Count Ericeira’s Letter of 1741: A Recently Discovered Document on the History of Portuguese India in the Moravian Regional Archives in Brno

Karel Staněk1
Michal Wanner2


The present text discusses the broad context surrounding an excerpt from a letter from the fourth Count of Ericeira to the Portuguese ambassador in France, Luís da Cunha, dated 1741. Found in the Moravian Regional Archives in Brno, in the Czech Republic, this letter is an important contribution to the study of the Portuguese-Maratha wars, which began in the 1660s and lasted until the 1740s. The significance of the document lies in its description of not very widely documented events occurring toward the end of the Portuguese-Maratha wars. Most studies end with the events of 1739, i.e., with the occupation by the Marathas of the Portuguese Northern Province (Província do Norte).


Estado da Índia, Província do Norte, Portugal, Count Ericeira, Marathas


O texto apresentado analisa o contexto alargado no qual se insere um excerto de uma carta do quarto Conde de Ericeira, enviado, em 1741, para Luís da Cunha, embaixador português em França. Esta carta foi encontrada no Arquivo Regional da Morávia em Brno, República Checa. É uma contribuição para o estudo das guerras entre os Portugueses e os Maratas que começaram na década de 60 do século XVII e demoraram até aos anos 40 do século XVIII. O interesse do documento reside na descrição de eventos não muito amplamente documentados do período tardio das guerras luso-maratas. A maioria dos estudos termina em 1739, ou seja, no momento da ocupação da Província do Norte pelos Maratas.


Estado da Índia, Província do Norte, Portugal, Conde de Ericeira, Maratas

The Czech archives are not normally included amongst the sources used by Czech or foreign researchers in the field of Oriental and African studies. This is understandable when we take into account the fact that the archives in the Czech Republic usually just contain records relating to the development of the territory of the Czech Republic and its historical predecessors. The documents on the history of Asia and Africa that are to be found in the Czech archives are not, indeed, very numerous and often only partially cover certain events or phenomena. Some of these documents do, however, merit greater attention. At least in the case of two central archives, namely the National Archives in Prague and the Moravian Regional Archives in Brno, it has already been possible, for a number of years, to access such sources using special finding aids (Soupis materiálu, 1966; Soupis k dějinám, 1972; Smutná, 1975).

The documents discovered using these search aids fall roughly into three types: documents originating from the activities of religious orders and fraternities, most of which were closely linked to missionary activities, form the most comprehensive group; reports collected through the activities of individuals, mostly explorers, collectors, and technical experts, form another group; documents linked to exile and emigration to the countries concerned, and to the economic and social relations with these, form a much smaller number of sources. The last named group’s time frame mostly spans the period from the nineteenth to the twentieth century (Wanner, 2008: 21-37).

The document that is the subject of interest in our study belongs to the first of these groups; its character, nevertheless, differs from the other sources in the sense that it is not linked to missionary activities. Comments on the state of the East Indies are brought to light here, extracted from a letter from Francisco Xavier de Meneses, the fourth Count of Ericeira, to Dom Luís da Cunha, the Portuguese king’s envoy to the King of France. The Count of Ericeira received the letter, from which the information is taken, from his son, the fifth Count of Ericeira and the Viceroy of the East Indies, Luís Carlos de Meneses.3 The document is stored in the archive group “Brno Jesuits” deposited in the Moravian Regional Archives in Brno. The archive group was accessed by the inventory of 1954 (Švábenský, 1954).

The significance of the document lies in its description of not very widely documented events that occurred toward the end of the Portuguese-Maratha Wars. Its importance is further enhanced by the fact that the theme itself is one that is less frequently discussed. The main studies that have been made on this issue are the problematic works by Panduronga S. S. Pissurlenkar, written from the Maratha perspective. Moreover, most of the studies end with the events of 1739, i.e., with the occupation by the Marathas of the Portuguese Northern Province (Província do Norte).

The Count of Ericeira’s letter describes the events that took place in Goa shortly after May 18, 1741, when, after a strenuous trip lasting one year and six days, the new viceroy, Dom Luís Carlos de Meneses, the fifth Count of Ericeira and the first Marquis of Louriçal, arrived in Goa to take over power from his predecessor Pedro de Mascarenhas, the Count of Sandomil. The arrival of the new viceroy and the accompanying important military help had been determined by the continuing uneasiness caused by the pressure from the Marathas (Pissurlenkar, 1975: 351, 449-450, note 27).4

