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The Portuguese were one of the first European powers to enter Southeast Asia. In conjunction with a conference on Siamese relations with the west held in Ayutthaya this week, this story showcases the influence of the Portuguese in Southeast Asia.

Replica of Flor de la Mar in Malacca

Replica of Flor de la Mar in Malacca

Ships from the West
The Nation, 20 January 2012

The Portuguese – the first Europeans to hunt for treasure in Southeast Asia – got off to a poor start, spending two years in the early 1500s violently establishing a foothold in the Malay state of Malacca. Lesson learned, they were more diplomatic in Pegu, Sumatra and Siam.

Just how peaceful their history was in old Thailand will be examined in a conference in Ayutthaya next week on the 500th anniversary of Siamese relations with the West.

Over two days, dozens of scholars will describe what happened half a millennium ago when the hulking, bearded strangers (think of the frightening farang “guardian” statues at Wat Po) first appeared on these shores.

“Malacca was where East met West, and the Portuguese came to take over the maritime trade,” historian Charnvit Kasetsiri told reporters during a recent preliminary tour in Malacca, once known as “the Emporium of the East”.

Full story here.

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