The life of Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama was full of adventure and discovery. He was the first person to sail around Africa to reach India. Vasco da Gama was born in 1460 in Sines, Portugal to a Noble family but, not much is known about his early life. At a young age he joined the navy and learned how to navigate and immersed himself in the lifestyle. His capabilities were noticed by King John II and he was sent on various missions to prove himself. Read along to learn about the banknotes featuring Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama.

Map with voyage of Vasco da Gama | Source: AS

King Manuel who had just taken the throne wanted to explore India because he thought it would be good for Portugal if they had more power over other countries to solidify their strength and because it would mean they could get whatever they wanted without having any trouble from anyone else.

The Landing at Calicut | 1498 | Source: Wikipedia

On his first voyage in 1497 he sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and reached Kenya, then Calicut on May 20, 1498. He encountered the Zamorin of Calicut, the ruler of that region. The Zamorin welcomed da Gama and gave him permission to trade with his subjects; however, he was not allowed into their ports because there were local Muslim merchants who had no interest in giving up their trade routes. He and his crew still managed to trade with locals and secure his return trip. In 1499 he arrived in Portugal where he was received as a hero. Upon learning about his success, the King of Portugal sent explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral to secure the trading route discovered Vasco da Gama but, his method was bloodier and involved war. Nevertheless, Cabral established the first Portuguese trading post in India.

Vasco da Gama in front of ruler of Calicut | Source: Wikipedia

King Manuel I sent out another fleet under Vasco da Gama’s command in 1502. This would be his second Voyage. He was determined to establish dominance of the trade route. This would be a very violent journey and several Muslim trading ports were destroyed and many dead. However, Vasco da Gama formed an alliance with a rival Indian ruler. He landed back in Portugal in October of 1503. Upon his return would retire and join his family but, he would remain as an advisor to King Manuel. After the death of King Manuel, Gama was asked to return to India in 1524 but, he died the same year.

Portugal 1,000 Escudos Banknote | 1996 | Source: Banknote World

Vasco da Gama has been remembered through various numismatics over time. Lets look at a few. Portugal 1,000 Escudos, 1996. Part of the Seafarers and Explorer series. It is a yellow and orange banknote. Its obverse side features Pedro Alvares Cabral who went to Indian after Vasco da Gamas first trip to secure the trade route for Portugal. Its reverse side shows a sailing ship and the animals of Brazil. Security features include a solid security thread and a watermark of Pedro Alvares Cabral.

Portugal 500 Escudos Banknotes | 1922 | Vasco da Gama | Source: Numista

Portugal 500 Escudos, 1922. The banknote features a portrait of Vasco da Gama on the lower left hand side while the right hand side shows ships symbolizing his trip to India. The reverse side features the Portuguese coat of arms. Another example is the Portugal 5,000 Escudos, 1998. This is one of the last Portuguese banknotes before adoption of the Euro. It feature a portrait of da Gama on the obverse in addition to a globe. The reverse side shows a large sailing ship and Da Gama along with authorities.

Portugal 5,000 Escudos Banknotes | 1998 | Vasco da Gama | Source: Banknote World Educational



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