Vasco da Gama

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Vasco da Gama was born 1460 or 1469in Sines, on the southwest coast of Portugal, probably in a house near the church of Nossa Senhora das Salas. Vasco da Gama’s father was Estêvão da Gama, who had served in the 1460s as a knight of the household of Infante Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu and went on to rise in the ranks of the military Order of Santiago. Vasco da Gama was a highly successful Portuguese sailor and explorer during the Age of Exploration. Little is known of Vasco da Gama’s early life.

 

The Portuguese historian Teixeira de Aragão suggests that Vasco da Gama studied at the inland town of Évora, which is where he may have learned mathematics and navigation and it has even been claimed (although dubiously) that he studied under the astronomer Abraham Zacuto.

 

From the earlier part of the 15th Century, Portuguese expeditions organized by Prince Henry the Navigator had been crawling down the African coastline, principally in search of west African riches (notably, gold). They had greatly extended Portuguese maritime knowledge, but had little profit to show for the effort.

 

After Henry’s death in 1460, the Portuguese crown showed little interest in continuing and, in 1469, sold off the neglected African enterprise to a private Lisbon merchant consortium led by Fernão Gomes.

 

In 1487, Bartolomeu Dias discovered that the Indian and Atlantic Oceans were connected. This interested Portuguese King Manuel. He wished to conquer Islam and establish himself as the King of Jerusalem, in addition to making money off the spice trade.

 

By the time they reached Indian Ocean waters, most of his crew was infected with scurvy. Da Gama made landfall in Mozambique to rest and resupply.

 

There, they had skirmishes with the sultan who did not believe the Europeans’ gifts were sufficient. In 1502, King Manuel once again sent da Gama to India to further secure Portugal’s dominance in the region.

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Da Gama left Lisbon with 20 armed ships under his command. During his journey, da Gama slaughtered hundreds of Muslims, attacking ships and firing cannons at trading posts up and down the east African coast.

 

Da Gama left Cochin in February 1503. During his return journey, he established Portuguese trading posts in what is now Mozambique. Portugal would later become the major colonial power in Mozambique. After King Manuel died, King John III asked da Gama to return to India once again.

 

He was requested to help deal with the increasing corruption of the Portuguese officials there. Da Gama fell ill soon after arriving in Cochin. He died from an unnamed illness on Dec. 24, 1524. He was initially buried in a Catholic church in Kochi, but his remains were eventually brought back to Portugal in 1538.

 

This man has left a legacy, a mark on the world that cannot be forgotten, Vasco da Gama was a man that shows lots of strength of courage, a man who went on many voyages around the world just like Christopher Columbus. He died from Malaria.