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Statue of Bartolomeu Dias at the High Commission of South Africa in London.
Voyage of Bartolomeu Dias (1487–88)

Bartolomeu Dias (Portuguese pronunciation: [baɾtuluˈmeu ˈdiɐʃ]; Anglicized: Bartholomew Diaz; c. 1451 – 24 May 1500 [1]), a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household, was a Portuguese explorer who sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, the first European known to have done so.

Contents

Purposes of the Dias expedition

Dias was a Knight of the royal court, superintendent of the royal warehouses, and sailing-master of the man-of-war, São Cristóvão (Saint Christopher). King John II of Portugal appointed him, on 10 October 1486, to head an expedition to sail around the southern end of Africa in the hope of finding a trade route to India. Another purpose of the expedition was to try to revisit the countries reported by João Afonso de Aveiro (probably Ethiopia and Aden) with which the Portuguese desired friendly relations. Dias was also charged with searching for the lands described by Prester John, who was a fabled Christian priest and African prince.

The expedition

Dias left Lisbon in August, 1487 leading an expedition of three ships. His flagship, the caravel São Cristóvão, was piloted by Pêro de Alenquer. The second caravel, the São Pantaleão, was commanded by João Infante and piloted by Alvaro Martins. Dias' brother Pêro Dias was the captain of the square-rigged support ship with João de Santiago as pilot.

The expedition sailed south along the West coast of Africa. Extra provisions were picked up on the way at the Portuguese fortress of Sao Jorge de Mina on the Gold Coast. After having sailed past Angola Dias reached reached the Golfo da Conceicão (Walvis Bay) by December. Having rounded the Cape of Good Hope at a considerable distance, Dias continued east and entered what he named Aguada de São Brás (Bay of Saint Blaise)- later renamed Mossel Bay - on February 3, 1488. Dias's expedition reached its furthest point on March 12, 1488 when they anchored at Kwaaihoek, near the mouth of the Bushman's River, where a padrão -the Padrão de São Gregorio - was erected before turning back.[2] Dias wanted to continue sailing to India, but he was forced to turn back when his crew refused to go further.[3] It was only on the return voyage that he actually discovered the Cape of Good Hope, in May 1488. Dias returned to Lisbon in December of that year, after an absence of sixteen months.

The discovery of the passage around Africa was significant because, for the first time, Europeans could trade directly with India and the other parts of Asia, bypassing the overland route through the Middle East, with its expensive middlemen. The official report of the expedition has been lost.

Dias originally named the Cape of Good Hope the "Cape of Storms" (Cabo das Tormentas). It was later renamed by King John II of Portugal to the Cape of Good Hope (Cabo da Boa Esperança) because it represented the opening of a route to the east.

Follow-up voyages

After these early attempts, the Portuguese took a decade-long break from Indian Ocean exploration. During that hiatus, it is likely that they received valuable information from a secret agent, Pêro da Covilhã, who had been sent overland to India and returned with reports useful to their navigators.[4]

Using his experience with explorative travel, Dias helped in the construction of the São Gabriel and its sister ship, the São Rafael that were used by Vasco da Gama to circumnavigate the Cape and continue the route to India. Dias participated only in the first leg of da Gama's voyage, until the Cape Verde Islands. He was then one of the captains of the second Indian expedition, headed by Pedro Alvares Cabral. This flotilla reached first the coast of Brazil, taking possession of it in 1500, and then continued eastwards to India. Dias perished near the Cape of Good Hope that he presciently had named Cape of Storms. Four ships encountered a huge storm off the cape and were lost, including Dias', on May 29, 1500. A shipwreck found in 2008 by the Namdeb Diamond Corporation off Namibia was at first thought to be possibly Dias' ship,[5] however, recovered coins come from a later time.[6]

Personal life

Dias was married and had two children:

  • Simão Dias de Novais, who died unmarried and without issue
  • António Dias de Novais, a Knight of the Order of Christ, married to (apparently his relative, since the surname de Novais was transmitted through her brother's offspring) Joana Fernandes, daughter of Fernão Pires and wife Guiomar Montês (and sister of Brites Fernandes and Fernão Pires, married to Inês Nogueira, daughter of Jorge Nogueira and wife, and had issue), and had issue.

Dias' grandson Paulo Dias de Novais was a Portuguese colonizer of Africa in the 16th century. Dias' granddaughter, Guiomar de Novais married twice, as his second wife to Dom Rodrigo de Castro, son of Dom Nuno de Castro and wife Joana da Silveira, by whom she had Dona Paula de Novais and Dona Violante de Castro, both died unmarried and without issue, and to Pedro Correia da Silva, natural son of Cristóvão Correia da Silva, without issue.

See also

References

  1. ^ The Anonymous Narrative, page 61
  2. ^ Alchin KL, from Elizabethan Era. "Bartholomeu Dias". http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/bartholomeu-dias.htm. Retrieved 02-03-2010. 
  3. ^ "The World's History, Third Edition", by Howard Spoken, Prentice Hall, NJ 2006. page 444
  4. ^ "The Way of the World", by David Fromkin, Vintage Books, NY 2000. p117
  5. ^ "Namibia finds treasure shipwreck". BBC News. May 1, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7376259.stm. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  6. ^ "Destroços descobertos no Atlântico sul devem ser de barco português". Publico. May 4, 2008. http://ml.ci.uc.pt/mhonarchive/archport/msg03261.html. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 

External links


Simple English

File:Dias statue (cropped), Cape
A statue of Bartolomeu Dias in Cape Town

Bartolomeu Dias, also known as Bartholomew Dias,(1450 - May 29, 1500) was a Portuguese explorer who was the first European to sail past the Cape of Good Hope. In 1487, King John II from Portugal asked Dias to search for the land of a Christian king named Prester John in the east. Because Prester John did not really exist, he did not find the land but instead found a route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian ocean leading to Asia in 1488. Commanding a ship in Pedro Álvares Cabral´s expedition to Brazil he died at sea in 1500 during a storm. There was a statue made for him later in Cape Town, South Africa.








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