Military Architecture

Military Architecture

Goa [Velha Goa/Old Goa], Goa, India

Military Architecture

Per the example of the Província do Norte and part of the Island of Sri Lanka, Goa's territory comprised one of three regions of Portugal's Empire of the Orient where an all- encompassing defence system was established, meant to assure the effective occupation of regions with territorial size and continuity. Its history can be divided into four phases, based not just on the intrinsic architectural features of its fortifications, but also on the way those structures were conceived, or at least adapted, vis-à-vis the changes affecting Goan territory and the different defence strategies used to deal with the successive threats and conflicts occurring in that space. 1510-1595 The conquest of the city of Goa was begun by the forces of Afonso de Albuquerque in February 1510 and was only effectively achieved for all of Tiswadi Island two years later, when after successive military campaigns the Portuguese took possession of the fortress of Banastarim. There they built a fort which integrated the pre-existing Muslim defence structure. Around that time the defence system of the territory ruled by the Portuguese basically consisted of two fortified zones: the walled perimeter of the city and the local fortress, which were rebuilt and later strengthened; and the walls and bastions of Tiswadi Island, meant to defend the passage points from incursions by the forces of Adil Khan, the sultan of Bijapur whom the Portuguese called Hidalcão. The defence complex on Tiswadi Island, which according to the captain of Kochi, António Real, in the early years comprised a total of five fortresses with a garrison of about 600 men supported by a thousand native foot soldiers and a hundred cavalrymen, would still grow in the years that followed. Two fortresses were also built in Salcette and Bardez to form a first defence line against attacks from the mainland. To that end, the Fortress of Saint John of Rachol was built in about 1535; work on the Fortress of the Three Kings began later, in 1551. Together they allowed the Portuguese to consolidate their presence in both Salcette and Bardez. From the 1560s on, as a result of the worsening political and military situation on the Deccan plateau (culminating in the downfall of Vijayanagara and the consequent destruction of the Hindu empire by Muslim forces) the leaders of the State of Goa, particularly Viceroy Antão de Noronha (1564-1568) proceeded to reinforce the defence structures of Tiswadi Island and the city of Goa. Work then began on building a wall to protect the entire island, along the Cambarjuem Canal from Banastarim to the Daugim passage. Although these efforts were still unfinished in 1570, the date of the major Muslim offensive against most of the Estado da Índia's fortresses, Goa was able to withstand the siege by Bijapur's forces. Luís de Ataíde resumed the task during his second governorship (1578-1581). Later, in 1596, the Goa senate approved its extension to Our Lady of the Cape. The main goal of its overseers was to strengthen defence of the passage points, rather than those of the city, which according to Pyrard de Laval and Jan Huygen van Linschoten, were altogether easy to attack. But this aim was impossible to accomplish as the State could not bear the cost burden, so only some sections of the wall were built. 1596-1666 The Dutch entrance on the Indian Ocean scene forced the Portuguese authorities to rethink their defence strategy for the city of Goa and Tiswadi Island. The main danger to the Portuguese crown's interests now came from the sea and not the mainland; it therefore became a priority to shore up defence of the Zuari and Mandovi bars, as well as the Bardez coast, more open to amphibious attacks. On the other hand, relations with the Sultan of Bijapur, up to that point marked by successive conflicts, were in the 17th century generally more peaceful. Indeed, except for the years 1654 and 1659, when Bijapur's forces invaded Bardez and Salcette, the century was marked by fewer disputes between the two powers. Their concerns now centred on a new and much more dangerous threat, given the emergence of new military potentates in the Deccan, to wit, the Mughals, and later, from the second half of the 17th century on, the Marathas. As a result of the changing political/ military context around the territory of Goa, the mouths of the Mondavi and Zuari were amply fortified, with the construction of new structures and the renovation of existing ones. The Bardez coast saw construction of the Aguada Fort, while the Three Kings one was strengthened. In its border area the Panaji Pass was improved and construction of Gaspar Dias Fort began, with the aim of ensuring Aguada Fort a field of crossfire with the Three Kings position. According to António Bocarro, there was also a bastion for the defence of Ribandar, subject to major repair work during the government of the Count of Linhares. The Zuari bar saw construction begin on the Mormugao Fort, and also the building of two bastions at the foot of the hill next to the Convent of Our Lady of the Cape. Near these bastions, finished in 1626, a platform by the water was later built to house an artillery battery. These defence structures proved decisive, especially in the first third of the 17th century, and thwarted the entry of numerous Dutch squadrons which sought to block the bars and thereby conquer the Estado da Índia's capital. Likewise decisive for the evolution of Goa's territorial defence systems were changes to the intermeshing political/military situation throughout the vast region as a result of the Mughal Empire's southward expansion. Indeed, from the 1650s on, the area of the western Deccan entered a long and complex period of warlike conflicts, resulting in its conquest and absorption into the empire of the Sultanate of Ahmadnagar in 1636 and, in 1686, submission of the Sultanate of Bijapur. The Maratha nation was emerging at the same time. It not only sought to expand to the territories of the weakened Sultanate of Bijapur, but also began to threaten mainland areas of Goa, for the time being saved by the permanent state of war between that nation and the Mughal Empire. By around the late 17th century the Maratha clans closest to Goa's frontiers, namely the Desais of Kudal, Pernem and Bicholim, also spurred into action. At this especially turbulent and very volatile time the Portuguese again reinforced their defence positions in both the Província do Norte and in Goa. Once again, efforts were made to resume construction of the wall on Tiswadi Island. Although ruined over much of its course, in 1660 it reached the Panelim arch located very close to the city's western entrance. 