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Thursday, 22-Feb-2007 10:18 Email | Share | Bookmark
An Ancient Portuguese castle - Qeshm Island


In January 1619, Ruy Freire de Andrade left Lisbon for the Persian Gulf with orders to disperse the English, who had established a factory at Jâsk in 1616 (Boxer, p. 58), and to put pressure on the Persians, in part by dislodging the Persian garrison on Qeshm and building a Portuguese fort there (Boxer, p. 71; Slot, p. 107; Steensgaard, p. 312). Two thousand Portuguese soldiers, supported by 1,000 Hormuzi troops, landed on 7 May 1621. They drove off the Persians; and over the next five and a half months, they constructed a strong fort (Boxer, p. 72). Beginning in the winter of 1621/22, however, Emâm-qoli Khan of Shiraz for nine months blockaded the Portuguese garrison (but not their flotilla), under the command of Ruy Freire, in their recently constructed fort on Qeshm. His intention was to cut off water and supplies for Hormuz, the real object of the attack (Wilson, p. 144). The timely arrival at Jâsk on 24 December 1621 of an English East India Company squadron, due to collect silk for export, provided Emâm-qoli Khan with willing partners to assist in the expulsion of the Portuguese, in return for sole English custody over the castle of Hormuz, among other things (Boxer, p. 74). On 2 February 1622 five English guns were landed; and after fruitless negotiations between Ruy Freire and Edward Monnox, the English bombarded the fort. The garrison surrendered; Ruy Freire was sent off as prisoner in the Lion to Surat; and a Persian force was installed on the island (Boxer, pp. 77-78). The Arctic navigator, William Baffin, was killed in this action (Wilson, p. 146).

Turning their attention to Hormuz, the Persians offered the Portuguese commander there Qeshm in return for 500,000 patacas and the port of Jolfâr on the Arabian coast; but the offer was rejected, and within a few months Hormuz itself was lost to the Persian and English forces (Slot, p. 116). The Persian position on Qeshm, however, was tenuous. During the winter of 1629/30 the island was raided by a large Portuguese force; and Portuguese trade revived, so much so that the Persians agreed to pay tribute to the Portuguese in return for continued use of Qeshm (Slot, p. 134). The death of Shah 'Abbâs, however, followed by the execution of Emâm-qoli Khan, put an end to these payments (Boxer, p. 144). Meanwhile, the Dutch were experiencing difficulties negotiating a trade agreement with the Persians, and in 1645 they attacked the Persian garrison on Qeshm (Wilson, p. 164; Slot, p. 151). Although unable to take the fort, the Dutch nevertheless succeeded in pressuring the Shah; and their trading position improved markedly. As late as 1673 however, the Portuguese continued to press their claims for tribute from the Persians for use of Qeshm (Slot, p. 204). Nevertheless, Qeshm would once again fall prey to the Dutch. As their trade in the late 1670s and early 1680s became increasingly unprofitable under existing conditions, the Dutch sent a squadron to Bandar-e 'Abbâs under Casembroot, who in 1683 captured Qeshm and its Persian garrison

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