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Epic Voyage of Vasco da Gama Connected Europe to the East

Epic Voyage of Vasco da Gama Connected Europe to the East


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Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese sailor and explorer who lived between the 15th and 16th centuries. Not only is da Gama a significant figure in the history of Portugal and Europe, but he is also an important personage in world history. Vasco da Gama was the first European to reach India via an oceanic route.

As a result of Vasco da Gama’s voyages , Portugal cemented its reputation as a formidable seafaring nation and grew rich from the goods that were coming from the East. Moreover, da Gama’s discovery of a maritime route connecting Europe to Asia may be regarded to be the beginning of the age of global imperialism.

Not long after da Gama’s first voyage to the East, the Portuguese established their first colony in Asia, when they conquered Goa, in India, in 1510. Portugal’s last colony, Macau, is also in Asia and was only handed back to China in 1999.

The journey of Vasco da Gama connected Europe and the East. Source: Archivist / Adobe Stock.

The Early Life of Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama was born around 1460 in Sines, a coastal town in the Alentejo region, in the southwestern part of Portugal. da Gama’s father was a minor provincial nobleman by the name of Estêvão da Gama, who served as a commander of the town’s castle. Unfortunately, little else is known about da Gama’s early life.

In fact, the next piece of information about Vasco da Gama’s life prior to his voyage to the East comes from 1492. In that year, the King of Portugal, John II, sent da Gama to Setubal, a port city between Lisbon and Sines, to seize French vessels.

This was carried out in retaliation for attacks by the French on Portuguese shipping interests, despite the fact that the two countries were not at war. da Gama proved his capabilities by performing his mission swiftly and effectively.

Politics and the Portuguese Fleet

In 1497, Vasco da Gama was given the task of seeking an oceanic route from Western Europe to the East and was placed at the head of a Portuguese fleet. Although da Gama is one of Portugal’s greatest maritime explorers, he was certainly not its first. In fact, the kingdom began to explore the uncharted waters to its west and south about 80 years before da Gama’s first voyage.

In 1415, the Portuguese crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and captured Ceuta from the Moors. This is considered to be the starting point of the Portuguese Colonial Empire. In the decades that followed, the Portuguese discovered (and colonized) the island of Madeira, and the Azores, and continued their exploration down the western coast of Africa.

Interestingly, one of the reasons that spurred the Portuguese to seek a sea route to the East was the legend of Prester John, who was rumored to be the monarch of a long-lost Christian kingdom in the East. The rulers of Portugal, as Catholics, saw it as their sacred duty to spread Christianity, and to destroy Islam. Therefore, the Portuguese kings were hoping to find this legendary Christian king in the East, form an alliance with him, and encircle the Muslims.

The envisioned ‘grand alliance’ against the Muslims never materialized, since the Portuguese were not able to locate the legendary Prester John. Nevertheless, the Portuguese grew wealthy as a consequence of the commerce that they conducted during their voyages. The most lucrative of all was the African slave trade and the first consignment of slaves was brought to Lisbon in 1441.

Six years after that, Portuguese seafarers had reached as far south as present-day Sierra Leone. The Portuguese arrived in the Congo in 1482 and 4 years later they were at Cape Cross, in present day Namibia. The Portuguese finally reached the ‘southern end’ of the African continent in 1488, when Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope.

The route followed in Vasco da Gama's first voyage, 1497–1499. (PhiLip / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

It may be pointed out that the Cape of Good Hope was thought (incorrectly) to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Today, however, we know that the southern tip of Africa is in fact Cape Agulhas, located to the southeast of the Cape of Good Hope. While some accounts claim that the name of the landmark was given by Dias himself, others claim that Dias had originally named it ‘Cape of Storms’.

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Map of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Agulhas the southernmost point of Africa. (Johantheghost / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

This was a reference to the stormy weather and rough seas that the area is famous for, which was a challenge for the early seafarers who intended to sail round the cape. The story goes on to say that it was John II who changed the name of the cape from ‘Cape of Storms’ to ‘Cape of Good Hope’, as it was supposed to be a good omen indicating that the Europeans could reach India (and presumably the elusive Prester John as well) via the sea.

It seems that there was a hiatus in Portugal’s exploratory voyages after Dias’ rounding of the Cape of Good Hope, as it took the Portuguese another decade before they finally arrived in India. By that time, John was dead, and had been succeeded by Manuel I, the king who gave Vasco da Gama the mission to seek the maritime route to India.

Manuel has a rather unusual, though appropriate epithet, ‘the Fortunate’. He was the ninth child of Dom Fernando, the younger brother of Afonso V, John’s father and predecessor. Considering his position, it was pretty unlikely that Manuel would ever attain the Portuguese throne. In addition, during John’s reign, Manuel’s only surviving brother was murdered by the king on suspicion of conspiracy.

Manuel, however, was spared, and even made Duke of Beja. In 1491, John’s legitimate son, Afonso, died in a horse-riding accident. For the remaining years of his life, John tried to legitimize his bastard son, Jorge de Lencastre, but without success.

The queen, Eleanor of Viseu, herself opposed John on this matter and supported Manuel as the new heir to the throne. The queen, incidentally, was one of Manuel’s sisters. Thus, in 1494, when John’s health was in decline, he named Manuel as his successor, and when the king died in October the following year, Manuel became Portugal’s new king.

Vasco da Gama’s Mission

It was Manuel who placed Vasco da Gama in charge of the fleet that was to sail to India in 1497. da Gama is said to have lacked the relevant experience to lead such an expedition, though some have suggested that he may have studied navigation prior to this. It is more likely that da Gama was chosen for political reasons – Manuel was in favor of the da Gama family and their supporters.

In any case, Vasco da Gama left Lisbon on the 8th of July 1497. The fleet consisted of four vessels – two medium-sized three-masted sailing ships known as carracks, each weighing about 120 tonnes, a smaller caravel, weighing about 50 tonnes, and a supply ship.

Departure of Vasco da Gama to India in 1497. (Dantadd / )

The carracks were named São Gabriel and São Rafael , the former commanded by da Gama himself, while the latter by his brother, Paulo da Gama. The caravel was named São Miguel (nicknamed Berrio) and commanded by Nicolau Coelho, whereas the name of the supply ship is today unknown and was commanded by Gonçalo Nunes.

The fleet passed the Canary Islands (which was under Spanish control) on the 15th of July and on the 26th arrived at São Tiago in the Cape Verde Islands. The fleet remained on the island until the 3rd of August before continuing their journey. da Gama initially sailed southwards along the west coast of Africa, but then veered far off into the southern Atlantic, in order to avoid the currents in the Gulf of Guinea.

On the 7th of November, the fleet arrived in Santa Helena Bay (in modern South Africa), where unfavorable winds and adverse currents caused da Gama and his men to halt their journey for several weeks. Finally, on the 22nd of November, da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and continued the journey eastwards.

Three days after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, da Gama set foot on Mossel Bay, and erected a padrão (a stone pillar left by the Portuguese explorers to mark significant landfalls and to establish possession of the area) there. It was also here that the supply ship was scuttled. Around Christmas, da Gama sailed passed a coast that was yet to be explored by Europeans and called it Natal (the Portuguese word for Christmas).

Pillar of Vasco da Gama in Malindi, in modern-day Kenya, erected on the return journey. (Mgiganteus / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Vasco da Gama’s Journey Continues

In the months that followed, the fleet sailed northwards along the east coast of Africa. In January 1498, the fleet had arrived in the area that is today Mozambique. On the 25th of that month, da Gama and his men reached the Quelimane River, which they called Rio dos Bons Sinais (meaning ‘River of Good Omens’) and set up another padrão. The fleet rested there for a month, as many of the men were suffering from scurvy and the ships needed to be repaired.

On the 2nd of March, da Gama arrived on the island of Mozambique, which was ruled by a Muslim sultan. The islanders believed that the Portuguese were Muslims like themselves and therefore treated them kindly. da Gama gained much information from them and was even given two navigators by the sultan, one of whom deserted when he learned that the Portuguese were in fact Christians.

