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Vasco da Gama

Civilization:Hispanic: Portugal
Era: Exploration
1460–1524Field of Renown:explorer: India
 Vasco da Gama landing at Kalicut

Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese nobleman and admiral, who led the first successful voyage from Europe to the Far East by rounding the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. Although his first voyage succeeded in reaching the desired destination, only two of his ships returned to Portugal, and more than half of his crew died en route. Arab traders controled virtually all of the trading posts in the region, and his fleet had been too small to resist them, yet after numerous adventures and hair-raising confrontations, he succeeded in his mission. He learned much about weather, navigation and political conditions that was crucial in future journeys, and made enough trade contacts so that future adventures could establish permanent trading routes.

Three years after returning to Portugal da Gama led a second voyage to the far east, this time with 20 warships. Their greatly superior armaments allowed them to prevail over the Arab traders who dominated the area. Most of the battles fought by the Portuguese were directed against Arab merchants. The fleet captured, looted, and destroyed virtually every Arab trading ship it encountered and won a navel battle against the Arab fleet outside Calicut. After establishing Portuguese dominance and signing treaties with several trading posts in India and Africa, his fleet returned to Portugal laden with rich products from the east.

Da Gama lived many years in retirement before being recalled to the east in 1524. He replaced the current viceroy of the region, but died only a few month after reaching India.

Key events during the life of Vasco da Gama

Year Event
1460 Birth of Vasco da Gama in Portugal
  Fought against Ferdinand in Portuguese war against Castile.
1488 Bartholomew Diaz rounds the Cape of Good Hope in Africa
1497 July: Embarks on first voyage to India
1498 May: Arrives at Calicut in India
1499 August: Two of da Gama's ships return to Portugal—half of crew died en route.
1502 Leads a fleet of 20 warships to India.
1503 Returns to Portugal and retires with honors
1524 Died of malaria on final voyage to India.

Book Links
Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama  by  George Towle


Story LinksBook Links
Vasco da Gama  in  South Africa  by  Colvin
Vasco da Gama  in  Famous Men of Modern Times  by  Haaren
How Europe Found the Sea-Road to India  in  India: Peeps at History  by  Home
How Brave Men Went Sailing upon Unknown Seas  in  Our Empire Story  by  Marshall
Vasco da Gama's Great Voyage  in  Discovery of New Worlds  by  Synge
Vasco da Gama Reaches India  in  Book of Discovery  by  Synge
Vasco de Gama Reaches India by Rounding Africa  in  European Hero Stories  by  Tappan

Image Links
Vasco da Gama meets the Zamorin of Calicut  in Famous Men of Modern Times Vasco da Gama landing at Kalicut  in India: Peeps at History Portugese Explorers in Discovery of New Worlds
Vasco de Gama  in Book of Discovery A Ship of Vasco De Gama's Time  in European Hero Stories Fleet of Vasco da Gama sets sail. in Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama quells a mutiny in Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama Visit of the Sheik at Mozambique in Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama Vasco visits the King of Melinda in Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama
Behold Captain! The Land of India' in Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama Vasco da Gama taken prisoner in Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama The attack on the Goa Boats in Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama

Contemporary Short Biography
Bartholomew Diaz Discovered Cape of Good Hope at the southernmost point of Africa.
Paulo da Gama Brother of Vasco da Gama, and captain of one of his ships. Died on the Journey.
Nicolau Coelho Commanded one of the ships on Vasco da Gama's famous journey to India.
Francisco de Almeida Distinguished himself in the wars against Granada, and was appointed first governor of Portuguese India.
Alfonso de Albuquerque Naval officer who helped establish a Portuguese colony in India at Goa.
Emanuel I of Portugal King of Portugal during years of Portuguese conquest of the Far East.
Christopher Columbus Sailed across Atlantic Ocean and discovered the Americas.