The uneasy relationship between the Portuguese and the Marathas dated back to long before this letter. The armies of Shivaji Bhonsle had already threatened the territory east of Goa on the Konkan Coast in the 1660s and 1670s. In 1683, Shivaji’s son Sambhaji, who was even more aggressive, had nearly plundered Goa, which was saved only by the arrival of the Mughal army. According to the Jesuit Francisco de Sousa, the Indian Viceroy Francisco de Távora, the Count of Alvor, was so scared that he ordered the tomb of St. Francis Xavier in Bom Jesus church to be opened and asked the saint for help (Disney, 2009b: 303). The Muslim Mughals acted as the guards of a unified India, while the Marathas sought to protect Hinduism. In February 1684, the Mughals compelled Sambhaji to make peace in Phonda (also Pondá). Under the terms of this peace treaty, the Marathas were awarded the taxes received from Bassein and Daman. The treaty also restricted the potential cooperation of the Portuguese with the Mughals (Subrahmanyam, 1993: 194-195). In 1689, Sambhaji was defeated by the Mughal army and killed.

Later, the Portuguese had other conflicts with Khonaji (Kamhoji) Angria, a Maratha chieftain and the founder of the Angrias Dynasty. He governed the western regions of the Maratha Confederation between Bombay and Wingurla (Vengurla), which included various ports, except for the possessions of the Muslim Siddis of Murud-Janjira,5 who sided with the Mughal Empire. At a time of internal disorder within the Maratha Confederation, which ended with the assumption of power by the peshwa (prime minister) Balaji Baji Rao I in 1720 – who effectively ruled in place of the chattrapati (king) –, the Angrias gained de facto autonomy and considered the territories in the southern part of the Konkan Coast as their own, even though these were dependent domains. European historians tend to refer to them as pirates, but this term is not completely justified. Following the Portuguese example, the Angrias attacked all ships whose captains had not bought their protective passports (cartazes). Many Portuguese ships sailing to Bassein had to buy such documents (dastak), which were considered as humiliating in Goa (Boxer, 1969: 137).

Relations between the Portuguese and the Marathas took a sudden turn for the worse in the 1720s. In 1717, the Marathas plundered Salsette Island, and a year later the Portuguese took their revenge on the Angrias. In 1721, a joint English-Portuguese attack on one of the Angria fortresses—Colaba (now the southernmost district of Bombay)—ended in failure (Danvers, 1892: 78). Portuguese-Maratha skirmishes were repeatedly interrupted by truces signed in 1724, 1728, and 1732 (Lobato, 1965: 73-126).

In 1720, the peshwa Balaji Baji Rao I took advantage of the break-up of the Mughal Empire and embarked on extensive wars of aggression. In the first half of the 1730s, this expansion, predominantly directed toward the territory to the north of Maharasthra, also reached down to the Konkan Coast. In 1733, Balaji Baji Rao besieged the large naval fortress of Murud-Janjira, which had already been occupied for more than one hundred and sixty years by the Siddis, who maintained their African identity. The Siddis held the fortress against all newcomers, be they the Shivaji, the Portuguese, the Dutch or the English. They recognized the sovereignty of the Mughals and, in the years following Shivaji’s death (in 1680), expanded their territorial domains, including most of the central and northern Konkan coastal plains. They acted as the main rivals of the Angrias. Badji Rao’s units did not occupy Janjira, because they lost the naval support of the Angrias due to a dispute over inheritance. Nevertheless, they occupied a large part of the surrounding territories in the so-called Elephant War—a profitable agreement of 1736 that bestowed the theoretical control of all Siddi territories, except for Janjira, Anjanwel and Gowalkot, upon the Marathas (Gordon, 1993: 123; Mehta, 2005: 109-113).

