Asia and Western Dominance: A Survey of the Vasco Da Gama Epoch of Asian History, 1498-1945


It was in December 1925 that, moved by a natural curiosity to know more about the history of the coast of Malabar, my original home in India, I visited Lisbon and spent some time studying the records of the early Portuguese voyages to the East. There on the beach of Belem, from where Vasco da Gama set out on his historic voyage, the idea came to me of writing a history of European relations with Asian countries during the long era inaugurated by that voyage. In 1949 I was in Nanking when the European warships evacuated their bases on the mainland of China and a few months afterwards I travelled in the company of the diplomatic representatives of the European nations who left Shanghai after the People's Republic had been proclaimed in Peking. In the interval I had also participated (from 1930) in the political discussions between India and Britain which led finally to the withdrawal of British authority from India. The idea which had lain dormant for twenty-five years and had so far found expression only in three limited studies (Malabar and the Portuguese, Malabar and the Dutch and India and the Indian Ocean) then seemed capable of realization.

The four hundred and fifty years which began with the arrival of Vasco da Gama in Calicut (in 1498), and ended with the withdrawal of British forces from India in 1947 and of the European navies from China in 1949, constitute a clearly marked epoch of history. It may have passed through many stages, undergone different developments, appeared in different periods under different leadership, but as a whole it had certain well-marked characteristics which differentiated it as a separate epoch in history. Its motivations underwent changes; one major strand in the original. idea, that of a crusade against Islam and a strategic outflanking of Muslim power, disappeared after the menace to Western Europe from the growth of Islamic imperialism ended with the Battle of Lepanto. The original desire for the monopoly of the spice trade . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • London
Publication year:
  • 1953


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