Portuguese India Armadas

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The Portuguese India Armadas ( Portuguese Armadas da Índia ) were naval units that sailed annually from Portugal to the Indian Ocean and mostly had India as their destination as part of the India trade . Individual fleets also had East Africa , China , Timor or the Moluccas as their destination. As a rule, the ship route ran from Lisbon , Cape Verde via the Cape of Good Hope , São Sebastião through the road from Mozambique to Goa , following the path that Vasco da Gama had discovered in 1498/99. In Portugal the route was called Carreira da Índia (" Road to India "). Beginning with the reign of Manuel I , the fleets were organized from 1498 to 1570 by the Casa da Índia , the colonial authority of the Portuguese crown . From 1502, there was also an annual Brazilian fleet.

The way to India

From its discovery by Vasco da Gama in 1497–1499, the Indian trade by sea around the southern tip of Africa into the Indian Ocean was dominated by the Portuguese armadas for about a century. Between 1497 and 1650 around 1033 ships left Portugal for India.

Sea route to India

Each trip lasted about six months. The trips were decisively influenced by the monsoons . The monsoon is a southwest wind in summer and a northeast wind in winter. Therefore, the best time to travel from East Africa to India was summer (the months May to September) and winter for the return journey. At other times, a trip on the Indian Ocean with sailing ships was hardly possible at that time.

Therefore, the typical Indian fleet left Lisbon in spring (March / April), made a first stopover in Cidade Velha on the Cape Verde Islands , made an arc to the west on the equatorial current to reach the west wind zone, whereupon the fleets the southern tip of Africa and reached the Agulhas Current in June / July, and were driven towards India by the summer monsoon in August. It turned out to be problematic that the ships could not be repaired after their departure from the Cape Verde Islands or Brazil (which was often not possible even during the intermediate stops due to lack of time). In addition, the crossing of the Cape of Good Hope , called the “Cape of Storms” by many seafarers, posed a great danger to rotten ships. If it was possible to circumnavigate the cape, it was usually not possible to make a stopover because the Agulhas Current the ships drove on. Only Mossel Bay was used by some ships to take in fresh water. The place was mainly used on the return voyage to temporarily repair the ships before the dangerous Cape bypass was due. Letters were also often deposited here for the next year's armada, which was on the march, and which were picked up by a fast escort ship of the fleet going to India. Only on the Strait of Mozambique (which in turn posed a danger due to its currents) or north of it were the Armadas able to make another stopover. Here were the three large Portuguese bases Sofala with São Caetano de Sofala , Ilha de Moçambique with São Sebastião and Mombasa with Fort Jesus , as well as the smaller bases Terra da Boa Gente , São Martinho de Quelimane , António Enes , Zanzibar , Pemba , Pate and Melinde . Most of the time, however, a stopover was made at the Ilha de Moçambique in São Sebastião to temporarily overtake the ships and take in water and provisions, as well as sometimes merchandise from Africa. Sofala was also visited more frequently, as the city was the end point of the gold route, which led from the Manicas gold fields in the inner-African Munhumutapa empire over the Rio Pungué to Sofala. Only in the case of major problems and damage to the ships was Melinde or, if time allowed, the smaller bases. Individual armadas only had the African east coast as their final destination and therefore sailed along the Portuguese bases there.

In 1510 the navigator Pedro Mascarenhas followed the route taken by Diogo Dias in 1500 and thus discovered an alternative route to India. This led past the southern tip of Madagascar to the Mascarene Mountains and finally through the open Indian Ocean to India. This route had the advantage that it could also be sailed in the second half of the year, as the effects of the monsoons are no longer as strong in these latitudes, but it had the major disadvantage that there was no protection for the Portuguese port cities in East Africa. This route became the route of the Dutch East India Company from Amsterdam via the Cape Colony to India or Batavia from the end of the 16th century and was to remain so until the 19th century.

The Portuguese fleets reached India in early September. Immediately after arrival, the repair of the ships began there and they were then loaded. The return journey began in January. Taking advantage of the winter monsoon, the ships reached the southern tip of Africa in April and Lisbon in the summer between June and August. It was customary to send the fastest ships ahead to Portugal to inform them about the situation of the fleet.

