Vasco da Gama

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Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvaʃku dɐ ˈɡɐmɐ]) (c. 1460 or 1469 – 24 December 1524) was a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India. For a short time in 1524 he was Governor of Portuguese India under the title of Viceroy.

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Early life

Vasco da Gama was born in either 1460[1] or 1469[2] in Sines, on the southwest coast of Portugal, probably in a house near the church of Nossa Senhora das Salas. Sines, one of the few seaports on the Alentejo coast, consisted of little more than a cluster of whitewashed, red-tiled cottages, tenanted chiefly by fisherfolk.

Vasco da Gama's father was Estêvão da Gama. In the 1460s he was a knight in the household of the Duke of Viseu, Dom Fernando,[3] who appointed him Alcaide-Mór or Civil Governor of Sines and enabled him to receive a small revenue from taxes on soap making in Estremoz.

Estêvão da Gama was married to Dona Isabel Sodré, daughter of João Sodré (also known as João de Resende). Sodré, who was of English descent, had links to the household of Prince Diogo, Duke of Viseu, son of king Edward I of Portugal and governor of the military Order of Christ.[4]

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