Bartolomeu Dias

Bartolomeu Dias

Overview
Bartolomeu Dias a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household
Royal Household
A Royal Household in ancient and medieval monarchies formed the basis for the general government of the country as well as providing for the needs of the sovereign and his relations....

, was a Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 explorer who sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 in 1488, the first Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an known to have done so.

Dias was a Knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 of the royal court, superintendent of the royal warehouses, and sailing-master of the man-of-war, São Cristóvão (Saint Christopher
Saint Christopher
.Saint Christopher is a saint venerated by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, listed as a martyr killed in the reign of the 3rd century Roman Emperor Decius or alternatively under the Roman Emperor Maximinus II Dacian...

). King John II of Portugal
John II of Portugal
John II , the Perfect Prince , was the thirteenth king of Portugal and the Algarves...

 appointed him, on 10 October 1487, to head an expedition to sail around the southern tip of Africa in the hope of finding a trade route to India.
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Bartolomeu Dias a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household
Royal Household
A Royal Household in ancient and medieval monarchies formed the basis for the general government of the country as well as providing for the needs of the sovereign and his relations....

, was a Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 explorer who sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 in 1488, the first Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an known to have done so.

Purposes of the Dias expedition


Dias was a Knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 of the royal court, superintendent of the royal warehouses, and sailing-master of the man-of-war, São Cristóvão (Saint Christopher
Saint Christopher
.Saint Christopher is a saint venerated by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, listed as a martyr killed in the reign of the 3rd century Roman Emperor Decius or alternatively under the Roman Emperor Maximinus II Dacian...

). King John II of Portugal
John II of Portugal
John II , the Perfect Prince , was the thirteenth king of Portugal and the Algarves...

 appointed him, on 10 October 1487, to head an expedition to sail around the southern tip of Africa in the hope of finding a trade route to India. Dias was also charged with searching for the lands ruled by Prester John
Prester John
The legends of Prester John were popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries, and told of a Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Written accounts of this kingdom are variegated collections of medieval...

, who was a fabled Christian priest and ruler.

The expedition


Dias' ship São Cristóvão was piloted by Pêro de Alenquer
Pêro de Alenquer
Pêro de Alenquer Portuguese explorer of the African coast. Accompanied Bartolomeu Dias in his journey around the Cape of Good Hope in 1487/1488. Latter wrote a description of Vasco da Gama's first voyage to India. Pêro was born in Alenquer....

. A second caravel, the São Pantaleão, was commanded by João Infante
João Infante
João Infante Portuguese explorer of the African coast. Accompanied Bartolomeu Dias in his journey around the Cape of Good Hope in 1487/1488....

 and piloted by Álvaro Martins
Álvaro Martins
Álvaro Martins, also known as Álvaro Martins Homem, was a 15th century Portuguese alleged to have explored the western Atlantic and later the African coast...

. Dias' brother Pêro Dias
Pêro Dias
Pêro Dias was a Portuguese explorer of the African coast. He accompanied his brother Bartolomeu Dias on his journey around the Cape of Good Hope in 1487/1488, having commanded the supply-ship...

 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 São Jorge de Mina on the Gold Coast
Portuguese Gold Coast
The Portuguese Gold Coast was a Portuguese colony on the West African Gold Coast on the Gulf of Guinea.-History:The Portuguese established the following settlements on the Gold Coast from January 21, 1482:...

. After having sailed past Angola, Dias reached the Golfo da Conceicão (Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay , is a city in Namibia and the name of the bay on which it lies...

) by December. Having rounded the Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

 at a considerable distance, Dias continued east and entered what he named Aguada de São Brás (Bay of Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise
Saint Blaise was a physician, and bishop of Sebastea . According to his Acta Sanctorum, he was martyred by being beaten, attacked with iron carding combs, and beheaded...

)- later renamed Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay is a harbour town of about 130,000 people on the Southern Cape of South Africa. It is an important tourism and farming region of the Western Cape Province...

 - on 3 February 1488. Dias's expedition reached its furthest point on 12 March 1488 when they anchored at Kwaaihoek
Kwaaihoek
Kwaaihoek is a rocky headland on the coast of Algoa Bay, near Bushman's River Mouth in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is here that the Portuguese navigator Bartholomeu Dias erected the Padrão de São Gregório, his first padrão, or stone cross on 12 March 1488...

, near the mouth of the Bushman's River
Bushman's River
The Bushman's River is an east to north-easterly flowing tributary of the Tugela River, in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. It rises in the Drakensberg Mountain range, with its upper catchment in the Giant's Castle Game Reserve, north of the Giant's Castle promontory...

, where a padrão
Padrão
A padrão was a large stone cross inscribed with the coat of arms of Portugal that was placed as part of a land claim by numerous Portuguese explorers during the Portuguese Age of Discovery...

 -the Padrão de São Gregório - was erected before turning back. Dias wanted to continue sailing to India, but he was forced to turn back when his crew refused to go further. It was only on the return voyage that he actually discovered the Cape of Good Hope, in May 1488. Dias returned to Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 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
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.There is a misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of Africa, because it was once believed to be the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. In fact, the...

 the "Cape of Storms" (Cabo das Tormentas). It was later renamed by King John II of Portugal
John II of Portugal
John II , the Perfect Prince , was the thirteenth king of Portugal and the Algarves...

 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
Pêro da Covilhã
Pedro or Pêro da Covilhã was a Portuguese diplomat and explorer.He was a native of Covilhã in Beira. In his early life he had gone to Castile and entered the service of Alphonso, Duke of Seville...

, who had been sent overland to India and returned with reports useful to their navigators.

Using his experience with explorative travel, Dias helped in the construction of the São Gabriel
São Gabriel (ship)
The São Gabriel was the flagship of Vasco da Gama's armada on his first voyage to India in 1497-1499.-São Gabriel:The São Gabriel was a Portuguese "nau" that, like its sister ship, the São Rafael, was built specifically for the expedition; both exhibited similar construction...

and its sister ship, the São Rafael that were used by Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India...

 to circumnavigate the Cape and continue the route to India. Dias participated only in the first leg of Gama's voyage, until the Cape Verde Islands. He was then one of the captains of the second Indian expedition, headed by Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral
Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese noble, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the discoverer of Brazil. Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life are sketchy, it...

. This flotilla reached first the coast of Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, 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 29 May 1500. A shipwreck found in 2008 by the Namdeb Diamond Corporation off Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 was at first thought to be possibly Dias' ship, however, recovered coins come from a later time.

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
    Knight
    A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

     of the Order of Christ
    Order of Christ (Portugal)
    The Military Order of Christ previously the Royal Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ was the heritage of the Knights Templar in Portugal, after the suppression of the Templars in 1312...

    , 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). Dias' grandson Paulo Dias de Novais
    Paulo Dias de Novais
    Paulo Dias de Novais , a nobleman of the Royal Household, was a Portuguese colonizer of Africa in the 16th century and the first Captain-Governor of Angola. He was the grandson of the explorer Bartolomeu Dias....

    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.

Further reading

  • Bartolomeu Dias (Ernst Georg Ravenstein, William Brooks Greenlee, Pero Vaz de Caminha) [2010]

External links