Biography of Vasco Da Gama | Navigator and Explorer.

(Sines, 1469 - Cochin, 1524) Navigator and Explorer who opened for the Portuguese called the Spice route, surrounding the African continent to reach the India. The figure of this great Portuguese marine, immortalized by the poet Luis Vaz de Camoens (Camões) in his epic Os Lusíadas, is comparable to that of Cristóbal Colón or Magellan, and it is essential to understand the business transformations that operated in the West throughout the 15th and 16th centuries.

Vasco Da Gama (oil of Antonio Manuel da Fonseca)
Vasco da range was born in Sines, small village located in the Alentejo. His father, named Stephen, was of noble lineage and enjoyed an excellent reputation in court. His mother, dona Isabel Sodre, wanted the second of their sons, Basque, be prepared to follow the ecclesiastical career, but despite the maternal designs the young man decided to, along with his brother Paulo, linking business of sea life.
From an early age, Vasco da range could surrender fully to life seafood, taking part in several expeditions to the African coast and giving them a high capacity test. In this way, acquired experience and fame were enough for, after studies of mathematics and cosmography, was named captain.
A risky episode came to emphasize its prestige as a Navigator. In 1493, the French seized a Portuguese ship loaded with gold from one of the Portuguese possessions on the African coast, Costa da Mina. Basque, appointed Commissioner by the sovereign to seize the French ships anchored in their domains, in retaliation carried out his mission with remarkable speed and success, reaching seized ten of these ships only in the port of Lisbon. Pressed so effectively, the French King Carlos VII resigned to return imprisoned boat without missing an iota of its cargo.
From that moment, Basque especially attracted official attention. In 1495, the death stunned Juan II and the throne passed to his heir, Manuel I the lucky one. Picking up an ambitious project of its predecessor, the new monarch organized an expedition that had to go to the India outlining Africa. At that time, it seemed clear that it was possible to cross the southern tip of Africa and reached the Indian Ocean, as Bartolomé Díaz had shown him ten years before. It was at stake the spice trade, since the routes, at that time, were controlled by the Arabs. This was intended to also balance the advantage of the discovery of Cristóbal Colón had been offered to Spain.
The name of the range was initially among those more suitable to lead the difficult crossing; In 1496, Esteban da range was chosen to do this, but his sudden death made his two sons to assume "the honor and the danger" of leading the difficult enterprise.
The route of spices
July 8, 1497, Vasco da range started from Lisbon at the head of 200 men and 3 ships, the San Gabriel, Bernio and San Rafael. The expedition not skirted the Western African coast (as it was usual), they delved into the Atlantic sailing southward from Cape Verde and then turning East to reach South Africa. In November, they arrived at the southern end of the African continent, called by Bartolomé Díaz Cape of storms, in allusion to the continuous state of agitation from those waters where the Atlantic and Indian oceans and renamed by Juan II with the suggestive and prophetic name of Cape of good hope.
In the middle of November of 1497, the fleet of Vasco da range crossed the Cape of good hope and sailed with heading north along the East coast of Africa. With much of the sick with scurvy crew, the expedition made a high to rest at the mouth of the river Quelimane, after which sailed towards the port of Mozambique.
The port of Mozambique was controlled by the Arabs, who monopolized the trade in the region. For this reason, Vasco da range decided to pose as Muslim. Initially the ploy worked, as the sultan of Mozambique received them very well, and even offered them guides so that they continue their journey to the India. However, soon appeared the suspicions and the sultan began to suspect that Vasco da Gama had deceived him about their religion. To the anger of the ruler, the Portuguese weighed anchors and became the sea, but they were very short of provisions, so were forced to disembark close to there and stock up by force.
Navigation went through difficult times, since the Arab guides weren't legit; but the expedition managed to reach Mombasa, where they were well received by the Sheikh of the place. Vasco da range do not trust your host and his suspicions were soon to be confirmed upon discovering that the Sheikh had them prepared a trap. Alerted, they managed to repel the attack and flee with their three boats. The supplies transport vessel had been abandoned when crossing the Cape of good hope.
The next stop in the African coast was most profitable for the expedition. The Sheik of the place, Malindi, was estranged with the Mombasa, for which he received them willingly and gave them a guide who knew those waters. It was a very skilled Arabic pilot, Aben-Macbid, apparently of Christian religion. Moreover, the Portuguese established contact with an Indian ship, what convinced them of the closeness of their objective. Aben-Macbid, taking advantage of the summer monsoon, led them in only twenty days to the shores of the India. It was the first time that European civilization came into contact with India, a key event for the course of history.

Vasco Da Gama landed in Calicut
There it became clear that those present sent from Portugal by King Manuel II were not to the liking of the Court of the ruler of the city, the zamorin. This, coupled with pressure from Muslim merchants, who complained that Vasco da Gama had repeatedly lied to hide their religion and had acted with violence in the majority of African ports where it had ended up, led to a tense situation with the authorities of Calicut. Nevertheless, Vasco da range succeeded in appeasing the zamorin and sailed from Calicut, on returning to Portugal, with a cargo of spices.

Da Gama to the authorities of Calicut
Vasco da range remained in the India four months. The return trip, as used to occur on crossings so long and difficult, it was very hard. In the trip to Malindi they invested three months and suffered so many casualties that Vasco da Gama, for lack of men to man three ships, decided to distribute the survivors in the two remaining ships and burned the San Rafael. After crossed the Cape of good hope, the two ships were separated because of bad weather, and each one was forced to return to Portugal on their own, both reaching their goal. Vasco da range arrived in Lisbon from September 9, 1499. The country hosted the survivors with overflowing enthusiasm. Vasco da range was appointed "Admiral of the seas of the India" and "Lord of conquest, navigation and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India".
With his trip, Vasco da range had opened a new route to Asia and the islands of spices, alternative to the Silk Road, from the 2nd century B.c. had communicated the East Asian world with the Mediterranean basin and that prior to his expedition relied on Muslim Turkish power. It thus ended the work Prince Enrique el Navegante began eighty years earlier with the school of navigators of Sagres. We know the details of this first trip thanks to the text contained in the journal of Álvaro Velho, a member of the expedition who served aboard the San Gabriel.
It would even Vasco da Gama to the India in 1502 and 1524, leading expeditions that had a more military than commercial or diplomatic character, because it was consolidating the monopoly of spices using the force of arms. He was appointed Governor with the title of viceroy and imposed the Portuguese rule from Goa to Cochin, getting so little Lusitanian Kingdom became a colonial and commercial power of the first order. In the journey of 1502, under the command of a fleet of twenty ships, it seized Quiloa (Kilwa) and Sofala in Mozambique. He managed to eliminate Arab rivals and established Portuguese maritime hegemony on the Indian coast, built in Cochin the first Portuguese factory in Asia. In 1503 he returned to Lisbon and not returned home to sail until 1524, when he was appointed viceroy of the India. However, he could exercise only charge a few months, since he died the same year that reached the India.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
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