The peaceful relations between the Portuguese and the Marathas began to fluctuate from 1732 onward, being interrupted firstly by the Maratha attacks on Goa, Bassein, Chaul and Salsette Island, and secondly, in 1734-1735, by the massive Maratha aggression of 1737. In order to prevent support being sent from Goa to Bassein by sea, they attacked Goa itself. Their forces under Dadaji Bhave Nurgunker, Venkatrao Ghorpade and Jivaji Shinde crossed Dighi Ghat and started a far-flung, multithreaded attack on the territory of Salsette (Mhamai, 1984: 40-41). In 1737, the Portuguese lost the fort of Tana (Thane), built on Salsette Island in 1734 to afford better protection to Bassein. The fortress in Chaul fell in April 1740 to the hands of the Marathas (Dighe, 1944: 43-48, 154-191). After a three-month siege, Bassein, the capital of the Northern Province, capitulated on May 23, 1739. Goa gathered together enough food reserves for a mere two months, and only escaped a similar fate thanks to a large ransom paid through the sale of Chaul. The peace treaty, signed on September 18, 1740, at Poona, handed the towns of Cahul, Karanje, Bandore, Bassein, Mahim, Tana, Chaul and Varsova (also Versova) over to the Marathas. The regions of Bardês and Salsette were returned to the Portuguese on condition that they paid the Marathas 40% of their local taxes. The Portuguese also retained Daman and held the right to trade across the Western Ghats, but, in the course of several months, lost the territory between Varsova Island and Daman and had to agree to the presence of Maratha troops in Pondá (Lobato, 2004: 327-329; Melo, 2013: 683). Thus, the Portuguese lost the whole of the Northern Province, the sole region in India where they also controlled an inland region with a highly developed agriculture. In total, the lost territory amounted to an area of 145 x 35 km, with eight towns, 377 villages, 20 fortresses and a tax revenue of 32 contos. The Portuguese prestige in India suffered a huge blow and the Estado da Índia began to change from a great maritime power into a regional power. What contributed to the success of the Marathas was, first of all, the gradual disintegration of the Mughal Empire, beginning at the start of the eighteenth century and culminating in the sack of Delhi by the Persian army of Nader Shah in 1739, and, second, the indirect English support to the Marathas in the form of supplies of military material (SIM, 2009: 56, 64). The fate of the remainder of the Estado da Índia hung by a thread (Alden, 1996: 593).

Of key importance for the further development of the Portuguese colonies was the rise of the Hingnikar Bhonsles. In 1720, when Balaji Baji Rao I was appointed peshwa, one of his chiefs, Raghuji Bhonsle, took hold of the Berar region (Berar—now northeastern Maharastra). He agreed to keep 5,000 cavalrymen in favor of Balaji Baji Rao’s uncle Shahu Raja. In the 1720s, Raghuji Bhonsle mostly operated in Berar and in Gondwana (the eastern part of Berar and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh). In the 1730s, he hired some soldiers and became involved in various conflicts in the Gond Kingdom, the capital of which was Nagpur. In the 1740s, Raghuji came to power there, but he held the Gond king a prisoner, as a titular head of state. In the end, he was the only one of the Maratha chieftains to declare himself independent of the peshwa and became one of his fiercest opponents (Gordon, 1993: 124). In the course of the 1730s, Raghuji supported the incursions and collection of taxes in the East and North East, up to the coastal region of Odisha (former Orissa) and all of Gondwana; in the 1740s, his units attacked Bengal (Wink, 1986: 108-109).

Other members of the Bhonsle family, Ramchandra Sawant and Jairam Sawant, the semi-independent Sawants of Wadi (also Sawantvadi, Sawantvandi) ruling in the region along the frontier with the territory of Bardês, i.e. between the Portuguese and the Maratha territories, were on good terms with the Portuguese when the Marathas attacked Salsette as part of their Bassein campaign. This can be discerned from the letter of thanks sent by Viceroy Sandomil to the Sawantvadi rulers on February 16, 1739. The Sawants of Wadi were repeatedly declared vassals of the Portuguese Crown (1699, 1712, 1726, 1736), but they finally took advantage of the calamitous situation in which the Portuguese were now involved. At the beginning of March, they informed the Portuguese that the peshwa Balaji Baji Rao I was pressing them to attack the territory of Bardês. They were able to disobey this order, if the Portuguese agreed to surrender to the Bhonsles the islands of Korjuva (also Kharjuvem) and Paneli, and also exempt them from the payment of an annual tribute of 1,000 rupees. Besides this, the expenses that the Bhonsles had incurred during more than two to three months in safeguarding the territory of Bardês against a possible attack by the Maratha forces would be paid back to them. The demands of the Sawantvadi rulers were rejected by the Portuguese (Mhamai, 1984: 41).

While the above negotiations were being conducted with the Portuguese, the Sawantvadi rulers began concentrating their troops at Alorna. Even after receiving notice of this movement well in advance, the government of Goa was not in a position to safeguard the province of Bardês and defend it against the Bhonsles’ attack. There was only one company of sixty grenadiers and one company of light infantry to defend all the frontiers in Goa and Bassein (Mhamai, 1984: 42).

So, at the same time as the Portuguese were defending Bassein, the Bhonsles’ army attacked Bardês early in the morning of March 5, 1739 and, on March 12, 1740, occupied all of the Bardês province, including the island of Korjuva, and all its fortresses, except for Aguada and Reis Magos. Goa found itself in danger of falling. Viceroy Sandomil attempted to remedy this situation. He sought the alliance of Nagoba Sawant Bhonsle, who was opposed to the Sawantvadi rulers, his brother Ramchandra Sawant, and his nephew Jairam Sawant (Mhamai, 1984: 155-157, 179)6 but he soon recognized that this alliance would bring  the wrath of all the Bhonsles upon them. Therefore, he preferred to negotiate a peace treaty between Nagoba and his relatives. Under the scope of this treaty, the Portuguese gave the village of Pirna to the Bhonsles in exchange for the island of Paneli, and promised to provide the Sawantvadi rulers, whenever necessary, with gunpowder and bullets for a price, in exchange for the promise of free shipping (Mhamai, 1984: 42-43).

