Who was the Portuguese who gave the whole of Bombay as dowry to the King of England?


The city of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is known as the economic capital of India. In the 2011 census, it became the most populous city in the country with a population of 12.4 million. But this Mumbai was once a small fishing village, which was given as dowry by the Portuguese king to the British king on the marriage of his sister. Let's know the whole story.

King Charles II of England and Queen Catherine of Braganza of Portugal.Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The weddings of kings and Maharajas are one better than the other. The entire ceremony is held in a grand manner. Usually, the girl's side gives immense wealth or land to the boy's side as a gift. But there is a wedding recorded in history in which the entire city of Bombay was given as dowry. The same Bombay which is called Mumbai today. Let us know between whom this marriage took place and which king gave Bombay as dowry.

At one time, the colonialists had established such a foothold in the country that they not only looted India, but also gave away entire cities to someone else without permission. Something similar happened in the 1660s when the then Portuguese king gave the entire city of Bombay as dowry to the British king on the occasion of his sister's wedding.

Between whom did the historic marriage take place?

A marriage treaty was signed on 23 June 1661 for the union of Charles II and Catherine of Braganza. Charles was the king of England then. According to a report, he wanted a wife who would bring him and England the greatest political and economic benefits. In this regard, different kings sent him proposals. Actually, England was a superpower in those times. Hundreds of kings wanted to form an alliance with him. One of them was the king of Portugal, who proposed to give the highest dowry. Finally it was decided that King Charles would marry Portuguese queen Catherine of Braganza, who is 8 years younger than the king.

Charles wrote in a letter about his future wife that she was not very beautiful, but her eyes were very lovely. Overall, he considered Catherine acceptable as a wife.

What did the King of England get as dowry?

The marriage of Catherine and Charles was entirely based on political and economic grounds. This is evident from the dowry received by Charles. At that time, the king of Portugal was Alphonso VI. He gave the city and island of Bombay to the British king on the wedding of his sister Princess Catherine. Apart from this, a place named Tangier in the Mediterranean Sea and 3,00,000 euros in cash were also given. Currently, the value of 3 lakh euros is Rs 2,67,98,720. Catherine also brought with her the right of free trade with Portuguese colonies for the British. It is said that drinking tea became popular in Britain only after her arrival.

Bombay leased to the East India Company

Bombay was then known as 'Bom Bahia'. It was a small fishing village. There were a few huts of Kolis, its original inhabitants. The present name of the city, Mumbai, is derived from the goddess Mumba Devi who is worshipped by the Kolis. Bombay was earlier divided into seven islands. Hence, there was a big problem of communication on these islands. Therefore, Charles II gave it on rent.

The East India Company took the islands on rent. These were not very expensive either. The king had rented the islands for just 10 pounds per year. The company's first base was in Surat. In comparison, Bombay, located on the north-western coast of India, provided the company with a much safer base. Due to this, they shifted their business to Bombay in the year 1687. Bombay soon became an important port, shipbuilding center and trading city. The British East India Company gradually built the city of Bombay by joining the seven scattered islands.