The Capture of Malacca in 1511

download print

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 4136 |

Pages: 8|

21 min read

Published: Sep 14, 2018

Words: 4136|Pages: 8|21 min read

Published: Sep 14, 2018

Malacca was a strategic place at the border of the Strait of Malacca. It was a major port along the spice-route, and its harbor bristled with the sails and masts of Chinese junks and spice-loaded vessels from all over world. It was also a place for trade of silk and porcelain from China, textiles from Gujarat and Coromandel in India, camphor from Borneo, sandalwood from Timor, nutmeg, mace, and cloves from the Moluccas, gold and pepper from Sumatra and tin from western Malaysia. The strong wind was always blowing from the right position for the sailors and Malacca was a safe place to be, when the sailors came ashore. No wonder that they took this city for provision.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Malacca became important for all who wanted to rule the Strait of Malacca and strait was so important for the spice-route. That's why Malacca since 1400 had so much occupiers and could grow to a worldwide trade center. The first Portuguese references to Malacca appear after Vasco da Gama's return from his expedition to Calicut that opened a direct route to India around the Cape of Good Hope. It was described as a city that was 40 days' journey from India, where clove, nutmeg, porcelains and silks where transactioned, and was supposedly ruled by a sovereign who could gather 10,000 men for war and was Christian. Since then, King Manuel showed an interest in making contact with Malacca, believing it to be at, or at least close to, the antimeridian of Tordesillas.In 1505 Dom Francisco de Almeida was dispatched by King Manuel I of Portugal as the first Viceroy of Portuguese India, tasked to, among other things, discover its precise location.De Almeida, however, unable to dedicate resources to the enterprise, sent only two undercover Portuguese envoys in August 1506, Francisco Pereira and Estevão de Vilhena, aboard a ship of a Muslim merchant.

The mission was aborted once they were detected and nearly lynched on the Coromandel Coast, narrowly making it back to Cochin by November.

The Capture of Malacca in 1511 occurred when the Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque subdued the city of Malacca in 1511.

Ruy D'Araujo had inform d'Albuquerque that "the occupation of the bridge" might decide victory or at least deal a heavy blow at the enemy .Albuquerque first departed from India for Malacca in April 1511, with 1,200 men and 17 to 18 ships. Albuquerque’s objective was to sever Islamic trade and Venetian trade on the same occasion. The bridge was obviously the key to the situation, for its capture would cut the Sultan's army in two, and so make its final defeat easier. D'Albuquerque decided, therefore, to capture it by a pincer movement, and divided his meagre forces into halves. The first, led by him-self, was to make a landing in Upeh and capture the northern end of the bridge; the second was to land near the royal palace and the mosque, and capture its southern end. He chose 25 July for the attack as that was the feast of St. James, to whom he had a special devotion.

Accordingly, two hours before dawn on that day, captains and men assembled on board the large and roomy flagship, Flor de la Mar, and as dawn was breaking, their little boats full of troops crept towards the beaches. Their approach was soon observed, and a furious artillery fire greeted them. When this was finished the boats drew nearer inshore, made a landing, and soon engaged in a fierce battle with the defenders.

The Malays put up a brave resistance, but after some hours of continuous fighting the Portuguese succeeding in capturing both ends of the bridge. As the wind freshened from the sea, they set fire to houses on both banks of the river, so that in a short while a great part of the city itself was in flames and the royal palace and many of the royal houses had been gutted. During the fire a chariot lined with silk and inlaid with gold, on thirty wheels each as high as a room, was burnt. It had been intended for the wedding of Sultan Mahmud's daughter with the Sultan of Pahang.It was now 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The Portuguese had been fighting continuously since dawn. They had no food, and no men could be spared to go back to the ships to bring supplies. It was agonising to hold the bridge in the burning heat of the day, under continuous fire from the enemy, with seventy men wounded, some by poisoned arrows (from which all save one died).

Towards nightfall, finding it impossible to complete the stockade on the bridge, d'Albuquerque gave the order to withdraw. As the troops returned in relays to the ships they were subjected to a harassing fire of bullets and poisoned darts and arrows by the defenders but they nevertheless took with them a great deal of captured material, including fifty bombards from the bridge.

