Today’s installment concludes Vasco Da Gama Sails Around Africa and Opens the Sea Route To India,
our selection from The Three Voyages of Vasco da Gama: and His Viceroyalty by Gaspar Correa published in 1556.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of ten thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Vasco Da Gama Sails Around Africa and Opens the Sea Route To India.
Thus, it was; for those people had gone over all India, trading and selling their merchandise during many years, in which many of them married and established their abodes and became naturalized in the country, and mixed up with the inhabitants of the country. Many others returned to their own country, and as no more ever arrived, they went on diminishing in number, until they came to an end; but a numerous progeny remained from them, and because they were people of large property, and numerous in the towns where they resided, they had a quarter set apart, like as in Portugal and Castile in other times there used to be Jewries and Moorish quarters set apart; and they built houses for their idols, sumptuous edifices, which are to be seen at this day; and in the space of a hundred years there did not remain one. All this they had got thus recorded in their legends, and since at that time so many people did not take India, how was it to be taken now by people who came from such a distance, and who would not come in sufficient numbers to be able to conquer it? and they mocked at what the soothsayers said. But the King, who put great trust in them, and whose heart divined what was going to come to pass, spoke to a soothsayer in whom he placed great belief, and told him to look and see upon what grounds he made his assertions; because, if it was as he had been saying, he would labor to establish peace with the Portuguese in such a manner as to make his kingdom secure forever, and in this he would spend part of his treasure. The soothsayer answered: “Sire, I am telling you the truth, that these men will not bring so many people with them to seize upon countries and realms, but those who come, in whatever number they may be, will be able to prevail more with their ships than all as many as go upon the sea, on which account they must be masters of the sea, in which case of necessity the people of the land must obey them; and when they shall have become powerful at sea, what will happen to your kingdom if you have not secured peace with them? I tell you the truth, and you will see it with your eyes; and now follow what counsel you please.”
The King answered, “My heart tells me that you are speaking the truth, and I will do that which is incumbent upon me.” The diviner said to him, “If before five years you do not see that I have told you the truth, order my head to be cut off.” Upon which the King remained quite convinced, and determined in his heart to establish with the Portuguese all the peace and friendship that was possible. And because soon after news arrived that our people were at the city of Calicut, which is twelve leagues from Cananor, the King sent men to Calicut who always came to tell him of what happened there to our men.
The ships continued running along the coast close to land, for the coast was clear, without banks against which to take precautions; and the pilots gave orders to cast anchor in a place which made a sort of bay, because there commenced the city of Calicut. This town is named Capocate, and on anchoring there a multitude of people flocked to the beach, all dark and naked, only covered with cloths half way down the thigh, with which they concealed their nakedness. All were much amazed at seeing what they had never before seen. When news was taken to the King he also came to look at the ships, for all the wonder was at seeing so many ropes and so many sails, and because the ships arrived when the sun was almost set; and at night they lowered out the boats, and Vasco da Gama went at once for his brother and Nicolas Coelho, and they remained together conversing upon the method of dealing with this King, since here was the principal end which they had come to seek; it seemed to him that it would be best to comport himself as an ambassador, and to make him his present, always saying that they had been separated from another fleet which they came to seek for there, and that the captain-major had come and brought him letters from the King.
This they agreed upon together, and that Vasco da Gama should go on shore with that message sent by the captain-major, who carried the standard at the peak; they also talked of the manner in which these things were to be spoken of. When all was well decided upon, Nicolas Coelho returned to the ship, and Vasco da Gama remained with his brother talking with the Moor Taibo (the broker), who told him not to go on shore without hostages; that such was the custom of men who newly arrived at the country; and the Moor said that this King of Calicut was the greatest king of all the coast of India, and on that account, was very vain, and he was very rich from the great trade he had in this city.
This ends our series of passages on Vasco Da Gama Sails Around Africa and Opens the Sea Route To India by Gaspar Correa from his book The Three Voyages of Vasco da Gama: and His Viceroyalty published in 1556. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
We want to take this site to the next level but we need money to do that. Please contribute directly by signing up at https://www.patreon.com/history