Military Wiki
Advertisement
Ottoman–Portuguese conflicts (1580–1589)
Part of the Ottoman–Portuguese conflicts
Braun Mombasa HAAB.jpg
16th century depiction of Mombasa.
Date1586–1589
LocationEast African Coast
Result Portuguese victory.
Belligerents
Portugal Portuguese Empire
supported by
Malindi
Zimbas
 Ottoman Empire
supported by
Mogadishu
Barawa
Lamu
Pate
Faza
Mombasa
Pemba
Commanders and leaders
Dom Duarte de Meneses
Martim Afonso de Melo
Manuel de Sousa Coutinho
Tomé de Sousa Coutinho
Mateus de Vasconcelos
Mir Ali Bey (POW)


The Ottoman–Portuguese Conflicts (1580–1589) were armed military conflicts between the Portuguese Empire and the Ottoman Empire and in the Indian Ocean, specifically in the east-African coast.

Expedition of Mir Ali Bey to east-Africa 1586[]

In January 1586, a Turkish privateer named Mir Ali Bey unexpectedly sailed a galley from Mocha in Yemen to the east-African coast, intending to raid Portuguese shipping in the region. At Mogadishu, Mir Ali Bey convinced it's inhabitants to rebel against the Portuguese (to whom they owed tribute), and he was joined by a few local vessels in support of his endeavours. Likewise, Barawa and Faza also declared their support and allegiance to the Ottoman Empire, until Mir Ali Bey had about 15 vessels.[1] At Pate, Mir Ali Bey captured a Portuguese merchant carrack. At Lamu, Mir Ali Bey captured a small galley belonging to Roque de Brito Falcão, while the king of Lamu delivered all the Portuguese that had taken refuge in the city to the Turks. Mir Ali Bey also received a proposal to establish a fort at Mombasa.[2] Setting sail back to Mocha, at Pate Mir Ali Bey captured another Portuguese carrack that had just arrived from Chaul, promising their passengers their freedom in exchange for their cargo - a promise which Mir Ali Bey did not keep and they were enslaved.[3] Thus Mir Ali Bey returned to Mocha with about 20 vessels and 100 captured Portuguese, which were later ransomed.[4]

Portuguese expedition 1587[]

When news reached Goa that a Turkish fleet was in east-Africa inciting cities to rebel and raiding Portuguese shipping with their support, in January 1587 the Portuguese viceroy Dom Duarte de Meneses dispatched a fleet of 2 galleons, 3 galleys, 13 light-galleys and 650 soldiers under the command of Martim Afonso de Melo to expel the Turks and reestablish Portuguese authority along the coast.[5] The city of Faza was sacked along with several others. The Portuguese extracted an indemnity of 4000 cruzados from Mombasa in exchange for not destroying the city. At the same time, Martim Afonso de Melo called at Malindi, whose king had remained loyal to the Portuguese, and reinforced their diplomatical ties.[6] Finding no sign of Mir Ali Bey, the Portuguese fleet returned to Goa via Socotra and Ormus.

Battle of Mombasa 1589[]

Turkish galleys, 17th century

In 1589, Mir Ali Bey returned from Mocha with a fleet of 5 galleys.[7] Calling first at Mogadishu, Mir Ali Bey now extracted a heavy tribute from the cities along the coast in exchange for protection, in the name of the Ottoman Empire. From there he proceeded to Malindi, a loyal vassal of the Portuguese, hoping to sack it. However, the Portuguese captain of the east-African coast Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelos, was at Malindi with a small force, and was already well aware of the approach of Mir Ali Bey: a network of spies and informants within the Red Sea itself kept the Portuguese up to date on Turkish movements, and before Mir Ali Bey had even set sail, already Vasconcelos had dispatched a vessel to Goa informing the viceroy that the Turks were about to leave the Red Sea.[8] Approaching Malindi by night, the flotilla of Mir Ali Bey was bombarded by a Portuguese artillery battery, and so it sailed away to Mombasa.[9]

From India, governor Manuel de Sousa Coutinho dispatched an armada of 2 galleons, 5 galleys, 6 half-galleys and 6 light-galleys with 900 Portuguese soldiers, commanded by Tomé de Sousa Coutinho.[10] In late February 1589 the fleet reached the east-african coast, and calling at Lamu, they learnt from an envoy of Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelos that Mir Ali Bey had stablished a stronghold at Mombasa. At Malindi they were joined by Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelos with another half-galley and two light-galleys of Malindi.[11]

Battle of Mombasa[]

On March 5, the Portuguese fleet reached the island of Mombasa. Mir Ali Bey had erected a small fort by the shoreline, close to the city, and armed it with artillery pieces to close off the entrance to the harbour. Nonentheless, the Portuguese pushed through under fire, three Turkish galleys in the harbour were captured, the fort was bombarded from the sea by the galleys, and in face of superior firepower, the Turks abandoned it.[12] On the 7th, the Portuguese landed 500 troops, only to learn that Mombasa had been evacuated, and it's inhabitants had taken shelter in a nearby wood, along with the Turks.[13]

