It is worth noting that residents of Eastern countries would be very surprised if they knew that they were planning to “discover”. It housed the countries of the Muslim world, the ancient highly developed states of India, China, Indochina and Indonesia. The level of their culture, knowledge, science and technology was much higher than in Western Europe. The Indian Ocean was crossed by a multitude of trade communications, along which vessels of various nations marched. And the ships were more powerful and more European, took on board hundreds of people. The Arabs controlled the Indian Ocean, they paved the way to China, and even to the Philippines and Japan. The Chinese and Malays have been to Africa and the Persian Gulf.
European “predators” dreamed of breaking into this rich, densely populated and developed world. The masters of the West knew about the countries of the East. They dreamed of capturing their wealth, subjugating themselves, sucking various goods and resources. Traditional land routes to the East closed Russia, Arabs and Ottoman Turks. The European invaders wanted to find a sea route to get to this rich and developed world, but not for the purpose of trade (it was an auxiliary task), but to rob, kill, rape, establish themselves there and establish their bestial order.
Vasco da Gama Departure for India
A new expedition was organized by King Manuel. Everyone expected that the experienced and famous navigator Dias would be put at the head of the march, who seemed destined to complete the great work by destiny. But the king ordered otherwise. His choice fell on the young court Vasco da Gama. In the 1480's, Gama joined the Order of Santiago. Vasco from a young age participated in naval battles. In 1492, he brilliantly carried out the commission of King Joan. When the French corsairs seized the Portuguese galleon laden with gold, coming from São Jorge da Mina, Gama, on a high-speed caravel, walked along the entire Portuguese coast and seized all the French ships that stood in the roadstead. Upon learning of this, the French king, with apologies, was forced to return to Portugal a captured galleon with gold, and Vasco da Gama became a hero of the country.
The expedition was prepared carefully. As far as possible, they tried to foresee every little thing and any chance that could meet on the way. In this regard, Gama found himself in much more favorable conditions than Columbus. He placed three vessels at the disposal of Gama. Two heavy ships, 100-120 tons (i.e. 200-240 metric tons) each, are the San Gabriel, on which Vasco raised the admiral's flag (captain Gonçalo Alvaris, an experienced sailor), and the San Rafael, whose captain was appointed at the request of Vasco by his older brother Paulo da Gama, who also had not shown himself before, and the lightweight high-speed vessel “Berriu” of 50 tons (captain Nicole Quell). Moreover, flotilla accompanied the transport ship with supplies. Ships were built under the supervision of Dias, and he proposed replacing the oblique Latin sails with quadrangular ones and for the convenience of maneuvering in shallow waters to give ships less draft.
In the calculation for a three-year walk, special attention was paid to the strength and rigging of ships equipped with triple spare sets of sails and ropes. Considering that the voyage had to last for many months, we tried to load as much drinking water and provisions as possible into the ship’s holds. All barrels intended for water, wine, oil and vinegar were smeared with clay and fastened with iron hoops. The pantries are filled with cheap trinkets to exchange with savages. All the ships were well armed: even on a small Berriu 12 cannons were placed, the San Gabriel and San Rafael also carried heavy guns on 20, not counting the falcontes. The best navigator was the best Portuguese boatswain Peru Alenker, who sailed before in the same position with Dias. Especially carefully selected crew - from the best sailors, skilled pilots. The crew of all ships reached 140 - 170 people, including a dozen criminals. Gama begged them from the king to use for dangerous missions.
Vasco da Gama
8 July 1497 The flotilla came out of the Lisbon-Rishtella suburb. Soon the ships of the Portuguese reached the Canary Islands belonging to Castile, but Vasco da Gama ordered to bypass them, not wanting to give the Spaniards the goal of the expedition. A short stop was made on the Cape Verde Islands belonging to Portugal, where the flotilla was able to replenish supplies. On the coast of Sierra Leone, Gama, on the advice of Bartolomeu Dias (whose ship sailed with a squadron at first, then headed for the fortress of São Jorge da Mina on the Guinean coast), to avoid headwinds and currents off the coast of Equatorial and South Africa, to the southwest and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. Having made a big hook, the flotilla rounded the dangerous lane. This was the way other sailors began to use. If Gama had advanced somewhat to the west, he would have discovered Brazil three years earlier.
