The Portuguese Reign in Malacca (1511-1641)

The strategic position of the town of Malaca and its location as a remarkable trading center made it admirable to other colonies such as the Portuguese. Besides its strategic position, the town had a vast geographical landscape that included the Malay Peninsula further enhancing its attractiveness. Since the port of Malacca was frequent by many traders the Portuguese became conversant with the city and went on an expedition to capture the city. At this time, the town was under the management of a Muslim sultan who did not just offer religious guide to the people but worked towards improving the economic activities in the region. Indeed, the effective leadership of the sultan was attested by their ability to counter the attacks of the Portuguese in their first attempt to capture the town. However, the Portuguese never relented to the efforts by the Sultan and after more than three attempts; they conquered the town in the year 1511and reigned between 1511 and 1641. As much as losing the war was a major lose to the natives of the town, it resulted in the creation of many historical buildings that have remained attractive overtime. While the sovereignty of the Portuguese in Malacca led to the Muslim sultanate loosing properties and power, it contributed significantly to the infrastructural development of the town, making it a unique historical heritage site that is still embraced to date.

Description of the Event

The era of Portuguese control of Malayan was as a result winning the Malayan-Portuguese war. The plan of King Manuel I, the leader of Portuguese, to thwart the trade between the Muslims and Indians was successful giving them an opportunity to control the activities and people in Malaccan. The events of the war and the outcome of the Portuguese reign have been vividly explained and presented as secondary and primary data by historical and contemporary scholar. Most of the primary data showcase the historical structures and buildings that arose as a result of the activities and actions of the Portuguese during their control. Also, existing secondary data have also explained the activities of the era, the historical significance as well as the implications of the reign on the infrastructural development of Malacca town.

The book by Bland shows the historical pictures of the memorial activities and materials used by the Portuguese during the reign. Granite stones are one of the materials that were brought in by the Portuguese into Malacca. While some Portuguese stones were displaced by those brought in by the Dutch, the book still contains the ancient Portuguese granite stones that were preserved. The letter by Valentyn also detained the structures evident in Malaccan during the reign of the Portuguese that acted as a memory of the times and activities of the Portuguese. Further Godinho de Eredia in his report written in 1618, showed and described the buildings observed during the Portuguese era in Malaccan. The writer described the architectural buildings that arose from the activities of the Portuguese after they gain control over the town. He reports that

“It is stated that there were in that time about 7400 Christians in Malacca; four religious houses, eight parishes, fourteen churches, two chapels of the “Hospitaliers,” besides oratories and hermitages”

More recent description of the era have been presented by scholars such as () who have not only focused on discussing the events and activities of the time, but have also analyzed their relevance to the modern Malaysia. The scholars presented a description of the events of the war that led to the Portuguese having control of the region. Also, the article presents information on the honorable surrender offered by the Dutch to the Portuguese that led to the end of the war. Also, the article gives an account of the Portuguese fortification that arose during the era.

Historical Perspective

The architectural buildings, Portuguese materials and fortification used during the era are the major historical landmarks that were created during the era. After the war, the Portuguese constructed a fort in Malacca, known as the A’Fomasa. The churches build during the period, and the tombstones within all showcase the historical architectural designs employed during the time.

The unique buildings and the materials used during the era have emerged as historical places. The retention of the buildings does not act as a reminder of the events during the Portuguese era but have also led to the town being marked as a world heritage site. The recognition of the town as a heritage site was due to the presence of the tangible heritage buildings and other materials that were of Portuguese origin. The event of the time and the emergence of the old structures have thus enhanced the relevance of the town as a tourist attraction site.

As much as some of the historical buildings are inexistence, their sustainability has remained questionable. It is reported that the historical sites are only acknowledged when the historical buildings and materials have been well preserved. However, it is reported that preservation of the structures in Malacca may be daunting task, since a significant part of the ancient buildings have been damaged. As much as recycling may be used to achieve preservation, it is likely that the original look of the building will be lost, thus interfering with their historical heritage. The structures and buildings build during the Portuguese reign will only remain relevant as a historical heritage site when they are adequately preserved to improve their sustainability.

Malacca as served has served as a tourists’ attraction site for various tourists from different parts of the world. The heritage buildings and the cultural practices of the region have made the town attractive to both the local and international tourists. A significant number of tourists visiting Malaysia choose Malacca as their destination during to the many historical sites evident in the region. Even though some of the historical features were destroyed, their constant preservation and conversation into contemporary buildings have continuously enhanced their relevance as a tourist attraction site. The events of the Portuguese era in Malacca have led to the development of historical buildings that have contributed to the town becoming a unique tourist attraction site.

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