Why Famous: Vasco da Gama was the first European explorer to reach India by sea, helping to establish Portugal as a colonial power and changing the previous dependence Europe had on trade overland.
Vasco da Gama left Portugal with 4 ships on his first voyage in 1497, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and travelled up the African coast. Arriving in the trading port of Calicut, India in May of 1498 he was warmly received, though failed to establish permanent relations.
After an arduous journey home he returned to Portugal in August of 1499 to a hero's welcome, including the noble title of Dom.
In 1502, Vasco da Gama made a second less successful voyage to Calicut with the aim of subduing the town with a fleet of fifteen ships. This voyage was marked by acts of cruelty, including looting and burning a Muslim pilgrim ship with pilgrims inside.
After this, Vasco da Gama fell out of favour, until 1524 when he was appointed Indian Viceroy, However, 3 months after arriving again in India, Vasco da Gama died of malaria.
Birthplace: Sines, Portugal
- 1497-07-08 Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama departs on his first voyage, becoming the 1st European to reach India by sea
- 1497-11-18 Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama reaches the Cape of Good Hope
- 1497-11-22 Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama rounds Cape of Good Hope on way to first voyage from Europe to reach India
- 1497-12-16 Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama is 1st European to sail along Africa's East Coast, names it Natal
- 1498-03-02 Vasco da Gama's fleet visits Mozambique Island
- 1498-05-20 Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrives at Calicut, India becoming the first European to reach India by sea
- 1502-02-12 Vasco da Gama sets sail from Lisbon, Portugal, on his second voyage to India
- 1502-10-30 Vasco da Gama returns to Calicut, India for the second time.
- 2014-05-08 World's oldest astrolabe (mariner's navigator tool) c. 1498 from Portuguese shipwreck of explorer Vasco da Gama found near Al Hallaniyah Island, Oman