Portugal's base in Cochin dated from as early as 1503. There the Portuguese built Fort Manuel, the first European fort in India. Around a century and a half later, Cochin was captured by the VOC under the command of Rijcklof van Goens. Cochin subsequently expanded to become the Company's main base on the Malabar coast. The rajah of Cochin granted the Company a monopoly in pepper and cinnamon.A commander was based in Cochin to administer the whole of the Malabar coast on behalf of the VOC. However, the town was too large to enable it to be defended against enemies so it was reduced in size to within the surrounding walls. Many of the original Portuguese buildings were demolished or converted into warehouses. The VOC also built a hospital in Cochin, together with an orphanage and terraced housing for its workers and soldiers.In 1676 the Company acquired the pepper monopoly on the Malabar coast. But even this failed to give it control of all pepper production. However, this did not give it control of all pepper production. Because English merchants paid higher prices for their pepper, local traders preferred to sell to them rather than to the VOC. Corruption within the VOC ranks, as well as pepper smuggling to places outside the VOC's monopoly, caused profits to dwindle away completely in the 18th century.In 1663 Rijcklof van Goens dealt a telling blow to the Portuguese. One of the descendants of the old rajah applied to the VOC for aid against the Portuguese and his overlord, the ruler of Cochin. At first the Company only took Cochin because of its strategic importance - the Portuguese presence in the Malabar region was seen as a threat to the nearby island of Ceylon, which the VOC had recently acquired. From 1661 the Malabar coast was captured from the Portuguese piece by piece. Malabar remained under the jurisdiction of the governor of Ceylon until in 1663 it became an independent section under a commander based in Cochin.In 1795 Cochin fell to the English.