Bartolomeu Dias (Portuguese pronunciation: [baɾtuluˈmew
ˈdi.ɐʃ]; Anglicized: Bartholomew Diaz; c. 1450 – 29 May
1500), a nobleman of the Portuguese royal household, was a
Portuguese explorer. He sailed around the southernmost tip of Africa
in 1488, reaching the
Indian Ocean from the Atlantic, the first
European known to have done so.
1 Historical setting and purposes of the Dias expedition
2 The expedition
3 Follow-up voyages
4 Personal life
5 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Historical setting and purposes of the Dias expedition
Bartolomeu Dias was a squire of the royal court, superintendent of the
royal warehouses, and sailing-master of the man-of-war, São
Cristóvão (Saint Christopher). Very little is known of his early
life. King John II of
Portugal appointed him, on October 10, 1486, to
head an expedition to sail around the southern tip of Africa in the
hope of finding a trade route to India. Dias was also charged with
searching for the lands ruled by Prester John, a fabled Christian
priest and ruler of a territory somewhere beyond Europe. He left 10
months later in August 1487. In the previous decades Portuguese
mariners, most famously
Prince Henry the Navigator
Prince Henry the Navigator (whose contribution
was more as a patron and sponsor of voyages of discovery than as a
sailor), had explored the areas of the
Atlantic Ocean off Southern
Europe and Western Africa as far as the
Cape Verde Islands
Cape Verde Islands and modern
day Sierra Leone, and had gained sufficient knowledge of oceanic
shipping and wind patterns to enable subsequent voyages of greater
distance. In the early 1480's
Diogo Cão in two voyages (he died
towards the end of the second) had explored the mouth of the Congo
River and sailed south of the
Equator to present-day
Dias' ship São Cristóvão was piloted by Pêro de Alenquer. A second
caravel, the São Pantaleão, was commanded by
João Infante and
piloted by Álvaro Martins. Dias' brother
Pêro Dias was the captain
of the square-rigged support ship with João de Santiago as
An illustration of the São Cristóvão and São Pantaleão
The expedition sailed south along the west coast of Africa. More
provisions were picked up on the way at the Portuguese fortress of
São Jorge de Mina
São Jorge de Mina on the Gold Coast. After having sailed south of
modern day Angola, Dias reached the Golfo da Conceicão (Walvis Bay,
in modern Namibia) by December. Continuing south, he discovered first
Angra dos Ilheus, being hit, then, by a violent storm. Thirteen days
later, from the open ocean, he searched the coast again to the east,
discovering and using the westerlies winds - the ocean gyre, but
finding just ocean. Having rounded the
Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope at a
considerable distance to the west and southwest, he turned towards the
east, and taking advantage of the winds of Antarctica that blow
strongly in the South Atlantic, he sailed northeast. After 30 days
without seeing land, he entered what he named Aguada de São Brás
(Bay of Saint Blaise)—later renamed Mossel Bay—on 4 February 1488.
Dias's expedition reached its furthest point on 12 March 1488 when
they anchored at Kwaaihoek, near the mouth of the Boesmans River,
where a padrão—the
Padrão de São Gregório—was erected before
turning back. Dias wanted to continue sailing to India, but he was
forced to turn back when his crew refused to go further and the rest
of the officers unanimously favoured returning to Portugal. It was
only on the return voyage that he actually discovered the Cape of Good
Hope, in May 1488. Dias returned to
Lisbon in December of that year,
after an absence of sixteen months and seventeen days.
The discovery of the passage around southern Africa was significant
because, for the first time, Europeans could trade directly with India
and the Far East, bypassing the overland Euro-Asian route with its
expensive European, Middle Eastern and Central Asian middlemen.The
official report of the expedition has been lost.
Bartolomeu Dias originally named the
Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope the "Cape of
Storms" (Cabo das Tormentas). It was later renamed (by King John II of
Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope (Cabo da Boa Esperança) because it
represented the opening of a route to the east.
After these early attempts, the Portuguese took a decade-long break
Indian Ocean exploration. During that hiatus, it is likely that
they received valuable information from a secret agent, Pêro da
Covilhã, who had been sent overland to India and returned with
reports useful to their navigators.
Using his experience with explorative travel, Dias helped in the
construction of the São Gabriel and its sister ship the São Rafael
that were used in 1498 by
Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama to sail past the Cape of Good
Hope and continue to India. Dias only participated in the first leg of
Da Gama's voyage, until the Cape Verde Islands. Two years later he was
one of the captains of the second Indian expedition, headed by Pedro
Álvares Cabral. This flotilla first reached the coast of Brazil,
landing there in 1500, and then continued eastwards to India. Dias
perished near the
Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope that he presciently had named Cape
of Storms. Four ships encountered a huge storm off the cape and were
lost, including Dias', on 29 May 1500. A shipwreck found in 2008 by
the Namdeb Diamond Corporation off
Namibia was at first thought to be
Dias' ship; however, recovered coins come from a later time.
Bartolomeu Dias was married and had two children:
Simão Dias de Novais, who died unmarried and without issue.
António Dias de Novais, a
Knight of the Order of Christ, married to
(apparently his relative, since the surname Novais was transmitted
through her brother's offspring) Joana Fernandes, daughter of Fernão
Pires and wife Guiomar Montês (and sister of Brites Fernandes and
Fernão Pires, married to Inês Nogueira, daughter of Jorge Nogueira
and wife, and had issue). Dias' grandson
Paulo Dias de Novais was a
Portuguese coloniser of Africa in the 16th century. Dias'
granddaughter, Guiomar de Novais married twice, as his second wife to
Dom Rodrigo de Castro, son of Dom Nuno de Castro and wife Joana da
Silveira, by whom she had Dona Paula de Novais and Dona Violante de
Castro, both died unmarried and without issue, and to Pedro Correia da
Silva, natural son of Cristóvão Correia da Silva, without
Dias Cross Memorial
^ Bio. "Bartolomeu Dias". Retrieved 8 December 2015.
^ The Anonymous Narrative, p. 61.
^ "Bartolomeu Dias". infoplease. Sandbox Networks, Inc. Retrieved 29
^ Alchin KL, from Elizabethan Era. "Bartholomeu Dias". Retrieved 28
^ Spoken, Howard (2006). The World's History (Third ed.). New Jersey,
U.S.: Prentice Hall. p. 444.
^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Bartolomeu Dias". Catholic
Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
^ David Fromkin (2000), The Way of the World, Vintage Books (New York,
U.S.), p. 117.
Namibia finds treasure shipwreck". BBC News. 1 May 2008. Archived
from the original on 6 May 2008. Retrieved 1 May 2008.
^ "Destroços descobertos no Atlântico Sul deem ser de Barco
português". Público (in Portuguese). 4 May 2008. Archived from the
original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
Diaz de Novaes, Bartholomeu.
Ernst Georg Ravenstein, William Brooks Greenlee, Pero Vaz de Caminha
(2010), Bartolomeu Dias.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bartolomeu Dias.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Bartolomeu
Dias". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
ISNI: 0000 0001 1436 8787
BNF: cb12192419g (da