The Portuguese did not see the land of 93 of the day. The hike seemed endless. Crew gripped fear. Only November 4 appeared coast of Africa. The ships moored to the bay, later they called St. Helena. Having landed on the coast, the Portuguese saw almost naked short-growing men (Bushmen) with skin of “the color of dry leaves”, smoked from the nests of wild bees. One managed to capture. Gama ordered to feed and clothe him, gave him a few threads of beads and bells and let him go. The next day, several Bushmen arrived, with whom Gama acted the same way, in two days, about fifty. For trinkets, they gave everything that was with them, but these things were of no value in the eyes of the Portuguese. When the Bushmen were shown gold, pearls and spices, they showed no interest in them. It was obvious that they were strangers to them. As a result, the acquaintance ended in a skirmish caused by the sailor, who offended the Bushmen with something. Three or four Portuguese were wounded by stones and arrows. Natives rejected with crossbows.
Then the expedition moved along the coast further south, to the Cape of Good Hope. However, a violent storm has re-flown, forcing the flotilla into the open sea. The sailors were exhausted, it became cold. There was a riot. Losing hope of salvation, people demanded that Vasco turn the ships to the shore. The skippers and helmsmen begged the commander to change course, but Gama was firm. As a result, on November 22 the flotilla with great difficulty went around the Cape of Good Hope, after which it was necessary to stop for repairs in Mossel Bay. It was the "Shepherd's Harbor", where Dias had a clash with the natives. This time, the sailors behaved peacefully, they opened a "silent bargaining" and received trinkets (rattles and bells) from cowherds, sheep and ivory bracelets from shepherds. However, here the “idyll” soon ended. When the Bushmen began to show "obstinacy", Gama ordered them to be frightened by shots from ship cannons. The cargo ship was damaged so badly that it was no longer subject to repair. In addition, by that time part of the expedition’s sailors had died from scurvy and there were not enough people to continue sailing on all four ships, so it was decided to burn it.
In mid-December, the Portuguese passed the last padran, set by Dias on the banks of the Rio Infante (Elizabeth port). Then the waters began, into which no Portuguese ship had yet entered. Here the ships had to withstand the struggle with a counter current, which greatly slowed the voyage. Christmas Day (25 December), the Portuguese celebrated at sea, near the high bank, which Gama called Natal ("Christmas"). People at this time experienced great hardship. Fresh water was so scarce that food had to be cooked in seawater. A few days looking for a comfortable bay. 11 January 1498, the ships anchored near the mouth of a small river. When the sailors landed, they were approached by people who were very different from those they met on the coast of Africa. These were the tall, slender Bantu Negroes. A sailor who had previously lived in the country of Congo and spoke the local Bantu language addressed the audience, and they understood it (all the languages of the Bantu family are similar). These were people with a more developed culture. The country was densely populated by farmers who processed iron and non-ferrous metals: the sailors saw iron tips on arrows and spears, daggers, copper bracelets and other decorations. They met the Portuguese friendly, and Gama called this land "the land of good people."
Moving north, the January 25 flotilla entered the estuary at 18 ° S. w., where several rivers flowed. Residents here have been well received by strangers. Two leaders appeared on the shore, wearing silk headdresses. They did not accept the pitiful gifts of the Portuguese. The negroes made it clear to the foreigners that they had come from a distant country and had already seen large ships more than once. From this, Vasco concluded that his flotilla was approaching the coveted India. Therefore, the river flowing into the ocean in this place was named Rio da Bonsch-Signalezh (“River of good signs”). But, despite the good reception and other "good signs", the Portuguese were hard. For a month the Portuguese stood at the mouth of the Kwakwa, repairing ships. Due to poor nutrition, scurvy flared up, a terrible disease caused by prolonged use of monotonous and not always benign food.
