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Alexandros Stefanakis
Ms. Dodson
World History 1 HN
Vasco da Gama
A famous Portuguese explorer named Vasco da Gama changed the face for
history for the better, by uniting Europe and India by sea. Vasco da Gama greatly
influenced people’s lives from the period of the Renaissance from the 14th to 17th
century to today, because he traveled and pioneered new lands, which later brought
valuable concepts and goods (“Vasco da Gama”). Vasco da Gama greatly influenced
people’s lives from the period of the Renaissance to today, because he traveled and
pioneered new lands, which later brought valuable concepts and goods. He was the first
person to sail from Europe to India by sea. He also created trade routes throughout his
whole journey, which included the coast of all of Africa. He also expanded trade of
merchandise and ideas of Portugal to all-important new territories of India. Along his
lengthy journey around the coast of Africa and India he made an effort to spread
Christianity no matter what the consequences were. Overall, he found territories,
encouraged trade, and spread religious ideals. Da Gama influenced history because he
changed people’s lives for the better, through trade and exploration in general.
Vasco da Gama was born in 1460 in Sine, Portugal to Estevao da Gama who
was the civil governor. There is not much information about his early life besides the
fact that he studied mathematics, astronomy and navigation (“Da Gama, Vasco (14601524)”). Prior to the period of King Manuel I there was no record of da Gama
navigating or commanding a ship. By approximately 1494, another Portuguese explorer
Bartholomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope but due to miscommunications and
hard conditions Dias was forced to go back to Portugal (“Vasco da Gama”). During the
1490’s, Portugal and Spain were fighting for land to discover and claim for their
respective countries (“Da Gama, Vasco (1460-1524)”). During this period of time
exploration was a popular way to expand territory and power of your native country.
This fighting and arguing between the two countries made for an agreement to settle the
bad blood between them. This solution was in the hands of the Treaty of Tordesillas
(“Da Gama, Vasco (1460-1524)”). This treaty stated that Portugal and Spain split the
world in to the sections which each of the respective country could explore (“Da Gama,
Vasco (1460-1524)”). Specifically Spain gained control of the Americas or the east, and
Portugal gained control of India and Africa or the west (“Da Gama, Vasco (14601524)”). King Manuel chose Vasco da Gama to lead an exploration to the west and to
serve as the ambassador to the rulers of India (“Da Gama, Vasco (1460-1524)”). It has
also been said that King Manuel wanted to start a crusade against Islam and he sent
Vasco to start it (“Vasco da Gama”).
Vasco da Gama left the port of Lisbon on July 8, 1497 on route to the unexplored country of India via the sea (“Vasco da Gama.”). He left with a fleet of one
hundred seventy men and four ships: the Sao Gabriel, Sao Rafael, Berrio and the last
ship was a cargo ship for the supplies (“Gama, Vasco da, 1er Conde Da Vidigueirs.”).
The route that da Gama used was an efficient and effective route, which later became
the staple route for getting from Europe to India. He stopped all along the coast of
Africa including Sierra Leone, Cape Verde Islands and Mozambique (“Vasco da
Gama”). Dias accompanied Vasco on his journey until they reached Sierra Leone where
Bartholomeu Dias left the group to stay and discover Sierra Leone. His crew stopped in
Mozambique for approximately a month’s time to repair all the ships and regain
strength (“Da Gama, Vasco (1460-1524)”). During da Gama’s stop in Mozambique he
and his crew found sea-lanes along the river and also some of his crew managed to get
the sickness scurvy (“Vasco da Gama”). As da Gama traveled the coast of Africa and
was nearing India he began to experience difficulties between Muslims and Christians
(“Vasco da Gama”). Perhaps since da Gama was known to be a conniving, arrogant,
and brutal these characteristics negatively affected his relations with the Muslim people
(“Vasco da Gama”).
Once he arrived in India on his first journey, he was surprised how much
international trade already had been established with countries such as Africa, China,
Europe, and thee Spice Islands (“Vasco da Gama”). Mainly due to his personality he
had trouble with the natives (“Vasco da Gama”). For example, he and his crew showed
disrespect for Hindu shrines and kidnapped local people to be used as interpreters for
their future journeys (“Vasco da Gama”). During his expedition back home from India
after his first journey his crew again contracted scurvy (“Vasco da Gama”). This left da
Gama with only fifty-five of his one hundred and seventy men that he left with
His first journey didn’t bring very much wealth but his third journey back to
India did. During his third journey he controlled the African waters and destroyed the
Egyptian power in the seas. He later progressed to Calicut, India where he demanded
exclusive trading privileges and when the residents refused he bombarded the city for
two straight days. Afterwards da Gama sailed to the city of Chochin (“Vasco da
Gama”). Although the king the King of Chochin strongly objected Vasco da Gama built
a trading center for Portugal in the city (“Vasco da Gama”).
