Vasco da gama vasco da gama - Vasco da Gama | Portuguese navigator |

    Da Gama's voyage was successful in establishing a sea route from Europe to India that would permit trade with the Far East, without the use of the costly and unsafe Silk Road caravan routes of the Middle East and Central Asia. However, the voyage was also hampered by its failure to bring any trade goods of interest to the nations of Asia Minor and India. The route was fraught with peril: only 54 of his 170 voyagers, and two of four ships, returned to Portugal in 1499. Nevertheless, da Gama's initial journey led directly to a several-hundred year era of European domination through sea power and commerce, and 450 years of Portuguese colonialism in India that brought wealth and power to the Portuguese throne.

    In 1495 King Manuel ascended to the throne. The balance of power between factions at the Portuguese court shifted in favour of friends and patrons of the da Gama family. Simultaneously, a neglected project was revived: to send a Portuguese fleet to India to open the sea route to Asia and to outflank the Muslims, who had hitherto enjoyed a monopoly of trade with India and other eastern states. For unknown reasons, da Gama, who had little relevant experience, was appointed to lead the expedition.

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