ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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European Perception of Indians in Early Phase of Colonialism

Situating the Gentoo in History

The rise of Islam in the seventh century and a fear generated by its consequent expansion and continued resurgence in the face of European aggression, exercised a strong hold on the European imagination. The search for a sea route was not merely to seek alternative trade routes to the 'Spice lands'; it was also an exercise, sponsored by the church and royalty to win Christian allies in the hitherto unexplored world for the battle against Islam. Vasco da Gama was followed by several other Europeans - yet the diversity and the rich complexity they enencountered gave rise to varying perceptions. It was the Portuguese who first labelled the native inhabitants - the 'gentoos' or 'gentios' - a term that was used as late as 1774 by the British, to denote this time, the religion of the natives.

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