Admiral Diogo Lopes de Sequeira was sent to find Malacca, to make a trade compact with its ruler as Portugal’s representative east of India. The first European to reach Malacca and Southeast Asia, Sequeira arrived in Malacca in 1509. Although he was initially well received by Sultan Mahmud Shah trouble however quickly ensued. The general feeling of rivalry between Islam and Christianity was invoked by a group of Goa Muslims in the sultan’s court after the Portuguese had captured Goa.

The international Muslim trading community convinced Mahmud that the Portuguese were a grave threat. Mahmud subsequently captured several of his men, killed others and attempted to attack the four Portuguese ships, although they escaped. As the Portuguese had found in India, conquest would be the only way they could establish themselves in Malacca.

Several men were captured and killed, but the ships escaped.A first attack by the Portuguese failed on 25 July 1511. This first attack had only a limited success for the Portuguese, since although they had captured the bridge they had not been strong enough to hold it. It was, however, a victory, and d'Albuquerque believed that the city, having suffered heavy losses in troops and by fire, would hasten to surrender. The Sultan, however, showed an unexpected obstinacy and whilst continuing to make vague promises of friendship utterly refused to become a vassal of the King of Portugal.

Many of the merchants, however, who cared more for their goods than for Malacca, now began to press for peace with the Portuguese. They were afraid the Portuguese would win and would sack the city. Utimutiraja, for instance, sent a present of sandalwood to d'Albuquerque, though, at the same time, he sent his people to help the defenders to build new palisades and barricades. It was considered a wise precaution to keep friendly with both sides.

The Malays, therefore, continued to push on with the fortifications in expectation of a new attack. At least one hundred bombards were now mounted on the bridge, which was now even more heavily defended by palisades. On the north and south sides of the bridge guns were once more mounted to command the approaches from Upeh and the mosque respectively. D'Albuquerque, therefore, realized that nothing less than an overwhelming victory would give him the control of the city. He decided therefore on an all-out attack: but here he had to face a new difficulty. His captains, tired of the endless delays, began to advocate a return to India. They had lost much of their enthusiasm for the final attack because d'Albuquerque insisted that they would have to build a fort when the town was captured, and the prospect did not appeal to them. D'Albuquerque, however, called them all to a council on his flagship. He showed them that the conquest of Malacca was absolutely necessary since this alone would give them a complete monopoly of the pepper trade. As things were, Arab traders were able to take vast quantities of pepper and spices to Cairo, Alexandria and Venice, from Malacca via Bab-el-Mandeb, dodging the Portuguese Indian fleet on the way. He pointed out that the capture of Malacca would be a great blow to their enemies the Moors, and that it was a prize of great worth. As a result-" Cairo and Mecca would be entirely ruined and to Venice, no spiceries will be conveyed except that which her merchants go and buy in Portugal." "I am certain", he added, "when they begin to like our justice and straight dealing, all merchants will go and reside there and make walls of gold." These arguments finally decided the captains to make a second and much more formidable attack. This time they were determined to achieve success.

On the 10 August 1511,the second attack was launched. As in the first attack, the main object of the Portuguese was to capture the bridge; but this time d'Albuquerque meant to hold it. Some days before his conference with the officers he had thought out a new idea. This was to use an exceptionally tall junk as a kind of fortified siege ladder, which could be floated towards the bridge, and grappled to it. It would over-tower the bridge, and from its commanding position the attackers could rake the bridge from end to end with their gunfire and stones, and make it completely untenable. Unfortunately at first for his plan, the junk was found to have too great a draught for the shallow waters of the river.

The attack had to be postponed until the spring tide, which would refloat the junk and carry it down towards the bridge. Meanwhile, the Malays, guessing his intention, did their best to set fire to the craft by sending towards it on the falling tide blazing boats and barges: but all their efforts were foiled by the Portuguese.At last the junk was refloated. The Portuguese bombarded the city during the night of 9 August, and on the next day the attack began. D'Albuquerque, having posted gun-boats on either flank of the attacking boats, made his way to the north part of the city where, after a brief but fierce struggle he succeeded in effecting a landing.