In April, the fleet reached the coast of modern day Kenya. On the 14th of April, da Gama was in Malindi, where he obtained the service of a Gujarati navigator who knew the way to Calicut, on the southwestern coast of India. On the 20th of May, the fleet arrived in Calicut after sailing for 23 days directly across the Indian Ocean.

Vasco da Gama landing at Calicut. (Piggy58 / )

At Calicut, da Gama’ gifts failed to impress the Zamorin (the Hindu ruler of Calicut). In addition, the Muslims merchants who were already there were hostile towards the Portuguese. As a consequence, the Portuguese failed to conclude a trade treaty with the Indians of Calicut.

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Vasco da Gama meets Zamorin. (Donaldduck100 / )

In the meantime, relations between the Portuguese and the Indians grew increasingly tense and Vasco da Gama finally decided to sail back to Portugal at the end of August. The Portuguese, who were still ignorant about the monsoon wind patterns, chose the worst possible time for their return journey. As a result of sailing against the monsoon winds, da Gama took nearly three months to cross the Indian Ocean, during which time many of his crew died of scurvy.

The lack of crew members also forced da Gama to order the destruction of São Rafael when the fleet arrived at Malindi on the 7th of January 1499. The two remaining ships rounded the Cape of Good Hope on the 20th of March but were separated a month later by a storm.

São Miguel arrived in Portugal on the 10th of July, while São Gabriel arrived on the 9th of September. Nine days later, da Gama entered Lisbon, and was welcomed as a hero.

The king bestowed the title Dom on Vasco da Gama, gave him an annual pension of 1000 cruzados, and estates. Nevertheless, da Gama had paid a hefty price for his success – of the original crew of 170 men only 55 returned, and his own brother was among the dead.

The king granted Vasco da Gama the title of Dom. ( laufer / Adobe Stock)

The Success of Vasco da Gama’s Voyage Demands a Repeat

The success of Vasco da Gama’s voyage encouraged the king to send another fleet, this time consisting of 13 ships, to secure a trade treaty with Calicut. Although relations between the Zamorin and the Portuguese began much better this time round, it quickly went south. The Portuguese came into conflict with the Muslim merchants, who wanted to keep their monopoly on the city’s trade.

As a result, a riot broke out, which overran the Portuguese trading post and many Portuguese were slaughtered. The Zamorin was blamed for the incident and his city was bombarded, thus war was declared by the Portuguese on Calicut.

In 1502, another fleet was set out from Lisbon, under the command of da Gama, who was charged with exacting revenge on Calicut, and to force the Zamorin into submission. Raids were also carried out against Arab merchant ships, and, according to one story, da Gama had captured a pilgrim ship with 200-400 passengers, locked them up in the vessel after plundering its goods, and set fire to the ship.

The story, which may have been false, or at least exaggerated, caused Vasco da Gama to be reviled in that part of the world. Incidentally, one of da Gama’s ships from his second voyage has been found off the coast of Oman and excavated between 2013 and 2015.

Vasco da Gama failed to force the Zamorin to submit and seems to have lost the favor of Manuel when he returned. For the next two decades of his life, da Gama retired to the town of Évora and lived a quiet life with his wife and six sons. He was only sent on his third and last voyage in 1524 by John III, Manuel’s successor.

This time, Vasco da Gama was sent to serve as the Portuguese viceroy in India. In September 1524, da Gama arrived in Goa and began combating the corruption that was plaguing the Portuguese administration in India.

Three months later, however, da Gama died in Cochin as a result of illness, either due to overwork or some other reason. His remains were first buried in St. Francis Church in Cochin, and then brought back to Portugal in 1539 and laid to rest Vidigueira before being transferred to the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon during the late 19th century, where they have remained till today.

Tomb of Vasco da Gama in the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon. (Christine und Hagen Graf / CC BY-SA 2.0 )


THE HISTORY OF VASCO DA GAMA.

The Portuguese nobleman Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) sailed from Lisbon in 1497 on a mission to India and to open the sea route from Europe to the East. After sailing on the west coast of Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope, his voyage landed in many parts of Africa before arriving at a commercial center in Calicut, India, in May 1498. Da Gama was hailed as a hero returning to Portugal, and was sent on a second voyage to India 1502, in which he brutally quarreled with Muslim traders in the region. Twenty years later, Da Gama returned to India, this time becoming Portuguese chief he died there of an illness in late 1524.

The early life of Vasco da Gama and the first voyage to India

Born about 1460, Vasco da Gama was the son of a young nobleman who ruled the castle at Sines, on the coast of the province of Alentejo in southwestern Portugal. Nothing else is known of his early life, but in 1492 King John II sent Da Gama to the port city of Setubal (south of Lisbon) and to the Algarve region to capture French ships in retaliation for the French invasion of Portuguese interests.

Did you know? By the time Vasco da Gama returned from his first voyage to India in 1499, he had been away from home for more than two years, including 300 days at sea, and had traveled about 15,000 miles [24,000 km]. most (including Da Gama's brother Paolo) had died of skin diseases.

In 1497, John's successor, King Manuel I (crowned in 1495), appointed Da Gama to lead the Portuguese fleet to India in search of a sea route from Western Europe to the East. At that time, the Muslims controlled trade with India and other Eastern tribes, because of their position. Da Gama sailed from Lisbon this July in four boats, heading south along the African coast before heading south to the Atlantic in order to avoid unforeseen currents. The ships finally sailed around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa in late November, and headed north along the east coast of Africa, stopping at what is now Mozambique, Mombasa and Malindi (both now in Kenya). With the help of local sailors, Da Gama was able to cross the Indian Ocean and reach the Indian coast of Calicut (now Kozhikode) in May 1498.

Relationships with Local People Traders and Merchants

Although the Hindu people of Calicut area initially welcomed the arrival of Portuguese sailors (who thought they were Christians), disagreements erupted soon after Da Gama presented their governor with a package of cheap goods as a gift for arrival. This conflict, along with hostility from Muslim traders, led Da Gama to leave without making a deal and returning to Portugal. Larger ships, commanded by Pedro Alvars' Cabral, were sent to take advantage of Da Gama's discovery and to secure the Calicut trading post.

After Muslim merchants killed 50 of his men, Cabral retaliated by burning 10 ships of Islamic goods and killing nearly 600 sailors on board. He then proceeded to Cochin, where he established the first Portuguese trading post in India. In 1502, King Manuel appointed Da Gama to oversee another expedition in India, sailing in February. During the voyage, da Gama attacked the interests of Arab ships in the region and used force to reach an agreement with the ruler of Calicut. As a result of this brutal demonstration of power, da Gama was denigrated throughout India and the region. Upon his return to Portugal, he, in turn, was richly rewarded for another successful trip.

Da Gama's recent life and last trip to India

Da Gama was married to a woman who was born well sometime after returning from her first trip to India the couple will have six sons. For the next 20 years, Da Gama continued to advise the Portuguese emperor on matters of India, but he was not reinstated until 1524, when King John III was appointed Portuguese governor of India.

Da Gama arrived in Goa on a mission to fight the growing corruption that had plagued the Portuguese government in India. He soon fell ill and died in Cochin in December 1524. His body was returned to Portugal for burial.


First Voyage

Historians know little about why exactly da Gama, still an inexperienced explorer, was chosen to lead the expedition to India in 1497. On July 8 of that year, he captained a team of four vessels, including his flagship, the 200-ton St. Gabriel, to find a sailing route to India and the East.

To embark on the journey, da Gama pointed his ships south, taking advantage of the prevailing winds along the coast of Africa. His choice of direction was also a bit of a rebuke to Christopher Columbus, who had believed he&aposd found a route to India by sailing east.

Following several months of sailing, he rounded the Cape of Good Hope and began making his way up the eastern coast of Africa, toward the uncharted waters of the Indian Ocean. By January, as the fleet neared what is now Mozambique, many of da Gama&aposs crewmembers were sick with scurvy, forcing the expedition to anchor for rest and repairs for nearly one month.

