Cabral 1

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  • Vasco, how did the voyage to India go? You've been gone for two years
  • Sire, I have returned from an arduous journey with plentiful spices and other Indian delicacies
  • Pedro, the route to Asia has been opened. I need you to lead a larger expedition for India.
  • Helmsman, set a course for da Gama's route to Asia
  • Aye, sire!
  • In July 1497, Vasco da Gama departed Lisbon with three ships to discover a sea route to India via the Southern tip of Africa for the Portuguese crown. Two years later, da Gama returned, despite treacherous conditions on his voyage, to King Manuel I with two ships full of spices and other coveted goods with India.
  • Hmm...da Gama's instructions tell me the safer route is to stay West
  • After da Gama's discovery of the Asia route by sea, King Manuel I put nobleman Pedro Álvares Cabral in charge of an expedition to India in order to display Portugal's power and establish diplomatic relations with groups in Asia.
  • Cabral's 13 ships, manned by between 1200 and 1500 men, left Portugal in summer 1500. Although not a particularly accomplished navigator, Cabral had the benefit of an experienced crew, including Atlantic veteran Bartolomeu Dias and his brother Diogo, and instructions from Vasco da Gama
  • What is going on?
  • Da Gama's instructions told Cabral to keep his ships on a south or southwest course after passing the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa and then pick up winds from the West as they traveled East at the Southern tip of Africa.
  • Preferring to stay on a southwest course rather than risk going too far east, Cabral took this course and eventually reached Brazil, landing at Porto Seguro. Historians disagree on whether this discovery was a mistake of navigation or a pre-planned stop, and neither side has been able to gather enough evidence to confirm their theory.
  • The Portuguese captured two natives and took them to the flagship for celebrations. Pêro Vaz de Caminha, a secretary for the voyage, said that the natives stood nude "with such innocence that there was no indecency whatsoever." Caminha also expressed his desire to spread Christianity to these people.
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