Distant countries have always been perceived as a source of miracles and wealth. And the first on this list, constantly inviting and exotic destination for travelers, was India. It seemed to many that spices, gold, precious stones were lying there literally underfoot. However, the way there has always been associated with enormous difficulties and is often simply inaccessible to the majority. But the search for new roads to India never stopped, and the Portuguese were the first to succeed. So what was discovered by Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese navigator, with whose name this achievement is associated?
General description of the situation in the country and in the world at the end of the 15th century
The situation in the country by the end of the 15th century could not be called prosperous for Portugal. By this time, a large number of small-scale nobles lived in it, who did not want to, and did not know how to do anything but fight. Adventurism, the desire to get rich and military skill - all pushed the hidalgo to search for new sources of income. Alas, they were not in the country, and voluntarily or involuntarily, they had to do this outside its borders.
In addition, Portugal found itself on the sidelines of European trade. All of Europe, let's say, has already "got hooked" on spices and could not imagine its existence without them. European merchants received a significant sum from the trade in Indian goods. Even taking into account the fact that they, including spices, had to be bought through the Arabs, whose income was much higher. So the desire to get to the source of such profits was one of the main motives for finding new trade routes. And the flow of goods from India passed by Portugal because of its geographical location, and she got only crumbs of the total pie.
In addition, the situation developed in such a way that the already existing trade routes were practically inaccessible to Portugal. In the Mediterranean, everything was under the control of the powerful Italian cities. Genoa, Venice and others were not going to share income and let anyone on their trade routes. A similar situation developed in the north of Europe, only there the powerful Hansa reigned, an alliance of free sea cities, often dictating their own will to individual states.
So the only way open for Portugal was to the west, to the Atlantic Ocean, and south, to Africa. And all this was accompanied by the desire of the rulers and aristocracy to possess gold, precious stones and rare goods that could bring fabulous profits. Catholic priests made their contribution, demanding the expansion of the flock and, as a result, new lands and an increase in personal income. The poor, downtrodden peasants could no longer provide everyone with the desired well-being. And only in the port of Malindi, whose emir was at enmity with the sheikh of Mombasa and hoped to find new allies in the person of the Portuguese, the expedition was welcomed. Here Vasco da Gama saw Indian ships and realized that the goal of his journey was close. With the help of a pilot provided by the local ruler, the navigator reached India and arrived in the city of Calicut, on the calendar was May 1498
The ships of the squadron stood in the port for 3 months. The trade was not very successful, difficulties arose in relations with the Arabs and Indians, and Vasco da Gama was forced to urgently leave the shores of India. The road back was no less difficult, especially since we had to move out before the eastern monsoon blew out. Nevertheless, the mariners managed to reach the friendly port of Malindi and get food and water there. One of the ships was burned: there were not enough people for all the ships, and the forces were running out.
The way home continued. On March 20, 1499, the expedition passed the Cape of Good Hope and, under a favorable wind, reached the Cape Verde Islands in 27 days. In July 1499, the first of the ships returned to Lisbon, Vasco da Gama himself arrived there in September 1499
You can determine the price that Portugal paid for its discovery. 168 people set off on the way on four ships, and 55 returned on two. It covered 40,000 km, surveyed more than 4,000 km of the eastern coast of Africa. But most importantly, Vasco da Gama discovered and mapped the sea route to India. She ceased to be considered an unknown land. A convenient route was found, along which the surviving sailboats still go to the Cape of Good Hope, avoiding the calm zone and headwinds. And besides, the famous traveler helped Portugal to win the title of the strongest sea power in the world, which it held until 1588.