European Exploration of Arabia
(i.e. the Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Persian/Arabian Gulf Shores)



The shape of the Arabian peninsula had been known to the ancient Greeks and was shown on medieval European maps. European, mostly Venetian, merchants had traversed the region. It was thus less a matter of discovery (although for the Portuguese and later the Dutch and English, the southern and eastern coasts of Arabia were a new experience), rather the fact that they could be accessed, and assaulted, from the sea.
Even before Vasco da Gama found the sea route to India in 1497-1499, Pero de Covilhao, disguised as a Muslim, traveled via Alexandria, Cairo, the Red Sea, to Kozhikode (Calicut) and back to Hormuz (1487-1488). In 1490 he was back in Cairo, delivering his travelogue to agents of the Portuguese king.
Once Vasco da Gama found the sea route to India, hostilities broke out between the Portuguese and the Arabs. Afonso de Albuquerque raided Hormuz in 1507, and, by now Viceroy of Portuguese India, conquered and fortified it in 1515 (from Hormuz the Portuguese could control the navigation through the Straits of Hormuz). In 1513, Albuquerque had lead a Portuguese fleet into the Red Sea.
The Portuguese established further fortifications on the shores of the Gulf, at Muscat, Bahrain and elsewhere. Despite frequent fighting, the Portuguese and Arabs also traded with each other. For European merchants, Mocha in Yemen, Basra in Iraq and Bushir in Persia were the most important ports along the Arabian and Persian coast; Mocha gave the name to a favoured brand of coffee - Mocca.



EXTERNAL
FILES
The Portuguese in the Arabia Peninsula and in the Persic Gulf, by Marco Ramerini
Mandaean History Portuguese, from Mandaean World
DOCUMENTS
REFERENCE



This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 25th 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004

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