Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Early Life

I, Vasco Da Gama, was born in 1460, in Sines, on the Southwest coast of Portugal, in a house near the church of Nossa Senhora das salas. Sines, one of the few seaports on the Alentejo coast, consisted of little more than a cluster of white-washed, red-tiled cottages, tenanted chiefly by fisherfolk.

My father was Estevao da Gama. In the 1460s he was a knight in the household of the Duke of Viseu. Being appointed Civil Governor, he was able to receive a small revenue from taxes on soap making in Estremoz.

My father, Estevao was married to Dona Isabel Sodre, my mother, who was of English origin.

I studied at the inland town of Evora, where I learnt mathematics and the famous astronomer Abraham Zacuto.
navigation and I knew astronomy well, which I learnt from
In 1942, King Jaun Paul II of Portugal sent me to the port of Setubal, south of Lisbon to seize French ships in retaliation for peacetime depredations against Portuguese shipping- a task that I performed rapidly and effectively.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Background

My voyage was successful in establishing a sea route from Europe to India. This permitted Europeans to trade with the Far East without having to endure the costs and hazards of the Silk Road caravans, which followed inland routes through the Middle East and Central Asia at a time when much of this territory was part of the Mughal Empire. However, my achievements were somewhat dimmed by his failure to bring any trade goods of interest to the nations of Asia Minor and India. Moreover, the sea route had its own problems.
- The fleet went more than three months without seeing land
- only 54 of my 170 companions, on two of his four ships returned to Portugal in 1499.

Nevertheless, my initial journey ushered in an era of European domination through sea power and commerce that lasted several hundred years and 450 years of Portuguese colonialism in India and Africa that brought wealth and power to the Portuguese.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The First Voyage

On 8 July 1947 the fleet consisting of four ships left Lisbon. It carried with it a four-vessel fleet consisting of two-medium sized sailing ships, a *caravel and a large storeship. Knowing that the currents along the African coast would impede his progress,I boldly set a course that took me far from land, sailing in uncharted waters. The explorers rounded the southern tip of Africa, which they named the "Cape of Good Hope", on November 22. At this point they no longer needed the storeship, so it was broken up and burned. they continued sailing up the Eastern African coast but stopped as many crew members were sick with *scurvy. The expedition rested a month for the crew members to heal and for the ships to be repaired.


On March 2 the fleet reached the island of Mozambique. Being treated friendly, I learned that the natives traded with Arab merchants and the Sultan of Mozambique supplied me with a pilot to guide them.


We soon reached Calicut in less than a month. We were in the most important trading center in Southern India at that time and were welcomed by the Hindu ruler, Zamorin. However, I was unable to make a trade agreement with him due to certain circumstances. as tensions mounted, I left for Malindi in late August.


As the pilot had abandoned us in Calicut, we travelled back on their own. The weather was not good and the crew was not prepared for a return journey that would last three times as long. Once again, most of the crew members contracted scurvy and many died while others were nearing death upon reaching Malindi. Thankfully, the Sultan there was of extreme help and supported us in many ways.


The remaining ships set out for home and skirted the Cape of Good Hope on March 20. they reached Portugal on July 10. My ship continued on the Azores, and I reached my original starting point, Lisbon on September 9. While hailed as a hero as the acheivement was remarkable (for I had travelled 27, 000 miles) by sea, the trip had taken a great toll. I returned with only half of his ships and less than half of his men. One casualty was especially hard on me: I lost my brother Paulo Da Gama to sickness on the last leg of the journey. Although I had returned with a small amount of tradable goods, I brought back a much more valuable commodity, a sea route to India. The door was open and the Portuguese intended to use it to its fullest.


*caravel- a small, fast ship
*scurvy- a disease marked by swollen and bleeding gums, livid spots on the skin, prostration,
due to a diet lacking in Vitamin C

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Second Voyage

I went out on my second expedition on February 12, 1502. I was prepared for an encounter with the Muslim traders. I had a fleet of twenty warships. I hoped to enforce Portuguese's interests in the east and wanted to get revenge on the Muslims for the opposition in 1948 and killed many Indians and Muslims. In one instance, I waited for a ship to return from *Mecca. The Portuguese overtook the ship and seized all the merchandise. They locked the 380 passengers in the hold and set the ship on fire. It took four days for the ship to sink, killing all men, women and children.

When I arrived in Calicut on October 30, 1502, the Zamorin was willing to sign a treaty. I told him that he would have to banish all the Muslims. To demonstrate the power I had, I hung 38 fishermen; cut off their heads, feet and hands. Then I floated the dismembered corpses onto the shore. Later, I bombarded the city with guns and managed to get into the trading system. This led the way for other Portuguese conquests in the East Indies.

On my return to Portugal in September, 1503, I was made Count. I was also awarded feudal rights and *jurisdiction.

*Mecca- A muslim trading and religious center
*jurisdiction- the right, power or authority to administer justice by hearing and determining controversies

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Third and Final Voyage

I had a reputation as a "solution finder" for the problems that arose in India. Hence, I was sent there once more in 1524. Little did I know that it was to be a treacherous voyage.

My job there was to replace and person as viceroy of the Portuguese possessions.

The end of the memoirs of a great traveller and explorer.

Vasco Da Gama contracted malaria not long after arriving in Goa and died in the city of Cochin on Christmas Eve in 1524.

His body ws first buried at St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi but his remains were returned to Portugal in 1539 and re-interred in Viddigueira in a splendid tomb.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rounding the Cape

Other interesting videos:

Sine, Kurdistan

Sines, Portugal National Erasmus Meeting 2006

South Africa-Cape Town-Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point

Cape of Good Hope

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Golden Age

A Golden Age of a civilisation is not only the time that citizens of a country can acheive great things. The term Golden age stems from Greek mythology. It refers to the highest stage of Greek spectrum. The features of a Golden Age are a strong military, an efficient government, stable, peaceful, full of prosperity and an open society which encourages learning. An analogous idea can be found in the religious and philosophical tradition of the Far East. For example, the Vedic or ancient Hindu culture saw history as cyclical composed of yugas with alternating Dark and Golden Ages. Similar beliefs can be found in the ancient Middle East and throughout the ancient world.

There are creative people in most civilisations at most times but it is during a Golden Age that they have their best chance to flourish. During a Golden Age, citizens experience on of the best times, for trade with other countries to develop and when other advantages are found out. A Golden Age is truly a time of a civilisation not to be forgotten.