In early March of 1498, da Gama and his crew dropped their anchors in the port of Mozambique, a Muslim city-state that sat on the outskirts of the east coast of Africa and was dominated by Muslim traders. Here, da Gama was turned back by the ruling sultan, who felt offended by the explorer&aposs modest gifts.

By early April, the fleet reached what is now Kenya, before setting sail on a 23-day run that would take them across the Indian Ocean. They reached Calicut, India, on May 20. But da Gama&aposs own ignorance of the region, as well as his presumption that the residents were Christians, led to some confusion. The residents of Calicut were actually Hindu, a fact that was lost on da Gama and his crew, as they had not heard of the religion.

Still, the local Hindu ruler welcomed da Gama and his men, at first, and the crew ended up staying in Calicut for three months. Not everyone embraced their presence, especially Muslim traders who clearly had no intention of giving up their trading grounds to Christian visitors. Eventually, da Gama and his crew were forced to barter on the waterfront in order to secure enough goods for the passage home. In August 1498, da Gama and his men took to the seas again, beginning their journey back to Portugal.

Da Gama&aposs timing could not have been worse his departure coincided with the start of a monsoon. By early 1499, several crew members had died of scurvy and in an effort to economize his fleet, da Gama ordered one of his ships to be burned. The first ship in the fleet didn&apost reach Portugal until July 10, nearly a full year after they&aposd left India.

In all, da Gama&aposs first journey covered nearly 24,000 miles in close to two years, and only 54 of the crew&aposs original 170 members survived.


The light was fading when the three strange ships appeared off the coast of India, but the fishermen on the shore could still make out their shapes. The two biggest were fat-bellied as whales, with bulging sides that swept up to support sturdy wooden towers in the bows and stern. The wooden hulls were weathered a streaky gray, and long iron guns poked over the sides, like the barbels on a monstrous catfish. Huge square sails billowed toward the darkening sky, each vaster than the last and each surmounted by a bonnetshaped topsail that made the whole rig resemble a family of ghostly giants. There was something at once thrillingly modern and hulkingly primeval about these alien arrivals, but for sure nothing like them had been seen before.

The alarm was raised on the beach, and groups of men dragged four long, narrow boats into the water. As they rowed closer they could see that great crimson crosses were emblazoned on every stretch of canvas.

“What nation are you from?” the Indians’ leader shouted when they were under the side of the nearest ship.

“We are from Portugal,” one of the sailors called back.

Both spoke in Arabic, the language of international trade. The visitors, though, had the advantage over their hosts. The Indians had never heard of Portugal, a sliver of a country on the far western fringe of Europe. The Portuguese certainly knew about India, and to reach it they had embarked on the longest and most dangerous voyage known to history.

The year was 1498. Ten months earlier, the little fleet had set sail from Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, on a mission to change the world. The 170 men on board carried instructions to open a sea route from Europe to Asia, to unlock the age-old secrets of the spice trade, and to locate a long-lost Christian king who ruled over a magical Eastern realm. Behind that catalog of improbability lay a truly apocalyptic agenda: to link up with the Eastern Christians, deal a crushing blow to the power of Islam, and prepare the way for the conquest of Jerusalem, the holiest city in the world. Even that was not the ultimate end—but if they succeeded it would be the beginning of the end, the clarion call for the Second Coming and the Last Judgment that would surely follow.

Time would tell whether this quest for the Promised Land would end at anything more than a castle in the air. For now, bare survival was uppermost in the crews’ minds. The men who had signed up to sail off the edge of the known world were an odd assortment. Among them were hardened adventurers, chivalric knights, African slaves, bookish scribes, and convicts working off their sentences. Already they had rubbed uncomfortably close against each other for 317 days. As they swept in a great arc around the Atlantic, they had seen nothing but the bounding main for months on end. When they finally reached the southern tip of Africa they had been shot at, ambushed, and boarded in the dead of night. They had run out of food and water, and they had been ravaged by mystifying diseases. They had wrestled with heavy currents and storms that battered their ships and tattered their sails. They were assured they were doing God’s work and that, in return, their sins would be wiped clean. Yet even the most seasoned mariner’s skin crawled with morbid superstitions and forebodings of doom. Death, they knew, was just a swollen gum or an unseen reef away, and death was not the worst conceivable fate. As they slept under unknown stars and plunged into uncharted waters that mapmakers enlivened with toothy sea monsters, it was not their lives they feared to lose but their very souls.

To the watching Indians, the newcomers, with their long, filthy hair and their bronzed, unwashed faces, looked like the rougher species of sea dog. Their scruples were soon overcome when they found they could sell the strangers cucumbers and coconuts at handsome prices, and the next day the four boats returned to lead the fleet into port.
It was a moment to make the most stoic seaman stand and gape.

For Christians, the East was the wellspring of the world. The Bible was its history book, Jerusalem its capital of faith suspended between heaven and earth, and the Garden of Eden—which was firmly believed to be flowering somewhere in Asia—its fount of marvels. Its palaces were reportedly roofed with gold, while fireproof salamanders, self-immolating phoenixes, and solitary unicorns roamed its forests. Precious stones floated down its rivers, and rare spices that cured any ailment dropped from its trees. People with dog’s heads ambled by, while others hopped past on their single leg or sat down and used their single giant foot as a sunshade. Diamonds littered its gorges, where they were guarded by snakes and could be retrieved only by vultures. Mortal dangers lurked everywhere, which put the glittering treasures all the more tantalizingly out of reach.

At least so they said: no one knew for sure. For centuries Islam had all but blocked Europe’s access to the East for centuries a heady mix of rumor and fable had swirled in place of sober fact. Many had died to discover the truth, and now the moment was suddenly at hand. The mighty port of Calicut, an international emporium bursting with oriental riches, the hub of the busiest trade network in the world, sprawled in front of the sailors’ eyes.

There was no rush to be the first ashore. The anticipation—or the apprehension—was too much. In the end, the task was given to one of the men who had been taken on board to do the dangerous work.

The first European to sail all the way to India and step on its shores was a convicted criminal.

From HOLY WAR by Nigel Cliff. Copyright © 2011 by Nigel Cliff. Reprinted courtesy of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


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Vasco da Gama - Biografia do Navegador e Explorador . from www.grupoescolar.com Vasco da gama, portuguese navigator whose voyages to india in the late 15th and early 16th centuries opened up the sea route from western europe to the east by way of the cape of good hope. Vasco da gama, rio de janeiro, brazil. Su padre, llamado esteban, era de noble linaje y gozaba de una excelente reputación en la corte. His success in doing so proved to be one of the more. Vasco da gama was chosen to lead the expedition to india in 1497. Previous (vasco núñez de balboa). Captaining a fleet of four vessels, including his flagship, st. In an epic voyage, he sailed around africa's cape of good hope and succeeded in breaking the monopoly of arab and.

Vasco da gama was born in 1460 to a wealthy portuguese family in sines, portugal.

In an epic voyage, he sailed around africa's cape of good hope and succeeded in breaking the monopoly of arab and. Su padre, llamado esteban, era de noble linaje y gozaba de una excelente reputación en la corte. Vasco's father was also an explorer and was supposed to make the epic journey from portugal to india that would. His success in doing so proved to be one of the more. Vasco da gama, rio de janeiro, brazil. Scm 1898 | vasco da gama ✠. Vasco da gama nasceu em 1469 em sines, na região do alentejo, portugal. Vasco da gama is a port city in the west coast indian state goa. Vasco da gama was born either in 1460 or 1469 in sines, on the southwest coast of. Vasco da gama, portuguese navigator whose voyages to india in the late 15th and early 16th centuries opened up the sea route from western europe to the east by way of the cape of good hope. Vasco da gama nació en sines, pueblecito situado en el bajo alentejo. Vasco de gama spent almost all his childhood in a sailormen and trips environment. A leader in the era known as the age of discovery, vasco da gama was the man who commanded ships from europe to india.

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Vasco da gama was born in 1460 to a wealthy portuguese family in sines, portugal. Gabriel, he set off in july 1497 to find a sailing route to india and the east. 1497 july 8 vasco da gama sailed from lisbon under the leadership of the three da gama bothers: Vasco da gama was born in 1469 in the city of sines. Mormugao port was constructed in 1888, and is today one of the major ports of india.

