GREAT FIGURES OF THE MISSIONARY WORK – Bengal and the Kingdom of the Dragon (90)

– Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

Despite the loss of resources derived from the annexation by Spain of the entire national territory in 1580, feared and respected remained the Portuguese strain throughout the Mogul empire, a fact that would curb the strong man of the new emperor.

He was aware of the attacks on Portuguese possessions made over the last one hundred and thirty years, either by Indian princes or by the Mughals themselves; and they had something in common: they were all in vain.

An example of the denial of the unbeatability of these people was the rise of Dianga and Sandwip. It is in this context that a Martim de Melo appears on the scene (was he related to Afonso de Melo, one of Hugli’s first settlers?), a renegade captain with unresolved issues or adjustments to accounts in Hugli. Tireless in his purpose, he tried to entice Shaista Khan to proceed with the onslaught, beckoning him with the valuable wealth existing in the Augustinian monastery and in the House of the Society of Jesus.

In addition, he painted his compatriots as people who were so rich, brushing the decay, living in addiction, growing up with concubines, even effeminate. Caricatures, by the way, are in line with what is shown in the pages of the very accurate Diogo de Couto’s “Soldado Prático.” Melo also reassured Khan about an eventual use of the king of Arrakan, who could attack the Mohogany troops from the rear, to the east, while they fought with those of Hugli, to the west.

This was a hypothesis to be discarded – assured Martim de Melo – because the monsoon would prevent the Arracanese fleet from taking to the sea. Furthermore, Tiri-tu-dama, king of Arrakan, had no commitment to help the Portuguese in Hugli. This peculiar episode is reported in a letter dated 12 November 1633 that João Cabral would send to the Superior of the Jesuit House in Cochin. This is a face-to-face report, in contrast to another source at the time, a letter from Sebastião Manrique’s work that at that time was in Dianga and from there reported what happened.