1902 Encyclopedia > Geography > Vasco da Gama. Eastern Trade.

(Part 15)

Vasco da Gama. Eastern Trade.

While Columbus was discovering a new world, the Portuguese continued their persevering efforts to reach India by sea. Vasco da Gama sailed from Lisbon on the 8th of July 1497 with four vessels built expressly for the voyage, the largest not exceeding 120 tons, and called the "Sam Gabriel." His brother Paolo commanded the "Sam Raphael," and the "Berrio" was under Nicolas Coelho.

On November 22, with a fair wind, Da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and anchored in the bay named San Bras by Bartholomeu Dias, on the 25th. On Christmas Day he sighted land, which, on that account, he named Natal. He reached Mombas on the 7th of April, and on the 20th of May 1498 he anchored before Calicut.

Da Gama returned to Lisbon in August 1499; and at his recommendation another fleet was fitted out, consisting of thirteen well-armed ships under Pedro Alvarez Cabral, with Bartholomeu Dias and Nicolas Coelho under his orders.

The expedition sailed on the 9th of March 1500; and in the 22nd of April Cabral discovered the coast of Brazil, and took formal possession for the king of Portugal. Resuming his voyage to the East, he reached Calicut in September, and obtained permission to build a factory, establishing friendly relations also at Cananor and Cochin. He returned to Lisbon in July 1501.

Vasco da Gama set sail, with a much larger fleet, on his second voyage in 1502. He visited several ports on the west coast of India, engaged in war as well as in commerce, and returned in September 1503.

In 1503 Antonio da Saldanha and Affonso de Albuquerque sailed for India, and made terms of friendship with the chief of Quilon.

Don Francisco de Almeida, the first viceroy of the Indies, was sent out in 1505. He founded the ports of the Angediva and Cananor, and his son Laurenco discovered Ceylon. Tristam da Cunha, with Affonso de Albuquerque under his orders, was sent to occupy Socotra, and in 1506 Albuquerque came to India as second viceroy. He explored the coasts of Arabia and Persia, made the king of Ormus tributary to Portugal, and sent embassies to Abyssinia. In 1509 (?) a factory was established at Malacca; and on November 25, 1510, the great Albuquerque conquered Goa, and established the seat of his government there.

In 1512 the Moluccas were discovered; and in 1517 Fernam Peres de Andrade reached China, and entered into commercial relations with the governor of Canton.

In 1524 Vasco da Gama arrived in India for a third time, as viceroy, and landed at Goa on the11th of September. He died at Cochin on the 24th of December 1524, and in 1538 his body was transported to Portugal, and buried in his tomb at Vidigueira, of which town he was count.

The voyages of Vasco da Gama revolutionize the commerce of the East.Until then the Venetians held the carrying trade of India, which was brought by the Persian Gulf and Red Sea into Syria and Egypt, the Venetians receiving the rich products of the East at Alexandria and Beyrout [Beirut], and distributing them over Europe. This commerce was a great source of wealth to Venice; but after the discovery of the new passage round the Cape, and the conquests of the Portuguese, the trade of the East passed into other hands.

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