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Vasco da Gama

Picture of Vasco da Gama

Picture of Vasco da Gama

Short Biography of the life of Vasco da Gama - Explorer and Navigator

  • Nationality - Portuguese
  • Lifespan - 1469 - 1524
  • Family - Father was Estevao da Gama a Portuguese noble and Courtier

  • Education - Well educated befitting his status
  • Career - Explorer and Navigator
  • Famous for : Discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the East, assumed to be impossible

Facts, Timeline & History about the life of Vasco da Gama - Explorer and Navigator
The following are additional facts and a timeline about the life and history of Vasco da Gama:

  • Vasco da Gama was born in Sines, Province of Alemtejo, Portugal
  • He came from a noble Portuguese family and his father was a distinguished soldier who attended the Portuguese court
  • Vasco da Gama was well educated as befitted his status and would have been taught several languages, physics, geometry, mathematics and astronomy
  • 1492 King John II of Portugal sent Vasco da Gama to Setubal, on the Lisbon coast, to seize French ships in retaliation for French raids against Portuguese ships
  • 1497 January the command of an expedition to find a sea route to the East Indies was given to Vasco da Gama
  • 1497 July 8  Vasco da Gama sailed from Lisbon under the leadership of the three da Gama bothers: Vasco, Paulo, and Nicolao Coelho accompanied by crews of about one hundred and fifty men
    • Four ships were in the fleet led by Vasco de Gama
    • The Sao Gabriel which da Gama commanded
    • The Sao Rafael
    • The Berrio
    • A storeship
  • 1497 November 22 Vasco da Gama sailed around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa
  • 1497 December 25 da Gama reached the coast of Natal
  • 1498 January Da Gama reached the mouth of the Zambezi
  • There journey was dangerous and they were attacked by Arabs
  • 1498 May 20 The voyage of discovery reached its destination - the Indies and Calcutta, India
  • 1498 October 5 Vasco da Gama sets sail for home and Portugal
  • 1499 September: Vasco da Gama returns to Portugal to great acclaim. He is created Admiral of the Indian Ocean
  • 1502 King Manuel I of Portugal sent da Gama on another expedition to India and da Gama returned in 1503
  • 1519 the title of Count is bestowed on Vasco da Gama
  • 1524 King John III sends Vasco da Gama to India as the Portuguese viceroy
  • 1524 Vasco Da Gama dies in Cochin on the Malabar coast, India on 24 December, 1524
  • 1539 The remains of Vasco da Gama are returned to Portugal and his body is lain to rest at Vidigueira

Facts about the 1497 Vasco da Gama Ships - the Sao Gabriel, the Sao Rafael and the Berrio
The names of the 1497 Vasco da Gama Ships were the Sao Gabriel, the Sao Rafael and the Berrio. The brave men of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries who sailed in uncharted waters to unknown lands were courageous adventurers who were motivated by fame, glory and the wealth. The living conditions on board the small ships were basic and the voyages were dangerous.

  • Various aids to navigation were available on ships during the Renaissance. The Navigational aids that Vasco da Gama would have used on his ships included:
    • Astrolabes
    • Charts
    • Compasses
    • Cross-staffs
    • Nocturnals
    • Traverse boards
    • Almanacs
  • All of the navigational aids used by Vasco da Gama on the Sao Gabriel, the Sao Rafael and the Berrio were used to measure the angle between objects above the ocean, such as the stars or the sun, with the horizon. This would have enabled Vasco da Gama to calculate the ship's position at sea
  • Conditions on the Vasco da Gama ships would have been very basic. Food provisions would have included bread, beer, fish and salted meat. The Captain would have had some private stores which might include wine and fresh livestock
  • The Sao Gabriel, the Sao Rafael and the Berrio were all small ships, about 80 tons
  • The overall length of the ships would have been about 80 feet
  • The sail area of the ships would have been about 2500 square feet
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