In the 16th and the 17th centuries, a substantial number Europeans (Portuguese, French, English and Dutch) came and settled in India, mostly in seaport towns initially along the western and later along the eastern shorelines, congregating in large numbers in Bengal.
Qaisar explains, "Conversions took place through force, inducement, and, occasionally also by voluntary change of faith. It might not be true that the Portuguese policy of religious persecution of Hindus was not attempted outside Goa, yet it could be said that, except the Portuguese, none of the European nations appear to have employed violence of similar magnitude."
In relation to places under Portuguese jurisdiction, three terms came to be used to distinguish the three main social elements of Christian settlements.
- First, Reinos, those born in Portugal;
- secondly, Casticos, those born in Asia of Portuguese parents;
- and thirdly, mesticos, the offspring of mixed marriages.
The latter group was derisively called kala firangi (black foreigner) by local Indians.
The book contains fascinating vignettes from that period of Indian history, and quotes from European travellers such as Fray Sebastien Manrique's travelogue (Travels of Fray Sebastien - 1629-1643) and Niccolao Manucci's Storia do Mogor.