Battle of Dabul - [December 29, 1508] This Day in History

29 December 1508

Battle of Dabul


What happened?

The Battle of Dabul was fought between Portuguese forces and the Sultanate of Bijapur on 29 December 1508 in which the city of Dabul (Dhabol) was attacked and razed by the Portuguese.

Battle of Dabul – Background

  • Dhabol, spelled Dabul by the Portuguese and later the English, was a thriving port city situated in the Kingdom of Bijapur. The kingdom was at that time ruled by the Adilshahi dynasty.
  • In the 15th and 16th centuries, it had become an important and flourishing trading centre.
  • The then Portuguese Viceroy of the Portuguese possessions in India was Francisco de Almeida, who was also the first Portuguese viceroy of India. His son Lorenzo had earlier been killed in an attack on a squadron led by him at Chaul by a Gujarat-Mamluk fleet. Lorenzo’s squadron was en route to the more famous Battle of Diu, in which the Portuguese had a decisive victory against the combined forces of the Gujarat Sultanate, the Mamluk Sutanate of Egypt, the Calicut Zamorin and the Republic of Venice.
  • The battle of Dabul was said to be in retaliation to this attack and the killing of the viceroy’s son.
  • The Portuguese forces attacked from the sea and despite the presence of a double wooden wall and a ditch, they were able to attack Dabul successfully using artillery bombardment and a pincer movement of soldiers with weapons.
  • The Portuguese were merciless in their attack. They slaughtered every living thing that came their way, including women, children and the old. They did not even spare the animals. After the massacre, they set the whole city to fire burning alive everyone who had escaped their sword.
  • They left the city on January 5, 1509. After this, they went on to fight the Battle of Diu in which they would have a sound victory.
  • The attacking Portuguese fleet had 19 ships whereas the Bijapur kingdom only had 4 ships. Although outnumbered by the Indians since they had under 2000 men while the Indian kingdom had 6000 soldiers, the Portuguese managed to ravage the port-city.
  • Even though the fort was not captured in this battle, the conquerors attacked the city many times in the following decades. The last recorded attack on Dabul by the Portuguese was in 1571 and this time, Dabul was only a shadow of its former self with hardly anything left to attack.
Also on this day

1530: Coronation of Mughal Emperor Humayun at Agra. 1844: Birth of Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, the first President of the Indian National Congress. 1904: Birth of Kuvempu (K V Puttappa), one of the greatest Kannada poets. 1930: The Two-Nation Theory outlined in Muhammad Iqbal’s address in Allahabad.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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