António Correia


António Correia

António Correia was a Portuguese commander who in 1521 conquered Bahrain, beginning eighty years of Portuguese rule in the Gulf state.

Correia was the son of merchant and explorer Aires Correia, who had gained notoriety during the Portuguese bombardment of Calicut a generation earlier [William Brooks Greenlee (1995), "The Voyage of Pedro Álvares Cabral to Brazil and India", Asian Educational Services, p.200.] . Like his father, António Correia sought adventure and political intrigue in Portugal’s expanding empire in the Indian Ocean.

In the early 15th century, the territory of Bahrain covered both the present day state and Qatif in Eastern Arabia, and was ruled by King Muqrin ibn Zamil, one of three Jabrid brothers who controlled the eastern seaboard of the Gulf. King Muqrin was the nominal vassal of the Portuguese vassals, the Huwala Kingdom of Hormuz, to whom Muqrin paid tribute from the lucrative pearl fisheries that had made Bahrain prosperous. Having subdued the Hormuzis in 1515 and installed friendly leaders in the Kingdom, the Portuguese admiral, Afonso de Albuquerque, identified the Jabrids as the main obstacle to Portuguese control of the Gulf. [Juan Cole (2007), "Sacred Space and Holy War", IB Tauris, p.37.]

In 1521, Muqrin stopped the payments to the Hormuzis [Sanjay Subrahmanyam (1997), "The Career and Legend of Vasco Da Gama", Cambridge University Press, p.288.] prompting the Portuguese to appoint António Correia to head a naval force to subdue Bahrain. With their Hormuzi allies, the Portuguese force landed in July 1521 and fought the Jabrids at a battle near present day Kardabad. The Bahraini force was beaten and Muqrin captured and, after his death from a wound to the thigh sustained in the battle, beheaded by the Persian admiral of the Hormuzis, who sent the head back to Hormuz. Correia later depicted King Muqrin's bleeding head on his family's coat of arms, behaviour that was described as "disgraceful" by the English 19th Century traveller, James Silk Buckingham [James Silk Buckingham (1829), "Travels in Assyria, Media, and Persia", Oxford University Press, p.459.] . The decapitated head is still a featured on the coat of arms of the Count of Lousã, Correia's descendents [Charles Belgrave (1966), "The Pirate Coast", G. Bell & Sons, p.8.] .

The Portuguese immediately started building a huge fort complex at Qalat Al Bahrain in order to control their new possession. The fort still stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But perhaps a more important legacy is that King Muqrin’s rule was the last time that “Bahrain” would refer to the historic region of Bahrain rather than to the archipelago of islands that constitutes the present state – António Correia’s invasion in effect set the boundaries of the country.

References


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