Portugal took Malacca in 1511 and took control of the spice trade between China and India. They seem to have met little effective resistance and no other state seems to have done anything about it.

The Chinese actually did contest control of the Indian Ocean and were successful for a long time, easily defeating the Portuguese when they tried. They just never attacked Malacca with a serious force.

What was stopping China, or other Indian sultans, from recapturing the city? It seems that they had access to good quality steel at the time - Indian steel was actually superior - and would have much shorter lines of supply than Portugal. Was there some logistical reason why the city was not retaken, or was there no interest in the first place? Why did Asia sit passively by while Portugal was taking control of the spice trade?

  • "Recapturing" implies that some Indian or Chinese state had prior control of Malacca, which isn't the case. – Peter Erwin Sep 14 '16 at 19:59
  • China simply was not interested in naval affairs: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_He#Imperial_China. And of course, if you are going to wage war for some land accross the sea, the steel of your melee weapons is of little use if your ships are send to the bottom of the sea by the Portuguese superior ships and cannon. Consider that the Ottoman Empire tried to dislodge the Portuguese from the Indic Ocean and failed to do so. – SJuan76 Sep 14 '16 at 20:17
  • So the answer is basically "they weren't interested" or "they didn't have good cannons"? Alright. – user21358 Sep 15 '16 at 1:02
  • Iberian steel was actually on par if not superior to Indian steel. – Denis de Bernardy Sep 15 '16 at 5:55
  • 2
    @Makhnk No, after Lepanto, 1571, the Ottoman Navy was significantly less of a threat. Piracy and slave trading, however, plagued the Europeans for some time after that. – KorvinStarmast Sep 15 '16 at 19:53

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