Biography of Vasco de Gama (1469-1524)

Navigator and Portuguese Explorer, born 25 December 1469 in Sines (Alentejo) and died in Cochin (India) in 1524, which many historians have to compare with Columbus and Magellan. He/She was count of Videgueyra and Viceroy of the India, and opened a new route to Asia, in addition to founding several commercial colonies on the African coast.

After participating in his youth in the conflicts between Portugal and Castile, King Juan II of Portugal appointed you leader of the expedition that would go to the India bordering Africa, although finally the trip took place during the reign of another monarch: Manuel, the lucky.

The expedition, composed of four ships and 170 men, left the port of Lisbon July 8, 1497. In November of that same year they surpassed the Cape of good hope, which had been discovered in 1488 by another Portuguese sailor, Bartolomé days of Novaes. The expedition had scale in Malindi, because on the East coast of Africa, whose port and with the help of some Indian merchants, Vasco da Gama got a guide that allowed him to continue his route to the e. approximately day, May 20, 1498 arrived to the city of Calicut (current Kozhikode), located on the coast of Malabar, India SO. However, because of the hostile attitude of Muslim traders, Vasco da Gama could not establish a trading post; In addition, had to negotiate before they can begin the journey back to Portugal and leave Calicut in 1499. Thus described Vasco da Gama their encounter with the King of this area of the India:

"The King had long, black, hair combed up and knotted on the Crown, and around the knot had a woven string of pearls, as the neck. At the end of the chain had a piriformis Pearl who was older than the others and certainly of great value. His ears were pierced with large holes, hanging from them many gold earrings Pearl trim. [...] Near the King had a boy, a page with silk dress, holding a parasol with gallon of gold and jewels and a button in the middle of a span width of the same metal. The rods of the parasol were equally Golden. It also had a short sword unsheathed from a stick of long with handle of gold and precious stones with pendants of pearls. On the other side it was a page that was holding a very bellied golden rose spit where the King. Beside his chair was a dignitary brahman which, from time to time, gave him a green leaf which had involved other things. The King you chewing it and then spit it on rose. The leaves had the size of a sheet of Orange and the King ate them continually, and after chewing them long spit them on rose again to take another, because only relished the leaf juice along with the mixture of quicklime and other crumbled things which are called areca nut; the set is the size of a chestnut. All this mish-mash makes the mouth and teeth of a glowing red, already that day after day and in all parties is pays homage to this custom, but that at the same time produces a very nice breath."

The 18 September 1499 fleet was already back in Lisbon, where Vasco da Gama was received with praise and rewarded economic and voluntary; Since then he/she was authorized to use Dom in front of its name. With its journey it had inaugurated a new route to Asia and the islands of spices, alternative to the Silk Road, from the 2nd century B.c. had communicated the Eastern Mediterranean with Asian world and which at that time depended increasingly over the Muslim Turkish power. It ended so work that Prince Henry the Navigator began eighty years earlier with the misnamed "navigators of Sagres school'. 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.

To continue the work of Vasco da Gama was sent to the India Pedro Álvarez Cabral, who was more lucky in the establishment of a Portuguese trading post in Calicut. However, the post created by Cabral was attacked and Vasco da Gama, who had received the title of Admiral of the India, received the order in 1502 lead another fleet to avenge the massacre. On his way, he/she made foundations of colonies on the coast of Africa, in particular in Sofala (1505) and Mozambique (1507), both on the coast and Africa (current Mozambique). Range underwent its residents and forced the Muslim Rajah to restore peace. After this, left the India to return to Portugal in 1513 with a significant load of spices. A few years later, in 1519, he/she was appointed count of Videgueyra.

In the following twenty years since his return he/she did no action as Navigator, but in 1524 he/she was appointed viceroy of the India and traveled to it in order to put an end to the corruption of the Portuguese authorities in the colony. Range disembarked in the India in 1524, but died in Cochin, Calicut s, three months of their arrival. The great poet Portuguese Camoens glorified the discovery of Vasco da Gama in the following stanzas of his work Os Lusíadas:

The light was clara in the oterosPor where Ganges sounds murmurandoCuando could see the marinerosLa land where were approaching:

Already free of storm and fierosY seas fear of his chest desterradoDijo the pilot with happy stranger: there is Calicut if I do not deceive me.

The country that you are looking for, that is (he said): La India is the land that appears;Your journey so long and so prolijoEn these shores there you narrate fenece.

It could not contain its regocijoGama, to see how Dios le Favorecepostrase on Earth, and with pious celoComienza bless to high heaven.


FIELDS, V. Vasco da Gama e a sua descobrimiento viegem. Lisbon, 1968.

MARQUES, A. P. Or sucesso of Vasco da Gama and Cristovão Colombo desgraca. Coimbra, 1994.

TREUE, W. The conquest of Earth. Barcelona, Ed. work, 1948.