Source: media2.nekropole.info

Vasco da gama was chosen to lead the expedition to india in 1497. Vasco da gama nasceu em 1469 em sines, na região do alentejo, portugal. Mormugao port was constructed in 1888, and is today one of the major ports of india. Vasco da gama is one of the most respected explorers in world history. Previous (vasco núñez de balboa).

Vasco da gama's momentous voyage irreversibly changed the course of human history by opening up the sea route to the east. Vasco da gama nació en sines, pueblecito situado en el bajo alentejo. Gabriel, he set off in july 1497 to find a sailing route to india and the east. Vasco da gama was a portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the european age of discovery, and the first person to sail directly from europe to india. Captaining a fleet of four vessels, including his flagship, st.

Captaining a fleet of four vessels, including his flagship, st. He was a portuguese explorer, and one of the most famous from the. Vasco da gama was born in 1469 in the city of sines. Vasco da gama, portuguese navigator whose voyages to india in the late 15th and early 16th centuries opened up the sea route from western europe to the east by way of the cape of good hope. Vasco da gama was a highly successful portuguese sailor and explorer during the age of exploration.

Su padre, llamado esteban, era de noble linaje y gozaba de una excelente reputación en la corte. Previous (vasco núñez de balboa). Vasco da gama nació en sines, pueblecito situado en el bajo alentejo. Scm 1898 | vasco da gama ✠. Mormugao port was constructed in 1888, and is today one of the major ports of india.

Source: exploration.marinersmuseum.org

Vasco da gama is one of the most respected explorers in world history. Vasco da gama foi um navegador, explorador e administrador português do século xv. Vasco's father was also an explorer and was supposed to make the epic journey from portugal to india that would. Captaining a fleet of four vessels, including his flagship, st. Vasco da gama nació en sines, pueblecito situado en el bajo alentejo.

Vasco de gama spent almost all his childhood in a sailormen and trips environment. Previous (vasco núñez de balboa). Vasco da gama was born in 1460 to a wealthy portuguese family in sines, portugal. In an epic voyage, he sailed around africa's cape of good hope and succeeded in breaking the monopoly of arab and. Vasco da gama nació en sines, pueblecito situado en el bajo alentejo.

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

Vasco's father was also an explorer and was supposed to make the epic journey from portugal to india that would. A leader in the era known as the age of discovery, vasco da gama was the man who commanded ships from europe to india. In an epic voyage, he sailed around africa's cape of good hope and succeeded in breaking the monopoly of arab and. Vasco da gama was born either in 1460 or 1469 in sines, on the southwest coast of. Vasco da gama was born in 1469 in the city of sines.

Source: www.lavozdelsandinismo.com

Su padre, llamado esteban, era de noble linaje y gozaba de una excelente reputación en la corte. Vasco da gama was born in 1469 in the city of sines. Gabriel, he set off in july 1497 to find a sailing route to india and the east. Portrait of vasco da gama by artist antonio manuel da fonseca in 1838. Vasco da gama, was a portuguese explorer who was commander of the first ships to sail straight from europe to india.

Source: images.fineartamerica.com

Previous (vasco núñez de balboa).

He was the son of estêvão da gama, who also was a navigator.

Vasco da gama was born either in 1460 or 1469 in sines, on the southwest coast of.

Vasco da gama, 1st count of vidigueira (uk:

Source: thehistoryjunkie.com

Vasco da gama's momentous voyage irreversibly changed the course of human history by opening up the sea route to the east.

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

Vasco da gama was chosen to lead the expedition to india in 1497.

Captaining a fleet of four vessels, including his flagship, st.

Source: www.thepirateking.com

Vasco da gama nació en sines, pueblecito situado en el bajo alentejo.

Source: cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net

He was the first person to sail directly from europe to india, around the cape of good hope.

Vasco da gama was a highly successful portuguese sailor and explorer during the age of exploration.

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

Su padre, llamado esteban, era de noble linaje y gozaba de una excelente reputación en la corte.

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

Vasco da gama, portuguese navigator whose voyages to india in the late 15th and early 16th centuries opened up the sea route from western europe to the east by way of the cape of good hope.

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

In an epic voyage, he sailed around africa's cape of good hope and succeeded in breaking the monopoly of arab and.

Vasco da gama was chosen to lead the expedition to india in 1497.

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

Vasco da gama, 1st count of vidigueira (uk:

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

Vasco da gama, portuguese navigator whose voyages to india in the late 15th and early 16th centuries opened up the sea route from western europe to the east by way of the cape of good hope.

Vasco da gama was born either in 1460 or 1469 in sines, on the southwest coast of.

Su padre, llamado esteban, era de noble linaje y gozaba de una excelente reputación en la corte.

Vasco da gama was born either in 1460 or 1469 in sines, on the southwest coast of.

Vasco da gama nació en sines, pueblecito situado en el bajo alentejo.

Vasco de gama spent almost all his childhood in a sailormen and trips environment.

Vasco da gama became famous for being the first european explorer to leave europe by ship and sail to india by going around africa.

Vasco da gama, 1st count of vidigueira (uk:

Source: upload.wikimedia.org

În anii 1460 el a fost un cavaler al ordinului cavalerilor de santiago.

Source: www.travel-in-portugal.com


Contents

The plan for working on the Cape Route to India was charted by Portuguese King John II as a cost saving measure in the trade with Asia and also an attempt to monopolize the spice trade. [ citation needed ] Adding to the increasingly influential Portuguese maritime presence, John II craved for trade routes and for the expansion of the kingdom of Portugal which had already been transformed into an Empire. However, the project was not realized during his reign. It was his successor, King Manuel I, who designated Vasco da Gama for this expedition, while maintaining the original plan. [ citation needed ]

However, this development was not viewed well by the upper classes. In the Cortes de Montemor-o-Novo of 1495, an opposite view was visible over the journey that John II had so painstakingly prepared. This point of view was contented with the trade with Guinea and North Africa and feared the challenges posed by the maintenance of any overseas territories, and the cost involved in the launching and maintenance of sea lanes. This position is embodied in the character of The Old Man of Restelo that appears in Os Lusíadas of the Portuguese epic poet Luís Vaz de Camões, who opposes the boarding of the armada. [ citation needed ] Os Lusíadas It is often regarded as the most important work of Portuguese literature. The work celebrates the discovery of a sea route to India by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama.

King Manuel did not share that opinion. Keeping the D. João II plan, he went ahead to equip the ships and chose Vasco da Gama as the leader of this expedition and the captain of the armada. [ citation needed ] According to the original plan, John II had appointed his father, Stephen da Gama, to head the armada but by the time of implementing the plan, both were deceased.

Portuguese were after spices, but they were very expensive because it was an inconvenience to trade. For example, it was dangerous and time consuming to travel by land from Europe to India. [4] As a result, King D. João II of Portugal established a plan for ships to explore the coast of Africa to see if India was navigable via around the cape, and through the Indian Ocean. King João II appointed Bartolomeu Dias, on October 10, 1486, to head an expedition to sail around the southern tip of Africa in the hope of finding a trade route to India. [4] Dias helped in the construction of the São Gabriel and its sister ship, the São Rafael that were used by Vasco da Gama to sail past the Cape of Good Hope and continue to India. [4]

One of the sailors, Bartolomeu Dias passed the southernmost point of Africa known as the Cape of Good Hope in 1488. He declared it possible to travel to India by going around Africa. The Portuguese were then able to make an immense profit by using their own ships to retrieve the spices.

This global expedition was launched on 8 July 1497. It concluded two years later with the entry of the ships back into the river Tagus, bringing with them the good news that bestowed on Portugal a prestigious maritime position. [ citation needed ]


Vasco da Gama

Portrait of Vasco da Gama by artist Antonio Manuel da Fonseca in 1838. Vasco da Gama, (c.1469 – 1524) was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the European Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India. (Credit: National Maritime Museum)

Introduction
Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer who sailed to India from Europe. Gold, spices, and other riches were valuable in Europe. But they had to navigate long ways over sea and land to reach them in Asia. Europeans during this time were looking to find a faster way to reach India by sailing around Africa. Da Gama accomplished the task. By doing so, he helped open a major trade route to Asia. Portugal celebrated his success, and his voyage launched a new era of discovery and world trade.