Spanish (white) and Portuguese (blue) trade routes in the 16th century.

Crucial for the fleets sailing to India was that East Africa was reached in time to be able to use the summer monsoon. Otherwise it could take until the next spring before the journey could be continued, or the much more dangerous route had to be chosen. The Mozambique Strait was a particularly dangerous passage for the returning fleets . Since the ships were heavily loaded and mostly only poorly repaired in India, the rapid currents there represented a great danger.

Since the new fleet (February / March) had already left before the arrival of the old fleet (arrival June / July), it was customary to leave letters at African coastal stations for the fleet going in the opposite direction. Although the information was at least six months old, it gave the flotilla sailing towards India a basic orientation about developments there.

Portuguese-Spanish contracts

From the middle of the 16th century it was possible for the Armadas to cross the Atlantic after a stopover at the Cape Verde Islands and follow the path that Pedro Álvares Cabral had discovered. So the Armadas sailed towards the Brazilian coast to make a stopover in the new Brazilian capital Salvador or Recife . Thus, individual convoys traveled four different continents in one way.

The ways to the Spice Islands and to China and Japan

The way to the Spice Islands

After the Portuguese had established themselves on the Indian coast from 1498 to 1510, they were able to conquer the strategically important trading city of Malacca and build the large fortress A Famosa in 1511 .

Porta de Santiago , the old city gate of A Famosa

In the same year, expeditions of discovery were made from Malacca to find the beginning of the spice route, which was finally achieved in 1512/1513 under António de Abreu and Francisco Serrão . Caravels were mostly used on this route , as these were better suited to the shallow waters between the islands than the large naos . The ships left Goa in September with the monsoon blowing south. From Malacca Indian goods were then exchanged for Chinese copper coins in Java . In exchange, further east on Sumbawa, rice and simple cotton fabrics were obtained, which in turn were exchanged for spices on the Banda Islands and Ternate. Between May and September, the south-west monsoons returned to Malacca. After the establishment of several bases, the route to the Spice Islands of Goa , Malacca , Makassar , Fort Laboiana , Larantuca and Lifáo finally led to the beginning of the Spice Route in São João Baptista de Ternate and the Banda Islands on the Moluccas . After the loss of Ternate in 1575, the Spice Trail finally led to Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Annunciada . After the loss of Ambon and the Bacan Islands in 1609, the route led to Tidore until the middle of the 17th century , which maintained a close alliance with Spain and was able to retain its independence for a long time.

The way to China and Japan

The route to China was first developed in 1513 under Jorge Álvares , who discovered the direct sea route from Europe to India. In 1513 a Portuguese fleet of six junks landed under Álvares near the city of Guangzhou . In the following decades there were armed conflicts, which could be settled in the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of 1554 and finally led to the acquisition of Macau. Fernão Mendes Pinto opened the way to Japan in 1542/43. After the acquisition of Macau, the route led from Goa via Malacca, the Chinese ports of Macau and Liampó to Nagasaki in Japan . This way secured the lucrative trade between China and Japan, the so-called Namban trade .

The spice route from the Moluccas to Lisbon

Portuguese-Spanish relations

Both new eastern routes crossed the westernmost Spanish trade routes of the Manila galleon . At first there was massive tension between Spain and Portugal because of both routes, as both sides interpreted the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas differently in relation to the Spice Islands. These tensions escalated during the tenure of the Portuguese explorer and governor of Ternate Jorge de Meneses , who plundered the Spanish fort on Tidore . It was not until the Treaty of Saragossa in 1529 that the crisis was resolved, from which both states would benefit in the subsequent period. On the one hand, the Spaniards were able to participate in the Namban trade with Japan for a long time, since the sailors from the Spanish East Indies were the only ones to whom the Portuguese allowed access to Macau and thus to the Chinese market. On the other hand, after the expulsion from the Moluccas by the Dutch , the Portuguese benefited from the Spanish presence there on Tidore.

