25 June 2006

India beats Portugal and Netherlands

As Portugal face off against the Netherlands tomorrow in the world cup I remembered that both these countries have the dubious distinction of being militarily defeated by India. Portugal were completely silly... the British had left in 1947 but Portugal still held on to a little city on the west coast of India called Goa. India asked them nicely for a few years to get out and when they didn't, decided to invade Goa in 1961 and eject those Portuguese who wanted to stay Portuguese. So that's basically what happened, with the Portuguese setting the dubious record of being the only European power this century to be defeated by an Asian country. There's more about the whole story here.

portugal,india,netherlands flags

The Dutch also created a record of sorts, being the first European country to be defeated militarily by an Asian power at the Battle of Colachel in 1741. Now this is more personal for me because the Indian King involved, Marthanda Varma, would have been the King of my ancestors as far as I can tell. (India was divided into small kingdoms at the time and this dude was the ruler of the area that my family comes from). I know for sure that he spoke my language so there is some connection there... my ancestors' tax money paid for the war! The commander of the Dutch was taken prisoner and asked to be given a job (he would have been killed if he had gone back home due to his failure) and raise a modern army for the kingdom of Travancore. Here's a good article about King Marthanda Varma's current descendents and here are more details about the Battle of Colachel.

So good luck to both these countries tomorrow and hope they never have to go to war with us again, unless it's at the world cup :)

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