Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama (vă´skō də gă´mə, Port. väsh´kō dä gä´mə), c.1469–1524, Portuguese navigator, the first European to journey by sea to India. His epochal voyage (1497–99) was made at the order of Manuel I. With four vessels, he rounded the Cape of Good Hope, passed the easternmost point reached by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, continued up the east coast of Africa to Malindi, and sailed across the uncharted Indian Ocean to Calicut. This voyage opened up a way for Europe to reach the wealth of the Indies, and immediately Portugal gained great riches from the spice trade; out of it ultimately grew the Portuguese Empire. Gama dictated the instructions for Cabral's voyage (1500–1502) to India, and in 1502 he himself led a fleet of 20 ships on his second India voyage. With this force he attempted to establish Portuguese power in Indian waters and sought to secure the submission of a number of chiefs on the African coast. He was harsh in his methods and was not as good an administrator as many of the Portuguese captains who later went to the East, but he was the first, and he was honored with many tributes and the title of count of Vidigueria. In 1524 he was sent back to India as viceroy, but he died soon after his arrival. Gama's voyage is the subject of Camões's epic The Lusiads.

See A Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama (1898), the journal of one of Gama's subordinates; G. Corrêa, The Three Voyages of Vasco da Gama and His Viceroyalty (1869, repr. 1964); K. G. Jayne, Vasco da Gama and His Successors (1910, repr. 1970); H. H. Hart, Sea Route to the Indies (1950, repr. 1971); N. Cliff, Holy War: How Vasco da Gama's Epic Voyages Turned the Tide in a Centuries-Old Clash of Civilizations (2011) and The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco Da Gama (2012).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Vasco da Gama: Selected full-text books and articles

The Portuguese Pioneers By Edgar Prestage A. & C. Black, 1933
Librarian's tip: Chap. XII "The First Voyage of Vasco da Gama"
The History of Portugal By James M. Anderson Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: "Vasco da Gama" begins on p. 63
Readings in Hispanic American History By N. Andrew N. Cleven Ginn, 1927
Librarian's tip: Chap. 13 "Reception and Honors for Vasco da Gama"
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
The Age of Reconnaissance By J. H. Parry World Pub. Co., 1963
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Vasco da Gama begins on p. 139
A History of Portugal By Charles E. Nowell D. Van Nostrand, 1952
Librarian's tip: Chap. 5 "The Portuguese Golden Age"
Great Adventures and Explorations from the Earliest Times to the Present, as Told by the Explorers Themselves By Vilhjalmur Stefansson; Olive Rathbun Wilcox Dial Press, 1952 (Revised edition)
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Vasco da Gama begins on p. 162
Times & Tides By Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe History Today, Vol. 47, No. 12, December 1997
Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism By Robert Shadle; Ross Marlay; William G. Ratliff; Joseph M. Rowe Jr.; James S. Olson Greenwood Press, 1991
Librarian's tip: "Gama, Vasco da" begins on p. 239
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