The Portuguese also sought the mediation of the English in all dealings with the Maratha chiefs, and confirmed their role as guarantors of the results achieved so far. But the possibilities open to the Viceroy were very limited because of the serious lack of all kinds of resources. The Sawantvadi troops restricted themselves to launching separate attacks against Bardês and the island of Goa in February 1741. The Count of Sandomil therefore impatiently awaited the arrival of reinforcements from Europe (Pissurlenkar, 1975: 351, 354).

In June 1741, Dom Luís Carlos Inácio Xavier de Meneses, the fifth Count of Ericeira (1689-1742), replaced him as viceroy. This man, descended from a family of grandees,had already held the office of viceroy and general captain of the Indies in the years 1717-1720 (the third viceroyship). Like other viceroys in the period of 1701-1757, the time of the “aristocratisation of the title and the appointment of viceroys” (Cunha, Monteiro, 1995: 91-120, quotation 103), he was granted the title of the first Marquis of Louriçal, as a reward for his willingness to take up this post again (the seventh viceroyship; Sim, 2011: 71).

The new viceroy was equipped with royal instructions that showed that the king, João V, was well informed about what was happening in India. The document advised Ericeira to make plans to retake the Northern Province, lest the capital should be in danger. Since the terms had already been signed, Ericeira was to consult with the outgoing viceroy and others to reassess the need for these to be overthrown if they had been prejudicial to the Estado. The final decision was to be entrusted to him (Pissurlenkar, 1975: 459-60).

Ericeira alone had thoroughly studied the situation in India even in his first viceroyship, leaving a clear record in his instructions to his successor Francisco José de Sampaio e Castro. He indicated that the Mughals and some of their allies were concerned that the commerce and the activities of some of their hostile vassals had resulted in losses for their merchants. He was convinced of the need to build alliances with other local powers, even the minor ones. He spoke of the need to “play politics among the mouros (Muslims) and the Europeans” (Sim, 2011: 84).

After his arrival, the Marquis was accommodated in Panjim Palace at first, not in Reis Magos College, where the viceroys usually stayed. This precaution was adopted due to reported threats from enemies in the vicinity of the college. On June 1, 1741, the new viceroy majestically entered Goa and, on the same date, issued orders that the province occupied by their enemies would be recaptured. He brought with him 2,000 men, four infantry battalions, one company of grenadiers and a brigade of sipahis,7 who set up camp on the site called Karepa, on Chorão Island. All of this military equipment and the European troops were brought by the Portuguese fleet of six ships. Two of these were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Dom Luís de Pierrepont and Lieutenant Colonel José Caetano de Matos, both infantry officials. The former had already distinguished himself through his bravery (Mhamai, 1984: 49).

In June 1741, the viceroy gave orders to mobilize his armed forces for the reconquest of the province of Bardês. On June 13, 1741, before daybreak, the sipahis commanded by Manuel Soares Velho, who had their camp on the island of Chodan, reached Korjuva Island without encountering any enemy opposition. Later on, the Portuguese infantry also arrived at the same place (Pissurlenkar, 1975: 451).

In the narrow area between Karepa and Korjuva, two boats carrying two companies of grenadiers on board capsized. According to the report about the disaster, 56 men drowned, even though the other boats attempted to rescue them. General Velho attacked the Korjuva fortress with his remaining units, taking it by surprise and occupying it. Then he set out to capture the Kolvala fortress. In spite of the fierce resistance of the besieged forces, he conquered this base as well. Marquis Louriçal’s letter to His Majesty King João V describes the event as follows: “The enemies opened secret doors facing the river in order to leave the fortress. Through these doors they fled in great confusion. Our grenadiers pursued them even into the water. As ordered, they did not leave the site where 460 horses were lined up to facilitate the retreat of the sipahis. Their casualties are estimated at the loss of 500 lives, many of whom died in the water. Niba, allegedly the captain of the Sardesans, was a victim of the firing. We lost no lives. Only six sipahis, two company officers and four Portuguese were injured. Miguel Ira Sampao, the captain of the grenadiers, was one of them” (Pissurlenkar, 1975: 451).

