Vasco da Gama
Maritime Topics On Stamps :

The seaway to India!

Discovered by Vasco da Gama!

  • 1431/32 Goncalo Velho Cabral discovered the island of Acores.
  • 1482 Diego Cao reached the river Congo.
  • 1487 Bartholomeus Diasz rounded the Cape of Good Hope, to that times the Cape of Storms, sailed for 400 miles to the east, but a mutiny forced him to return.
  • 8th July, 1497 Vasco da Gama started his historic voyage with a fleet of four ships.

Vasco The fleet: Vasco's ship was the 'Sao Gabriel', a nau of 178 tons, length 27 meters, breadth 8.5 meters, draught 2.3 meters, sails 372 squaremeters, crew 150 people.
The 'Sao Raphael' had nearly the same size, the caravel 'Berrioh' was a little smaller. These three ships were accompanied by a small supply ship for stores and food.
During the voyage many seamen died of scurvy.
On November 22th, 1497 the fleet passed the Cape of Good Hope and reached Mosselbay. Here Vasco ordered a stop for a complex overhaul of the ships.
Along the eastcoast of Africa they sailed to Mombasa and Malinde. During this part the 'Sao Raphael' run ashore, but at Malinde they were able to hire a pilot.
On May 20th, 1498 the fleet reached the indian port Calicut. The task was done. The seaway to India was discovered.
(The merchant trade Europe to Arabia was in use a long time before in that region.)

Vasco Vasco da Gama had severe problems to sell his cheap and primitive articles like mirrors and pearls of glass.
After long discussions and negotiations he forced the Indians to supply the needed spice by taking some hostages.
On October 8th, 1498 he started homebound with two ships, the 'Sao Gabriel' and the 'Berrioh'.
The homebound voyage was terrible. The crew had to fight with scurvy and heavy storms again. After rounding the Cape of Good Hope the two ships became seperated. The 'Berrioh' reached Lisboa in July of 1499. The damaged 'Sao Gabriel' limped to the Cape Verde Islands, where Vasco da Gama chartered a caravel and returned via the Azores to Lisboa. The trade company of Lisboa sold the spice with a high profit and the voyage became a great financial success!
Vasco da Gama The second Portuguese India expedition led Pedro Alvares Cabral, who discovered Brazil on this occasion in the year 1500. In 1501 Joao da Nova was the commander of the third voyage with four ships. The fourth voyage 1502 was again under the command of Vasco da Gama, after he had protested at king Manuel I. against a renewed appointment Cabrals to the commander in chief of the fleet. This time he started the voyage with 21 heavily armed ships.
The appearance of the Portuguese in the Indian ocean and their attack on the trade monopoly of Arab and Indian dealers led quite fast to a latent state of war. 1502 immediately after his arrival in Indian seas before Calicut, Vasco had to fight a sea battle with 15 own ships against a fleet of more than 100 Indian and Arab, mostly smaller ships. The Portuguese could destroy the opposing fleet nearly completely. And the Portuguese had success to break the resitance against them by negotiations, using rivalries under the Indian princes and inconsiderate use of force. Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama Vasco Gama strengthened Portugal position at the Indian Malabar coast. 1503 or 1504 he returned to Portugal. From now on he lived ashore. But in the course of time mismanagement and corruption spread in India. 1524 Vasco Gama was appointed to a vice king of India and sent again there. He had to do many preventive measures and to reorganize the civil administration and the military structure. Thus he exchanged nearly all commanders of the Portuguese attachments in India. But Vasco Gama became ill. He died only three months after his arrival at 24th December 1524 at Cochin. (Probably he was born around 1469 in Sines.)
Vasco da Gama

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