Battle of Diu (1509): Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 20°N 71°E / 20°N 71°E / 20; 71

Battle of Diu
Battle of Diu 1509.jpg
Conflict: Portuguese-Mamluk War
Turkish-Portuguese War
Date: February 3, 1509
Place: Diu, India
Outcome: Decisive Portuguese victory
Flag Portugal (1495).svgPortuguese Empire Mameluke Flag.svg Mamlûk Sultanate
Ottoman Navy1453-1789.svg Ottoman Empire
Kozhikode Zamorin Raja
Gujarat Sultanate
Flag of Most Serene Republic of Venice.svg Republic of Venice
Dubrovnik grb.png Republic of Ragusa
Viceroy Dom Francisco de Almeida Amir Husain Al-Kurdi Mamluk Admiral
Salman Reis Ottoman Admiral
Malik Ayyaz Gujarat Admiral
Kunjali Marakkar Calicut Admiral
18 ships, 12 major vessels
1,300 Europeans
400 Nayars.[1]
12 ships, 4 major vessels. 80 ships of the Zamorin.[1]
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Diu sometimes referred as the Second Battle of Chaul was a naval battle fought on February 3, 1509 in the Indian Sea, near the port of Diu, India, between the Portuguese Empire and a joint fleet of the Mamlûk Burji Sultanate of Egypt, the Ottoman Empire, the Zamorin of Calicut and the Sultan of Gujarat, with technical naval support from the Republic of Venice and the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik).[2]. The Portuguese victory was critical for its strategy of control of the Indian Ocean, setting its trade dominance for almost a century, and thus greatly assisted the growth of the Portuguese Empire. It marks also the beginning of the European colonial dominance in the Asia. It also marks the spillover of the Christian-Islamic power struggle, in Europe and the Middle East, into the Indian Ocean which was the dominant region of international trade at that time.

After this battle, the Portuguese rapidly captured key ports and coastal areas in the Indian Ocean like Mombasa, Socotra, Muscat, Ormuz, Goa, Ceylon and Malacca. This allowed them to circumvent the traditional spice route controlled by the Arabs and the Venetians, and by routing the trade down the Cape of Good Hope, they simultaneously crippled the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and the Gujarat Sultanate. The Portuguese sea monopoly lasted until it was taken during the the Dutch-Portuguese War, the British East India Company and the Battle of Swally in 1612.



Portuguese presence in the Indian Ocean around early 16th century

The Samoothiri Raja (anglicised to Zamorin), was incensed at the Portuguese because of their conduct since Vasco da Gama had landed in his kingdom in 1498, and hence had joined forces with the Sultan of Gujarat.

Since Portuguese naval patrols regularly interdicted supplies of Malabar timber for the Mamlûk Red Sea fleet, the Ottoman Sultan, Beyazid II therefore supplied Egypt with Mediterranean-type war galleys manned by Greek sailors. These vessels which Venetian shipwrights helped disassemble in Alexandria and reassemble on the Red Sea coast, had to brave the Indian Ocean. The galley warriors could mount light guns fore and aft, but not along the gunwales because these cannon would interfere with the rowers. The native ships (dhows), with their sewn wood planks, could carry no heavy guns at all. Hence, most of the coalition's artillery was archers, whom the Portuguese could easily outshoot.

The Egyptian-Ottoman fleet, whom the Portuguese called under the generic term the "rumes", was sent by the Mamluk Sultan, Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri , in 1507 to support, the then Muslim Sultan of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada.


Precursor to the battle

Diu was a critical outpost in the overall spice trade from India. The Mamluks and their European trade partnerrs, the Venetians, had become wealthy from monopolising the flow of spices from India to Europe. The Portuguese attempt to establish trade with India would require the breaking of this strongly defended and lucrative trade network. In 1505 the King of Portugal, Manuel I, encouraged by Vasco da Gama's exploits, sent his first viceroy, Dom Francisco de Almeida with twenty one ships to strengthen the fledgling Portuguese empire in East Africa and India.

The new Mamluk fleet set out for India in 1507, first fortifying Jeddah against a possible Portuguese attack. It then passed through Aden at the tip of the Red Sea, where it received support from the Tahirid sultan, and then, in 1508, crossed the Indian Ocean to the port of Diu.[3]

In addition to enforcing Portuguese rule, the battle was also undertaken as a personnal issue by the viceroy Francisco de Almeida, to avenge the death of is son Lourenço de Almeida in March 1508, after a brave fight against the Mirocem forces (Amir Husain Al-Kurdi) at the first Battle of Chaul in March 1508. Francisco de Almeida was so enraged at his death that he is supposed to have said, "He who ate the chick has also to eat the rooster, or pay for it", aiming at the Mirocem. Francisco de Almeida had to chase the Egyptian fleet to avenge his son's death, because Afonso de Albuquerque arrived on December 6, 1508 with orders from the King of Portugal to replace Almeida as the next viceroy. This plan was such a personal issue that Francisco de Almeida had casted Afonso de Albuquerque in jail after being informed of the king orders empowering him to supersede himself, then advancing to the battle.