Lieutenant Colonel Luís Pierrepont later reached the Chapora fortress, which he found abandoned. The Bhonsles also abandoned the fortresses of São Miguel, São Tomé de Tivi and Assunção (the middle fortress and the new fortress). They concentrated fully, but fruitlessly, on keeping hold of the more important Korjuva and Kolvala fortresses. Thus, in the course of just a single day (June 13), the Portuguese army had succeeded in liberating the Bardês Province (Pissurlenkar, 1975: 451).

Another campaign was thwarted by rain. The Bhonsles of Sawantvadi sought the help of the peshwa Balaji Baji Rao I. The Portuguese, at the same time, drew the peshwa´s attention to the terms of the treaty that the peshwa had signed with them on September 18, 1740, at Poona. One of the terms of the treaty stated that “the treaty of peace between the Sawants and the Portuguese will be entered upon in the agreed manner. Should the treaty of peace be violated by the Sawants, then the Peshwa shall side with and assist the Portuguese. Should it be violated by the Portuguese, the Peshwa shall side with and assist the said Sawants” (Mhamai, 1984: 50).

When the peshwa Balaji Baji Rao I found that the Bhonsles of Sawantvadi had been defeated and realized that they had violated the treaty, he offered his help to the Portuguese. General Velho was, therefore, entrusted with the task of starting negotiations with the Marathas. The result was a treaty signed in Goa on September 11, 1741. Basically, the Portuguese were awarded different war compensations, and the territory occupied by the Bhonsles was returned to them (Pissurlenkar, 1975: 452).8

The agreement was made on the basis of the previous treaties, signed by both parties in 1712 (on behalf of the Portuguese, it was negotiated by the Indian Viceroy, Rodrigo da Costa), as well as in 1726 and 1736. The Bhonsles were not allowed to intervene in the region of Phonda, and had to surrender all claims to the islands of Panelim and Korjuva, and parts of the region of Bardês, in favor of the Portuguese. Furthermore, they were banned from trading with the Arabs (from Oman), because these were enemies of the Portuguese. Finally, they became the vassals of the Portuguese and promised to hand over to them two Arabian horses each year or to pay 1,000 xerafins.

In 1741, the new conditions were added to the provisions of the above-mentioned 1712 treaty, which had been incorporated into the contract. These were more or less identical (although somewhat broader in their scope) to those preliminary conditions mentioned in our document from the Regional Archives in Brno, which we will see below. The most important condition was the following one: the maritime pirate activities of the Bhonsles directed against Portuguese ships were banned. They had to contribute 15,000 xerafins to repair the churches damaged by war in the region of Bardês, whose bells they were also obliged to return. They were similarly obliged to return 70 captured guns and pay for another 35 guns. It was also necessary to return all the Portuguese ships seized on March 5, 1739, and to buy Portuguese cartazes. Besides the islands of Panelim and Korjuva, the Bhonsles further surrendered the locations of Maem, Arabo and Pirna, as well as the villages of Macazana (also Mahaqhazana) and Vazary, although the latter two ended up not being claimed by the Portuguese. The agreement was drawn up simultaneously in two languages—Portuguese as well as Marathi (Biker, 1885: 220-39).

The events in Goa which occurred between June 1 and September 11, 1741, are also described in the aforesaid document from the Moravian Regional Archives. The author and the addressee of the said letter were among the most prominent members of Portuguese society. Luís da Cunha (1662-1749), the Portuguese envoy in Paris, belonged to the class of so-called estrangeirados, enlightened Francophiles, critics of the political, social and religious circumstances in Portugal. We know that the fourth and fifth Counts of Ericeira, father and son, were both ardent Roman Catholics, although their link to Luís da Cunha was one of close friendship. Despite their firm Roman Catholic beliefs, they shared the opinion of most of the estrangeirados that many heretic literati could be emulated and given credit, thus engaging in a de facto undermining of the faith in dogmatic truths (Boxer, 1969: 356-357).

Unfortunately, there still remains some uncertainty about other features of the document. Firstly, it is not clear when or for what purpose the comments were written or how they came to be added to the archives of the Jesuit College in Brno. Despite intensive efforts, it has also been impossible to discover whether and where the original document exists from which this extract was made. Both the Portuguese and the French archives have come under consideration. The description of events contained in the comments is unusually precise, coinciding with the data found in other sources even in terms of details, so that there can be no doubt as to the origin of the information and its authenticity. The Brno document even enriches our knowledge of certain details concerning, for example, the treaty of September 11, 1741. We therefore quote the text of the comments in its full Latin wording, followed by an English translation:9

Notitiae status Indiarum excerpta ex literis Comitis Ericera scriptis ad Dnum Ludovicum de Acugna Lagatum Serenissimi Regis Lusitaniae apud Regem Christianissimum, quas dictus Comes accepit á Vice-Rege Indiarum suo Filio.