1667-1790 The rise of the Maratha kingdom under Shivaji Maharaj (1630-1680) had a major impact throughout the Indian subcontinent. For the first time since the destruction of Vijayanagara (1565), a Hindu sovereign was imposing on an Islamic domain, establishing his power over a broad territorial base. The epicentre of Maratha power was situated near the Província do Norte and its armies reached Goa's frontiers early on. A long period of conflicts followed, marked by two crucial moments: the invasions of Goa in 1683 and in 1739-1741. During those two campaigns the Portuguese presence in Goa came very close to being annihilated. But the Estado da Índia's authorities nevertheless benefited from the war between the Marathas and the Mughal Empire, a conflict which they shrewdly stoked and managed. The Portuguese also backed an uprising by the Bhonsle Maratha clans on Goa's borders. The immediate consequence of the first Maratha incursions in Bardez province in 16661668 was the building of Saint Francis Xavier Fort in the highest part of Jua (Juvem or Saint Estevam) Island. During the 1683 campaign by Sambhaji, Viceroy Francisco de Távora ordered the defences improved in north-eastern Bardez. The Middle Fort between the positions of Colvale and Tivim was thus built, as well as the Assumption fortification south of Tivim. All these positions were joined by a wall with moat, with a view to artificially making an island of Bardez province, a project dating to the early 17th century. The Rachol Fortress in Salcette was also renovated. The Marathas' defeat by the Mughal Empire in 1689 did not diminish the conflicts along Goa's frontiers, although it did temporarily favour the Portuguese. Given this situation, Viceroy Caetano de Mello e Castro attacked and captured the fortification of Bicholim, which he ordered razed, and occupied Corjuem Island east of Bardez, where he raised a fort (1706). Several years later forts were built on Quitula Island and in Aldona (about 1715). The position of Chapora was also fortified (1717) by the bar of the river with the same name and Saint Bartholomew's Fort was built on Divar Island (1720). In Salcette a bamboo grove was planted in the area of Assolna, considered an effective means of defending one of the territory's most exposed positions. In 1739-1741 the Marathas and Bhonsles again attacked Goa, placing the Portuguese territory, now practically reduced to Tiswadi Island, in a very precarious situation. The Portuguese nevertheless responded from 1741 on with a military movement to consolidate and expand territory. They began by re-conquering the provinces of Bardez and Salcette and were then able to expand Goa's territory toward the Ghats in a series of campaigns and battles waged between 1741 and 1790. The history of those campaigns is long and complex, though its main points can be outlined: the battle of Alorna in 1746 consolidated the security of the lands of Bardez and led to the quick conquest of Bicholim and Tiracol, besides other positions, some later lost; the battle of Madraganor in 1763 led to definitive incorporation of the city and lands of Ponda; and lastly a 1788 treaty ceded the province of Pernem to the Portuguese. As the Marathas and Bhonsle clans weakened, and especially in the last quarter of the 18th century, Goa's frontiers stabilised along the Ghats range and between Tiracol and Canacona along the coast, even though the Portuguese occupied strategic locations more to the north and south of those positions. Goan territory consequently tripled in size with inclusion of the so-called New Conquests. Some of the fortifications taken by the Portuguese during this period, from both the Marathas and the Bhonsles, as well as from the King of Sunda, were reused with more or less alterations. Important vestiges from that time remain in Alorna as well as in Tiracol and Cape Rama. Most of the fortifications were, however, demolished or have since disappeared. 1791-1961 The consolidation of Goan territory after the New Conquests campaigns coincided with the end of the Maratha threat and imposition of the Pax Britannica in India. These two circumstances, along with the stagnating situation of Goa's economy, led most of the territory's defence positions to be neglected or abandoned. The presence of British troops during the Napoleonic War period led to rehabilitation of the Aguada, Mormugao and Our Lady of the Cape forts. Those three fortified positions later remained practically the only ones with effective garrisons and artillery; they were used to send light signals to vessels and also for semaphore communication. A few other fortifications were saved from abandon and ruin and used for customs control or instruction, as happened in Corjuem, renovated in the mid- 19th century, or Tiracol. Several barracks were also built in urban centres, such as the Panaji Artillery Barracks and the respective quarters in Ponda and Mapusa, as well as in other strategic locations such as Bicholim or Quepem. During the first half of the 20th century the only initiatives impacting on the territory's defence involved road and communications infrastructures. When India became independent in 1947, Goa's defence again began to worry the Portuguese administration. But the steps taken between that year and 1961, among them construction of an airport in 1955, were entirely irrelevant when the territory was annexed by the Indian Union.

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