Thursday, February 18, 2010

#05- Vasco da Gama

05 Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) was a Portuguese explorer commissioned by King Manuel I of Portugal to find a sea route to Asia. In July of 1497, Vasco da Gama left Lisbon and went south to past Africa. Using Bartholomeu Dias's charts, Da Gama successfully made his way to India. The Indians welcomed Da Gama and his men, but some Arabian traders undermined their reputation, and Da Gama was attacked. After fighting his way out of the town, Vasco Da Gama returned home. In 1502, Da Gama returned to India with 20 ships and captured the cities of Calicut and Goa for Portugal, bringing many treasures back upon his return. After becoming a count in 1519, Da Gama was appointed as the Viceroy of India in 1524, and traveled to Goa once more. Vasco da Gama is celebrated as the explorer to find an ocean route to Asia from Europe and for capturing Calicut and Goa for Portugal. Soon after he returned to India, Da Gama fell ill and died on December 24, 1524.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

#06- Amerigo Vespucci

06 Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512) came from a prominent family in Florence, Italy. In 1492, Vespucci was sent to Spain for business reasons. While in Spain, Vespucci started working on ships and became the navigator of an expedition in 1499. During this trip, Vespucci reached the mouth of the Amazon and the northern coast of South America. Vespucci went on a second trip to America in 1501, but this time, Vespucci travelled south, exploring the coast of South America, coming within 400 miles of Tierra del Fuego. During this trip, Vespucci wrote letters to a friend, and Vespucci's descriptions of his travels were the first to identify the Americas as a separate continent from Asia. Along with this information, Vespucci also described the culture of the natives of America. In 1508, Vespucci was named Pilot Major of Spain, promoting his fame. Martin Waldseemuller was a German scholar read of Vespucci's travels. He also thought that the New World was separate from Asia, so when Waldseemuller made a wood block map of the world known as the Carta Mariana, he used Vespucci's first name, which is America in German, as the name of the New World. The map sold around 1000 copies, and the name stayed. Vespucci earns many points for identifying the Americas as a separate land mass from Asia and for having two continents named after him. Vespucci died of Malaria in 1512 after a third trip to America.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

#07- Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta

07 Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta (1304-1365) was a Muslim from Morocco who began his travels at age 21, when he decided to go on a Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of the Islamic religion. Though his main destination on this trip was Mecca, the trip turned into a 30 year expedition. Ibn Battuta made his way acroos nothern Africa to the Arabian Penninsula, where Mecca is located. He moved on from Mecca to eastern Africa. Ibn Battuta also made his way through Palestine and Syria to Asia Minor. He saw the great city of Constantinople, which would later be renamed to Istanbul. After reaching Constantinople, Ibn Battuta traveled to Delhi, India. On this same travel, Ibn Battuta went farther into Asia, making his way to Peking and Hang Chow, China and Cambodia. After returning, Ibn Battuta traveled around his homeland to Muslim Spain and the Niger. Although Ibn Battuta not actually an explorer, his travels were one of the greatest accomplishments of the day, because his journey stretch across three continents and three decades. He also wrote about many places that he went, including the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria. Although Ibn Battuta only planned on going to Mecca once, he travled through the city seven times during his journeies.
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Friday, February 12, 2010

#08- Zheng He

08 Zheng He

Zheng He (1371-1433), or Cheng Ho, was a Chinese navigator during the reign of the Ming Dynasty. Born Ma He, he came from an Arabian family that had come to China. When the Ming Dynasty conquered Zheng He's province, he was taken to the palace and became a court eunuch. HE gained a government position by helping Zhu Yuanzhang defeat the Yuan Dynasty. After the Ming Dynasty was given the throne, Zheng He was given command of the Chinese Navy. In 1402, Emperor Cheng Zu dispatched Zheng He to lead a large fleet to the Western Sea (Southeast Asia). From 1405 to 1433, Zheng He led his fleet of fifty to sixty ship and his crew of 27,000 people to explore the west in 7 different expeditions. In these trips, Zheng He made his way to India, the Middle East, and even Africa, and wherever he went, the sheer size of his ships and his fleet amazed the cultures he passed. During these trips, Zheng He found materials, fuels, and exotic animals to bring back to China. Zheng He accomplished much on the voyages he led, including giving China contact with western cultures, supplying China with many luxuries, and leading one of China's largest and greatest sea expeditions ever.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

#09- Bartholomeu Dias

09 Bartholomeu Dias

Bartholomeu Dias (c.1450-1499) was a Portuguese explorer who came from the family of Joao Dias, who sailed around Cape Bojador, and Diniz Dias, who discovered the Cape Verde Islands. In 1481, Bartholomeu joined Diego d'Azambuja to explore the Gold Coast of Africa. In 1486, King John II of Portugal appointed Dias to lead an expedition to find the southern tip of Africa and try to make contact with Prester John, the legendary Christian ruler of the East. With three ships, Dias sailed down the coast of Africa. During a storm, Dias passed around the southern tip of Africa and named it the Stormy Cape.Though Dias went back to Portugal soon after he went around the Stormy Cape, the information he brought home brought hope to many explorers, and the cape was later named the Cape of Good Hope. His charts helped explorers like Pedro Cabral and Vasco da Gama find their way to India. Dias will be remembered as the explorer who found the tip of Africa, gave explorers hope of finding a passage to India, and pushing Portugal into the front of the Age of Exploration. Although Dias did find the way to India, he never made it there. He sailed with Pedro Cabral on a trip to India, but drowned in a storm at the very cape that he had discovered.

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