Marchio de Louriçat novus Vice-Rex Indiarum, post longam et periculosam navigationem unius anni, et sex dierum, appulit ad portum Goanum cumtribus navibus, in quibus 912 milites rensebantur, ubi Urbem Goam in tam profligato statu veperit, ut propé tributaria Regulo barbaro dicto Bosuló, aliás Queima effecta fuerit. Is itag ium (Anno 1741) 18 Maji Goane Urbis possessionem uepisset, atq Ia Junii solemnem inqvessum celebrasset, mox exciis quot senum advexit, militibus, praesidiis Goani, conflati alioquin ex 873 capitibus, defectum supplevit, duas centurias 100 remigibus, et alias duas 400 militibus ad solam maniti navalem pugnam instruitis, auxit. Equitum etiam duas centurias erexit, gentem dictam Cypaes, aliás Lascarins, qui more Helvetiorum in Germania are condua solitorum, militant, pecunia conduxit. His vero sat paviis Copiis summó secreto conjuctis, cum Emmanuelem Suarez, et Franciscum Mascareynas, quiá supremo primi regimine dependeret, Duces prefecisset, diem, quo in hostem progredeventur, tertiam decimam Julii S' Antonio Lusitano, vulgó Patavino, dictam elegit. Articér imperitia nautarum factum sit, quodin in transitu primi fluvii dua naves cum S o pyrobolariis aquis haustae essent, primium ramen munitionem impetu facto occupatunt, secundam, tormentis velocibus recens inventis s: quae seilicet unius momenti spatio 15 globos e aculantur) hostes territi, deseruerunt; tertiam seró, et si quatuor propugnacilis munitam, et 16 roimentis, atg 500 prasidiariis provisam postquam tu in apertum campum egressi partium in ipsa acie, partium dum flumen trajicere fugitivi paravent, casiessent, sibi vindicarunt; huie iefuper fimiles duas alias munitiones, necnon Corguen et Panelim Insulas acguisiverunt. In his omnibus congressibus, quatuor

non nisi lasos ex pyrobolariis, et unum tribunum, sex veró Cypaes cumduobus eorum ductoribus mortuos, Lusitani numerarunt: At inter occisos hostes etiam proximo sanguine junctus ipsi Regulo Bosuló, fuit unus. Haec itaq jactura compulit Regulum, ut pacem pereret, quam tandem 13a Augusti his conditionibus impetravit.

1a ut Bosuló se tributarium redderet, duos equos Arabes aut 1000 xarefinos (: quorum singuli, singulos Romanos Julius valent:) soluturus, et mox 25 equos Arabes daret, quod prastitit.

2da ut exactas ab Urbe Goana contributiones pecuniarias omnes, Campares Ecclesiis ablatas septemdecies restituerer; quinquaginta Xarefinorum mibba ad munitiones, quindecim veró millia ad Ecclesias ab illo destructas reparandas fulveret, quod paritet prastitit.

3tia ut ablata 10 tormenta munitioni Goanae restituerer, tantamg adjiceret pecuniam, quantam triginta trio abia volebant. quod itidem practitit.

4ta Ut multas terras pro recipiend o femine cryzae, quas Lusitani aliás nunquam habebant, cederet.

5ta Ut omnes tractatus, et contractus cum aliis Vice-Regibus ab Anno 1729 initos (: excerpto illo quem ultimus Vice-Reex fecit, promittendo 11 000 xerafinos, qui jam nunc illi summae detroctifuerunt, quam Jose ui praesentis tractatus folvere debet:) vescinderet.

6ta Ne in portus suos naves inimicas admitteret; Lusitanis veró liberum cum terris suis commercium permitteret.

7ma Ur omnes Militiae Lusitanae desertores restitueret, quibus moafa=cta est fugavenia

8va Ut privatis omnia, qua illis eripuit, subitó restitueret.

9na veró ut adverso omnes Mauri, et Coffri captivi exceptis tamen belli Ducibus, iisq, qui sacro Baptismatis fonte ablui parati essent, Lusitani Bossuló Régi, restituerent.

Ita veró omnes Salcettarum Septentrionalium provincia pacem pristinam et quierem receperunt.

Carerum Rex Sundesis ut poté Lusitanis Foederatus nunc sese disponit ad dicendum bellum potentissimo illi Regi barbaro Maratha; et quam do nova suppetia Lusitanbica aderunt, Vice-Rex novos progrestus religioni Catholica proficuos tentabit in Nomine Domini.

Comments on the state of the Indies, extracted from Count Ericeira’s letter written to Dom Ludovic de Acugna, the envoy of the Most Serene King of Portugal to the Most Christian King, which the said Count received from his son, the Viceroy of the Indies.