Biography
Early Life
Vasco da Gama’s exact birthdate and place is unknown. It is believed he was born between 1460 and 1469 in Sines, Portugal. 1 He was the third son to his parents. His father, Estêvão da Gama, was a knight in the Duke of Viseu’s court and his mother was a noblewoman named Isabel Sodré. 2 His father’s role in the court would have allowed young Vasco to have a good education. But because he lived close to a seaport town, he probably also learned about ships and navigation. Vasco attended school in a larger village about 70 miles from Sines called Évora. Here, he learned advanced mathematics, and studied principles of navigation. By fifteen he became familiar with trading ships that were docked in port. By the age of twenty, he was the captain of a ship. 3 These skills would all make him an acceptable choice to lead an expedition to India.

Vasco da Gama’s maritime career was during the period when Portugal was searching for a trade route around Africa to India. The Ottoman Empire controlled almost all European trade routes to Asia. This meant they could, and did, charge high prices for ships passing through ports. Prince Henry of Portugal – also called Prince Henry the Navigator – began Portugal’s great age of exploration. From about 1419 until his death in 1460, he sent several sailing expeditions down the coast of Africa. 4 In 1481, King John II of Portugal began sending expeditions to find a sea route around the southern shores of Africa. Many explorers made several attempts. It was Bartolomeu Dias who was the first to round Africa and make it to the Indian Ocean in 1488. But he was forced to head back to Portugal before he could make it to India. When Manuel I became king of Portugal in 1495, he continued efforts to open a trade route to India by going around Africa. Although other people were considered for the job, Manuel I finally chose thirty-seven year old Vasco da Gama for this task.

Voyages
Principal Voyage
On 8 July 1497 Vasco da Gama sailed from Lisbon with a fleet of four ships with a crew of 170 men from Lisbon. Da Gama commanded the Sao Gabriel. Paulo da Gama – brother to Vasco – commanded the São Rafael, a three masted ship. There was also the caravel Berrio, and a storeship São Maria. Bartolomeu Dias also sailed with da Gama, and gave helpful advice for navigating down the African coast. They sailed past the Canary Islands, and reached the Cape Verde islands by July 26. They stayed about a week, then continued sailing on August 3. To help avoid the storms and strong currents near the Gulf of Guinea, da Gama and his fleet sailed out into the South Atlantic and swung down to the Cape of Good Hope. Storms still delayed them for a while. They rounded the cape on November 22 and three days later anchored at Mossel Bay, South Africa. 5 They began sailing again on December 8. They anchored for a bit in January near Mozambique at the Rio do Cobre (Copper River) and continued on until they reached the Rio dos Bons Sinais (River of Good Omens). Here they erected a statue in the name of Portugal.

They stayed here for a month because much of the crew were sick from scurvy – a disease caused by lack of Vitamin C. 6 Da Gama’s fleet eventually began sailing again. On March 2 they reached the Island of Mozambique. After trading with the local Muslim merchants, da Gama sailed on once more stopping briefly in Malindi (in present day Kenya). He hired a pilot to help him navigate through the Indian Ocean. They sailed for 23 days, and on May 20, 1498 they reached India. 7 They headed for Kappad, India near the large city of Calicut. In Calicut, da Gama met with the king. But the king of Calicut was not impressed with da Gama, and the gifts he brought as offering. They spent several months trading in India, and studying their customs. They left India at the end of August. He visited the Anjidiv Island near Goa, and then once more stopped in Malindi in January 1499. Many of his crew were dying of scurvy. He had the São Rafael burned to help contain the illness. Da Gama finally returned to Portugal in September 1499. Manuel I praised da Gama’s success, and gave him money and a new title of admiral.

Subsequent Voyages
Vasco da Gama’s later voyages were less friendly with the people he met. He sailed once again beginning in February 1502 with a fleet of 10 ships. They stopped at the Cape Verdes Islands, Mozambique, and then sailed to Kilwa (in modern day Tanzania). Da Gama threatened their leader, and forced him and his people to swear loyalty to the king of Portugal. At Calicut, he bombarded the port, and caused the death of several Muslim traders. Again, later at Cochin, they fought with Arab ships, and sent them into flight. 8 Da Gama was paving the way for an expanded Portuguese empire. This came at the cruel treatment of East African and South Asian people. Finally, on February 20, 1503 da Gama began the return journey home arriving on October 11 1503. King Manuel I died in 1521, and King John III became ruler. He made da Gama a Portuguese viceroy in India. 9 King John III sent da Gama to India to stop the corruption and settle administrative problems of the Portuguese officials. Da Gama’s third journey would be his last.

Later Years and Death
After he had returned from his first trip, in 1500 Vasco da Gama had married Caterina de Ataíde. They had six sons, and lived in the town Évora. Da Gama continued advising on Indian affairs until he was sent overseas again in 1524. Vasco da Gama left Portugal for India, and arrived at Goa in September 1524. Da Gama quickly re-established order among the Portuguese leaders. By the end of the year he fell ill. Vasco da Gama died on December 24, 1524 in Cochin, India. He was buried in the local church. In 1539, his remains were brought back to Portugal.

Legacy
Vasco De Gama was the first European to find an ocean trading route to India. He accomplished what many explorers before him could not do. His discovery of this sea route helped the Portuguese establish a long-lasting colonial empire in Asia and Africa. The new ocean route around Africa allowed Portuguese sailors to avoid the Arab trading hold in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Better access to the Indian spice routes boosted Portugal’s economy. Vasco da Gama opened a new world of riches by opening up an Indian Ocean route. His voyage and explorations helped change the world for Europeans.


Epic Voyage of Vasco da Gama Connected Europe to the East - History


VASCO DA GAMA (c.1460-1524), the celebrated Portuguese navigator and discoverer, was born at Sines, a small sea-town in the province of Alemtejo. No one will deny that his name deservedly stands high in the roll of naval heroes yet it cannot be doubted that he owes the brilliancy of his reputation to his country’s illustrious poet, Luiz de Camoens, by whom his discoveries in India and their results have been assigned the foremost place in the great national epic Os Lusiadas.

Vasco da Gama
Portuguese navigator and discoverer
(c.1460-1524)


Of Vasco’s early history little is known. His descent, according to the Nobiliario of Antonio de Lima, is derived from a noble family which is mentioned in the year 1166 but the line cannot be traced without interruption farther back than the year 1280, to one Alvaro da Gama, from whom was descended Estevao da Gama, Alcaide Mor of Sines, whose third son, the subject of this notice, was born probably about the year 1460.

About this period died Prince Henry, the Navigator, son of Joao I, who had spent his life in fostering the study of navigation, and to whose intelligence and foresight must be traced back all the fame that Portugal gained on the seas in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Explorers sent out at his instigation discovered the Western isles, and unknown regions on the African coast, whence continually came reports (which by and by affected Da Gama’s history) of a great monarch, "who lived east of Benin, 350 leagues in the interior, and who held both temporal and spiritual dominion over all the neighbouring kings," a story which tallied so remarkably with the accounts of "Prester John" which had been brought to the Peninsula by Abyssinian priests, that Joao II steadfastly resolved that both by sea and by land the attempt should be made to reach the country of this potentate.

In the hope of making this discovery, Pedro Covilham and Affonso de Payva were dispatched eastward by land while Bartholomeu Dias, in command of two vessels, was sent westward by sea. Neither of the landward travelers ever returned to his country but Covilham, who, in his fruitless search for a mythical sovereign, reached the Malabar coast and the eastern shores of Africa, sent back to Lisbon, along with the tales of the rich lands he had visited, this intelligence, "that the ships which sailed down the coast of Guinea ought to be sure of reaching the termination of the continent by persevering in a course to the south." King Joao was now seized with an ardent desire of reaching these eastern countries by the route indicated by Covilham.

