Gama, Vasco da (14691525)

Gama, Vasco da, a famous Portuguese navigator, the discoverer of the route to India round the Cape of Good Hope, born at Sines, in Portugal, of good family; he seems to have won the favour of King Emmanuel at an early age, and already an experienced mariner, was in 1497 despatched on his celebrated voyage, in which he rounded the Cape; on that occasion he made his way to Calicut, in India, where he had to contend with the enmity of the natives, stirred against him by jealous Arabian merchants; in 1499 he returned to Lisbon, was received with great honour, and had conferred on him an array of high-sounding titles; three years later he was appointed to the command of an expedition to Calicut to avenge the massacre of a small Portuguese settlement founded there a year previous by Cabrat; in connection with this expedition he founded the colonies of Mozambique and Sofala, and after inflicting a cruel punishment upon the natives of Calicut, he returned to Lisbon in 1503; the following 20 years of his life were spent in retirement at Evora, but in 1524 he was appointed viceroy of Portuguese India, a position he held only for a short time, but sufficiently long to re-establish Portuguese power in India; he died at Cochin; the incidents of his famous first voyage round the Cape are celebrated in Camoëns' memorable poem “The Lusiad” (14691525).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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