The southern Hindus and the northern Muslims were often at war with each other. Horses were essential for the armies of the Indian rulers. Very few good horses, however, were bred in India and there was a large trade in Arab imports.
Goa was one of the finest harbours in the world, protected from storms and easily defensible. Those who voluntarily brought horses to be sold at Goa and those who purchased horses there were given customs concessions on their other cargoes.
The strongest resistance to the Portuguese came from Calicut. In 1506, many of these Arab traders, fearful of the Portuguese, sold up the long-established businesses they had in the Zamorin’s domain.
The Portuguese were the dominant power in the Indian Ocean for a century. The Portuguese reserved certain monopolies, such as that on spices, to themselves. The only major challenge came in 1538 from a Turkish fleet, which the Portuguese defeated.
Albuquerque’s policy of being helpful to the Vijayanagar kings proved extremely useful to the Portuguese. Vijayanagar forced Adil Shah out of much of the mainland adjacent to Goa and then encouraged the Portuguese to occupy it.
The Portuguese were then able, by backing one of the contestants for the throne of the Adil Shahs, to obtain a formal treaty giving them the territories of Bardez and Salcete. These acquisitions more than quadrupled the area of Goa.
Outside the city of Old Goa, 30 village communities continued to administer themselves much as before. 2,000 Portuguese a year came out to India (however, few Portuguese women came to India.) Many did not even survive the journey out and mortality in India was dreadful. At the end of the sixteenth century, the population of Old Goa was about 75,000.
The men took concubines – some of whom they married – and women slaves. Goa relied on a huge population of slaves. A relatively low-ranking Portuguese might have had twenty slaves. It was a favourite destination for the illegitimate sons of the aristocracy. Those who survived often did make their fortunes, for Goa was the hub of the Portuguese empire and accumulating money was easy.
The Catholic Church did all it could to aid the Portuguese conquest. Great difficulties were encountered in finding enough men to crew the ships and man the army. Convicts were allowed to work out their sentences in the Colonial Army. They also received free indulgences from the church so that, if they were to die, their passage to heaven would be all the swifter.
In 1540, proselytisation began in earnest with the destruction of all Hindu temples. The following year the Church expropriated all temple land. The lake temple and its idols were demolished. In 1542, the first Jesuit arrived at Goa. In one month the charismatic Francis Xavier was said to have converted over 10,000 villagers in southern Malabar.
Francis Xavier died off the coast of China in 1552. Before Francis Xavier died, he asked the Pope to establish the Inquisition in Goa. The Inquisition investigated 16,172 cases before it was abolished for the first time in 1774. It was revived in a modified, less draconian form, in 1778 before being finally abolished in 1812. Most of its records were destroyed – probably deliberately.
There were also converted Muslims and Jews. Many Hindus had converted to Christianity and mass baptisms on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul became a feature of life in Goa. Some Hindus, particularly from the oppressed lower castes, converted voluntarily. Some Hindus, since land could only be inherited by those who could prove they were the offspring of a Christian marriage, encouraged some of their family to convert.
Many of these converts to Christianity kept some of their old customs and beliefs. It is not possible to calculate either how many ‘heretics’ were burnt at the stake or the much greater number that died in the dungeons.
After the Vijayanagar Empire was overrun by the Muslims in 1565, the Muslim rulers united to attack the Portuguese forts. This culminated in a ten-month siege of Goa in 1570. The Portuguese survived and continued to control much of the Indian Ocean and much of the spice trade.
During the 16th century, the Portuguese built an extraordinary number of factories and forts in India. These forts were there to protect the factories and enforce a monopoly on the purchase of spices and other designated goods. Many were huge and had large garrisons.
Working in coordination with the Portuguese navy, these forts were able to monitor virtually all shipping arriving and departing from India’s ports. They enforced the rule that all ships on the Indian Ocean must carry a Portuguese permit, a cartaz.
Finding men for its ships, was not easy for a country such as Portugal, which had a population of only 1 million. Portuguese were ploughing many of their resources into the development of Brazil. Despite its control of the high seas, the Portuguese failed to achieve total control over the spice trade from Venice. All this was set to change with the arrival of the Dutch and the British.
The strongest resistance to the Portuguese came from Calicut. After early efforts to effect a truce with the Portuguese, the Zamorins of Calicut became their greatest adversaries. In this, they were helped by a dynasty of able naval commanders, the Kunjali Marakkars. The Kunjali Marakkars were Moplas, local Muslims, who had become rich merchants. Unlike the foreign Muslims, they were keen to resist the Portuguese. They offered their services to the Hindu Zamorin, became the admirals of his fleet and began to harass Portuguese shipping.
