Gama, Vasco da
- Jeremy Rich
Portuguese explorer who helped open up European commercial links to both western and eastern Africa, was born sometime between 1460 and 1469. He probably was born at Sines, a town on the southwestern coast of Portugal. His father was Estêvão da Gama, a knight in the court of the Duke of Viseu. Da Gama’s mother was Isabel Sodré, a woman of noble descent. It is a paradox that so little is known of da Gama’s life, given his fame as the first Portuguese sea captain to reach India. Since da Gama was a younger son, he may have entered Atlantic exploration to make up for losing out on his father’s inheritance.
At some point da Gama became an agent of King João II of Portugal who sought to promote Atlantic trade and exploration like his more famous predecessor Henry the Navigator Gama joined the Order of Santiago a brotherhood ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Dictionary of African Biography.