Explorer Bios: Bartolomeu Dias

  • Dias. (Source.)
    Bartolomeu Dias
    (c. 1450 – 1500) was a Portuguese navigator who led the first European expedition to round the southern tip of Africa, taking a novel route that opened the way to Portuguese colonial ventures around the Indian Ocean. About four months down the African coast from Lisbon, at about 29°S, Dias's pilots turned the two-caravel fleet southwest, away from land and into the unknown of the Atlantic Ocean—four years before Christopher Columbus's first Atlantic voyage. The fleet sailed out for two weeks, covering a thousand miles, before finding favorable winds and looping around the Atlantic doldrums—a low pressure area (from 5°N to 5°S of the equator) whose sparse winds made navigation nearly impossible. Subsequent Portuguese expeditions would take the same route, including Pedro Álvares Cabral's fleet in 1500 that swung so wide into the Atlantic, they accidentally "discovered" Brazil. On reaching the cape, Dias wanted to explore farther, but his storm-battered crew refused and the fleet returned to Lisbon, where Dias reported his accomplishment to Portugal's king, João II, evidentially with Columbus in attendance. Dias named Africa's southern tip "the Cape of Storms," a description of what he found there. The king, optimistic rather at the promises such a route held, renamed it Cape of Good Hope. Dias returned a decade later captaining a ship in Cabral's fleet and was killed in a storm off the cape in May 1500. Still, Dias's success opened the seas to invasions and large-scale colonization that quickly followed.

This is the latest short bio in a series for our Resources section.

By EnriqueOfMalacca.com.

Quick Explorer Bios

More coming soon.

(C) 2023 by Enrique of Malacca's Voyage. All rights reserved.