20.05.

1498: Vasco da Gama: The First European Ships Come to India

1498: Vasco da Gama: The First European Ships Come to India
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 20 May 1498
  • Vasco da Gama travelled for 10-and-a-half months from Portugal to India. He had four ships, and established the sea route from Europe to Asia. At the time, the route was enormously important due to a trade, especially the spice trade. It is interesting to note that the Portuguese were warmly welcomed by the Indians.

This day in 1498 marked an important event because the ships of Vasco da Gama landed on the Indian coast as the first ships which came from Europe to Asia, using a route around Africa.

The sea route  from Europe to Asia was officially established. At the time, the route was enormously important due to a trade, especially the spice trade. Namely, the trade with Asia (via the Middle East) had come under the control of the Ottoman Turks.

Vasco da Gama travelled for 10-and-a-half-months from Portugal to India. He had four ships, and his ship was named “São Gabriel”.

It was accompanied by other ships: “São Rafael” (under the command of his brother Paul da Gama), “Berrio” (commanded by Nicolau Coelho), and one supply ship.

On this day, they landed on the Indian coast for the first time (Kappad beach in Southern India).

The Indians were very hospitable. They organized a procession, and allegedly 3,000 people participated in it.

Da Gama was even welcomed by the local ruler Zamorin, who was a powerful monarch. He ruled over the vast area, and lived a life of luxury. When Vasco da Gama gave him their gifts, Zamorin was disappointed.

These were: six hats, four bathrobes, four branches of coral, boxes of sugar, honey, and two barrels of oil. The Indians wanted gold and silver.

The local Arab merchants, who were enemies of the Portuguese, tried to convince the Indians that da Gama was a pirate, and not a minister of the mighty Portuguese king.

Therefore, the Indians and the Portuguese didn’t have a good relationship, but Vasco da Gama managed to return home with spices. When he came to Europe, his revenues were allegedly 60 times greater than than the cost of the expedition.

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