Almeida , the larger-than-life Afonso de Albuquerque and, later on, Albergaria and Sequeira , were the king's preferred point men for India. This turned out to be a complicated affair, for Sines still belonged to the Order of Santiago. They had greatly extended Portuguese maritime knowledge, but had little profit to show for the effort. Vasco da Gama arrived back in Portugal in September , effectively having failed in his mission to bring the Zamorin to submission. They finally struck out for their Indian Ocean crossing on 3 October
By the time Vasco da Gama was in his 20s, the king's plans were coming to fruition. But Gama contracted malaria not long after arriving, and died in the city of Cochin on Christmas Eve in , three months after his arrival. King Manuel wrote two letters in which he described da Gama's first voyage, in July and August , soon after the return of the ships. The fleet initially inched north along the Indian coast, and then anchored in at Anjediva island for a spell. Fearing the local population would be hostile to Christians, da Gama impersonated a Muslim and gained audience with the Sultan of Mozambique. Vasco da Gama was justly celebrated for opening a direct sea route to Asia. The diary record of the expedition ends abruptly here. Da Gama looked on through the porthole and saw the women bringing up their gold and jewels and holding up their babies to beg for mercy. On the outgoing journey, sailing with the summer monsoon wind, da Gama's fleet crossed the Indian Ocean in only 23 days; now, on the return trip, sailing against the wind, it took days. Thus war broke out between Portugal and Calicut. His male line issue became extinct in , though the title went through female line. It has been claimed that he studied under Abraham Zacuto , an astrologer and astronomer, but da Gama's biographer Subrahmanyam thinks this dubious. Soon the local populace became suspicious of da Gama and his men. They offered their wealth, which "could ransom all the Christian slaves in the Kingdom of Fez and much more" but were not spared. The violent treatment meted out by da Gama quickly brought trade along the Malabar Coast of India, upon which Calicut depended, to a standstill. The Portuguese fleet then bombarded the city for nearly two days from the sea shore, severely damaging the unfortified city. It followed the route pioneered by earlier explorers along the coast of Africa via Tenerife and the Cape Verde Islands. Vasco da Gama re-emerged from his political wilderness as an important adviser to the new king's appointments and strategy. As per royal instructions, da Gama was succeeded as governor of India by one the captains who had come with him, Henrique de Menezes no relation to Duarte. Despite his melancholic mood, da Gama was given a hero's welcome and showered with honors, including a triumphal procession and public festivities. The spice trade would prove to be a major asset to the Portuguese royal treasury, and other consequences soon followed. Girolamo Sernigi also wrote three letters describing da Gama's first voyage soon after the return of the expedition. The breakthrough came soon after, when John II's captain Bartolomeu Dias returned from rounding the Cape of Good Hope in , having explored as far as the Fish River Rio do Infante in modern-day South Africa and having verified that the unknown coast stretched away to the northeast. Under John II's watch, the gold and slave trade in west Africa was greatly expanded. They had greatly extended Portuguese maritime knowledge, but had little profit to show for the effort. But the Zamorin nonetheless refused to submit to Portuguese terms, and even ventured to hire a fleet of strong warships to challenge da Gama's armada which da Gama managed to defeat in a naval battle before Calicut harbor.
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