Bartolomeu Dias

Cabral lands foot in Brazil. April 22, 1500.

On 15 February 1500, Cabral was appointed Capitão-mor (literally Major-Captain, or commander-in-chief) of a fleet sailing for India. It was then the custom for the Portuguese Crown to appoint nobles to naval and military commands, regardless of experience or professional competence. Cabral became the military chief, while far more experienced navigators were seconded to the expedition to aid him in naval matters. The most important of these were Bartolomeu Dias, Diogo Dias and Nicolau Coelho. They would, along with the other captains, command 13 ships and 1,500 men, of which 700 were soldiers, although most of them had no combat experience. The fleet had two divisions. The first division was composed of nine naus (carracks) and two round caravels, and was headed to Calicut in India with th...

A New World – August 3, 1492 AD

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue….” The poem is correct in that the first voyage of Christopher Columbus began on the evening of August 3, 1492. However, it was a bit of work for Columbus to get that expedition underway. The goal was to find a quicker way to the Orient via the Atlantic Ocean, instead of using the land trade routes that were becoming increasingly treacherous because of the Ottoman Turks and the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In 1470, Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, an astronomer from Florence, proposed to King Alfonso of Portugal that sailing west to the Spice Islands would be faster than around Africa. The king rejected the idea and his successor, John II, tasked Bartolomeu Dias to explore the Africa route, going around the Cape of Good Hope. While Dias was work...

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