Vasco da Gama

I Vasco da Gama lived from 1469-1524. I was a Portuguese sea captain and explorer,and I commanded the first fleet to reach India from Europe. I sailed around Cape of Good Hope to India in the late 1490ís. I also opened the first all water trade route between Europe and Asia.

I was born in Sines, Portugal, and attended school in the town of Evora. I learned astronomy and navigation, and became a naval officer in 1492, and commanded ships along the coast of Portugal.

I commanded four ships, including the Berrio, Saint Gabriel, and the Saint Raphael. I had a total crew of about170 men. My navigational equipment included compasses, an instrument called an astrolabe, and astronomical charts.

My ship reached Calicut, India May 20,1498. But the Indian ruler felt insulted because he thought the gifts I brought him were of little value. In August 1498, I sailed for home with only samples of Indian goods. Many of the sailors died of disease during the voyage, and only 55 men survived.

I arrived in Lisbo in September 1499. The King Manuel gave me the title of Admiral of the Sea of India. After returning to Portugal in 1503, I retired from the sea.