What was the Capture of Ormuz (1622)?

Introduction

The Capture of Ormuz (Persian: بازپس گیری هرمز, also known as the Anglo-Persian Capture of Ormuz) was a combined Anglo-Persian expedition that successfully captured the Portuguese garrison at Hormuz Island after a ten-week siege, thus opening up Persian trade with England in the Persian Gulf.

Before the capture of Ormuz, the Portuguese had held the Castle of Ormuz for more than a century, since 1507 when Afonso de Albuquerque established it in the capture of Ormuz, giving them full control of the trade between India and Europe through the Persian Gulf.

According to Stephen Neill, the capture of Ormuz entirely changed the balance of power and trade.

Anglo-Persian Alliance

The English component consisted of a force supplied by the East India Company consisting of five warships and four pinnaces. The Persians had recently gone to war with the Portuguese, and a Persian army was besieging the Portuguese fort on Kishm, but English assistance was required to capture Ormuz. Shah Abbas wished to obtain English support against the Portuguese, and the commander Imam Kuli Khan, son of Allahverdi Khan, negotiated with the English to obtain their support, promising the English that they would grant them access to the Persian silk trade. An agreement was signed, providing for the sharing of spoils and customs dues at Hormuz, the repatriations of prisoners according to their faith, and the payment by the Persians of half of the supply costs for the fleet.

Operations

The English fleet first went to Kishm, some 24 kilometres (15 miles) away, to bombard a Portuguese position there. The Portuguese present quickly surrendered, and the English casualties were few, but included the famous explorer William Baffin.

The Anglo-Persian fleet then sailed to Ormuz and the Persians disembarked to capture the town. The English bombarded the castle and sank the Portuguese fleet present, and Ormuz was finally captured on 22 April 1622. The Portuguese were forced to retreat to another base at Maskat.

Although Portugal and Spain were in a dynastic union from 1580 to 1640, England and Portugal were not at war, and the Duke of Buckingham threatened to sue the Company for the capture, but renounced his claim when he received the sum of 10,000 pounds, supposedly 10% of the proceedings of the capture of Ormuz. James I also received the same sum from the company when he complained as such: “Did I deliver you from the complaint of the Spaniards, and do you return me nothing”.

The capture of Ormuz gave the opportunity for the Company to develop trade with Persia, attempting to trade English cloth and other commodities for silk, which did not become very profitable due to the lack of Persian interest and small quantity of English goods. The English soldier and merchant Robert Shirley also took an interest in developing the Anglo-Persian trade.

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