Why the Portuguese administrators in India tried to stop the handover of Bombay to the British

Luis Dias in Scroll.in:

From our school days, it is drilled into us Indians that Bombay was gifted by the Portuguese to the British as a wedding present when Charles II of England married Catherine of Braganza. There was, however, much more to the royal union than the one-line summary suggests. It was 360 years ago, on June 23, 1661, that the Luso-English treaty was endorsed during the regency of Dona Luisa de Gusmão. The treaty, which sealed the union of Charles II (1630-1685) and Catarina de Bragança (1638-1705), included several articles and clauses that had more to do with diplomacy than marital bliss. Under article 11, the Portuguese gave up the “seven islands” of Bombay in exchange for English military help to defend the pepper port of Cochin and recover the island of Ceylon. Also under the treaty, England secured Tangier in North Africa, trading privileges in Brazil and the East Indies, religious and commercial freedom in Portugal, and two million Portuguese crowns (about £300,000). In return, Portugal obtained British military and naval support (which would prove to be decisive) in her fight against Spain and liberty of worship for Catherine.

Under article 14, Portugal agreed to share Ceylon and its cinnamon trade with the English Company. In exchange, England agreed to mediate between Portugal and Holland, leading to a Luso-Dutch peace treaty in August 1661. The peace did not last. The Dutch took advantage of the expected delay between the signing of the treaty with Portugal and its ratification on the ground to lay siege to Cochin with a massive flotilla. Lisbon was caught unawares by the treachery and, to worsen the crisis, the promised English military help never arrived. Cochin fell in January 1663 and Cranganore (modern-day Kodungallue in Kerala) a month later. By the time news of the Luso-Dutch treaty actually arrived, it was too late. Frantic efforts by the Estado da Índia (State of India) to halt the handover of Bombay to the perfidious English were overruled by Lisbon. In protest, no Goa official went to Bombay to sign the handover agreement on February 18, 1665.

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