The main object of the Portuguese was to obtain a share in the lucrative spice trade carried on by the Malays, Chinese and Japanese; the trade-routes of the archipelago converged upon Malacca, which was the point of departure for spice merchants trading with every country on the shores of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.
A seasoning of ground fenugreek or spice is sometimes given to shy feeders to encourage them to eat.
Soon afterwards Pierre Poivre, intendant of Ile de France, seeing the freedom of the Seychelles archipelago from hurricanes, caused spice plantations to be made there, with the object of wresting from the Dutch the monopoly they then enjoyed of the spice trade.
There are also, in this connexion, numerous bakeries for biscuit, rice-peeling mills and spice mills.
Then, sailing round Ceylon, he captured Malacca, the key of the navigation of the Indian archipelago, and opened a trade with Siam and the Spice Islands (Moluccas).
The desire to obtain the monopoly of the spice trade has been a potent force in the fashioning of Asiatic history.
Very soon the spice trade had become a Portuguese monopoly, and Malacca was the great headquarters of the trade.
In 1602 the Dutch routed the Portuguese near Bantam, and opened the road to the Spice Islands.
This was due first to the difficulties of the navigation, next to the exclusiveness of the Dutch, who, holding the Spice Islands, prevented all access to places east of them, and lastly to the stream of enterprise being latterly diverted to the more temperate regions farther south.
In Further India and the Malay Archipelago the Portuguese acquired predominating influence at sea, establishing factories on the Malabar coast, in the Persian Gulf, at Malacca, and in the Spice Islands, and extending their commercial enterprises from the Red sea to China.