Meanwhile Antonio d'Abreu, in face of furious fire from the bridge, which he relentlessly returned, had succeeded in grappling the junk to the bridge, and by a heavy fire, swept the defenders from it. These took up a position behind palisades lying between the bridge and the mosque; but fire from the gunboats in the harbour compelled them to retire to the mosque. D'Albuquerque now gave orders for the mosque to be captured. The Malays thereupon evacuated it, and were followed in swift pursuit by a detachment under de Lima. Suddenly the latter's troops found themselves face to face with fresh reinforcements under the command of the Sultan and his son Ahmad. In the band were twenty fighting elephants which now charged the Portuguese. Undismayed de Lima pierced the leading elephant in the eye with his spear and the maddened brute turned in the narrow road and fled, scattering the Malays, and infecting the other animals with its rage and terror.When darkness fell, the Portuguese took up their position on the bridge, which they now heavily defended with strong barricades at both ends, built up with barrels of sand and wood from two of their ships which they had broken up for this purpose. Above their heads they placed a grcat sail, firmly tied down at each end to ward off the heat of the sun during the day. All night long their guns bombarded the city, keeping the roads clear from concentrations of enemy troops. D'Albuquerque spent the night visiting and encouraging the wounded, of whom there were many. During the battle twenty-eight of his men had been killed.

For some days d'Albuquerque waited before giving orders for the final attack. He was concerned about the wounded, but was also ready even at this stage to negotiate with Mahmud. He simply asked that permission should be given for the building of a fortress and that his men should receive reasonable booty for their victory. The Malay war party however was in no mood to negotiate; though many of the traders among them Ninachatu was among these and was given flags to put outside his house to help Portuguese soldiers to identify it,asked for protection during the sack of the city which all expected hourly.The final attack was launched on the 24 August 1511.However, did not take place until some days later. Then, d'Albuquerque's troops, marching six abreast through the streets, swept aside all resistance, slaying all who tried to oppose them.

The governor then gave orders for the city to be sacked: but the operation was carried out with amazing regularity. There was no wild snatching for booty. First the sailors, whose job was so vital, were allowed to get their share; then other troops went in succession, each bringing his booty back to the beach near the spot where the Commander stood. The whole operation took one day. Amazing treasures were accumulated, including "bars of gold, jars of gold dust, jewels, priceless silks, rare perfumes and scented woods "-but it was estimated that two-thirds of the great city's wealth still remained. Some of the officers were in favour of despoiling the city completely and returning to India; but this was no part of d'Albuquerque's plan. He was anxious for his troops to reap a fair reward for their valour; but at the same time he saw the vital importance of Malacca to Portugal's Empire. He did not wish it to be ruined; but instead was most anxious to re-establish its trade as soon as possible. As for himself, the only things he acquired from the Malacca expedition were Noadabegea's bracelet and six large bronze lions for his own tomb.No further resistance took place in the city.

The Peguans were the first to ask for-and receive-pardon. They were soon followed by the Javanese and Hindus. As for the Sultan, he and his son 'Ala'u'd-din who had taken a notable part in the defence, fled inland. 'Ala'u'd- din tried to make a stand at Pagoh; but was driven out by the brothers Andrade and some Javanese, and fled with his father to Pahang, whither the Sultan of Pahang had long since preceded them. Only a few Malays under the redoubtable Laksamana, Hang Tuah, kept up a series of harassing attacks on the hated enemy. After a time, Mahmud and his son, gathering confidence, moved from Pahang, first to a settlement far up the Johore river, and then to the Island of Bintang, the Sultan at Tebing Tinggi and the Prince at Batu Pelabohan.The Portuguese captured a large amount of artillery from Malacca after its fall.Several thousand artillery pieces, around 3000 out of 8000 of large size were captured by the Portuguese in Malacca. Firearms such as Matchlocks and artillery were both used by the Malays to defend Malacca before it fell.

