Kohzikode is a large city on the Malabar coast in the south west of India in the Kerala state. It is known in English as Calicut.

Calicut is one of the pivots on which world economic history turned. By the time of the 1400’s, Calicut had been an important trading city for  several hundred years – while the general area of the Malabar coast had been trading with Africa and Europe since antiquity.

Entering the 1400’s, the Venetians and the Genoese had dominated the Mediterranean and the lucrative trade between Asia and Europe, for hundreds of years. Portugal, spurred on by its ruler Prince Henry the Navigator, executed a decades-long plan to end-run the Mediterranean by “discovering” an all-water route to Asia.

In 1498, the Portuguese navigator, Vasco de Gama, landed in Calicut.

Portugal established trade with Calicut and other ports in India and in Southeast Asia. The Genoese and Venetian domination of trade had been weakened. The western and northern European trading powers (Spain, the Dutch, the English) eventually supplanted them.

However, after several visits by de Gama and other Portuguese ships carrying heavy cannon, the new trading relationship didn’t end well for Calicut. Or the Muslims he encountered. Or pretty much anyone the Portuguese encountered.

But Calicut survived, as does a fabric that originated there in the 11th century. Made of cotton from the Gujarat state of India, the fabric is unbleached, but often dyed once woven. Calicut was the birthplace of calico fabric.

More history of calico here