Admiral Dom Vasco da
Admiral Dom Vasco da Gama (c. 1469
- 1524)- I Count of Vidigueira, 6 th Governor and 2nd Vice-Roy of India|
The fleet under his command left Lisbon harbour on July, 8th 1497 and after having passed the Cape of Good Hope, Mozambique island, Mombasa and having obtained an experienced Gujarati pilot at Malindi, first sighted the Malabar coast of India on May, the 18th, 1498. The arrival at Calicut was three days later.
Vasco da Gama arrival at Calicut
Dom Vasco da Gama was born circa 1469 at Sines and died on Christmas eve in Cochin, India, in 1524, being Viceroy of India. After his successful first voyage by sea to India (1497-1499), King Emmanuel I gave him the title of Dom (Lord) with an annual grant of 300.000 reais, for him and his descendants, and appointed him Admiral of the Indies (January, 1500). In 1519, the Admiral was granted the coveted title of Count of Vidigueira .
Very little is known about Vasco da Gama before his appointment as Capitão-Mor (Captain-General) of the fleet sent to find the sea route to India. He was the son of Estêvão da Gama - a knight commander of Cercal of the Order of St. James of the Sword and alcaide-mor of the village of Sines, which also belonged to the latter Order - and of his wife Isabel Sodré.
His father was a member of the Household of prince Dom Fernando - master of the Order of St. James, and later on, to that of the prince's son - Dom Diogo, duke of Viseu, having also fought in Castille and in the North Africa's military campaigns. His father's family, from the southern province of Alentejo, appears to have had close links with the military Order of Avis and later on with the Order of St. James .
His mother's family, of English ascendancy ,  had also links with the household of Dom Diogo, duke of Viseu and governor of the military Order of Christ.
By 1480's he was admitted to the Order of St. James together with some of his brothers. In 1495, being governor of the Order of St. James, prince Dom Jorge (1481- 1550), duke of Coimbra and a bastard son of King John II who had just died, Vasco da Gama was granted two commanderies of the Order of St. James (those of Mouguelas and Chouparia). However, King Dom Manuel I's promise to award Vasco da Gama the senhorio of the Order of St. James's village of Sines led to conflicts with the Order's master and the local authorities 
After his return from India in 1503, and around 1507, Vasco da Gama was transferred to the Order of Christ, under the governorship of King Emmanuel I himself, in what can be seen as a means of solving his disputes with the Order of St. James over the lordship of Sines or as a sign of promotion .
Admiral Dom Vasco da Gama's Arms, conferred
c. 1500, by King D. Manuel I after the return from the first Voyage to India.
Notes:  Anselmo Braamcamp Freire, Brasões da Sala de Sintra, vol. III, 4th ed., Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, Lisbon, 1996, pp. 380-385.
 Luís Adão da Fonseca, Vasco da Gama. O Homem, a Viagem, a Época, EXPO 98, Lisboa, 1997, pp. 12 - 16;
The Sodré's seem to have established themselves in Portugal accompanying the Earl of Cambridge in his campaigns in the Peninsula, in the reign of King D. Fernando I, in the second half of the XIV th century; cf. ibidem, pp. 17-18;
 Francis A. Dutra, A New Look at the Life and Carreer of Vasco da Gama, «Portuguese Studies Review», 6:2, (1997-1998), New Hampshire, pp. 23-28; Adão da Fonseca, ibidem, pp. 18-19, 23-26;
 cf. Francis A. Dutra, ibidem, pp. 25-26;
Francis A. Dutra dates Vasco da Gama transfer to the Order of Christ, circa 1507, and emphasizes the importance of the early dispute over the lordship of Sines, as its probable cause, ibidem, pp. 26-27; see, however, L. Adão da Fonseca, ibidem, p.39-41;
 Anselmo Braamcamp Freire, Armaria Portuguesa, 2nd ed., Cota D'Armas, Lisboa, 1989, pp. 215-216.
© (1997, 1998) José Vicente de Bragança
Posted: 23 May 1998
1 June 1998
Projet X - 1497 - 1999. A Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama. The best site on Vasco da Gama's Voyage in the Net, with the text of the Journal the historic first voyage by Sea to India, edited by Damian Lopes, to whom we wish to pay tribute.
Order of Christ