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Vasco da Gama

"Discoverer" of India

Vasco da Gama, c.14691524, a Portuguese navigator, was the first European to travel by sea to India (149799). At the order of King Manuel I of Portugal, he commanded four vessels to Calicut, where he opened up the lucrative spice trade, thus beginning the Portuguese empire, one of the great European empires, which lasted 500 years.

He returned to India with 20 ships in 1502 and established Portuguese power in India and Africa.

His methods were harsh, and he was not a good administrator. He was sent back to India as viceroy in 1524 but soon died.

Copyright 1991 by Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.