These journeys and explorations really gained Vasco da Gama high rankings in
the military and navy. His explorations and discoveries also crowned him with hero
status. For example, after he returned home and was crowned the name hero by his
fellow countrymen, the Portuguese (“Vasco da Gama”). Da Gama’s journeys to India
were the first of this type by sea. People accomplished the harsh and extraneous journey
combining both land and sea during his time period. The person who reached India
before da Gama was a man known as Covilha who went through Africa and the Middle
East (Hale). Covilha left around 1487 for his long journey (Hale). No one
accomplished what da Gama did using only the ocean as a route to travel from Europe
to India.
People have yet to realize the significance of Vasco da Gama’s expedition to
what then was a new world. He changed history. His sea journey to India was to a place
that was magical and filled with all the answers to poverty and hardships for Portugal.
India was said to be a place with many valuable fine spices and jewelry that people
from other places had never seen or heard of (“Vasco da Gama”). Da Gama had found a
new source of wealth, power, and trade with his discovery of the Indian world.
Vasco da Gama’s journey along the coast of Africa and to India led to Portugal’s
expansion of trade. This expansion of trade gave Portugal an upper hand in terms of
economy and especially it gave them the advantage in trade compared to other
countries. Through da Gama’s travel and discovery of India for Portugal he opened up
trade and changed what many countries could imagine in this new territory.
Through Vasco da Gama’s journeys he expanded trade east of Portugal, which
eventually led to the vital economic growth. Vasco brought back goods and valuables
from other countries and several regions of Africa and India to sell (“Vasco da Gama”).
For example, he traded and eventually gained goods from the Cape Verde Islands,
Mozambique, Calicut, and Chochin. Da Gama’s discovery of India meant he found the
diamond in the ruff in terms of new trade, produce and commodities.
Vasco da Gama’s exploration also affected the religious world during the 15th to
16th century. Religion was one of the emphasis of the Renaissance time period and as a
result of explorers travel it was possible to spread the separate and unique cultures. As
explorers like da Gama traveled to new areas of Africa and India they taught the ways
of the Christian religion and converted many people to Catholicism. Throughout the
Middle Ages and specifically the Renaissance, religion impacted the daily life and was
an important factor in many political decisions. For example, da Gama was given an
order to start a crusade against Islam and to expand Christianity. In order to accomplish
this amazing feat, da Gama had to recruit people to Christianity in both Africa and
India. After all one of Vasco da Gama’s orders was to start a crusade against Islam and
in order to accomplish this amazing feat he had to recruit people to Christianity.
Vasco da Gama greatly influenced history by reaching India from Europe by a
sea route and spreading the Christian religion and expanding trade. He traveled the
coast of Africa fought of the deadly disease of scurvy and discovered fine jewelry and
fine spices in India (. In discovering India as a diamond in the ruff he brought exotic
goods, valuables and produce to Europe that Europeans had never seen before.
Specifically he introduced Europeans to many new and odd spices, gold, fabric and
other exotic products. Vasco da Gama the Portuguese explorer greatly influenced
people’s lives from the period of the Renaissance to today, because he traveled and
pioneered new lands, which later brought valuable concepts and goods.
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Mich.: Gale, 2008.
4. Halikowski Smith, Stephan. “Da Gama, Vasco.” World Book Online Reference
Center. 2008. 6 May 2008
5. “Da Gama, Vasco (1460-1524).” UXL Biographies. Online Detroit: UXL, 2003.
Student Resource Center – Gold. Gale. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. 19
May. 2008
6. “Gama, Vasco da, 1er Conde Da Vidiguire.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008.
Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition. 29 Apr. 2008
7. “Vasco da Gama.” World History: The Modern Era. 2008. ABC-CLIO. 29 May
8. Hale, John R. Age of Exploration. New York: TIME-LIFE Books, 1966.