Bartolomeu Dias

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Bartolomeu Dias (Portuguese pronunciation: [baɾtuluˈmew ˈdi.ɐʃ]; Anglicized: Bartholomew Diaz; c. 1451 – 24 May 1500 [1]), a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household, was a Portuguese explorer who sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa in 1488, the first European known to have done so.

Contents

Purposes of the Dias expedition

Dias was a Knight of the royal court, superintendent of the royal warehouses, and sailing-master of the man-of-war, São Cristóvão (Saint Christopher). King John II of Portugal appointed him, on 10 October 1486, to head an expedition to sail around the southern end of Africa in the hope of finding a trade route to India. Another purpose of the expedition was to try to revisit the countries reported by João Afonso de Aveiro (probably Ethiopia and Aden) with which the Portuguese desired friendly relations. Dias was also charged with searching for the lands ruled by Prester John, who was a fabled Christian priest and African prince.

The expedition

Dias left Lisbon in August, 1487 leading an expedition of three ships. His flagship, the caravel São Cristóvão, was piloted by Pêro de Alenquer. The second caravel, the São Pantaleão, was commanded by João Infante and piloted by Alvaro Martins. Dias' brother Pêro Dias 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 Sao Jorge de Mina on the Gold Coast. After having sailed past Angola Dias reached reached the Golfo da Conceicão (Walvis Bay) by December. Having rounded the Cape of Good Hope at a considerable distance, Dias continued east and entered what he named Aguada de São Brás (Bay of Saint Blaise)- later renamed Mossel Bay - on February 3, 1488. Dias's expedition reached its furthest point on March 12, 1488 when they anchored at Kwaaihoek, near the mouth of the Bushman's River, where a padrão -the Padrão de São Gregorio - was erected before turning back.[2] Dias wanted to continue sailing to India, but he was forced to turn back when his crew refused to go further.[3] It was only on the return voyage that he actually discovered the Cape of Good Hope, in May 1488. Dias returned to Lisbon in December of that year, after an absence of sixteen months.

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