Famous Explorers | Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama

The world changed forever with Vasco da Gama voyage. He was a navigator and a keen top class leader. An alternative way to reach India was Portugal's dream goal for years. Despite not having been the first choice, Vasco da Gama turned out to be the right man in the right place.

Since 1416, Prince Henry of Portugal (known as "the Navigator") dreamed of rounding the Cape of Good Hope to find an all sea trade route from Portugal to India.

Until his trip to India, the life of Vasco da Gama is very little known. Thought to have been born in 1468 or 1469 in Sines. His parents were Stephen and Elizabeth Sodré da Gama.

He was the second son and therefore had no right to title or fortune. Alternatively, it was thought for an ecclesiastical career.

Came to be ordered, along with his 3 brothers, but that was not what the future held for him. He received a noble education and served in the court of King John II of Portugal. He also served in the army and in 1492 was sent to Setúbal and the Algarve to drive the capture of French ships in retaliation for the attacks against the Portuguese navigation by french pirates.

When D. Manuel I ascended the throne after the death of D. John II. India was the land of all wealth and all the fascinations. It was also where the spices came from.

King D. Manuel decided to proceed with the discovery of a sea route to India. According to historical accounts, King D. Manuel invited Paulo da Gama, Vasco da Gama's brother, to be the commander of the expedition.

Not feeling well and up to the task, Paul declined the invitation, telling the king the name of Vasco da Gama. In the end, Paulo, Vasco da Gama's brother did participate in the trip in the command of one of the ships.

Vasco da Gama sailed from Lisbon on July 8, 1497, and perhaps not even he dreamed that the project was to be a startling success. The fleet was composed of the ships "S. Gabriel", "S. Raphael" and "Bérrio" as well as a cargo ship.

The expedition sailed from Lisbon, accompanied by Bartolomeu Dias, who followed on a caravel towards Mina, following the route already experienced by earlier explorers along the coast of Africa via Tenerife and the Cape Verde Islands.

Under his command he had 170 men, including some of the best that Portugal had. The Cape of Good Hope was doubled in November of that year. Until that moment, the journey had passed without any major incident. It was here that the crew almost mutinied, demanding the return home. Vasco da Gama manages to avoid the worst - with a clear and firm stance, which resulted also from the consciousness of power.

In January 1498, the fleet entered the first time in waters controlled by Muslims. They were close to Mozambique. In a pragmatic attitude, Vasco da Gama decided to hire an Arab pilot to guide the fleet until the end of the trip.

He reached its goal in May 20, 1498 when the fleet cast anchor off the city of Calicut. The diplomat went into action immediately. Brought before the Zamorin of Calicut, the city's leader, the initial reception to Vasco da Gama was good, but everything changed when it came time to deliver gifts to the Zamorin.

Vasco da Gama 1st Trip
Vasco da Gama 1st Trip | Source

The Indian ruler was offended by the quality of the offerings, when Arab traders took the opportunity to intrigue. After being arrested and escaped death - the time was propitious to the courage of the victims - Vasco da Gama finally managed to convince the Zamorin allowing trade with Portugal.

In exchange for spices, the Zamorin expected to receive gold, silver and certain fabrics. Having secured a valuable cargo of spices and precious stones, Vasco undertook the return journey to Portugal in August 1498. Of the 170 men who left only 55 were alive. Paulo da Gama became ill during the trip.

Once arrived in the Cape Verde islands, Vasco da Gama gave the command to João Dias, one of his officers. Chartered a boat and sailed to the island of Terceira, Azores, with the brother that got worse from day to day.

Vasco da Gama finally reached Lisbon in the summer of 1499, two years after the start of the trip. Expecting him was a climactic ceremony.

D. Manuel was waiting for him in Restelo. He was the recipient of the gratitude from an entire nation, won a long list of honors and favors. It was also appointed Admiral of the Sea of India. After all, Vasco da Gama never received the title claimed by the end of life: the landlord of the town of Sines.

Married in 1500 to Catarina de Ataíde , with who had seven children. He made ​​a second trip to India in 1502. This time, led a fleet of 20 ships heavily armed. It was a way to force the entry of Portugal on the market and take revenge on the Muslim traders who have complicated the negotiations in 1498. Along the way many atrocities were committed, which led to the death of innocents.

In fact, the time was rich in various illegal activities. When Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut, the Zamorin was willing to sign a treaty. Portugal began the conquest of hegemony in trade in India. At the beginning of the reign of King John III, the Eastern Empire went through a period of instability.

Vasco da Gama was appointed Viceroy of India and set off in 1524 with the mission of put some order in the house, with its austere discipline. No more he returned to Portugal, and died on Christmas Eve of 1524.

Until this trip, the Portuguese area of intervention was limited to the African coastline. It was a cornerstone for the creation of the world as we know it now.

In conclusion, Vasco da Gama's voyage to India, had major effects on Europe's economy, because it opened a new trade route with the riches of India, ending the Muslim monopoly. This voyage also helped to bring an end to the Middle Ages in Europe.

I hope you found this hub about the Vasco da Gama one off the most famous explorers interesting. If you enjoyed reading it you can vote it up, you can also share it with your friends.

More by this Author


Comments 1 comment

sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

sunilkunnoth2012 2 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

Nice hub. I too had done one on the same topic. Hope you will find the same and leave your comments. Gama reached Kozhikode, my hometown in 1498 and that heralded the European invasion to India. Your work is appreciated.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working