That there was in truth such an ocean highway was confirmed by Dias, who shortly after returned (in 1487) with the report that when sailing southward he was carried far to the east by a succession fierce storms, past -- as he discovered only on his return voyage -- what he perceived to be the southern extremity of the African continent, and to which, on account of the fearful weather he had encountered, he gave the name of the Cape of Storms, an appellation which to the king, who was then elated with high hopes of enriching his kingdom by the addition of eastern possessions, appeared so inauspicious that he changed it to that of Cape of Good Hope. The state of Joao’s health, however, and concerns of state, prevented the fitting out of the intended expedition and it was not till ten years later, when Manoel had succeeded to the throne, that the preparations for the great voyage were completed, -- hastened, doubtless, by Columbus’s discovery of America in the meanwhile.

For the supreme command of this expedition the king selected Vasco de Gama, who had in his youth fought in the wars against Castile, and in his riper years gained distinction as an intrepid mariner. The fleet, consisting of four vessels specially built for this mission, sailed down the Tagus on the 8th July 1497, after prayers and confession made by the officers and crews in the presence of the king and court, in a small chapel on the site where now stands the church of S. Maria de Belem, afterwards built to commemorable the event.

Four months later it cast anchor in St Helena Bay, South Africa, rounded the Cape in safety, and in the beginning of the next year reached Melinda. Thence, steering eastward, under the direction of a pilot obtained from Indian merchants met with at this port, Gama arrived at Calicut, on the Malabar coast, on the 20th May 1498, and set up, according to the custom of his country, a marble pillar as a mark of conquest and a proof of his discovery of India. His reception by the zamorin, or ruler of Calicut, would have in all probability been favorable enough, had it not been for the jealousy of the Moorish traders who, fearing for their gains, so incited the Hindus against the new comers that Gama, after escaping from enforced detention on shore, was obliged to fight his way out of the harbour.

Having seen enough to assure him of the great resources of this new country, he returned home in September 1499 with a glowing description of it. The king received him with every mark of distinction, created him a noble, and ordered magnificent fetes to be held in his honour in the principal towns of the kingdom, "for he had brought back (not without severe loss in ships and in men) the solution of a great problem, which was destined to raise his country to the acme of prosperity."

In prosecution of Gama’s discoveries another fleet of 13 ships was immediately sent out to India by Manoel, under Alvarez Cabral, who, in sailing too far westward, by accident discovered Brazil, and on reaching his destination established a factory at Calicut. The natives, again instigated by the Moorish merchants, rose up in arms, and murdered all whom Cabral had left behind. To avenge this outrage a powerful armament of ten ships was fitted out at Lisbon, the command of which was at first given to Cabral, but was afterwards transferred to Gama on his urgent petition for "Sire," he said, "the king of Calicut arrested me and treated me with contumely, and because I did not return to avenge myself of that injury he has again committed a greater one, on which account I feel in my heart a great desire and inclination to go and make great havoc of him."

In the beginning of 1502 the fleet sailed, and on reaching Calicut Gama immediately bombarded the town, enacting deeds of inhumanity and savagery too horrible to detail, and equalled only by the tortures of the Inquisition. Gama was naturally "very disdainful, ready to anger, and very rash," but no peculiarities of disposition -- nothing whatever -- can excuse such acts as his, which have justly left a stain on his character that neither time nor the brightness of his fame as a navigator can in the slightest degree obliterate.

From Calicut he proceeded in November to Cochin, "doing all the harm, he could on the way to all that he found at sea, and having made favourable trading terms with it and with other towns on the coast, he returned to Lisbon in September 1503, with richly laden ships. He and his captains were welcomed with great rejoicings "but to Dom Vasco the king gave great favours, and all his goods free and exempt he granted him the anchorage dues of India, made him admiral of its seas for ever, and one of the principal men of his kingdom."

Soon after his return Vasco retired to his residence in Evora, and for twenty years took no part in public affairs, either from pique at not obtaining, as is supposed by some, so high rewards as he expected, or because he had in some way offended Manoel. During this time the Portuguese conquests increased in the East, and were presided over by successive viceroys. The fifth of these was so unfortunate that Gama was recalled from his seclusion by Manoel’s successor, Joao III, created count of Vidigueira, and nominated viceroy of India, an honour which in April 1524 he left Lisbon to fill.

Arriving at Goa in September of the same year, he immediately set himself to correct, with vigour and firmness, the many abuses and evil practices which had crept in under the rule of his predecessors. He was not destined, however, to prosecute far the reforms he had inaugurated, for, on the Christmas-eve following his arrival he died, while at Cochin, after a short illness, and was buried in the Franciscan monastery there. In 1538 his body was conveyed to Portugal and entombed in the town of Vidigueira, of which he was count, with all the pomp and honour due to one who had been the king’s representative.

The important discoveries of Vasco da Gama had the immediate result of enriching Portugal, and raising her to one of the foremost places among the nations of Europe, and by degrees the far greater one of hastening the colonization and civilization of the East by opening its commerce to the great Western powers.


Sher Shah Suri

Sher Shah – The Lion King

Babur's victories at Panipat and Gorga did not result in the complete annihilation of the Afghan chiefs. They were seething with discontent against the newly founded alien rule, and only needed the guidance of one strong personality to coalesce their isolated efforts in to an organized national resistance against it. This they got in Sher Khan Sur, who effected the revival of the Afghan power and established a glorious, though short lived, regime in India by ousting the newly established Mughul authority.

The career of Sher Khan Sur, the hero of Indo-Muslim revival, is as fascinating as that of Babur and not less instructive than that of the great Mughul, Akbar. Originally bearing the name of Farid, he began his life in a humble way, and, like many other great men in history, had to pass through various trials and vicissitudes of fortune before he rose to prominence by dint of his personal merit. His grandfather, Ibrahim, an Afghan of the Sur tribe, lived near Peshawar and his father's name Hasan. Ibrahim migrated with his son to the east in quest of military service in the early part of Buhlul Lodi's reign and both first entered the service of Mahabat Khan Sur, jagirdar of the paraganas of Hariana and Bakhala in the Punjab, and settled in the paragana of Bajwara or Bejoura. After some time Ibrahim got employment under Jamal Khan Sarang Khani of Hissar Firuza in the Delhi district, who conferred upon Ibrahim some villages in the paragana of Narnaul for the maintenance of forty horsemen in his service. Farid was born probably near Narnaul. Farid was soon taken to Sasaram by his father, Hasan, who had been granted a jagir there by his master, Umar Khan Sarwahi, entitled Khan-I-Azam, when the latter got the governorship of Jaunpur. Hasan, like the other nobles of his time, was a polygamist, and Farid's step-mother had predominant influence over him. This made him indifferent to Farid whereupon the latter left home at the age of twenty-two and went to Jaunpur. Thus the Afghan youth was forced into a life of adventure and struggle, which cast his mind and character in a heroic mould. For some time he devoted himself to study. By indefatigable industry and steady application, Farid early attracted the attention of his teachers at Jaunpur and quickly gained an uncommon acquaintance with the Persian language and literature. He was capable of reproducing from memory the Gulistan, Bustan and Sikandar-namah. Being pleased with this promising youth, Jamal Khan, his father's patron, effected a reconciliation between him and his father, who allowed him to return to Sasaram and to administer the paraganas of Sasaram and Khawaspur, both then within the jurisdiction of Sarkar. The successful administration of those two places by Farid served to increase his step-mother's jealousy, and so leaving Sasaram once again he went to Agra.

On the death of his father, Farid took possession of his paternal jagir on the strength of a royal foreman, which he had been able to procure at Agra. In 1522 he got into the service of Bahar Khan Lohani, the independent ruler of Bihar, whose favour he soon secured by discharging his duties honestly and assiduously. His master conferred on him the title of Sher Khan for his having shown gallantry by killing a tiger single-handed, and also soon rewarded his ability and faithfulness by appointing him his deputy (Vakil) and tutor (Ataliq) of his minor son, Jalal Khan. But perverse destiny again went against Sher. His enemies poisoned his master's mind against him, and he was once more deprived of his father's jagir. "Impressed by the complete success of Mughul arms" and with the prospect of future gain, he now joined Babur's camp, where he remained from April, 1527, to June, 1528. In return for the valuable services he rendered to Babur in his eastern campaigns, the latter restored Sasaram to him.

