presents.

But the Maldive King took but little notice of it, and the Ambassador waited there for two months without getting an audience; such was the pride and haughtiness of this King in a matter wherein he perceived no gain for himself; and when he was got to do business with them, his demeanour was exceeding proud. In fine, it was four months ere the Ambassador got his despatch; which was granted, when he asked it, with offerings of the rarest gifts, as well from his master as from himself.'

Of the assaults on Male' made during the first half of the Seventeenth Century, the Tarikh alludes to (i) the first, and more formidable, with not unjustifiable pride, accompanied, more Maldivico, by pious Muslim comments ; whilst (ii) the second attack is dismissed in contemptuously incisive words, spiced with some diverting braggardism.


Mohamed Imad-ud-din I 1620-48
Portuguese Attack on Male' around 1631
In the fifth year of his reign, A.H. 1034, a Portuguese named Balayagu came to the Maldives with a large fleet, fully manned and armed, to attack Sultan Mohamed Imad-ud-din (I, A.H. 1029-58).
Then the Sultan, summoning his Vazirs and soldiers, obtained from them an oath to fight against the Portuguese fearlessly without fleeing; thus inspiring them with courage. His Qazi, Mohamed Fadiyaru Takurufanu, son of Hasan Naibu Takurufanu of Midu Island, (Addu Atol), also encouraged them.

At the time there were neither Fort walls nor Bastions; nor many cannon. They (the Islanders) had only five guns, yet did not they display any signs of cowardice during the fight. The Portuguese commenced to fire the cannon mounted on their vessels; but God protected the inhabitants against the bombardment. The cannon shots fired from the Male' forts hit both vessels and men of the enemy. God filled the hearts of the foe with fear, so that they fled from Male' terror-stricken. The people of Male' ceased not firing until the enemy fled. In the course of their flight the Portuguese burned the Mosque in Viligili Island. They returned to Goa wholly disheartened. Sultan Mohamed Imad-ud-din and his subjects obtained the victory over their enemy; albeit they had fewer cannon and soldiers than the foe.

God gave them the victory: to God that is no hard matter; for hath He not said in the Quran :- 'He, the Mighty and the Merciful, helpeth whom He pleaseth.'

This battle took place in Hijra 1034.

Thereafter, to supplement the Palace fortifications, he (the Sultan) built a Bastion provided with embrasures and called 'Bodu Kotte.' He also built other Bastions in different parts of Male', and, between every two (curtain), walls entrances and crenelles so as to prevent a foreign foe from invading the Island. Then he constructed a (partially) encircling Breakwater, leaving only gaps sufficient to allow passage to donis and odis. This breakwater is to be seen at this day. Thus did he make of Male' a Fortress very strongly defended. Further, he equipped a large vessel and sent it to Achin to procure some big cannon: it brought to Male' fourteen bronze guns. Subsequently, by the grace of God, this Sultan recovered from ships wrecked in different parts of his dominions a large number of cannon. For as soon as vessels are wrecked, they are deserted by those on board; who make for the Malabar Coast of India in small boats, taking only money and light articles and abandoning their cannon and other goods. It was in this way that Sultan Mohamed Imad-ud-din acquired a large quantity of cannon and other property.

Ibrahim Iskandar I 1648-87
Portuguese Attack on Male' 1650
In the second year of his reign Dom Laviz and Dom Malaviz came in ships to attack the Maldives. They were brothers and reported to be the two sons of the daughter of Sultan Hilali Hasan (IX), who became an Infidel and went to Goa.

Information being brought to Sultan Iskandar of the advent of these brothers, with several vessels fully armed, the Sultan bethought him of fighting them; and summoned to the Palace his three half-brothers and the Ministers. After consulting them he decided to oppose the invaders.

When the Muslims (Maldivians) began to fire on these Infidels, God granted them the victory over their enemy. Don Malaviz was killed in the attack, his brother Don Laviz wounded, and several of those who accompanied them were also killed. The few survivors withdrew their Fleet without accomplishing their object, and sailed away.

This great and famous battle was fought in the Hijra era year 1059.

These people (the Portuguese) had not the courage to come again to (attack) the Maldives.

After this episode the (Tribute) payment was stopped that had been made since the reign of Sultan Hilali (Kalu) Mohamed grandfather of the Sultan who became an Infidel and went to Goa.

Sultan Iskandar having gained this victory no longer paid the stipulated sums of money, either to the Portuguese or Ali Raja of Kannanur. This Sultan (Iskandar Ibrahim I) made the Maldives independent, and himself became a great ruler.

Third Period: 1700-1930

From the first, the three objects of the Portuguese in the East were 'Conquest, Commerce and Conversion'; and for all three their central position on the Malabar Coast served them well. Between 1500 and 1600 they enjoyed the monopoly of Oriental Trade; but towards the close of the Sixteenth Century decadence was setting in and they could scarcely hold their own against native enemies. The State itself derived little gain from trade profits, while it had to bear continuously great strain in men and money for needs of the East.

