Biography of Bartolomeu Días de Novaes (ca. 1450-1500)

Navigator and Portuguese Explorer born about 1450 and died in the waters of the Cape of good hope, in the year 1500. In Spain, it was known as Bartolomé Díaz. It was the first European who bent the southern end of the African continent, known as "Cape of storms". Later, King Juan II of Portugal changed its name to the Cape of good hope.


He began his nautical experience under the command of the Crown in 1481, when he captained one of the ships of the fleet sent by King Juan II of Portugal to explore the African Gold Coast. Five years later, in 1486, the King put him in charge of an expedition to explore the West coast of Africa. This trip was organized following the experience of the journey that took place in 1482, another Portuguese Navigator, Diego Cao, where he had managed to get to a point far to the South, close to the current Walvis Bay. Days sailed from the port of Lisbon in August 1487. In February of the following year, 1488, skirted the southern tip of the African continent to the mouth of the river which would be later dubbed the Great Fish. On his return trip he landed in the southeastern tip of the African continent, punta christened that of stormy Cape or Cape of storms, and later King Juan II of Portugal would call Cape of good hope, due to its importance in the route to the far East. In December 1488, Novaes days again returned to Lisbon.

In 1497 he accompanied to the also Portuguese Navigator Vasco da Gama on his journey to India, to guide you through the waters and coasts which he had already explored. Finally, in 1500, sailed on an expedition sent by the also Pedro Álvarez CabralPortuguese Explorer and Navigator. This expedition had as destination the recently discovered coasts of Brazil. He died shortly after starting the trip as a result of a storm, precisely in the Cape of good hope.


Days explored a total of 2,030 km from the African coast, unknown until then. In addition, the journey it embarked in 1486 was the opening of a sea route between Europe and the far East, with the India and Cipango (Japan) as major centers of interest. European politicians and traders considered this way essential to the prosperity of the European continent. Although his journey remained incomplete, Vasco da Gama would continue it and would be the first to complete the route to India, which is impossible without passing the Cape of good hope. Thus was completed the project which had begun with Henry the Navigator at the beginning of the 15th century.


Bartolomeu Dias. Documentary Corpo. Bibliography, Lisbon, 1988.

VV. AA: Bartolomeu Dias 500 th anniversary does not obtaining do cabo da Boa Esperança, 1487/88-1988, Porto, 1988.