Today in South Asian history: the Battle of Diu (1509)

The appearance of Portuguese explorers in India in 1498 was, it’s safe to say, a world-altering event. When Vasco da Gama proved that it was possible for European ocean-going vessels to reach India by going around Africa, it meant changes not only for Europe and India, but for the kingdoms in between, whose economies had depended to one extent or another on extracting rents from Europe-India commercial traffic. Here I’m talking about a number of Muslim states–the Ottomans, the Mamluks, the various dynasties that controlled northern India and Iran. But I’m also talking about Christian Venice, which made a lot of bank ferrying eastern luxuries across the Mediterranean Sea to European customers.

The arrival of the Portuguese changed things for India too, let’s not minimize that. It took a while for the full effect to be felt, and by the time it was fully felt Britain had displaced Portugal, but obviously Indian history would look a lot different if the Europeans had never arrived. Their impact may not have manifested for a while–the most powerful of the Muslim Indian kingdoms, the Mughal Empire, hadn’t even been established yet by 1509, when today’s story takes place–but manifest it ultimately did.

Source: Today in South Asian history: the Battle of Diu (1509)


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