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Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama

Münster’s map on the right reflects the discoveries of Portuguese explorers, Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama. More about Münster’s book, Cosmographia.

Bartolomeu Dias

In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias sailed around the southern tip of Africa (the Cape of Good Hope). His voyage showed that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans flowed into each other. Ptolemy had been wrong to think that the Indian Ocean was land-locked. Dias' discovery paved the way for Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India.

Vasco da Gama

The Latin text in the bottom left-hand corner of the map tells the tale of Vasco da Gama. He sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and across the Indian Ocean. He reached Calicut in India on 20 May 1498.

Da Gama’s attempt to trade in Calicut wasn’t very successful. His gifts to its ruler were not impressive enough. On the other hand, his discovery of the sea route to India made possible successful, future Portuguese trade.

Map showing Vasco da Gama's 1497-8 route to India.

Map of Africa from Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia, published in Basel in 1559. Click on the picture to see a larger image

A map of Africa from Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia, published in Basel, Switzerland in 1559. Click on the picture to see a larger image