Sher soon left the Mughul service and came back to Bihar to become again its deputy governor and guardian of his former pupil, Jalal Khan. While the minor king remained as the nominal ruler of Bihar, Sher became the virtual head of its government. In the course of four years he won over the greater part of the army to his cause and "elevated himself to a state of complete independence". Meanwhile, the fortress of Chunar, luckily came into his possession. Taj Khan, the Lord of Chunar, was killed by his eldest son, who had risen against his father for his infatuation with a younger wife, Lad Malika. This widow, however, married Sher Khan and gave him the fortress of Chunar. Humayun besieged Chunar in 1531, but Sher Khan had taken no part in the Afghan rising of that year and saved his position by a timely submission to the Mughul invader. The rapid and unexpected rise of Sher at the expense of the Lohani Afghans made the latter, and even Jalal Khan, impatient of his control. They tried to get rid of this dictator. The attempt, however, failed owing to his "unusual circumspection". They then entered into an alliance (Sept., 1533) with Mahmud Shah, the King of Bengal, who was naturally eager to check the rise of Sher, which prejudiced his own prestige and power. But the brave Afghan deputy inflicted a defeat on the allied troops of the Bengal Sultan and the Lohanis at Surajgarh, on the banks of the Kiul river, east of the town of Bihar (1534). The victory at Surajgarh was indeed a turning-point in the career of Sher. "Great as it was as a military achievement, it was greater in its far-reaching political result… But for the victory at Surajgarh, the jagirdar of Sasaram would never have emerged from his obscurity into the arena of politics to run, in spite of himself, a race for the Empire with hereditary crowned heads like Bahadur Shah and Humayun Padshah." It made him the undisputed ruler of Bihar in fact as well as in name.

Sher had an opportunity to increase his power when Humayun marched against Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. He suddenly invaded Bengal and appeared before its capital, Gaur, not by the usual route through the Taliagarhi passes (near modern Sahebganj on the E.I. Ry. Loop line), but by another unfrequented and less circuitous one. Mahmud Shah, the weak ruler of Bengal, without making any serious attempt to oppose the Afghan invader, concluded peace with him by paying him a large sum, amounting to thirteen lacs of gold pieces, and by ceding to him a territory extending from Kiul to Sakrigali, ninety miles in length with a breadth of thirty miles. These fresh acquisitions considerably enhanced Sher's power and prestige, and, after the expulsion of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat to Diu, many of the distinguished Afghan nobles joined their rising leader in the east. Thus strengthened, Sher again invaded Bengal about the middle of October, 1537, with a view to conquering it permanently, and closely besieged the city of Gaur. Humayun, who on his way back from Gujarat and Malwa had been wasting his time at Agra, in his usual fashion, realized the gravity of the Afghan menace in the east rather too late and marched to oppose Sher Khan in the second week of December, 1537. But instead of proceeding straight to Gaur, by which he could have frustrated the designs of Sher Khan in alliance with the Sultan of Bengal, he besieged Chunar. The brave garrison of Sher Khan at Chunar baffled all the attempts of the assailants for six months, while Sher Khan was left free to utilize that time for the reduction of Gaur by April, 1538. Sher Khan had also captured the fortress of Rohtas by questionable means and had sent his family and wealth there. Baffled in Bihar, Humayun turned towards Bengal and entered Gaur in July, 1538. But Sher Khan, cleverly avoiding any open contest with him in Bengal, went to occupy the Mughul territories in Bihar and Jaunpur and plunder the tract as far west as kanauj.

Humayun, who was then whiling away his time in idleness and festivities at Gaur, was disconcerted on hearing of Sher's activities in the west and left Bengalfor Agra before his return should be cut off. But he was opposed on the way, at Chaunsa near Buxar, by Sher Khan and his Afghan followers and suffered a heavy defeat in June, 1539. Most of the Mughul soldiers were drowned or captured and the life of their unlucky ruler was saved by a water-carrier, who carried him on his water-skin across the Ganges, into which he had recklessly jumped. The victory over the sovereign of Delhi widened the limit of Sher Khan's ambition and made him the de facto ruler of the territories extending from Kanauj in the west to the hills of Assam and Chittagong in the east and from the Himalayas in the north to the hills of Jharkhand (from Rohtas to Birbhum) and the Bay of Bengal in the south. To legalize what he had gained by the strength of arms and strategy, he now assumed the royal title of Sher Shah and ordered the Khutba to be read and the coins to be struck in his name. Next year Humayun made another attempt to recover his fortune, though he could not secure the co-operation of his brothers in spite of his best attempts. On the 17th May, 1540, the Mughuls and the Afghans met again opposite kanauj. The army of Humayun, hopelessly demoralized, half-hearted and badly officered, was severely defeated by the Afghans at the battle of the Ganges or Bilgram, commonly known as the battle of Kanauj, and Humayun just managed to escape. Thus the work of Babur in India was undone, and then sovereignty of Hindustan once more passed to the Afghans. From this time Humayun had to lead the life of a wandered for about fifteen years. The sons of Babur failed to combine even at such a critical moment, though Humayun went to Lahore and did his best to win them over. Their selfishness triumphed over common interests and Sher Shah was able to extend his authority to the Punjab also. The Afghan ruler marched, with his usual promptitude and vigour, to subdue the warlike hill tribes of the Gakkar country, situated between the upper courses of the Indus and the Jhelum. He ravaged this territory but could not thoroughly reduce the Gakkars, as he had to proceed hurriedly to Bengal in March, 1541, where his deputy had imprudently rebelled against his authority. He dismissed the rebel, "changed the military character of the provincial administration and substituted a completely new mechanism, at once original in principle and efficient in working". The province was divided into several districts, each of which was to be governed by an officer appointed directly by him and responsible to him alone.

Sher Shah next turned his attention against the Rajputs of the west, who had not yet recovered fully from the blow of Khanau. Having subjugated Malwa in A.D. 1542, he marched against Puran Mal of Raisin in Central India. After some resistance the garrison of the fort of Raisin capitulated, the Rajputs agreeing to evacuate the fort on condition that they were allowed to pass "unmolested" beyond the frontier of Malwa. But the Afghans fell furiously on the people of the fort as soon as the latter had come outside the walls. To save their wives and children from disgrace, the Rajputs took their lives, and themselves died to a man, fighting bravely against their formidable foe, in 1543. The Raisin incident has been condemned by several writers as a great blot on the character of Sher Shah. Sind and Multan were annexed to the Afghan Empire by the governor of Punjab. There remained only one more formidable enemy of Sher Shah to be subdued. He was Maldev, the Rajput ruler of Marwar, a consummate general and energetic ruler, whose territories extended over about 10,000 sq. miles. Instigated by some disaffected Rajput chiefs whose territories had been conquered by Maldev, Sher Khan led an expedition against the Rathor chief in AD 1544. Maldev, on his part, was not unprepared. Considering it inadvisable to risk an open battle with the Rathors in their own country, Sher Shah had recourse to a stratagem. He sent to Maldev a few forged letters, said to have been written to him by the Rajput generals, promising him their help, and thus succeeded in frightening the Rathor ruler, who retreated from the field and took refuge in the fortress of Sivan. In spite of this, the generals of the Rajput army, like Jeta and Kama, with their followers opposed Sher Shah's army and fought with desperate valour, but only to meet a warrior's death. Sher Shah won a victory, though at great cost, with the loss of several thousand Afghans on the battlefield and coming near to losing his empire. The Rajputs lost a chance of revival and the path was left open for undisputed Afghan supremacy over Northern India. After this success, Sher Shah reduced to submission the whole region from Ajmer to Abu and marched to besiege the for of Kalinjar. He succeeded in capturing the fort, but died from an accidental explosion of gunpowder on the 22nd may, 1545.