Portugal had been incorporated with Spain in 1581 by Philip II after the battle of Alcantara; and the conditions during the 'Sixty Years Captivity' ( 1581-1640) under three Spanish Sovereigns, Philip II, III, IV, were not wholly ended until the coronation of Joao IV of Braganza as King of Portugal in 1640, followed forty years later, by the Spanish renouncement of claim in 1683; finally breaking an unhappy coalescence which had ever inured to the disadvantage of the Portuguese. At many parts of the world the English, French and, in particular, the Dutch had begun to harass Portuguese trade, and seize their possessions.

Before the end of the Seventeenth Century the Dutch (who had gradually established Factories on the Continent of India, in Ceylon, Sumatra, and the Moluccas (as well as on the Persian Gulf and Red Sea), ruled without rival, and gradually expelled the Portuguese from almost all their territorial possessions.

The further history of the Portuguese in India is a distressing chronicle of pride, poverty and misfortune. Pressed by native Rulers upon the land, on the sea they gave way to more vigorous European enterprise. Little wonder, therefore, that the humble and isolated Maldive Islands escaped further hostile attention from the Portuguese after 1650, falling, as they were, steadily from supreme power in the Orient. With delightful naivety the Maldivian Chronicler, writing not many years later, says that after the last Portuguese ineffectual bombardment of Male' in 1650 'these people dared not to come again to attack the Maldives.'

But that sullen hatred and dread of this persistent Infidel enemy still continued to exercise the minds of the Islanders, is borne out forcibly by an Arabic Inscription carved in A.H. 1087 - nearly forty years after the later attack - on a Bastion in Male' Fort, which frankly sets out that the express purpose of its erection was to serve as 'a bulwark to repel the accursed Farangi.' Time is a mighty soother: before the lapse of a further century from 1650, all open rancour at least had melted between these once bitterest of foes, so long bent on internecine struggle at every encounter.

Maldivian reference

Ibrahim Iskandar II 1721-50
Portuguese Missives from the Sultan
How friendly - superficially at least - had become mutual relations, a side-light, as interesting as unexpected, was furnished by the discovery among the Colombo Archives in the Eighties of last century of three Missives from the reigning Maldive Sultan (Ibrahim Iskandar II, 1723-1750), sent under his Royal Seal and Signature, to the Dutch Governors at Colombo (A. Moll with Council, and Dedrick Van Domburgh, respectively) in 1723 and 1734, 1735.

These Letters, strange as it may seem, were indicted - of all foreigners - by Portuguese scribes - in all probability, Captains, etc, of vessels trading to Male'.

The unique Missives relate mainly to the reciprocal trade (rice and spices versus cowries) between the Dutch in Ceylon and the Maldive islands.

Indirectly they bring out the proverbial mercenary spirit of the Hollanders, and the disgusted acquiescence of the Maldive Sultan, forced to accept, with very obvious reluctance, the unconscionable bargains made by a fresh European race too powerful to resist - grinding terms which may possibly have driven the Maldivian Ruler to fraternise with the Portuguese, quondam deadly foe of the Islanders.

With this sole minor piece of evidence so far brought to light in proof of amicable intercourse, nominal at any rate if not more, between Maldivians and Portuguese, the curtain falls on all further known relations for still another century - to be lifted again but once more, and that under unwonted - and in one sense happy - circumstances, viz., on the occasion of the Portuguese Merchantman 'Prazer e Allegria' being wrecked on the Maldive Islands in 1844.

Portuguese etc. references

Mohamed Imad-ud-din IV 1835-1882
Wreck of 'Prazer e Allegria' on the Maldives 1844
The account of the disaster, and its satisfactory sequel, puts finis to the long chapter of checquered history, opening with ruthless emphasis in 1503, and closing four centuries and upwards later with 'the Star of Peace' risen brightly upon two alien races, each worshipping one and the same God under differing lights, for whom finally 'Grim-visaged War has smooth'd his wrinkled front.'

The wreck of the 'Prazer e Allegria' in 1844, has been the last occasion on which Portuguese and Maldivians have come into touch at the Islands.

The following details, somewhat curtailed, of the disaster are taken from a translation of the statement made to the English Commandant at Galle by Major Manuel Guides de Quinhones, who sailed from Portugal in charge of a large body of Convicts and 'Relief' of Officers and others:-
'I have to communicate events connected with the wreck of the Merchant Ship 'Prazer e Allegria.' Freighted in Lisbon, on account of the Portuguese Government, to convey to Goa eighty-four (84) Convicts, and five (5) Lieutenants (one, A. J. deSoyza Alvia, belonging to the Army in Portugal, with his wife), two First Sergeants, a Writer (A. J. de Silva Milheirio) of the Custom House of Mozambique, and myself, as Major and Governor of Bahia de Lorenzo Marques, with my wife and three children.

