Portugal - All About Explorers  

Bartolomeu Dias
Born in 1450 and died in 1500. His epic discovery voyage around the Cape of Good Hope took place in 1487-88. According to the written accounts of this trip the crew suffered considerable hardships, especially as they sailed around the actual Cape. This feat opened the door to exploration of the "New World".

Fernão de Magalhães
Born in the district of Trás-os-Montes in 1480. He participated in 1505 in the invasion of India led by Dom Francisco de Almeida. In 1511 he was in the campaign of the taking of Malaca and three years later was wounded in battle at Azamor, in Morocco. In was responsible for discovering the Philippine Islands in 1521.

Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Alvares Cabral was born c. 1468 and died c.1520 in Santarém. Commissioned in 1500 by King Manuel I he departed on the 9th of March from Lisbon to lead an expedition of 13 ships with the orders to establish trade with India by sailing via the Cape of Good Hope. His fleet reached Brazil in April of that year and gave this discovered land the name of "Terra de Vera Cruz". He eventually reached India at Calcutta in September of the same year having lost only four of his ships in his long exhausting voyage. Pedro Cabral sailed back to Portugal reaching Lisbon with only four ships from his original fleet of 13. However, each of these vessels were laden with eastern spices that provided the beginnings of the most important wealthy period in Portuguese history under the King Manuel I. It was from the information gained from this epic voyage that the royal prince "Henry the Navigator" was inspired to organize many further expeditions and set up trading routes for the economic benefit of his country.

Sacadura Cabral & Gago Coutinho
Artur de Sacadura Freire Cabral Júnior was born near Guarda in 1881 Celorico de Bedira, and died in 1922. He made his career initially in the navy and then moved into their Naval Air Force and later promoted to Director of this Service. In 1921, together with his colleague Gago Coutinha, they became the first aviators to successfully travel non-stop across the South Atlantic from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. On the 15th of December in 1922 he disappeared whilst on a routine flight.

Vasco da Gama
Born in the coastal town of Sines in c.1468, died in 1524. He is possibly the most well known Portuguese explorer from the "Age of Discoveries". In 1497 his expedition sailed from the coast of Portugal in the São Gabriel, the São Rafael, the Bérrio, and a provision vessel, in an attempt to reach by sea the land we know as India. In May of 1498 he landed at Calcutta having successfully accomplished his mission but was met initially with hostility from the local inhabitants. Upon his safe return to Lisbon in August of 1499 he was received with popular acclaim and was granted the title of Conde de Vidigueira. In 1502 he again to India but this time to establish a trading centre in the name of Portugal. The town of Calcutta was sacked and the inhabitants paid a heavy price for their previous attitude. He then forged a trading agreement with the rulers of Cochim and Cananor and filled his ships with spices. After returning to his native soil to report to the King he was granted the title of Viceroy of India. In 1524, after returning to take up his new post in Cochim, he was taken ill and died within four months of his arrival back in India.


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