Early modern Goa: Indian trade, transcultural medicine, and the Inquisition

  • Bindu Malieckal Saint Anselm College
Keywords: India -- History, Velha Goa (India), Colonization, Colonialism and neocolonialism, Portuguese -- India, Trade routes, Spice trade, Inquisition, Literature and medicine, Medicine and religion, Christianity, Judaism, Drugs, Food


Portugal’s introduction of the Inquisition to India in 1560 placed the lives of Jews, New Christians, and selected others labelled ‘heretics’, in peril. Two such victims were Garcia da Orta, a Portuguese New Christian with a thriving medical practice in Goa, and Gabriel Dellon, a French merchant and physician. In scholarship, Garcia da Orta and Gabriel Dellon’s texts are often examined separately within the contexts of Portuguese and French literature respectively and in terms of medicine and religion in the early modern period. Despite the similarities of their training and experiences, da Orta and Dellon have not previously been studied jointly, as is attempted in this article, which expands upon da Orta and Dellon’s roles in Portuguese India’s international commerce, especially the trade in spices, and the collaborations between Indian and European physicians. Thus, the connection between religion and food is not limited to food’s religious and religio-cultural roles. Food in terms of spices has been at the foundations of power for ethno-religious groups in India, and when agents became detached from the spice trade, their downfalls were imminent, as seen in the histories of Garcia da Orta and Gabriel Dellon. 
Apr 13, 2015
How to Cite
Malieckal, B. (2015). Early modern Goa: Indian trade, transcultural medicine, and the Inquisition. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 26, 135-57. https://doi.org/10.30674/scripta.67451