Vasco da Gama was born in the 15th century although there is a lot of doubt about his year of birth. As per some recollections, he is said to have been born in the year 1460 while according to some, in the year 1469. However there is no confusion about the place of his birth which was in the province of Sines.
It can be said that the idea of exploring the farther parts of the world was not a new concept to Vasco da Gama. This is because his father was also an explorer and he was the one who was originally chosen to be the navigator for the Euro-Indian sea-route. But because Vasco da Gama’s father expired before he could start the journey, Vasco da Gama got his maiden chance to explore the naval-route. This opportunity proved a very big factor in the highlighting of the Vasco da Gama biography.
Vasco da Gama started on his voyage in the year 1497 from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. The main reason India was chosen as a business naval-route was because of the fame of the Indian spices and condiments. According to the Vasco da Gama biography, it can be observed that the Portuguese explorer used the naval route via Africa by passing through important naval junctions like Cape of Good Hope and Mombasa. Vasco da Gama finally reached Calicut (now Kozhikode) in Southern India in the year 1498. After making successful trade exchanges, Vasco da Gama returned back to Portugal in the year 1499. This successful navigation by Vasco da Gama led to a direct naval travel route from Europe to India which was further utilised and developed by other explorers in the future years.
However, it has to be noted that the trade arrangements were not very easy. Vasco da Gama had to face a lot of struggle during his voyage. First he encountered problems with Muslim business men in Africa and then while returning back from India, he was asked to pay a lot of taxes. Additionally, he was also asked to leave his trade commodities behind rather than taking them back to Portugal. This loss though, was averted substantially.
According to the Vasco da Gama biography, the Portuguese explorer was once again asked to visit India in the year 1502.This time however, the purpose of the visit was not for trade and commerce but for the purpose of politics. Vasco da Gama was the admiral under the Portuguese ruler Manuel I and as a viceroy he proved his capabilities quite well to the Portuguese court. He was the main force in subduing a lot of uprisings especially by the Muslim traders who plied their trade in the African continent and the connecting Indo-African sea-route. These uprisings were caused because the Muslim traders felt that their route was in jeopardy because of the repeated entering of the European ships in the oceanic waters.
In the year 1524, Vasco da Gama was asked to undertake yet another voyage to India as a viceroy and an ambassador of the then Portuguese king John III. But this journey proved to be very unfortunate as the Portuguese explorer died because of a malarial illness. In the year 1539, Vasco da Gama’s remains that were initially buried in the St. Francis Church (Kochi) were sent back to Portugal. It can be seen in the Vasco da Gama biography that a monastery was constructed in the Portuguese province of Belem by the name of ‘Monastery of the Hieronymites.’
The Vasco da Gama biography is something that needs to be read by each and every person who is interested in Indian and foreign history and culture. Vasco da Gama played a very important role in changing the way Europe looked at the scope of trade overseas. By coming to India, Vasco da Gama not just revolutionised European and Portuguese markets, but also the mindset of the Indian businessmen. In his own way, Vasco da Gama was not just an explorer but also a visionary of the highest order.