Goods and commerce

Although the Armadas transported troops, administrators, missionaries, and colonists between Europe and Asia, their primary function was to transport goods. The five most important spices at that time were bought in Asia. Some of them were delivered to the trading shops on the Malabar Coast , some of them were delivered to Goa by the various trading shops and colonies , and some were picked up directly at the various production sites, as these were under Portuguese control for a long time - with the exception of the Banda Islands.

Black pepper

In the early Armadas, pepper often made up 90% of the volume. After the end of the Portuguese presence on the Moluccas and Ceylon , the Portuguese had to buy spices except for pepper from their Dutch competitors, who now held the monopoly on them.

Other goods bought in India were myrrh , long pepper , ginger , Indian dates , artemisia , aloe perryi , ivory , ebony , pearls , galbanum , camphor , indigo and gum lacquer .

Furthermore, silk , sandalwood and precious stones were traded in Makassar . Sandalwood came from Timor . Chinese porcelain and silk were bought from Macau in exchange for silver . These goods were often delivered to nearby Japan under the so-called Namban trade until 1638 , which in turn paid for these goods in silver, which in turn could be used for shopping in India or Macau. Firearms were also very popular in Japan for a long time, from which the Tanegashima arquebus developed.

The Portuguese traded goods from Europe were gold , silver , firearms , precious corals , Hungarian copper supplied by the Fuggers and cinnabar . The royal monopoly on copper in particular brought great profits, as copper was a hot market in India and West Africa. Between 1495 and 1521 alone, the Portuguese crown bought around 5,200 tons of copper, mostly supplied by the Fuggers from Hungary, in what was then the center of international trade in Antwerp, most of which was shipped to India. The goods of the Portuguese from Ilha de Moçambique , which were picked up in São Sebastião on the trip to India , were ivory and pearls. Gold came from Sofala via the Búzi River from the inner-African Munhumutapa empire , which was then transported from Sofala to India or Europe.

Each Nao brought between 6,100 and 6,800 quintals of spices or other commercial goods. In a typical armada with four to five ships, this meant that 25,000–30,000 quintals or the equivalent of 125–150 t of spices and goods could be transported to Europe. Large armadas sometimes even reached more than 200 tons.


Carracks of the India Armadas 1507

The ships of the Indian Armadas were typically carracks or naos . The first ships held around 100 tons and had a crew of between 40 and 60 men. Da Gama's flagship of the fleet from 1497 (the São Gabriel ) was one of the largest ships of her time at 120 t. However, these quickly grew larger. In the fleet of 1500 the largest ships were already 240 and 300 tons, and in 1502 the Flor de la Mar already had 400 tons. In 1503 there were already 600 t Naos sailing. For most of the 16th century, however, the size of the ships leveled off at around 400 t. From the 1550s there were attempts to establish Naos with 900 t as standard ships in order to increase the tonnage and thus to maximize profit. However, some of these attempts ended catastrophically. The high cost of the ships was a huge burden on the state treasury. The ships were difficult to maneuver, which was just noticeable in the Strait of Mozambique. Almost all naos of this class were shipwrecked in African waters.

Wreck of the São João , a large 900 t carrack, on the coast of South Africa, 1552

This prompted King Sebastian to introduce an upper limit of 450 t in 1570. After Philip II of Spain had also become King of Portugal, these prohibitions were again largely ignored. The average ships between 1580 and 1600 were 600 tons. After 1590 giants of 1500 tons were also built. However, these attempts also ended disastrously. As part of the Spanish crown, Portugal now had Spain's enemies as an enemy. The big naos were therefore popular targets of the British and Dutch privateers . In 1592, the British privateer Sir John Burroughs captured the 1600 t Nao Madre de Deus , which had just returned from her first voyage from India. The booty corresponded to half of the UK's actual national budget that year.

In the first decades of Carreira da India , the naos and carracks were mostly accompanied by caravels . These 50–70 t large ships, most of which had a crew of 20–30 men, served different tasks. They were used as fast mail ships, scouts and escort ships for the convoys. From the 1530s, the caravels were replaced by the galleons as escort ships for the convoys. The carracks, which had previously taken on both cargo and war duties, became pure trading and transport ships. The speed of the fleets was mostly around 2.5 knots . Individual ships reached 8-10 knots. These were mostly used as couriers in front on the return journey.