A brave warrior and a successful conqueror, Sher Shah was the architect of a brilliant administrative system, which elicited admiration even from eulogists of his enemies, the Mughuls. In fact, his qualities as a ruler were more remarkable than his victories on the field of battle. His brief reign of five years was marked by the introduction of wise and salutary changes in every conceivable branch of administration. Some of these were by way of revival and reformation of the traditional features of the old administrative systems of India, Hindu as well as Muslim, while others were entirely original in character, and form, indeed, a link between ancient and modern India. "No government-not even the British," affirms Mr. Keene, "has shown so much wisdom as this Pathan." Though Sher Shah's government was a highly centralized system, crowned by a bureaucracy, with real power concentrated in the hands of the King, he was not an unbridled autocrat, regardless of the rights and interests of the people. In the spirit of an enlightened despot, he "attempted to found an empire broadly based upon the people's will".

For convenience of administration, the whole Empire was divided into forty-seven units (sarkars), each of which was again divided into several paraganas. The paragana had one Ami , one Shiqdar, one treasurer, one Hindu writer and one Persian writer to keep accounts. Over the next higher administrative unit, the sarkar, were placed a Shiqdar-I-Shiqdaran and a Munsif-I-Munsifan to supervise the work of the paragana officers. To check undue influence of the officers in their respective jurisdictions, the King devised the plan of transferring them every two or three years, which, however, could not be long-enduring owing to the brief span of his rule. Every branch of the administration was subject to Sher Shah's personal supervision. Like Asoka and Harsha, he acted up to the maxim that "it behooves the great to be always active". Sher Shah's land revenue reforms, based on wise and humane principles, have unique importance in the administrative history of India for they served as the model for future agrarian systems. After a careful and proper survey of the lands, he settled the land revenue direct with the cultivators, the State demand being fixed at one-fourth or one-third of the average produce, payable either in kind or in cash, the latter method being preferred. For actual collection of revenue the Government utilized the services of officers like the Amins, the Maqadams, the Shiqdars, the Qanungos and the Patwaris. Punctual and full paying of the assessed amount was insisted on and enforced, if necessary, by Sher Shah. He instructed the revenue officials to show leniency at the time of assessment and to be strict at the time of collection of revenues. The rights of the tenants were duly recognized and the liabilities of each were clearly defined in the kabuliyat (deed of agreement), which the State took from him, and the patta (title-deed), which it gave him in return. Remissions of rents were made, and probably loans were advanced to the tenants in case of damage to crops caused by the encampment of soldiers, or the insufficiency of rain. These revenue reforms increased the resources of the State and at the same time conduced to the interest of the people.

The currency and tariff reforms of Sher Shah were also calculated to improve the general economic condition of his Empire. He not only introduced some specific changes in the mint but also tried to rectify "the progressive deterioration of the previous Kings". He reformed the tariff by removing vexatious customs and permitting the imposition of customs on articles of trade only at the frontiers and in the places of sale. This considerably helped the cause of commerce by facilitating easy and cheap transport of merchandise. This was further helped by the improvement of communications. For the purpose of imperial defense, as well as for the convenience of the people, Sher Shah connected the important places of his kingdom by a chain of excellent roads. The longest of these, the Grand Trunk Road, which still survives, extends for 1,500 kilos from Sonargaon in Eastern Bengal to the Indus. One road ran from Agra to Burhanpur, another from Agra to Jodhpur and the fort of Chitor, and a fourth from Lahore to Multan. Following the traditions of some rulers of the past, Sher Shah planted shad-giving trees on both sides of the established roads, and sarais or rest-houses at different stages, separate arrangements being provided for the Muslims and the Hindus. These sarais also served the purpose of post-houses, which facilitated quick exchange of news and supplied the Government with information from different parts of the Empire. The maintenance of an efficient system of espionage also enabled the ruler to know what happened in his kingdom.To secure peace and order, the police system was reorganized, and the principle of local responsibility for local crimes was enforced. Thus the village headmen were made responsible for the detection of criminals, and maintenance of peace, in the rural areas. The efficiency of the system has been testified to by all the Muslim writers. "Such was the state of safety of the highway," observes Nizam-ud-din, who had no reason to be partial towards Sher Shah, "that if any one carried a purse full of gold (pieces) and slept in the desert (deserted places) for nights, there was no need for keeping watch."

Sher Shah had a strong sense of justice, and its administration under him was even-handed, no distinction being made between the high and the low, and not even the near relatives of the King being spared from its decrees. In the paragana, civil suits were disposed of by the Amin, and other cases, mostly criminal, by the Qazi and the Mir-I-Adal. Several paraganas had over them a Munsif-I-Munsifan to try civil cases. At the capital city there were the Chief Qazi, the imperial Sadr, and above all, the Emperor as the highest authority in judicial as in other matters. Though a pious Muslim, Sher Shah was not a fierce bigot. His treatment of the Hindus in general was tolerant and just. He employed Hindus in important offices of the State, one of his best generals being Brahamjit Gaur. "His attitude towards Hinduism," observes Dr. Qanungo, "was not of contemptuous sufferance but of respectful deference it received due recognition in the State." Sher Shah realized the importance of maintaining a strong and efficient army, and so reorganized it, borrowing largely the main principles of 'Ala-ud-din Khalji's military system. the services of a body of armed retainers, or of a feudal levy, were not considered sufficient for his needs he took care to maintain a regular army, the soldiers being bound to him, through their immediate commanding officer, by the strong tie of personal devotion and discipline. He had under his direct command a large force consisting of 150,000 cavalry, 25,000 infantry, 300 elephants and artillery. Garrisons were maintained at different strategic points of the kingdom each of these, called a fauj, was under the command of a faujdar. Sher Shah enforced strict discipline in the army and took ample precautions to prevent corruption among the soldiers. Besides duly supervising the recruitment of soldiers, he personally fixed their salaries, took their descriptive rolls and revived the practice of branding horses.

Sher Shah is indeed a striking personality in the history of Medieval India. By virtue of sheer merit and ability he rose from a very humble position to be the leader of Afghan revival, and one of the greatest rulers that India has produced. His "military character" was marked by "a rare combination of caution and enterprise" his political conduct was, on the whole, just and humane his religious attitude was free from medieval bigotry and his excellent taste in building is well attested, even today, by his noble mausoleum at Sasaram. He applied his indefatigable industry to the service of the State, and his reforms were well calculated to secure the interests of the people. He had, remarks Erskine, "more of the spirit of a legislator and a guardian of his people than any prince before Akbar". In fact, the real significance of his reign lies in the fact that he embodied in himself those very qualities which are needed for the building of a national State in India, and he prepared the ground for the glorious Akbaride regime in more ways than one. But for his accidental death after only five years' rule, the restoration of the Mughuls would not have been accomplished so soon. As Smith observes: "If Sher Shah had been spared, the 'Great Moghuls' would not have appeared on the stage of history." His right to the throne of India was better than that of Humayun. While Humayun had inherited the conquests of a Central Asian adventurer, who had not been able to create any strong claim, except that of force, for the rule of his dynasty in India, Sher Shah's family, hailing from the frontier, had lived within India for three generations. Further, the latter's equipment for kingship was exceptionally high, and had achieved a good deal more than the mere conquest of territories.

During his reign Sher Shah gave a new vigourand trend to the early Indian postal system. So in 1970 India released a special postage stamp honouring the memory of this great and popular ruler and one of the early pioneers of a nation-wide postal service. He was born about the year 1472. He was an outstanding administrator. He introduced the new silver rupee-coin "Rupiya" based on a ratio of 40 copper-coin pieces (paisa) per rupee. On his earliest Bengal coins, he inscribed his name as "Sri Ser Sahi" in both Devnagari and Persian scripts. Sher Shah was also a great road-builder. The longest road built on his orders known as the Grand Trunk Road (Shahrah-i-Azim) – now known as National Highway-2. It was during the reign of Sher Shah Suri that the foundation of a well-organised nationwide postal system was laid. The design of the stamp is vertical and depicts a portrait of Sher Shah Suri.

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