After a long and dangerous voyage lasting one year and six days, the Marquis of Louriçat [Louriçal], the new Viceroy of the Indies, landed at Goa harbor with three ships carrying 912 soldiers, where he found the city of Goa in such a pitiful condition, that it nearly had to pay tributes to a barbarian king called Bosul, otherwise Queima [Bhonsle]. And thus, on May 18, 1741, when he took control of Goa, entering the city in a triumphant ceremony on June 1, he immediately supplemented the insufficient Goa garrison, consisting of 873 heads, with those soldiers that he had brought with him. He supplemented two companies with 100 oarsmen, and another two with 400 soldiers trained for naval battles. He also established two companies of cavalrymen from the people called Cypeos, otherwise Lascarins,10 who after the fashion of the Swiss in Germany are usually hired for money; these he hired for money (the horsemen). After this rather small group of soldiers had then been most secretly put together, and after he had appointed Emanuel Suarez as its commander and had made Francisco Mascareynas dependent on the former’s higher command, he selected June 30, known as the day of Saint Anthony of Padua, as the day when the enemy would be attacked. Although, due to the sailors’ lack of experience, the first two boats with grenadiers capsized and sank when crossing the river, the first fortress was nevertheless overrun by the attack; the second one, after new rapid-fire guns were deployed (those firing 15 bullets in a short time), was abandoned by the terrified enemies; the third one, even though it was fortified by four bastions and equipped with 16 guns and a 500-head garrison, was conquered when the enemy darted into the open field, some dying in the battle proper and others when fleeing and trying to cross the river; in addition to this, two other similar fortresses were occupied, as well as the Corguen and Panela Islands. In all these encounters, the Portuguese casualties numbered only four grenadiers and one officer injured, as well as five dead Cypeos, together with their two chieftains. But among the enemies killed was also one related by blood to the king Bosul himself. This also forced the king to ask for peace, which he obtained on August 13 under these terms:

1) As a tribute, Bosul was to pay two Arabian horses or 1,000 xaretins11(one of them worth one Roman Julius) and soon thereafter he was to donate 25 Arabian horses, which he did;

2) He was to compensate for all the tax money collected in the city of Goa and for the 17 lamps taken from churches; he was to pay fifty xaretins for the repair of fortifications, and 15 thousand for the repair of the churches that he had destroyed, which he also did;

3) He was to compensate for 70 guns taken from the fortifications of Goa, and to add the amount of money equivalent to the cost of 33 other guns, which he also did;

4) He was to relinquish many plots of land to be sown with rice, which the Portuguese would never have possessed otherwise;

5) He was to cancel all pacts and treaties with other viceroys, completed after 1729 (except for the one signed by the last viceroy, with the promise of 11 thousand xaretins, which were now deducted from the sum he was obliged to pay under this treaty);

6) He was not to admit enemy ships into his harbors, but was to permit the Portuguese free trade with his territories;

7) He was to return all deserters from the Portuguese army, whose escape was then at once pardoned;

8) He was to return to private persons everything he stole from them;

9) Conversely, all captured Mauri and Kaffirs except for chieftains and those who would be willing to submit to holy baptism, were to be returned to the  king Bosul by the Portuguese.

In this way, all the provinces of northern Salsette regained their previous peace and quiet.

Furthermore, the King of Sunda,12 as an ally of the Portuguese, is now preparing to declare war on that most severe barbarian Maratha king; and when fresh Portuguese reinforcements arrive, the viceroy, in the Lord’s name, shall seek to achieve a new progress beneficial for the Roman Catholic religion.

The Portuguese did not enjoy their victory for long. After only six months, it appeared that the Bhonsles of Sawantvadi did not intend to observe the said treaty. Conflicts with the Bhonsles and other Maratha chieftains broke out again and dragged on, with alternating victories, throughout the years 1742-1746. Fortunately, the Marathas had many other problems during that time, which meant that the Portuguese were less important for them. Moreover, the Marathas viewed the Portuguese as potential allies against the English. The Portuguese used the peshwa’s involvement elsewhere and regained some minor enclaves. The Marquis of Louriçal died on June 12, 1742; in the next few years, however, the new viceroy Pedro Miguel de Almeida e Portugal e Vasconcelos, the first Marquis of Castelo Novo, the third Count of Assumar, and later the first Marquis of Alorna, who assumed office in 1744, achieved some important successes. In 1746, at the expense of the Bhonsles of Sawantvadi, he took possession of the fortresses of Alorna, Bicholi (also Dicholi), Terakhol (also Tiracol) and several other places. Besides this, he once again subjugated the Bhonsles to a condition of vassalage. However, the recapture of the Northern Province did not take place, although this possibility was considered. On the other hand, the Portuguese prestige was restored and the way was paved for the new expansion in the second half of the eighteenth century (Melo, 2012a: 40, 120-124; Pissurlenkar, 1975: 452-477).

