Vasco da Gama

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Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama - Explorer (c1460 - 1524)

Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer who became the first European to reach India by sea. Despite a difficult voyage back, which saw him lose many of his crew, he returned to Portugal as a national hero. He was made Admiral of the Seas of Arabia, Persia, India and all the Orient, and went on to become Count of Vidigueira.

This page details facts about Vasco da Gama's life and the events that shaped his history.

Vasco da Gama the Explorer - Fun Facts for Kids !
Vasco da Gama Fact   1: Vasco da Gama was born in Sines, in the province of Alentejo, Portugal around 1460. His mother was Isabel Sodre and his father, Estevao da Gama, a nobleman that became Governor of Sines. He had four brothers and a sister.
Vasco da Gama Fact   2: Vasco da Gama was well educated, however little else is known of his early life.
Vasco da Gama Fact   3: In 1492 Vasco da Gama was sent to Setubal, on the Lisbon Coast, by King John II of Portugal. His orders were to capture French ships in response to French raids on Portuguese ships.
Vasco da Gama Fact   4: In 1497 Vasco da Gama gained command of an expedition tasked with finding a sea route to the East Indies. He sailed from Lisbon on 8 July 1497 with approximately one hundred and fifty men, and four ships. The ships making up the fleet were the Sao Gabriel (commanded by Vasco da Gama), the Sao Rafael (commanded by his brother Paulo), the Berrio and a storeship.
Vasco da Gama Fact   5: Following a route previously used by Bartolomeu Dias ten years earlier, Vasco da Gama and his expedition sailed via the Canary and Cape Verde Islands before crossing the equator and heading south into the open Atlantic. He sailed around the Cape of Good Hope on 22 November 1497.
Vasco da Gama Fact   6: Vasco da Gama passed the point where Bartolomeu Dias had turned around and, on December 25 1497, the expedition sailed past a coast which he named Natal.
Vasco da Gama Fact   7: On March 2 1498 Vasco da Gama arrived in the waters of Mozambique where he stayed for several weeks. The expedition then continued up the African coast, via Mombasa, and arrived at Malindi, in modern day Kenya, on 14 April 1498.
Vasco da Gama Fact   8: While in Malindi, Vasco da Gama secured the services of a pilot who knew the route to Calicut, India.
Vasco da Gama Fact   9: Vasco da Gama resumed his journey and arrived at Kappkadavu near Calicut on 20 May 1498, thus becoming the first European to reach India by sea.
Vasco da Gama Fact 10: The goods that Vasco da Gama had brought with him to trade were poor quality and did not impress his hosts. He also encountered a certain amount of hostility from the Muslims when they realised that Vasco da Gama and his men were Christians.
Vasco da Gama Fact 11: On 29 August 1498 he left Calicut and headed north to Anjadip Island where the expedition remained anchored for a while. On 3 October 1498 the expedition headed into the Arabian Sea to return to Malindi.
Vasco da Gama Fact 12: Vasco da Gama had chosen a difficult time to make this journey with the monsoon winds against them. Consequently they arrived back at Malindi on 7th January 1499, three months after leaving Anjadip. The crossing had taken its toll on the crew with around half dying and many more suffering from scurvy.
Vasco da Gama Fact 13: Unable to properly sail the three ships, Vasco da Gama redistributed the crew between the Sao Gabriel and the Berrio, and destroyed the Sao Rafael. With the voyage becoming easier, they passed the Cape of Good Hope on 20 March 1499, and continued on to Cape Verde.
Vasco da Gama Fact 14: The two ships separated and the Berrio went on ahead to Lisbon where it arrived on 10 July 1499. It’s Commander, Nicolau Coelho reported the news of the expedition to King Manuel I.
Vasco da Gama Fact 15: Vasco da Gama remained in Cape Verde with his brother Paolo who had contracted an illness. They resumed their journey, however Paolo died on route, so Vasco da Gama stopped at the Azores where he buried Paolo. He eventually arrived in Lisbon, in September 1499, to a hero’s welcome.
Vasco da Gama Fact 16: King Manuel I rewarded Vasco da Gama with a large pension and made him the Admiral of the Seas of Arabia, Persia, India and all the Orient.
Vasco da Gama Fact 17: Within a few years, possibly 1501, Vasco da Gama married Catarina de Ataíde, the daughter of a nobleman.
Vasco da Gama Fact 18: Following the success of da Gama’s expedition, another Armada was sent to India under the command of Pedro Alvares Cabral. It was during this expedition that Cabral fought with the local merchants and, after an attack on the Portuguese, war broke out between Portugal and Calicut. As a result, Vasco da Gama was sent to exact revenge upon the Zamorin.
Vasco da Gama Fact 19: On 12 February 1502 he set sail from Lisbon with fifteen ships and approximately eight hundred men. He reached India in October 1502 and began attacking Arab ships, brutally massacring the crews.
Vasco da Gama Fact 20: Following an unsuccessful attempt at negotiating, Vasco da Gama’s warships attacked Calicut. Despite these attacks, the Zamorin refused to give in to the terms offered by the Portuguese, and in early 1503 Vasco da Gama left India, arriving back in Portugal in September 1503.
Vasco da Gama Fact 21: For the next sixteen years Vasco da Gama was pushed aside by the royal court, until he was given the title ‘Count of Vidigueira’ in 1519.
Vasco da Gama Fact 22: King Manuel I of Portugal died in 1521 and was succeeded by his son John III, who brought Vasco da Gama back into prominence as an advisor. He followed this by sending da Gama to replace Duarte de Menezes as the Governor of Portuguese India. He also gave him the title ‘Viceroy’.
Vasco da Gama Fact 23: Vasco da Gama set sail for India in April 1524, arriving in September. Shortly after arriving, he contracted Malaria, and on 24 December 1524, he died in Cochin, India.
Vasco da Gama Fact 24: In 1539 his remains were removed from his original burial place in St. Francis Church, Kochi, and returned to Portugal where they were interred in Vidigueira. In 1880 His remains were moved to the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, where the remains of Kings Manuel I and John III have also been laid to rest.
Vasco da Gama the Explorer (c1460 - 1524) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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