As the first base of European Christian trading kingdom in Southeast Asia, it was surrounded by numerous emerging native Muslim states. Also, with hostile initial contact with the local Malay policy, Portuguese Malacca faced severe hostility. They endured years of battles started by Malay sultans who wanted to get rid of the Portuguese and reclaim their land. The Sultan made several attempts to retake the capital. He rallied the support from his ally the Sultanate of Demak in Java who, in 1511, agreed to send naval forces to assist. Led by Pati Unus, the Sultan of Demak, the combined Malay-Java efforts failed and were fruitless. The Portuguese retaliated and forced the sultan to flee to Pahang. Later, the sultan sailed to Bintan Island and established a new capital there. With a base established, the sultan rallied the disarrayed Malay forces and organized several attacks and blockades against the Portuguese’s position. Frequent raids on Malacca caused the Portuguese severe hardship. In 1521 the second Demak campaign to assist the Malay Sultan to retake Malacca was launched, however once again failed with the cost of the Demak Sultan’s life. He was later remembered as Pangeran Sabrang Lor or the Prince who crossed (the Java Sea) to North (Malay Peninsula). The raids helped convince the Portuguese that the exiled sultan’s forces must be silenced. A number of attempts were made to suppress the Malay forces, but it wasn’t until 1526 that the Portuguese finally razed Bintan to the ground. The sultan then retreated to Kampar in Riau, Sumatra where he died two years later. He left behind two sons named Muzaffar Shah and Alauddin Riayat Shah II.Muzaffar Shah was invited by the people in the north of the peninsula to become their ruler, establishing the Sultanate of Perak. Meanwhile, Mahmud’s other son, Alauddin succeeded his father and made a new capital in the south. His realm was the Johor Sultanate, the successor of Malacca.Several attempts to remove Malacca from Portuguese rule were made by the Sultan of Johor. A request sent to Java in 1550 resulted in Queen Kalinyamat, the regent ofJepara, sending 4,000 soldiers aboard 40 ships to meet the Johor sultan’s request to take Malacca. The Jepara troops later joined forces with the Malay alliance and managed to assemble around 200 warships for the upcoming assault.

The combined forces attacked from the north and captured most of Malacca, but the Portuguese managed to retaliate and force back the invading forces. The Malay alliance troops were thrown back to the sea, while the Jepara troops remained on shore. Only after their leaders were slain did the Jepara troops withdraw. The battle continued on the beach and in the sea resulting in more than 2,000 Jepara soldiers being killed. A storm stranded two Jepara ships on the shore of Malacca, and they fell prey to the Portuguese. Fewer than half of the Jepara soldiers managed to leave Malacca.In 1567, Prince Husain Ali I Riayat Syah from the Sultanate of Aceh launched a naval attack to oust the Portuguese from Malacca, but this once again ended in failure. In 1574 a combined attack from Aceh Sultanate and Javanese Jepara tried again to capture Malacca from the Portuguese, but ended in failure due to poor coordination.Competition from other ports such as Johor saw Asian traders bypass Malacca and the city began to decline as a trading port.

Rather than achieving their ambition of dominating it, the Portuguese had fundamentally disrupted the organisation of the Asian trade network. Rather than a centralised port of exchange of Asian wealth exchange, or a Malay state to police the Strait of Malacca that made it safe for commercial traffic, trade was now scattered over a number of ports amongst bitter warfare in the Straits.Albuquerque then built a fort to strengthen the Portuguese position, the Fort A Famosa, remains of which are still visible to this day. He also dispatched some ships to the “Spice Islands”. Albuquerque returned to Cochin in January 1512. The Portuguese engaged in a massacre of the Muslim inhabitants and also of the Arab community in Malacca. The invasion was specifically intended to break the Arab trade monopoly in spices.The Portuguese encountered private Chinese merchants trading in Malacca, these merchants were not controlled by the Chinese government, which neither encouraged nor supported them in their trading activities, only collecting taxes from them.

Trading was technically illegal under Chinese law, the only trade that was legal was that of tribute missions.Five of these Chinese merchants who had a dispute with the Malaccan Sultan, who had earlier seized their junks and crew to use against the King of Daru in a war, so these merchants gave the junks to the Portuguese who used them to smuggle in soldiers during the attack. After the Portuguese captured and looted the city, they spared the property of the five merchants.When the Malaccan Sultan sent a message to the Emperor of China to ask for help against the Portuguese, the Chinese ordered their tributary Siam (then known as the Ayutthaya Kingdom or Thailand) and other neighbours of Malacca to come to Malacca’s aid and fight the Portuguese, and the Chinese demanded that the Portuguese leave Malacca. The Thai refused to comply with the Chinese order, leaving Malacca with no help, the Chinese then blamed the Thai and other neighbours for Malacca’s fall.The Portuguese feared a Chinese invasion after their capture of the city and they did not send any diplomatic missions to China immediately after the capture, waiting until 1516.