Portuguese carrack

The Portuguese ships had an average lifespan of four to five years. So it was already a great achievement when a ship made the long way to India and back. Of 806 Naos who left Portugal for India between 1497 and 1612, 425 returned to Portugal. 20 returned without reaching the Indian subcontinent, for example because they had not reached the monsoon in East Africa in time or were leaking. 66 were lost, 4 were captured, 6 were sunk and 285 remained in India.

Loss rates varied depending on the standard of shipbuilding, organization, training, and political weather conditions. Between 1571 and 1575, around 90% of the ships reached India and returned. Between 1586 and 1590 this rate fell to 40%. Between 1596 and 1605 the rate climbed to over 50%, only to drop to 20% afterwards.

The loss of crews was even more drastic. Each fleet lost about 30-50% of the crew on its journey to India and back. Storms, hostile natives in Africa, shipwrecks, but above all scurvy , troubled the crews. It was therefore customary to pay out part of the (high) wages before the start of the voyage, so that the families of the seafarers had a reserve in case the family father did not return.

End of the armadas

From the middle of the 17th century, the importance of the armadas declined steadily. On the one hand, the importance of Brazil, which is much closer and easier to reach, increased. On the other hand, during the Dutch-Portuguese War 1624–1661, the Estado da Índia shrank steadily, as the Spanish-Portuguese crown mainly used its funds to fight Dutch-Brazil and to protect the Spanish colonial empire . In addition, the British East India Company established itself in India, and in Oman the Yaruba dynasty was able to wrest their holdings in the Middle East from the Portuguese, and then the Bū-Saʿīd dynasty took over most of the Portuguese possessions in East Africa.

In 1575, Ternate, the main base on the Moluccas , the "Spice Islands", was lost. In 1609, Ambon, the last base on the Moluccas, was conquered by the Dutch. In 1612 the end of Portuguese naval power began in the Indian Ocean with the battle of Suvali . In 1622 Persia conquered the rich trading city of Hormuz under the Safavids with the help of the British East India Company . In 1638 Japan ordered the expulsion of the Portuguese from Nagasaki . In 1641 the fall of Malacca followed , which ruled the Straits of Malacca . This made the trade routes in the direction of the Moluccas or China and Japan massively difficult, since both the Malacca Strait and the Sunda Strait were now controlled by the Dutch. In 1658 the Dutch conquered Ceylon . In 1661, among other things, the rich Indian trading town of Bombaim was given to the British as a dowry for Catherine of Braganza . Around 1660/1663 most of the cities on the Indian Malabar coast were lost to the Netherlands . In 1665 the Portuguese were expelled from the Macassar by the Dutch . In 1698, Fort Jesus, the largest base in East Africa and the possessions north of Mozambique, was lost. In the 18th century, other cities in India were finally lost.

If the first Armadas were large fleets with a crew of up to 2500 men and up to 20 ships, the convoy of 1636, for example, consisted of only two Naos. Based on the remaining possessions of Cape Verde , Ilha de Moçambique , Damão , Diu , Goa , Portuguese Timor and Macau , small annual convoys continued towards India until the end of sailing. It was not until 1999 that the Portuguese fleet presence in Asia was finally ended after 501 years with the transfer of the last colony Macau to the People's Republic of China .

The first armadas in detail

During the reign of Manuel I.

Manuel I ruled from 1495 to 1521.

1497 The first Indian Armada under Vasco da Gama left Portugal in April 1497 and reached India in May 1498. She opened relationships with Malindi . The fleet consisted of 2 naos, 1 caravel, a supply ship and 170 men. She left India in October 1498 and returned to Portugal between July and August.

1500 The second India Armada and first Brazil expedition under Pedro Álvares Cabral left Portugal in March 1500 and reached India in September 1500. Before that, she officially discovered Brazil in April 1500 . It comprised 13 ships with 1,500 soldiers and 1,000 sailors. However, she lost 4 ships in a storm while sailing across Africa. Below was a ship that had the discoverer Bartolomeu Dias on board as captain. A first trading post in Kalikut was burned down and there were armed conflicts between the Portuguese and the ruler of Kalikut. However, the first factories were established in Cannanore and Cochin . A first alliance agreement was concluded with Cochin. In January 1501 the fleet left India and reached Portugal again between June / July 1501.

