Vasco da Gama sailed into history on July 8, 1497.
With a fleet of four caravels, he became the first European to reach India by sea. He made use of the prevailing winds by sailing south in a zigzag pattern away from the African coast then veering off to the east past the Cape.
The Portuguese navigator reached the Indian coast, at Calicut in May 1498.
This voyage established one of the most lucrative trade routes at the time, controlled entirely by the tiny nation of Portugal.
The ruler of Calicut had some reservations in dealing with the infidels from Lisbon whom he saw as potential rivals. When that ruler massacred Portuguese traders, da Gama returned and established the good tradition of “we have big guns and you don’t”.
The tiny nation that could, sailed forth to claim the spice trade away from the Arab dominance at the time, to convert native peoples to Christianity and to dominate the world as no one had known it till then.
Explorations and negotiations often proved so graphically and massively violent, we can’t even speak of them here.
Portugal opened the way for other seafaring nations of Europe. The Dutch, French and English eventually took over the Portuguese routes. Even so we can’t but marvel at the audacity of the first pioneers who boldly ventured where the maps trailed off to the phrase: HIC SVNT DRACONES (Here Be Dragons).
Military Success Network encourages our readers to explore more and discover the strategies and tactics de Gama used on his missions.
Pirate with royal patronage? Or maritime explorer? 10 minutes of a 50 minute documentary to get you started below: