FAMINES IN THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, 1500 to 1767
|1582 (a) [to 1583]: Kozhikode / Calicut coast|
|Documented causes: naval blockade / piracy|
|Documented effects: unprecedented famine|
|Zayn al-Din 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Malibari (trans. M.J. Rowlandson), "Tohfut-ul-mujahideen" (1833)|
|pp177-8: [events following the failure of a campaign led by the Raja of Kochi against the Zamorin of Kozhikode, c1580, with assistance from the "Franks" (i.e. Feringhi, aka Portuguese)] "Exasperated by this defeat, the galliots of the Franks sailed out from Cochin for the purpose of harassing the trade of the Mahomedans; and they soon captured a great number of their vessels and grabs (may God confound them !), possessing themselves also of booty to a great value: and in the seasons of the year 990 and 991 [AH; =1582-3 CE] also, they carried on their hostilities with great rancour against the subjects and dependents of the Zamorin; the people of Calicut, of the New Harbour, and of Kabkat, and Fundreeah, and Turkoy, and Funan, making attacks upon them at all times and seasons from the beginning of the year to the end of it; so that the maritime trade of these towns was entirely destroyed, and even intercourse between neighbouring ports completely cut off. Moreover, the importation of rice from Tulnad was greatly hindered, so that a great famine, such as never before had taken place, was the consequence, the common people of the ports above-named being deprived of all means of subsistence; and although they had done nothing to call down such a visitation, the Franks continued to seize upon their vessels and grabs [Footnote: "It was usual at this time for fleets to be annually sent out to cruize off the Malabar coasts on the pretence of suppressing piracy, but which were themselves occupied solely in piratical attacks." ...], until their miseries were at their height (may God drive out from amongst us this tyrannical race, and save us from them !). However, towards the end of the season of the latter year, a treaty was entered into between the Zamorin and the Franks …"|
[This mess was part of the long-term fallout from the capture of the Portuguese fort at Shaleeat (aka Chale, near Kozhikode) a decade earlier. For example, here's a bit more from 1577:]
p172: "... in the year 985, they made a seizure of nearly fifty grabs of different sizes, belonging to the Mahomedans, which at the time of their capture were upon their return voyage from Tulnad, where they had been to load with rice. Now, many of those who were on board these vessels received martyrdom; indeed, of Mahomedans and of the crews of the vessels, nearly 3,000 men were slain, whilst the trade of the former by this blow became almost annihilated; a calamity which was permitted to visit them, out of the inscrutable designs of the All-gracious and All-wise, of which we can obtain no knowledge, save that a glorious reward shall await those who have fallen fighting for God, and who have practised purity and forbearance."