The old Zamorin died. His successor was more sympathetic to the Portuguese, thinking he could come to an arrangement with them. He concluded a treaty with Albuquerque and allowed the Portuguese to build a fort at Calicut. All went well until the death of Albuquerque. The Portuguese then began to violate the terms of their treaty. They used force to obtain preference for their spice exports and they also seized some Indian vessels. In 1522, this Zamorin who was friendly to the Portuguese died. The new Zamorin instructed his navy to attack the Portuguese. The Kunjali Marakkars and in particular one of their captains, Kutti Ali, did this to great effect.
Realising that they could not compete on equal terms with the Portuguese warships, the Zamorin’s commanders built large numbers of small boats, rowed by thirty or forty men, to make guerrilla attacks. Bags of cotton were hung over the sides of the boats to give some protection from small arms fire. The heavy cannon of the Portuguese were designed to attack ships similar to their own and they found it difficult to pinpoint the smaller vessels. Even a successful hit only disabled one boat in a swarm. The Indians hid hundreds of these little boats along the Malabar Coast.
They posted lookouts on vantage points to spot Portuguese shipping that came close to the shore. An elaborate signalling system was established to link these points with each other and with the flotillas of boats below. The Portuguese were particularly vulnerable when the winds dropped. The Indian boats would be rowed out at speed to the becalmed warships. They would send fire arrows into the enemy’s sails, then board on all sides. The Portuguese would usually be heavily outnumbered and cut to pieces by the Indian swordsmen. Sometimes the Indians were victorious in battle; sometimes the Portuguese.
The battles between the Portuguese and the Zamorin’s admirals, the Marakkars, went on until the late 16th century. Towards the close of that century, however, relations between the Zamorins and the Marakkars deteriorated. Mohammed Kunjali Marakkar then overreached himself. He began to operate independently of the Zamorin and finally declared himself Raja of Kotta. The Portuguese saw their opportunity and began negotiations with the Zamorin to launch a joint attack on Kotta. By combining with the Portuguese to defeat Marakkar, the Zamorin secured his own eclipse. The last great power to oppose the Portuguese on the coast of Malabar no longer had an effective navy.
Syrian-Malabar Nazarani (or Saint Thomas) Christians of the East have a Hebrew or Israelite (Jewish) heritage but their past is hazy, making it difficult to ascertain their exact origins. Most of the Nasranis might be mixed of Indian, Jewish west-Asian Semitic ancestry through proven historic and genetic evidence.
Cranganore (coastline of Mangalapuram to Kodungallur) became one of the earliest settlements of the Jewish diaspora from the later Old Testament period. They continued trade with the Mediterranean world, thus establishing a strong link between the southern coast of the Indian peninsula and the Judeo-Roman world. The legend is that the apostol- Saint Thomas, the disciple of Jesus Christ, landed in A.D. 52 at Maliankara near Cranganore and preached the gospel. It is believed that he visited different parts of Kerala and converted a good number of local inhabitants, including many from the literate upper-caste Nambudiri Brahmans.
An added fillip to the growth of the Church took place when a group of about 400 people migrated from Syria in 345 AD and joined the then existing Kerala Church. The leader of this group was Thomas of Kana. The descendants of this group even today maintain their separate identity,and are known as Kananites. Syrian Christians remained as an independent group, and they got their bishops from Eastern Orthodox Church in Antioch in Syria.
Much of their Jewish tradition has been forgotten, especially after the Portuguese invasion of Kerala in the early 1500s. The Judeo-Nasrani tradition of the Syro-Malabar Nasranis was wiped out when the Portuguese invaded Kerala, and denounced the Nasrani account of Christian faith as false. They imposed their European or rather Roman Catholic rituals and liturgy and obliterated the Jewish legacy from the Nasrani tradition. since the Indians were suspected of being heretics by the Portuguese missionaries the Syrian Chaldean patriarch was removed from jurisdiction in India and replaced by a Portuguese bishop & the Syrian liturgy of Addai and Mari was “purified from error”. The climax of this was what is known as "Synod of Udayamperur". Most of all, the Portuguese burned the Nasrani Aramaic Peshitta Bible known today as the Lost Aramaic Bible that was based on the Jewish Targum and included the Gospel of the Nazoraeans. In 1653 there was a re-affirmation of allegiance to the Syrian Orthodox tradition in front of an improvised cross at Mattanchery. This event is popularly known as' Coonan Kurisu Satyam' (Oath taken on a bent cross).