At that time, by pure chance, a marauding cannibalistic tribe dubbed Zimbas was migrating north and had set up a camp just across the channel, and only the last two of Mir Ali Bey's galleys prevented them from crossing onto the island.[14] They were attacked and captured by the Portuguese.[15] Wishing to capture Mir Ali Bey and the rest of the Turks, Tomé de Sousa Coutinho at once gave permission to the Zimbas to cross over - once the people of Mombasa realized the Zimbas had invaded the island, they promptly rushed to the beaches in desperation to be taken aboard the ships. Many drowned, but among the people the Portuguese captured was Mir Ali Bey.[16]

Aftermath[]

On March 24 the Portuguese fleet reached Malindi, where they were triumphantly met with celebrations and long festivities.[17] With Mir Ali Bey captured, all that remained was to reestablish Portuguese suzerainty over the entire coast, through diplomacy or force of arms. The King of Malindi was amply rewarded for his valiant loyalty to the Portuguese Crown. The Portuguese captain of the east-African coast Mateus Mendes de Vasconcelos was detached with a squadron to remain at Malindi, and defend it from the marauding Zimbas.[18] The King of Pemba, who was loyal to the Portuguese but was ousted by Ottoman-backed rebels, was reestablished on his throne. The King of Lamu on the other hand, was captured and publicly beheaded[19] and Pate was sacked.[20]

Mir Ali Bey was taken prisoner, but treated with honour and sent to meet the Portuguese viceroy of India, Manuel de Sousa Coutinho. Later, he was sent to Portugal and converted to Christianity.[21] Analyzing the conflict in detail, Czech historian Svat Soucek argued against the exaggeration of the capacity of the Ottoman Empire to expand their influence in the Indian Ocean by certain authors: Mir Ali Bey only managed to pass undetected by the Portuguese intelligence network due to the insignificance of his initial single galley; once he was detected, a Portuguese war fleet was swiftly dispatched to neutralize the threat.[22] The Swahili coast remained well within the Portuguese sphere of influence until the late 17th century.

Notes[]

  1. Saturnino Monteiro (2011): Portuguese Sea Battles - Volume IV - 1580-1603. P.140
  2. Saturnino Monteiro (2011): Portuguese Sea Battles - Volume IV - 1580-1603. P.140
  3. Saturnino Monteiro (2011): Portuguese Sea Battles - Volume IV - 1580-1603. P.141
  4. Saturnino Monteiro (2011): Portuguese Sea Battles - Volume IV - 1580-1603. P.141
  5. Svat Soucek (2008): The Portuguese and Turks in the Persian Gulf in Revisiting Hormuz: Portuguese Interactions in the Persian Gulf Region in the Early Modern Period. Calouste Gulbunkian Foundation, p. 47
  6. Svat Soucek (2008): The Portuguese and Turks in the Persian Gulf in Revisiting Hormuz: Portuguese Interactions in the Persian Gulf Region in the Early Modern Period. Calouste Gulbunkian Foundation, p. 47
  7. Soucek (2008). P.48
  8. Soucek (2008). P.48
  9. Soucek (2008). P.48
  10. Saturnino Monteiro (2011): Portuguese Sea Battles - Volume IV - 1580-1603. P.237
  11. Saturnino Monteiro (2011): Portuguese Sea Battles - Volume IV - 1580-1603. P.237
  12. Monteiro (2011) p.238
  13. Monteiro (2011) p.239
  14. Monteiro (2011) p. 235
  15. Monteiro (2011) p. 238
  16. Monteiro (2011) p. 239
  17. Svat Soucek (2008): The Portuguese and Turks in the Persian Gulf in Revisiting Hormuz: Portuguese Interactions in the Persian Gulf Region in the Early Modern Period. Calouste Gulbunkian Foundation, p. 50
  18. Svat Soucek (2008): The Portuguese and Turks in the Persian Gulf in Revisiting Hormuz: Portuguese Interactions in the Persian Gulf Region in the Early Modern Period. Calouste Gulbunkian Foundation, p. 50
  19. Svat Soucek (2008): The Portuguese and Turks in the Persian Gulf in Revisiting Hormuz: Portuguese Interactions in the Persian Gulf Region in the Early Modern Period. Calouste Gulbunkian Foundation, p. 50
  20. Monteiro (2011) p.240
  21. Svat Soucek (2008): The Portuguese and Turks in the Persian Gulf in Revisiting Hormuz: Portuguese Interactions in the Persian Gulf Region in the Early Modern Period. Calouste Gulbunkian Foundation, p. 51
  22. Svat Soucek (2008): The Portuguese and Turks in the Persian Gulf in Revisiting Hormuz: Portuguese Interactions in the Persian Gulf Region in the Early Modern Period. Calouste Gulbunkian Foundation, p. 51

References[]

  • Attila and Balázs Weiszhár: Lexicon of War (Háborúk lexikona), Athenaum publisher, Budapest 2004.
  • Britannica Hungarica, Hungarian encyclopedia, Hungarian World publisher, Budapest 1994.
  • Dejanirah Couto, Rui Loureiro, Revisiting Hormuz: Portuguese Interactions in the Persian Gulf Region in the Early Modern Period (2008) ISBN 9783447057318

See also[]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Advertisement