The Portuguese were faced with a lack of resources. In his work Instruções políticas (1734), the aforementioned Luís da Cunha proposed that this problem should be resolved through the establishment of the Indo-African Company. This would not only possess a commercial monopoly, but would also force the Crown to provide vessels to defend the Portuguese overseas possessions. However, the implementation of this plan, which had been based on the Indian Company first considered in the early seventeenth century and was, in fact, realized for a very brief period between 1628 and 1633, depended on there being sufficient capital (Disney, 1978: 71-155; Disney, 2009a: 242-258; Winius 1981: 119-134). Since this capital was, above all, in the hands of Jewish merchants, Cunha therefore proposed that they should be allowed to settle in Portugal and be free of any persecution by the Inquisition. Unfortunately, this did not happen, so the draft law proposed by the Cunha finally perished (Silva, 2001: 161-163, 340-344).

Only thirty years later did the Portuguese gain more noticeable compensation for the territory lost in 1740. In 1763-1788, they gained seven new talukas, which extended the territory of Goa northwards, eastwards and southwards as far as the Western Ghats, all at the expense of the Bhonsles. This territory, the so-called Novas Conquistas, measured scarcely 3,000 km2, and it represented the last territorial gains of the Portuguese in Asia. Consequently, the Portuguese territory in India tripled or quadrupled in size and acquired better defined and more stable and defensible borders than before. However, the value of this territory was only fully appreciated much later, when iron ore deposits were discovered there. From a general point of view, in 1739-1740, the Estado da Índia passed through the last phase of its transformation from a maritime power into a territorial power. This tendency culminated in the second half of the eighteenth century when the Portuguese territories in India became economically self-sufficient and were able to survive unchanged until the twentieth century (Thomaz, 1994: 395; Pearson, 1989: 138-39).




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1 Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. E-mail: kar.stanek@volny.cz
2 Department of Archives Administration and Records Management of the Ministry of the Interior, Prague, Czech Republic. E-mail: michal.wanner@seznam.cz
3 MZA Brno, E 25, Jezuité Brno (Brno Jesuits), p. 63 DD, 1741.
The new viceroy brought with him four infantry battalions comprising 2,000 men. They assembled in the Portuguese ports of Cascais, Lagos, Peniche, and Porto. The flotilla also brought a large amount of ammunition and 16 cannons of a new type made by Frederick Weinholtz, a Danish expert in the service of the Portuguese. These guns could fire up to thirty times per minute. The war fleet itself, which soon earned respect in the region, also represented an important help.
5 Siddis – descendants of Abyssinian Muslims.
6 See the letter of November 19, 1739, from Nagoba Sawant Bhonsle to the Portuguese Secretary of State, informing that the Portuguese might think that Jairam Sawant and Ramchandra Sawant and he himself were brothers and would unite on this occasion. In fact, he remained the worst enemy of the Sawantvadi rulers and confirmed his loyalty to the Portuguese. Quoted by Mhamai (1984): document written in the Marathi language, pp. 155-57; English summary, 179, nº 3.
7 Sipahis – also sepahis, sipais, sepoys, infantry soldiers in India or East Africa, from the eighteenth century onward, recruited by Europeans from among the native inhabitants and trained in accordance with European practices.
8 See the letter from the Marquis of Louriçal to the Peshwa dated October 24, 1741. Quoted by Pissurlenkar (1975), 452, note 32.
9 The English translation is by Michal Wanner.
10 Lascarim (or Lascarin) – native soldier in Portuguese Asia. From Persian lashkari, i.e. soldier.
11 Xaretin = xerafim, also xerafin – Indo-European coin originally of gold, and later of silver, formally equivalent to 300 reis. In practice, it differed somewhat in its weight and thus also in value. It was also minted in multiples of 2, 4, 8 and 12. In the eighteenth century, it was equal to a silver pardão.
12 The ruler of Sunda or Sonda, a town in the North Kanara district, Bombay Presidency, situated 10 miles north of Sirsi. His state lay along the frontier of the Salsette region, remaining in a relationship of vassalage to the Estado da Índia and serving as a buffer zone against the Marathas. See The Imperial Gazetteer of India, vol. XXIII, p. 82.



Received for publication: 17 August  2015
Accepted in revised form: 6 April 2016
Recebido para publicação: 17 de Agosto de 2015
Aceite após revisão: 6 de Abril de 2016

Copyright 2016, ISSN 1645-6432
e-JPH, Vol. 14, number 1, June 2016




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