Only 24 February flotilla out of the estuary. Keeping away from the shore, bordered by a chain of islets, and stopping at night, so as not to run aground, she reached the 15 ° S in five days. sh. Port city of Mozambique. Arab dhows annually visited the port and exported mainly slaves, gold, ivory and amber (an aromatic substance used in perfumery). Vasco da Gama learned through a translator who spoke Arabic, that on these shores there are many settlements and cities founded by Arab merchants and slave traders who trade with India.
Thus, the Portuguese flotilla went to the desired places. This area was under the influence of the Muslim world. The Arabs controlled all trade routes and delivered oriental goods to Alexandria, Cairo, Oran and other cities, and from there Venetian and Genoese ships carried goods to European countries. The Arabs were masters of the Indian Ocean, and the Portuguese, before conquering India, had to break the resistance of the Muslims.
At first the Portuguese lied that they were Moors and sailed from North Africa. The local sheikh, believing that he was dealing with Muslims, paid a visit to the Portuguese, who greeted him politely and presented several modest things. An important and rich sheikh of courtesy accepted a modest gift. But at the second visit, when the Portuguese began to present him with the same trinkets again, he turned away from the poor gifts with contempt. Soon the sheikh realized that the newcomers were Christians, the worst enemies of the Muslims. Having seen dangerous competitors in travelers, local residents changed their attitude towards them. Sheikh decided to arrange a beating "infidels". However, he acted carelessly, the Portuguese quickly felt the hatred of the locals. When it came to clashes, Vasco da Gama took the ships to a small island (São Jorge). Before leaving Mozambique, the commander ordered his men to seize the pilots, as the pilots hired with the help of the sheikh fled. The Portuguese captured the pilot, but were then attacked when they disembarked to fetch water. In response, Gama began bombarding the city with cannons, forcing the sheikh to request peace. Nevertheless, new skirmishes soon began, and the Portuguese hardly managed to stock up on drinking water. At parting, the Portuguese seized two longboats, dividing rich booty between officers and sailors, and Gama ordered that the city be fired again with cannons.
March 29 blew a favorable wind, and the Portuguese flotilla began moving again. The Arab pilot pretended that he did not understand that strangers wanted him. Then Vasco ordered "how to" carve it. The island, by which the Portuguese sailed during the execution, was named the “Island of the hewn”. 7 April flotilla approached the port city of Mombasa, where then the rules of a powerful sheikh. A major slave trader himself, he probably felt in the Portuguese rivals, but at first he was well received by foreigners. The Portuguese, fearing attack, embarked on the high seas, despite a friendly reception. They were aggressively invited to the city, but Vasco did not dare to make a visit to the local sheikh. Sheikh Mombasi, obviously, received information about what happened in Mozambique, but decided to pretend to be a friend. He sent generous gifts to foreigners, including oranges, thanks to which many sailors got rid of scurvy. The sheikh also promised spices as soon as the ships entered the port. He offered the Portuguese to open a trading post in his city. But at night the boats with his warriors circled around the parking lot of the Portuguese, making attempts to slowly chop off the anchor ropes or climb on ships.
To find out the sheikh’s true intentions, Gama ordered two Arabs to be captured and tortured in order to find out from them about the “conspiracy in Mombasa”. They tied their hands and poured on a naked body a boiling mixture of oil and tar. The unfortunate, of course, confessed to the "conspiracy," but, since they, naturally, could not tell any details, the torture continued. Prisoners with their hands tied out of the hands of the executioners, rushed into the water and drowned. On April 13, the flotilla moved on and seized an Arab vessel with a rich cargo of gold and silver in several leagues from the site. 19 people captured (into slavery).
Thus, the Portuguese predators reached the rich coastal region in East Africa, which was under the influence of Muslims (Arabs). There were important trade routes that went from India to North Africa. The main subjects of bargaining were gold, silver, cloth, spices, pearls, rubies and slaves. The Portuguese got into a bright, rich and populous world and immediately began to rob, torture and kill.
To be continued ...