1501 The four-ship Third India Armada under João da Nova left Portugal in April 1501 and reached India in August 1501. She left India in January 1502 and reached Portugal again in September 1502. The expedition discovered the islands of St. Helena , Ascension and Juan de Nova . A calicut fleet was destroyed in the port of Cannanore.

The second expedition to Brazil under Gaspar de Lemos with Amerigo Vespucci on board, comprising 3 caravels, left Portugal for Brazil in May 1501. In June it met with the vanguard of the second Indian Armada off the coast of Africa. In August it reached the Brazilian coast. There she discovered Fernando de Noronha , the All Saints Bay and the Guanabara Bay, among others . In the summer of 1502 she returned to Portugal.

1502 The fourth India Armada, comprising 20 ships, left Portugal between February and April 1502 under the command of Vasco da Gama. It was divided into 3 squadrons (10 + 5 + 5) and comprised around 1500 people. In September 1502 the fleet reached India. A trading post was established on the Ilha de Moçambique . The war with Calicut continued, so da Gama had the city bombed again. The fleet left India in December 1502 and returned in September 1503.

Ships of the 4th India Armada 1502

After the return of the second expedition to Brazil, King Manuel I gave the rich merchant Fernão de Noronha all rights to trade with Brazil for 3 years. He began trading in Brazil wood in 1503 and 1506 , which brought him an average profit of 400 to 500%.

1503 The fifth Indian Armada under Afonso de Albuquerque left Portugal between March and April 1503. It comprised 9 ships in 3 squadrons. (3 + 3 + 3). She reached India between August and October and saved the allied Cochin. This city was besieged from March to September 1503 by the troops of the Samorin of Calicut. As a thank you, the Portuguese were allowed to build their first fort in Asia with Fort Emmanuel under Duarte Pacheco Pereira . The fleet left India in February 1504 and reached Portugal in July 1504.

The third Brazilian expedition under Gonçalo Coelho had Amerigo Vespucci on board. The fleet of 6 ships, financed by Fernão de Noronha , left Portugal between May and June and reached Brazil in July 1503. The first trading shops on Fernando de Noronha , in Cabo Frio , on the Guanabara Bay and Porto Seguro were established. Vespucci returned in 1504, and finally Coelho in 1505.

From 1506 onwards, an annual fleet of 6 ships was formed that delivered Brazilian wood to Portugal.

1504 The 6th Armada under Lopo Soares de Albergaria consisted of 13 ships. The fleet left Lisbon on April 22, 1504 for India, which it reached in September of the same year. She circled the Cape of Good Hope, loaded spices in India, took on military and diplomatic tasks at the same time, supplied the Portuguese fleet, which was permanently stationed in India, with ships, people and artillery, and returned to Europe the following year

1505 The 7th Armada under the first viceroy of Portuguese India, Francisco de Almeida, was one of the largest armadas. It comprised 22 ships (including 14 Naos and 6 caravels), a crew of 1,000 and 1,500 soldiers and started on March 25, 1505. Fernão de Magalhães , who later (August 1519) did the first circumnavigation of the world in Spanish service, was among the participants in the expedition should begin. In the same year on May 18th the 8th Armada, comprising 6 Naos, started. Finally, on November 19, 1505, the 9th Armada, comprising 3 Naos.

For the first time in a year, several convoys were sent to India.

1506 The 10th Armada comprising 16 ships under Tristão da Cunha , who was actually intended as the first viceroy, left Portugal on April 6, 1506. On the same day, the 11th Armada under Afonso de Albuquerque left Lisbon, but had the order for the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf while da Cunha's fleet was sailing towards India.

1507 The 11th and 12th Armadas, each consisting of 4 ships, left Lisbon together on April 13th 1507. The 13th Armada, comprising 7 Naos, left Portugal on April 21st.