There are Roman Catholics converted by European missionaries known as Latin Roman Catholics. There is also Roman Catholic group called "Reethu" (Malankara Roman Rite) or the Malankara Syrian Rite.The Roman Catholic Church went through it's own evolutionary struggles after the Portuguese power declined in India. In 1662 the Dutch took over Cochin from the Portuguese.
The CSI Church in Kerala had its beginnings mostly from Anglican missionaries who had converted the local population. However later on they united with the Basil Mission, Presbyterians and Baptists and formed the group called Church of South India. Travancore-Cochin Anglican church is a break away faction from CSI going back to 1966.Brotherans, a break away faction from the Baptists have their headquarters in Kumbanadu near Thiruvalla.
Salvation Army originated in London England in 1878. DeivaSabha was started by a methodist priest from the U.S.A in 1884. A Kerala branch was established in 1910. Russel church , otherwise called 'Jehovaha's witnesses was started by C.T.Russel in U.S.A. The Kerala branch was established in Mallappalli in 1925. Lutheran mission run by followers of reformist Martin Luther established themselves in Perurkkada near Trivandrum in 1911.They operate in some 70 centers in sothern Travancore.
Kerala Mar Thoma Church formed when a fraction of Syrian Christian Church of Kerala move to the Protestant side as you can see there are lots of reunion, shifting alliances and breakaways. all struggling for power and dominance throughout history
(The Syrian Orthodox and Syrian Jacobites are referred together as Syrian Christians today.)
note: the names Malabar Coast and Kerela here are synonymous)
note: The long-standing Arab and Jewish contact with the coastal areas of India has left its permanent mark in the form of several communities. These communities came into existence through the marriage of local women to Arab sailors (The Muslim Mappilas) and traders and conversion of early Jews to Christianity (Nasrani Christians). Malabar and Kochi were the most important states on the western coast of India where the Arabs and Jews found a fertile soil for their trade activities. The Muslim community, which arose in Malabar as a result of the contact are refered to as Mappilas. There is also an argument that Mappila was shortened form of Margapilla (Margam means 'the way') in Tamil/Malayalam referred to the Nasranis or early Christians of Kerala.
The Arab, Greek and Jewish contact with Malabar existed from at least the 10th century BC. This contact became predominant in the post-Roman period. Therefore the history of the Mappilas goes back to the Pre-Islamic period. In the Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Khan Bahadur Fazlullah Faridi, mentions the settlement of pre-Islamic Arabs in Chaul, Kalyan Supara and Malabar Coast and Arab merchants passing along the Coromandel Coast on their way to China. When Islam spread among the Arabs, the Arab traders brought it to Malabar during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
Most Mappila Muslims follow the Shafi'i school of Muslim Jurisprudence (in contrast to the Hanafi school followed by most South Asian Muslims). The partition Movement to form Pakistan (which drew its strongest support from Muslims in northern India) received a lukewarm reception amongst Muslims in Kerala though relatively few Mappilas migrated to Pakistan following partition.
by the way:
Within the Sunni Muslim tradition, Hanafi is one of four “schools of law” and considered the oldest and most liberal school of law. The Hanafi school also has the most followers among the four major Sunni schools. The other three schools of thought are Shafi'i, Maliki, and Hanbali. The Shaf'i school is considered the easiest school and the Hanbali is considered the hardest in terms of social and personal rules.
The Hanafi madhhab is named after its founder, Imam Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit, it is the major school of Iraqi Sunni Arabs. It makes considerable use of reason or opinion in legal decisions. Sunni Hanafi creed is essentially non-hierarchial and decentralized, which has made it difficult for 20th century rulers to incorporate its religious leaders into strong centralized state systems. Abu Hanifa's interpretation of Muslim law was extremely tolerant of differences within Muslim communities and he also separated belief from practice. In his lifetime Abu Hanifa was disgraced, called ignorant, inventor of new beliefs, hypocrite and kafir. He was imprisoned and poisoned. Most of the Hanafi school follows al-Maturidi in doctrine, which is also followed by the Taliban
The Shafi'iyyah school of Islamic law was named after Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i (767-819). The school of Imam Abu Abd Allah Muhammad Shafii of the Quraysh tribe of the Prophet, brought up in Mecca. Imam Shafi`i was called devil and imprisoned.)
Note: Nair caste in Kerala traditionally practiced inheritance through the female line