We left Lisbon on November 8th, 1843, and reached the Cape of Good Hope without other mishap than the death from scurvy of twenty-nine (29) Convicts.

On March 16th, 1844, between 8 and 9 in the morning we discovered, to leeward, seven Islands, all in a line, and one Island ahead. The Captain told us that they were the Maldives. He continued on the same course, the current then running three miles an hour towards land. At half past one o'clock in the afternoon, the boatswain inquired of the Captain whether he wished to tack; but was directed to continue on the same course. At about 4 o'clock in the evening the ship was so near land that we could see the people distinctly; and it was then that a little boat manned by blacks, and with an English Jack fixed at the poop, came off from one of the Islands. Approaching the ship one of the Moors pointed towards a channel which lies between three or four Islands. The Captain hailed the Moors, and told them to come on board; but seeing the Convicts they immediately departed through fear, lowering the Jack.

Thus we were committed to the current, which every moment drove us much nearer land, and upon a reef of coral which lies opposite the second Island. The night was dark, and there was lightning; the breakers dashed incessantly on the sides of the ship, forcing her more and more on to the reef; at length the rudder broke, and the ship rested; but a large leak was sprung. All of us worked the pumps, but it was impossible to reduce the water. At about 11 o'clock the cock-boat was let down in which work we had laboured a good deal, as she had been much obstructed by the rigging. The Captain ordered the sai1ors to take soundings all round: they found the depth was seven (7) fathoms, and cast a small anchor. Upon this we all hauled on the cable, with a view to save the ship: in this manner were we engaged until daybreak, expecting every moment to become victims.

The morning of the 18th saw us surrounded by reef shelves. The Captain having had the cock-boat manned despatched it towards the channel above mentioned. It finally landed on the third Island, which was some two leagues distant. The cock-boat having returned to the ship all the passengers and crew were saved.

'This Island is called Muli and is ruled by a Moor named Ibrahim, who is under subjection to the Sultan. The place near which we were wrecked is called Muli Falu. On the following day, the Captain despatched the cock-boat, the long boat, and a hired katamaran in order to procure more provisions, if possible; but all the three boats were sunk by the billow's. The Convicts (who had been rowing), and a sailor, were drowned; the rest, with much difficulty saved their lives by swimming.

Having remained five days on the Island of Muli the ship-wrecked survivors one hundred and four (104) in number went on to 'King's Island,' where the Sultan resides. We were kindly received, and provided with a house and such food as could be had in the country. The sultan promised to have us conveyed, in his own vessels, to Goa, after one month, it being impossible for him to do so earlier. But having been informed by the Foreign Traders staying in the Island that in the beginning of May the sickness called 'Intermittent Fever' prevails there, the Captain hired two Katamarans for 1,700 English Company's Rupees, to be paid at Goa. He conveyed thither ninety-three (93) persons in all, namely four (4) Lieutenants, a detachment of the Naval Battalion (consisting of one (1) Second Sergeant, two (2) Corporals and twenty-two (22) soldiers, the Ships Company, and the Convicts.

It was impossible for me to proceed in the Katamarans as my eldest son was very sick of the fever. I, therefore, determined to stay at the Maldives, and remained there up to April 11th; when, with my family, I left in the Merchant Brig 'Fath-ul-Rahman'; and on the morning of the 15th arrived at Point de Galle. We took seven days to get from the Island of Muli to the 'King's Island,' sailing only by day, and staying the night at seven small Islands. 'The King's Island, (Male'), which is superior to all, is (according to the information of the inhabitants), a little more or less than two miles in length and one in breadth. It is furnished with artillery, but badly fortified. In the Harbour were riding at anchor nineteen (19) Merchant Brigs, four (4) from Chittagong and the others of Moors.'

All those who reached Ceylon, among whom were two ladies and three children, after proceeding to Colombo from Galle, were duly provided with food and lodging and liberal advances (amounting to some Rs. 7,000) by the Ceylon Administration; and ultimately given free passage to Bombay in the Mail Boat 'Seaforth.'

In thanking Sir C. Campbell, then Governor of Ceylon, for the ready British hospitality extended to the Portuguese castaways, the Governor of Goa, Jose Ferreira Pestana, wrote on June 10th, 1844:-
"I have informed Her Majesty, my August Mistress (Queen Dona Maria II), of the great kindliness shown by Your Excellency to Portuguese subjects; and, on Her Majesty's behalf, I desire to thank Your Excellency for the ready hospitality given to them. They will never forget the extreme kindness they met from Your Excellency, as well as from the inhabitants of Colombo and Galle. I profit by this occasion to present to Your Excellency my sincere protestation of friendship and high consideration.'

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