1508 The 13th Armada under Diogo Lopes de Sequeira , consisting of 4 ships, left Portugal on April 5, 1508 and started an expedition to the South Seas and explored Malacca , Sumatra and Ternate . The 14th Armada, consisting of 13 ships, left Portugal on April 9, 1508 and sailed for India.

1509 The 15th Armada, launched under the Marshal of Portugal Fernando Coutinho , comprised 16 ships. Arriving in India, they launched an attack on Calicut, which ended in disaster. Coutinho, who had no idea of ​​India, ordered a frontal attack on the city, which cost him and many of his men their lives in the devastated Calicut in 1510.

1510 1510 3 convoys were sent to India again. On March 12, 1510, the 4-ship 16th Armada launched. On March 16, 1510, the 17th Armada, comprising 7 ships, was launched. On August 8th, 1510, the 18th Armada, comprising 3 ships, started to explore the island of Madagascar . In the same year, the Portuguese succeeded in conquering Goa .

1511 The 19th Armada, comprising 6 ships, left Portugal on March 25, 1511. In the same year, the conquest of Malacca succeeded .

1512 The 9-ship 19th Armada left Portugal on March 25, 1512. On the same day, the 4-ship 20th Armada left Portugal. Another ship left Portugal as the 21st Armada to search for a lagging ship in the Mozambique Strait .

1513 The 22nd Armada consisted of 4 ships and left Portugal on March 20, 1513.

1514 The 23rd Armada comprised 5 ships and left Portugal on April 9, 1514. The 24th Armada, which consisted of 2 ships, was supposed to improve trade relations with the natives in Madagascar and Mozambique .

1515 The 25th Armada under Lopo Soares de Albergaria comprised 13 ships, left Portugal on April 7, 1515 and brought the new governor of the Estado da Índia to Goa. The 26th Armada ("pera a China") with 3 ships was supposed to explore the coasts of China .

1516 The 27th Armada consisted of 5 ships and left Portugal on April 4th, 1516. When she arrived in India, she was supposed to bring the Portuguese Tomé Pires to China as the official envoy of Manuel I. The fleet reached China, but Pires was arrested there. On April 24, 1516 another ship left Portugal as the 28th Armada. It acted as a fast mail ship and was intended to warn Portuguese India of a possible attack from Egypt .

1517 On April 9th, a 29th fleet of 6 ships under António de Saldanha left Portugal and, after arriving in India, sailed on to Ternate , which now formed the starting point of the Spice Route and where a first trading post was established.

1518 On March 27, 1518, a large 30 fleet, comprising 12 ships, left Portugal and brought the new governor Diogo Lopes de Sequeira to India.

1519 The 31st fleet, comprising 14 ships, left Portugal on April 23, 1519. Part of the fleet sailed on to China after arrival, where the Portuguese tried to establish themselves and armed conflicts broke out. João de Barros later wrote about the conflicts between Portugal and China between 1519 and 1522.

1520 Alarmed by the Fernão de Magalhães mission to find a western route to Asia for the German Emperor and Spanish King Charles V , Manuel I commissioned the 32nd Fleet, comprising 10 ships, to secretly build a fortress against Portugal on May 6, 1520 actually allied and ruled by his brother-in-law to build Spain on the Moluccas . In fact, after the successful mission in Tidore, the Spaniards began to establish themselves in the Moluccas, while the Portuguese built a first fortress on Ternate in 1522. Only the Treaty of Saragossa in 1529 was supposed to settle the dispute, even if the Spaniards remained present in Tidore until the middle of the 17th century.

1521 The 33rd Fleet, comprising 12 ships, left Portugal on April 5, 1521 and brought the new governor Duarte de Meneses to India. 4 ships sailed to China and were supposed to bring further reinforcements there. But they could not prevent the fall of the first Portuguese colony in Tamão . Most of the captains of the ships in this fleet then took office as governors of individual colonies and bases. The 34th fleet with 3 ships sailed towards Madagascar and Mozambique .

During the reign of Johann III.

Johann III. ruled from 1521 to 1557.