The exiled Malaccan Sultan sent more messages to China when the Portuguese mission arrived in China, and this time, the Chinese took action against the Portuguese.The Malay Malacca Sultanate was a tributary state and ally to Ming Dynasty China. When Portugal conquered Malacca in 1511, the Chinese responded with violence against the Portuguese when Portugal sent the diplomatic ambassador, Tomé Pires in 1516. After Pires reached Beijing in 1520 the Chinese decided to arrest the embassy. The deposed Malaccan Sultan Mahmud Shah sent another message to China, and this time, China responded by executing the Portuguese diplomatic embassy.The Chinese Imperial Government imprisoned and executed multiple Portuguese diplomatic envoys after torturing them in Guangzhou. The Malaccan envoys had informed the Chinese of the Portuguese seizure of Malacca, to which the Chinese responded with hostility toward the Portuguese.

The Malaccans told the Chinese of the deception the Portuguese used, disguising plans for conquering territory as mere trading activities, and told of all the deprivations they had passed at the hands of the Portuguese.Due to the Malaccan Sultan lodging a complaint against the Portuguese invasion to the Chinese Emperor, the Portuguese were greeted with hostility from the Chinese when they arrived in China. The Malaccan Sultan, based in Bintan after fleeing Malacca, sent a message to the Chinese, which combined with Portuguese banditry and violent activity in China, led the Chinese authorities to execute 23 Portuguese and torture the rest of them in jails. After the Portuguese set up posts for trading in China and committed piratical activities and raids in China, the Chinese responded with the complete extermination of the Portuguese in Ningbo and Quanzhou Pires, a Portuguese trade envoy, was among those who died in the Chinese dungeons. While Pires was imprisoned by the Chinese, he wrote that his cause was that of the Catholic religion’s Crusade against Islam and it was worth dying at the hands of the Chinese for his cause.Chinese traders boycotted Portuguese Malacca after it fell to the Portuguese in the Capture of Malacca, some Chinese in Java assisted in Muslim attempts to reconquer the city from Portugal using ships.

The Java Chinese participation in retaking Malacca was recorded in “The Malay Annals of Semarang and Cerbon” The Chinese did business with Malays and Javanese instead of the Portuguese.However, with gradual improvement of relations and aid given against the Japanese Wokou pirates along China’s shores, by 1557 Ming China finally agreed to allow the Portuguese to settle at Macau in a new Portuguese trade colony. The Malay Sultanate of Johor also improved relations with the Portuguese and fought alongside them against the Aceh Sultanate.By the early 17th century, the Dutch East India Company began contesting Portuguese power in the East. At that time, the Portuguese had transformed Malacca into an impregnable fortress, the Fortaleza de Malaca, controlling access to the sea lanes of the Straits of Malacca and the spice trade there. The Dutch started by launching small incursions and skirmishes against the Portuguese.

The first serious attempt was the siege of Malacca in 1606 by the third VOC fleet from Holland with eleven ships, commanded by Admiral Cornelis Matelief de Jonge that led to the naval battle of Cape Rachado. Although the Dutch were routed, the Portuguese fleet of Martim Afonso de Castro, the Viceroy of Goa, suffered heavier casualties and the battle rallied the forces of the Sultanate of Johor into an alliance with the Dutch and later on with the Aceh Sultanate.Around that same time period, the Sultanate of Aceh had grown into a regional power with a formidable naval force and regarded Portuguese Malacca as potential threat. In 1629, Iskandar Muda of the Aceh Sultanate sent several hundred ships to attack Malacca, but the mission was a devastating failure.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.

According to Portuguese sources, all of his ships were destroyed and lost some 19,000 men in the process.The Dutch with their local allies assaulted and finally wrested Malacca from the Portuguese in January 1641. This combined Dutch-Johor-Aceh efforts effectively destroyed the last bastion of Portuguese power, reducing their influence in the archipelago. The Dutch settled in the city as Dutch Malacca, however the Dutch had no intention to make Malacca their main base, and concentrated on building Batavia (today Jakarta) as their headquarters in the orient instead. The Portuguese ports in the spice-producing areas of Mollucas also fell to the Dutch in the following years. With these conquests, the last Portuguese colonies in Asia remained confined to Portuguese Timor, Goa, Daman and Diu in Portuguese India and Macau until the 20th century.

Image of Dr. Oliver Johnson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

The Capture of Malacca in 1511. (2018, September 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“The Capture of Malacca in 1511.” GradesFixer, 13 Sept. 2018,
The Capture of Malacca in 1511. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
The Capture of Malacca in 1511 [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Sept 13 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now