At that battle the recently arrived Egyptian fleet, along with the fleet from the Sultan of Gujarat, had surprised the Portuguese fleet over three days of combat. The Egyptian fleet isolated his ship, but let the others escape, taking nine captives back to Diu. The Mirat Sikandari, a Persian account of the Kingdom of Gujarat details this battle as a minor skirmish.[4]


Mamluk Egyptian-Ottoman-Gujarat Fleet

Portuguese ships

  • Five large naus: Flor de la mar (Viceroy's flagship), Espírito Santo (captain Nuno Vaz Pereira), Belém (Jorge de Melo Pereira), Great King (Francisco de Távora), and Great Taforea (Fernão de Magalhães)
  • Four smaller naus: Small Taforea (Garcia de Sousa), Santo António (Martim Coelho), Small King (Manuel Teles Barreto) and Andorinho (Dom António de Noronha)
  • Four caravelas redondas: (captains António do Campo, Pero Cão, Filipe Rodrigues and Rui Soares)
  • Two caravelas Latinas: (captains Álvaro Peçanha and Luís Preto)
  • Two gales: (captains Paio Rodrigues de Sousa and Diogo Pires de Miranda)
  • One bergantim: (captain Simão Martins)

The Portuguese had eighteen ships commanded by the Viceroy, with about 1,500 Portuguese soldiers and 400 natives from Cochin. The Allied side had one hundred ships, but only twelve were major vessels; the rest were small shallow-draught craft. After detecting the Portuguese, who approached from Cochin to the south, and fearing their technical superiority, the Egyptians decided to take advantage of the port of Diu and its fort, which had its own artillery. It was therefore decided to stay anchored at this port and await an attack from the Portuguese. This may also have been due to the training of the Egyptians, who were used to the more sheltered bays in the Mediterranean. There they also relied upon land-based artillery reinforcements to defeat the enemy. The Portuguese started the battle with a massive naval bombardment using their on board artillery, followed by hand-to-hand combat in the harbor of Diu.

These Portuguese ships had guns of greater caliber, better artillery crews, and were better manned and better built. The Portuguese naval infantry also had an advantage over the Egyptians, not only because they were heavily armed and equipped (armor, arquebuses and a type of grenade made of clay with gunpowder inside), but also because they were seasoned professional seamen.

The tough state-of-the art multi-rigged Portuguese carracks and smaller fast caravels had been developed over the previous decades to cope with the storms of the Atlantic Ocean and were bristling with cannons. The smaller Indian Ocean dhows and Mediterranean-type galleys launched by the coalition of the Samoothiri Raja, Gujarat and Egypt were simply no match. The Portuguese ships were able to shoot their powerful cannons and thus dissuade the smaller craft from coming near them. Even when they did come near, the smaller galleys and dhows were low in the water, and so unable to board the Portuguese ships, while being sprayed from above with small arms, grenades and smaller caliber cannon.


The spoils of the battle also included three royal flags of the Mamlûk Sultan of Cairo, that were sent to Portugal and are even today displayed in the Convento de Cristo, in the town of Tomar, spiritual home of the Knights Templar. The Viceroy extracted a payment of 300,000 gold xerafins, but rejected the offer of the city of Diu which he thought would be expensive to maintain, although he left a garrison there. The prisoners from the battle of Chaul were also rescued. The treatment of the Egyptian captives by the Portuguese was brutal. The Viceroy ordered most of them to be hanged, burnt alive or torn to pieces by tying them to the mouths of the cannons, in retaliation for his son's death. Commenting on the battle after winning it, Francisco de Almeida said: "As long as you may be powerful at sea, you will hold India as yours; and if you do not possess this power, little will avail you a fortress on the shore."[5]Interestingly, after handing over the Viceroy's post to his successor, Dom Afonso de Albuquerque, Dom Francisco de Almeida left for Portugal in November, 1509, and in December, 1509 was himself killed by the Khoikhoi tribe, near the Cape of Good Hope.

This battle did not end the Portuguese-Ottoman rivalry. A second naval battle occurred in the Siege of Diu in 1538 when the Turks laid siege to the fortress built by the Portuguese in 1535 with 54 ships, but then for some reason lifted the siege. Suleiman I the Magnificent had sent his admiral Hussein Pasha for another siege of the fortress at Diu in 1547 which, up on failing, marked the end of Ottoman attempts to expand their influence in the Indian Ocean.


  1. ^ a b Malabar manual by William Logan p.316 [1]


  • ^  Rogers, Clifford J. Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe, San Francisco:Westview Press, 1995, pp. 299–333 [6]
  • ^  Brummett, Palmira.Ottoman Seapower and Levantine Diplomacy in the Age of Discovery, SUNY Press, New York, 1994, ISBN 0791417018 , pp. 35, 171,22
  • ^  de Camões, Luís. The Lusiadas, 288pp, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002, ISBN 0192801511, 254
  • ^  Bayley, Edward C. The Local Muhammadan Dynasties: Gujarat, London, 1886, 222
  • ^  Ghosh, Amitav The Iman and the Indian: Prose Pieces, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 2002, ISBN 8175300477, 377pp, 107
  • Monteiro, Cmdr. Saturnino ,Batalhas e Combates da Marinha Portuguesa, Vol. I, A.N.C., Library Sá da Costa Editor, Lisbon 2001
  • Kerr, Robert, General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, arranged in a systematic order, 1881, 14 vols.At Project Gutenberg, Columbia University

Additional readings

  • Subrahmanyan, Sanjay. The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 1500-1700 - A Political and Economic History, 384pp, Longmans, London, 1993, ISBN 0582050685
  • Brummett, Palmira.Ottoman Seapower and Levantine Diplomacy in the Age of Discovery, SUNY Press, New York, 1994, ISBN 0791417018
  • Kuzhippalli-Skaria, Mathew. Portuguese and the Sultanate of Gujarat, 1500-1573, 263pp, Mittal Publishers & Distr., New Delhi, 1986,

See also


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address