1522 On April 15, 1522, the 34th fleet with 4 ships left Portugal

1523 On April 9, 1523, the 35th fleet with 9 ships left Portugal

1524 The discoverer of the sea route to India and the new viceroy Vasco da Gama leaves Portugal on April 9, 1524 with a large 36th fleet comprising 17 ships, accompanied by his sons Estêvão da Gama and Paulo. However, he dies 3 months after his arrival in Chochin .

1525 On April 25, 1525, the 37th fleet with 6 ships left Portugal

1526 On April 8, 1526, the 38th fleet with 5 ships left Portugal

1527 On March 26, 1527 the 39th fleet with 5 ships left Portugal

1528 Under the successor of da Gamas Nuno da Cunha as the new governor, the 40th fleet with 11 ships left Portugal on April 18, 1528. Mombasa was looted on the way to India . The explorer António Tenreiro returned to Portugal that same year.

1529 The 41st fleet, consisting of 5 ships, left Portugal on April 18th and visited Hormuz on the way to India .

1530 The 42nd fleet, consisting of 6 naos and 3 caravals, left Portugal on April 15th

5 ships under Martim Afonso de Sousa left Portugal and in 1532 founded São Vicente, the first permanent settlement in Brazil. Beginning of the colonization of Brazil. In the centuries that followed, individual Indian fleets followed Cabral's route with a stopover in Brazil, connecting 4 continents.

1531 The 43rd fleet, consisting of 5 Naos, left Portugal on April 20th and sailed for Chochin.

1532 The 44th fleet, consisting of 5 ships, left Portugal on April 10th. She brought the two sons Vasco da Gamas Estêvão da Gama and Cristóvão da Gama to India. Estêvão then took office as governor of Malacca.

1533 The 45th fleet, consisting of 7 ships, left Portugal on April 10th. Also in the same year the 46th fleet left Portugal with 10 ships.

45th Indian fleet with the Bom Jesus

Returning from Brazil in 1534 , Martim Afonso de Sousa became Admiral of the 47th Indian Fleet, which consisted of 5 ships.

In the same year Brazil was divided into 12 fiefdoms and development of the country began.

1535 The 48th fleet, consisting of 6 ships, left Portugal on March 8th.

1536 The 49th fleet, consisting of 5 ships, left Portugal on March 10th. Jorge Cabral , the nephew of Pedro Álvares Cabral and later governor, travels to India.

1537 The 50th fleet, consisting of 6 ships, left Portugal on March 12th. On board she had the explorer Fernão Mendes Pinto , who is said to have discovered the sea route to Japan in 1542. Also on board was Pedro da Silva da Gama, who was supposed to bring the remains of his father Vasco da Gama to Portugal.

The 51st Fleet left Portugal on November 4th and brought reinforcements to Sofala and São Caetano de Sofala

1538 The 52nd was again a large fleet as it brought the new Viceroy Garcia de Noronha to India. The fleet set out on April 10 with 11 ships. Numerous new governors and administrators from the individual colonies were also on board. New administrations were set up in Goa ( João de Castro ), Cannanore , Malacca , Chaul , Vasai-Virar , Diu , Hormus and Sofala .

1539 The 53rd fleet, consisting of 6 ships, left Portugal on March 24th.

1540 The 54th fleet, consisting of 4 ships, left Portugal on March 25th.

1541 The 55th Fleet brought the new governor Martim Afonso de Sousa to India. She left Portugal on April 7th and consisted of 5 ships. On board she had the clergyman Franz Xaver , the co-founder of the Jesuits .

1542 The 56th fleet, consisting of 4 ships, left Portugal on April 23rd.

1543 The 57th fleet, consisting of 5 ships, left Portugal on March 25th.

1544 The 58th fleet, consisting of 6 ships, left Portugal on April 19th.

1545 The 59th Fleet brought the new Viceroy João de Castro to India. The 6 ships also had some new governors on board. For example, Jorge Cabral became the new governor of Vasai-Virar .


  • Roger Crowley : The Conquerors. Portugal's struggle for a world empire. Theiss, Darmstadt 2016.
  • Helmut Pemsel : Command of the Sea. A maritime world history from the beginning to 1850. Augsburg 1995.

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