Vasco da Gama

When he reaches Calicut on the Malabar Coast, Vasco da Gama becomes the first European to reach India through the Atlantic Ocean.

In July of 1497, Vasco da Gama departed Lisbon, Portugal, passed the Cape of Good Hope, and moored at Malindi on the east coast of Africa. With the assistance of an Indian trader he met there, he crossed the Indian Ocean. The Muslim merchants of Calicut did not welcome the Portuguese explorer with open arms, and he was forced to battle his way out of the harbour on his journey back to Portugal in 1499. In 1502, he led a fleet of ships to Calicut to avenge the murder of Portuguese explorers and successfully subdued the locals. In 1524, he was dispatched to India as viceroy, but he became sick and passed away in Cochin.

Pedro Alvares Cabral arrived in India in September 1500 and established the first Portuguese factory in Calicut. In addition, he was able to forge profitable alliances with the kings of Cochin and Cannanore.

However, he was beaten by Arabs and natives in the battle of Calicut and returned to Portugal in June 1501, embarrassed and defeated.

In 1502, Vasco Da Gama returned to India and began the naval competition with the competing traders and natives. On his second visit, he got stronger concessions for Portuguese merchants than on his first.

Vasco Da Gama died of malaria at Cochin, India, in 1524.

Why did the Portuguese require additional maritime routes?

Arab traders dominated the trading cities of South East Asia, notably Calicut and Cochin. These merchants traded their wares from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea and overland routes to Egyptian and Syrian ports.

Due to the availability of pepper and spices in high demand on European markets, regions like Cochin and Calicut had a significant position in international commerce.

Therefore, the Portuguese and other European nations need alternate seaways to trade with India.

Early Years of Vasco da Gama and His First Trip to India

Vasco da Gama was born about 1460 to a small Portuguese lord who controlled the Sines stronghold in the Alentejo area of southern Portugal. King John II despatched Vasco da Gama to the port city of Setubal (south of Lisbon) and the Algarve area in 1492 to take French ships in punishment for French attacks on Portuguese commercial interests. and other Southeast Asian nations. Little else is known about his early life.

Relations with Local Population and Competing Merchants

Although the native Hindu people of Calicut originally welcomed the arrival of the Portuguese sailors (whom they assumed for Christians), tensions rapidly erupted when Vasco da Gama presented their monarch with a variety of relatively inexpensive commodities as a welcome gift. This quarrel and the enmity of Muslim merchants prompted Vasco da Gama to return to Portugal without establishing a contract. Pedro Alvares Cabral led a much bigger fleet to profit from Vasco da Gama’s discoveries and establish a trade station in Calicut.

Cabral replied when Muslim merchants killed 50 of his troops by torching 10 Muslim cargo ships and murdering roughly 600 sailors aboard. In Cochin, he built the first Portuguese commercial base in India. In 1502, King Manuel entrusted another Indian voyage to Vasco da Gama, which embarked in February. During this journey, Vasco da Gama targeted Arab maritime interests in the region and used force to negotiate with the ruler of Calicut. Because of these ruthless displays of power, Vasco da Gama was reviled across India and the surrounding region. In contrast, upon his return to Portugal, he was lavishly rewarded for another successful expedition.

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