Afonso de Albuquerque (1453-1515) was a Portuguese admiral made historically famous for his conquering of various African, Indian, and Southeast Asian locales as well as establishing a Portuguese influence in the East during the Age of Exploration. He is essentially Portugal's hegemonic hero. Much to the dismay of British, who had enough problems pronouncing his name already, the Portuguese slapped on an epitaph of "the great" to make him Afonso de Albuquerque the Great, a name by which he is known by today.

Born in 1453, Afonso was the grandson of both a former Portuguese admiral on his maternal side and a confidential secretary to King John I on his paternal side. During the 1470s and 1480s, Afonso established his military career by campaigning in North Africa against Muslims. All of his fame, however, rests on his activities outside of Europe.

After Vasco de Gama returned to Portugal in 1499 with vast riches from his expedition in the Indian Ocean, Portugal was eager to spread their influence in hopes of outflanking the Muslims and hoarding maritime trade. Afonso was one of the men sent to do just that. He voyaged to Southwest India and built the first Portuguese fortress in Asia, a landmark event in imperial history.

In 1506 and 1507, Afonso was a busy man. He spent most his days exploring and raiding the east African shores. One of his major military victories was capturing the island of Socotra, impeding Arabian trade with India. After further ravaging of coastlines in Persia, he captured another island, Hormoz. By now, his soldiers were getting tired of the conquest and began deserting. His momentum lost, Afonso returned to India, only to find himself thrown in prison due to politics.

After a year in the slammer, Afonso was released and promptly appointed to the head of the Portuguese navy in India. In 1510 he went on to capture Goa, which would become a central location of Portuguese influence in trading with India and fighting against the Muslims. After setting up a government for Goa, he ventured off into the ocean and conquered Malacca, giving the Portuguese Empire access all the way to Southeast Asia. On his way back to Goa in 1515, he discovered he had been replaced. Bitter, he died aboard ship before he returned home.


Sources: http://www.goanet.com/text/general/albuquerque.htm http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0803115.html

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